The Mysterious Death of Peter Lassen

330px-Peter_Lassen-portraitOn April 26, 1859 — 158 years ago — Peter Lassen was murdered at Black Rock Canyon in what is now Nevada. He had gone prospecting for silver with two men, Edward Clapper and Lamericus Wyatt. Clapper also lost his life in the ambush that occurred early on the morning of April 26. Wyatt escaped and quickly fled back to Honey Valley, where he reported the deaths. He stated that Lassen and Clapper had been murdered by Paiute Indians.

But had they? It was easy enough to pin the blame on Indians, and for many years that story stood. It is even stated on Lassen’s grave marker. But many historians have doubted Wyatt’s story.

If Wyatt was the murderer, what was his motive? Or was there some third party? lassengrave-001Disgruntled immigrants, led astray by Peter Lassen, have been suggested.

Stayed tuned and I’ll tell you more about the life and death of Peter Lassen, the California pioneer from distant Denmark, who met an untimely death in the desert.

And if you want a fun and accurate book about Peter Lassen, check out my book Peter Lassen: The True Story of a Danish Pioneer in California. It’s available from my website, from local bookstores and gift shops, and on Amazon.


About nancyleek

Nancy is a retired librarian who lives in Chico, California. She is the author of John Bidwell: The Adventurous Life of a California Pioneer.
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6 Responses to The Mysterious Death of Peter Lassen

  1. Sandy Hill says:

    How old was Peter when he met his untimely death?

  2. I just found your posting about Vina. I was there a little while ago and thought you might like to see my musical interpretation of the place: Heather I also got to play Bidwells piano on the same trip!

  3. nancyleek says:

    Lovely! Thanks for sharing.

  4. Jim Borem says:

    Uncle Peter was a man of many different talents.He was not hated by native Americans at all. Matter of fact at one time the native American tribal leaders would not speak to the white man unless he was presant to interpret. He was also not just a prospect he was a excellent one at that. He knew the territory like the back of his hand. If there was anything to be found the was the man to find it. So most likely Peter Lassen had stumbled across something of great value and was killed for it. If Wyatt had something to do with it. Its anyone’s guess. But I do know that no native American in the all the territories at the time would not have any reason to kill Peter Lassen. These are the words of his nephew from 4 generations into the pressant time. My grandmother was Emily Lassen. All Lassens to my knowledge including my self were and are all people of good character, respectful, resourceful,tough and kind. As being one of the last ones of the blood line. Each one of us has been able to draw a free hand map of the Western U.S without any help from a map. I think Petter in his own way past down that knowledge to us. He was a great man despite his love for cards. Oh one more thing, a fact before the United States of America acquired ownership of the Westen territory. The Mexican government signed the terrory over to Petter Lassen for a brief time. The natives trusted him. He was one of only ones ever trusted. If he wouldnt of lost his life in the desert on that unfortunate day back in 1859 he would of most unlikely been one of leading protesters or even opposition for the how the settlers had defaced The once great home to largest and tallest great forests in the world. He loved his mountains and the ones who respected the land. No ones perfect but thats who he was. I believe that’s how he should be remember.

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