Robert Chauncey Bishop, known in Pendleton as Chauncey, who served during the 1920s as the Pendleton Round-Up’s Indian director, was killed in a freak hunting accident near Pendleton in January of 1927.
Chauncey was part of the Pendleton Woolen Mills legacy, and managed the Pendleton mill, which he and brothers Roy and Clarence bought in 1909. Other mills in Salem and Washougal, Wash., were managed by the Bishop brothers’ parents, C.P. and Fannie Bishop.
On the afternoon of Saturday, Jan. 15, 1927, Bishop was hunting ducks near McKay Dam with two friends, Glen Stater and Sol Baum. The trio was wrapping up their hunting activities, and Stater was standing near the car talking to Baum, who was sitting inside. Stater said Bishop disappeared into a gully on his way to the car, so neither man witnessed the accident.
Both men heard a gun shot but weren’t immediately concerned, thinking Bishop was shooting at ducks. When he didn’t appear after a few minutes, the men hurried to the gully and found Bishop lying in shallow water at the bottom, head downward. The shotgun was a short distance away, the recoil having thrown it from Bishop’s hands.
Bishop reported he had slipped on a rock and the gun went off accidentally, hitting him in the abdomen. It was a new gun, Stater and Baum said, and Bishop admitted he did not have the safety on when he slipped. He wasn’t bleeding badly, and was able to help his friends get him to the car.
The men drove Bishop to St. Anthony Hospital in Pendleton, where he was immediately taken into surgery. He survived the surgery and was able to talk to his family, some of whom had traveled from Salem and Portland when news of his accident was received.
But later his condition started to deteriorate, and he was given a blood transfusion, donated by his brother Clarence, at 10 a.m. the next morning. Bishop briefly rallied, but died at 11:15 a.m. Sunday.
In addition to his brothers and his parents, Bishop left behind two sons, Robert, 17, and Charles, 13. His wife had died in 1918 during the Spanish Influenza epidemic, and Chauncey was laid to rest next to her in Salem.