Days with Chief Joseph by Erskine Wood

Days with Chief Joseph by Erskine Wood

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Written by a young man at age 14, Erskine Wood experienced the adventure of his life in 1893. The son of C.E.S. and Nanny Wood, Erskine was also the nephew of General John Gibbon, then Commander of Department of the Columbia. The general and his family lived in what is today called the "Marshall House" on Vancouver's Officers' Row. The Gibbons were the first to live in the house, moving in as it opened in 1886. By that time, Lieutenant C.E.S. Wood, former adjutant to General O.O. Howard throughout the Nez Perce War of 1877 had resigned his military commission and opened a successful law firm in Portland, OR. The Wood family were frequent visitors to Officers' Row. Young Erskine was born there in September 1879, and grew to his early teens hearing the stories of famous Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce bands. 

       John Gibbon and his troops met Joseph and his band in a deadly morning battle at the Big Hole, Montana. Charles Erskine Scott Wood rode at General Howard's side throughout the entire Nez Perce War and they met Gibbon the next day at the Big Hole and months later, Howard and Wood were present as Joseph's band surrendered. Wood recorded Chief Joseph's speech and took him into custody of the US Army. They became friends and when the US Government exiled the band to years of confinement in Indian Territory (Oklahoma), Wood joined with the three generals Howard, Miles and Gibbon who petitioned Congress for the band's return to the Pacific Northwest.

     While dining in the Wood's Portland home in early 1892, Chief Joseph invited the Woods' oldest son Erskine to visit him that fall for the hunting season. Erskine would live in Chief Joseph's family tent and learn many cultural ways of the Nez Perce band. He visited two seasons -- in 1892 and in 1893. His mother worried about his loss of schooling and the trials he may be exposed to at age 14, so 1893 was the last year he visited Chief Joseph. 

     This marvelous book is the boy's account of those days at Nespelem with forwards by Erskine at age 104 and by Mary Rose written when the book was published in Vancouver as the Centennial Edition. The book is suitable for all ages.