Three Lathrop great-grandsons attend

Doug, Duane and Dave Lathrop sit alongside the memorial dedicated to their great-grandfather, Charles Lathrop, and five other victims. by Bill Lindstrom

Three great-grandsons of Charles Lathrop attended the memorial dedication. They are David and Duane from Bristol, Vt., where Lathrop is buried, and Doug from Houston, Texas. The spent three days in the area and were shown the Tornow homestead, the Bauer home, the Grove Cemetery, Frisken Wye, where Lathrop worked on the Peninsular Railroad and Dayton, where he lived for a time. They were also feted at a dinner at Duffy's, along with Bill Wieland and Orbrey and Sharilyn Wieland, whose great uncle was Alvah Elmer, a Tornow victim in 1912.

The following article appeared April 25, 2013, in the Montesano Vidette

By Bill Lindstrom

The Daily World   

Two came from Bristol, Vt., one from Houston, Texas. Others came from throughout the Northwest.

Wherever they came from, the nearly 150 visitors were one in accord: They came to see a memorial dedicated to the six alleged victims of John Tornow, the “Wildman of the Wynooche.”

The event was on Saturday, April 20, held at Tornow Lake, 27.8 miles north of Montesano in the Lower Olympic Mountains. It was 100 years ago, April 16, that Tornow was killed, ending a 19-month manhunt.

During the hour-long ceremony, the visitors heard Tornow committee members describe their involvement in the project, that began back in the late 1990s. Dana Anderson of Matlock told how he took a metal detector and searched the site believed to be the area where Tornow was gunned down by sheriff’s deputy Giles Quimby in a hail of gunfire after Tornow had taken the lives of Louis Blair and Charles Lathrop, the final two of the victims he is believed to have killed.

Anderson described how his detector picked up charred rocks from the campsite, a 1904 dime, half of a file, a whetstone and a broken knife and a few other items. Pieced together with the description, Quimby gave to his Sheriff Schelle Mathews, Anderson and the committee were able to pinpoint the approximate area where Tornow stood only 8 feet from Blair and Lathrop, and where Quimby was located about 75 feet to the north. Those sites are now marked with cedar posts.

“This has never been before,” said Bob Dick, committee member, whose grandfather-in-law Lem Nethery was among the posse who retrieved the bodies.

The only tangible memorial to the victims is in the form of a plaque inside the county courthouse, memorializing deputies Colin McKenzie and A.V. Elmer, who died on March 9, 1912.

“Our mission was to dedicate this memorial to the six victims who were alleged to have been killed by Tornow,” Dick said.

Lathrop was the final victim and three of his great-grandsons, David and Duane Lathrop from Bristol, Vt., and Doug Lathrop from Houston, made the trip to the northwest for the event. “We have learned so much about Charley that we didn’t know,” said Doug, addressing the crowd. All three Lathrops talked about how welcome they were made to feel during the event.

David said a chance meeting with Doug, who was living in Venezuela at the time, got them looking at a box of letters and newspapers and other items that belonged to the family. “I went on line to see what I could find about John Tornow,” said Doug. “Bill Lindstrom’s name came up and I called him. We became good friends and he invited us here.”

During their short time in the area, the Lathrops were able to see where the Tornow homestead was, where the first victims, William and John Bauer, lived at the time they were killed, the Grove Cemetery where Tornow is buried, along with his parents and the Bauer boys. They also saw the former Matlock grocery store where their great-grandpa would likely have gone for his mail. They weren’t able to find where he lived, but a census report from 1910 had him working on the railroad and living in a boarding house in the Dayton Precinct, west of Shelton, with 14 other workers. He is listed as a brakeman. They enjoyed a short trek to Dayton, then over to Frisken Wye, where the tracks from the Peninsular Railroad, where he likely worked, were removed in about 2006. The memorial crowd were also treated to guitar music from Rich Travers of Matlock and James Dunne of Shelton. Both have written songs about Tornow and both can be heard May 4-5 at the Old Timers Fair in Matlock. Steve Brown of Brown Electronics in Aberdeen, supplied the sound system, so all could hear everything that was said and sung.

Those who were unable to attend the dedication can purchase videos at the fair. A video is also available for the re-enactment and Matlock forum that was held on March 16. A link to a teaser for this video is available at the Tornow website: johntornowoutlaw.com.

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