(Editor’s note: William Ralganal Benson was born in 1862 and learned about these events directly from those who took part. Having spoken only a Pomo language as a youth and never having attended school, Benson nevertheless taught himself to read and write English. His manuscript is presented here in its entirety, unedited and with his spelling and punctuation preserved.)
The Facts of Stone and Kelsey Massacre in Lake County California. As it was stated to me by the five Indians who went to Stone and Kelsey’s house purpose to kill the two white men. After debating all night, Shuk and Xasis. these two men were the instigators of the massacre. It was not because shuk and Xasis had any ill feeling toward the two white men. There were two Indian villages, one on west side and one on the east side. The indians in both of these camps were starving. Stone or Kelsey would not let them go out hunting or fishing. Shuk and Xasis was stone and kelsey headriders looking out for stock. cattle horses and hogs. the horses and cattle were all along the lake on the west side and some in bachelors valley. also in the upper lake. so it took 18 indian herdsman to look after the stock in these places. Shuk and Xasis was foremans for the herds. and only those herds got anything to eat. each one of these herders got four cups of wheat for a day’s work. This cup would hold about one and a half pint of water. The wheat was boiled before it was given to the herders. and the herder’s shire with their familys. The herders who had large familys were also starving. About 20 old people died during the winter from starvation. From severe whipping 4 died. A nephew of an indian lady who were living with stone was shoot to death by stone. The mother of this young man was sick and starving. This sick woman told her son to go over to stones wife or the sick woman’s sister. Tell your aunt that I am starving and sick tell her that I would like to have a handful of wheat. the young man lost no time going to stones house. the young man told the aunt what his mother said. the lady then gave the young man 5 cups of wheat and tied it up in her apron and the young man started for the camp. stone came about that time and called the young man back. The young man stopped stone who was forced back. rode up to the young man took the wheat from him and then shoot him. the young man died two days after. such as whipping and tieing their hands togather with rope. the rope then thrown over a limb of a tree and then drawn up until the indians toes barely touches the ground and let them hang there for hours. this was common punishment. when a father or mother of young girl. was asked to bring the girl to his house. by stone or kelsey. if this order was not obeyed. he or her would be whipped or hung by the hands. Such punishment occurred two or three times a week. and many of the old men and women died from dear and starvation.
these two white man had the indians to build a high fence around their villages. and the head riders were to see that no indian went out side of this fence after dark. if anyone was caught out side of this fence after dark was taken into stones and kelseys house and there was tied both hands and feet and placed in a room and kept there all night. The next day was taken to a tree and was tied down. then the strongs man was chosen to whippe the prisoner. The village on the west side was the Qu Lah Na Poh tribes the village on the east side. Xa Bah Na Poh. tribes.
the starvation of the indians was the cause of the massacre of stone and kelsey. the indians who was starving hired a man by the name of Shuk and a nother man by the name of Xasis. to kill a beef for them. Shuk and Xasis agreed to go out and kill a beef for them. The two men then plan to go out that night and kill a beef for them. Their plan then was to take the best horses in the barn. stones horse which was the best lasso horse. so between the two men. they agreed to take both stones and kelseys horses. So the two men went to stone and kelseys house to see if they had went to bed. it was raining a little. moonlight now and then they found stone and kelsey had went to bed so they went to the barn and took stone and kelseys horses and saddles. Shuk wanted to do the job in the daytime but Xasis said stone or kelsey would sure find them and would kill the both of them. Shuk said then somebody is going to get killed on this job.
so anyhow they went out west they knew where a larg band was feeding they soon rounded the band up and Shuk was to make the first lasso Xasis was good on lassing the foot of an ox so he was to do the foot lassing. Shuk said to Xasis get ready i see large one here hurry and come on. Shuk got a chance and threwed the rope on the large ox Xasis came as quick as he could the band began to stampede. the ox also started with the band. the ground was wet and slippery and raining. and before Xasis could get his rope on. Shuks horse fell to the ground. The horse and the ox got away. Xasis tried to lass the horse but could not get near it to throw the rope on. the horse soon found the other horses and it was then much harder to get the horse. so the chase was given up. the two went back to the camp and reported to the people who hired them. told them the bad luck they had. Xasis then took the horse he had back to the barn which was Kelsey’s horse. all the men who hired Shuk and Xasis was gathered in Xasiss house. here they debated all night. Shuk and Xasis wanted to kill stone and kelsey. they said stone and kelsey would kill them as soon as they would find out that the horses was taken with out them known. one man got up and suggested that the tribe give stone and kelsey forty sticks of beads which means 16,000 beads or $100. no one agreed. another man suggested that he or Shuk. tell stone or kelsey that the horse was stolen. no one agreed. and another man suggested that the other horse should be turned out and tell stone and kelsey both horses were stolen. no one agreed. every thing looks bad for Shuk and Xasis. no one agreed with Shuk and Xasis to kill the two white men. at daylight one man agreed to go with Shuk and Xasis. his indian name. Ba-Tus. was known by the whites as Busi. and a little while later Kra-nas agreed. and as the four men started out another joind the Shuk and Xasis band: Ma-Laxa-Qe-Tu. while this debate was going on the hired or servants boys and girls of stones and kelseys were told by Shuck and Xasis to carry out all the guns. bows and arrows. knives and every thing like weapon was taken out of the house by these girls and boys so the two white men was helpless in defense. so Shuk and Xasis knew the he white man, did not have any thing to defen themselves with and they were sure of their victims.
so the five men went to the house where stone and kelsey were living. at daylight were to the place where Stone always built a fire under a large pot in which he boiled wheat for the indian herders. about 16 of them. these five men waited around this pot until Stone came out to build the fire. Stone came out with pot full of fire which was taken from the fireplace. and said to the Indians. what’s the matter boys you came early this morning. something wrong. the indians said. O nothing me hungry thats all. Qka-Nas: or coyote Jim as he was known by the whites: Qka-Nas said to the men. I thought you men came to kill this man. give me these arrows and bows. He jerk the bow and the arrows away from Shuk and drew it and as he did Stone rose quickly and turned to Qka-Nas and said what are you trying to do Jim, and as Stone said it. the indian cut loose. The arrow struck the victim pith of the stomach. the victim mediately pull the arrow out and ran for the house. fighting his way. he broke one mans arm with the pot he had. and succeeded in getting in the house and locked the door after him. little later Kelsey came and opened the door and noticed the blood on the doorstep. the indians advanced. Kelsey seen that the indians meant business. he said to them. no matar Kelsey. Kelsey bueno hombre para vosotros. The indians charged and two of the Indians caught Kelsey and the fight began. in this fight Kelsey was stabbed twice in the back. Kelsey managed to break loose. he ran for the creek and the indians after him. a man by the name of Xa-sis or blind Jose as he was known by the whites. who was in pursuit. shot Kelsey in the back. Kelsey manage to pull the arrow out jest as he got to the creek and jumped into the water and dove under and came out of the other side of the creek. where several indians were waiting. There was one man Kelsey knew well. he thought who would save him. this man was Joe sefeis. indian name. Ju-Luh. he beged Joe to save him. Joe he could not save him from being killed. Joe said to Kelsey. it’s too late Kelsey; if I attempt to save you. I allso will be killed. I cannot save you kelsey, kelsey was getting weak from loss of blood. Big Jim and Joe had Kelsey by the arms. Big Jim said to his wife. this is a man who killed our son. take this spear. now you have the chance to take revenge. Big Jim’s wife took the spear and stabbed the white man in the heart. this woman’s name was Da-Pi-Tauo. the body was left laying there for the coyotes.
this happened on the east side of the creek, while this was going on. Xasis and Qra-Nas was trailing the blood up stairs and for a hour almost. Qra-Nas Said they crawled up stairs breathless thinking that stone was yet alive. they opened the door of a wheat bend and saw stones foot Qra-Nas drew his arrow across the bow. ready to cut loose. for a moment they watched the lifeless body. Xa-sis discovered that the body was dead. they then took the body and threw it out the window. and then they called all of the people to come and take what wheat and corn they could pack and go to a hiding place. where they could not be found by the whites. so the indians of both villages came and took all the wheat and corn they could gather in the place. and then went to hide themselfs. some went to Fishels point and some went to scotts valley. the men went out to kill cattle for their use and every man who was able to ride caught himself a horse. in around the valley and upper lake and a bachelor valley. there was about one thousand head of horses and about four thousand head of cattles. so the Indians lived fat for a while. Qra-Nas and Ma-Laq-Qe-Tou was chosen to watch the trail that came in from lower lake. and Shuk an Xasis was watching the trail on the west side of the valley. yom-mey-nah and ge-we-leh were watching the trail that came from eight mile valley. two or three weeks had pass. no white man were seen on eather trail. one day. Qra-nas and Ma-Laq-Qe-Tou seen two white men on horse back came over the hill. they saw nothing and stirring around stone and kelseys place. no indians in the village. Qra-nas and Ma-Laq-Qe-Tou. went around behind a small hill to cut the white man off. The white man saw the indians trying to go around behind them. the whites turned and went back before the indians got in back of them. so three or four days went by. no more white man was seen.
one day the lake watchers saw a boat came around the point. some news coming they said to each others. two of the men went to the landing. to see what the news were. they were told that the white warriors had came to kill all the indians around the lake. So hide the best you can. the whites are making boats and with that they are coming up the lake. so we are told by the people down there. so they had two men go up on top of uncle sam mountain. the north peak. from there they watch the lower lake. for three days they watched the lake. one morning they saw a long boat came up the lake with pole on the bow with red cloth. and several of them came. everyone of the boats had ten to fifteen men. the smoke signal was given by the two watchmen. every indian around the lake knew the soldiers were coming up the lake. and how many of them. and those who were watching the trail saw the infantrys coming over the hill from lower lake. these two men were watching from the ash hill. they went to stones and kelseys house. from there the horsemen went down toward the lake and the soldiers went across the valley toward the lake port. they went on to scotts valley. shoot a few shoots with their big gun and went to upper lake and camped on Emmerson hill. from there they saw the indian camp on the island. the next morning the white warriors went across in their long dugouts. The indians said they would met them in peace. so when the whites landed the indians went to welcome them. but the white man was determined to kill them. Ge-We-Lih said he threw up his hands and said no harm me good man. but the white man fired and shoot him in the arm and another shoot came and hit a man standing along side of him and was killed. so they had to run and fight back, as they ran back and hid in the tules and hid under the water, four or five of them gave alittle battle and another man was shoot in the shoulder. some of them jumped in the water and hid in the tuleys. many women and children were killed on around this island. one old lady, a indian, told about what she saw while hiding under a bank, in and under overhanging tuleys. she said she saw two white man coming with their guns up in the air and on their guns hung a little girl. they brought it to the creek and threw it in the water. and a little while later, two more men came in the same manner. This time they had a little boy on the end of their guns and also threw it into the water. A little ways from her she said layed a woman shoot through the shoulder. she held her little baby in her arms. two white men came running toward the woman and baby, they stabbed the woman and the baby and, and threw both of them over the bank in to the water. She said she heard the woman say, O my baby. She said when they gathered the dead, they found all the little ones were killed by being stabbed, and many of the woman were also killed stabbing. she said it took them four or five days to gather up the dead. End of the dead were all burnt on the east side the creek. They called it the island creek. (Ba-Don-Bi-Da-Meh). this old lady told about the whites hung a man on Emerson island this indian was met by the soldiers while marching from scotts valley to upper lake. the indian was hung and a large fire built under the hanging indian. and another indian was caught near Emerson hill. This one was tied to a tree and burnt to death.
the next morning the soldiers started for Mendocino county. and there killed many more indians. the camp was on the ranch now known as Ed Howell ranch. the soldiers made camp a little ways below, about one half a mile from the indian camp. the indians wanted to surrender, but the soldiers did not give them time, the soldiers went into the camp and shoot them down as tho they were dogs. Some of them escaped by going down a little creek leading to the river. and some of them hid in the brush. and those who hid in the brush most of them were killed. and those who hid in the water was overlooked. They killed mostly woman and children.
the soldiers caught two boys age about 14 or 15. The soldiers took them to lower lake, and turned them loose, when the soldiers started the two boys back, they loaded them with meat and hard bread, one said as soon as they got out of sight, they threw the meat away and some of the bread also. he said they went on a dog trot for dear life. thinking all the time that the soldiers would follow them and kill them. he said they would side tract once and awhile and get up on a high peak to see if the soldiers were coming and he said when they got back that night they could do nothing but crying. he said all the dead had been taken across a large dance house had been and was cremated. wetness. Bo-Dom or Jeo Beatti, and Krao Lah, indian name, an old lady said her further dug a large hole in a bank of the river and they hid in the hole. one old man said that he was a boy at the time he saw the soldiers shoot his mother, she fell to the ground with her baby in her arms, he said his mother told him to climb high up in the tree, so he did and from there he said he could see the soldiers running about the camp and shooting the men and woman and stabbing boys and girls. he said mother was not yet dead and was telling him to keep quiet. two of the soldiers heard her talking and ran up to her and stabbed her and child. and a little ways from his mother, he said laid a man dying, holding his boy in his arms the soldiers also stabbed him, but did not kill the boy, they took the boy to the camp, crying, they gave it everything they could find in camp but the little boy did not quit crying. it was a boy about three years of age, when the soldiers were getting redy to move camp, they wrapped the boy up in a blanket and lief the old little boy sitting by the fire wrapped up in a blanket and it was still crying, and that boy is alive today, his name is Bill Ball, now lives in an Boonville. one old man told me about the soldiers killing the indians in this same camp. he said young man from the description he gave. he must have been about 18 or 20 years of age. he said he and another boy about the same age was taken by the soldiers and he said there were two soldiers in charge of them. one would walk ahead and one behind them. he said the soldiers took him and the other boy. they both were bearfooted and he said when they begin to climb the mountain between mendocino and lake county. he said they were made to keep up with the soldiers. when they were climbing over the bottlerock mountain. thir feet were cutup by the rocks and thir feet were bleeding and they could not walk up with the soldiers. the man behind would jab them with the sharp knife fixed on the end of the gun. he said one of the soldiers came and looked at their feet and went to abox opened it took acup and diped something out of asack and brought it to them and told them both of them to hold their foots on a log near by. the soldier took a handful of the stuff and rub it in the cuts on the bottom of their feet. he said he noticed that the stuff the soldier put on their feet looked like salt. sure enough it was salt. the soldiers tied cloth over their feet and told them not to take them off. he said the tears were rolling down his cheeks. he said all the soldiers came and stood around them laughing. he said they rolled and twisted for about two hours. and they also rubbed salt in the wounds on their seats and backs where they jabbed them with the soldiers big knife. as he call it. two or three days later the chief soldier told them they could go back. thet was then gaven meat and bread, all they could pack. he said they started on thir back journey. he said it was all most difficult for them to walk but wrapped a lot of cloth around their feet and by doing so made their way all right. he said the meat and bread got to heavy for fast traveling so they threw the meat and some of the bread away. looking back all the time thinking that the soldiers would follow them and kill them. now and then they went side tract. and look back to see if the soldiers were following them. after it seemed no soldiers following them they would start out for another run. he said they traveled in such manner until they got to their home. he said to himself. here I am not to see my mother and sister but to see their blood scattered over the ground like water and their bodies for coyotes to devour. he said he sat down under a tree and cried all day.