Correspondence of the Oregon Superintendency
News articles and Southern Oregon-related correspondence with the Oregon Superintendency for Indian Affairs.
A MARRIAGE AMONG THE RED MEN.In the fall of 1893 my wife accompanied me on one of my tours through the part of my district which included the Indian settlement, and we stopped at the agency to hold a service.
Here was employed a bright Indian girl as laundress. She had been converted in our camp meeting. Her name was Irene Johnson.
In the afternoon we were sitting in the parlor. Irene was one of our company, and an Indian young man came in. It was soon evident that he and Irene understood each other.
After a pause in our conversation the agent said, "Brother Jones, when will you be back here?"
I looked at my program, and replied, "On the 17th of October, if not delayed by snowstorms. I have about three hundred miles to drive, but if all connections can be made I shall be here then."
"Well," he continued, "Jim and Irene here want you to marry them when you come back." The girl dropped her head and perhaps blushed, but her complexion could easily hide such evidence of emotion.
Next day my wife and I went on our way. Snowstorms came on, and we camped out with our little tent in nine inches of snow, but we carried out our program, and on our return, when within about ten miles from the agency, we saw an Indian horseman on a high point of the hill. When we came up it proved to be the young man, Jim Schonchin.
"Hello, Jim," I said.
"Hello, Brother Jones," he responded, "I am glad to see you. I was afraid you would not get back, and I came out to see."
"Yes, Jim, I am on hand."
As we parted, Jim said, I'll be over, after awhile," and we went on to the agency.
Indians came in from all directions. I was announced to preach in the evening, and the marriage was to take place after the sermon.
Jim came over to the agency some time before evening, and while there the agent said to him, "Well, Jim, you are going to get married like a white man, and get a wife that keeps house like a white woman, and you ought to pay the preacher like a white man."
"What! Pay the preacher?" said Jim.
"Yes," replied the agent, "I paid the preacher for marrying me; Brother Jones paid the preacher for marrying him; and that is the way we do."
"I did not know that," said Jim, "but if that's right, I'll do it. How much ought I to pay him?"
"Well," responded the agent, "I think you ought to give Brother Jones a horse, and then give me one."
"All right; if that's right I'll do it."
After more banter and much laughter, the agent said, "No, Jim, I don't want a horse, but I think you ought to give Brother Jones one."
After awhile he moved his chair over by me, and said, "Brother Jones, I'll give you a horse."
"No, no, Jim," I replied, "the agent is joking."
"Yes, but I think I shall feel better if I give you one."
"How many horses have you?"
"About one hundred."
"All right," I said, "if you have one hundred horses, and desire to give me one you may do so."
"I shall have to give you a wild one."
"But I cannot do anything with a wild horse."
"Well, I have only three gentle horses. I cannot spare my team, and I want to sell the other for cash, so that I can only give you a wild one."
"Never mind it, Jim; I don't want one."
This seemed to trouble him, and he gave himself to thought. Suddenly his face brightened, and he said, I'll tell you what I will do--I'll keep the horse for you this winter, and break it, and next summer you can get it."
"All right," was my reply.
The church was crowded in the evening. After the sermon, the bride and bridegroom came to the platform. She was dressed in white. Using the beautiful ritual of our Church, I pronounced them husband and wife, and then introduced them to the audience as Mr. and Mrs. Schonchin.
When the young women came up to congratulate Irene, what weeping! She was a great favorite among them, and, notwithstanding her happiness, they were loath to see her go from among them.
It was a bright, moonlight night, and at about eleven o'clock Jim said, "Well, it is time to go home."
He was the owner of a good ranch which was about five miles away, and he had fitted up a house for the reception of his bride.
The agent told the boys to bring around the horses and hack to the gate. Jim helped his bride into the hack, and, addressing me, said, "Brother Jones, next summer when you come over, be sure to come and see us."
I said, "I surely will," and he drove off with his wife.
I thought, "What a blessing is Christianity to this people!" Jim was the nephew of the old man Schonchin, who was executed on the gallows with Captain Jack and Scarfaced Charlie for murdering General Canby and our own dear Dr. Thomas, under a flag of truce.
Next summer I received my pony.
T. L. Jones, From the Gold Mine to the Pulpit, Cincinnati 1904, pages 146-151
Last revised February 28, 2020