Henry Elfers, who had located his ranch on John Day Creek, was another settler who had shown little friendship to the Nez Perce. Elfers habitually, sent his dogs to attack any passing Indians, and at the same time warned off any native passersby with his rifle. Early on the morning of June 14, the trio of Wahlitits, Sarpsis llppilp, and Wetyetmas Wahyakt lay in ambush waiting for Elfers to drive his stock to pasture.

Henry Elfers's ranch on John Day Creek

... The three men started down and arrived at John Day ranch early morning and staked their horses in oat field so the whites would be attracted to that direction so to be easy killing and it was. The owner, Henry Elfers first came and noticed the horses staked in the field. He came to the horses swearing. Sarpsis was about to jump up and shoot him, Wahlitits told him to keep still, to let him come closer. When he was about a rod away, Elfers noticed a gun, turned and ran back. Wahlitits started after him and grabbed him and downed Henry. Then Sarpsis caught up to them and shot Elfers dead.

Camille Williams
Nez Perce interpreter

After killing Elfers, they shot his nephew Henry Beckrodge, and the hired man, Robert Bland. Then the three men took the finest of his horses, a rifle, and a handful of cartridges and headed north, toward the Tolo Lake encampment. Catherine Elfers was churning butter in the milk house while all this was going on and didn't hear the gunfire over the sound of the rushing creek. She even saw the three Nez Perce leave, but did not suspect anything.



The Nez Perce Flight to Canada - An Introduction

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