According to his tombstone, he died at age 47 indicated suggesting Jeealthuc was likely born around 1817. Two contemporary reporters suggest that his father was an Hawaiian labourer working for the HBC, and that from him he inherited curled hair which earned him the name Frisé by the French-speaking men of the fur trade, later Anglicized to “King Freezie.” We have four images of Jeealthuk, two from Paul Kane (probably taken from the same sketch) made in 1847, a sketch by J. Linton Palmer in 1851 and a photograph taken in 1864. The paintings by Kane show a slight wave in his hair; the 1851 sketch shows straight hair and the 1864 photo by Gentile neither clearly shows or rules out the possibility of curly hair. An additional image by Haverfield labels Jeealthuk but no details of his hair are visible.
In the Kane images of 1847 he appears dressed in a wool blanket as he does in the John Haverfield painting of 1848 but by 1850 he was always described wearing trousers and a long coat, sometimes with a tall hat. In 1851 he was sketched by a naval officer Linton Palmer wearing a naval uniform and a flat cap, and he is in similar attire when photographed 13 years later. His prominence in the late 1840s and his age make it most likely that he was “the Chief, a young man of about 20 years of age” who accompanied James Douglas around Lekwungen territory on his arrival in 1843. Oral history from the Lekwungen identifies Cheealthuc as being “The first Indian to shake hands with the Hudson’s Bay.” The Fort journal calls him the head chief of the Songhees [Lekwungen] in April 1848 and when he was baptized Catholic in 1850 his name is recorded as Frisé or Tshiashac and he is described as “the grand chief” of the Songhees Nation. He had, at one point in the 1850s, two wives. His first wife, Tsullace (Or Sul-lus born ca 1835) he married before 1848 and another younger wife married in that year. With them he had several children. The fort journal records that Jeealthuc caught the measles and then dysentery in April of 1848 but survived these illness.
Jeealthuc led the Lekwungen people during a time of rapid change. During his life, Fort Victoria was built with Lekwungen help, the main village moved from Cadboro Bay to Victoria Harbour, treaties were made, and much of their territory was occupied by settlers as their population grew from nothing to about 6,000. The Lekwungen were hit by waves of diseases including measles, dysentery, influenza and smallpox, and were exposed to alcohol. Despite provocations, dramatic population losses and major social disruption Jealthuc was a skilled negotiator, and a peacemaker who tried to protect his culture while he embraced some features of the newcomer culture.
Jeealthuc died on or a few days before 10 November 1864 drowned in the harbour. He was first interred on Coffin Island in Victoria Harbour but now has a resting place in the Songhees Cemetary.