Do You Remember Bissel?
Bissel was home to pioneers who sought out the rich farmland near Murkís, Clark or Bissel Lake. Bissel Lake was a "deep, pot-hole lake". Children swam and skated on the lake and many families cut ice for early refrigeration. Wesley Gourley had a sawmill on the lake and other mills operated on the creek that fed into the lake.
Besides lumber, people had farms and orchards. "Fields were small but fertile. There was good grazing on the south slopes and among the tall pines on the ridge." Peach and apple orchards shipped fruit to Colville and surrounding areas. In 1894 a post office was established and there was a store and a hotel on the sandy banks of the Columbia. A school was built near the lake in the late 1800ís. Students attended classes for six months during the winter. There were about 20 students in the early 1900ís. (Pioneers of the Columbia, 1998)
In December 1908 a strange man moved into the old Baslington farm in the valley above Bissel. He called himself James E. Logan. He seemed like a regular neighbor at first; he sold cream and farmed like everyone else. However, the young Stalder girls claimed they did not like his Ďcoldí eyes. Other odd things about Logan were a letter that appeared to have been steamed open and resealed and a jokingly forged signature on a cream receipt.
Bissel citizens soon found out that their strange new neighbor was creepier than they imagined. His real name was Fredrick William Jahns (and even that is not certain). He came into the United States from Africa with stolen diamonds that he killed eight men to obtain. It is suggested he also killed at least one man in Canada. He was a skilled forger and his routine was to become acquainted with persons in the neighborhood who didnít have family nearby. After a while he would murder his victim and forge their documents to declare that he was the heir of their possessions. Then he would take the dead personís name and move on to a new town and do it all over again. Because he changed identities so often it may never be known how many people he killed. The name James Logan was the name of the last person he murdered in Maple Falls, WA.
Logan had a housekeeper from Germany; her name was Agnes Jansen. Logan found out that she received a letter telling her she would soon receive $3500 from Germany. On the late afternoon of October 27th, 1909 Logan and Ms. Jansen set out in his wagon heading towards Addy. That night there was a fire in Heresheimer canyon between Cedonia and Addy and Loganís Wagon was seen near-by. The fire burnt so long and fiercely that the Taylor and Gifford boys were suspicious. They returned to the fire a few days later and found a human hand, part of a corset and the remnants of dental bridgework. Meanwhile Logan had departed alone from the Addy train station bound for Davenport. Within hours he was convicted in his hotel room in Davenport. In 1910 he was found guilty of the murder of Agnes Jansen and the trial was a sensation of Logan telling outrageous stories and then denying them the next day. Logan/Jahns was hanged at the Walla Walla Penitentiary on April 21, 1911.