Historic Structures

Fort Simcoe, Commandant Residence, Yakima, Washington

Date added: August 24, 2010 Categories: Washington Military Facility House

The site was first chosen as a fort and then as an agency upon the advice of Col. Wright, who urged the warm climate and favorable conditions of all sorts, including a region of springs known among the Indians as "Mool Mool".

It is reported that materials for the building were brought around Cape Horn, transported from Portland, Oregon, via the Dalles, to the fort. the extent of this is unknown.

The first agent, R. H. Lonsdale was appointed in 1860, and was relieved several months later upon serious charges being brought against him. A. A. Bancroft was appointed in 1861 by President Lincoln, his mishandling of the Indians aroused them and brought remonstrances of his treatment of them from James H. Wilbur, superintendent of schools; whereupon Bancroft had Wilbur removed, with the result that Wilbur, with abundant evidence and data, appeared before President Lincoln who immediately recalled Bancroft, appointing Wilbur in his place in 1864; his tenure lasting 16 years.

The history of Simcoe, centers around two agents of marked character, "Father" Wilber, a methodist minister and Jay Lynch, whose combined tenure was 34 years, during which proper justice was meted out to the Indians. Though the old Oak Tree, used as a whipping post, still stands in front of the agents house, this means of punishment used by "Father" Wilbur on occasion, did not signify brutality usually connected with it, for none has been quite so well loved by the Indians as he.

Older Indians point out the brow of Toppenish Ridge, where soldiers halted in retreat to bury a brass cannon from the approaching Indians, and where Indian arrow heads dug up indicate the battle ground by Toppenish Creek. It is said that Generals, Grant and Sheridan, served as Lieutenants at the fort.