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Oregon museum buys Modoc War diaries at auction

Klamath Falls, Oregon (AP) August 2010

The Klamath County Museum has acquired three diaries with witness accounts of Modoc Indians being executed at Fort Klamath in 1873 following one of the last battles between tribes and the U.S. Army.

The Modoc War lasted two years, with more than 80 settlers and 17 Indians killed, according to the California State Military Museum website.

“These diaries belong here. This is where the history happened,” said Mark Clark, chairman of the Klamath County Museum Foundation and an Oregon Institute of Technology history professor.

The diaries, purchased at a recent auction for more than $20,000, also contain accounts of Modoc leader Captain Jack and other Modoc prisoners being interviewed by Army officers the night before they were hanged on Oct. 3, 1873.

Captain Jack and three others were executed for the murders of peace negotiators, including an Army general.

One of the diaries was kept by Leonard Case Jr., a philanthropist who made a special trip to Fort Klamath to witness the executions of the Modoc leaders. Case’s assistant Henry G. Abbey kept the other two diaries.

Museum officials learned in May the diaries would be offered for sale in a June 11 live auction in Cincinnati.

Todd Kepple, the Klamath museum’s manager, participated in the auction by telephone. The diaries arrived at the museum in late June and have been authenticated as genuine artifacts.

“The Modoc Indian War is probably the most noteworthy chapter in the history of the Upper Klamath Basin, and it’s not often that we are able to obtain artifacts directly tied to that event, said Rich Touslee, chairman of the Museum Advisory Board.

The museum and the private Klamath County Museum Foundation split the cost of the purchase.

The diaries will be part of a temporary exhibit at the museum from Saturday through September.




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