The Goldendale Sentinel - Headlines & History since 1879

By Jean Allyn Smeltzer
Klickitat County Historical Society 

Looking Back


113 Years Ago

The Independent, May 8, 1913

Klickitat INDIAN DIES AT 109 - Jake Hunt, Sr., aged Klickitat Indian, died at his shack on his White Salmon Valley homestead last Friday of smallpox, having reached the age of 109 years. He is said to have been the oldest Indian in the Northwest, and the only living one who was on the present site of Portland before the white man came, guiding two of the expeditionary parties into the country.

His son, Jack, in White Salmon, to get lumber for a coffin, said: “My papa old, old man, say he would live longer that big tree; now smallpox come, papa die, big tree live.”

The big tree alluded to is known as the Monarch of Klickitat County, situated 15 miles north of White Salmon on the property of the Mount Adams Orchard Company, which intends to cut two rooms into it, and run a small spiral stairway to the top of this mammoth fir 39 feet in circumference.

This patriarch, of the Klickitat, had three wives in his time, all dead, and leaves six children, the oldest of whom is 82, the youngest more than 50 and at one time well known as a Tomanawas or medicine man.

The old man occupied a 160 acre homestead of valuable land well adapted for orchard purposes, had money in the bank and some cash in the ground.

“My papa leave money, but when he die he say no one have land, no one get money, hide in land. We try many times to get him say where money, and make will like white man, but he no do it. Papa not like white man who leave money and land to children. We hunt for gold many times, but no find,” said Jake, Jr., who is just up from smallpox, a disease which has been running among the local Indians and on the reservation.

Old Jake rode his pinto into White Salmon until three weeks ago, sunshine or rain. With his parched, wrinkled skin he had become as a living mummy. Long since, persons had ceased to prophesy his end, and there was a chance that after all the big tree might be brought low by some gust of wind and beat him to the spirit land.


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