Territorial Timeline

Colonel Isaac Ebey murdered by northern Indians at his home on Whidbey Island

During the 1850s, Indians from Canada would routinely raid settlements throughout the northern part of Puget Sound, even capturing ships in the area. Eventually the United States sent the U.S.S Massachusetts to the area to protect shipping and the settlers. On October 20, 1856 a large encampment of marauders was found near Port Gamble. The officers of the Massachusetts ordered them to leave and return north but the Indians refused. The guns of the Massachusetts opened fire, killing twenty-seven Indians and destroying all of their canoes and provisions. The survivors surrendered and were ferried to Victoria aboard the Massachusetts.

Among the dead were several prominent chiefs, causing the Indians to vow revenge. In search of a "white chief," they were told about Isaac Ebey, a prominent settler. Isaac Ebey was the first Collector of Customs at Olympia and later at Port Townsend. On the night of August 11, 1857 the Indians knocked on his door and asked that he speak with them. Instead, they murdered him and cut off his head. After a two-year search, Captain Charles Dodd, of the Hudson’s Bay Company, retrieved the head and it was buried with the rest of Ebey’s body.