Friday, July 08, 2011

Where Quiemuth was murdered in Olympia and why it doesn't really matter because we still need to deal with Bunting

The last few years I've been strangely fascinated with finding out where in Olympia Quiemuth was murdered. I mostly wanted to find out because I think its an under heard story in Olympia, especially the reaction of our citizens that lead to the murderer getting off.

Drew Crooks will present his findings on probably the same topic (at least the location) next week, so now's a good as time as any to put out what I found. In short, I probably disagree with Drew about where Quiemuth died.

There are a few resources that firmly pin the location at the old Stevens house on the Capitol Campus (this one and Rogues, Buffoons and Statesmen), but I think they're mistaken.

The more I've plugged into this Quiemuth topic, the more I find the history of the area a lot darker than what is commonly known. When I read Mighty Mountain, it seemed that Binns was making dramatic statements about how some folks were back then. But, now, it almost seems like he was pulling his punches.

There was a least a minority of people for whom killing Indians was not a big deal, or at least part of why they came West. The rest, while they did complain a bit, did very little to bring the murderers to justice.

Read Sarah's Olympia 1853 and my Murders in Thurston County, 1854 to 1857 for more context, but killing Indians was a majority of crime in our early days.

In terms of Quiemuth, it all started out with trying to find where exactly in Olympia he died, with the the intent of possibly memorializing his murder. There are two possible options from my

These clips (One, Two and Three) put the murder either at Gov. Stevens' first offices where the Olympia Center is now or at his newly constructed house on the NE corner of the Capitol Campus. Because of references to an alley way in clip 4, I tend to think its the original offices references in clip 1.

Also, the timeline moves very quickly in terms of where Stevens' and his family lived and when Quiemuth was killed. The murder occurred on November 19 and the family moved into the new house in December. Makes me think it is very unlikely the family would move so quickly into a house that was the scene of a violent murder.

Also, interesting enough, there is no mention by Hazard Stevens in his biography of his father there is no mention of Quiemuth being brought to the new (or under construction) house. There was obviously an office in the house at some point, but its more likely its the offices referred to in clip 1.

Then, I got onto the topic of who killed Quiemuth. There is a lot of thought that Joeseph Bunting was obviously the killer, but that the political sentiment in Olympia led him to get off. Bunting, though, was not done after Quiemuth. These clips (Five, Six, Seven) tell the story of a later murder by Bunting and family. Clip 8 fingers Bunting years later as Quiemuth's murderer, without any hint of controversy.

No direct evidence, but its pretty clear that if Bunting isn't our man, someone like him was. And, Olympia at the time failed to turn him in.

So, in my mind, a few questions remain. Where did Quiemuth die (hopefully we can figure this one out) and do we memorialize where he died?

And, does Olympia owe anything for Bunting? In memorializing Quiemuth, should we take the blame for our city not turning in the murderer?


Anonymous said...

Maybe we could do some sort of reconciliation type process.

Tenalquot said...

Hi Emmett,

Just found your blog. I worked with Drew on the location of Stevens' office where Quiemuth was murdered. An article in the 27 March 1915 edition of the Morning Olympian reported the buildings demolition. As you noted it was mid-block on the west side of Capital Way, between Olympia and State St. The building had a colorful life- it later served as Big Bill McGowan's Green Tree Saloon and as the final location of the Kwong Hong Yick Laundry.

Cheers, -Ed

Emmett said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Emmett said...


Thanks so much for the comment, its interesting that the building lasted so long.

Also, apologies for my late reply :)