As It Was: Iowa Slough Once Known as Dead Man’s Slough
Iowa Slough is about 15 minutes by boat from the mouth of the Coquille River in Oregon and about half way between the towns of Coquille and Bandon. Years ago it was called Dead Man’s Slough, taking its name from two miners who were killed by Indians.
The story, based on conflicting Indian and white accounts, goes like this:
Three miners, stranded by a big snow, stumbled into a Coos Indian village in February 1854, only weeks after 40 miners had burned another village, killing at last 15 Indians in the attack. Tensions remained high, but a chief and his family welcomed the three miners with food and shelter.
When the snow was gone, the men headed downstream in a boat. Accounts differ as to whether there were two or three white men, but agree that two died, identified only as Venable and Burton, when Indians in canoes approached in a friendly manner before overturning the whites’ boat and clubbing them to death.
When word of the slayings reached white settlements downstream, vigilantes seized two Indians accused of killing the miners and hanged them at the mouth of the river.
Sources: Youst, Lionel and William R. Seaburg. Coquelle Thompson, Athabaskan Witness: A Cultural Biography. Norman, Okla: University of Oklahoma Press, 2002. Print.