Run for the hills — the Boddy killings

Nearly nine years after her husband, two children and son-in-law were killed by Modoc Indians in 1872, Louisa Boddy Hartery had their bodies moved to the Jacksonville Cemetery.

All through the night, in 2 feet of snow with no food or fire, Louisa Boddy and daughter Katherine Schira shivered against a tree in the foothills of Stukel Mountain, northwest of Tule Lake.

They had run from their home in terror, stopping only when the moonless night turned so black they couldn't see where to step.

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The Boddys had only been near Tule Lake for less than three months. They had arrived from Australia and had followed the railroad down from Portland. Before moving on, they ran a boarding house on the rail line between Oakland and Roseburg.

In 1881, when Klamath Falls officials were setting up a new cemetery, Louisa Boddy had her relatives' bodies exhumed and moved to the Jacksonville Cemetery. She ordered an elaborate marker from Edward McGrath, a San Francisco marble carver that still stands upon the graves.

Louisa died in San Francisco in 1904, and her body was returned to Jacksonville for burial near her husband. Daughter Katherine died in 1935.

The previous morning they had been preparing lunch when Katherine heard the rattle of her husband's approaching wagon. She stepped outside to greet him, but found his team running homeward without a driver.

As she settled the team, she saw blood covering the wagon seat and dripping from the reins. Assuming her husband had fallen from the wagon, Katherine called to her mother and began running up the road to find him.

"I ran after her with some water," said Louisa Boddy in a letter to the Oregon Sentinel newspaper, "and just as I reached her, six Indians on horseback rushed out of the brush and two of them rode up to me and asked if there were any more white men at the house."

She could see the lifeless body of Nicholas Schira, Katherine's husband, lying on the ground and told the Modocs she believed the team had run away and killed the white man.

"He gave the war whoop and rode off to the house," she said.

When she saw that Schira was shot through the head, she realized there was going to be more trouble. She and Katherine rushed to warn William Boddy, Louisa's husband, and the Boddy stepsons, Willie, 14, and Richard, 18.

Not far away, they found Richard, stripped naked and slumped over his wagon. They tried to find William, who had been chopping wood near the house, and Willie, who had been herding sheep, but five or six Modocs were hovering nearby.

"We concluded it best not to go any further in that direction, but to run for the hills," Louisa said.

That Friday, Nov. 29, 1872, a small Army detachment had attempted to return Captain Jack, the Modoc leader, to the Fort Klamath Reservation. While a battle ensued near the Lost River, a small group of Modocs set off on a killing spree.

Louisa Boddy was furious that the Army hadn't warned them of trouble.

"The Indians had told us, time and again, that if the soldiers came to take them upon the reservation ... they would kill every white man," she said. "They said they wanted to be friends."

The settlers had asked that soldiers never be sent unless a messenger came first to warn them. The Boddys received no such warning.

The next afternoon, Louisa and Katherine were rescued and taken to Klamath Falls.

A week later, Louisa returned with four volunteers and recovered three of the four bodies.

"The body of my youngest son was not found till four days afterward," she said.

Six months later, Kathleen and Louisa were asked to identify the Modocs who had killed their husbands. Visibly upset and crying, Kathleen pulled out a pistol and rushed toward one Modoc, while Louisa, knife in hand, lunged toward another. Both were stopped, but not before an Army general's palm was cut by Louisa's knife.

Both women came to Fort Klamath later that year to witness the hanging of Captain Jack and three others.

They would remarry and live a long life, but neither could ever forget that horrific day and that relentless run for the hills.

Writer Bill Miller lives in Shady Cove. Reach him at newsmiller@live.com.


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