The Murder of Old Bishop
The first serious outbreak was occasioned by three of our people, namely: Richard A. Ivie, Y. Rufus Stoddard and Gerome Zabriskie, who met an Indian called Bishop Whitney, in the field and claimed a shirt the Indian had on. The Indian re- fused to give it up. Ivie claimed it as his and tried to take it, was resisted and in the scuffle that in- sued, the Indian was killed, and his body cavity weighted with rock, was sunk in the river, so reported by the Indians, who found the body after 24 hours search.
The murder of Old Bishop, occurred about the 1st of August, 1849, and immediately caused great excitement amongst the Indians, especially the Timpanodes, located on their own land and in proximity of Fort Utah. The Timpanogos first demanded the murderers be turned over to them which of course, was re-fused by the whites. They then required compensation in cattle and horses, but nothing was ever given, and shortly after this cattle and horses were found with arrows sticking in them, several persons were shot at while in the woods and other places. Meanwhile the people prepared for defense. Peter W. Conover was chosen Captain of Militia with E. T. Thomas and G. T. Willis, lieutenants, Miles Weaver, adjutant, Joseph Clark, sergeant. Guards were posted at night and armed herdsmen on horseback, kept the stock by day. The leading Indians ordered the people off their lands. They made serious threats in case of failure to leave and stock was stolen from time to time. - (Source: Peter Gottfredson Indian Depredations in Utah)
On a warm spring day three men were riding along the Provo River on
their horses when they came upon a "friendly Indian" the whites
called Old Bishop. The whites called him by this name because his
mannerisms reminded them of a white man by the name of Bishop
Whitney. The three men, Rufus Stoddard, Richard Ivie, and Gerome
Zabrisky began to heckle the man, and accused him of stealing the
shirt he was wearing from off a cloths line. Old Bishop denied having stolen the shirt from
anyone, saying he had made a fair trade for it.
Ivie pulled his gun on Old Bishop and told him to take it off. The
old Indian man stood his ground and refused. Ivie murdered the Indian in cold blood.
Concerned that what they had done would spark retribution from the
Indians, the men then gutted the old man. They then filled his body
cavity with rocks and threw him in the Provo River. Quoting from
History of Utah Stake, James Goff, one of the colonists, stated
later, "The men who killed the Indian ripped his bowls open and
filled them with stones preparatory to sinking the body." Then
making mockery of the murder he writes, "The Indians assert that,
annually, on the anniversary of his death the "Old Bishop" appears
on the bank of the river and slowly takes the rocks one by one out
of his bowels and throws them into the river, then disappears. Some
(white) fishermen have watched in hopes of having an interview with
the ‘Bishop's ghost.’"
Satisfied, the men returned to the fort and boasted of having taken
Old Bishop's life. Thinking they had committed the perfect murder they
relaxed and fell back into their routines. So much for the alleged
promises made by Dimmick Huntington and Higbee brothers to An-kar-tewets.
This tradgic event was a prelude to the massacre that fallowed at Fort Utah, and the dission made by LDS Church authorities to "exterminate" the Timpanogos Nation.
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Phillip B Gottfredson, Great Grandson of Peter Gottfredson, shares an intimate perspective of the Timpanogos peoples of Utah and the Black Hawk War of 1849 to 1873 in his debut Native American history book titled “My Journey to Understand ... Black Hawk’s Mission of Peace” (published by Archway Publishing).