Fitzhugh, US Commissioner E. C.
b. 1818
d. 1883-11-24
Edmund Clare Fitzhugh was a U.S. Commissioner in Washington Territory during the late 1850s.1 Fitzhugh appears in two documents attached to this letter from Governor James Douglas to Henry Labouchere on 24 April 1858.2 Fitzhugh's documents are both affidavits concerning the desertion and thievery of… U.S. soldiers to Vancouver Island.3 Douglas reports that he has not complied with the request to surrender the deserters since the offences with which those parties are charged… are not such as appear to be within the terms of the Treaty between Great Britain and the United States.4
Fitzhugh, although fondly remembered as a brave pioneer and community leader, was also an irresponsible, transient womanizer.5 Born in Stafford County, Virginia in 1818, Fitzhugh served in the Virginia legislature and practiced law in California throughout the late 1840s.6 In the early 1850s, he moved to the Pacific Northwest where he became the most important man in the community as the head of the Bellingham Bay Coal Company.7 He also held positions as county auditor, Indian [commissioner], and… as United States District Judge.8 Fitzhugh's time in the Pacific Northwest was rife with scandal; the people of Washington Territory complain[ed] that [he]…murdered a peaceful citizen, [went] armed with pistols to intimidate people, and [kept] a harem of Indian girls.9
Fitzhugh also married a sixteen-year-old Samish noblewoman named E-yow-alth during his time in Washington.10 After having a daughter named Julia, Fitzhugh became discontent with E-yow-alth and took [her aunt] Xwelas as his second wife.11 Fitzhugh and Xwelas had two sons name Mason and Julius.12 According to Thrush and Keller, even with two wives, Fitzhugh found that the appeal of domestic life waned, and in the late 1850s he left suddenly for Seattle with Julia, leaving his wives behind.13 Fitzhugh left Julia in Seattle and went on to form two other families in Virginia and again in Iowa.14 Eventually he abandoned them as well and returned west to San Francisco in the early 1880s.15 After poverty and dissipation [had] clouded the last years of his brilliant career, Fitzhugh died of a stroke at the What Cheer Hotel, where his body was found on 24 November 1883.16
  • 1. The Pantograph, 25 November 1858, page 2; C. P. Thrush and R. H. Keller Jr., I See What I Have Done: The Life and Murder Trials of Xwelas, a S'Kallam Woman, Writing the Range, edited by Elizabeth Jameson and Susan Armitage (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1997), 177.
  • 2. Douglas to Labouchere, 24 April 1858, 5678, CO 305/9, 72.
  • 3. Ibid.
  • 4. Ibid.
  • 5. C. P. Thrush and R. H. Keller Jr., I See What I Have Done: The Life and Murder Trials of Xwelas, a S'Kallam Woman, Writing the Range, edited by Elizabeth Jameson and Susan Armitage (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1997), 177.
  • 6. C. P. Thrush and R. H. Keller Jr., I See What I Have Done: The Life and Murder Trials of Xwelas, a S'Kallam Woman, Writing the Range, edited by Elizabeth Jameson and Susan Armitage (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1997), 175-6; Edmund Clare Fitzhugh, Find a Grave.
  • 7. C. P. Thrush and R. H. Keller Jr., I See What I Have Done: The Life and Murder Trials of Xwelas, a S'Kallam Woman, Writing the Range, edited by Elizabeth Jameson and Susan Armitage (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1997), 175-6; Lottie Roeder Roth, Edmund C. Fitzhugh and the Sehome Mine, History of Whatcom County. Chicago: Pioneer Historical Publishing Company, 1926. Volume one pages 37-39.
  • 8. Lottie Roeder Roth, Edmund C. Fitzhugh and the Sehome Mine, History of Whatcom County. Chicago: Pioneer Historical Publishing Company, 1926. Volume one pages 37-39.
  • 9. The Pantograph, 25 November 1858, page 2
  • 10. C. P. Thrush and R. H. Keller Jr., I See What I Have Done: The Life and Murder Trials of Xwelas, a S'Kallam Woman, Writing the Range, edited by Elizabeth Jameson and Susan Armitage (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1997), 177.
  • 11. Ibid.
  • 12. Ibid.
  • 13. Ibid.
  • 14. Ibid.
  • 15. Ibid.
  • 16. Lottie Roeder Roth, Edmund C. Fitzhugh and the Sehome Mine, History of Whatcom County. Chicago: Pioneer Historical Publishing Company, 1926. Volume one pages 37-39.
Mentions of this person in the documents
The Colonial Despatches Team. Fitzhugh, US Commissioner E. C.. The Colonial Despatches of Vancouver Island and British Columbia 1846-1871, Edition 2.2, ed. The Colonial Despatches Team. Victoria, B.C.: University of Victoria. https://bcgenesis.uvic.ca/fitzhugh_ec.html.

Last modified: 2020-12-02 13:40:34 -0800 (Wed, 02 Dec 2020) (SVN revision: 5008)