The Curious case of Harry Fisher, Part III

Posted by Ken Campbell January 30, 2010 0 Comment 845 views

On October 18, 1891, a mere three days after his second dishonorable discharge, James Hanmore headed back to the Olympic peninsula. For some strange reason, habit maybe, he still traveled under the name “H. Fisher,” and he was accompanied by two other men, Franklin Yates (also a member of the O’Neil expedition), and a Mr. Cranmer (more on him later.) The group was headed to the Queets for the winter, for hunting and fishing, and to run trap lines. A man’s winter.

They spent the season out of doors and Hanmore devoted considerable time to collecting specimens of the flora, cataloguing each with a scientist’s attention to detail. The party explored deep into the Queets and the Clearwater drainages, opening new lands at every step of the way. In response to questions about why he had returned, Hanmore wrote, “Mr Yates, Cranmer and myself, having spent the summer of 1890 exploring the Olympics with Lieutenant O’Neil, were charmed with the country and concluded to pass the winter here and improve our claims.”

The man referred to as Cranmer would appear to be one Corporal Thomas Cranmer, another member of the Fourteenth Infantry. The thing is, he hadn’t been a member of the O’Neil expedition; he met up with Hanmore and Yates after that trip had concluded. This basic contradiction seems a strange one. Moreover, Cranmer was still on active duty at Vancouver Barracks when the others left for the Queets – he wouldn’t get out of the Army until early November. Although it is possible that the third member of the party was indeed Corporal Cranmer, there is another possibility – that he was someone else entirely.

Jacob Kranichfeld had been a member of the 1890 expedition. He, like Hanmore, had received a dishonorable discharge from the 14th Infantry just two weeks before Hanmore did. (That outfit had some character issues, it would seem. And a busy First Sergeant.) There is the possibility that it was Kranichfeld who made the trip with Hanmore and Yates, three old buddies, explorers all, together again. By taking Cranmer’s name as his own, by borrowing a technique that had served Hanmore so well for so long, Kranichfeld would have been able to sidestep some of the DD stigma and try to start a new life.

Hanmore’s trail runs cold after the summer of 1892. Like so many of his contemporaries, character actors in the real-life drama of the day, he fades into the backdrop, exits the stage without a whisper. In the years that followed, his claim would be lost and his story would disappear with it.

But what an interesting life! While it lasted. Intrigue and camaraderie, ingenuity and high adventure. I like to think that Hanmore came back to the peninsula after a summer in the Cascades, and made his way back into the hills. I don’t know where… it doesn’t really matter. I like to think that he spent the rest of his time out there somewhere, wandering the river banks, watching the mergansers and the salmon, collecting plants and sketching in the evenings around a blazing campfire, never tiring of the territory and the secrets it held for him.

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