Angeline Seattle

Tumas Family Tree (PDF)

Seattle Marker The grave that inspires perhaps the most confusion in the Auburn Cemetery is that of Angeline Seattle, who died on June 23, 1907, at the age of 75. More than one local Scout troop has been brought to the cemetery to contemplate her grave while discussing the life of the city of Seattle's namesake—Chief Seattle of the Duwamish and Suquamish tribes—and his oft-photographed daughter (popularly known as "Princess" Angeline), and the place of importance both hold in Washington's history.

The only problem? Angeline Seattle, daughter of Chief Seattle, died eleven years earlier in 1896 and is buried in Seattle's Lakeview Cemetery.

Admittedly, it seems like an incredible coincidence that two unrelated women living in roughly the same geographic area would share such an unusual name; however, both woman lived in an earlier era when many local native people were given English names, not by themselves or their parents, but by Christian missionaries. Chief Seattle himself was converted to Catholicism and christened "Noah" by such priests. Although the name doesn't seem to have stuck, his daughter—reportedly given the name "Angeline" by pioneer Doc. Maynard's wife—seems to have fully embraced her new anglicized name. It's possible that the name "Angeline" was a favorite among the white missionaries and settlers who took it upon themselves to re-name the "Indians". It's also possible that Princess Angeline herself helped to popularize the name.

As for the name "Seattle," we know that Auburn's Angeline didn't use it for long. Although we don't know what name she was born with, we do know that she was married to Chief Whatcom early on, and subsequently married a man named Charlie Tumas. She and Charlie—both members of the Muckleshoot Tribe—can be found in the Washington Territorial Census reports of 1883 and 1887. They were farming in those reports and living with their daughter Mary, born about 1873.

By the time of the 1900 Federal Census, Charlie had passed away, leaving Angeline a widow. Daughter Mary was evidently grown and out of the home by that date. In fact, the only other person in Angeline's household at that time was a hired man named John Seattle (some sources report that John Seattle was a cousin of the famous Chief). On February 5, 1903, she and John were married by a Catholic priest on the Puyallup Reservation (she was listed as "Angeline Whatcom" on her marriage certificate). It is because of this late, last marriage that Angeline Seattle was buried under that name in the Auburn cemetery.

Interestingly, there is a Seattle Family marker in the Puyallup Indian Cemetery in Tacoma of almost identical design to Angeline's marker in the Auburn Pioneer Cemetery. The marker in the Tacoma cemetery was evidently erected by John Seattle to honor several of his family members, including his son Matthew Seattle and a step-son named William Martin. One of the other names is "Annie Seattle." Unfortunately no dates are included with any of the names, but we know that Angeline was listed as "Anne Seattle" when she served as an informant in anthropologist T.T. Waterman's manuscript titled Puget Sound Georgraphy. It seems probable that the "Annie Seattle" listed on the marker in the Tacoma cemetery is the same Angeline Seattle who is buried in Auburn. The Tacoma marker undoubtedly served as a cenotaph, in Angeline's case, so that John Seattle could honor her memory along with other family members at his own family cemetery.

Angeline's Totem—Fact or Fiction?

One persisting local legend states that a standing totem, carved by her brother, once marked Angeline Seattle's grave in the Auburn Pioneer Cemetery. The totem, the story goes, was "spirited away" many years ago, and now stands in Seattle's Pioneer Square. The first recording that we've been able to find of this story was in a newspaper story featuring local cemeteries published in the Auburn Globe-News of August 1, 1976. But is the story credible?

One thing to consider is that the reporter confidently wrote that Auburn's Angeline was, in fact, the daughter of Chief Seattle. We know this statement to be incorrect. We also know that, today, there are five totem poles on display in Seattle's Pioneer Square area. Four were created by non-native artist Duane Pasco in the 1970's; none of these match the circumstances of the Auburn story. The fifth and most famous totem pole in Pioneer Square was indeed "spirited away," (a polite euphemism, in this case, for "stolen") from an Alaskan village by a group of Seattle businessmen in 1899. Its history is well documented and has no relationship to Auburn or the Muckleshoot Tribe.

It's also interesting to note that Angeline's current Victorian-style tombstone is perhaps the most ornate marker remaining in the entire cemetery. It's puzzling that her family would invest in such an expensive monument if they also intended to mark the grave with a carved totem. And, if it were erected later to replace a missing totem, it seems likely that it would be of a more modern design.

But maybe not. Most legends do, after all, grow from a seed of truth. Unfortunately, for now at least, the story of Angeline's totem will have to remain just that: a legend.

Update: Muckleshoot elder Gilbert King George was able to provide additional information regarding Angeline and has graciously allowed us to include that information here: "Angeline Seattle was the full sister of Betsy Whatcom. Betsy and her half brother, Tom Wiltechted saved Johnny King during the early days of the first treaty war. She was also half sister to Joe Bill's mother. Joe and Lucy Bill's descendants include the Willard Bill family and the Hoffers here at Muckleshoot and the Verna Louie Bartlett family at Puyallup. Angeline was married to John Seattle who was allotted at Puyallup. Many accounts attempt to tie John Seattle to the Duwamish Seattle but his niece left an oral history recording stating unequivocally that he was not related. She also states that Angeline was at one time married to Chief Whatcom, father of Charlie Whatcom (who was married to Angeline's sister Betsy)."

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