Sylvia Stark's Theory


It was between 1867 and 1868 when Mr. Estes came to Salt Spring Island to take care of the Stark farm on the mountain. It was necessary, not only to live on a pre-emption, but a certain amount of work must be done on the place to make it secure. He brought a friend with him named Jiles [Giles] Curtis. Mrs. Estes stayed in Saanich on account of failing health. They went around together, and worked that way for safety. But the shadow of the Indian seemed destined to cross the threshold of that mountain home with tragedy.

It was one Sunday. Mr. Curtis felt indisposed and did not accompany Mr. Estes when he went to church. Very reluctantly Mr. Estes left him alone and went to church. He never missed a meeting unless it couldn't be avoided. While sitting in church a feeling of uneasiness disturbed him so he left before the service was over.

When he came to the fence surrounding the house he saw the bars were down. He knew he hadn't left them down. Further on a pillow had been dropped as though someone had made a hasty retreat. He needed no further proof. Hastening to the cabin he found Curtis still sitting in a chair with his back to the door. When he called there was no answer. Curtis wad dead. The chair he was sitting in belonged to the Starks. I can remember seeing the mark of the bullet in the back of the chair as it took Curtis' life. The house had been robbed of everything worthwhile.

If Mr. Estes had stayed with Curtis he too might have been killed, for the Indians went about in bands.

A native named Willie was apprehended, the man who had pointed the gun at Stark. His wife said she would tell all she knew about the case if the law would protect her. She was left to mind the canoes and could only tell of seeing the stolen goods brought back. She knew their intent, though not a witness to the slaying.

Willie had often been on trial for his life but he seemed to lead a charmed life. He never came to the Gallows. After the trial his wife suddenly disappeared.

In the early nineties, I saw Willie paddling his own canoe selling fish. I was told by an old timer that he was the man who had made his boast of having killed thirty people.

After the death of Curtis, H. Estes went back to his home in Saanich.


Source: Salt Spring Island Archives, Add. Mss. 91, Marie Albertina (Stark) Wallace, Sylvia Stark's Theory , n.d

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