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Jim Kershner’s this day in history

Thu., June 20, 2013, midnight

From our archives, 100 years ago

A Spokane courtroom “took on the appearance of a tribal gathering,” as members of Nespelem tribe came to testify on behalf of Nempitkin Sysie, also known as Susan Enos.

Susan was attempting to claim half of the $250,000 estate left by well-known Spokane real estate man John Enos, better known as Portuguese Joe.

Portuguese Joe died and left all of his estate to a young Portuguese wife, Mary Enos.

But the elderly Susan said she had been his original wife, since she was 14 or 15.

A number of tribal elders testified that they had witnessed the wedding.

One elderly woman described it like this: “The man asked for the woman and they were married. John Enos talked first, then Susan’s father talked and so they were married. And Kothimquin told them the marriage vows. After he talked they shook hands. He said prayers and then they went out. After the marriage, Joe and Susan went to the mother’s tepee and stayed a month.”

Some area settlers testified that Portuguese Joe had introduced Susan to them as “his woman.”

One tribal member pinpointed the year of the wedding as “three or four years the other side of the quake,” referring to a big quake that shook the region in the 1870s.

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