Benjamin Franklin Dowell
See also his diary.
A. G. Walling, History of Southern Oregon, 1884, page 525-526
HON. B. F. DOWELL.--Benjamin Franklin Dowell was born in Albemarle County, Virginia, on the 31st day of October, 1826. He was named for an uncle of his grandmother on his father's side. She was a daughter of John Franklin and a niece of Benjamin Franklin, the statesman and philosopher. Mr. Dowell's father and mother were natives of Virginia, and were born and brought up within one mile of each other. His mother's maiden name was Fannie Dalton, a woman of rare culture and refinement.
The Dowells were originally from England; the Daltons were from the Scottish Highlands. As a child, Mr. Dowell removed with his parents to Shelby County, Tennessee, where he attended the Male Academy and acquired a liberal education. After having concluded his academic studies, he returned to Virginia and entered the state university, where he graduated in law in 1847, before he was twenty-one years old, with distinguished honors. He returned to Tennessee and began the practice of his profession at Raleigh and at Memphis. An extensive and lucrative practice soon engaged his whole attention; but the fame of the newly discovered gold fields of the Pacific caused him to desert the bar for a time to try his fortune in the mines.
In the spring of 1850, he formed a copartnership with three other young men and started from St. Joseph, Missouri, whither he had gone by water, for California. He arrived in Sacramento on the 20th of the following September. Here he had a second attack of cholera, the malady of which so many died on the plains that year. When he had partially recovered, his physicians advised him to go North; and on the 5th of October he started from San Francisco for Portland, taking passage on a small schooner. At the mouth of the Columbia the vessel encountered a terrible storm and was driven back to sea, dismasted and almost helpless. It was not until the thirty-fifth day after leaving San Francisco that a safe landing was made at Astoria. Mr. Dowell did not remain long in the Willamette Valley, and in 1852 we find him engaged in packing and trading in Southern Oregon. He pursued the business until 1856, and was very successful. In 1857 he again engaged in law practice, in Jacksonville, and soon obtained a very extensive business.
When the Oregon Indian wars broke out in 1853, 1854 and 1856, Mr. Dowell was engaged in merchandising with a pack train from the Willamette Valley, Scottsburg and Crescent City to the mines in Jacksonville, Oregon, and Yreka, California. He voluntarily hired himself and all his animals to the quartermaster as long as they were needed. Mr. Bancroft, in his Oregon history, says "He was the first in the war and the last to come out." During these wars he took some desperate chances. He frequently carried the express in the most dangerous places.
In 1853 a party of twenty soldiers was detailed to find the camp of the Indians. The detachment was under the command of Lieutenant Eli. Mr. Dowell being in the quartermaster's department, it was no part of his duty to fight; but he volunteered to accompany the detachment. They found the Indians on Evans Creek near the Meadows, and returned down the creek about five miles where there was good grass, wood and water, and commenced cooking and eating breakfast. The lieutenant being young and inexperienced in the Indian sagacity and fighting, put out no guard. So the Indians completely surprised the detachment; and at the first fire about one-fourth of the men were killed, and as many more wounded. The Indians also captured all the horses of the volunteers but one, which was staked near the camp. The owner of this animal mounted him and made for headquarters, which was near Stuart Creek, a distance of about thirty-five miles. [It was closer to twenty.] The balance of the company fled to the timber close by, and took shelter among the trees and fought Chiefs Sam's, Jim's and Joe's whole band of five hundred Indians from early in the morning until late in the evening, when they were rescued by the volunteers from headquarters. During the fight, General Crosby sang out at the top of his voice, "Jordan am a hard road to trabel, I belief." He had a repeating breech-loading rifle which he fired in double-quick time. The others had good rifles; and each had a good Colt's revolver. So by hugging the trees, and using these pistols frequently, the Indians were kept at a distance; and but few of the whites were killed after they reached the timber.
That was the hardest battle ever fought on the Pacific Coast. Mr. Dowell has often told his friends that that was the most fearful and longest day of his life. Yet in December, 1855, he was in Colonel Kelly's four days' fight on the Walla Walla River. Mr. St. Clair, Chief Factor of the Hudson's Bay Company, had two four-pound howitzers which he cached with some ammunition in Walla Walla near the fort. The volunteers fished them out a few days before the battle. Major Chinn and Captain Wilson took charge of one and Mr. Dowell of the other. The second day Captain Wilson overloaded one, and it burst. Mr. Dowell invented a carriage so as to shoot off of a mule's back, and mounted it on an aparejo or leather pack saddle, and laced it on the back of one of his finest mules. He, with the assistance of one of the packers, would load in a ravine and then charge up close to the Indians, wheel the mule around and fire the cannon off of the top of the mule's back. At first it knocked the mule down on his knees, but he soon learned to brace himself so as not to fall. This was the biggest gun these Indians ever saw.
Perhaps the most accurate and full description of the battle and death of the Chief Peu-peu-mox-mox and his comrades in the battle of Walla Walla that ever has been or ever will be written is found in a letter from Mr. Dowell to his brother. It is true history, and is a sample of Mr. Dowell's forcible style of writing. We here insert the following extract:
"On the fifteenth of October I was employed by the quartermaster as packmaster at six dollars per day for my services, and three dollars per day for my pack mules, to transport supplies for the use of the First Regiment of Oregon Volunteers; and I have been in active service ever since. I have made one march through the Yakima country with Colonel Nesmith, and saw one little battle while with his command near the Yakima River. After we returned to The Dalles, I was ordered to accompany Colonel Kelly and his command to the Walla Walla Valley. On the fifth instant, Peu-peu-mox-mox or Yellow Serpent, the head chief of the Walla Walla Indians, met Lieutenant Colonel Kelly near the Touchet, near its confluence with the Walla Walla River, like the Prophet met General Harrison before the battle of Tippecanoe, with pretended friendship, and about dusk tried to get the whole command to enter and camp on a deep cañon, which was lined with thick underbrush, rocks, logs, and served as an ambuscade for a large force of hostile Indians--a complete natural fortification--and an excellent place for the enemy to cripple Colonel Kelly and his whole force of three hundred and thirty-nine men. The Indians were seen and their plot discovered by the Indian agent, Nathan Olney, and by Colonel Kelly. Peu-peu-mox-mox and five of his treacherous comrades were taken prisoners, and Colonel Kelly and his command camped in the opposite direction from the cañon.
"The next day the command returned to the crossing of the Touchet close to its confluence with the Walla Walla River. The next morning the hills in front of our camp were literally lined with the enemy. A general engagement soon followed. Both the whites and Indians were well mounted, and those that had the best horses did the fastest running. The advance of the enemy soon fled up the Walla Walla towards their camp and the old Waiilatpu Mission. About two miles below this, they made a desperate stand, and our advanced companies, being harassed by a crossfire, were compelled to fall back to the main command. The transportation trains, under my charge, and the Indian prisoners under a guard of twelve men, were close up with the command in the midst of the battle, and, soon after the Indians shouted over the retreat of our advance, one of the prisoners drew a knife and stabbed one of the guards. Four more of them refused to be tied, and seized the gun of the guard, and in half a minute the whole five were shot down. The other prisoner, a young Nez Perce, made no resistance, and he still lives to tell the tale. Peu-peu-mox-mox said he would rather die than be tied, and he fought like a tiger to the last."
Thus fell one of the richest, shrewdest, proudest and most haughty chiefs that ever "danced over a white man's scalp west of the Rocky Mountains."
Strict integrity and untiring persistence in what he conceives to be his line of duty are characteristics for which Mr. Dowell is noted, and, though past life's meridian, he is still vigorous in mind and bids fair to survive many years to serve the public and retrieve pecuniary losses which he has sustained by trusting others who have proved unworthy of his generous confidence.
In the practice of his profession he had no superior in Southern Oregon. He only lost three suits in which he advised the commencement in thirty years. Mr. Dowell was brought up a Whig, and he has been frequently heard to say: "I never voted but one mean vote in my life; that was for Breckinridge and Lane in 1860." This he said he did conscientiously, with the hope to keep peace between the North and South. He was an owner of slaves at the commencement of the war, but when the conflict began he looked upon the South as a spoiled child, and declared that they deserved a good whipping. He believed that the Union should not be dissolved. He delighted in his profession, and he never pressed himself forward for office. He was several times nominated for and elected to small offices, but he resigned them and never held any office, except district judge in Tennessee, by appointment of the governor, and prosecuting attorney of the first judicial district of Oregon, and as district attorney of the United States for a short time, and in a few special cases.
He has strong convictions on all political issues, and as a writer uses strong language to express them. He denounced the Rebellion in the strongest language.
In 1865 he bought the Oregon Sentinel to keep it from falling into the hands of the Democrats. He was the owner of it for nearly fourteen years. But he continued the practice of his profession and hired editors and printers to run the paper. He scarcely ever wrote for it when at home. But a part of the time he was in Washington City, and during that time his letters published in the Sentinel were strong, able and to the point. This made him warm Republican friends and bitter Democratic enemies.
He was the first man to hoist the name of General Grant for President west of the Rocky Mountains, and first to advise the nomination and election of President Harrison. His letter on this subject was published in the Gold Beach Gazette in 1887.
In 1861 he was married to Miss Anna Campbell. They now have a family of three children, two daughters and one son. The elder daughter, Fanny, is now the wife of G. M. Love. Annie E. studied law, and is a better lawyer than many of the male members of the profession. The son, B. F., Jr., gives promise of being one of the foremost men of the state.
Mr. Dowell and his family resided in Jacksonville from 1852 to 1885, when they moved to Portland and have since made that city their home.
History of the Pacific Northwest: Oregon and Washington, vol. II, 1889, pages 305-307
It is related that the winter of 1852 was the most severe one that Southern Oregon had ever experienced since the white men settled there. The mountains of California were blockaded with snow so as to prevent travel between Oregon and the mines of California. The people of Jacksonville were wholly dependent upon the supplies brought from the Willamette or Scottsburg. An unexpected storm having arisen, and there being no means to afford them relief, their provisions were entirely inadequate for their support. Snow fell at Jacksonville to the depth of three feet and lay upon the ground for more than four weeks. After the snow disappeared, high water proved an obstacle to travel. During this time the citizens and miners suffered severely. The supply of flour was exhausted, and most of the population were compelled to live on "beans straight" for a long period of time. The old settlers will remember that the first relief was furnished by B. F. Dowell, who brought to Jacksonville a pack train loaded with flour and other provisions and who, by his indomitable courage and perseverance, surmounted obstacles that few would have had the hardihood and courage to undertake. In the vicinity of Jacksonville this storm was much more severe than in the other surrounding sections of Southern Oregon. It is well remembered, even to this day, by those early settlers who were living in this section of the state at that time."
E. P. D'Arcy, "He Talked to Pioneers," Oregon Statesman, Salem, September 9, 1900, page 5
In the last Oregonian I notice a letter from B. F. Dowell, commonly known in the southern country as "collar-mouthed Dowell" (horse collar) or the "man with the cracked voice." It is said that Dowell ruined his voice in the winter of 1852-53 while he was crying, four for sale at a dollar and a quarter per lb. During those memorable starvation times, Dowell arrived in Jacksonville with a load of flour, and commenced to sell it out at fifty cts. per lb., but soon increased his extortionate demands until he raised it up as high as a dollar and [a] quarter, when he broke down; his voice failed him, and he has not recovered it to this day.William J. Martin, "The 'Expedition to Fight the Emigrants,'"Umpqua Gazette, Scottsburg, August 9, 1855, page 2
For the Oregonian.
Umpqua County, O.T.Mr. Editor: My attention was called by a friend, this morning, to a communication published in the Statesman, June 2nd, 1855, from Wm. J. Martin, dated "Deer Creek, May 20th, 1855," charging me with a Whig fraud, and being in partnership with Ben. Drew, and C. S. Drew, quartermaster, and thereby making the "nice little sum of twenty-eight thousand dollars, clear of all expense," that we got up a report to Gov. Davis that the Indians on the southern immigrant road had banded themselves together for the purpose of plundering the immigrants, and he says he obtained this information "from the lips of Dowell, himself." This communication contains a tissue of falsehoods from beginning to end. I never was in partnership with either of the Drews, in any transaction whatever, in my life; much less with them did we make the nice little sum of twenty-eight thousand dollars. Nor did I get up any report, nor assist in getting up any report whatever to Gov. Davis--nor yet did Wm. J. Martin get any such information from my lips. He is indebted for the information to one of his Democratic friends, who wrote the letter in question, which he signed and sent to the Statesman for publication. Perhaps Captain Martin was so excited, or deranged, at the great bugbear about the number of Know-Nothings in Northern Oregon, and the possibility of Lane's defeat, that he is not responsible for the contents of this communication. At most, he only fathered the bastard child of another, and baptized the little contemptible thing Martin, and sent the spurious issue forth to the world as one of the greatest of the little Martins.
June 13th, 1855.
Towards the close of this letter the author plainly shows his object, in these words: "These three men are Whigs, and are all supporting Gaines." The object was to make votes for Lane, beyond the possibility of a doubt. If we had all been supporting Lane no one would have heard of a Whig or a Democratic fraud, on the eve of the election. This line, however, contains more truth in it than any other part of the communication, for two of us did vote for Gaines, but Ben. Drew did not take any part in the canvass whatever, and did not even vote at the election.
Here I might close this epistle, but for the information of Capt. Martin and all others who feel an interest in the welfare of the citizens of Oregon, and particularly those who volunteered last year to protect the immigration on the southern Oregon emigrant road, I will briefly state the facts as they actually existed.
It is well known to many of the old citizens that the Indians on this route have been very hostile for years, that they plundered--stole stock and robbed the first immigration that passed this road in 1846, and even at that early day they brutally murdered a sick, weak and helpless immigrant, who was unable to keep up with the immigrant train, and that these same Indians, in 1852, massacred indiscriminately thirty-two white persons without regard to age, sex or condition; old gray-headed fathers and mothers and their helpless little children all shared the same fate. On the 4th of July, 1854, three or four horses were stolen by the Indians at the forks of the emigrant and Yreka road, within the settlements of Rogue River Valley, and one man had been shot dead in that vicinity only a few days before.
Reliable information about this time reached Yreka and Jacksonville that the Indians were collecting in large bodies on the emigrant road, near Lost River. Under these circumstances Col. Ross, a commissioned military officer of the Territory, and Gen. Drew, who was at that time one of Gov. Davis' staff, and three or four more political friends of Gov. Davis--and some of them occupying high stations in the Democratic ranks--wrote to Gov. Davis and urged upon him the necessity of calling out a volunteer force to protect the immigration which was at that time on the road to Southern Oregon and Northern California. Gov. Davis promptly responded to their communications, and on the 17th July, 1854, issued orders to Col. Ross (if he deemed necessary) to call out a volunteer force, and in that event for Gen. Drew, as quartermaster, to arm and equip the command. The company was soon organized. Many good and patriotic men furnished supplies of various kinds. I hired my pack animals, and Ben. Drew hired his, to the quartermaster to pack the supplies for the command. So, during the Rogue River War of 1853 I hired my pack train, and John A. Miller hired his to pack the supplies for the soldiers during the war, at $4 per day for each animal.
These contracts were first made with the commissioners of military affairs--three of whom are Democrats and only one a Whig. I afterwards wrote out a contract and Captain Allen, a commissioned officer of the U.S. army, signed it, as captain of the regular army and colonel commanding the volunteers in Southern Oregon, and that Secretary of War has since decided that each soldier having even a Cayuse horse shall have $4 per day for the use of his horse. Therefore, if I have been guilty of a fraud, so have the Democratic commissioners, Secretary of War, and every man that had a horse or mule in the service during the Rogue River war been guilty of the same fraud. The only difference is I reduced the promises of the officers of the government to writing and compelled Col. Alden to acknowledge the price before an enlightened, generous and good government, that will pay the soldiers the same price. Again: I have several times made upwards of $4 per day for each pack animal, packing provisions for the miners in Southern Oregon and Northern California, and horses were at the time, and have at divers other times, been hired at Yreka and Jacksonville at from $4 to $6 per day to individuals, for cash. Then, certainly, there can be no good reason why the government should not pay as much for animals on a long credit as individuals, at the same place, pay in cash.
During the war of 1853-4, the officers considered it a favor to get animals and supplies. I freely furnished everything I could during both wars, at the same prices that everyone else did, and not a cent higher, and I even furnished cash to buy the medicines for the whole command while on the plains.
The inevitable conclusion, therefore, is that if it is the duty of the general government to protect her citizens, and if furnishing animals, provisions and cash, at the urgent request of the officers of the government, be a fraud or a sin, then am I "the chief of sinners," but if they were necessary for the protection of the lives and property of American citizens, don't accuse me of a fraud, nor of "gouging," or trying to pick Uncle Sam's pocket. He is the richest uncle we have in the world, and I have believed and still believe he will pay his poor nephews who furnished supplies, and all those who volunteered to protect the immigrants and gallantly fought to protect the immigrants and gallantly fought the Piute and Modoc Indians in 1854.
Yours &c. B. F. DOWELL.Mr. Bush: In justice to me, I hope you will publish the above.
B.F.D.Oregonian, Portland, June 30, 1855, page 2
[From the Oregon Statesman.]
The "Expedition to Fight the Emigrants"
Deer Creek, Douglas Co.,A. Bush, Esq.--Dear Sir: In the last Oregonian I notice a letter from B. F. Dowell, commonly known in the southern country as "collar-mouthed Dowell" (horse collar) or the "man with the cracked voice." It is said that Dowell ruined his voice in the winter of 1852-53 while he was crying, four for sale at a dollar and a quarter per lb. During those memorable starvation times, Dowell arrived in Jacksonville with a load of flour, and commenced to sell it out at fifty cts. per lb., but soon increased his extortionate demands until he raised it up as high as a dollar and [a] quarter, when he broke down; his voice failed him, and he has not recovered it to this day.
July 5, 1855
In the recent political canvass, Dowell stated in a speech in Jacksonville that the "time had been when a Whig daren't open his mouth in this Territory," which was true so far as he was concerned, for until he became sanguine of the Know Nothings and the election of Gaines, he was professedly neutral in politics, but like many other neutrals, he claimed to be as good a Democrat as could be found in Oregon.
Last summer when Chas. S. Drew, then Quartermaster General of the Oregon Militia, was organizing his expedition to "fight the emigrants" on the southern road, Dowell was among the first to invest in that infamous speculation. It is now generally conceded that this expedition was unnecessary and wholly uncalled for--no hostility existed on the southern route--indeed the whole affair was gotten up for the purpose of speculating off the general government. The greater portion of the forage, transportation, provisions, hospital and ordnance stores &c. for the expedition were furnished either by the quartermaster himself or some of his partners in business, or relations. Indeed, the report of Gen. Drew shows that he has allowed the claim of his brother, B. J. Drew, for the use of pack mules in that service, amounting to the enormous sum of $9,876! No more than thirty pack mules belonging to B. J. Drew were ever in the service at any one time, and consequently the claim amounts to more than $250 per animal. Again, Drew claims and is allowed $2,360 for flour furnished for that service at the low rate of forty cents per lb., while 75 cts. is allowed for coffee, and the same for bacon; 50 cts. per lb. is charged and allowed for sugar and salt. Yet Chas. S. Drew, quartermaster, "certifies that all these articles were purchased at the lowest market price, and that he was in no way interested in the purchase." Messrs. Pearson and Hunter, supposed partners of the quartermaster, have also large claims of a similar character.
It appears that Mr. Pearson was paid and is allowed $50 per month for rent for four months of office for the quartermaster, while it is well known in Jacksonville that C. S. Drew kept his office in his own house, and that Pearson owned no interest in the house unless by virtue of his copartnership with Drew.
Mr. Hunter, another partner in this enterprising firm of Drew, Dowell & Co., is allowed $3 per lb. for powder, 50 cts. per lb. for lead; 75 cts. for shot; $10 per thousand for percussion caps &c. Dr. Cleavland, late of the council and as a member of which body he voted for the resolution asking Gen. Lane to get an appropriation to pay these bills, another personal and political friend of the distinguished Gen. Drew, is allowed $20 per oz. for quinine, also $2 per oz. for cubebs, copaiba and paregoric; charges for other hospital stores furnished by Dr. Cleveland are of a similar character. Among the rest, $8 per gallon is allowed for brandy. The miscellaneous items of the expenses of this service include many very singular and interesting stores for a campaign in the mountains--$12 per ream is charged for foolscap paper; $4 per bottle for ink; large amounts are allowed for soap, candles and other extras.
Perhaps Dowell's bill is a fair specimen of the rest, and for the edification of the good Democrats who read the Statesman, and believe in the economical administration of the government, we will subjoin Dowell's account against the United States in full. Comment is unnecessary when we consider that Quartermaster General Drew has certified that all these extravagant demands are just--that the articles furnished were purchased at the lowest market price, and that he is in no way interested in the purchase.
B. F. DOWELL'S ACCOUNT:
WM. J. MARTIN.The Statesman editor comments as follows upon the above communication:
In the letter of Capt. Martin, which we publish today, and to the astounding disclosures of which we invite the attention of the public, and the authorities at Washington, will be found the bill of Mr. Dowell, on account of the "expedition to fight the emigrants." The items of this bill, as given, are correct, for we have caused them to be compared with the bills on file in the Governor's office, made out and certified by C. S. Drew, late Quartermaster General. The other bills on file there, on account of this scheme to "fight the emigrants" and plunder Uncle Sam, are of the same character, exorbitant beyond degree or parallel. We subjoin a few items which we have copied ourself from the report of the late Quartermaster General Drew. We copy from the medicine bills:
Umpqua Gazette, Scottsburg, August 9, 1855, page 2 Martin's letter above was printed in the Statesman of July 21, 1855, on page 2
Rogue River Correspondence of the Statesman.
Jacksonville, Sept. 22nd, 1855.Mr. Editor.--Naturalists give us an account of a molluscous animal called the cuttlefish. He sustains himself by preying upon other fish, and has a small bladder near the mouth, from which, when pursued, he emits an inky fluid that darkens the water around him, and thus enables him to escape. In many of his peculiar traits, and especially the latter, this little bandit of the waters is the type of a class of men not unfrequently met with. The thief who breaks from his captors, artfully mingles with the crowd in pursuit, and takes up the hue and cry of stop thief, darkens the waters that he may escape. The ingenious pettifogger who in defense of a bad cause, misleads the witnesses, confounds the testimony and mystifies the minds of the jury, darkens the waters that the guilty may escape. And to illustrate by the circumstances that have suggested this cuttlefish to my mind, when it became a matter of public notoriety that the firm of Dowell & Drew had spread their nets for a haul upon the United States Treasury by means of the now celebrated "expedition to fight the emigrants," straightaway these worthies commence to distort the public mind from the subject, and to darken the waters with their ink "bladder," in the columns of the Oregonian, over the pompous signature of "Clarendon," from the rural shades of "Forest Dale, Jackson County." About the paternity of this modern "Clarendon" there can be as little doubt as that of Chancellor Hyde who first gave the name literary celebrity. They are all stamped with the device of the Dowell & Drew mint. From end to end they teem with wars and rumors of wars (but particularly the rumors). Besides, the most casual observer cannot fail to see at a glance that they are a mere rehash of the late Qr. Mas. Gen'l.'s report of his late military operations on the southern emigrant trail, in the fall of 1854, and allowing for the difference in quantity, they contain more pure unmixed fiction than even that celebrated document, and an equal amount of pathos, bathos and hifalutin.
For instance, take the communication of the 11th of Aug. By a necessary implication it conveys, and was intended to convey, a false impression in the very first paragraph, in asserting that there had been a "resumption of Indian hostilities in this vicinity," that is, in the vicinity of "Forest Dale, Jackson County." Not a word of truth in it, although sometime prior there had been a fight in California, some sixty or seventy miles from the peaceful shadows of "Forest Dale." Yet a stranger in reading this politico-military dispatch might very reasonably conclude that "Forest Dale" was at that time besieged by the Indians, that Dowell was preparing the match to fire the magazine, as a last resort rather than surrender, while Drew in the true heroic style, stripped to the cuff [sic], and begrimed with powder, was indicting this dispatch upon a drumhead. All these letters are full of insinuations, utterly unfounded, against Capt. Smith, the commander at Fort Lane, and Dr. Ambrose, the Indian agent. It is probable that if Capt. Smith had have sanctioned this speculating "expedition to fight the emigrants," as Drew desired him to do, his name would not occur so frequently, but particularly if he had not reported to Genl. Wool that the whole thing was unnecessary, and got up for speculation. How an honest man and a faithful officer could have said anything else about it, I don't see, but at all events this accounts "for the milk in the coconut." From personal knowledge I affirm that Capt. Smith and Dr. Ambrose acted correctly in the matter of the Applegate Indians upon the reserve, who were demanded by the volunteers from California. The volunteers themselves, or those who spoke for them, expressed the opinion, and I don't think "Clarendon" can induce them to come back and retry the experiment, "of apprehending and punishing certain Indians upon the reserve," of their own will and pleasure without law or evidence. Nearly every citizen in Rogue River Valley who has a home and a permanent interest in the country approved of their action, and were at the time ready to back it by force if necessary. Opposed to these might be found--and there always will be--a few enterprising spirits "dead broke" and too lazy to work, whose voices are always for war (though not for fight), because in the confusion incident to such a state of things they have a license to go gypsying round the country, upon Cayuse ponies, plundering honest men for a living.
Again, "Clarendon" complains of "the emissaries of a partisan press," that "they have misled the public mind by denouncing men as traitors, cutthroats, swindlers &c. who have used every endeavor to promote the public good, and have spent their fortunes, however small they might be, in the service of their country." Now be it known that these generous souls who have so suffered and died for their country, and have been so abused by "the emissaries of a partisan press" are merely the firm of Dowell & Drew. They have omitted the fact, and for fear a grateful public might never discover their benefactors, I mention it. But, gentlemen, your sufferings are not real. Your imaginations are distracted. These "emissaries" never called either of you "traitors." If you are traitors they have not said it, nor do they think it. They never called you "cutthroats"--the very idea is preposterous. You are both as harmless as sucking doves. Nor do I think they ever called you "swindlers." The name sounds harsh and ugly, and the politeness of the present age delights to describe such speculations as yours by the historic names of Galphinism and Gardnerism. But in this way you seek to get up false issues, to keep the public mind upon the wrong scent, and to darken the waters so that your real iniquities may escape the public eye.
To speak of men's private fortune, or the manner in which they use it, is not the proper subject of a newspaper correspondence. But when the subject is lugged before the public with such barefaced impudence as in this last paragraph it becomes a different matter. Before the firm of Dowell & Drew can ask the credit of having "spent a fortune in the service of their country," we would like to know how and when they done it. If Drew ever "spent a fortune" it was in fast living--drinks not excepted--and not "in the service of his country." But if he did it would have been in quite as good taste to have been just before he was generous--to have spent it in repaying those poor fellows from whom much of it was borrowed.
As for Dowell when his country gets anything from him better than pack mules at four dollars per day, or flour at a dollar and a quarter a pound, it will be time to boast of a "fortune spent in her service." As it is, upon strict principles of justice and right it is not improbable that he is the gainer and his country the loser some thousands, by his valuable "endeavors for the public good."
In the letter of the 25th of Aug. "Clarendon" speaks warmly "of our citizens who are so often compelled to act on the defensive, and to make the rifle their constant companion," patrolling round "Forest Dale" I suppose, acting "on the defensive," or marching to relieve the distant settlement. Nothing of it, not a word. All imagination. They are peaceful fellows and love not the smell of villainous saltpeter, perhaps never shouldered a rifle in the valley, and if so merely in a trade. But they have got into trouble about some little speculations on account "of their country" and they wish to darken the waters until they can get out.
But here is a paragraph in which D. and D. lay aside their "constant companion their rifle" and drive the pen of the politician. I would advise them to continue the change, as the latter character is not only more congenial to their tastes, but vastly nearer the truth. But to the paragraph--"we are compelled in a measure to obey the mandates of a secret political organization known as Durhams, whose chief has proclaimed to the world that no expedition against their particular favorites--the Indians--shall receive the sanction of his office, or, in other words, the sanction of the executive of the Territory." Who ever heard before that the executive had proclaimed anything to the world upon the subject? No one. All pure fiction. But Gov. Curry did turn Drew out of the Qr. Mas. Gen'l.'s office, and that is Dowell and Drew's revenge. But then these "Durhams." Aye! there's the rub. They have ruthlessly exposed our little military speculations before we got an appropriation from Congress to foot the bills. Besides they are "a secret political organization," and we K.N.s don't like that at all.
But seriously, Dowell and Drew, it is time these alarms about Indian massacres, wars and difficulties in Southern Oregon should come to an end. It is true Indian difficulties may occur, but in this valley it is not likely without some of us are very anxious for it. During the past six months peace has not been interrupted for one hour in the upper R.R. Valley. One or two men have been killed in the valleys or mountains towards the coast. As many have been killed or wounded in the same time in drunken brawls between whites. Yet during all this time you have labored over the signature of "Clarendon" and otherwise to make the impression that there has been continual skirmishing and fighting with the Indians in Rogue River Valley and "Forest Dale." This is unjustifiable; persons at a distance are deterred from coming to the mines; emigration is turned away in some other direction, and the settlers are kept in a continual alarm and uneasiness. Now, Charley, let me say a friendly word in conclusion. If the firm of Dowell & Drew must keep up a clamor--if they must play the cuttlefish, and darken the waters, take some other subject. Have done with these false alarms about Indians. Cease trying to raise a fuss with them, but pitch into the "Durhams." They are real foes and worthy of your steel; you may hack away at them until doomsday without harming them or anybody else.
ANTI-HUMBUG.Oregon Statesman, Corvallis, October 13, 1855, page 1
Fort Dalles OregonDear Brother
Dec. 25, 1855
Early in October a general Indian war broke out in Oregon and Washington Territories, extending from Walla Walla Valley east of the Cascades Mountain to the N.W. corner of Washington Ter. and from Puget Sound to the northern part of Cal. I left Southern Oregon about the first of October for the purpose of buying bacon for the miners, and came to the Willamette Valley. When I arrived at Portland, the whole country was excited and alarmed. The regular army under Major Haller had been defeated in a general engagement and fair fight by the Yakama Indians. The Indians had broken up white settlements in Southern Oregon. Two regiments of volunteers were called out by the Gov. of Oregon, one for Southern Oregon and the other to assist Major Haller on the Columbia River, and another regiment was called by the Gov. of Washington, making three volunteer regiments to assist the regular army to suppress these hostilities. On the 15th of Oct. I was employed by the Quarter Master as pack master at six dollars per day for my services and three dollars per day for my mules to transport supplies for the use of the First Regiment of Oregon volunteers, and I have been in active service ever since. I have made one march through the Yakima country with Col. Nesmith, and saw one little band while with his command near the Yakima River. After we returned to this place I was ordered to accompany Col. Kelley and his command to Walla Walla Valley. On the 5th inst. Peu-peu-mox-mox, or Yellow Serpent, the head chief of the Walla Walla Indians, met Lt. Col. Kelley near the Touchet, a tributary of the Walla Walla River, like the prophet met Gen'l. Harrison before the
Battle of Tippecanoe--with pretended friendship, and about dark tried to get the whole command to enter and camp in a deep cañon, which was lined with thick underbrush, logs, and a large force of hostile Indians, a complete natural fortification and an excellent place for the enemy to cripple or massacre Lt.Col. Kelley and his whole force of 339 men. The Indians were seen, and their plot discovered by the Indian Agent, Nathan Olney and Col. Kelley. Peu-peu-mox-mox and five of his treacherous comrades were taken prisoner by Col. Kelley, and he and his command camped in the opposite direction from the cañon.
The next day the command returned to the crossing of the Touchet close to the confluence with the Walla Walla River. The next morning, the hills in front of our camp were literally lined with the enemy. A general engagement soon followed. The whites and Indians were all mounted, and those that had the best horses did the fastest running; the advance of the enemy soon fled up the Walla Walla toward their camp and to the old Waiilatpu Mission where Dr. Whitman, his family and a parcel of emigrants were massacred on the 29th of Nov. 1847. About ten miles below the mission our enemies made a desperate stand, our advance companies being so pressed by the enemy with a crossfire that they were compelled to retreat and fall back to the main command. The transportation trains under my charge, and the Indian prisoners under a guard of twelve men, were close up with the command in the midst of battle, and soon after the Indians had shouted over the salient of our advance, one of the prisoners drew a knife and stabbed one of the guards; four more of them refused to be tied and seized the guns of the guard and in a half minute the whole five were shot down. The other prisoner, a young Nez Perce, made no resistance, and he still lives to tell the tale to his unfortunate race. Peu-peu-mox-mox said he had rather die than be tied, and he fought like a tiger to the last. Thus fell one of the richest, shrewdest, proudest chiefs that ever danced over a white man's scalp west of the Rocky Mtns. The battle lasted for four days. During the time, we built a stockade enclosing the ground on which Peu-peu-mox-mox fell. Our loss was one captain, one lt. and seven privates who were killed or have since died, and two captains and fourteen privates wounded. The loss of the enemy could not be accurately ascertained, as they packed off and burned all they could. However, 39 still lie dead upon the battle field and their loss is estimated from the best information of the officers as 75 killed and as many more wounded.
The Indians engaged in the battle are variously estimated from 500 to 1000 warriors. Col. Kelley's whole command was only 339 men, but they fought bravely and came off victorious. The Indians all fled across Snake River, and left our troops in the peaceable possession of Walla Walla Valley and the whole country between here and there, a distance of 150 or 160 miles. The battle was fought 5 or 6 miles north of Oregon in Washington Territory.
The weather is intensely cold. The coldest that I have ever experienced in Oregon. The ice on the Columbia River, opposite this place, will bear a wagon and team, but in a few days it will all be gone and I shall return to Walla Walla with more supplies for the volunteers.
B. F. DowellSam'l. Dowell, Esq.
Stony Point P.O.
Bancroft Library MSS. P-A 25
Sam'l. Dowell, Esq.
Stony Point P.O.
Salem, O.T.Dear Brother,
Jan. 31st, 1856.
The only subjects of conversation at the capital of Oregon are Gen'l. Wool, Palmer and the present Indian war. General Wool charges the whites with commencing the war for the purpose of plundering the treasury of the U.S., that the govts. of Oregon & Washington territories have called out volunteers unnecessarily, that the Oregonians barbarously murdered Peu-peu-mox-mox, the head chief of the Walla-Walla Indians. Every newspaper in these territories and the citizens generally denounce Gen'l. Wool and he in return calls the Oregonians little dogs barking at his heels. Gen'l. Wool has not condescended to visit the scene of hostilities, and the whole of the regular army under his command are now safely housed in their winter quarters at the military post, within the settlement, while the volunteers are occupying Walla Walla Valley, poorly clad and almost without tents and destitute of bread, upwards of 150 miles from the white settlements. He either has bad advisors or he is wholly ignorant of the numbers, resources, tact, intelligence and deadly hostility of our enemy, or he is a great Indian sympathizer and wholly regardless of the interest of Oregon and Washington territories. I have resided in Southern Oregon in the midst of the Indians for the last five years, and since my arrival in Oregon I have frequently traveled from one end of the settlements to the other, so I have had a good opportunity to know the causes of the war, and the strength of our enemies. I would be the last man to aid and assist to prosecute an unjust war, but I have been from the commencement and am now actively engaged in this war. I verily believe that it is absolutely necessary it should be vigorously prosecuted to a successful termination. In Southern Oregon alone, upwards of [thirty of] our citizens were waylaid and barbarously murdered before the Oregonians organized a single company to chastise the Indians. A friend from Jackson Co. gave me a copy of a letter written by the Indian agent Ambrose to the Superintendent of Indian Affairs which I enclose to you. This letter was written only eight days before the commencement of the war, from which you can form some idea how an Indian war is commenced and you will see that the whites are not wholly to blame for our present difficulties. The most of the facts and circumstances detailed in this letter I know to be true, but I am of the opinion Limpy and George deceived the agent, and that they were hostile at the time his letter was written, for they refused to reside in the Indian reservation, and eight days later they joined the Scotans and Shastas in open hostilities against the whites. I am as much opposed to extermination of the red race as Gen'l. Palmer or Gen'l. Wool, but the war is now being waged by our enemy against friend and foe, against innocent men, women and children. These Indians must be taught the power of the Americans, and the utter folly for them to take up arms against us, and it is the imperative duty of Gen'l. Wool and every good citizen to aid and assist in doing it, and to close the war. The Legislative Assembly yesterday passed unanimously a joint memorial condemning Gen'l. Wool for his inactivity and for trying to destroy the credit of Oregon, and the memorial politely asks the President of the U.S. to remove him from the command of the Pacific Division. In every war in which we have ever been engaged, from the Revolutionary War to the present time, there has always been a party, a small, narrow, contracted, contemptible party, against each war, and Gen'l. Wool has always opposed the volunteer force, but I believe this is the first time he or any other commander has kept the regular army inactive and out of the Indian country during the winter in time of an Indian war. A timid woman would have done better, for she is always patriotic and for her country, right or wrong.
It is also said that Gen'l. Palmer, the Supt. of Indian Affairs, has taken sides with Gen'l. Wool and our enemies, and the members of the Legislative Assembly have politely asked the President to remove him from office. How Gen'l. Palmer could report against the war I am at a loss to know, for the letter of Agent Ambrose was directed to him, and was doubtless in his possession when the war commenced, and he to my knowledge was present and advised Gov. Curry to call out 1000 volunteers to march up the Columbia River to the relief of our citizens in the vicinity of The Dalles, and before the volunteers left the Willamette Valley he subscribed $100 to assist [to] arm and equip the volunteers; he even advised his own son to join the Oregon volunteers, and seemed deeply to regret the insufficiency of the available transportation animals belonging to the volunteer command; yet I am credibly informed he has reported to Gen'l. Wool that the war was commenced by the citizens of Oregon, and that they consider the treasury as a legitimate subject of public plunder, and that Gen'l. Wool has reiterated the charge publicly again and again. We have a few vagabonds, not citizens, that are outlaws and refugees from justice, but probably in proportion to population there are as few here as there are in Washington City, the metropolis of the nation. The great body of resident citizens of Oregon are as true, honest and as law-abiding citizens as any in America, who are now engaged in the war, and who believe the war to be a great national calamity, and who look upon Gen'l. Wool and Gen'l. Palmer as base slanderers and calumniators of their good name. Did the Supt. expect to plunder the Treasury of the U.S. himself by advising a volunteer force to be called out, and by furnishing money to prosecute the war? Did he expect his own son to join the army and divide the plunder? Or did he do all this from a sense of duty, for the purpose of suppressing Indian hostilities, and to restore peace and happiness to his adopted country? If Gen'l. Palmer and Gen'l. Wool had been in the late battle of Walla Walla and seen with their own eyes the gallantry of the Oregon volunteers, we surely never should have heard of their traducing the good name of the Oregon volunteers. The truth is the good citizens of Oregon not only in this war, but in all our own Indian wars have risen en masse from a sense of justice, against the Indians for self-protection, without inquiring who should or would pay them, and they are truly unfortunate in having the commander of the U.S. forces taking sides with the enemy and refusing to prosecute the war. The sooner he is removed and the sooner the regular army takes the field the better for California, Oregon, Washington territories, and the better for the U.S. Treasury.
I was present at the commencement of the Rogue River War in 1853, and not one, at the commencement, expected a dollar for his services, nor did they expect to ask for pay, until after the arrival of the U.S. officers who advised over 200 men that were then in the field bearing arms in defense of their own lives and property, to be mustered into U.S. service and apply for pay. Their whole and sole object was to protect the settlements and punish a treacherous, perfidious and common enemy to the white race.
The Cayuse War was long before my arrival in the territory and before the U.S. had organized our territorial government, and a variety of opinions exist here as to the cause of that war. Some contend the Indians killed Dr. Whitman & his whole family because he was unsuccessful as a physician among them, others that it was caused by undue influence of the Catholic missionaries and their deadly hostility to the Protestant religion, while the great body of the old settlers believe the war was caused by the great emigration across the plains to Oregon and by the officers and servants of the Hudson's Bay Co. teaching the Indians that the Americans were intruders upon the rights of the English and Indians, that the Americans would occupy their lands without remunerating them for the homes of their fathers, the Indians thus foreseeing the natural encroachments of the whites determined to meet the crisis and decide their fate by the force of arms. Our government did wrongly to encourage our citizens to emigrate to Oregon before purchasing the land of the natives. But this was done as far back as 1842 not for the purpose of doing injustice to the Indians but to extinguish the pretended claim of England to Oregon. England, at the same time, was alive to her interests, and was giving her citizens great encouragement to settle and occupy the same country, and at the time of the first American emigration across the plains to Oregon there was a large Hudson's Bay settlement on the Willamette and Columbia rivers. Soon after our emigrants arrived here, there was a great rivalry between the English and Americans. The Cayuse War served to increase the natural antipathy of the Oregonians against the Hudson's Bay Co. and against the Indians. Dr. Whitman, a pious American Protestant missionary, his wife and children and a large party of emigrants camped at his house were barbarously murdered, without cause or provocation. He had done more to Christianize and civilize the Indians than any other man in Oregon. He had taught them to plant, cultivate, reap and use corn, wheat and potatoes, which the Indians continued to raise in abundance up to the time of the commencement of the present war. He had taught some of them to read and write and several, from the fruits of his labor, are now better writers than I am. He and Mr. Spalding had translated the New Testament into the Nez Perce language, and many can read it to this day. In truth and in fact Dr. Whitman was one of the best of missionaries and the "poor Indians'" best friend and greatest benefactor; yet he was the first white man that fell a victim to their treachery and barbarity. The emigrant men shared the same fate, but some of the women were taken prisoners and forced to become the unwilling wives of their bloodthirsty captors. The facts stand out in bold relief; the emigrants were not to blame; Dr. Whitman and his family were not to blame, yet the Americans had war, the English had peace, and notwithstanding the American settlements were very weak and needed assistance the Hudson's Bay Co. was then opposed to the war, like Gen'l. Wool is now, and this powerful company then refused to assist the Oregonians and to prosecute the war.
Gen. Wool has reported to the Secty. of War again and again that the regular army under his command was wholly inadequate to protect the settlements, yet he has always reported against the volunteers. He reported long ago that the company called out by orders of Gov. Davis in 1854, was unnecessary, and that it was done for speculation. Yet the same time he urges the department to send more forces to the Pacific, and beautifully describes his district as extensive and "an empire within itself"; but now in the midst of the most destructive war that has ever scourged Oregon he says there are plenty of regulars, no war, no necessity for his command to leave their good comfortable houses and take the field.
It is true the enemy has not recently done any great damage, and they have been driven beyond the settlements by the volunteers, but unless they are pursued and whipped they will return to the frontier settlements, and again massacre whole families.
Gen'l. Palmer's & Wool's opposition will tend to prolong the war, increase the high prices, and prevent the speedy settlement and payment of the expenses of the war, but notwithstanding all this, the legislatures of Oregon and Washington have both determined to continue to bark like dogs at the heels of Wool, and vigorously prosecute the war to a successful termination.
Washington is sparsely populated but Oregon has wealth, resources, [and a] vigorous, hardy and large population. She has the very best material in America to prosecute an Indian war successfully. Civilization has always trampled over savage barbarity. So, in this instance, notwithstanding Wool's and Palmer's opposition, and notwithstanding at present the plow has to be abandoned for the rifle and gloom and lowering clouds hang over the future destiny of Washington and Oregon, yet finally the savages will be compelled to sue for peace and the clouds of darkness will disappear and peace and happiness will be restored to the Pacific Coast.
In relation to Peu-peu-mox-mox, I wrote for the full particulars of his death on the 25th of last month. At the time he was killed I was untying a rope to tie him with to prevent him from making his escape. I saw it all with my own eyes, and I was within three ft. of him when he breathed his last. He certainly was not murdered but was killed by one of the guard while he was trying to take the gun of the other. According to the most rigid rules of civilized warfare, the guard was not to blame. Officers and soldiers have frequently been complimented for killing prisoners under similar circumstances. Doubtless it was the intention of Peu-peu-mox-mox and his comrades to get the guns of the guard and then make their escape. Even Gen. Wool himself commends Major Haller and his men for killing an Indian prisoner at Fort Boise in 1854 trying to make his escape from the regulars of the U.S. Army. The acts of the regulars, in the estimation of Gen'l. Wool, deserve commendation, but the same act performed by volunteers only twelve months afterwards is severely and bitterly condemned as murder in the first degree. Peu-peu-mox-mox was a rich, proud, haughty, cunning, treacherous, bitter and dangerous enemy and those who think the whites are wholly responsible for this war and that Indians can do no wrong may truly sympathize with the Indians and deeply regret his death. To those who prefer Negroes and Indians to whites, and a vast, howling wilderness inhabited only by coyotes, wolves, panthers and living beings in human shape more savage still, to beautiful cultivated fields, and large, flourishing commercial cities inhabited by intelligent, civilized man, have great cause to grieve over the loss of Peu-peu-mox-mox. But if the cultivation of the soil, and the cultivation of the arts and sciences, be the will of the maker of the heavens and earth, it may be just cause for the Oregonians to rejoice that this daring chief and champion of the savages attempted to escape and drew down destruction upon his own head. As for scalping and cutting of Peu-peu-mox-mox' ears, this is a relic of barbarism which the Americans learned from the savages, and the practice is very common among the whites and Indians. I have no taste for such barbarity. The whites sometimes scalp the Indians before they are scarcely dead, and the Indians scalp all who fall into their hands. There are a few whites back in the volunteer and regular army who pride themselves upon showing such worthless trophies. The only excuse is offered is the Indians would scalp you, and the Indian will never bury, burn or touch an Indian that has his hair mutilated. If an Indian is killed and not scalped and the Indians get a chance they will remove the body as quick as a white man would, but if he is scalped you can always find the body afterward. The Indians are superstitious and will not touch the mutilated dead body.
I have just brought from the First Regiment of volunteers on the Columbia River an express to the Gov. of Oregon. I came the whole route with only one man with me. Since my arrival in Oregon my life has frequently been exposed, and the road before me is beset by hostile bands of roving reckless savages, yet I am not afraid to go wherever duty calls me, regardless of consequences.
B. F. Dowell.Bancroft Library MSS P-A 25. This version (transcribed from a typescript) deletes several paragraphs, restored in the version below, transcribed from a copy in Dowell's hand at the University of Oregon.
Salem, O.T.Dear Brother,
Jan 31st 1856
The only subjects of conversation at the capital of Oregon are Gen'l. Wool, Palmer and the present Indian. General Wool charges the whites with commencing the war for the purpose of plundering the Treasury of the U.S., that the Govs. of Oregon & Washington Territories have called out volunteers unnecessarily, that the Oregonians barbarously murdered Peu-peu-mox-mox, the head chief of the Walla Walla Indians. Every newspaper in these territories and the citizens generally denounce Gen'l. Wool, and he in return calls the Oregonian little dogs barking at his heels. Gen'l. Wool has not condescended to visit the scene of hostilities, and the whole of the regular army under his command are now safely housed in their winter quarters at the military post within the settlement while the volunteers are occupying Walla Walla Valley, poorly clad and almost without tents and destitute of bread, upwards of 130 miles from the white settlements. He either has bad advisors or he is wholly ignorant of the tact, intelligence and deadly hostility of our enemy, or he is a great Indian sympathizer and wholly regardless of the interest of Oregon and Washington Territories. I have resided in Southern Oregon in the midst of the Indians for the last five years, and since my arrival in Oregon I have frequently traveled from one end of the settlements to the other, so I have had a good opportunity to know the causes of the war and the strength of our enemies. I would be the last man to aid and assist to prosecute an unjust war, but I have been from the commencement, and am now, actively engaged in this war. I verily believe that it is absolutely necessary; it should be vigorously prosecuted to a successful termination. In Southern Oregon alone, upwards of [thirty of] our citizens were waylaid and barbarously murdered before the Oregonians organized a single company to chastise the Indians. A friend from Jackson
It is also said that Gen'l. Palmer, the Supt. of Indian Affairs, has taken sides with Gen'l. Wool and our enemies, and the members of the Legislative Assembly have politely asked the President to remove him from office. How Gen'l. Palmer could report against the war, I am at a loss to know, for the letter of Agent Ambrose was directed to him and was doubtless in his possession when the war commenced, and he to my knowledge was present and advised Gov. Curry to call out 1000 volunteers to march up the Columbia River to the relief of our citizens in the vicinity of the Dalles; and before the volunteers left the Willamette Valley, he subscribed $100 to assist, arm and equip the volunteers; he even advised his own son to join the Oregon volunteers, and seemed deeply to regret the insufficiency of the available transportation animals belonging to the volunteer command, yet I am credibly informed he has reported to Gen'l. Wool that the war was commenced by the citizens of Oregon and that they consider the Treasury as a legitimate subject of public plunder and that Gen'l. Wool has reiterated the charge publicly again and again. We have a few vagabonds, not citizens, that are outlaws and refugees from justice, but probably in proportion to population, there are as few here as there are in Washington City, the metropolis of the nation. The great body of resident citizens of Oregon are as true, honest and as law-abiding citizens as any in America, who are now engaged in the war, and who believe the war to be a great national calamity, and who look upon Gen'l. Wool and Gen'l. Palmer as base slanderers and calumniators of their good name. Did the Supt. expect to plunder the Treasury of the U.S. himself, by advising a volunteer force to be called out, and by furnishing money to prosecute the war? Did he expect his own son to join the army and divide the plunder? Or did he do all this from a sense of duty, for the purpose of suppressing Indian hostilities , and to restore peace and happiness to his adopted country? If Gen'l. Palmer and Gen'l. Wool had been in the late battle of Walla Walla and seen with their own eyes the gallantry of the Oregon volunteers, we surely never should have heard of their traducing the good name of the Oregon volunteers. The truth is the good citizens of Oregon not only in this war, but in all our own Indian wars, have risen en masse from a sense of justice against the Indian for self-protection; without inquiring who should or would pay them, and they are truly unfortunate in having the commander of the U.S. forces taking sides with the enemy and refusing to prosecute the war. The sooner he is removed and the sooner the regular army take the field, the better for California, Oregon & Washington Territories, and the better for the U.S. Treasury.
I was present at the commencement of the Rogue River War in 1853, and not one at the commencement expected a dollar for his service, nor did they expect to ask for pay, until after the arrival of the U.S. officers who advised over 200 men that were then in the field bearing arms in defense of their own lives and property, to be mustered into U.S. service and apply for pay. Their whole and sole object was to protect the settlements and punish a treacherous, perfidious and common enemy to the white race.
The Cayuse War was long before my arrival in the Territory and before the U.S. had organized our territorial govt., and a variety of opinions exist here as to the cause of that war. Some contend the Indians killed Dr. Whitman & his whole family because he was unsuccessful as a physician among them; others that it was caused by undue influence of the Catholic missionaries and their deadly hostility to the Protestant religion, while the great body of the old settlers believe the war was caused by the great emigration across the plains to Oregon and by the officers and servants of the Hudson's Bay Co. teaching the Indians that the Americans were intruders upon the rights of the English and Indians, that the Americans would occupy their lands without remunerating them for the homes of their fathers; the Indians, thus foreseeing the natural encroachments of the whites, determined to meet the crisis and decide their fate by the force of arms. Our govt. did wrongly to encourage our citizens to emigrate to Oregon before purchasing the land of the natives. But this was done as far back as 1842, not for the purpose of doing injustice to the Indians, but to extinguish the pretended claim of England to Oregon. England, at the same time, was alive to her interests, and was giving her citizens great encouragement to settle and occupy the same country, and at the time of first American emigration across the plains to Oregon, there was a large Hudson's Bay settlement on the Willamette and Columbia rivers. Soon after our emigrants arrived here, there was a great rivalry between the English and Americans. The Cayuse War served to increase the natural antipathy of the Oregonians against the Hudson's Bay Company. and against the Indians. Dr. Whitman, a pious American Protestant missionary, his wife and children, and a large party of emigrants camped at his home, were barbarously murdered without cause or provocation. He had done more to Christianize and civilize the Indians than any other man in Oregon. He had taught them to plant, cultivate, reap and use corn, wheat and potatoes, which the Indians continued to raise in abundance up to the time of the commencement of the present war. He had taught some of them to read and write and several, from the fruits of his labors, are now better writers than I am. He and Mr. Spalding had translated the New Testament into the Nez Perce language, and many can read it to this day. In truth and in fact, Dr. Whitman was one of the best of missionaries and the "poor Indians'" best friend and greatest benefactor, yet he was the first white man that fell a victim to their treachery and barbarity. The emigrant men shared the same fate, but some of the women were taken prisoners and forced to become the unwilling wives of their bloodthirsty captors. The facts stand out in bold relief; the emigrants were not to blame. Dr. Whitman and his family were not to blame, yet the Americans had war, the English had peace, and notwithstanding the American settlements were very weak and needed assistance, the Hudson's Bay Co. was then opposed to the war, like Gen'l. Wool is now, and this powerful company then refused to assist the Oregonians and to prosecute the war.
Gen'l. Wool has reported to the Secretary of War again and again that the regular army under his command was wholly inadequate to protect the settlements; yet he has always reported against the volunteers. He reported long ago that the company called out by orders of Gov. Davis in 1854 was unnecessary and that it was done for speculation. Yet [at] the same time he urges the department to send more forces to the Pacific and beautifully describes his district as extensive and "an empire within itself," but now in the midst of the most destructive war that has ever scourged Oregon, he says there are plenty of regulars, no war, no necessity for his command to leave their good, comfortable houses and take the field.
It is true the enemy has not recently done any great damage, and they have been driven beyond the settlements by the volunteers, but unless they are pursued and whipped, they will return to the frontier settlement, and again massacre whole families.
Gen'l. Palmer's & Wool's opposition will tend to prolong the war, increase the high prices, and prevent the speedy settlement and payment of the expenses of the war, but notwithstanding all this, the legislatures of Oregon and Washington have both determined to continue to bark like dogs at the heels of Wool, and vigorously prosecute the war to a successful termination.
Washington is sparsely populated, but Oregon has wealth, resources, [and a] vigorous, hardy and large population. She has the very best material in America to prosecute an Indian war successfully. Civilization has always trampled over savage barbarity. So, in this instance, notwithstanding Wool's and Palmer's opposition, and notwithstanding at present the plow has to be abandoned for the rifle, and gloom and lowering clouds hang over the future destiny of Washington and Oregon, yet finally the savages will be compelled to sue for peace and the clouds of darkness will disappear and peace and happiness will be restored to the Pacific Coast.
In relation to Peu-peu-mox-mox, I wrote you the full particulars of his death on the 20th of last month. At the time he was killed, I was untying a rope to tie him with to prevent him from making his escape. I saw it all with my own eyes, and I was within three feet of him when he breathed his last. He certainly was not
I have just brought from the First Regiment of Volunteers on the Columbia River an express to the Gov. of Oregon. I came the whole route with only one man with me. Since my arrival in Oregon, my life has frequently been exposed, and the road before me is beset by hostile bands of roving, reckless savages, yet I am not afraid to go wherever duty calls me, regardless of consequences.
B. F. DowellBancroft Library MSS P-A 25. This version transcribed from the manuscript copy in Dowell's letter book.
Salem O.T.Dear Brother:
Jan. 31st 1856
The only subjects of conversation at the capital of Oregon are the present Indian war, Genls. Wool and Palmer. Genl. Wool charges the whites with commencing the war for the purpose of plundering the Treasury of the United States, that the Governors of Oregon and Washington territories have called out volunteers unnecessarily, that the Oregonians had barbarously murdered Peu-peu-mox-mox, the head chief of the Walla Walla Indians, and every newspaper in these territories and the citizens generally have denounced Genl. Wool, and he in return calls the Oregonians like dogs barking at his heels. Genl. Wool has not condescended to visit the scene of hostilities, and the whole of the regular army, under his command, are now safely housed in their winter quarters, at the military post, within the settlements, while the volunteers are occupying Walla Walla Valley, poorly clad, and almost without tents and destitute of bread, upwards of a hundred and fifty miles beyond the white settlements. He either has bad advisors, or he is wholly ignorant of the numbers, resources, tact, intelligence and deadly hostility of our enemy, or he is a great Indian sympathizer and wholly regardless of the interest of Oregon and Washington territories. I have resided in Southern Oregon in the midst of the Indians for the last four years, and since my arrival in Oregon I have frequently traveled from one end of the settlements to the other, so I have had a good opportunity to know the causes of the war, and the strength of our enemies. I would be the last man to aid and assist to prosecute an unjust war, but I have been from the commencement, and am now actively engaged in this war. I verily believe that it is absolutely necessary it should be vigorously prosecuted to a successful termination. In Southern Oregon alone, upwards of thirty of our citizens were waylaid and barbarously murdered before the Oregonians organized a single company to chastise the Indians. A friend from Jackson County gave me a copy of a letter written by the Indian agent Ambrose to the Superintendent of Indian Affairs, which I enclose to you. This letter was written only eight days before the commencement of the war, from which you can form some idea how an Indian war is commenced, and you will see that the whites are not wholly to blame for our present difficulties. The most of the facts and circumstances detailed in this letter I know to be true, but I am of the opinion Limpy and George deceived the agent, and that they were hostile at the time his letter was written, for they refused to reside on the Indian reservation, and in eight days after they joined the Scotans and Shastas in open hostilities against the whites. I am as much opposed to extermination of the red race as Genl. Palmer or Genl. Wool, but the war is now being waged by our enemies against friend and foe, against innocent men, women and little children. These Indians must be taught the power of the Americans, and the utter folly for them to take up arms against us, and it is the imperative duty of Genl. Wool and every good citizen to aid and assist to do it, and to close the war. The Legislative Assembly yesterday passed unanimously a joint memorial condemning Genl. Wool for his inactivity and for trying to destroy the credit of Oregon, and the memorial politely asks the President of the United States to remove him from the command of the Pacific Division. In every war in which we have been engaged, from the Revolutionary War to the present time, there has always been a party--a small, narrow, contracted, contemptible party--against each war, and Genl. Wool has always opposed the volunteer force, but I believe this is the first time he or any other commander has kept the regular army inactive and out of the Indian country during the winter in time of an Indian war. A timid woman would have done better, for they are always patriotic and for their country, right or wrong.
It is also said that Genl. Palmer, the Superintendent of Indian Affairs, has taken sides with Genl. Wool and our enemies, and the members of the Legislative Assembly have politely asked the President to remove him from office. How Genl. Palmer could report against the war I am at a loss to know, for the letter of the Agent Ambrose was directed to him, and doubtless was in his possession before the war commenced, and he to my own knowledge was present and advised Governor Curry to call out a thousand volunteers to march up the Columbia River to the relief of our citizens in the vicinity of the Dalles, and before the volunteers left the Willamette Valley he subscribed a hundred dollars to arm and equip the volunteers; he even advised his own son to join the Oregon volunteers and seemed deeply to regret the insufficiency of the available transportation animals belonging to the volunteer command; yet I am credibly informed he has reported to Genl. Wool that the war was commenced by the citizens of Oregon, and that they regard the treasury as a legitimate subject of public plunder, and that Genl. Wool has reiterated the charge publicly again and again. We have a few vagabonds, not citizens, that are outlaws and refugees from justice, but probably in proportion to population there are as few of them here as there are in Washington City, the metropolis of the nation. The great body of the resident citizens of Oregon are as true, honest and as law-abiding citizens as any in America, who are now engaged in the war, and who believe the war to be a great national calamity, and who look upon Genl. Wool and Genl. Palmer as base slanderers and calumniators of their good name. Did the Superintendent expect to plunder the Treasury of the United States himself by advising a volunteer force to be called out, and by furnishing money to prosecute the war? Did he expect for his own son to join the army and divide the plunder? Or did he do all this from a sense of duty, for the purpose of suppressing Indian hostilities, and to restore peace and happiness to his adopted country? If Genl. Palmer and General Wool had been in the late battle of Walla Walla and seen with their own eyes the gallantry of the Oregon volunteers, we surely never should have heard of their traducing the good name of the Oregon volunteers. The truth is the good citizens of Oregon not only in this war, but in all our own Indian wars have risen in mass from a sense of justice, against the Indians for self-protection, without inquiring who should or would pay them, and they are truly unfortunate in having the commander of the United States forces taking sides with the enemy and refusing to prosecute the war. The sooner he is removed and the sooner the regular army takes the field the better for California, Oregon and Washington territories, and the better for the United States Treasury.
I was present at the commencement of the Rogue River War in 1853, and no one at the commencement expected a dollar for his services, nor did they intend to ask for pay, until after the arrival of the United States officers, who advised over two hundred men that were then in the field bearing arms in defense of their own lives and property, to be mustered into the service of the United States and apply for pay. Their whole and sole object was to protect the settlements and punish a treacherous, perfidious and common enemy to the white race.
The Cayuse War was long before my arrival in the territory and before the United States had organized our territorial government, and a variety of opinions exist here as to the cause of that war. Some contend the Indians killed Dr. Whitman and his whole family because he was an unsuccessful physician among them, others that it was caused by undue influence of the Catholic missionaries and their deadly hostility to the Protestant religion, while the great body of the old settlers believe the war was caused by the great emigration across the plains to Oregon and by the officers and servants of the Hudson Bay Co. teaching the Indians that the Americans were intruders upon the rights of the English and Indians, that the Americans would occupy their lands without remunerating them for the homes of their fathers; the Indians thus foreseeing the natural encroachments of the whites [illegible] determined to meet the crisis and decide their fate by the force of arms. Our government did wrong to encourage her citizens to emigrate to Oregon before the government had purchased the land from the natives. But this was done as far back as 1842, not for the purpose of doing injustice to the Indians, but for the purpose of extinguishing the pretended claim of England to Oregon. England, at the same time, was alive to her interest, and she was giving her citizens great encouragement to settle and occupy the same country. At the time of the first American emigration across the plains to Oregon there was a large Hudson Bay settlement on the Willamette and Columbia rivers. Soon after our emigrants arrived here there was a great rivalry between the English and Americans. The Cayuse War served to increase the natural antipathy of the Oregonians against the Hudson Bay Company and against the Indians. Dr. Whitman, a pious American Protestant missionary, his wife and children and a large party of emigrants camped at his house were barbarously murdered, without cause and without provocation. He had done more to Christianize and civilize the Indians than any other man in Oregon. He had taught them to plant, cultivate, reap and use corn, wheat and potatoes, which these Indians continued to raise in abundance up to the time of the commencement of the present war. He had taught some of them to read and write, and several of them from the fruits of his labor are now better writers than I am. He and Mr. Spalding had translated the New Testament into the Nez Perce language, and many of them can read it to this day. In truth and in fact Dr. Whitman was one of the best of missionaries, and the "poor Indians'" best friend and greatest benefactor; yet he was the first white man that fell a victim to their treachery and barbarity. The emigrant men shared the same fate, but some of the women were taken prisoners and forced to become the unwilling wives of their bloodthirsty captors. The facts stand out in bold relief. The emigrants were not to blame. Dr. Whitman and his family were not to blame, yet the Americans had war, the English in the vicinity had peace, and notwithstanding the American settlements were very weak and needed assistance the Hudson Bay Company were then opposed to the war, like Genl. Wool is now, and this powerful company then refused to assist the Oregonians and to prosecute the war.
Gen. Wool has reported to the Secretary of War again and again that the regular army under his command was wholly inadequate to protect the settlements, yet he has always reported against the volunteers. He reported long ago that the company called out by orders of Governor Davis in 1854 was unnecessary and that it was done for speculation. Yet at the same time he urges the department to send more forces to the Pacific, and beautifully describes his district as extensive and "an empire within itself"; but now in the midst of the most destructive war that has ever scourged Oregon he says there is plenty of regulars, no war, no necessity for volunteers and no necessity for his command to leave their good comfortable houses and take the field.
It is true the enemy has not recently done any great damage, and they have been driven beyond the settlements by the volunteers, but unless they are pursued and whipped they will return to the frontier settlements, and again massacre whole families.
Generals Palmer's and Wool's opposition will tend to prolong the war, increase the high prices, and prevent the speedy settlement and payment of the expenses of the war, but notwithstanding all this, the legislatures of Oregon and Washington have both determined to continue to bark like dogs at the heels of Wool, and vigorously prosecute the war to a successful termination.
Washington is sparsely populated, but Oregon has wealth, resources, a vigorous, hardy and large population. She has the very best material in America to prosecute an Indian war successfully. Civilization has always trampled over savage barbarity. So, in this instance, notwithstanding Wool's and Palmer's opposition, and notwithstanding at present the plow has to be abandoned for the rifle and gloom and lowering clouds hang over the future destiny of Washington and Oregon, yet finally the savages will be compelled to sue for peace, and the clouds of darkness will disappear and peace and happiness will be restored to the Pacific Coast.
In relation to Peu-peu-mox-mox, I wrote you the particulars of his death on the 25th of last month, which letter I hope you have received. At the time he was killed I was untying a rope to tie him with to prevent him from making his escape. I saw it all with my own eyes, and I was within three feet of him when he breathed his last. He certainly was not murdered but was killed by one of the guard while he was trying to take the gun of the other. According to the most rigid rules of civilized warfare, the guard was not to blame. Officers and soldiers have frequently been complimented for killing prisoners under similar circumstances. Doubtless it was the intention of Peu-peu-mox-mox and his comrades to get the guns of the guard and then make their escape. Even General Wool himself commends Major Haller and his men for killing an Indian prisoner, at Fort Boise in 1854, trying to make his escape from the regulars of the United States Army. The acts of the regulars, in the estimation of Genl. Wool, deserve commendation, but the same acts performed by volunteers only twelve months afterwards is bitterly called murder in the first degree. Peu-peu-mox-mox was a rich, proud, haughty, cunning, treacherous, bitter and dangerous enemy, and those who think the whites are wholly responsible for this war and that Indians can do no wrong may truly sympathize with the Indians and deeply regret his death. To those who prefer Negroes and Indians to whites, and a vast, howling wilderness inhabited only by coyotes, wolves, panthers and living beings in human shape more savage still, to beautiful cultivated fields, and large, flourishing commercial cities inhabited by intelligent, civilized man, have great cause to grieve over the loss of Peu-peu-mox-mox. But if the cultivation of the soil, and the cultivation of the arts and sciences, be the will of the maker of the heavens and earth, it may be just cause for the Oregonians to rejoice that this daring chief and champion of the savages attempted to escape and drew down destruction upon his own head. As for scalping and cutting off Peu-peu-mox-mox' ears, this is a relic of savage barbarism, which the Americans learned from the savages, and the practice is very common among the whites and Indians. I have no taste for such barbarity. The whites sometimes scalp the Indians before they are scarcely dead, and the Indians scalp all that fall into their hands. There are a few whites back in the volunteer and regular army who pride themselves upon showing such worthless trophies. The only excuse that is offered for such barbarity is the Indians would scalp you, and they will never bury, burn or touch an Indian that has his hair mutilated. If an Indian is killed and not scalped and the Indians get a chance they will remove the body as quick as a white man would, but if he is scalped you can always find the body afterwards. The Indians are superstitious and will not touch the mutilated dead body.
I have just brought from the First Regiment of volunteers on the Columbia River an express to the Gov. of Oregon. I came the whole route with only one man with me. Since my arrival in Oregon my life has frequently been exposed, and the road before me is beset by hostile bands of roving, reckless savages, yet I am not afraid to go. I go wherever business and duty calls me, regardless of consequences. If I survive and see peace once more restored to Oregon I intend to return to my native Virginia. Write and give me all the news in Albemarle. Remember me kindly to my old college mate Ham Michler [Michier?] and my schoolmates generally.
Yours affectionatelySamuel Dowell Esq.
B. F. Dowell
B. F. Dowell Papers, University of Oregon Special Collections Ax031
April 4th 1856
Congress made an appropriation of fifteen thousand dollars in 1854 to pay the Indian spoliations during the Rogue River Indian War of 1853, and Ambrose the Indian agent and two other gentlemen were appointed commissioners to audit the claims soon afterwards, yet up to this time not a dollar has been paid the claimants.
I wish to know the reason why these claims have not been paid, and when the claimants may expect to be paid.
Would drafts drawn on the auditor by the claimants be paid like drafts drawn by contractors for services on mail routes?
Yours very respectfullyNARA Series M234, Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, Reel 609 Oregon Superintendency 1856, frames 122-123.
B. F. Dowell
B. F. DowellWeekly Oregonian, Portland, October 25, 1856, page 2
WILL leave for the Atlantic states about the 1st of November, and he will return to Oregon next spring. Any business entrusted to his care and left with Messrs. Maury & Davis at Jacksonville, Wm. C. Griswold, Salem, or Messrs. Failing & Co., Portland, O.T., will receive prompt attention.
Particular attention will be paid to collecting claims against the government at Washington City.
B. F. DOWELL,
Jacksonville, O.T., Oct. 1, 1856.
(For the Sentinel.)
Washington City,Col. W. G. T'Vault--Dear Sir:--Notwithstanding the press of business, according to promise I drop you a few lines. Nothing has been done by this Congress for the benefit of Oregon. The Black Republicans used every exertion to defeat every measure that they thought would advance the interest and popularity of Gen. Lane. The bill making appropriations to pay the expenses of the Oregon Indian wars was objected to in the House by five majority. The bill to pay for the Indian spoliations was killed in the committee. There was no vote on the bill to pay the expenses of Captain Walker's company. Yet I am bound to say Gen. Lane, I believe, did everything in his power to get all of these bills passed, and that he did as much as any delegate could do during this session of Congress. Gen. Wool has written volumes against the good citizens of Oregon. He charges Gen. Lane, Gov. Stevens and Gov. Curry with combining together to plunder the treasury of the United States. However, it took California six or seven years to get their Indian war debt assumed by Congress, and every member of Congress that I have had any conversation with upon the subject admits that all just claims of the expenses of the Oregon Indian war will be eventually paid by Congress.
March 4, 1857.
A bill passed both houses last night making an appropriation of twenty-five thousand dollars to pay the expenses of surveying the ship canal route across the Isthmus of Darien somewhere in or near the Republic of Grenada. The probability is it will go up the Nicaraguan river.
Gen. Joel Palmer denies having any intention of trying to get an office. He says he came here solely to get his accounts righted, but I think Gen. McCarver has fine hopes of getting an appointment soon.
Yours, in great haste, B. F. D.
Clipping from the Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, B. F. Dowell papers Ax031, University of Oregon Special Collections. No complete issue of this newspaper is known to survive.
Washington City,Sentinel:--Notwithstanding the names of the hands employed by the quartermaster and medical director in the Rogue River war do not appear upon the abstract of the expenses of the war, the Secretary of War decided on the 25 ult. to pay me eight dollars per day for my services and four dollars per day for the use of my riding animal, that being the total amount claimed by me. This decision will enable all the packers and hands in the Jacksonville hospital to get the full amount of their wages, upon their making proof of their services, prices &c., and the same reason which I gave for these claims not appearing upon the abstract of the expenses of the war. Gen. Drew has done everything he can do towards getting the packers paid, but Dr. Cleavland died at St. Louis without making out full records according to the requirements of the rules and regulations of the Treasury Department. Therefore, the hospital hands will have to be very particular in making out their proof, and the rules of the Department require each claimant to present his own claim in person, or by a legally authorized agent. If the proof is made out correctly, there is no doubt of the payment, for the present Secretary, in deciding my case, remarked that under a liberal act of Congress, like the one to pay the expenses of the Rogue River war, that technical rules of the Treasury Department should not prevent him from doing justice. Gen. Lane acted in the triple capacity of commander, Delegate and agent in prosecuting the claims in the Rogue River war, without receiving a dollar from any individual for his services. I can assure you he deserves great credit for his services--much more than the citizens ever gave him for getting the great body of their claims paid without expense. I have it from the best authority that he visited the departments daily for months, pressing the settlement and payment of the expenses of the Rogue River war of 1853. He did everything he could to get Congress to assume the payment of the late war. Under these circumstances, I am for him for delegate or Senator. With the information I have, I would be delighted to see Hon. L. F. Grover Representative, Col. Kelly and Gen. Lane Senators.
May 15, 1857.
Under our present circumstances, I verily believe they could and would do more good for Oregon than any other three men in Oregon. Next winter Gen. Wool's influence will be felt more in the Senate than in the House, but with the quick tact, energy and untiring industry of Col. Kelly and Gen. Lane they would get the approbation. And Mr. Grover's connection with the claim commissioners will give him invaluable information upon the subject, which will enable him to press claims through the departments, without expense to the claimants. Claim agents here charge from 10 to 25 percent upon the best of claims for their services before the Treasury Department. Therefore, the saving of this expense alone is no small item to the citizens of Oregon. By the time the commissioners make up their report, in my opinion, no one will be better acquainted with each and every account than Mr. Grover, and no one could or would explain them better to the accounting officers than he would. I can assure the claim holders that the labor in getting their money is not half performed even when Congress makes an appropriation to pay the whole expenses. I have been here pressing as just claims as any that ever was before the Treasury Department for more than two months, and, even now, two-thirds of the claims will have to be returned to Oregon for additional testimony.
I have not seen an Oregon paper since Gen. Lane left. They are as scarce here as honest politicians. So I don't know what the Oregon politicians are doing. I am politically opposed to Black Republicanism, alias Negro-ism, in all its shapes and forms, but in other respects I am in favor of those representing Oregon in the next Congress who can and will do the most for Oregon, irrespective of old party issues and old party names, quarrels and fights. Therefore, my advice to each and every good citizen of Oregon is to send Mr. Grover, Col. Kelly and Gen. Lane here to represent them in the next Congress.
There is an excited contest going on in Virginia relative to the distribution of the proceeds of the sales of public lands. Under the distribution acts of Congress there are at this time forty thousand dollars in the Treasury of the United States due Virginia, which she has refused to receive. Every other state in the Union have received their proportional part of the distribution fund. The election comes off on the 28th of this month. We will see if she loves money.
I remain, very respectfully,
Your obt. servt.,
B. F. DOWELL.
Clipping from the Oregon Sentinel of July 4, 1857, Jacksonville, B. F. Dowell papers Ax031, University of Oregon Special Collections. Dowell dated the clipping, but no copy of this newspaper is known to survive.
Liberal Labor-Saving Operation.Weekly Oregonian, Portland, July 25, 1857, page 2
We see by a late number of the Table Rock Sentinel, published at Jacksonville, O.T., by W. G. T'Vault, Esq., that one B. F. Dowell, formerly a squeaking sort of a Whig, has saved the harmonious a wonderful deal of trouble, by suggesting, selecting, NOMINATING and DECIDING that Jo Lane and Col. Kelly shall be the first U.S. Senators, and L. F. Grover shall be the first Representative from the future virgin state of Oregon in the Congress of the United States. Now this is wondrous kind and generous on the part of Mr. Dowell, as it has saved the unwashed a vast deal of "noise and confusion," full of "sound and fury signifying nothing." They have been spared the toil, trouble, perplexity, and responsibility of deciding this all-important question.
It may save a vast deal of crimination and recrimination, besides expositions of the plans, plots, designs, and secret determinations of those who rule over us and all matters of public interest, decided in secret caucus at Salem. If the Standard, Times, Pacific Christian Advocate, Occidental Messenger, or Statesman should happen to protest against this volunteer aid on the part of Dowell in designating who among the unwashed of the Oregon Democracy shall put on the senatorial and official robes, which might cause a rupture among the faithful; then, and in that case, we propose that all be dumped out upon the Salem platform, so that each may take his chance for "office and spoils." In the meantime, we pray, or will try to induce, Bro. Pearne of the Pacific Christian Advocate to pray to the great head of the Democratic church that the disappointed and disconsolate may be imbued with a spirit of Democratic submission and Democratic patience, to await their allotted time.
What Judge A, B, C, and D, or Gen. E, F, G, and H, together with Cols. I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, and T, and Majors U, V, W, X, Y, and Z may think of this arrangement is another question. Mr. Dowell and the Table Rock Sentinel, W. G. T'Vault its editor and proprietor, have foreordained that Gen. Joseph Lane and Col. Kelly should go to the United States Senate, and Mr. Grover shall be elected to the lower house. Therefore it is no use talking or making a muss about this trifling matter.
Jacksonville OregonGenl. Joseph Lane--
Sept. 20th 1858.
Dear Sir: I received, by last mail, Mr Nicholas Klopfenstein's treasury warrant for seventy-nine dollars and ten cents for his spoliation claim of 1853. He requests me to say to you he is under many obligations to you for procuring it for him.
You have secured his vote for life. He says it has been so long that he never expected to get a dollar.
There is another subject that deeply interests me. I have reference to the expenses of Capt. Walker's company of 1854. I drew up a petition to Congress last fall, and had it left in Jacksonville with Mr. Burke to be signed by the claimants, and caused a notice to that effect to be published in the Sentinel. It was numerously signed and forwarded to you, but I have not heard whether you ever received the petition. I wish you to present it at the commencement of next Congress, if you did not present it last Congress. It will prevent members of Congress from opposing it on the ground of lapse of time without passing it, even if nothing is done but to refer the petition and documents to an appropriate committee. I think the committee at least would authorize the appointment of a commission to investigate these claims. If the same commission could be appointed it would be satisfactory to me, or if Mr. Grover goes out of the commission on the ground of his being a member of Congress, if Oregon should be admitted; then in that event I would be in favor of a new commission. As it is well known, Capt. Smith has spoke and wrote against the expedition. Capt. Engles has not been connected in Southern Oregon with the army in any way and I had as soon see him on the commission as any man in Oregon, and Mr. Gibbs, Judge Williams or any other good, sensible man that is unprejudiced would be very acceptable to me and I have no doubt they or any of them would give general satisfaction to the claimants.
Write and let me know if you have received the petition, and if you presented it what was done with it. I am here practicing my profession, and I am willing to get you any documents that would assist you to get these claims paid off.
I remain yours very respectfullyJoseph Lane Papers
B. F. Dowell
August [illegible] 1861My dear General
Your interesting & welcome letters of the 11th & 24 June last were duly received & it is hardly necessary to say that I was delighted to receive them & thus know that your wound, which has afflicted you so much, has not prevented you from writing as well as ever. I most sincerely trust & pray that you will entirely recover from the wound & that the evening of your life may be so peaceful & tranquil as your earlier days have been useful, distinguished & honorable. Oh, if the politicians of our country possessed one tithe of your honesty, patriotism & practical sense, our unhappy country would not now lay prostrate, bleeding at every pore.
The newspapers will give you all the particulars, &c. of the great battle of Bull Run in Va. when the Federal forces met with a most disastrous defeat. I had three brothers & nephew in that battle. The elder, who is the surgeon of the 8 Regt. of Virginia Infantry of the Confederate Army, the second a lieutenant of cavalry & the 3rd a private of the Loudoun Guard & my nephew the son of the surgeon also a private of the Loudoun Guard. I have not had a line from any of my relatives since the battle.
The newspapers state that the Loudoun Guard were the first in the action & behaved most gallantly, that my nephew, after killing his man & about bayoneting another received a severe wound in the thigh from a musket ball, that the wound though severe was not considered mortal.[He was taken] from the battle field to [illegible] to Culpeper Court House, where he was doing well. As none of my brothers are mentioned in the papers as being either killed or wounded, I presume they passed through the fiery ordeal uninjured. The 8th Va. Regt., of which my eldest of the brothers is the surgeon, was in the hottest & thickest of the fight. I got from the post office your letter to W. B. Phillips giving the particulars of your accident. I called on Breckinridge & read him your letter to Phillips. He expressed his deep regret at your misfortune & his warm regard &c. for you. I have not collected one cent yet for you on the claims you left with me & I fear I never will. Williams made many promises but has done nothing. He has been appointed one of the judges of Nebraska by Lincoln & is as false & corrupt in my opinion as poor human nature can be. Bigger, who I believe is an honest man, will pay if he is ever able. He is here doing nothing & I suspect poor indeed in money. I send you the receipt of Revis for two dollars, the subscription for the Daily Globe for you & Solomon Fitzhugh. It is but a trifle & let it stand as it is, for it leaves me still your debtor for many acts of kindness which I have received at your hands which I shall ever remember with gratitude. My business in the Oregon war claims has proved almost an entire failure. I have not received a solitary claim from Washington Territory & only one claim from Oregon from Saml. T. McKean, the commission on which will not [pay] for my advertisements in the Oregon newspapers [but should] have made enough to make me comfortable & easy in my circumstances the remainder of my life. The Revolution has nearly broken up my business, & it will [take] all my efforts & energies to keep my head above water until the times get better which will not be until the Revolution is over & when that will be God only knows. From what you say, the times must be hard in Oregon, but it must be a land of plenty & comparatively with the times here a land of peace.
If I was there with my family on a farm where I could get bread, milk & meat in plenty, I would be far happier, & easier in mind than I am here amid the surging billows of Revolution, not knowing where they may throw me, but with others stern fate keeps me here & I must trust in God & do the best I can under the trying circumstances. Never were crops of every description so abundant as they are now all over the United States. The wheat & oat crop here was better & more corn meal was made than will be this fall. Throughout this month we have had abundant rains & for the last two weeks we have [had] the most intensely hot weather I ever felt, never did the corn crops look more flourishing & the hay crop is most abundant & the grasses & pasture as green & flourishing as they can be. We have war, but thank God, so far no pestilence & there will be no famine here. Governor Stevens [is] pushing to obtain the nomination for Congress in Washington Territory, put back to Washington & appoint his enemies to Lincoln to fight the South for [illegible] for those principles for which he so sternly contended at Charleston [illegible] & during the last presidential canvass as chairman of the Breckinridge & Lane committee. The papers chronicle that he has been appointed by the President Col. of the Regiment which Cameron, brother of the Secretary of War, commanded at the Battle of Bull Run when he was killed. I understand that the regiment rebelled at the appointment & swear that they will not serve under him. I have not heard since whether he will act or not as the colonel of that regiment.
I wrote to you some time since to learn what land warrants can be sold at in Oregon & if you could recommend some reliable & responsible man to whom I could send them for sale. I have not received an answer to that letter. Give my kind regards & best wishes to your good wife & all your family & Mrs. Edwards & Mac join me in the same.
Tell Fayette I have never had the pleasure of receiving a letter from him, that I would be glad to do so. I hope I shall receive a letter from you every now & then as long as you live. You are one of the dearest & most valued friends on earth & if we shall never be permitted to meet again in this world of care, anxiety & trouble, it is my earnest prayer that we may strike hands on the shores of Canaan where parting will be no more forever.
Yours trulyHon. Joseph [Lane]
[Benjamin F. Dowell]
Joseph Lane Papers
Washington D.C.To the Commissioners of
1st February 1867.
Indian Affairs: About 8 or 9 years ago I made proof of a lost mule which was killed by the Rogue River Indians in the fall of 1855, and I filed the proof with John F. Miller, Indian agent at the time. Please furnish me with a copy of these affidavits and what action has been taken by the Department to secure the same and the reasons why the claim cannot be paid.
Yours very respectfully
B. F. Dowell
NARA Series M234 Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs 1824-81, Reel 615 Oregon Superintendency, 1866-1869, frames 389-390.
Washington D.C.N. G. Taylor
9th April 1867.
Commissioner of Indian Affairs:
Sir: Enclosed I send you the claim of P. W. Stowe of $450 under the treaty with the Rogue River tribe of Indians made at the close of the war at Table Rock, Oregon in 1853. Please audit as soon as practicable, as I wish to start home to Oregon soon.
Yours very respectfully
B. F. Dowell
NARA Series M234 Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs 1824-81, Reel 615 Oregon Superintendency, 1866-1869, frames 391-392.
Washington City D.C.Commissioner of Indian Affairs
8th July 1867.
Enclosed I send the claim of O. D. Hoxie for spoliations for the Indians in the Rogue River Indian War of 1853. Please audit as soon as practicable.
Yours very respectfully
B. F. Dowell
NARA Series M234 Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs 1824-81, Reel 615 Oregon Superintendency, 1866-1869, frames 393-394.
Department of the Interior.N. G. Taylor Commissioner
Office Indian Affairs.
Washington, D.C. 27 July 1867
Dear Sir: Enclosed you will find the claim of James Leslie for improvements on the [reservation of the] Rogue River tribe of Indians known as Table Rock. It is for the sum of $300. Also a power of attorney to me to collect. Please audit &c.
Yours very respectfully
B. F. Dowell
NARA Series M234 Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs 1824-81, Reel 615 Oregon Superintendency, 1866-1869, frames 397-398.
PETITIONTo the Honorable the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled:
B. F. DOWELL AND OTHERS,
ASKING PAY FOR TWO COMPANIES OF OREGON VOLUNTEERS
AND THEIR EXPENSES.
The Snake Indians on the northern Oregon emigrant road and their allies the Modocs, Piutes and a portion of the Shasta Indians, who reside on the Southern Oregon Emigrant Road, have ever been very hostile against the whites, and the deadly hostilities of these Indians were particularly manifested in the early part of the summer of 1854 by a large body of them collecting together on the southern trail near Tule Lake, and by their stealing stock from the settlements in Southern Oregon, and taking a pack train, and killing two men on the Siskiyou Mountains [in September 1855], on the main road from Oregon to California; and soon afterwards by the indiscriminate massacre of men, women and children of a whole emigrant train on the northern Oregon emigrant road near Fort Base. To suppress these hostilities, in August, 1854, seventy-one men, rank and file, of the 9th Regiment of Oregon Militia, under the command of Captain Jesse Walker, were called into active service by Colonel John E. Ross, under orders from John W. Davis, then Governor of Oregon Territory, for the protection of the emigrants on the Southern Oregon emigrant trail.
About the last of August, 37 volunteers, rank and file, under the command of Captain Nathan Olney, were called into active service by Major G. J. Rains, of the United States Army, commanding Fort Dalles, for the protection of the emigrants on the northern emigrant road.
Captain Walker's company traveled the trail from Jacksonville to the Humboldt River, and up the Humboldt about sixty miles, making a distance of five or six hundred miles, and met the enemy several times in large numbers, whipped, dispersed and drove them from the trail, and returned to Jacksonville.
Owing to the hostilities of the Indians no traders were stationed during the fall along the trail, and many of the emigrants were entirely destitute of bread.
Detachments of Captain Walker's command accompanied every train through the hostile country, and they frequently furnished the indigent emigrants with the necessaries of life. Captain Olney's company traveled the road from Fort Dalles to beyond Fort Boise, a distance of about five hundred miles, and returned to the Dalles with the last of the emigration.
The regular army in the vicinity was wholly unable to keep peace in the settlements, and both companies were actually necessary for the protection of American citizens.
They did good service by feeding the destitute, and saving the lives and property of our best citizens from the ravages of hostile and bloodthirsty savages.
Captain Walker's company was in the service ninety-six days; Captain Olney's company was in the service fifty-one days.
The scarcity of United States troops, the hostilities of the Indians, and the necessity for volunteers to protect the emigrants between the Missouri River and California and Oregon, is clearly proven by the official reports of Major General John E. Wool, and the Secretary of War, and the special message of President Pierce, found in Senate Executive Document, Nos. 16 and 22 of the 2nd session of the 33rd Congress.
The dreadful massacres and deadly hostilities of the Indians, and the immediate necessity of Captain Walker's and Captain Olney's companies, are proven by the combined evidence of General Wool, Major G. J. Rains, Colonel Mansfield, Inspector General of the United Slates Army, Hon. O. B. McFadden, Judge of the District Court, Hon. E. H. Cleaveland, Councilman-elect, Alexander McIntyre, legislative member-elect from Jackson County, Oregon, Colonel John E. Ross, Gov. John W. Davis, George L. Curry, Acting Governor of Oregon, Capt. Jesse Walker, and by the resolutions and memorials of the Legislative Assembly of Oregon, and the depositions of Hon. D. R. Calhoun, E. W. Conner, W. T. Kershaw, E. Steele and A. M. Rosborough. The two last, both Indian agents of Northern California, which is found in House Miscellaneous Document, No. 47, of the 2nd session of the 35th Congress. Also, the official reports of Joel Palmer, Superintendent of Indian Affairs of Oregon, and R. R. Thompson, Indian Agent for Middle Oregon, which are found in the Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs of 1854, pages 261, 262, 277, 278, 279, 280, 284.
No volunteers of any State or Territory of the United States, who were regularly organized like these, have ever been so long neglected and unpaid as the Oregon Volunteers of 1854.
Yet it is perfectly natural for you to inquire and to demand proof:
1st. Whether these volunteers were necessary.
2nd. Were the Indians hostile on both roads?
3rd. Did not the whites cause the Indians to be hostile, or why have not these expenses been paid long ago by Oregon or the United States?
We propose to furnish the proof, and answer fully and satisfactorily these questions from the records of the country.
On the 28th day of February, 1854, Major General John E. Wool, commanding the District of the Pacific, reports to the Adjutant General that
"An increase of force to guard against difficulties with the Indians in California, Utah, Oregon and Washington is indispensable. We have now about 1,000 troops, daily diminishing by discharges and desertions. These are distributed over an immense territory in small commands. The number is wholly inadequate to give protection to either whites or Indians." Senate Executive Documents No. 16, 2nd Session 33rd Congress, page 11.
On the 81st day of March, 1854, General Wool reports to General Scott:
"We have now less than one thousand men to guard and defend California, Oregon, Washington and Utah, altogether in size an empire of itself. A larger military force is indispensable."
Id. 51.The Secretary of War, under date of April 14th, 1854, replies to General Wool in these words:
"Your knowledge of the numerical strength of the army, and the demand for troops upon the frontiers, could only in the contingency of an increase of the army by an act of Congress permit you to hope for a larger force. No such increase has yet been made."
Id. 52.On the 30th of May, 1854, General Wool replies to the Secretary of War:
"In urging, in my communication of February 28th, that the troops be sent to California, my object was simply to apprise you, as well as the General-in-Chief, of the necessity of sending troops as soon as practicable, in order that the peace and quiet of the country might be preserved, which is almost daily threatened by the whites and Indians coming into contact with each other."
Id. 66.On the 18th day of August, 1854, a few days after Captain Walker's company was organized, the Secretary of War censures General Wool in this language:
"You again refer to your oft-repeated requisitions for more troops, and notwithstanding my letter of the 14th of April was sufficiently full and explicit on this point, and although you admit that you could not expect any more regiments until an increase of the army by an act of Congress, you permit yourself to censure the Department for not sending you a certain number of recruits, which, you remark, you 'might have at least expected,' when you could not, by any possibility, know whether the Department had that particular number, or, indeed, any number at its disposal. * * * It would but add to the difficulty to send additional troops to your command, so long as you entertain the opinion that troops cannot be posted in the field except at places where barracks are prepared for their accommodation."
Id. 99.General Wool, in a letter to Adjutant General Thomas, dated September 14th, 1854, says:
"In reply to a communication to Captain A. J. Smith, first dragoons, commanding Fort Lane, in which I called his attention to apprehended difficulties with the immigrants and the Indians, near Goose Lake, he informs me that all necessary measures have been taken in that quarter, and that he is on the alert to prevent disturbances.
"It seems a company of' volunteers has been mustered into service, by the authority of the Governor of Oregon.
"Reports from Major G. J. Rains, 4th Infantry, commanding Fort Dalles, O.T. informed me that on August 20th the emigrants en route for the west were attacked on Boise River, a branch of the Snake River, and eight men killed, and four women and five children carried away captive with all their property.
" 'Assistance was asked for by the Indian Agent (Mr. R. R. Thompson) and others, and I (Major Rains) dispatched Brevet Major Haller, Lieutenant McFeely and Assistant Surgeon Suckly, with 26 soldiers, to the scene of the difficulty. Major Haller left August 30, and since, a company of volunteers having offered, 30 strong, their services were accepted and they were furnished with arms, horses, ammunition and rations, and left here [Fort Dalles] yesterday, August 31st.' Col. Mansfield, Inspector General, happened to be at Fort Dalles when the information arrived there. He writes from Fort Vancouver the 4th instant that Major Rains has acted promptly and efficiently. He was able to mount all the infantry and volunteers, and Colonel Bonneville has sent the artillery company from this post to Fort Dalles. No further steps need now be taken as to movement of troops at this season of the year, till further developments." Senate Executive Documents, No. 16, 2nd Session 33rd Congress, page 104.
On the 23rd of October, 1854, General Wool, in a letter to the Adjutant General, while commenting on establishing a military post at Fort Boise, says:
"I would prefer a company of dragoons to traverse the country in the neighborhood of Fort Boise, during the summer, and at the approach of winter to return to the Dalles and remain until spring. I have now three companies of dragoons, but with broken-down horses which are wholly unfit for distant service. To supply these companies with effective horses, such as the service requires, would cost in this country a very large sum. Each horse fit for service would cost from three to five hundred dollars."
Id. 115.Mounted volunteers or dragoons are the only kinds of force that can subdue Indians. This shows that as late as the 23rd of October, 1854, the Pacific Coast was destitute of any regular forces fit to traverse the plains and give protection to the emigrants. General Wool had but three companies of dragoons for the whole Pacific Coast, and their horses were wholly unfit for service.
Under date of the 13th of December, 1854, the Secretary of War reviews the various reports of General Wool, and then sums up General Wool's claims for preserving the peace on the Pacific, thus:
"It would surely be very gratifying to me could I acknowledge your claim for having preserved peace in the Indian country, but to do this I should have to forget not only the outrages you yourself have reported, but others equal in atrocity to any that took place during the time of your predecessors."
Id. 127After the Oregon volunteers were discharged, on the 15th day of January, 1855, the Secretary of War reports to the President the scarcity of troops, and the pressing necessity for an increase of the army, in these words:
"In the annual report from this Department, of December, 1853, your attention was called to the state of the western Indian tribes, and the causes which tended to bring them into hostility with our citizens The exposed condition of the settlements on the frontiers, and of emigrants to California and Oregon passing through the Indian country with their property, presented to those warlike and predatory tribes temptations which it was foreseen would lead them to acts of massacre and plunder, unless they were restrained by the presence of a sufficient military force. The total inadequacy of the present authorized military force for the protection of our citizens was shown, and an increase of the army was urgently recommended. Had the increase of the army which was urged in my report been at an early day authorized, the force at the disposal of the department would have been sufficient to prevent these combinations, and in all probability would have preserved the lives of many valuable citizens from Indian massacre. This measure, however, has not been acted on. The only course now left to the department in anticipation of the proposed increase is the employment of volunteers to cooperate with such of the regular troops as can be collected for the present emergency, and it is accordingly recommended that authority be asked of Congress to call into service three thousand (3,000) mounted volunteers, to be organized into companies, squadrons, and to serve for a period of eighteen months, unless sooner discharged."
On the 16th of January, 1855, President Pierce sent this letter of the Secretary of War to Congress, and urgently recommended its adoption. Said he:
"The employment of volunteer troops, as suggested by the Secretary, seems to afford the only practicable means of providing for the present emergency."
Senate Ex. Doc. No. 22, 2nd Session 33rd Congress, pages 1 and 2.Thus, it will be seen the Secretary of War and the President of the United Stales urgently pressed upon Congress to increase the regular army to give more protection to the Pacific Coast, from December, 1853, to the 10th of January, 1855, and even at the last date they earnestly recommended authority to call out three thousand volunteers to protect the emigration and to keep peace with the Indians between Missouri and Oregon.
During the year 1854, the regular army to guard and keep the peace on the whole of our Pacific possessions numbered less than a thousand men. A poor, pitiful little army to guard so rich, so lovely and so desirable a country as the Pacific division of our vast national domain.
On the 7th day of July, 1854, Hon. C. S. Drew, Quartermaster General, of Oregon, reports to Hon. John W. Davis, Governor of Oregon, that
"The Applegate, Klamath, Shasta and Scott Valley tribes have left their usual haunts and gone into the mountains in the direction of the Modoc country, with the avowed determination of joining with the several tribes in that vicinity for the purpose of getting redress for real or imaginary wrongs from any or all citizens who may fall within their grasp." House Misc. Doc. No. 47, 2nd Session 35th Congress, page 3.
In this opinion Hon. E. H. Cleaveland, councilman-elect; Hon. Alexander McIntyre, legislative member-elect, from Jackson County, Oregon; Hon. O. B. McFadden, Judge of the district court, and Colonel John E. Ross, all concurred and joined in recommending calling out volunteers.
Id. 5.On the 6th of November, 1854, Captain Walker in his report to Colonel Ross says:
"The Piutes in the vicinity of the Sierra Nevada Mountains are hostile, brave and very numerous. It will take a large force to conquer them."
Id. 14.On the 18th and 20th of September, 1854, Governor George L. Curry writes to Hon. Joseph Lane, Delegate from Oregon Territory, in these words:
"I enclose herewith a 'slip' containing an authentic account of the massacre of a portion of the immigration to this country in the vicinity of Fort Boise, by a band of Snake Indians The writer, Mr. Orlando Humason, whom you well know, is a gentleman of the highest integrity, and his statements may be relied upon implicitly.
"The news of this distressing occurrence has occasioned deep feelings in the hearts of the community.
"A United States force, under the command of Major Haller, of the 4th Infantry, and one company of volunteers, commanded by Nathan Olney, Esq., are now in pursuit of the murderers, having engaged in the expedition upon the reception of the news at the Dalles, with a promptitude the most gratifying and commendable.
"It is very much to be hoped that it may be in the power of the authorities to inflict upon the perpetrators of this great outrage the punishment they so richly merit.
"You will do me a personal favor, and your constituents a great service, by calling the attention of the Department of War to the fact of the necessity of the establishment of a garrison or military post at or near Fort Boise. Were it only kept up during the summer and fall months, while the immigrants are on the road, it would be of incalculable benefit in keeping in check the propensities of the Indians to robbery and violence. * * *
"Other acts of violence have been committed by the Indians on other trails in this Territory. A company of volunteers, under orders from Governor Davis, made an excursion on the south route to meet the immigration and protect it from apprehended danger. A small detachment of this command was attacked by a large body of Indians, in ambush on both sides of the road, near the sink of Lost River. On the middle or new route, coming in, as you remember, from Malheur into Lane County, a Mr. Turner's party was attacked and one man was killed--young Stewart of Corvallis. I cannot but deplore the necessity that demands the enforcement of measures involving such an expenditure of money. But I beg to assure you that the greatest care will be exercised and the most rigid economy practiced in the contracting of liabilities. So long as the people of Oregon are left to protect themselves, to punish Indian depredations, and repel Indian hostilities, the expenses incident thereto ought cheerfully to be paid by Congress, as I have no doubt but that they will be."
Id. 8, 9 and 10.Hon. D. R. Calhoun, E. W. Conner, W. T. Kershaw, Judge A. M. Rosborough, and E. Steele (the two latter were both late Indian agents of Northern California) all state that they knew the character of the Indians on the Southern Oregon emigrant road in 1854, and that these Indians were very hostile at that time, and that an armed volunteer force was absolutely necessary for the protection of the emigration.
Id. 34 to 54."In June, 1854," says A. M. Rosborough, Indian Agent, "I was informed by several chiefs of the Scott's and Shasta valley tribes that runners had been sent to their tribes to summon them to a general war council, to be held at a point on the Klamath called Horse Creek. I consulted with Lieutenant J. C. Bonnycastle, United States army, then stationed at Fort Jones. He and myself concurred in the propriety of advising the chiefs who had reported the movement to attend the war council and report to us the whole proceedings. The chiefs returned from the council and reported the tribes of Illinois River, Rogue River and the upper Klamath River, and their tribes represented in the council, and all but themselves [the chiefs that had reported the movement to me] were for combining and commencing in concert an indiscriminate slaughter of the whites. They reported that they were first importuned to join in the attack, and when they refused again and again, they were threatened by the other tribes with extermination; upon which they withdrew and the council broke up in a row."
Id. 53.Hon, Nathaniel Ford, Chairman of the Committee on Military Affairs, on the 3rd of February, 1858, reported to the Legislature of Oregon the names of persons killed by these Indians, from which it will be seen that prior to 1851, upwards of fifty citizens were murdered by Oregon Indians, and since 1851 up to the date of this report, upwards of one hundred and forty citizens have been murdered by the Indians of Southern Oregon and their immediate allies, and about fifty by the Indians of Northern Oregon and their allies.
Id. 57.For a more detailed statement of the deadly hostilities of these Indians, and the absolute necessity for the volunteers of 1854, we respectfully refer to the resolutions of the Legislature of Oregon, found published in the proceedings of the 2nd Session of the 35th Congress.
House Miscellaneous Document No. 47, pages 25 to 30, and 60, and Senate Miscellaneous Document No. 59, and particularly to the Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, of 1854, pages 262, 277 and 278.
Under date of September 11, 1864, Joel Palmer, the Superintendent of Indian Affairs of Oregon, in speaking of the Indians on the northern emigrant road, says:
"It would appear absolutely necessary to detail a company of mounted men each year to scour the country between Grand Ronde and Fort Hall during the transit of the emigration.
Official information has been received that an emigrant train has been cut off this season by these savages; eight men have been murdered, and four women, and a number of children taken captive, to endure suffering and linger out an existence more terrible than death. Of this party a lad, wounded and left for dead by the Indians, alone survives. Other trains may meet a similar fate, and none left to tell the tale.
"East of the Cascade Mountains, and south of the 44th parallel, is a country not attached particularly to any agency. That portion of the eastern base of this range extending twenty-five or thirty miles east, and south to the California line, is the country of the Klamath Indians.
"East of this tribe, along our southern boundary, and extending some distance into California, is a tribe known as the Modocs. They speak the same language as the Klamaths. East of these again, but extending farther south, are the Moetwas. These two last-named tribes have always evinced a deadly hatred to the whites, and have probably committed more outrages than any other interior tribe. The Modocs boast, the Klamaths told me, of having, within the last four years, murdered thirty-six whites.
"East of these tribes, and extending to our eastern limits, are the Shoshones, Snakes or Diggers. Little is known of their numbers or history. They are cowardly, but often attack weaker parties, and never fail to avail themselves of a favorable opportunity for plunder." Report of Commissioner of Indian Affairs for 1844, page 262.
R. R. Thompson, Indian Agent, to Joel Palmer, Superintendent:
Grand Ronde, September 3rd, 1854."Sir: Additional news from Fort Boise confirms our worst fears. The women and children spoken of as captives in the hands of the Indians have been murdered in the most cruel manner.
"The facts, as I have been able to gather them, are that on Sunday, the 20th of August, 1854, about noon, thirty Indians came up to Mr. Ward's train from Missouri, which consisted of five wagons. One of the Indians took hold of a horse belonging to the company, and was in the act of taking him off, but was prevented by one of the whites; the Indian thereupon leveled his gun and cocked it, but before be had time to fire the white man shot him with a revolver. The fight then continued until all the men were killed or wounded.
"A short time alter the fight a Mr. Yantis and six others, who had returned from an advanced train in search of a cow, came upon the Indians while plundering the wagons, and attempted the rescue of the women and children who were then alive, in which attempt a lad by the name of Amens was killed. This young man is said to have fought bravely; he was seventeen years of age, and was from Missouri.
"Finding the Indians greatly superior in numbers, and but a portion of the company disposed to fight, they were compelled to abandon the captives to their fate.
"When they returned to the place where the wagons were attacked they found Newton Ward, a boy of thirteen or fourteen years of age, wounded, and brought him off; he is still alive and expected to recover. Mr. Yantis dispatched a messenger to the other trains in advance of him, informing them of the massacre.
Messrs. Noble and Humason, with a promptness and energy deserving of great praise, left their trains, and taking what men they could spare, returned to Fort Boise the same evening, where Mr. Yantis was encamped. Notwithstanding their earnest solicitations, they could not induce the party to proceed till morning. This was the 22nd. Their force was eighteen men.
"On arriving at the place where the attack was made, they found the bodies of Elezander Ward, his son Robert, Samuel Mulligan, Charles Adams, Mr. Babcock, and a German, name unknown; about a quarter of a mile from this point the bodies of Dr. Adams, a German and a Canadian Frenchman, name unknown. The latter was a packer who had come up a short time before the attack. Following the trail about three hundred yards farther on the body of Miss Ward, 18 years of age, was found, having been shot through the head with a musket ball; her person was much bruised. She had evidently fought with desperation in resisting the attacks of the savages to accomplish their hellish purposes upon her youthful person. A piece of hot iron had been thrust in her private parts, doubtless while alive. Some distance from here they found the body of Mrs. White. * * * She was stripped of her clothing, scalped, shot through the head, and the skull beaten in with clubs; her person showed signs of their most brutal violence. A quarter of a mile further on they discovered where the Indians had been encamped; it consisted of sixteen lodges. Here were found the bodies of Mrs. Ward and her three children; her body stripped of its covering and much cut and scarred; a wound on the face, inflicted by a tomahawk, probably caused her death. The children were found lying on the fire, having been burnt to death, and the mother no doubt compelled to witness the horrid tragedy.
"What renders this case still more shocking, Mrs. Ward was pregnant, and would have soon been confined. Several parts of the limbs were picked up some distance from the fire. There were still a lad and three children missing. The boy has since come into Fort Boise, having been wounded in the side with an arrow: he fled to the bushes and was four days in getting to the fort, during which time he was without food. The arrow passed through the body; the boy in his endeavor to draw it out broke it off at both ends, leaving about four inches in the body, which was extracted at the fort; it is thought he will recover. His name is William Ward. Sixteen bodies were found and buried; three children were not found, but supposed to have been killed.
"The amount of property taken was five wagons, forty-one head of cattle, five horses, and about $2,000 or $3,000 in money, besides guns, pistols, &c. This occurred on the south side of Boise River, twenty-five miles east of Fort Boise. * * *
"There is a rumor that three men were killed at a place known as the Kansas Prairie, about seventy miles from Fort Boise, on the new road from Fort Hall, known as Jeffer's road; it is said that it occurred on the 18th of August. It lacks confirmation, yet I fear it is true.
"From what I can learn there is a determination on the part of the Snakes to kill and rob all who shall fall into their power. They say that the Americans have been continually telling them that unless they ceased their depredations, an army would come and destroy them; but that no such thing has been done; and that the Americans are afraid of them; and say if we wish to fight them to come on. * * *
Very respectfully your obedient servant,Joel Palmer, Esq..
R. R. THOMPSON,
Indian Agent, Middle Oregon.
Superintendent Indian Affairs, Dayton, O.T."
Report Commissioner of Indian Affairs for 1854, page 218.
R. R. Thompson, Indian Agent, to Joel Palmer, Superintendent of Oregon Indian Affairs.
Grand Ronde, Sept. 6th, 1854."Sir: The murder of the three men referred to in my communication of the 3rd inst. is fully confirmed. It occurred on the 19th ult., about 95 miles east from Fort Boise, on the Jeffers road. The train consisted of five wagons, under command of Moses Kirkland, from Louisiana. They were met by eleven Indians, who accosted them in the most friendly manner by shaking hands. Three men who were in the rear of the wagons, after speaking to the Indians, turned to go on and were fired at, one killed, another wounded. The wounded man has since died. Their names were George Lake and Walter G. Perry. They were from Iowa. Both left families, who are now on their way to Washington Territory. The whites fired and killed two of the Indians. The Indians now retired to a distance, still continuing their fire. At the distance of three hundred yards they wounded a young man from Illinois by the name of E. B. Cantrel, who died from his wounds several days afterwards. The whites in their fright gave up their horses, five in number, upon which the Indians retired.
"I am now waiting for a detachment of United States troops, who are expected here this evening, and will go on with them to the Snake country. The only good a small force can do at this time will be to protect the late immigration.
"Very respectfully, your obedient servant.Joel Palmer, Esq.. Superintendent Indian Affairs, Dayton, O.T."
R. R. THOMPSON.
Indian Agent, Middle Oregon.
Report Commissioner Indian Affairs, for 1854, page 280.
Having shown the scarcity of U.S. troops, and the deadly hostilities of the Indians, in the next place we propose to answer the question why Oregon, nor the United States, has not paid for the services of these volunteers?
The order of Governor Davis to Colonel Ross, under which Captain Walker's company was organized, required that volunteers and citizens who furnished the supplies should look to the general government for pay. Said he:
"I am aware of the many embarrassments under which you will labor. * * * To raise such a command without a single dollar to defray expenses, you will be compelled to rely upon the liberality and patriotism of our fellow citizens, who, in turn, will be compelled to rely upon the justness of the general government for their compensation."
We are informed that Major Rains, of the U.S. army, who organized and received into service Captain Olney's company, verbally told the volunteers the same in substance. Gov. Davis and Major Rains were both officers of the United States. Both were nominated to office by the President of the United States, and both were confirmed by the Senate, and an act of Congress made the Governor of Oregon Territory the Commander-in-Chief of the Oregon Militia. Oregon at this time was a Territory, and not a State, therefore, she had no voice in conferring the office on the Governor, or Major Rains.
General Wool not only approves the acts of the Governor, but he applauds the promptness in raising volunteers to chastise the Indians for the murder of the Ward family.
Again, it is the duty of the United States to pay the expenses of the protection of the lives and property of her citizens wherever dispersed around the globe.
Under these facts the volunteers nor claimants never asked Oregon to assume these liabilities, but every Legislative Assembly of the Territory memorialized Congress to remunerate her citizens and pay these expenses. House Misc. Doc. No. 47, 2nd session, 35th Congress, pages 7, 25, 26, 27, 29, 30, and 60.
The papers containing a statement of the expenses of these two companies, and the muster rolls, did not reach Washington City until after the adjournment of Congress on the 4th of March, 1855.
The Oregon and Washington Indian War followed in the fall of 1855,
and upwards of thirty volunteer companies were engaged in this war.
The Governors of Oregon and Washington Territories differed with General Wool as to the mode and manner of prosecuting the war of 1855. The Governors were in favor of a vigorous prosecution of the war of 1855-6. General Wool refused to prosecute the war during the early part of the winter. They denounced each other like bitter partisan editors of newspapers. The whole expenses of the volunteers of both territories, and their pay, became involved in the bitter feud between their Governors and General Wool, so it took Gen. Lane and the Delegate from Washington Territory both upwards of five years to explain these differences, and to get Congress to appropriate two millions eight hundred thousand dollars to pay the expenses of the war of 1855.
This act passed Congress on the 2nd day of March, 1861, just before the commencement of the rebellion. Since that time no one asked Congress to pay the volunteers of 1854, until Mr. Henderson some time during the summer of 1866 introduced a bill, which failed in the press of business at the close of the session. Mr. Mallory also, in the summer of 1868, introduced a bill in the House which was referred to the Committee on Military Affairs, who instructed Hon. Henry D. Washborn, one of the Committee, to report the bill favorably, providing for the payment of these expenses. The bill was amended and prepared by Mr. Washborn, and it remained in his hands, ready to report one or two weeks before the adjournment of the last Congress, but owing to the press of other business Mr. Washborn could not get the floor to make the report. Thus the business has been twice delayed for want of time.
Another great reason why these volunteers have not been paid by Congress is that the members have confounded our little war of 1854 with the great Indian war of 1855-6, and the bitter feud which grew out of the latter war between General Wool and the Governors of Oregon and Washington Territories. This little war has so far been wholly eclipsed by the great Indian war of 1855-6.
They really have nothing whatever to do with each other. The latter created a large debt amounting to several millions of dollars. The claim of 1854 is but a few thousand dollars. In the war of 1855-6 Gen.Wool refused to order the regulars out of winter quarters. In 1854 he ordered all the forces under his command in the vicinity of those roads, to protect the emigrants; and the regulars who could be spared from other duties, twenty-six in number, were in active service in the field in 1854, as long as any of the volunteers. The regulars and volunteers acted in concert from the time of the news of the Ward massacre until the emigration arrived at the Dalles, and then all the volunteers were discharged.
In 1855 General Wool charged the whites and the Governors of making war. In 1854 he made no such charges, but he and the Governor of Oregon acted in concert, as they should have done, to protect America citizens on American soil.
Great and good men have differed as to the cause of the Indian War of 1855, and of prosecuting it to a successful termination. Gen. Wool may have honestly thought the winter season in Oregon no time to fight Indians. The Governors of Oregon and Washington Territories thought otherwise. Gen. Wool charged the whites in 1855 with commencing the war. The Methodist Conference passed resolutions to the contrary in these words:
"Whereas, our Territories have been the theatre of a disastrous Indian war during the past year; and whereas, an impression has, by some means, been made abroad that the people of Oregon and Washington have acted an unworthy part in bringing it on. Therefore,
"Resolved. That, although there may have been occasional individual instances of ill-treatment of the Indians, by irresponsible whites, it is the conviction of this body of ministers, whose field of labor has been in all parts of the Territories at the beginning and during the continuance of the war, that the war has not been wantonly and wickedly provoked by our fellow citizens, but that it has been emphatically a war of defense; and the defense was deferred as long as Christian forbearance would warrant." Senate Misc. Doc. No. 59, 1st Session 36th Congress, page 48.
We cordially agreed with these resolutions as to the war of 1855. The Indians west of the Cascade Mountains have generally been comparatively peaceable and quiet, and they may have been sometimes barbarously treated by lawless whites. The Indians on the Coast Range of the mountains on Rogue River and Willamette valleys have ever been more indolent and less disposed to work or fight than the Indians east of the Cascade Mountains. But neither has ever paid but little regard to the eighth commandment, which enjoins upon us not to steal; on the contrary, they have often stolen the stock and cattle of the weak and worn-out emigrant.
We would earnestly request Congress to distinguish between the Indians west of the Cascade Mountains, and those east of the mountains.
Until long after the volunteers of 1854 were discharged, it was never asserted by anyone that it was the wickedness of the whites which caused the hostilities of the Indians east of the Cascade Mountains. No one ever wrote or said that the volunteers or whites were the first aggressors, and that they provoked the Indians to hostilities on these emigrant roads prior to 1855.
These murders and massacres arose from no wickedness or vices of the whites, but from the disposition of the Indians to steal, and plunder, and their determination to exterminate the whites, and to prevent them from passing through and from settling the country.
On the southern emigrant road they at the time the first emigrants passed through their country found one man behind his train and they stealthily followed and killed him, and robbed him of his clothes.
On both emigrant roads east of the Cascade Mountains they have always been treacherous and warlike. It is well known that the Cayuse Indians destroyed the Presbyterian Mission at Walla Walla Valley without cause and without provocation. In cold blood they murdered Dr. Whitman, their best benefactor, and his family, who had taught them to read, write and to cultivate the soil, and they carried off a number of emigrant women and children who were camped at the mission.
Painted Shirt, one of the chiefs of this tribe, was one of the principal actors of this dreadful massacre.
"After the massacre," says Mr. Stanley, "this man was the one who took a wife from the captive females--a young and beautiful girl of fourteen. In order to gain her quiet submission to his wishes he threatened to take the life of her mother and younger sister. Thus, in the power of savages, in a new and wild country remote from civilization and all hope of restoration being cut off, she yielded herself to one whose hands were yet red with the blood of an elder brother." Senate Ex. Doc. No. 1, 2nd Session 33rd Congress, page 427.
From the organization of our government up to the present time no part of the United States has been so little protected as the citizens of Oregon were from 1841 to 1855.
To save Oregon from the claws of the British Lion, Congress commenced encouraging emigration to Oregon by passing acts and resolutions, sometimes in the Senate, at other times in the House, from 1840 to 1846, guaranteeing to our citizens 640 acres of land to all who would emigrate to Oregon; and in 1850 by substantially complying with these resolutions and bills by making generous donations of land to settlers in Oregon; yet, up to 1855, not a foot of land had been purchased from the Indians between the Missouri River and the Cascade Mountains, The discovery of gold added fresh impetus to emigration, and thousands of our citizens settled among the Indians before a single foot of land had been purchased from the Indians. The Indians saw that the circle of country upon which they had been accustomed to conduct the hunt and the chase was rapidly contracting. To use their own words "the Bostons"* were advancing with rapid steps towards their accustomed haunts, and they and the buffalo, elk and deer were alike driven back. In 1854, they saw the pressure coming upon them in two opposite directions, from the Pacific as well as from the Atlantic, and taking possession of their country without any remuneration whatever. (*These Indians call all whites "Bostons" because the first vessel they ever saw was from Boston.)
In every other country except Oregon and California our government has made treaties with the Indians for their lands before she encouraged her citizens to pass through or settle in the Indian territory. Generally before the whites were allowed to settle in an Indian country, our government adopted a munificent system of distributing annual and semiannual presents to the Indians, and attempted to induce them to abandon their wandering pursuits of the hunt and the chase, and engage in agricultural avocations as a means of subsistence, before a foot of land was set apart.
Petition of B. F. Dowell and Others, Oregon Sentinel Office Print, Jacksonville, Oregon 1869
B. F. Dowell, of the Sentinel, is expected home from Washington during the latter part of the present month.
"Southern Oregon," Oregon Statesman, Salem, May 10, 1871, page 4
Delegates from Oregon to the Republican National Convention are B. F. Dowell, J. P. Booth, Hiram Smith, G. P. Holman, Thos. Charman and M. Peterson.
"Pacific Coasters," States Rights Democrat, March 29, 1872, page 2
George Black, of Jacksonville, does not mince words in dunning his creditors. He claims that something is due him on the Oregon war claims, and sends the following to B. F. Dowell, who has the claim for collection: "Now, see here--I want you to get my money for me. I need it and want it, and you have promised to get it for me time and time again, and yet I do not get the money. This is not fair or honorable in you, or in the Department. I earned this money. It belongs to me, and I must have it. Here I go around like a beggar. My diggings do not pay, and the ball in my hip gives me trouble every winter, and you fine fellows in the city live on the fat of the land and have good, bully times. This won't do. Get me my money. Send the money to the care of P. J. Ryan. Send it to me right off."
"Oregon," Oregonian, Portland, April 22, 1873, page 3
MEETING.--The Radicals intend holding a pow-wow tonight. Dowell is understood to be boss contortionist.
Democratic Times, Jacksonville, October 11, 1873, page 3
Mrs. F. F. Victor, Cor. Secy. O.S.W.S.A.--Dear Madam:--I am in receipt of your letter requesting me to be present at a meeting of the Oregon State Woman Suffrage Association at Salem, on the 8th of February, 1876. If I go to Portland about the time I will be present, but this is uncertain. If present I will address the Association on the necessity for women to vote. I am in favor of the movement.
Yours very respectfully,Jacksonville, Oregon.
B. F. DOWELL.
The New Northwest, Portland, February 18, 1876, page 2
GOT A NEW ROOF.--Lawyer Dowell was this week the object of a generosity rarely met with in this section. However, it was not the fault of the donor, P. J. Ryan, who does not make a practice of doing likewise very often. Pat. sent a couple of immigrants to reshingle the building occupied by Mrs. Vining, but, not being definite enough in his instructions, the workmen fell on Dowell's law office adjoining, and unroofed it in a hurry. He discovered the mistake when too late, and of course there was no other alternative but to reshingle the building, which required new shingles. And that is how Dowell got a new roof without paying for it.
Democratic Times, Jacksonville, July 21, 1877, page 3
CHANGES IN WATER LEVEL OF LAKES IN OREGON AND CALIFORNIA.--A letter to the editors from Mr. B. F. Dowell, of Jacksonville, Oregon, states that Goose Lake, 30 miles long and two-thirds of it in Oregon, the rest in California, was almost dry in 1853 and 1854, while in 1869 and 1870 there were 10 feet of water; its depth has been increasing since 1870, and there is a probability of its discharging, as at some former time, into Pit River. Clear Lake also, about two miles farther south, is 10 feet deeper than it was in 1853-4; and Tule Lake, in the same region (the locality of the lava beds where were the hiding places of the Modoc Indians) is 10 or 15 feet higher today than then.
Mining and Scientific Press, San Francisco, May 28, 1881, page 339
NEW CHAPTER OPENED.--The Griswold case has come to the surface again, if indeed it has ever been out of sight. Griswold, it will be remembered, asked for a compromise on the balance due the government on the ground that he was insolvent. It was subsequently ascertained that he had standing to his credit on the books of the Third Auditor, claims known as Oregon war claims, amounting to $2197.70. Griswold was examined as to the ownership of these claims and stated that he had assigned these claims to J. H. Albert of Salem, receiving therefor his note for $1900 or $2000, which note he turned over to J. H. Mitchell, to whom he owed $2200, and that he has not seen the note since. At the request of the secretary of state Mr. Albert has been summoned to appear before U.S. Commissioner Paul R. Deady on January 20 for examination in reference to these claims. B. F. Dowell, "our orator," has been notified to be present at the examination, and a new chapter in the already somewhat lengthy history of the Griswold case will be opened.
"Local and General," Oregonian, Portland, January 8, 1885, page 3
Mr. B. F. Dowell and family have removed to Portland with the intention of permanently residing there. Mr. Dowell is one of the pioneers of Southern Oregon, and he, with his very excellent wife and accomplished daughters will be sadly missed by a large circle of friends. The Silver Cornet Band serenaded them at their residence on the eve of their departure. We congratulate Portland on this worthy acquisition to its society.
"Local Items," Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, May 9, 1885, page 3
LOVE-DOWELL--In Portland, at Trinity Church, by Rev. Dr. Foot, May 12, 1885, George M. Love and Miss Fanchon Dowell.
Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, May 16, 1885, page 3
George Love and wife have returned from Portland and are at present residing at the home farm near town. They will soon make their home in B. F. Dowell's brick residence in Jacksonville.
"Local Items," Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, May 23, 1885, page 3
FOR SALE.--The undersigned, having moved to Portland, offers all his household and kitchen furniture for sale at reasonable figures. For further particulars apply to G. A. Hubbell.
B. F. DOWELL.Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, June 13, 1885, page 3
Thos. Paulsen, a former resident of Jacksonville, and a brother-in-law of B. F. Dowell, is now the editor of the Farmer and Dairyman, published at Portland. He makes it a very interesting paper.
"Local Items," Oregon Sentinel, June 27, 1885, page 3
B. F. DOWELL.Democratic Times, Jacksonville, January 7, 1887, page 1
B. F. Dowell left Portland last Saturday for Washington to represent Oregon Indian depredation claimants before Congress. If he does not secure their payment nobody else need try. When Dowell lets go of anything he undertakes, the cause is hopeless. When he started in on the Oregon Indian war claims 20 years ago, he stayed with Congress day and night, and camped in the midst of the enemy continuously for 14 years, and didn't give them time for a breathing spell until they had passed his bills. Then he tackled the departments, and made it hot for the War and Treasury departments, from the secretaries down to the clerks and messengers, until his claims were paid. When Griswold tackled him on those claims, and induced the Secretary of the Treasury to suspend all of Dowell's claims and disbar him from practicing before that department, he camped on the trail of his enemy until the order was revoked, and chased him through all the courts in Oregon. At the end of ten or twelve years he had a judgment for all of Griswold's $100,000 worth of property that the lawyers had not already got away with. When Jesse Applegate tried to get out of paying his half of the "Sam May steal," as Dowell always termed it, by deeding the Yoncalla homestead to his children, Dowell put the mills of the law to grinding and at the end of ten or twelve years secured a deed from the court to the Yoncalla property, which he now owns. The most serious defeat perhaps that Dowell ever suffered in his encounters with mules as packmaster during the Indian wars, with the Indians themselves, with lawyers and courts, or with Congressmen and Presidents and cabinet officers, was when Secretary of War Stanton ordered him out of his office. Stanton had become so hardened by the war and so soured on humanity that even Dowell, with the staying qualities of Wellington at Waterloo and the cheek of a brass cannon, was promptly fired out. The claims he was then trying to collect were just, and should have been paid long before they were. The claims he is now pressing are also just and meritorious, and if Dowell lives ten or twelve years longer, Congress will have to provide for paying them, and the sooner it is done the better it will be for the unhappy men who, in the language of Bob Ingersoll, "break into Congress," for Dowell will run down two or three Congressmen every morning before breakfast until his bill is passed, whether it takes one session or 14 sessions.--Eugene Journal.
The sale of the Dowell property took place last Saturday and was not much of a success. The brick dwelling house in Jacksonville was bought by T. G. Reames at $1100; the law office was bid in for the school fund at $95; the mining land on Wagner Creek was purchased by H. Amerman and E. K. Anderson at $360, while Mr. Amerman bid in the agricultural land at $400.
"Here and There," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, March 16, 1888, page 3
The route from Eugene through Southern Oregon was little traveled and not very well known. B. F. Dowell agreed to guide Colonel Kelly and myself to the end of the journey in Jacksonville. We gladly accepted his escort. The clique candidates had already started upon the journey, two days in advance. The canvassing party consisted of Delazon Smith, Lafayette Grover, Asahel Bush and Lucien Heath. Colonel Kelly and I were joined on the first day from Eugene by John Whiteaker, clique candidate for Governor, who continued in our company the remainder of the way into Jacksonville. Dowell was a trusty and invaluable guide. He thoroughly knew every cutoff and byway. Where the road was difficult from rains and deep mud he led us direct routes over adjacent hills and by circuitous meandering as though ours was a surveying party. He had traveled the route many times, was conversant with its every feature, had scraped or formed acquaintance with every dweller. All the old folks knew him the moment he spoke, the young folks hailed him, the youngsters rushed to or ran from him, agreeably as he had impressed them. His was not, as the churchly member of the Oregon assembly remarked to James D. Fay in the session of 1862, a "Christly voice," but no sane mortal lives who ever failed to recognize the organ of speech of the indomitable, almost ubiquitous and irrepressible B. F. Dowell, attorney at law and indefatigable pursuer of claims in Washington for Oregon and Washington Indian war services for damages or losses, and the never-let-go agent of kindred claims. Colonel Kelly and I will forever owe the obligation incurred on that memorable journey to Jacksonville, to B. F. Dowell, guide and entertainer as he was throughout.
James O'Meara, "Our Pioneer History," Oregonian, Portland, November 9, 1890, page 16
B. F. Dowell, well known to every old Oregonian, has at last obtained from the United States government payment for his mule which was killed by the Indians on Cow Creek, in Southern Oregon, in 1855. The full value which he claimed for the mule--$200--has been paid. It reminds one very forcibly of Mark Twain's sketch, "The Great Beef Contract," except that Dowell has been more persistent in pushing this claim than any other man could have been for thirty-six long years. Harrison B. Kincaid, editor of the Eugene Journal, who spent fifteen years in Washington, and knows the old man well, makes this comment: "He has never rested, and has not permitted Congress and the executive departments of the government to rest much, either, until finally he has worn out the whole government--six generations of senators, eighteen congresses, nine presidents and hundreds of clerks and understrappers in the departments. Other men have accumulated millions and the world has been full of opportunities for Dowell to have made vastly more than he has out of Oregon war claims in the thirty-six years he has battled for his rights and the rights of his clients, but he believed he and they had been wronged by a great government, and that it was his duty to carry on the struggle until their rights were secured, and he has done it. In downright perseverance and pertinacity we have never seen his equal, and never expect to see it. He is now about 70 years old, but is as active and as sharp as the average young lawyer of 30, and has more energy and pluck to prosecute a difficult case in any of the courts or in any department of the government than a whole regiment of ordinary lawyers."
Oregonian, Portland, November 15, 1891, page 4
DOWELL, BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, is a native of Albemarle County, Va., where he was born, October 31st, 1826. His grandmother on the paternal side was a niece of the celebrated Benjamin Franklin, statesman and philosopher. Mr. Dowell's mother was a Virginian and a woman of education and refinement. Her maiden name was Dalton, and her people came originally from Scotland. The Dowells were of English extraction. During childhood Benjamin removed with his parents to Shelby County, Tenn. Here he was sent to the Academy, and received the foundations of a good mental training. Having concluded his studies, he returned to Virginia and entered the State University. He read law books and listened to lectures with great diligence and success, graduating in law in 1847, before he was twenty-one years old. His university career was in every particular distinguished. Going back to Tennessee, he opened a law office at Raleigh, and afterward at Memphis. His success in his profession was immediate, but, like most young men possessing the spirit of enterprise and adventure, he desired to travel and see the great outside world for himself. When the California gold fields were discovered, he determined on trying his fortune beyond the Rocky Mountains. Forming a sort of partnership with three young men of his own caliber, he went up the river to St. Joseph, Missouri, and from that point commenced the long journey to the Pacific coast in the spring of 1850. After experiencing the usual vicissitudes associated with travel on the plains in those days, he arrived at Sacramento, Cal. Here he was attacked by cholera, and on his partial recovery the doctors advised him to move northward. On October 5th he left San Francisco for Portland, taking passage on a small schooner. When the mouth of the Columbia was reached a violent storm arose, and the little vessel was driven out to sea, almost a wreck. Finally a safe landing was effected at Astoria, the entire voyage from San Francisco covering a period of thirty-five days. In 1852 Mr. Dowell was engaged in packing and trading in Southern Oregon, a business which he followed with success until 1856, when he determined on going back to the old profession. Accordingly, he opened a law office in Jacksonville, in 1857, and speedily had all the work that he could attend to. From 1852 to 1885 Mr. Dowell resided in Jacksonville. Since the latter date he has made Portland his home. Though a man who could earn an honorable livelihood in almost any field of exertion, he is a lawyer through and through, and delights in the practice of his profession. He has never hankered after public position, and though many times elected to local offices, he has preferred the work of a private lawyer to any distinction that his fellow citizens could bestow on him. He was at one time appointed District Judge by the Governor of Tennessee, and for brief periods he served as Prosecuting Attorney of the First Judicial District of Oregon, and as United States District Attorney; but, as a rule, he has declined political honors. For fourteen years, from 1865, he was owner of the Oregon Sentinel. He employed editors and compositors to do the practical work of the paper, continuing the practice of the legal profession all the time. While in Washington he sent some vigorous communications to the Sentinel, but when at home he rarely contributed to the columns of the journal. Though Mr. Dowell voted for Breckinridge in 1860, he did it in order to keep peace between North and South. A Whig by training and conviction, he strenuously opposed the dismemberment of the States, and when the war began he naturally fell in with the Republicans, and did all he could to make sure that the rebels got a good whipping. He was the first man west of the Rocky Mountains to bring forward the name of General Grant as candidate for the Presidency of the United States, and he also strongly advised the nomination and helped to secure the election of Benjamin Harrison. A sketch of Mr. Dowell's career would be incomplete if it did not include the narration of certain romantic events associated with his early manhood. During the Indian outbreak in Oregon, forty years ago, he operated a pack train which carried merchandise from the Willamette Valley, Scottsburg, and Crescent City to the mines in Jacksonville, Ore., and Yreka, Cal. He voluntarily placed at the disposal of the military authorities himself and his train as long as they might be required. The historian of the Pacific States, Mr. Bancroft, highly lauds Mr. Dowell for his patriotic conduct during those troubled times. He was in the quartermaster's department in 1853, when a detachment of soldiers, under the command of Lieutenant Ely, was detailed to discover the camp of the Indians. Though not called upon to engage in active hostilities, he volunteered to join the expedition. They found the savages on Evans Creek, and then went down to a place about five miles distant, where wood, water, and grass were easily procurable. The commanding officer, lacking experience, failed to post sentinels around the temporary camp. The result was that the Indians surprised and fired upon the detachment, killing one-fourth of the command and wounding as many more at the first fusillade. All the animals, except one, were captured by the enemy. The beast that escaped was ridden by a man who made for headquarters, distant about thirty-five miles. Meanwhile, the soldiers took to the timber, and from early morning until late in the evening gallantly contended against five hundred ferocious savages. Mr. Dowell was in the thick of the fight, and to this day asserts that it was about the hottest position he was ever placed in during his life. Finally reinforcements arrived, and the Indians were driven back. Mr. Dowell was in Colonel Kelly's four days' fight on the Walla Walla, in 1855. The volunteers secured two four-pound howitzers, with which they proposed to play havoc with the Indians. Two officers took charge of one piece, while Mr. Dowell took control of the other. On the second day the first-mentioned gun was overcharged and went to pieces. Mr. Dowell, thus placed in supreme command of the artillery, invented there and then a gun-carriage, and placed it on the back of one of his best mules. The invention was a complete success, and not only astounded the Indians, but contributed much to their defeat. Mr. Dowell was married to Miss Anna Campbell in 1861. They have two daughters and one son. The elder daughter married Mr. G. M. Love, and the younger, Annie E., has studied law, and is thoroughly posted in her profession.
Julian Hawthorne, The Story of Oregon, vol. II, 1892, pages 217-223 The mention of Dowell's gun carriage has engendered a myth that the howitzer while on the mule's back.
DOWELL, BENJAMIN F., was born in Albemarle County, Virginia, October 31, 1836. The family soon after moved to Shelby County, Tennessee. He graduated in law at the State University of Virginia in 1847, and practiced in Tennessee. In 1850 he went to California and the same year came to Oregon. In 1852 he engaged in trading and packing in Southern Oregon. In 1857 he resumed the practice of law in Jacksonville, and in 1862 was elected prosecuting attorney. In 1865 he purchased the Oregon Sentinel, of Jacksonville, and was the first Pacific Coast editor to advocate the enfranchisement of the negro and the nomination of General Grant for the presidency. Of late years he has spent a great deal of time in pushing Indian war claims at Washington, and is located in his practice in Portland.
Republican League Register, Portland, 1896, page 202
Benjamin Franklin Dowell was born in Albemarle County, Virginia, October 31, 1826. During childhood his parents removed to Shelby County, Tennessee, where he received his early education, prior to his entering the University of Virginia, from which he graduated in the law course in 1847. After graduation he returned to Tennessee and started in the practice of his profession, first at Raleigh, later at Memphis. In 1850 he gave up his practice in Tennessee and started for the gold fields of California, but being attacked by the cholera, he left for Oregon as soon as he was able, settling at Jacksonville, where he resided from 1852 to 1885. In 1856 he opened a law office in Jacksonville and built up one of the largest private practices in the state. Although actively practicing his profession, he was for fourteen years owner of the Oregon Sentinel and controlled the destinies of this well-known publication. He was a Republican, but never aspired for office, nevertheless he held several local offices and was at one time District Judge in Tennessee; also Prosecuting Attorney of the First Judicial District of Oregon and United States District Attorney for brief periods.
History of the Bench and Bar of Oregon, 1910, page 265
Benjamin Franklin Dowell arrived in California Aug. 7th, 1850, arrived in Oregon Nov. 27th same year. On account of sickness came to Oregon, by physician's advice. Spent winter in Portland and Oregon City. In the spring of '51, taught school 3 months in Polk Co. Summer, fall & winter of '52, in Marion Co. in the Waldo Hills neighborhood. He commenced trading from Salem to Jacksonville in the spring of '52 with [a] pack train. While in Portland [he] practiced law, but with very little to do, which with poverty was compelled to teach school being then reduced to 7.50. In the spring received a small amount of money from home, bought a pack train and commenced packing and trading from Salem & Crescent City, Cal. Followed it very successfully for four years. In the winter [of] '52 and '53 bought 4500 [lbs. of] flour of Hon. J. W. Nesmith's in Polk Co. at his mill, at 10 cts. per lb. and transported on pack train to Jackson Co. and Yreka and sold it from $1.00 to 1.25 a pound. He had all 500 lbs. of butter, bought at .50 sold at 1.50 per lb. 500 lbs. of salt, paid 15 cts. and sold for $2 and $3 a lb. Others had sold as high as $16 a lb. at Yreka--before I came with this quantity. 200 lbs. of onions for .25 sold at 2.00 a lb. Coffee, sugar etc. in proportion. For tobacco .50 a lb. sold for $5.00. Paid common laborers 4.00 a day for assisting him. In the winter of '53 he made a trip to Scottsburg in Douglas Co. buying supplies similar to those bought before, averaging .50 a lb. profit at sale in Jacksonville. In March and April '53 made a trip to Crescent City, bought 10,000 lbs. bacon at 10 cts. lb. at auction; transported to Jacksonville and sold it within a month of time of having left the place for 75 cts. a lb. Not having money enough to pay the total amt., he borrowed money at 5 cts. a month, but soon canceled that debt. He had previously bought nearly cargo enough to load the mules, and had difficulties in transporting this extra cargo. He did very little business through the summer, but engaged in the Rogue River War in Aug. & Sept. & Oct. & Nov. of '53. He was one of the first in it & last out.
The severest trial of Mr. Dowell's life was during this war. Lt. Ely from Yreka called for some volunteers to go out and hunt the Indians; he raised a company of 22. They proceed[ed] about 20 miles north of Jacksonville to what is known as Evans Creek--we found the Indians in full force--their party thought they were unobserved by the Indians, and returned to the Meadows on Evans Creek, turned out our horses and began getting breakfast at 10 o'clock. It was an open prairie; the first thing the whites knew then was a volley fired by the Indians. Four or five were killed; they retreated to the timber, 300 yards distant, on foot as the Indians had taken all their horses--here the little band remaining fought the whole Rogue River Indians from 10 o'clock until four in the evening, only eleven escaped unhurt. It seemed death to leave or death to stay. About four o'clock, Capt. Alden with two companies came to their relief and the Indians disappeared. This was the hardest battle ever fought in this section of country, in proportion to size--with the exception of the encounter in beginning, war of 1855-56, that Mistress Mary Harris and Sophia Harris fought (the same band of Indians) nearly all day, alone. The Indians stopped at the house of Mr. Harris, called for him, he went to the door and opened it and was instantly shot mortally, falling dead into the arms of his wife and daughter. Their son had gone out to hunt cattle, and never was heard of again. Mrs. Harris at once closed the door and made it a fortification; they remained in it a long while until the house was fired when they retired into the brush, taking the gun with them which they had fired from the house. Immediately after the wounding of Mr. Harris, they had dragged him into the house, and taking his gun and loading it. The body was burned up with the house. Miss Harris was shot but not mortally. They defended themselves in the brush until troops came to their relief from Jacksonville 25 miles distant. Mrs. Harris still living. She afterwards [married] a Mr. Aaron Chambers. Miss Harris married John Love of Jacksonville, but died in '69 of smallpox.
The Rogue River War was commenced by Shasta Indians who had been driven from Shasta Valley. They killed a man named James Kyle, within hearing of the center of the town on the road coming from Yreka Sat. night Aug. 2nd, '53. This fired the citizens & miners acting made indiscriminate war on the Rogue River Indians. A meeting of the citizens were called that night. They slaughtered indiscriminating war on Rogue River or Shasta Indians, though of the latter there were but few, and so those most guilty suffered the least. Two Indians were captured on Applegate, which is a tributary of Rogue River, lying 8 miles south of Jacksonville. These Indians had on the war paint; they were brought to Jacksonville and in a few hours hung by the citizens and probably justly. But the saddest part of the tale remains to be told. About four o'clock in the evening, two farmers from Butte Creek brought in town a little Indian boy 8 or 9 years old. The cry was Hang him! exterminate the Indian! The miners put a rope around his neck & led him towards the tree where the others were hung. B. F. Dowell mounted a log in the vicinity, made a brief speech to the excited crowd of 1000 men, in behalf of the Indian & humanity. Someone cried out what will you do with him? I replied "Take him to the tavern and feed him at my expense." The excitement subsided & they gave me the Indian. Mr. Dowell removed the rope from his neck & led him toward the tavern. At this moment Martin Angel, an old citizen & brave soldier, rode up in an excited manner, cried out, "hang him! hang him! we've been killing Indians all day!" The excited mob rushed and took the Indian from Mr. Dowell, and in a moment had the boy hanging from the same tree from which the two men were suspended. Mr. Dowell resisted after the rope was placed the second time and cut the rope, but the crowd seized him and held him until the execution occurred. Less than a year and a half after in Jany. '56 Martin Angel paid the forfeit of his crime by being assassinated by the Indians on the road above Jacksonville leading to Crescent City. This boy had been employed with the farmers on Butte Creek--farming. During the Rogue River War Mr. Dowell carried the mail between Cañonville and Yreka as mail contractor, and never was molested by the Indians. After the war, Chief Limpy told him that he could have killed him several times, but that he wouldn't hurt a paper man and one who had tried to save a "tenas tillicum," little papoose.
Near the close of the Rogue River War after the treaty there were hostile Indians east of the mountains on the emigrant road. Mr. Dowell went to them [the emigrants] with his pack train to supply them with provisions. There was nothing of special interest, except that the emigrants were destitute and the Indians hostile and the company guarded the road until the emigrants came in--they provided the emigrants with food. The Modocs were not subdued, and a portion of the Rogue River that adjoined them [sic]. The year following, early in the summer, they were killing stock on the Siskiyou Mts. ([named for] a dead horse) and as soon as the emigration commenced coming in, large bands collected together on Lost River on the southern emigrant road near the dividing line between Oregon & Cal. Gov. John W. Davis issued orders to Col. John E. Ross to call out a company for the protection of the emigrants. A company was organized of 72 men rank and file by the election of Jesse Walker as Capt. who immediately moved to the scene of Indian hostilities. He fought and whipped the Modocs & made peace with them which lasted until 1872. He then moved against the Piutes in the vicinity of Goose Lake, Oregon and Surprise Valley, Cal. A detachment of the company went as far as Humboldt River and returned with the last emigration in Nov., discharged, being out 96 days.
I should have mentioned that before making the treaty with the Piutes, Capt. Walker was four or five days treating with them, both afraid of the treachery of the other. The Indians retreated to an island in Tule Lake, which is a sink of Lost River. (This river rises in a mtn. west of Goose Lake & runs N.E. & southwest and sinks in the sand near Klamath River--a singular freak of nature, it has since become famous for the lava beds of the Modoc War of '72.) Communication was kept up by 2 or 3 squaws who could speak jargon distinctly. By entreaties & threats & promises, they finally agreed never to fight the whites any more, and as a token of their good behavior, they agreed to eat & camp with us, and 50 or 100 did so. After this emigrants passed through the country without any guard. In every Indian war Mr. Dowell took an active part with his pack train.
Mr. Dowell emigrated here as a Whig, acting with it [the party] as long as it was in existence. In the election of Lincoln the first time, was opposed to it to the bitter end, voting for Breckinridge & Lane, the only vote Mr. Dowell ever gave Mr. Lane or any of his family. After the war was begun joined the Republicans continuing with [them] until the present time. Purchased the Oregon Sentinel in '63, and was the proprietor of it until Feb. '78 when he sold it out to a Republican. It has been one of the leading papers of Oregon, leading the Republican Party to victory with a Democratic majority against us.
Grave Creek was named from the following circumstance. In the fall of '47 a Miss Leland of the emigrant train died and was buried beside the creek, close to where the blacksmith's shop now stands, on the present main traveled stage road. The Indians opened the grave & disinterred her for her clothes, leaving the grave open. The open grave & the remains were visible to every traveler passing by from 1847 to '55--during the war of '55 a party of volunteers, commanded by Twogood and Bates, they killed a number of Indians and threw their bodies into the grave which was then finally closed and made level with the rest of the ground. The Oregon Legislature passed an act naming the creek Leland, but the citizens had known the old name too long to accept the change, and it has never been recognized. The P.O. & stage stand near the [blacksmith] shop is named Leland. Rogue River, by the same Legislature, had its name changed to Gold River, but the effort was futile. Custom is stronger than legislative assemblies. The name originated from two causes. The Indians called it when Mr. Dowell was here in '52 "Logue Liber." The Indians stole the stock of the first emigrants who passed this way, & from these two circumstances the whites named it Rogue River.
Goose Lake near the Sierra Mts. is situated about half way between Oregon & Cal. near the eastern boundary of Oregon. It derives its name from the first emigrants finding immense droves of wild geese.
The origin of the name Klamath will be found in Fremont's travels, published by the Senate in '52.
Siskiyou Mtns. was named by the first emigrants finding a dead horse, which in Indian language is Siskiyou.
In 1851 in Polk Co., Oregon there was a man killed on the Rickreall River; he had been robbed of his watch; he accused the murderer of the theft, who to save his honor maliciously shot him in the field while plowing. The murderer & his brother and R. S. Dunlap was indicted for the murder in Polk Co. At the first court, his brother was convicted as an accessory after the fact. The murderer was condemned to be hung, and the brother sentenced to the penitentiary for three years. The jury [was] hung as to Dunlap--the trial of Dunlap was removed to Yamhill Co. He was convicted & sentenced to be hung, but afterward pardoned. He is living and for many years has been a good citizen of Jackson Co., Oregon. When on the gallows the murderer confessed the theft & murder & told where the watch was concealed.
There being no penitentiary & no county jail, the co. court ordered the brother who was condemned to be sold to the highest bidder & James Prater became the purchaser for $100. The time of his sentencing, three years, was faithfully served out first in Polk Co. and then in Douglas Co., on Deer Creek, where Mr. Prater still resides. Mr. Dowell will supply all the names.
At the close of the Oregon territorial career, an act of the Legislature required all indictments to be found at Roseburg, but the trial sittings were held in each county. By some mishap an indictment was left at Roseburg, in place of sending to Josephine at Kerbyville, and he was placed upon his trial by then-Judge M. P. Deady, upon the affidavit of the prosecuting attorney of W. G. T'Vault, and tried by a jury of the county and acquitted. That was almost equivalent to a mob, and yet the man who tried him is one of the ablest & best judges of the Pacific Coast. The judge when upbraided by the attorney upon his injudicial act, said it was done by the consent of the criminal, and that he was sure he would be acquitted and that it might be as well ended then as kept on hand.
In 1861, in the case of Allen Farnham against the Eagle Mill Co. (the property in contention cost about $80,000) J. H. Reed & B. F. Dowell were opposing attorneys in the case, the former in the closing of the speech on some dilatory motion remarked that he intended to will this lawsuit to his son. At this time Judge Reed had three children, one a son, while Mr. Dowell was a bachelor. In Mr. Dowell's reply, he said he jocularly said he would get married and get a boy that would beat his in a lawsuit. This was all in open court. Not long after Mr. Dowell married and the first issue was a daughter. At the close the first term of court, the judge, clerk & the attorney proposed to try Mr. Dowell for not keeping his agreement in regard to the boy. The clerk, Wm. Horton, who was a strict elder in the Presbyterian Church, was induced by the judge & lawyer to issue a writ, had him arrested on the complaint of the district attorney; they all came to Mr. Dowell's office with their charge and sheriff. He asked for adjournment & time to reply, and in the reply he confessed and avoided it, that there was time enough yet to get the boy. When they returned, I told them they would find the testimony in an adjoining [room, in] which was a basket of champagne. It [is] needless to say that continuance was granted, and he now has as promising a boy as there is in Southern Oregon. The lawsuit is long since ended in favor of Mr. Dowell's client.
Bancroft Library MSS P-A 26
Mined Gold at Jacksonville and Founded Walla Walla
Fred Lockley, in the Portland Journal's pioneer column, has the following interview with Lewis McMorris, of Walla Walla, who mined in the Rogue River Valley in the early '50s and is remembered by oldtimers:
"I was born in Ohio on August 15, 1831, so you see I am in my eighty-fourth year," said Mr. McMorris. "In the fall of 1839 we moved to Shelby County, Illinois. I was past 20 when I started for Oregon in April, 1852. James Craig, who was about my father's age, having been born in 1806, was my partner. My father fitted me out for the trip. We had a good wagon and five yoke of oxen. We crossed the Missouri at St. Joe on May Day. I had the cholera but I pulled through. There was a heap of folks who didn't. We saw new graves at every camping place. We reached Foster's on September 15.
"We came down into Clackamas County. On the Molalla we stopped at Howard's flour and grist mill and sold our outfit to old man Howard. We bought six cayuses and started for the Southern Oregon mines. We mined for a spell at Sailor Diggings, just beyond Althouse Creek. Next year my partner, Mr. Craig, went to Crescent City, on the California coast, and took up a ranch. I mined at Yreka, Scott's Bar and other camps until the summer of 1855. I started with B. F. Dowell's pack train for Dallas, in Polk County.
"I came from Jacksonville to Dallas with Dowell. When we got to Dallas the government hired Dowell and his pack train to transport supplies for the soldiers. Colonel Nesmith was in command of the troops. Dowell, Warren, Smith and myself were hired as packers. We went to the Dalles and from there to the Yakima country. The soldiers had some skirmishes with the Indians on this trip. We were ordered to go back to the Dalles and take supplies to Colonel Kelly's command in the Umatilla country.
"I built the first house south of Main Street in Walla Walla. It was on the corner of Third and Main streets. This was in the spring of '58. I freighted, ran a pack train to Boise and also to the Idaho mines, and later ran a stage from Dayton to Lewiston. No, I never took time to look around and find a wife; somehow I never got around to it, and by the time the country got settled and women were plenty I had got over the notion of marrying. I have been in Walla Walla since '56, and have seen the place grow from one or two log cabins to a city of 20,500 people."
Medford Mail Tribune, June 24, 1915, page 4
BENJAMIN FRANKLIN DOWELLMany fields of activity contribute to the development, upbuilding and prosperity of a community. A city government has its various departments, but none is more essential to the well-being of a community than the fire department, which furnishes adequate protection to the homes and business enterprises which go to make up a municipality. In this connection there has been no more prominent figure than Benjamin Franklin Dowell, who was familiarly and affectionately termed "Biddy" by his associates in the fire department and by his countless friends throughout the city. He was of the stuff of which heroes are made. Fearlessness and courage were among his dominant qualities, and he never considered a personal risk if he could protect or save his fellow members of the fire department. His qualities were such as won for him the love of all who were connected with him in this branch of city service, and his memory will be enshrined for years to come in the hearts of those who knew him.
Mr. Dowell was born in Jacksonville, Oregon, March 22, 1870, and was a son of Benjamin Franklin and Nancy A. (Campbell) Dowell. The father crossed the plains in 1850, with San Francisco as his destination, but after a short time there passed went to Jacksonville, Oregon, making the trip by steamer to Astoria. The boat was an unseaworthy vessel and in severe storms which they encountered was nearly lost. So great was the delay occasioned in reaching port that passengers and crew lived for days on hardtack, but at length Astoria was reached and from that point Mr. Dowell walked the entire distance to Portland through the wilderness, enduring many hardships because of the unsettled condition of the country. From Portland he walked to Waldo Hills, where he taught school for a year, after which he became owner of a mule pack train and packed goods from the valley to Jacksonville. In the Cow Creek Canyon he was once attacked by Indians and had a narrow escape. He was a man of liberal culture who had graduated in law from the University of Virginia. In Jacksonville he engaged in the practice of law, becoming one of the leading attorneys of his day. He had much to do with framing many of the early laws of the commonwealth, and he gained notable distinction as a successful criminal lawyer. He erected the second brick house in Jacksonville, and it is still standing. In the community he exerted a widely felt influence that resulted in substantial progress and development there. On the 24th of October, 1862, he wedded Nancy A., a daughter of Joseph and Rachel Campbell, whose people were from Ohio, and her father served as a colonel under William Henry Harrison in the War of 1812. Abraham TenBrook, an uncle of Mrs. Dowell, lived in Jacksonville, Oregon, and she came to the West to join him, but her parents never settled in this section of the country. A year later she became the wife of Benjamin F. Dowell, Sr., and for many years they figured prominently in the social life of their community. Mr. Dowell was made prosecuting attorney of Jackson County, and later he became collector in connection with Indian depredations. This required that he spend much of his time in Washington, D.C. Later he settled in Portland, where he devoted much of his time to government work. At an earlier period he owned and edited the Oregon Sentinel at Jacksonville, continuing in the journalistic field for thirteen years. He contributed in large measure to the upbuilding, advancement and development of the state and passed away March 12, 1897, honored and respected by all who knew him.
Benjamin F. Dowell, whose name introduces this review, was the youngest of a family of three children. He pursued his education in the public schools of Jacksonville, where he won the well-merited reputation of being the most honest and truthful boy in the school. He had reached the age of thirteen when his parents removed to Portland, after which he attended the old Couch School. In early life he became a professional ball player, associated with the Portland team in the early '80s. He learned the carpenter's trade in young manhood and assisted in building the Taylor Street Methodist Episcopal Church and also engaged in boat building. Much of his life, however, was devoted to service in the fire department, and during the Lewis and Clark Exposition of 1905 he was in charge of fire details and equipment at the fair grounds. He was recognized as the originator of the present method of fire prevention enforced by the bureau of Portland. When he entered the department its equipment was horse-drawn and very crude as compared to that of the present day. He lived to see the motorization of the apparatus, with the introduction of every modern appliance used in fighting fire. He always gave careful consideration to the welfare of his men and introduced the system of calisthenics practiced now by firemen to keep them in physical trim. Many times he narrowly escaped with his life when burning floors fell beneath him and walls collapsed about him. Having worked his way steadily upward from the ranks of fire-fighters, it was his supervision of the rescue of twenty-five or more of his comrades who had been buried by a falling wall at the Union Oil Company fire of June 26, 1911, that led to his appointment as chief, succeeding David Campbell, who was killed in that fire. He was also the hero of numerous other spectacular rescues and following the death of Chief Campbell was made temporary chief, while on the 31st of October, 1911, he received the appointment of chief and served in that capacity until August 1, 1920, when he retired on a pension. No man of the department has ever received in greater degree the confidence, friendship and love of fellow members, and not long before his demise he was called upon by a large delegation of his former associates in the fire bureau, many of whom owed their lives to his work in directing rescues and who presented him with a memento of their esteem and affection on the 22nd of March, 1928, in honor of his fifty-eighth birthday. He presented to the Bungalow fire station an interesting fountain which was from his old home at Jacksonville.
Mr. Dowell was united in marriage to Anna (Hedermann) Lauder, a daughter of David and Johanna Hedermann, who came from Germany to the new world and settled in Portland in the early '70s. The father is still living at Boring, Oregon, where he early took up the occupation of farming but is now retired. Mrs. Hedermann passed away September 22, 1923. By a former marriage Mrs. Dowell had two children, Clifford Lauder and Mrs. Ellen Leeding, both residents of Portland.
Mr. Dowell was a prominent Mason, having attained the thirty-second degree of the Scottish Rite, and was a past master of his lodge. He was accorded the jewel of the fraternity, and he belonged to the Mystic Shrine. He was also very prominent in the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks and for sixteen years was a member of the Portland lodge, which attended his funeral services in a body. Because of the extensive circle of his friends his funeral services, following his demise in Portland on the 26th of April, 1928, were held in the auditorium. On all hands men paid tribute to his worth and ability, and Captain W. R. Kerrigan, fire bureau veteran, said of him: "I had known him for thirty-five years and had worked with him much of that time. Portland owes much to Biddy Dowell, as he was affectionately called. He was one of the finest men and fellow workers I have ever known." This sentiment was expressed by all who were associated with him in the department and many who knew him in social and fraternal connections. Perhaps the outstanding feature of his career was his fidelity to duty, as expressed in a loyalty to his men that led him to display unfaltering courage in the face of danger. The history of Portland's fire bureau contains no more illustrious name than that of Benjamin Franklin Dowell.
Fred Lockley, History of the Columbia River Valley from The Dalles to the Sea, volume III, Chicago, 1928, pages 674-676.
Last revised July 15, 2019