William M. Weatherlow was born on August 7, 1813 in Ohio.
As a young man he married Mary Sayles and they had two
children, Lola and Francis. It is not known what happened to Mary. His
son, Francis, died at a very young age. His daughter, Lola, stayed in
Ohio. She died at the age of 26. She had been married and had 5
Weatherlow left Ohio and is reported to have joined John C. Fremont’s
exploring party. This group was working for the U.S. government to
explore the west and to protect American settlers during the war with Mexico. The exploring party arrived in Shasta, California in 1846. This is where William Weatherlow met and became friends with Isaac Roop.
Weatherlow stayed in Northern California and settled in
Humboldt County, California for a few years. In 1854 Weatherlow came to
the Honey Lake Valley with Isaac Roop.
He helped to build the log cabin known as Roop’s Fort. In 1856
Weatherlow built his own cabin near Isaac Roop’s cabin and served as
deputy recorder for the region.
Weatherlow and the Paiute Chief, Winnemucca, developed
the Reciprocal Treaty of 1856. Under the rules of this treaty, if an
Indian did something wrong to a white settler, then the settlers would
complain to Chief Winnemucca rather than killing the Indians to get
revenge. If a white settler did something wrong to an Indian, then the
Indians would complain to Weatherlow rather than killing the settlers to
It was hoped the Treaty would help to make life peaceful
in the valley, but misunderstandings between the settlers and other
In 1857 William Weatherlow became Captain of the Honey
Lake Rangers which was funded by the state of California to mobilize
local defenses to protect settlers from hostile Indians. In October a
group of Washoe Indians harvested and took 3 acres worth of potatoes
from a settler named William Morehead. The settlers of the area tracked
down and attacked the Indians to get the potatoes back. The battle was
joined by the Honey Lake Rangers on the second day. During the fighting,
one settler and 14 Indians were injured. Eleven Indians were killed.
Most of the potatoes were returned to William Morehead. The incident was
named the Potato War and ended when Captain Jim, the Washoe Indian
chief, negotiated a peace treaty in which the Indians promised to stop
stealing from the settlers in exchange for occasional food donations
from the settlers.
During 1857 Captain Weatherlow and the Honey Lake
Rangers join with the Paiute Indians led by Chief Winnemucca to pursue
and punish Pit River Indians after livestock was stolen from the
Captain Weatherlow was also appointed to a committee to
settle a debate over whether the Honey Lake Valley is located in
California or the Nevada Territory. An official survey in 1864 finally
determined that the region is located in California.
In 1860 as the population of white settlers became more
than the population of Indians, the two groups were worried about having
enough food and other supplies. Chief Winnemucca demanded that the
Paiute Indians be paid $16,000 for the loss of Honey Lake to the white
settlers. They were not paid. Fights between the settlers and the
Indians began to occur more often and people were frightened. Troops
were called in to help from Fort Crook near Fall River Mills and the Presidio in San Francisco. Thus began the Pyramid Lake War. After much fighting, the Indians were chased into the desert. Peace was negotiated by Colonel Lander with the Paiute Chief, Young Winnemucca, who is Chief Winnemucca’s son.
Captain Weatherlow died in 1864 at the age of 50 from
pneumonia at the home of Isaac Roop. He was one of the first to buried
in the Susanville Cemetery. At the time of his death, he owned a ranch
and a house lot, two horses, a wagon, harnesses, and an interest in a
Humboldt County, Nevada mining claim. His brother Samuel traveled from
New York to manage the estate which was split among William Weatherlow’s
At Captain Weatherlow's Grave - the man in the picture is his brother, Samuel.