Bah – Hahtlh (Return to Good)
By Betty Lou Gaeng
Picture a sturdy little girl, her dusky skin glowing, her cheeks flushed from the fresh air. Her dark hair is held in place by a strip of leather. Her brown eyes are alert and sparkling. Her little bare feet flash as she joins the other little ones in the games the native children along the Snohomish River of Washington Territory play in the 1870s. She runs to keep up with her cousins William and Henry Shelton. Her family and playmates call her Bah-hahtlh (Return to Good). She grew up near what is now the town of Snohomish where the family lived in a longhouse with about 20 other family members, including her Shelton cousins.
Bah-hahtlh was given the English name Katrina and sometimes called Katherine or Katie. She grew from childhood to become a strong woman. In those early days it took strength to adapt to the foreign ways of the white invaders. She had that strength, and she also learned the ways of the foreigners. She became a savvy businesswoman and learned to hold what was hers—no one took it from her—especially her land. It wasn’t considered the best land—the Government didn’t allot the best to the Indians. However, it was hers and she wasn’t going to let go.
It is estimated that Bah-hahtlh was born during the early to mid-1870s. Her parents were Dan Ned Laclous-y-son and Katie Bod-lutz-za Simmons.
At the age of 15, Katie married a man from Skagit named Campbell. He was murdered and she became a 16 year-old widow. Her second husband was a man from LaConner by the name of Henry Tukius (Towheuse) Willup. Soon widowed once again, in 1894 Katie married Maurice Jim of the Tulalip Reservation. They were blessed with six children. She was widowed again in 1907 when Maurice died, and none of their children lived to survive Katie. About a year after Maurice’s death, she married for the fourth time, this husband a 20-year old Tulalip man, Francis (Frank) Sese. Once again, Katie became a widow when Francis died in 1912 at the age of 25. Two children from this marriage did not survive Katie. However, one of them, daughter Agnes lived long enough to give her mother grandchildren.
Katie’s final husband was Ambrose Bagley, from the Duwamish tribe. They married in 1921, and Katie and Ambrose worked her farmland together. A daughter named Katherine was born to them. Daughter Katherine was the first of Katie’s children to survive their mother. Katherine grew up on her mother’s land, as did David Spencer, son of Katie’s daughter Agnes. Daughter Katherine married William Campbell and gave Katie grandchildren
Katie’s large farm home was often filled with family and friends, many of them fellow church members from the old Shaker Church on the Tulalip Reservation. Katie had joined the church in 1910, where she and Ambrose in the 1920s donated the bell for the steeple.
When Katie died October 31, 1950, her age given as 74, she had survived four husbands. Her fifth husband Ambrose Bagley survived her by six years. Katrina and Ambrose Bagley are buried at Priest Point Cemetery on the Tulalip Indian Reservation.
Katie’s family still has the deed dated February 25, 1904, signed by President Theodore Roosevelt, allotting land on the northeast corner of the Tulalip Indian Reservation to Katrina Jim. This is the land where Katie built her home, worked the land and survived loss after loss of her loved ones.
Katie left a wonderful legacy for her descendants. Through all the upheaval and adversities in her life, Katie retained her allotment land on the Tulalip Reservation, which is now considered to be one of the most valuable properties in Snohomish County. The front page of the September 22, 2008 edition of Everett’s Herald featured the story of Katrina Jim’s land.
Ancestors have a special place in the hearts of the First People. Katie’s descendants have not forgotten what her diligence and steadfastness have done for them. At 11 o’clock on a Saturday morning in September of 2008, 104 years after as Katrina Jim she was granted the land patent, Katie’s descendants gathered on 60 acres of what is now their land. With heartfelt love and appreciation of her legacy to them, they held a blessing for Katrina Bagley, a special woman they will always honor.
In World War I, Katie’s son Elson James, at the age of 23, lost his life in France while serving in Company F, 30th Infantry, U.S Army. Pfc. James guided patrols in what was called No Man’s Land near Bois de la Cote, Lemont, France. It was early winter and the weather was extremely cold and damp, Elson contracted a fever, which eventually developed into pneumonia, and he died December 11, 1918 in the line of duty. Katie’s family recorded that even though she was a strong woman, Katie was heartbroken. She had just received a letter from her son telling her he would soon be home; she didn’t realize that by the time the letter arrived, she had already lost another child. Elson’s commanding officer considered Elson to be one of his best men and recommended a citation be issued citing Elson’s “exceptional skill, courage and coolness under fire in guiding patrols.” Elson James now rests at Priest Point Cemetery on the Tulalip Reservation.
Grandson Donald Campbell, son of her daughter Katherine and William Campbell, was less than a year old when Katrina died. As his uncle Elson James had done, Donald gave his life for this country. He was killed in action July 3, 1970, while serving as a corporal in the 588th Engineers Battalion in the U.S. Army in Tay Ninh, South Vietnam. Donald is buried at Mission Beach Cemetery on the Tulalip Indian Reservation.
Donald Campbell’s two older brothers, Walter and John and cousin David Spencer also served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam era. David Spencer who had lived with his grandparents and provided information for Bah-hahtlh’s story said this about his Bagley grandparents, “they showed me how to walk my life.”
Ancestry.com. U.S. Indian Census Schedules, 1885-1940 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2007. Original data: Indian Census Rolls, 1885-1940; (National Archives Microfilm Publication M595, 692 rolls); Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Record Group 75; National Archives, Washington, D.C. http://www.sno-isle.org/page/?ID=1246&cid=777
Washington State Digital Archive’s Death Records; Probate Records for Katherine Sese Bagley; information. http://www.secstate.wa.gov/history/genealogy.aspx
Interview with Katherine Campbell, and photos provided by Katrina’s grandsons—John Campbell, Walter Campbell and David Spencer on Nov. 15, 2008;
Donald Campbell’s photo from “Faces From the Wall” (permission to print granted); NARA, Vietnam War: U.S. Military Casualties.
Mason, William H. Snohomish County in the War; The Part Played in the Great War by the Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Patriotic Civilians of Snohomish County, Washington, U.S.A. Everett, Wash: Mason Pub. Co, 1926.
“Tribal family’s land a treasure : Theme park, theater, shops: All are options for tribal family’s land.” 2008. The Herald, [Everett] September 22, 2008 http://www.proquest.com.access-proxy.sno-isle.org/ (accessed December 3, 2008).
© 2008 Betty Lou Gaeng, All Rights Reserved; WLP Story # 54 ~