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Though there have been some guesses, no one got the correct answer.

The conviction of the first white man in Idaho for killing an Indian is the answer to Week 92 of Orofino History Trivia, a special feature to celebrate the history and heritage of Clearwater Country.

Briefly James Pickett was the first white man in Idaho to be convicted of killing an Indian. Pickett, Jack Grier and an Indian named Major Jim had set out on a prospecting tour on the evening of Aug. 26, 1872, they camped at Quartz Creek. Grier had been employed to pack the belongings of Pickett. During the night, an Indian named Captain Jack, his wife Sally and her sister Louise, wife of Grier, came into the camp.

The next morning, Grier left the camp to search for horses that had wandered during the night. While he was gone, Pickett accused Captain Jack and Grier of stealing money and grub. When he attempted to take Captain Jack's horse, an argument and eventually a fight started, though a local rancher tried to get Pickett to leave. Pickett came back a short time later and the fight continued. Sally seeing her husband in danger tried to stop the fight and it was then that Pickett struck her with a miner's pick that went all the way through her body from the back.

Pickett was arrested and kept in jail, except for a try at escaping from which he was recaptured, for eight months. In May 1873, he went before a grand jury and they found cause for a trial. He was arraigned and plead not guilty. A number of witnesses were called on both sides of the case. The jury brought back a guilty verdict June 1, 1873 and he was sentenced to hang June 5. Pickett appealed and eventually received a presidential pardon from President Rutherford B. Hayes in 1877. The pardon had been supported by a number of prominent Shoshone County and Idaho citizens, including 10 of the 12 original jurors that convicted Pickett.

(Documentation of the case courtesy of the Clearwater Historical Museum)

Monday: Murder

Tuesday: Woman

Wednesday: Fight

Thursday: Nez Perce Tribe

Friday: It was a first.

Saturday: Presidential pardon

Monday: There was an argument over property.

Tuesday: He was convicted and sentenced to hang.

Wednesday: A prospecting tour that left from Pierce City

Thursday: August 1872

Friday: She tried to protect her husband.

Saturday: A jury found him guilty.

Monday: She was Nez Perce and he was Caucasian.

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Window on the Clearwater
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Orofino, ID 83544
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