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George A. MEACHAM
(1765-1820)
Mary DURHAM
(1769-Between 1822)
Robert WASSON
(1772-1815)
Sarah McCRACKEN
(1767-)
Anderson MEACHAM
(1800-1882)
Lucinda WASSON
(1805-1847)

Alfred Benjamin MEACHAM
(1826-1882)

 

Family Links

Spouses/Children:
Orpha Caroline FERRAE

Alfred Benjamin MEACHAM

  • Born: April 29, 1826, Orange County, Indiana
  • Marriage: Orpha Caroline FERRAE on October 28, 1852 in Washington County, Iowa
  • Died: February 16, 1882, Washington, D. C.
  • Buried: February 18, 1882, Congressional Cemetery, Washington, D.C.

bullet  General Notes:

Photocopy: This image of Alfred B. Meacham, 1826-1882, appears in the Summer 1979 OREGON HISTORICAL QUARTERLY in an article by Meacham's granddaughter, Elizabeth Redington Stewart, titled "My Darling Red Bird."
From DeeAnna Allum Granston



1826
BIRTH of Alfred Benjamin Meacham ("A. B.") (sometimes "Colonel")

1830
CENSUS, Indiana, Orange County (with father Anderson and mother Lucinda)

1840
CENSUS, Indiana, Orange County, Southwest Township (with father Anderson and mother Lucinda)

1847
DEATH of mother, Lucinda (Wasson) Meacham

1850
CENSUS

1852
MARRIAGE of Alfred Benjamin Meacham and Orpha Caroline Feree

1860
CENSUS, California, Solano County, Suisin ("Alfred" age 34, "Farmer")

1870
CENSUS

1880
CENSUS, Washington D.C.: "Alfred Meachem," age 50, "journalist," and wife Orpha, age 52, are in the household of Thomas Bland, journalist, and his wife, Mary C. Bland, physician

1882
DEATH, Alfred Benjamin Meacham (in February) at approximately 55 years 9 months 17 days

****

1882
DEATH of father, Anderson Meacham (in April)



DESCRIPTION
(Alfred): Red hair, red mustache and beard; "six feet in his stocking feet"; "straight as an arrow" (from article titled "My Darling Red Bird" by Elizabeth Redington Stewart {granddaughter of Alfred B. Meacham} from publication, OREGON HISTORICAL QUARTERLY, Summer, 1979, Volume LXXX, No. 2, pages 117-133)

MILITARY SERVICE:
Not researched

OCCUPATIONS:
(1) Toll road and hotel operator in the Blue Mountain area of northeastern Oregon
(2) Superintendent of Indian Affairs for Oregon
(3) "Journalist" according to the 1880 census when he lived in Washington, D.C.
(4) Author



LIBRARY OF CONGRESS
Meacham, A. B. (Alfred Benjamin), 1826-1882
WI-NE-MA (The Woman-Chief)
New York: AMS Press, 1980, 168 pages
ISBN: 0404156282
Reprint of the 1876 edition published by American Pub. Co., Hartford
Subjects: Winema, Modoc Chieftainess, 1842-1932
Modoc Indians - Kings and rulers - Biography
Modoc women - Biography
Modoc Indians
Control No.: 76043773 //4952


Meacham was shot several times and partially scalped by Modoc Indians when General Canby was killed (see contents of 1873 newspaper article below). After the war Meacham toured the country on a lecture circuit and wrote books. He was Chairman of the Peace Commission to the Modocs in 1873



LOCATIONS:
Born in Orange County, Indiana; when a boy, moved to Johnson County, Iowa with his parents; in 1850 went to California gold fields with younger brother Harvey; in 1855 moved to Oregon (Meacham Station {Lee's Encampment} at Boise Basin) (Salem) ; later lived in California (at Suisun); resided in Washington, D. C. upon his death

CHURCH AFFILIATION:
Methodist; Meacham brought his morals to the office of Superintendent of Indian Affairs when he tried to clean up what he believed to be a corrupt agency




BOOK:
GENEALOGICAL AND BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES OF DESCENDANTS OF ABRAHAM TEAGARDEN, From Arrival in America, Including European Background, by Helen Elizabeth Vogt, published 1960s, page 340, as follows:

"Emma's [Emma Meacham Fields] brother was the Indian Agent, Alfred Meacham, who was nearly killed in the 1873 Modoc Indian War in California by the Indian "Steamboat Frank" who, troubled by his conscience later in life, went to Iowa and tried to free his soul by talking with Emma. Alfred wrote "Wigwam and Warpath" and "Winema, the Woman Chief" in tribute to the Indian woman who saved his life. There is a monument to him near Reno, Nevada.




LETTER:
Original ten-page handwritten letter dated Sunday, January 18, 1881 from Alfred B. Meacham to "My Dearly Beloved Wife, Children, Brother, Sisters, Father and Mother" from 1209 G Street, NW, Washington, D. C., gift to DeeAnna in 1965 from Bonnie Darr Fields (1882-1967)




ARTICLE
from MANSFIELD HERALD, Mansfield, Ohio, Thursday Morning, April 17, 1873:


THE MODOC MASSACRE

Murder of Gen. Canby and the Peace Commission


LAVA BED, April 11, via Yreka, April 12--Yesterday afternoon five Indians and four squaws came into our camp and were made presents of clothing and provisions by the Peace Commissioner, and a message was sent out by the Commissioner asking for a talk this morning at a place about a mile from the picket line. Later in the evening Bogus Charles came and told the picket that he could take his gun; that he (Charley) did not intend to go back any more. The picket brought him in and took him to the tent of General Canby, where Charley left his gun, and remained at the tent of Private Riddle during the night. This morning Boston Charley came in and told the Commissioner that Captains Jack and five other


INDIANS WOULD MEET THE COMMISSIONERS
outside our lines. Boston Charley and Bogus Charley then mounted a horse and started for Lava the Bed. About an hour after their departure General Canby, Dr. Thomas, Mr. A. B. Meacham and Mr. Dyer, with Frank Riddle and his squaw for interpreters, started for the place appointed. The party arrived at the appointed place and were closely watched by the signal officer, Lieutenant Adams, from the signal station on the hill, overlooking our camp. About half an hour after the party had arrived


A CRY FROM THE SIGNAL STATION
was heard saying that the Indians had attacked the peace commissioners and that an engagement had commenced between the Indians and Col. Mason. In a moment the troops were under arms and deployed as skirmishers under command of Col. Green, and orders were given to forward double quick. Very shortly after Mr. Dyer returned and told us that he thought he was the only one who had escaped; but in a few moments Riddle and his squaw were seen entering the picket line. From him we gathered the following particulars of how


THE MASSACRE COMMENCED
Meacham made a short speech to the Indians, followed by Gen. Canby, and then Dr. Thomas. Then Captain Jack made a speech asking for "Hot Creek and Cottonwood," the place now occupied by Fairchild and Davis, for a reservation. Mr. Meacham told Jack that it was not possible to give him what he asked. Schonchin told Meacham to say no more, that he, Meacham, had said enough upon that subject, and while Schonchin was speaking Captain Jack got up and walked behind the others and turned back and exclaimed, "All ready," drew his pistol and snapped a cap at General Canby; cocked his pistol again and fired.


GEN. CANBY FELL DEAD,
shot under the right eye. Schonchin then shot Meacham in the shoulder and head, but he is still alive. Boston Charley and another Indian shot and killed Dr. Thomas. Hookey Jim chased Dyer for some distance, but Dyer turned upon him with a pistol in hand, and Jim ran. An Indian knocked down Jim Riddle's squaw and took her horse but Captain Jack made him return it, and then another Indian chased Riddle and shot at him. (This last may betaken with a grain of salt.)

THE TROOPS
are now about a mile in the Lava Beds lying on their arms and will probably advance tonight under cover of darkness. There are about six hundred troops, which can be brought into active service, and I believe they will end the Modoc War. Meacham is not expected to survive.




ANOTHER ACCOUNT OF THE ASSASSINATION


NEW YORK
, April 12th--The following is a portion of the HERALD special about the massacre of Gen. Canby and the Peace Commissioners, dated Lava Beds (sic), April 11, 3 P.M.

Between ten and eleven o'clock this morning the Peace Commission party, comprising Gen. Canby, A. B. Meacham, Dr. Thomas, Dr. Dyer, Riddle, the interpreter and squaw, and Bogus Charley and Boston Charley, went out to the designated spot. There they met Captain Jack, John Schonchin, Black Jim, Shack Nasty Jim, Ellen's Man and Hawker Jim. They had no guns with them, but each carried a pistol in his belt. This, however, was not much noticed, as in previous interviews they had had their guns with them. They sat down in kind of a broken circle and Gen. Canby, Meacham and Dr. Thomas sat together, faced by Capt. Jack and Schonchin. Dyer stood by Jack holding his horse, with Hawker Jim and Shack Nasty Jim to his left. Meacham opened the talk and gave a long and detailed history of what they wanted to do for them, after which Gen. Canby and Dr. Thomas both talked for some time. Capt. Jack then talked in an apparently good, serious strain and when he finished stepped back to the rear near where Meacham's horse was hitched. John Schonchin then began to talk, and while he was speaking Dyer heard a cap miss fire, and looking around saw Capt. Jack to his left with his pistol pointed at Gen. Canby. This was the signal for a general massacre, and a dozen shots were fired inside of half a minute. Capt. Jack fired again on General Canby, and the noble old gentleman ran off to the left but was speedily shot down and killed instantly. Meacham was shot at by Schonchin and wounded in the head. He tried to draw his Derringer when two Indians ran up and knocked him down. Mr. Thomas was killed almost instantly by two pistol shots in the head. Riddle ran off and it appears they did not fire at him but they knocked his squaw down. Dyer, Riddle and the squaw returned in safety to the camp. About a hundred yards to the west of the place of meeting was found A. B. Meacham, badly wounded, with a pistol shot over the left eye. Fifty yards further on was the body of Dr. Thomas lying on his face and stripped to the waist. Life was extinct from pistol shot wounds in the head. The body of Gen. Canby was stripped of every vestige of clothing and lay about one hundred yards to the southward with two pistols' shot wounds in the head.

THE FEELING IN THE ARMY

WASHINGTON, April 13th--The terrible news of the treacherous assassination of Brigadier Gen. Canby, by the old Modoc Chief, and the intelligence received at the same time of the murders committed by the Apaches cause a profound feeling of grief and indignation, which finds expression in all quarters, particularly in the army where General Canby was held in great esteem and affection, with utterance of an earnest desire for the extermination of these savages. This feeling of indignation has taken the place of all ideas whatever of peace, and the slightest consideration cannot be given to any other proposition than that to move at once to the severest punishment of the Modocs.

THE DISPATCH

The following is the dispatch received at the office of the Adjutant General of the Army.

HEADQ'RS DIVISION OF PACIFIC
April 13, 1873

To General W. T. Sherman, Washington.

The following report of the horrible treachery and murder has just been received. I have telegraphed to Col. Gillem to let the punishment of the Modocs be as severe as their treachery has merited and hope to hear soon that he has made an end of them.

(signed)
J. M. SCHOFIELD, Major General Commanding.

A copy of the telegram to the Assistant Adjutant General.


DEPARTMENT OF CALIFORNIA FROM MODOC EXPEDITION.

Gen. Canby with the Peace Commissioners went to meet the Indians about one mile in front of the camp at 10:30 this morning. At 10:30 P.M. the signal officer whom I had watching the conference reported firing. Upon reaching the place of meeting I found that Gen. Canby and Dr. Thomas had been killed and MEACHAM wounded. The other Commissioner, Dyer, escaped unhurt. I shall at once commence active operations against the Indians.

(signed)
ALVIN GILLEM, Col. Seventh Cavalry Commanding
Dated at camp south of Tulle Lake April 11th.

Similar official reports were also received by the Assistant Adjutant General, W. D. Whipple, at the army headquarters and by Assistant Adjutant-General Wood at Portland, Oregon where he has been advised by Colonel Gillem of the tragedy. The information was communicated to the President at a late hour last night by Adjutant General Towsend (sic), and General Sherman was also apprised at a late hour of the occurrence.

THE FEELING OF THE PRESIDENT
and the General at the sudden announcement were of the most intense sorrow and indignation and there was not an instant's hesitancy that the Modocs shall be made to suffer to the severest extent for the crime. It is now evident that the act was long premeditated, and this fact added to the deep sense of wrath that the massacre has aroused, the President has unreservedly expressed his sanction of the severest measure now necessary to

PROPERLY PUNISH THE MODOCS,
and his views in this respect have been fully stated to the authorities.




OBITUARY (Alfred) from THE EVENING STAR, February 17, 1882:

DEATH OF A. B. MEACHAM

Mr. A. B. Meacham died last evening at Dr. T. A. Bland's residence on G Street, near 12th, after a few hours' illness of apoplexy. Arrangements were being made today to hold funeral services tomorrow, at 3 o'clock in the Metropolitan M. E. church, of which he was a member. The interment will be in the Congressional Cemetery. Mr. Meacham was born in Orange County, Indiana, in 1826, and moved with his family while a boy to Iowa. In 1855 he removed to Oregon, which state he represented in the electoral college in 1872. He was appointed a member of the Modoc commission by Gen. Grant, and in the massacre in which Gen. Canby lost his life received seven bullet wounds. He devoted his life to the cause of the Indian. His last public service was on the Ute commission, of which he was a member when he died. He leaves a wife and son now in Oregon.




PLACE OF DEATH: "Died at his desk in Washington, D.C. in 1882, where he wrote, published and distributed THE COUNCIL FIRE (according to the OREGON HISTORICAL QUARTERLY, Summer, 1979, Volume LXXX, No. 2, page 118)

BURIAL:
Congressional Cemetery, 1801 E Street Southeast, Washington, D.C.

INSCRIPTION:
"Alfred B. Meacham who devoted his life to the cause of justice to the Red Man. Passed to his reward."

MEMORIAL SERVICE:
Metropolitan Methodist Episcopal Church, Washington, D.C.

Alfred married Orpha Caroline FERRAE on October 28, 1852 in Washington County, Iowa. (Orpha Caroline FERRAE was born in 1831 in Indiana and was buried in Walla Walla, Walla Walla County, Washington.)


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