Hazardous Duty 1879

On September 24, 1879, the Office of Indian Affairs approved the appointments of twelve employees at the White River Agency. There was no difference between the annual wage of a laborer, a carpenter, and a blacksmith; everyone received $720.00 per year (plus room and board) regardless of skills. There were two exceptions. The Ute and English-speaking Interpreter received $300.00. Perhaps he worked only part-time. In an unusual twist for the timeperiod, the only female employee received the highest pay–$750.00. Being the Indian Agent’s daughter made no difference on the government’s fixed pay schedule. Josephine Meeker may have received $30 per year more than the male employees because she filled two jobs–Teacher and Physician. 
          The employees, their job titles, and their annual salaries were:
Henry James, Interpreter, $300   
William H. Post, Carpenter, $720
Josephine Meeker, Teacher and Physician, $750
Henry S. Dresser, Engineer, $720
Albert Woodbury, Blacksmith, $720
Edwin L. Mansfield, Herder, $720
Shaduck Price, Farmer, $720
Wilmer Eskridge, Sawyer, $720
Arther L. Thomson, Laborer, $720
Frank G. Dresser, Laborer, $720
Fred E. Shepherd, Laborer, $720
George W. Eaton, Laborer, $720
          The position of Millwright was unfilled because Meeker could not find a qualified person willing to work in a remote and dangerous place for those wages.
          Five days after the official appointment letter was signed in Washington, DC, Agent Meeker and eight employees lay dead. Only Henry James, Albert Woodbury and Edwin Mansfield survived because they were not at the agency on that fatal day. Josephine Meeker also survived after enduring nearly 30 days as a Ute hostage (along with her mother and the wife and two children of Shaduck Price).

Published in: on October 26, 2009 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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