Thursday, September 28, 2017

The Lillooet Outlaw - The Story of Francis Gott

Hello Friends,

Recently I received a thank you email concerning the research performed in presenting the case of: "Wild Boys Hunted by Posse for Murder". The blog is about two outlaws, Moses Paul and Paul Spintlum, whom our research uncovered for our "Boot Hill Cemetery Convicts" series. I recommend you give it a read!
A link posted within the account included a tale, as told by a St'át'imc Elder, about another indigenous outlaw of the area, Francis Gott. (Link: Tales of Our Elders.)
A request was made asking if I would consider researching Mr. Gott's case, and write the story from media accounts reported at the time. I decided to take on this challenge, for the true crime story was fascinating and certainly part of the history of the province I call home, British Columbia.
Courtesy Vancouver City Archives - 1900, Lillooet, B.C.
(Mount Chadwick)

Courtesy Vancouver Archives -
1918 102nd Battalion
Francis Gott (T'it'q'et First Nation), or Frank as he was commonly called; what do we know about him? All accounts tell us he was a legendary woodsman and big game guide in the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District of B.C., had a mountain and creek named after him, and was a veteran of WW1 after lying about his age (he may have been 60, while maximum age for recruitment was 47; he dyed his hair to appear younger) to serve in the 102nd (Comox-Atlin) Battalion, C.E.F. (Canadian Expeditionary Force).
What happened to label this man an outlaw? We will explore his life through newspaper accounts, provincial reports, found ancestry and more.

Outlaw - definition (n): a person who has broken the law, especially one who remains at large or is a fugitive.
Synonyms - fugitive, wanted criminal, public enemy, outcast, etc.

Birth: Frank Gott's date of birth is a mystery. From the tale we understand he lied about his age by approximately 15 years in order to volunteer for war service in 1916. His army records indicate his date of birth was August 20, 1871. In 1916, Frank would be 44 years of age at the date of the Attestation Papers (Feb.17, 1916). However, when I discovered the notice of his death, it alleged he was born in/or around 1859. I could not locate his birth record, which is not uncommon, as often aboriginal genealogical records are a challenge to locate and understand.
Frank Gott is listed in the Canada Census 1891: documents approximate birth date at possibly 1864.
When was Frank actually born? This confusion will continue throughout his story.
Courtesy Ancestry - Canada Census of 1891 (Lillooet, B.C.)
Bertrand Gott is Frank's nephew on Attestation Paper
Courtesy Library & Archives Canada - Attestation Papers (Feb.17, 1916)
I discovered through B.C. Archives (Genealogy search) that Frank's nephew, Bertrand Gott, was baptised at the Church of Lillooet on March 23, 1890, via St. Mary's Indian Residential School (Mission City) in the Roman Catholic faith. His parents were listed as: Eugene Unknown and Marguerite Unknown. Bertrand was born December 30, 1889. [The 1891 Census lists Eugene and Margret as married, which leads me to believe are his parents.]
Several children of Eugene and Marguerite (or Margret) were also listed in the following years, being baptised at the same place.
Following this lead, I wonder if Frank had been torn from his family and taken to a residential school at an early age; however, the schools in the area were not established until 1890, whereas in the lower mainland (Mission, B.C.) St. Mary's opened in 1861. Due to the incredible abuses inflicted on the Indigenous people through these schools, one can only imagine the lasting impact this had on the children, parents and families.
I could not locate records naming Frank.
From the search I also discovered Bertrand Gott passed away on June 24, 1944, at the age of 56 in Lillooet, B.C.. His wife, Adeline, passed away exactly 10 years later to the date.

The first newspaper accounts naming Frank Gott are found in the historical newspaper collections of British Columbia:
Courtesy UBC Open Collections: The Prospector (Jan.26, 1900) pg01
Courtesy UBC Open Collections - The Prospector (Aug. 31, 1901) pg04
It is said Mr. Gott was an expert at hunting, thus, many people sought him out to guide them into B.C.'s vast wilderness on fishing and hunting expeditions. Often he would be the principal guide, and come back into town (Lillooet, B.C.) with great success stories.
Courtesy UBC Open Collections - The Prospector (Sep.26, 1903) pf01
Courtesy UBC Open Collections - The Prospector (Apr.06, 1905) pg01
Courtesy UBC Open Collections - The Prospector (Aug.03, 1905) pg01
The news in 1905 (Canada's 38th birthday) suggests the law was frustrated with "out of season killing of game", and thus they put the new Protection of Game Act of 1905 into action to "teach" people the severity of their decisions; assigning the new Chief Game Warden of B.C., Arthur Bryan Williams, to the area for further inquiries and investigation. The law would prosecute those who defied it to $100 fine and/or jail for 30 days. Of course one has to understand the majority of game hunters were Indigenous, who relied on hunting as a way to survive and provide for their families; thus it was considered a violation of their Native Rights.
The article also includes a description of Frank Gott as friendly with a drinking problem; and includes an incident where the Provincial Constable, A.C. Minty, placed Gott under arrest and announced a severe penalty for alcohol consumption. The next article, a few years later, explains liquor laws prohibit sales to "Indians".

Courtesy UBC Open Collections - Nicola Herald (Apr.09, 1909) pg03
The article above suggests Frank Gott as someone who continually supplied the local Aboriginal people with liquor. This was punishable by imprisonment of up to six months, or a fine of $50-300, or both, according to Federal "Indian Act" law (1884). Note: "Klootchman" is a term (Nootka - native term) used for "woman".
Courtesy UBC Open Collections - Lillooet Advance (May 20, 1911) pg01
Courtesy UBC Open Collections - Lillooet Prospector (Feb.02, 1912) pg01
Courtesy UBC Open Collections - Lillooet Prospector (Sep.13, 1912) pg01
Courtesy UBC Open Collections - Prospector (Jun.06, 1913) pg01
Courtesy UBC Open Collections - Prospector (Jun.27, 1913) pg06
Frank is found throughout the newspapers during the first two decades of the 1900's. He was not only active as a guide, but appeared to get involved in local celebrations.

Courtesy UBC Open Collections - Prospector (Sep.12, 1913) pg06
Courtesy UBC Open Collections - Prospector (Oct.10, 1913) pg01
Courtesy UBC Open Collections - Prospector (Oct.13, 1913) pg01

Courtesy UBC Open Collections - Prospector (Nov.07, 1913) pg01
Courtesy UBC Open Collections - Prospector (Nov.21, 1913) pg01
Courtesy UBC Open Collections - Prospector (Feb.20, 1914) pg01
Courtesy UBC Open Collections - Prospector (May 29, 1914) pg01
Courtesy UBC Open Collections - Prospector (Apr.23, 1915) pg01
Courtesy UBC Open Collections - Prospector (Nov.12, 1915) pg01
Courtesy UBC Open Collections - Prospector (Nov.26, 1915) pg01
Reading the newspaper accounts we come to understand how Mr. Gott was admired for his skills as a hunter and guide, and ensured his clients received the most exciting experiences in the wilderness.
Courtesy Vancouver Archives - 191_ (unknown year), Gott
Courtesy UBC Open Collections - Prospector (Feb.11, 1916) pg01.
The above article is the last that appears prior to Frank signing Attestation papers to join the Canadian army in World War 1 on February 17, 1916. Through the army documents we learn that Frank stood at 5' 5 1/2" tall.
Courtesy Library & Archives Canada - Medical Examination (Feb.17, 1916)
We also learn that Frank left Canada via Halifax, Nova Scotia on June 20, 1916, by ship, arriving in Liverpool, England on June 28, 1916. He proceeded his service overseas on August 11, 1916, and arrived in Le Havre, France on August 12, 1916.
According to World War 1 records, the 102nd Battalion C.E.F., fought as part of the 11th Infantry Brigade, 4th Canadian Division in France and Flanders (Belgium) until the end of the war, and disbanded on August 30, 1920. However, Frank did not fight through the remainder of the war.
He was discharged due to his age (documents of 1917, indicate he was 62/63 years - they discovered he was much older than the 44 years he had reported in 1916), slowing down, stiff joints, officially stating he had rheumatism and bronchitis. The "Proceedings of a Medical Board" paper state "he has done his bit", describing him as a "sturdy chap with a determined look". The paper also confirms he was a sniper in France. His "Certificate of Service" dated January 22, 1931, indicates his official discharge was on November 30, 1917, and that he received the British War Medal as well as the Victory Medal.
Below are snippets of the documents:
Courtesy Library & Archives Canada
- Service Documents
Courtesy Library & Archives Canada
- Service Documents
Lillooet learned about Frank's discharge in February 1917, and documented his upcoming return home in the local newspaper:
Courtesy UBC Open Collections - Prospector (Feb.09, 1917) pg01
Courtesy Vancouver Archives - dated 1915
but Frank is wearing his medal, so it must be 1917 or later.
In 1919, Frank Gott is mentioned in the annual report of the Minister of Mines for the province. It appears a valley and creek, rich with minerals and iron, were named in his honour in celebration of his war effort and service.
Courtesy UBC Open Collections - 1919
News about Frank Gott fell silent after his return from the Great War. I searched sources available and could find no further documentation until 1932, when an eruption of news across the continent occurs; and Frank's "Outlaw" life began.
Courtesy - Salt Lake Telegram, Utah
(Oct.04, 1932) pg01
Courtesy - Winnipeg Tribune, Manitoba
(Oct.04, 1932) pg01
From what is reported, Frank was in camp near Moha, B.C. on Bridge River (north of Lillooet), with two ranch employees. Game Warden, Albert E. Farey, came upon him, inspected a doe Frank had killed out of season, and while bending down to take a closer look, was shot in the back. It is reported that Frank fled on foot after leaving his rifle with J. Thomas Dalton (in later reports he is named), with a note indicating he would shoot himself. Frank is now labeled an "Outlaw", and was on the run.

October 5, 1932, was a busy day in the newspapers:
Courtesy - Albany Democrat-Herald, Albany Oregon
(Oct.05, 1932) pg04
Courtesy - Argus Leader, Sioux Falls, S. Dakota
(Oct.05, 1932) pg02
Courtesy - Klamath News, Klamath Falls, Oregon
(Oct.05, 1932) pg01
Courtesy - Oakland Tribune, Oakland, California
(Oct.05, 1932) pg01
Courtesy - Post Register, Idaho Falls, Idaho
(Oct.05, 1932) pg01
Courtesy - Reno Gazette-Journal, Reno, Nevada
(Oct.05, 1932) pg01
It appears that Gott and Farey may have had a feud over alleged charges of game law violations a year or two previously. Unfortunately there are no formal documents available indicating if Gott had been hauled into court, which has me wondering if these charges resulted in a rather large fine, and/or jail term.
In 1914 the provincial Game Protection Act had been repealed and was replaced with the Game Act, which stayed in place until 1966 although it did carry through with many amendments. Further on, I'll share with you the B.C. Government website postings about the feud and shooting.

Albert E. Farey's death records indicate he died on October 3, 1932, and was 50 years of age.
Research found:- born June 7, 1881; immigrated from England in 1900 at the age of 18; settled in Lillooet in 1920; served 12 years as a B.C. Provincial Police constable; and a WW1 veteran discharged due to wounds obtained. He was a husband, and father of 2 children.

Gott was reported to be 76 years old, which put his date of birth in 1856.

A posse was sent in search of Frank Gott and by October 5th, two days after the shooting occurred, they reached the aging trapper in the mountains at the Bridge River.
Courtesy - Chilliwack Progress, Chilliwack BC
(Oct.06, 1932) pg01
Courtesy - Eugene Guard, Eugene, Oregon
(Oct.06, 1932) pg05
Courtesy - Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles, California
(Oct.06, 1932) pg03
Courtesy - Modesto News-Herald, Modesto, California
(Oct.06, 1932) pg01
Courtesy Prince George Newspapers - Prince George Citizen
(Oct.06, 1932) pg01
Courtesy - Star Tribune, Minneapolis, Minnesota
(Oct.06, 1932) pg01
Courtesy - Winnipeg Tribune, Manitoba
(Oct.06, 1932) pg01
Courtesy - San Bernardino County Sun, California
(Oct.07, 1932) pg01
Courtesy Quesnel Museum - Cariboo Observer (Oct.08, 1932) pg01
In the above newspaper clippings, the Modesto News-Herald is the only one that reports a "suicide" attempt by Frank. Putting the accounts together, after Frank allegedly shot Farey in the back (with or without warning is up for debate), handed his firearm to Dalton, left a note indicating he would not be taken alive and fled into the woods. Two days later he is spotted by the Chief Game Warden and his posse, who shoots him once or twice in the leg to prevent him from getting away.
However then the reports become fuzzy. Did Frank take his hunting knife and slash his own throat, or not? It is written in the Prince George Citizen article that Frank had "brandished a hunting knife". The Modesto goes on to say they rushed Frank to hospital (the reports vary on which one) and was still alive at noon, thus leaving us to believe the standoff may have occurred in the morning hours.

We must understand that the media of the time did not always provide accurate facts, which is something that continues in today's news sources. With discrimination rife, we can make assumptions that often news would be reported from the opinion of the "white man's world" and not include that of the First Nations people. This makes the "Tales of Our Elders" so very important to consider.

The B.C. Government website posts the following information:
Above we are advised that Frank Gott was attempting to cross Bridge River to reach a native reserve, and was "accosted" by the law, refused to surrender, and as he tried to run across the river, was shot in the leg. They report Frank died from exposure (shock) and advanced tuberculosis, not from the leg wound. No mention of the knife in hand or gash to his throat is made.

Another Government website, honouring Farey, provides more information as to the reason for their feud.
The report states that in 1929, Frank Gott was charged with illegal possession of a deer carcass and fined $25 (Cdn), which in today's money is equal to $355 (Cdn). Thus a feud began between Gott and Farey.

We turn to the Report of the Provincial Game Commissioner, summarized at the end of 1932. It does not provide any new information about the case.
Courtesy UBC Open Collections - Report of Provincial Game Commissioner
(Dec.31, 1932)
I found an article printed in much later years, which gives a different point of view describing what happened through information gathered from a museum pamphlet. It fills in details of Frank's earlier years, and provides a picture of the type of man Frank Gott was before and after World War 1.
Courtesy UBC Open Collections - Sunshine Coast News (Jul.25, 1988) pg12
Although the article indicates Frank Gott was on the run for several weeks (which is incorrect according to records discovered), it explains that because of "harassment" claims, the reason for the shooting of Farey appears to be clearer. It also indicates he was taken to Lytton hospital, which is quite the drive from the area, and certainly would lend to reasons for his death. One has to wonder if any type of medical assistance was administered during the lengthy trip.

I've put together a map of the area for better understanding:
Courtesy Google Maps - Lillooet BC region
Official death records were not available online for Frank Gott, so I can not confirm the reason of his death; however, information available tells us he passed away in Lytton, B.C. on October 5, 1932, at the age of 73 years. The record lists his father as Bertram Gott, and his mother as Mary. (See the 1891 Census at the beginning of this story, where a Mary is named.) There is no indication as to where Frank Gott was laid to rest.

You can read further about Frank Gott and the St'át'imc: here; and don't forget to read the "Tales of Our Elders" - "Sp'aoy" on page 293 to get the Indigenous point of view. It's really quite fascinating!

Lillooet, B.C. - once called "Cayoosh Flat", it has been the Tribal Territory of the St'át'imc Nation (pronounced "Stat lee um") for thousands of years. In the 1850's, Europeans, prospectors, settlers, and miners flooded the area due to the Gold Rush. It became an important town to gather supplies before heading north to Bridge River and beyond, to Barkerville, B.C. It was also a rich source for logging, fishing, hunting, jade mining, farming and cattle ranching. By 1860 it was one of the largest cities west of Chicago, boasting over 15,000 people. It became Mile 0 on the old Cariboo Road (original wagon road), leading north to the gold fields near Fort Alexandria. In the 1880's, Chinese miners struck it rich on deposits in the lower Cayoosh Creek area. In 1914 the Pacific Great Eastern Railway (1972-known as B.C. Railway) moved in and connected the area. During World War 11, internment camps for the Japanese were located nearby. Incorporated as a District Municipality in 1996, today the population is at just below 2000 (2016), and the area is rich in culture, wine, farming, ranching, mining, and history with plenty to see and do when one visits.
Courtesy Vancouver Public Library - June 1945, Photographer: Philip Timms
Bridge River
Courtesy Archives Canada - date unknown, Francis Gott with Bear
Courtesy - Gott Peak
(photo by 
Denyse Thorsteinsson)
Courtesy - Gott Creek
Recreation Site
This concludes our account about Francis Gott, an Outlaw of B.C. His story may not be complete, but is carried on in the tales and memories of the First Nation people of the area. Perhaps if you ever visit this part of beautiful British Columbia, you will think of Frank and enjoy the wilderness just as he did.

Let us know your thoughts. You can email us via our VSPI Website, or "like" our VSPI Facebook page and comment there.

Until next time,
Be safe, and remember to respect the land you walk on,
and those who walked before you...


Sources: UBC Open Collections;; Quesnel Museum; Wikipedia; (Provincial Government);; Vancouver City Archives;;;; Library and Archives Canada; BC Archives; Google Maps; BC Historical Newspapers;; BC Provincial Police Stories, Volume 3 - Cecil Clark; - Aboriginal People, History of Discriminatory Laws; Bank of Canada; "Tales of our Elders"; Hello BC;;; Canadian Encyclopedia;; Sites and Trails BC.

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