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Treasures of the Archives: Asotin County Frontier Justice Records

Criminal Horse Theft, Frontier Justice Series, Asotin Frontier Justice, 1887, Washington State Archives, Digital Archives.

Criminal Horse Theft, Frontier Justice Series, Asotin Frontier Justice, 1887, Washington State Archives, Digital Archives, http://www.digitalarchives.wa.gov.

In 1887, a Nez Perce man named William Stingy charged another man called “Indian George” with horse theft. Above is the warrant issued for his arrest in Asotin County, Washington. The case is curious in a few ways. Why did Stingy use the white justice system and not tribal remedies? Is this “Indian George” the same one who General Oliver Howard used in an attempted peace negotiation with Chief Joseph during the Nez Perce War? Perhaps you could be the intrepid researcher who provides an answer to these questions.

The Asotin County Frontier Justice series has many other interesting stories. In this case, the accused W. M. H. Grayson was found not guilty of murder on the basis of “criminal insanity.” In some trials, such as the case of Frank Stinson, the defendant stands accused of the crime of adultery. The frontier justice series is filled with fascinating stories of Washington’s wild past, and serves as a look into the state’s early justice system. Do a search on the Asotin County Frontier Justice page to find out more.

Special thanks to Dr. Larry Cebula, digital archivist at the State Archives, for his enlightening article on the subject.