Memoirs of Daniel Giles
Working on a pack train and operating an Applegate Valley store in 1853, during the run-up to war.
MANUSCRIPT OF DANIEL GILES[The first seven pages of the single-spaced typescript, not transcribed here, cover Daniel Giles' early years and crossing the plains to the Willamette Valley in 1852.]
Written in 1896
My brother-in-law and his family and myself stopped on French Prairie. He was a good blacksmith and got a good-paying job doing the iron work for a new steamboat that was being built by a man by the name of Ben Simpson, at a little town on the edge of French Prairie. The boat was named The Oregon, and she ran on the Willamette River for years after.
I first got a job of work on a farm and worked there until the new boat was ready to run and then went to work on the boat and worked there until spring. Then I struck out for the Jacksonville mines in Rogue River Valley. When I got to Marysville, which is now called Corvallis, I found several pack trains there after goods, and I got a chance to work my passage with a train owned by a man and his father by the name of Holdman. They had a general mercantile store in Jacksonville and carried everything that the miners needed. They had quite a large train of mules, and I had a good chance to learn the art of packing before we got to our journey's end.
Although the roads, or rather trails, as there were no roads then in the southern part of the state at that time of the year in April 1853, were very muddy and in places mire, I enjoyed the trip with splendid traveling all day through a beautiful country, fresh from the hand of nature and unmarred by the hand of man the most of the way and stretching our tent and camping by some lovely streams every night. He turned our mules out to graze on wild grass until morning. The country abounded with wild game and the streams were full of fine trout, so we had fine living and good sport.
When we got to Jacksonville, I looked around several days, and as I knew nothing about mining I could not find anything that suited me in the mining business so I went to work for the man, Holdman, that I had come there with. He was going to Crescent City, on the coast of California, with his pack train for a load of goods to start a new miners' store on Applegate River about seven miles from Jacksonville, so I went with him as one of his packers at a salary of fifty dollars per month and board.
At that time the whole country was full of Indians, and women never knew when they were safe for all we knew that they were treacherous and were liable to scalp you at any time that they got a chance, so everybody had to go armed and be on the watch all the time. The second day from Jacksonville we were crossing a high, rugged mountain between Applegate and Illinois River when I was driving the hind lot of mules and in some way my belt came unbuckled and fell off, together with a fine, large bowie knife that I valued very highly, and I did not miss it until we had gotten to the top of the mountain, and then I called the attention of Thomas Holdman to the fact and told him that I would like to go back and try to find it. He told me that I might lose my scalp if I did, as, if the Indians caught us alone, they would be apt to get me, but as I had a good Colt revolver hanging to my saddle horn and a good mule under me, I was not afraid, so I went back while Thomas and the rest of them went down the mountain with the train.
After I had gone half the way back down the mountain I found my belt and knife by the side of the trail and got off my mule and buckled my belt on, and as the mountain was very steep right there, I turned my mule across the trail and got on the upper side of him to get on him, as he was very uneasy and anxious to go after the train. Just as I raised myself in the stirrup, the mule turned so quick under me that I went over his head first, down the mountain, and before I could get up the mule was out of sight up the mountain and my revolver was on the saddle, so I had nothing but my knife to fight with in case I fell in with some Indians. I must confess that I felt a little lonesome, but I got to the top of that mountain pretty quick, and then ran about halfway down the other side when I met Tom coming up the mountain as fast as his mule could carry him, with his revolver in his hand, thinking that the Indians had shot me off the mule with arrows and the mule had run away. He was coming to help me if he could, but you may be sure that he was glad to find me unhurt.
When we got to the foot of the mountain we found ourselves in a beautiful valley, divided by a fine, clear running stream, well stocked with mountain trout. This valley was entirely unsettled by whites, but there was a good many Indians that made their home here. We traveled down this stream to its mouth and found it emptied into a stream that is now called Illinois River, which stream we traveled up for a good many miles to where a stream emptied into it, that at that time was called Althouse Creek. This stream was pretty rich in gold, and there was quite a number of miners at work here washing out gold. Near here we crossed the river by fording and after traveling a few miles over country containing several thousand acres of mineral land, rich in fine gold, that was not discovered for several years after our trip through there, but that is being mined at the present time with great profit by hydraulic machinery and has been for the last twenty-five years. The gold is very fine but there has been many thousands of dollars taken out and the mine is paying better now in 1896 than ever.
After crossing this mineral belt, we came to the foot of the Coast Mountains and had to climb up a very steep, rugged trail, just wide enough for one and a mule to pass along for many miles, taking us all day to cross the mountains over into Pit River Valley. While on top of this mountain we found the coldest spring of water that I ever saw, and it poured out a fine stream of transparent water as nice as was ever drunk. From this point I got my first glimpse of Old [blank] and could see the beach for many miles. It appeared like a great bank of snow stretched out for many miles in length, and the ocean looked like a great smooth mountain at that distance.
We found Smith River Valley very narrow and hemmed in on both sides by high, rocky and barren mountains. We crossed the north fork on a small flatboat that had just been put on by some men that had settled there. This stream was the clearest water that I ever saw, and one could see a quarter of a dollar on the bottom of the stream very plain although the water was twenty-nine feet deep. After traveling down this stream for several miles, we had to cross a high, steep mountain, as the mountains closed in so close to the stream that we could not follow it any further. When we struck the stream again we found the valley some wider and very level and pretty. After traveling down the valley for about ten miles we crossed the stream by fording, and although the stream was quite wide, it was deep fording and ran swift, but as the bottom was smooth and solid we got across all right. Then I saw the first redwood trees that I ever saw. Here was a grove of timber of several miles' extent going on level land, and the trees would measure from eight to thirty feet in diameter and from one to two hundred and fifty high. This was on one of the finest groves of redwood timber in the state of California. About twelve miles after crossing this river, we came to Crescent City. At that time, it was a city of but few houses, and then very cheap structures, made entirely of rough boards, as the town was only a few months old. Here we got an assorted cargo of goods and in a few days started on our return trip, but not until I had spent several hours on the beach studying the wonderful and mighty works of the great creator as they were spread out before me.
The first day's travel on our return trip brought us to and just across the ford of Smith River, and we camped on the bank of the river in the edge of a beautiful prairie. Here we unpacked and turned loose our mules and stretched our tent. My two traveling companions were busy preparing supper, and I was arranging the packs and ropes so that they would be handy in the morning as we wanted to get an early start getting across the north fork of Smith River the next day if possible. As I was standing doing a lash rope, facing the river, a gun was fired out of the brush on the opposite side of the river at me and the bullet, or piece of lead as it proved to be, passed over my right shoulder so near my head that I felt the force of the shot very plain, and as the lead struck some driftwood just behind me, I got it and found it was about an ounce and a half of lead that had been pounded into a slug in shape to fit a half-inch smooth-bore gun. Had it hit my head, it would have beheaded me. Sure, we knew that an Indian had done the shooting, but as there was only three of us, we could not leave our camp to follow him, so we kept out of sight as much as we could until dark and got away the next morning just after daylight. I was not molested any more on that trip by the Indians. The reason that Indian tried to kill me was, as we had learned in Crescent City, a few days before some packers had camped there and had shot and killed an Indian that they had found in their camp in the morning, when they drove up their mules. They had left the camp alone while they had gone after them. They claimed that the Indians were trying to steal something, and this Indian was seeking revenge. I came near being that revenge.
The next day's travel was a very unlucky one for the owner of the train, for as we passed down the mountain that we crossed, we found the trail so steep that the packs slipped over the mules' heads about as fast as we could fit them, and when we got down into the valley we had to travel some distance through the timber before getting out into open ground. When we did reach the clear ground, we found that one of our pack mules was missing, so I went back to look for the missing mule while the train, in [the] charge of the other two men, went on. After searching for some time, I found the missing mule's tracks and tracked him for some distance into the woods and found him. The pack had worked forward and hurt him so bad that it caused him to slip out of the trail. I fixed the pack and turned him loose in the trail, then got on my saddle mule and followed him. As I was only about two miles from the ferry on the north fork of Smith River, I thought that the train might be across the river by the time the mule got there and he would go in and try to swim the river. I knew that he could not, as one of his sides was sugar and the other was bacon, and of course as soon as the sugar got wet it would melt and that would throw the mule on one side and drown him, so I tried to overtake and catch him, but he was a very strong and active mule, and the one I was riding was rather an inferior one, so I could not overtake him. Sure enough, he never halted at the river, and as the train had crossed, he pitched right in and I got on the bank of the river just in time to see him kick one of his hind feet out of the water as he sank, never to come up again alive.
When the owner of the train had taken the bell mare across in the first boat and left the other man to guard the rest of the mules until the boat could get back, one of the mules he was guarding, and which was also packed with sugar and bacon, got away from him and undertook to follow the bell, and was drowned. So we had two mules and their packs at the bottom of the river. We had no trouble, however, in getting them to the surface as the water was so transparently clear we could see the loops on the ropes and even the handles on tin cups that had got out of the camp box that was on the mules. Although the water was twenty-nine feet down, we got a pole and fastened a hook on it and hooked everything up, stripping the mules and then letting them float away. We dried up what we had left of the packs of the drowned mules and divided it between the other packs and then struck out. We got along without any more trouble the rest of the trip.
In a few days after getting home, we started a miners' store on Applegate River, about seven miles from Jacksonville, Jackson County, Oregon. This store consisted of everything that a miner needed. Even all kinds of liquors, cigars and tobacco. I, at this time, was not quite seventeen years old, and the only white boy in the country, but I soon had lots of company among the Indian boys and girls that lived in that part of the country, as they came to the store nearly every day. I soon got acquainted with them. Among them I soon had two fast friends, who were brother and sister. They were the children of Old Chief John, a great war chief, that lived about three miles up the river at this time. [The Chief John Giles refers to is most likely "Applegate John"--Hart-tish--and not the better-known war chief--Te-cum-tum.] The boy was about my age and the girl about two years younger. The boy I called Charley, and the girl, Sally. We soon learned to talk jargon so well that we could carry on a conversation to perfect satisfaction. Of course, I made them little presents once in awhile. I was taken down sick with some kind of a fever, and was very sick for some time. While I was sick, my two Indian friends scarcely missed a day that they did not come to see me, and bring me fish, venison or wild bird, squirrel or rabbit, in order to tempt my appetite, and would have no pay of any kind for these favors. When I got up and about the store again, and able to look after the business, although I was very weak yet, my employer left me alone, and went over to Jacksonville. He was gone all day, and soon after he was gone my Indian friends came to see me. Charley brought me a nice piece of a young grizzly bear that he had killed the day before. The meat was very fat, and after they went away I concluded to have a pot pie. We had a garden close to the store, and the young potatoes were about as large as walnuts, so I got some and made some dough out of self-rising Australia flour that the miners used altogether in those days, and after boiling the meat until it was nice and tender, I put in the potatoes and dough, and seasoned it with pepper and salt to suit my taste. When it was done, I turned the whole thing out in two tin pans and sat down to have a good fill, as Thomas, my employer, had not yet gotten home, and he had not let me have enough to satisfy my appetite so far, so in his absence, I thought I would have it all my own way, but he happened to come home just in time to save my life, for I have no doubt that I would have killed myself if he had not stopped my feast. As it was, I had already eaten so much that it gave me a backset, and I had a harder spell than before. The fever was higher and harder to break. One day after I had been down the second time for about two weeks, the fever had been very high all day, and Thomas had been very busy in his store and as he had no help, he had to neglect me some, which he very much disliked to do, for no brother could have been any kinder to me than he was. He had left a large pitcher full of water in reach of me, together with a glass, so that I could get a drink when I wanted it. I drank all that I wanted till along near night I called him, and told him to get me some more water, and when he found that I had drunk all the water that was in the pitcher, he thought it would be sure to kill me if he could not get me to throw it up. So he gave me a dose of lobelia, but it had no effect and he gave me two more large doses, without causing me to throw up. I guess there was so much water in my stomach that the medicine was drowned. About dark, a miner that worked near the store came after something, and I heard Tom tell him that he wished him to stay that night, as he did not believe that I would live until morning, for I had drunk water enough that day to kill a well man, and lobelia would have no effect whatever on me, so he stated. About ten or twelve o'clock that night, I thought sure enough that I was dying, as the fever all left me and I was so weak that I could hardly raise my hand. I was entirely out of pain, and never felt better in my life, only so weak that I thought surely I was dying. I told the men that I was dying, and where to direct a letter to my mother, who was in the state of Iowa, and to my sister, still living on French Prairie, in the Willamette Valley, who, by the way, heard through someone what happened, that was at the store while I was very sick, and then went to where my sister lived and told her I was very sick and was sure to die. As I did not write to her, she believed that I was dead until late in the fall of fifty-four, when I went to her house on Deer Creek, in Douglas County, Oregon, as they had moved up from the Willamette and settled there. She was almost as much surprised as if I had risen from the dead. This night was the turning point, as the next day I was much better and began improving until I got well again.
My young Indian friends came to see me very often, and Charley and I had lots of fun shooting. I was the owner of a splendid Colt revolver, and he had a bow and arrow, so we were both good shots. He could beat me shooting with the bow and arrow, but I could beat him with the revolver. We would sometimes go out hunting together when Tom was at the store, then we would take guns and kill deer, rabbits, squirrels and birds. He could beat me finding game, but I could beat him killing it, as I was much the best shot with a gun.
One day, some time after I had gotten well, Sally, the Indian girl, came to the store with her father, the chief, and I happened to be there all alone. Tom had gone to Jacksonville, and there happened to be no customers there. The girl had always been very full of life and fun before when she had been at the store, but this morning she appeared to be sick. She looked so sad and downcast. We had a kitchen adjoining the store where we did our cooking on a fireplace, and the fire was still burning, so the old man went in to the kitchen and lit his pipe and sat down by the fire and smoked. This left Sally and me alone in the store, so I asked her what was the matter, was she sick, or had some of her friends or relations died? She said, "Neither one." But she dare not tell me what was the matter as if she did, and the Indians found out, they would be sure to kill her, but she wanted to tell me very bad, so I told her that if she would tell me, the Indians should never know that she had told me, even if they should kill me for not telling, so she told me that all the Rogue River and Applegate, and some of the Klamath, Indians had joined together and were going to kill all the white people in the country, and they were going to commence in two weeks. She and Charley, her brother, wanted me to go away off and maybe sometime I could come back and they would be glad to see me, and then maybe I could stay there, but now the Indians were all mad and they would kill me if I did not go away.
As soon as the old man got through his smoking, they bid me goodbye and went away. I never saw the girl afterwards and never met the old chief, or Charley, but one time after that.
When Thomas Holdman came home that night, I told him what the girl had told me. After pledging him to keep the secret as far as the girl was concerned, he just laughed and said the girl was just fooling me and that the Indians knew better than to undertake to whip the whites and drive them out of their country. I told him that I know that Sally believed just what she told me and that I believed that the old Chief intended that she should tell me, so that I might save my life, for he had given her such a good chance to tell me. Holdman would not believe that there was any danger.
A few days after this in the middle of the day I was all alone again, as I generally was in the middle of the day, for miners most always did their trading in the evening, and Tom had gone over to Jacksonville again, when a noted chief, that the whites called George, came to the store alone. I was well acquainted with him, as he had been at the store a great many times. He was as fine a looking Indian man as I ever saw. At least six foot tall, and would weigh about two hundred pounds, and had as fine features as most any white man, and was very intelligent. Although it was against the law to sell or give liquor to Indians, I had treated this Indian before [to a drink], and this time he appeared to be very much troubled and downcast, so I poured him out a drink of whiskey, and before he drank it he made a little speech. The meaning of the words that he spoke in jargon was that he hoped to live to see the day when all the white men would be away on the other side of the salt sea. His appearance and the way he spoke caused me to think of what the Indian girl had told me. So I said, "Well, George, you will let me stay, won't you?" And he said, "No, you had better go too." And he meant it, I knew, from the way he spoke, so when Tom came home that night I told him that I thought that the best thing and safest thing we could do was to move the store over to Jacksonville, and told him what Chief George had said and how he acted, and as Sally had not been back since she told me of the danger that I was in, nor Charley had not been there for so long, I was sure that the Indians were going to break out and kill all the people they could. Of course, they would burn and destroy property, and as he and I could not defend the store and our own lives against a whole tribe of Indians, I thought we had better get away while we could, but he would not yet believe that we were in danger, so would not move, and as he had been a true and kind friend to me while I was sick, of course, I would not leave him, although I was sure that the war was coming.
The night before the time expired that Sally had set for the war to commence, Tom and I were alone at the store and I was uneasy, and had been up the creek a few miles and got some mules that we had running on grass resting up so that Tom could sell them, as he had concluded not to pack anymore. I drove them down close to the store, and as it was late in the evening, they stayed there until morning. Although I passed by where there had been several Indian camps that day, I saw no Indians, which reminded me again of Sally's warning, so I told Tom that the Indians would break out before morning, and he jokingly said, "Maybe you had better stand guard tonight, but don't expect me to take my turn!" He expected to have a good night's sleep, but as it turned out, he did not sleep much, for about ten o'clock that night he was taken with a very severe spell of cholera morbus, and I never saw anyone suffer worse than he did from that time until pretty near daylight. I never had seen anyone with that disease before and did not know what to do for him. As there was no one near and he would not let me go and leave him alone, it was a very lonesome night for me, I assure you, as I was expecting the Indians at any moment, and did not know whether Tom would live or die before morning with the disease he had, if the Indians did not kill him. I was sure that my Indian friends would protect me if they could, but did not know whether they would be able to, or not, for I knew something about the savage disposition of Indians when they were on the warpath, so I felt very unsafe and did not think that my scalp fitted very tight, but was a great deal more uneasy on account of Tom, than I was for myself. I did not think that I would be able to protect Tom if the Indians should attack us, although I intended to defend him as long as I lived. Yet I was afraid that he was going to die pretty soon, if I did not get a doctor for him, with the disease that was working on him.
As soon as he fell asleep, just before daylight, as he became easy about that time, through heavy doses of Perry Davis' Pain Killer and hot water that I had given him, I slipped out and caught a favorite saddle mule and saddled it. Armed with my Colt revolver, I started for Jacksonville, after the only doctor that was in Jackson valley. At that time, the road ran for about three miles through fine timber and thick underbrush, and as it was very crooked, I could not see any distance ahead. As I was going about as fast as the mule could travel, and had gone about two miles from the store, I made a short turn in the road. Just as it was fairly daylight, I found myself surrounded by a band of Indians all armed and with their war paint on. They had heard the clatter of my mule's feet and had strung their bows and cocked their guns, ready to shoot, and I would have been riddled in a second if Charley had not been there, but the moment that he saw me, he hollered at the top of his voice to his father, who was the chief in command, to protect and not kill me. He prevented them from shooting and Charley came up to me and shook hands and inquired if my revolver was loaded. I pulled it out of the belt, partly to show him that it was loaded and partly for use if needed, and just then a company of twenty mounted men, well armed, came around a point of timber, only a few rods away, as fast as their horses could carry them. The moment that they saw the Indians they drew their guns to fire on the Indians. I hollered, "Hold on," and told Charley to stop the Indians, as they had all made a move to get in the timber. He did as I told him, and the Indians, all twenty-five in number, gathered around me and as the men did not fire, but came up slow, both parties on their guard for fear that the other would take advantage of them, I began to realize the danger I had been in and now knew positively that I had not misplaced confidence in trusting my friend, Charley, as he had proven true even at the risk of his life and saved my life, which of course made me still think more of him, but that was the last time that I ever saw him, or his father. The men from Jacksonville took all of that company of Indians prisoners without a fight, partly at least through my influence with Charley. The white men then told me that what the Indian girl had told me some weeks before was true, but of course they did not know anything about what she had told me. They only told me what had happened. The Indians all over the country were on the warpath and had killed two men at the edge of Jacksonville the evening before, and one that morning. Every available man that could get armed, and horsed, were out to alarm the people. I told them that I had to go to Jacksonville for a doctor, or at least for a doctor's advice and medicine. The captain of the company told me it was impossible for me to get there, as the town was surrounded by Indians, and me being alone, they would be sure to get me. Of course, they could not spare a man to go with me, but when I remembered how kind Tom had been to me when I was sick, and how white he looked when he fell asleep, suffering all that night, I determined that I would get medicine for him or die, so I told the captain to stop as he went by the store, and if Tom was alive to tell him that I would soon be back with medicine for him and to have the captain to send all the miners that he could to the store as quick as possible. The company took their prisoners down the creek about six miles and left them to be guarded by a lot of miners until there could be some better arrangements made, but that night they stole their arms and some mares and slipped out through the guard, getting away. In a few days, they were seen in a battle on the lower Applegate. As the Indians gained the battle, the whites had to retreat and leave the Indians in possession of the ground, and carry off their dead and wounded. The Indians were commanded in that engagement by Chief John, the father of Charley and Sally, my Indian friends. A few days before my life was in his hands for a few moments, but I feel that I was safe while Charley was there, even if the white men had not come to my rescue.
After parting with the soldiers and their prisoners, I traveled alone pretty fast and as quiet as possible without any sign of danger until I had gone part of the way down the hill back of Jacksonville. This hill was covered with timber and brush and over half a mile from top to bottom, and as I got about one-fourth of the way from top to bottom, I heard a very strange noise out in the timber a little way from the road. It was of such a nature that I thought it was someone that had been wounded and probably crawled off there, in need of help, so I, with my revolver in my hand, cocked, and on my trusty mule, went quietly and cautiously out through the brush until I got sight of the cause of the strange noise. I found an Indian dog that I think had been hurt in some way, as he was making the most pitiful noise I ever heard. I shot him to put him out of his misery and then let my mule slip down into Jacksonville, like a greased eel.
When I got in town, I found the people all excited. They had heard my shot and supposed that the Indians had shot a white man up on the side of the mountain, and as there had been so many men and guns sent out in the morning to alarm the people, there was not men enough to guard the town and go out to the rescue of anyone.
I saw two Indians hanging on a tree just in the edge of town that had been caught and hung that morning[, August 7, 1853]. I soon found the old man, Holdman, Tom's father, and told him that Tom was very sick and I was after the doctor. He scolded me for not turning back when I met the soldiers that morning and said it was a miracle that I had gotten through alive. He said he would go with me to see the doctor but had no idea that he could get him to go out of town, so we went and found him in his office. He said he would not go without a guard of at least ten men well armed and well mounted, and as that was out of the question, I told him the symptoms and told him that if he would give me medicine that I would take it to him. He said that the disease was cholera morbus and that it had run its course and that Tom was about well when I left him, so I had better not try to go back that night alone for the Indians would be pretty sure to get me.
The old man, Tom's father, tried to persuade me from going, but I knew that Tom would think that I was killed if I did not get back and did not know how many men there were at the store to guard it. I was afraid that Tom would need the medicine so I was determined to go back that night. I took some medicine and struck out. While going up the hill through the timber, I was a little afraid, but after I got on top, my road ran along the bank of a small stream for about four miles, and the country was pretty open. I could see pretty well all around me so did not feel much fear. When I got down near the crossing of the creek which was about three miles from the store, I heard a number of volleys fired, making the woods fairly ring. I knew there was a fight going on between the whites and the Indians, just about [at] the ford, but my only chance to get to the store that night was to go ahead, which I did, but before I got quite to the battle ground, I met the same company of men that I had met in the morning. They had alarmed all the miners that they could and gotten back to Jacksonville that night and were on their return trip when they met Chief George with about thirty warriors, right at the crossing of the creek, and then had gotten in a fight with them. They said they knew they had killed some Indians but did not know how many. There was one lying right by the side of the road. They said the Indians had gotten in the brush and timber and they had to retreat. None of the whites were killed, but there were several of them wounded, although none very serious. They told me that I would have to go back with them, as I could not get to the store that night, and that Tom was better and had told them to tell me to stay in Jacksonville if I got there until I could get back in safety, but as the smoke of the guns had not yet cleared away, I knew that the Indians would not be looking for anyone so soon after the battle, so I determined to chance it, knowing that if I could get across the creek I would be out of sight of the Indians in a moment so I rode along quietly until was very near the ford. There I had to make a bend around a clump of willows and then I would be in sight of the ford, and the battle ground. So, as I made the turn, I put spurs to the mule and with my revolver in my hand, cocked, I yelled as loud as I could so as to make the Indians think that there was a lot of us after them. As my mule passed a dead Indian just as I made the turn, the smell of blood, or the Indian himself, scared the mule and I do not think that I ever saw a mule run so fast before, or since, as he did, and he kept it up until he got to the store door. Just as he jumped across the creek, for I do not think he touched the water, I looked back over my shoulder and off about fifty yards from me under some oak trees I saw a good many Indians raising up. They had fallen down when they heard me holler so as to get out of sight. No doubt they thought the whole company was coming back, but I was out of sight so quick that they did not fire a shot at me, so I got back to the store with the medicine for Tom, safe, although I had been running the gantlet all day.
I found Tom much better, and he scolded me for risking my life as I had that day. The miners had gathered at the store, to the number of twenty-five or thirty, and were busy preparing for self-defense. We soon found out that the Indian girl had told me the truth and that all the Indians that she named were on the warpath and doing all the mischief they could. Of course, we kept our guard both day and night at the store, and were not disturbed for several days.
One night, about a week after the war broke out, I was on guard some distance from the store up the road. About ten o'clock I heard a gun fired about a hundred yards farther up the road where the road crossed a deep ravine that was full of brush and [it was] a very dark place. At the crack of the gun, a man hollered at the top of his voice that he was shot, that he was killed, and he kept hollering as he passed me and until he got into the store. The men had partly stripped and hunted all over him and found that he was not touched. He said the Indians were so close that the fire from his gun pretty nearly reached him and he thought he had been shot right through the body, as he had often heard that if a person was badly shot they would not know it for some time, but he was very happy to find that he was not hurt.
A few days after this, late one evening, there were two men who came to the store from a place where there were a lot of miners stopping, up the river about a mile. They only had one log house, and it was small so they could not all get in the house to sleep, so about half of them slept out under some trees. We had our guard out when they came and they laughed at us and said they did not guard at all as the Indians were all gone over on Rogue River, some fifteen or twenty miles away, so there was no use to keep guard.
The next morning, just as day was breaking, I was on guard and I heard volley after volley fired up at their camp, and after it was fairly daylight a party of our men went up to their camp and found four of their men killed and a lot more wounded. The Indians had slipped up to near where they were sleeping and fired into their beds, killing some of them while they were asleep. One man that was at the store the night before was sleeping with all of his clothes on and had a wide belt, but when he got in the house he took his belt off and his entrails dropped out, as a large bullet had cut right across his abdomen and disemboweled him. He lived but a few moments. Some of the wounds were made with arrows, but the most were guns that did the work. They buried the dead and moved the wounded and the well down to our camp that day. After this, for a few days, everything went along quiet at our camp although there was lots of fighting going on throughout the country, but as we were strong handed and well armed, they did not bother us. There was a young Indian with us that had been working with a man by the name of Dr. Osborn in the mines all spring. When Osborn came to the store, he brought the Indian with him. The Indian was but a boy like myself, probably about eighteen, and he and I soon became fast friends, and as it was very lonesome staying around the store without any excitement, and we had to live on bacon that was strong enough to speak for itself, the Indian and I made it up one day that we would slip out through the guard next morning before daylight and go out to the hills about a mile away and kill a deer, pack it in and have some venison to eat, so I stole out two good rifles, one for myself and one for the Indian. Besides I had my Colt revolver and I gave the Indian his gun and put him in the lead. I walked close behind him and watched him very close, for I did not have very much confidence in him. When we found some deer I made him shoot one and take its insides out and then I made him carry it back to camp, and I carried both guns. He got very tired and wanted me to carry the deer awhile and let him carry the guns, but I told him to rest awhile and then go on, so we got back to camp all right with our deer, but it looked for awhile after we got to camp as if the men would massacre me for taking such chances, and they talked so rough that they scared the Indian so bad that night he slipped through the guard and ran away.
He was soon a few days afterwards fighting with the Indians in a hard battle that the whites had with them up Applegate. My friend, Charley, was also seen in that battle. The Indians held their ground and the whites, as night came on, had to retreat. There were a good many killed and wounded on both sides.
A few days after this, there was another battle a couple of miles below us on the creek. Chief George was in command of the Indians, and here again the Indians held their position, and as dark came on the whites had to retreat. By this time the Indians were getting so thoroughly warmed up and it was getting pretty hot for outside camps, and as there was no business done in the store and the men and guns were all needed in the field, Tom concluded to move the store to Jacksonville, which he did.
A few days after reaching Jacksonville, Tom sold his pack train to two men by the name of Dobson and Bell, and they hired me to go as a packer with them to Scottsburg after a load of freight. They had thirty-seven pack mules besides the saddle animals. There were four of us with this train and two other trains, with about the same number of men apiece, going in with us. As they were also going to Scottsburg after freight, this gave us men enough to protect ourselves pretty well.
One of the men had a small dog with him that he thought a great deal of, and this dog came very near to getting us in a serious scrape. We were passing Tevolt's house at Rocky Point about ten miles from Jacksonville, where at that time there was quite a lot of people forted to protect themselves against the Indians, and we were passing along the road some hundred yards from the fort when a couple of large dogs ran out and as our little dog was tired and some distance behind us, they jumped on him and would soon have killed him if they had been left alone, but what made it look worse, there were several men standing in the yard looking at them and did not try to stop them. So the owner of our dog rode back as quick as he could and with his revolver shot and killed one of the dogs and wounded the other. He then picked up his little dog and carried him on his mule before him until he overtook us, but as soon as he fired the first shot, the men that were standing in the yard ran in the house. When they came out they had their guns, and they came after us at a run. Of course we expected trouble, so Tom Bell, one of the men that I was working for, told the man that had shot the dog to ride ahead as quick as he could and stop the mules. Then to send all the boys back and for him to stay in the lead and guard the mules. The rest of us would satisfy those fellows, as there were about as many of us as there were of them, so we turned and rode back a piece to meet them. Tom told us to keep cool and watch close and if they made a move to shoot, and for us each to be sure to shoot the man directly in front of us so that we would not all be shooting at one man and to listen to what he said and let him do the talking if there was any talking to do.
As they came up their leader asked where the man was that shot the dogs, and Tom told him that he was at the head of the train, and as he was in plain sight and not a hundred yards away, one of their men swore that he would shoot him and ran to a big rock nearby and got behind it. He laid his gun on the top of the rock and was about to shoot at him when Tom, with his revolver in his hand, cocked, was within ten feet of him and told him that if he fired that gun that he would never get up from that rock as he would kill him with lead, and the rest of us drew all of our guns, and if one shot had been fired there would have been short work, and it is very doubtful if one man would have gotten away with a whole skin, but just at that time the man that had shot the dogs came towards us hollering to hold on, and as he came as fast as his mule could carry him, he was there by the time the man got up from the rock. As he came up he said there was no cause for all our men to kill and be killed on his account, and if we wanted his blood because he protected his little dog and kept him from being torn to pieces, while they did not try to keep their dogs from running out in a public road, a hundred yards from their house, he hoped that they would be men and give him a chance for his life and only one of them attack him at a time.
Turning his attention to the man that had been behind the rock, he drew his revolver and rode out a ways from the rest of us and told him that if he still wanted to kill him, just to step out of the crowd and he would accommodate him, but their leader interfered and he told the man not to go out, for if we had not heard them call their dogs back that the man was not so much to blame for defending his dog as they had thought, for they had called their dogs when they first started fighting, but they would not mind, but that they were very watchful and as their fort was surrounded by hostile Indians, the dogs were of great value in protecting their lives by warning them in case the Indians should come near.
The man that had shot the dogs told them that his dog was equally valuable as our guard while we were in the hostile Indian country and that he was sorry that he had been compelled to shoot their dogs, but he saw no other way at the time to save his dog's life, and that he had not heard anyone holler at their dogs, but it was all done now and could not be helped.
We could not afford to stay there and parley any longer, as we had to get our mules across Rogue River that night and out to where we could get grass for them and with their permission we would go on. This we did, and they did not object, so peace ended what came very near being a serious tragedy.
We had to carry the little dog, or let him ride on one of the pack mules that had aparejos on, before he got over his bites, but he got well all right and everything went all right until we got our loads and got out of Scottsburg about twelve miles on our return trip and made our first camp for the night. After we were loaded the next morning, when we tried to get up our mules we found that one of the bell mares with about half the mules was missing. By the way, as soon as we had gotten out of the hostile Indian country, we had each train that had been traveling together separated, as there was too many mules together to get along well in traveling or getting started in the mornings, so that left us four men with our train of thirty-seven pack mules and two bell mares and our saddle mules. We always left one man in camp to take care of and look after camp while the rest of us hunted up the mules, so after we were convinced that a part of the mules had gone out of the range, James Dobson, one of the men that owned the train, and myself, saddled a mule apiece and struck out to overtake the runaways, leaving the other two men to look after the camp.
After going a few miles, we turned off over the trail and climbed to the top of a high, bald hill that was flat on top, in hopes that we might find them there, or see them somewhere else, and sure enough, we saw them away across a canyon, some four or five miles away, as near as we could judge, and they were about as high up as we were on the top of the same range of mountains we were on, but to get two of them we had to go down into the valley. After going several miles up the trail we would have to climb up the mountains again and go around on a ridge through heavy timber and brush where there was no trail for several miles in order to get out to the open prairie on the top of the mountain where the runaway mules were. As we did not know how rough and difficult it would be to get through we tried to go around the canyon, and as it was raining and we could not see the sun when we got in the timber and brush, we got lost and after wandering about all day in a hard rain, night found us on a creek in the deep, dark woods and without any knowledge of our whereabouts. By this time our mules were tired out climbing hills, over ledges and through thick brush all day without anything to eat, and we could hardly get them along, and as it was getting dark, we knew that we could not get much farther that night with the mules, so James Dobson said that if I would stay with the mules, that he would go down that creek and see if it would not lead out to the trail.
After he was gone, I took the saddles off the mules and tied them up to some trees. As I had no ax or matches and it was still raining hard, of course I could not make any fire, so I took the macheers, which is a large sole-leather covering for a saddle, and lay down on the ground by the side of a log, covering myself with the saddle blankets the best I could, but as I had no coat and the blankets were as wet as water could make them and the rain was very cold, I was so cold my teeth were chattering and I was shaking as if I had the ague. One of the mules was tied so close to where I was lying that he could reach me with his front feet, and I was so tired and cold I fell asleep. How long I slept I do not know, but the mule that could reach me found me and woke me up. I found the macheers had sunk down in the soft ground and moss and leaves and made a trough. I was lying in water about six inches deep and was nearly frozen. I got up and wrapped the wet blankets around me and walked back and forth as far as I could go in the dark and brush. It was so dark that I could not see ten feet from me, and it rained hard all night after I got up. The mules kept snorting for a long time, and I could hear something out in the brush once in a while break a twig by stepping on it, but as my pistol was so wet that I could not get it to fire, I could not do anything but wait for it to eat me if it wanted to. Just as I began to think that I was getting gray-headed with old age, daylight began to appear, and as soon as it was clear light I put the saddles on the mules and turned one of the mules loose. Leading the other, I started down the creek, but I had not gone far until I heard Dobson holler away down the creek. I could just hear him, and I answered and kept on traveling the best I could, but the brush and logs were so thick that it was very slow work, and when Dobson hollered again, I was very glad that he was making better headway than I was, for he was not far off this time. The mules answered him as well as myself. He got to me soon after, and his clothes were nearly all torn off. He had a frightful night as well as myself, for he had followed the creek to its mouth and found that it emptied into the Umpqua River and the trail that we wanted to find crossed it just above its mouth, and then he had tried to [omission] me but it was so very dark and the brush and logs so thick that he gave out and had to stop. He stopped under a large fir tree, and some time in the night a bear came so close to him that he could see it moving, so he felt for a tree small enough for him to climb and the first one that he could find was a small, dead tree that most of the limbs were rotten on, and they would not hold his weight. He did not dare to trust to their strength to hold him up but had to hug around the body of the tree. The bear came under the tree and snuffed and snorted at him and he hollered and yelled at it to try to drive it away. He had a pistol but it was like mine, so wet that it would not fire. After he had hung up in that tree until there was scarcely any feeling in his legs or arms, the bear moved slowly away and as he could not stay much longer up there in the tree, he slid down to the ground and stomped and beat himself for some time before he could get his blood to circulate again. Before morning that bear or another one put him up that tree again and kept him there until daylight.
We finally got to the trail and then we made good time to our camp about five miles away. We got to camp a little after two o'clock, and as we had had nothing at all to eat since the morning before, about thirty-three hours, we found when we commenced to eat that we were pretty hungry. The boys that we had left at camp had caught some fine, large trout and had them fried. Dinner was ready for us when we got to camp. One of them had been told where the missing mules were by some men that had passed the camp the evening before, and he had went and got them and had them at camp, but as it was late and we were very tired and sleepy, we concluded not to leave the camp until next day, so we staked the runaway bell mare that night and the next morning we had no trouble in finding our animals.
[The next several pages concern Giles' adventures in the Coquille and Umpqua drainages in 1854. He concludes his narrative with this brief paragraph about his participation in the 1855-56 war:]
In the spring of 1855 I went back to the Coquille mines, and worked there until fall, did pretty well. When I got back to the Umpqua Valley, the Indians of southern Oregon had united their forces and taken the warpath and were killing the white men, women and children wherever they could catch them, and destroying property wherever they could, so I enlisted as a volunteer and went to the front and was in about all the battles fought with the Indians in southern Oregon in that war, and was exposed a great deal in rain, snow and sleet out in the mountains with two to four men at a time, for five or six days at a time. We were without a fire and living on raw side bacon and bread that we baked in frying pans before leaving camp, trying to find and locate the Indians on one of those trails. I took cold that settled in my spine, that I never got well of.
The foregoing is a copy of the original manuscript written by my father, Daniel Giles. It is all that my mother could persuade him to write, but of course, failed to include many of his interesting adventures. He felt that his story would be of interest to no one except possibly his immediate family.
My father died in the year 1918, although he had been an invalid for some years prior to his death. My father was very proud of the fact that the U.S. Congress passed a special act in which he was awarded a small pension as a reward for his unusual service as a scout in the Indian wars and the fact that this award was made to him on the testimony of Colonel Martin under whom he served.
In the Indian war of 1855-56 to which he refers and which took place near Jacksonville, Oregon, my father acted as a scout, and his job was to go into the hills and locate the Indians. He has told many interesting stories about the operation. I remember that he particularly talked of an Indian by the name of Ely Bird, who acted as one of the scouts. He thought that Bird was one of the bravest men he had ever known. I recall his telling of the Indians having stolen Bird's horse. Bird announced to my father and the other scout who was working with them, that he intended to go into the Indian camp and repossess his horse. Both men offered to accompany him but he said, "No, white man get killed; Indian get horse." As a matter of fact, he slipped past the sentries maintained by the Indians, entered their camp, stabbed to death the two Indians he figured had stolen his horse, recovered his own horse and stampeded the Indians' horses which was a fact my father concluded me white man could have accomplished.
Another incident that I remember is that when my father enlisted in 1855, Oregon promised that if he would furnish his own horse and gun, that he would be allowed $50.00. This $50.00 was paid to him by the state of Oregon some fifty years later, without interest. My father considered this quite a joke.
It will be noted in his memoirs that he, with other men, were the first white men to cross the Coquille bar. My mother, who was my father's second wife, his first wife having died some years previous to his marriage to my mother, was with her sister in a boat which was the first one to carry white women across the same bar although this was some 20 years after my father's crossing. My mother's name was Indiana Henrietta (commonly called Nannie) Ransom Giles, and her sister's name was Cordelia Ransom Rackleff, their father being Dr. William C. Ransom. I might add that my mother was a great-great-granddaughter of Jonathan Zane and Mary Zane and was also related to Clark of Lewis & Clark fame.
Claud E. Giles
[Coos Bay, 1952]
Southern Oregon Historical Society MS 109. Since few accounts of battles in the Applegate Valley survive, the encounters Giles mentions are as yet uncorroborated.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -DANIEL GILES. The life of Daniel Giles, a well-known and honored resident of Myrtle Point, Coos County, has been replete with the incidents characteristic of the pioneer days--the dangers, hardships and trials of those early times having been experienced by him to an exceptional degree, though he was also endowed with a capacity for pleasure which makes of his recollection today a pleasing link between the past and present. He was born in Bedford County, Pa., September 16, 1836, the son of Henry Giles, also a native of that state. The family came originally from England, the grandfather, Henry Giles, having been born in London, and at the age of fourteen years ran away from school in Liverpool, coming to the United States, where he served as a drummer boy in the Revolutionary War. In manhood he became a resident of Bedford County, Pa., where he resided near the stream of Bloody Run and earned his livelihood in agricultural pursuits. His death occurred in 1852, at the age of ninety-four years. His son, Henry, became a blacksmith and lived in Pennsylvania until his death at the age of fifty years. He married Nancy Moore, who was born in London, England, and died in Iowa in 1868, whither she had removed to make her home with her sons. She was the daughter of William Moore, also a native of London, a silk weaver by trade, who came to the United States in 1817 and located in Bedford County, Pa., where he was engaged in the weaving of cloth. In 1834 he removed to Fairfield County, Ohio, where he continued at his trade and also engaged in fancy handwork, in which he was very expert. His death occurred there at the age of ninety-one years.
Daniel Giles has the lumber on the ground for the purpose of erecting a fine residence in our thriving town.
"Myrtle Point Items," Coquille City Herald, November 10, 1885, page 1
We found Daniel Giles in full possession of the Myrtle Point hotel. This is a fine building, and Uncle Dan (no offense to Coast Mail) intends to keep a first-class house, and so he does, with the assistance of his fair lady and daughters.
"South Fork Items," Coquille City Herald, November 23, 1886, page 2
The threshing machines are starting up, and one run has been made at Daniel Giles' farm three miles above town. 80 bushels of barley and 70 bushels of oats to the acre was the result. The Coquille Valley takes the cake.
D. Giles brought a sample of his brick to our office last week that is as good or superior to any pressed brick ever brought to this place from San Francisco. It measured 8¼ inches in length (plump), 4 inches wide and 2¼ inches in thickness. The sample was as square and true as if it had been dressed with a plane, and we understand that the whole kiln just burned is like the sample. They are sold at the yard for $8 per thousand.
"Up-River Department," Coquille City Herald, September 2, 1890, page 2
Daniel Giles was in town Monday, having come down with a scow load of brick, the first shipment for the lighthouse buildings.
Coquille City Herald, July 2, 1895, page 2
CHAP. 290.--An Act to pension Daniel Giles for services in Oregon Indian wars.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the Secretary of the Interior be, and he is hereby, directed to place on the pension roll of the Government the name of Daniel Giles, of Captain Samuel Gordon's Company H, Oregon Volunteers, and thereafter also in Captain Edward Sheffield's Company A, of said volunteers, for meritorious service, and for injuries received while in said service against hostile Indians in Oregon, then a Territory, and allow him a pension at the rate of eight dollars per month.
Received by the President, February 10, 1897.
The Statutes at Large of the United States of America from December 1895 to March 1897, Washington, Government Printing Office, 1897, page 815
Reminiscences of Daniel Giles, Jos. McVay and A. H. Thrift.
Birth--Father's Death--Came to Pacific Coast--Arrival at Coos Bay--Empire City--Randolph Mines--The Indians--Built First Schooner to Cross Bar--Massacre of Indians--Bandon Ferry-- Tragedy of Dead-Man's Slough--Execution of Indians--Indian Boy's Friendship--Indian Divers' Treachery --Nearly a Fight--Indian Killed--Trip to Port Orford in Schooner--Drunken Captain.
The narrator of this interesting story was born in Bedford County, Penn., on the 6th day of September, 1836. His parents were in moderate circumstances financially; his father had poor health, which prevented him from working at blacksmithing much of the time, that being his trade. The father died when Daniel was about two years old, and the mother disposed of the little property and paid the expenses of the sickness, etc., and moved her family to Ohio. When the son was about six years old, the mother married a man who had no property and worked for wages, and two years after Daniel was obliged to leave the parental roof and provide for himself and had experiences which were common to all those in such conditions at that time, working for about eight cents a day. By saving his money, however, in eight months he had sufficient to enable him to enter a district school for the first time. As soon as he was large enough to plow corn his wages were increased and ere long he was able to help his mother, that fact affording him much consolation in after years. In 1851 Mr. Giles went to Davis County, Iowa, with a view of reaching the Pacific Coast, and the next year saw him on his way across the plains working for his board and passage to the wilds of Oregon, which was regarded as the "Far West," Mr. Giles' trip across the plains, though interesting in detail, yet was not attended with any tragedies, however, some of the difficulties were of great moment at the time and, were the narrative in print as he has written it, no doubt it would furnish an interesting chapter; but we must now take up the thread of the story commencing with his first settlement in Coos County. Before the county was organized, in the year 1853, Mr. Giles, with about six or eight companions, came down by Scottsburg and Elija Burton, one of them, brought a yoke of oxen, and the party had five horses. The company came down the Umpqua River with a scow, the only one on that stream at that time. At 2 o'clock one afternoon they started and drifted along until they met the tide about dark, when they were obliged to tie up. The movements of tides was a new arrangement to nearly all the party, hence it seemed strange that water should run upstream.
It was noon the next day before they reached the beach, where they found a camp kept by two white men and dubbed a hotel. This, however, was a welcome event, as they had not been able to cook since they left Scottsburg and they wished to get their stock to grass before camping. Their dinners cost them seventy-five cents each and consisted of boiled bacon and coffee without bread or vegetables. The party then traveled south six or eight miles and found grass, hence they camped, and not long after a sumptuous repast was spread in camp, cooked in a rude way, but it was very palatable to these almost-famished men. This was the last of October and the fall rains began to set in, and through rain the party reached the north side of Coos Bay the next evening. They found a log house that someone had just put the roof on and camped therein. After taking their evening meal, the travelers spread their blankets on the ground and retired, but though they felt safe and certain that all was well they were disappointed before morning. Sometime in the night some of the party hallooed that they were all about to be drowned.
The tide had flooded the cabin, and the party were obliged to fix up shelving to secure their goods and climb up the walls to get out of the water.
At daylight the next morning two men came over from Empire City and ferried them over, swimming their stock. There was considerable sea on and Giles feared that a fine horse he owned would not be able to cross, but he proved to be very intelligent and swam straight for a house at Empire City and guided the other animals safely to shore.
Empire City contained one large round log house barely completed to become inhabitable. Mrs. Curtis Noble, now Mrs. Jackson, kept the hotel, but dining room, parlors, kitchen, and sleeping parlors were all in one. There were some tents and some rude buildings just commenced. The travelers remained several days at Empire waiting for a scow that sometimes freighted up the sloughs. Finally with much difficulty the party arrived at the sea beach or the "Randolph Gold Field." They noticed gold in the black sand at every little rivulet, and of course this encouraged the men who were passing through all of these difficulties and danger and they thought that all there was to do was to locate a claim and a fortune would follow. They pitched their tents on the bluff at Randolph which overhung the beach and affording a good view of the ocean which was grand in the extreme to these adventurers, being their first experience on the beach. After a good night's rest the men visited the beach below and could see fine gold rolling along with the sand at every little gushing stream, which looked very pleasing to the party. They found a man who had located a claim and wanted to sell. He had water privileges but he had no sluices. Lumber being scarce, bringing 20 to 30 cents a foot at the saw pits that some had established for whip sawing. Mr. Giles purchased his claim for one hundred and fifty dollars cash down. The next day he found that he could not get lumber, as others had ordered in advance of him, so he was employed by the whip sawyers to assist in that enterprise at $4 a day. Soon after he purchased an interest in the lumber business and the company sawed all winter and purchased eight claims, investing about one thousand dollars. The company failed to realize any profit from their mines, but cleared $20 each day while at the lumber business. This was no doubt the first lumber enterprise started in Coos County. One of the partners, named James C. Fitzgerald, was a sailor and he conceived the idea of building a schooner to ply between Coos Bay and the Coquille River and supply the miners with provisions which was being packed on horses on almost impassable trails. Mr. Giles entered into this enterprise with his usual energy and they succeeded in launching their craft in April 1854. During the previous winter an Indian boy about seventeen years old came to the camp of these pioneers. He being about the age of young Giles, they became fast friends. The native had but one eye, and Giles learned after much difficulty and by signs, etc., that the Indians had destroyed one of those organs. That he belonged to the Umpquas and was now a prisoner of war, held by the Coquille tribe. That he had tried to run away and that the guard caught him and deprived him of one eye as a punishment, informing him that if he tried again to obtain his liberty that he would kill him. The poor fellow was very anxious to get back to his people and asked Giles to assist him in that direction. Giles informed his associates of the situation, and they consented to let him stay in camp during the winter. The young fellow made himself very useful in getting wood and doing chores around the house. Soon after the arrangement word was brought over from the mouth of the Coquille that the Indians had shot arrows at the ferryman and that they were in their war paint, singing their songs and that the ferryman's life was in danger and he would be killed before morning if the whites did not go to his rescue. So there was a company of 25 or 30 men armed and on the march from Randolph in a very short time. They went to the Indian town just above where Bandon now stands and surrounded it on three sides, the river being on the other. The men waited until daylight, and when the first Indian made his appearance the volunteers commenced shooting, and if it had not been for the river Mr. Giles thinks that every buck Indian would have been killed; some jumped into the river, and by diving and swimming got away, and a few escaped in canoes. There were fifteen Indian men and two squaws killed, besides many wounded. The natives did not offer any resistance; the only impulse they seemed to have was to escape, hence there was none of the miners hurt. Mr. Giles thinks that this massacre was the cause of several settlers losing their lives afterward. About the first of March, 1854, the dead bodies of two men were found floating in the Coquille River near the mouth of what was afterwards called "Dead Man's Slough'' in memory of the tragedy now being discussed. After examination the remains were found to be those of Burton and Venable, who were traveling down the Coquille River supposing they were safe. The natives described the terrible deed afterwards as follows: The men were in a canoe; three large Indians in another canoe paddled up by theirs, apparently in a friendly manner, but they tipped the unsuspecting white men's boat over, and while the victims were struggling in the water the savages beat them over the head with paddles and thus dispatched them. They then swung weights to them, sinking their bodies in the river, after which they hid the canoe up the slough. The bodies of the men, however, came to the surface in due time and were found and interred near the old town of Randolph, Mr. Giles participating in these busy scenes. An Indian had visited Giles' camp and endeavored to persuade his Indian boy to go with him and live with his tribe. Several visits were made for that purpose, so the boys became friends and the visitor told the domestic Indian who it was that murdered the men. A few days after Mr. Giles was informed of these facts by his Indian boy. He knew two of the three red savages who had committed the deed. The young Indian was taken to Empire City where the guilty Indians were believed to be, and by signs made known two of them to the miners, who were determined that justice should be meted out. This was successfully accomplished at the large rancherie south of Empire City.
The plan adopted was a very ingenious one, and worked to a charm without betraying the young Indian's treachery to the tribe. They all returned to Randolph with the two Indian prisoners. The miners were called together, and were about to form a jury, but the prisoners acknowledged their guilt and they were soon hanged upon a tree at the suburbs of the town. One of the savages was very brave; he stated that he did kill the men, and that he would kill all the white men if he could, that they had killed some of his people without cause and he wanted revenge. That white men had no right to come in their country and kill their people; that he wanted the Indians to kill all of them they could. When the defiant criminal was pulled up by the rope, he urged the men to hasten his end, and finally died without a struggle. The other criminal cried like a child, and begged for his life, but it was of no avail. Thus ended the lives of two brute savages, but there was one yet at large. One day some Indians came into Empire City with some blankets on on their backs. One of the murdered men had his initials on his blankets in large letters. Of course the savages could not read, and were not aware that those letters would expose the guilt of the one in possession of the blankets. The Indian with the blanket was soon arrested, and tried by a jury and convicted. The sentence was death by hanging. Someone conceived a novel plan to perform the execution, and consequently a long pole was placed in the crotch of a tree, with the small end as a fulcrum. The rope was adjusted to the short end of the pole and the large end being raised by the crowd of men the Indian was jerked into the happy hunting ground in the twinkling of an eve. It is said that the natives preserved that rude gallows and hung their worthless curs on it afterwards. Soon after these excitements were over, Giles and his sailor partner in the boat proceeded to the mouth of the Coquille River, for the purpose of rigging and completing their schooner. They contemplated a cruise to Port Orford, after freight. Mr. Giles left his partner in the lumber business, Thomas Mee, in charge of that industry. The owners of the schooner had delays in getting their rigging brought to them, and amused themselves in shooting seals and watching the Indians dive for them after being wounded or killed. The weather was not favorable for their undertaking for several weeks, and the seal hunters formed an acquaintance with two young Indians, who were ever ready to dive and bring up the game. The Indian camp always had a feast when success rewarded the sealing expeditions, and Giles had great confidence in the friendship of the tribe, but his tame Indian boy, heretofore mentioned, informed him one day that he should be on his guard, or those two young divers would kill him someday, and one day after when on a trip up to the place where John Hamblock now enjoys an elegant home, Mr. Giles found that his Indian boy was correct in his fears. There had been a log house built here, but the ferry was the nearest habitation of whites. These two Indians, who were in a canoe, with Giles, had each large knives, made from a carpenter's square, it having been broken at the apex angle and worn sharp on one edge by grinding the pieces on rocks. They were also pointed by their tedious process, and handles had been provided by wrapping them with sinews. These weapons, though not having been polished and manufactured by machinery, were formidable-looking materials of war, and after getting started and noting the preparations the Indians had made, he began to feel some uneasiness, as he would be five miles from any possible help, it being that distance to the ferry house.
After going about a mile and a half some Indians started from the shore on the south side to intercept the one that Mr. Giles was in. He had taken with him a small muzzle-loading rifle, and as movements were indicating to him now that his two Indian friends were betraying him he looked well to his firearms and prepared to defend his life and sell it as dear as possible. The canoe that was approaching was loaded with a half-dozen Indians and some squaws who were paddling the craft. The red men scolded the women who were paddling because they did not advance fast enough to suit, and when the prow of their canoe came with much force against the other craft it almost upset it and was only saved from such a catastrophe by the steady nerve of the hero of this story.
There was an Indian village two miles below the Hamblock place where they all soon arrived and Giles noticed that the chief was in very earnest conversation with the two Indians who came with him, and he could discern the fact that they were talking in regard to him. Giles kept on the alert, having his gun ready at any moment. The Indians endeavored to induce him to fire at some ducks but he refused, believing by this time that their intentions were to kill him and his only hope was to keep his gun loaded, as he had learned that they stood in great fear of firearms, and they knew that Giles was a good marksman.
The reader should bear in mind that these incidents took place only three months after the miners had attacked the Indian camp north of the ferry and killed fifteen warriors and some squaws; they will then understand that this seventeen-year-old boy, Daniel Giles, had reason to fear that he was in danger.
When the canoe struck the shore at the Hamblock place Giles jumped out and glancing around discovered a small canoe, and thought of it as a possible means of escape. The Indians went into a log cabin and were talking. Giles knew if he attempted to get away in the small canoe he would be pursued and he could not handle a paddle and gun too, so with gun in front all ready for use he approached the cabin. One of the young Indians who had assisted him in his seal hunts attempted to capture the gun, but Giles being quick and on the alert jumped to one side, cocked his gun and leveled it at the savage's breast. The Indian understood that he was in imminent danger and retreated, and Giles retreated also to the brush patch near where the canoe was moored, but the Indian soon overtook him again and the former incident of aiming the gun at him was repeated with cowering effect. This red devil then endeavored to coax the boy to allow him to examine the gun, but Giles refused decidedly and the fellow then went back to the other Indian who had helped to take the seals and they had a parley and Giles, rushing to the small canoe, succeeded in getting off shore in it, but the two Indians immediately followed in their craft. The boy would have shot the leader of the two, he declared, if it were not for the fact that he had two Indian villages to pass before reaching the ferry. As the Indians approached Giles, he would lay down his paddle and pick up his gun which would cause them to halt. This was repeated several times and finally the redskins gave up the chase and retired to the bank of the river. The Indian boy that lived with Giles had been very uneasy about the safety of his master and had tried to induce those living at the ferry to go and rescue him if he was in danger, for he had learned that these two Indians intended harm to the young man to whom they pretended to be so friendly. When young Giles related his experience it caused quite a commotion in camp and it was decided that those two Indians must be taken and punished if they had to fight the whole tribe. Several white men and Giles' tame Umpqua Indian armed themselves with four double-barrel shotguns, three rifles, and each man had a fine revolver. They chose a captain, loaded their arms and started to take the two Indians who had been so treacherous from about three hundred of their tribe. When they arrived in sight of the Indian village the chief came out to meet them with his hands above his head; this was a sign of submission. When he got within speaking distance he addressed the young Indian, saying that he wished peace and he should tell the whites not to kill any of them, for they were not responsible for what those two Indians had done, that they were "Sixes" Indians, that he had warned them that if they killed the boy his people would kill them, for he, the chief, did not wish to fight the white people.
After the interpreter informed him as to what the two "Sixes" had done, and that his party must have them, or fight, the chief stated that they had not come back to his camp, but if the white people would give them time they would bring them into their camp just as soon as they could be found. The two "Sixes" made their escape, however, but the worst of the two was killed by a white man near Port Orford not long after, under the following circumstances: Two men were camped; one of them awoke in the night and saw something crawling toward him; he carefully pointed his double-barreled shotgun toward the object, and fired and saw it quiver a little in the dim light and then become perfectly still. The campers lay quiet the remainder of the night, not knowing of course but that there were more savages around. When daylight appeared, a dead Indian was found where the gun had been pointed, and it proved to be the one that Giles had feared the most. He had some white spots on his face, hence he was identified without difficulty, besides he had his large knife heretofore mentioned, with which, no doubt, he intended to murder the unsuspecting campers who ended his life with the shotgun.
On the 15th day of May, 1854, Mr. Giles and two other men and the Indian boy completed their craft and proceeded to sea. They were the first white men to cross the Coquille bar, and it was a mere chance that they succeeded in getting out without a wreck, to avoid which they were obliged to use oars and their best skill, as the small breeze that they hoped would increase died away, and they were left on the bar in a dead calm. The schooner was a 32-foot keel, nine-foot beam and about five-foot hold, decked, but it had a six-foot hatch, which was open, thus enabling them to stand and use long sweeps or oars. As they were crossing the last breaker they came near being swamped, for the waves broke over the bow, but fortunately the craft was so near straight up and down that the water did not fill the hatch. The sailing master had provided himself with a bottle of whisky, and after the open sea had been reached he used that liquid so freely that he was soon intoxicated and became stupid; fortunately for all on board the wind was blowing, and only a slight land breeze caused the canvas to bend just enough to keep the vessel steady and she glided along down the coast toward morning, like a ship of more pretensions. Thos. Hall, the only able seaman on board, had the wheel in charge. Notwithstanding Giles was sick, he and the Indian boy were on the lookout for the Blanco reefs, and fortunately discovered a sunken rock, by the white foam surrounding it, and by "singing out" to Hall in time for him to sheer off just in time to pass the danger. The sailors could have jumped on the rocks, had they so desired. Soon after the narrow escape our sailing master aroused from his drunken stupor, came on deck and took in sail; being close-reefed the craft glided along down the coast very slowly. When morning dawned upon them, they found that they had passed Port Orford and were ten miles from land without compass, and it was to their great advantage that they had not gone out of sight of land. They soon sailed into Port Orford and remained about a week, when early one morning they unfurled their canvas, and with a fair wind they started up the coast, clearing the heads at Port Orford about 9 o'clock in the morning, with good stiff breeze, and by noon or a little after the little craft had crossed the Coquille bar, and her passengers were once more on terra firma, which seemed to be a pleasant thought with Daniel Giles, for he concluded that he had had all the seafaring life he wanted. Johnson had discovered coarse gold on the headwaters of the south branch of the Coquille, and imparted his name to that tributary of the main stream, which was destined to yield a "million or more." Giles, leaving J. C. Fitzgerald, his partner, and the Indian boy in charge of the schooner, joined two other men, procured the canoe, secured supplies and arms, and started for the new diggings. They glided up the romantic stream, dreaming of the glittering treasure which they expected to possess in a few days. The Coquille River, with its heavy foliage bending their graceful boughs over the placid waters, produced a scene of grandeur that was amazing. These beautiful pictures were fresh from the hand of nature. The woodman's ax had never marked the massive trunks of these mammoth forests. The wild birds were hopping from branch to limb, while their beautiful carols seemed to fill the air with nature's sweetest melody. No other sounds were heard except the dipping of their paddles, or an occasional splash when some member of the finny tribes would endeavor to jump from the surface of its habitation. The curly mosses hung at least a half a yard below the tree branches in graceful fringe, which added grandeur to the most beautiful scenes.
As they left the Coquille bar and for a few miles inland, seals would seemingly follow their canoe, and occasionally lift their heads out of the water and gaze at them for a time, and then suddenly disappear. Their appearance reminded the party of watchdogs, as their heads resembled those of the canine family. The banks of the stream were covered with salmon bushes which were loaded with ripe and luscious fruits. At this time there was not a settler to be seen or heard above the ferry at the mouth of the river. The adventurers noted the immense growth of myrtle, maple and ash that covered the rich bottoms, and that game such as deer, bear, elk, beaver, otter, mink, squirrel and many other kinds of small animals were in abundance and the country seemed to be a hunter's paradise; besides, the river was almost alive with eels and other fish, and the feathered tribes were at hand inviting the steady aim of the sportsmen. The first camp was made near the mouth of Beaver Slough. The next morning they tarried late, waiting for the tide to flood. Soon after passing the mouth of Beaver Slough a canoe was seen to shoot out from that stream, and it was soon followed by other like crafts, all containing four or five Indians, armed with their bows and arrows. These weapons were rather inferior; however, they were destructive at short range. The natives depended more on their rude knives that they had made from scraps of iron, picked up along the beach. They also had war clubs that they used in battles. As soon as Bill Woods (one of the party of whites) saw that the Indians had no squaws with them he knew that they were bent on mischief, and they accordingly decided to keep them some distance away, by threatening with their guns. The Indians soon paddled their canoes to the side of each other and seemed to hold a council of war, after which they followed them, gaining fast, and some of them passed them on the opposite side of the stream. The whites had kept at one side hoping the savages would pass along peacefully. One large canoe started for the adventurers, coming up in the rear. Giles was in the middle of the canoe, Woods at the stern and Tom Hall in the bow. Woods told Giles to make them stop; he motioned to them to keep off, and addressing them in jargon, forbade them approaching nearer. This had the effect to hasten them in their endeavors to come nearer to the whites. Woods instructed Giles to aim his double-barreled shotgun at the necks and if they did not stop to get as many as he could. As Giles lifted his gun the savages slackened their speed, dropped back and held another talk with the Indians. They soon came on, and the same maneuver took place again, after which they all passed the adventurers and went on up the stream in advance. The whites took the precaution to keep in the middle of the stream to avoid being ambushed. The Indians were not seen again by the white men until after sunset, when they passed them about one mile below the junction of the Middle and South fork of the Coquille River.
The prospectors continued to the mouth of the middle branch of the stream, two miles thence, and to their great surprise, relief and joy they found old John Paull, a Klickitat chief, camped with about fifty of his men, having come from Willamette Valley for the purpose of hunting deer, elk, bear and other game. They were well armed with guns and revolvers, and the Coast Indians were much afraid of old John and fortunately Giles was well acquainted with the chief, having met him in the Willamette Valley.
The party, who had been kept in mortal fear all day, now felt that they had surely found friends when they were in great need. Chief John, after hearing the story of the adventures of the day, invited the prospectors to camp inside of his guard. He furnished his unexpected company with fresh elk meat and stated that he would protect them as long as he remained in the country, which would be two weeks or more, as he expected to load every animal he had, 100 or more, with dried meat before he returned to his own hunting ground. Two of the savages visited old John that evening and informed him that they intended to have murdered the prospectors that night as they did not know that the Klickitats were around. The chief advised them to go back to Coos Bay and not to molest the whites, for he would kill any Indian who should murder white men, that he was a friend to them and would protect them.
It is worthy of note here that this interview took place two miles south of Myrtle Point at the Hoffman farm, and it will be seen in another chapter that quite a skirmish took place at this point between the U.S. dragoons and the natives a short time later. When the white men retired that night their new-found friends showed them where to make their beds.
They retired, leaving their guns sitting by trees, but when the old chief made his rounds at tattoo he placed their guns by their sides under the blankets, remarking that they must not be careless though they felt safe, for their enemies might slip into camp, steal their guns and massacre them.
The next morning the men felt much refreshed by their rest, after their nerves had been strung to such an exciting tension the previous day. After a good breakfast they began to speculate upon starting into the wilderness, as this was the head of navigation. Mr. Giles admits that they felt some fears that their enemies would follow them. Chief John had a daughter with him who was dressed in calico. The prospectors had not seen that much civilization for a long time, and they were loath to depart hastily. Of course she received continuous attention from their white visitors. The party purchased a young horse and pack saddle from their benefactor, packed it with blankets and provisions and under an escort of five warriors the party proceeded on their way and were cautioned against carelessness. The Klickitats went after elk across the prairie and Giles and party turned their course toward the mines. These men ever afterwards declared that Chief John had saved them from a cruel fate at the hands of the Coos Bay Indians, as those who had pursued them proved to be of that tribe. The next night they camped at the edge of the prairie but used every precaution to avoid surprise and resist attack. The wolves were howling and bear signs were plentiful but the party were not molested. They crawled into thick brush and slept on the ground that night, one of the party guarding at a time. The next day they arrived at the mines on Johnson Creek and found several miners camped, but few of them had taken claims. After sending their horse back to pasture a few miles Giles' party commenced prospecting, but some men offered Giles three dollars a day to work and as his finances were low, he only having nine dollars, he accepted the proposition. He found a man by the name of Hawkins whom he had known at Randolph sick and in distress and he raised a subscription for him, donating the nine dollars. Sixty dollars was the result of the contributions and he was sent to Port Orford. He recovered and Giles met him several years after when he needed help, but Hawkins did not respond. Giles loaned his horse to a man to go to Port Orford because he had been crippled but the man took him on to Gold Beach. That autumn Giles and company quit the Johnson diggings and went to Port Orford over a rough mountain trail. As they arrived Giles found that the horse was farther on and that Capt. Tichenor was about to sail down to Gold Beach with a small schooner and Giles took passage. There was a Frenchman, his wife and twelve-year-old daughter on board. They could not speak English. The man had a machine he had invented to save fine gold and had one on board. There were three or four other men on board besides the captain, besides heavy freight for the miners at Gold Beach. In the afternoon after they had set sail the wind raised and a heavy sea began to roll. Capt. Tichenor fastened the door or hatch of the little cabin which contained the French lady and her daughter. The other passengers stopped on deck and holding on to anything that they could cling to for safety, as the waves were sweeping the decks at a fearful rate. They soon got abreast of the mouth of Rogue River, and as tides were out the Captain concluded to beach his vessel, as the tides would not permit him to enter the river until after dark and he knew his frail bark could not stem the waves until that time. Capt. Tichenor advised his men to tie themselves fast if they were afraid they could not hold on, as they would get a terrible drenching. All being ready, the schooner was headed for the beach a little north of the mouth of Rogue River; all felt an uneasy solicitude that showed in each countenance, the French gentleman being the worst no doubt on account of his wife and child. After the vessel passed successfully over some of the breakers which seemed to cover her completely she struck the beach with terrible force and those on board supposed she was done for, but the next wave lifted and carried her well upon the beach, dropping her again on the sand with a heavy thud, the spray flying over the mast heads. This operation of the waves was repeated until the craft was well upon the beach. After stopping the Captain, Giles and others opened the cabin latch to see how the inmates were enjoying the voyage. The French lady lay on the floor in a dead faint and the little girl was crying as though her heart would break. Capt. Tichenor was a strong man, and he gathered the lady up in his arms and carried her to the bow of the craft, while Giles led the little girl. The lady and child were then carried on shore by the sailors. The captain ordered the men to gather driftwood and build a fire, as there was no house within two miles. As soon as the fire was well started they were surrounded with at least one hundred Indians. They were indeed a hard-looking specimen of humanity, entirely nude, and the squaws but little better clothed as their costumes consisted of a small piece of braided sea grass suspended to their waists. The Captain had bathed the French lady's face with brandy and she finally opened her eyes and of course beheld the large fire and those resembling demons standing around, and Giles states that he has often thought that the woman must have concluded that she had brought up in the infernal regions. The little girl was very timid and clung to her mother with childlike fidelity. After an hour or so the party started for the mining camp two miles away. The lady being weak, it took some time. The village was composed of huts supported with posts in the ground to which shakes were nailed, the same answering for the roofs. However, this rude shelter was highly appreciated by those who were nearly chilled through in consequence of the wreck. The fireplaces were built of mud but answered the purpose and the crowd were soon made comfortable. Mr. Giles soon found his horse and started back to Port Orford. On his way he was washed out to sea on horseback but the faithful animal by almost super-horse strength succeeded in taking his rider through in safety. On this journey an Indian was met in a lonely trail and exhibited signs of evil intent. The Indian strung his bow and Giles drew his revolver, each eying the other until they passed and of course the young man urged his horse at full speed until at last he rode safely into Port Orford and afterwards went into Douglas County and wintered with relatives. The next year, 1855, the Indian war of Southern Oregon breaking out, Giles enlisted and was in nearly every principal battle of that struggle and through exposure he lost his health so that he has been a sufferer ever since. In 1897 the U.S. Congress passed a special act allowing a pension to Mr. Giles for his service. The generous treatment was brought about from the testimony of Col. Martin, who stated under oath that Mr. Giles had performed faithful and valiant service for the people and to his government.
Orvil Dodge, Pioneer History of Coos and Curry Counties, Salem, 1898, pages 291-306
S. B. Cathcart, S. H. Hazard, Judge Lowe, Daniel Giles and Mrs. Fred Schroeder were appointed as a committee to confer with an assist historian Dodge in closing up the business of the publication of the pioneer history in hand.
"The Pioneers' Reunion," Coquille City Herald, August 23, 1898, page 2
The late Mrs. Julia A. Buell, whose death at Looking Glass, Nov. 11th, is noted on the 4th page of the Herald today in an excerpt from the Roseburg Plaindealer, was a sister of our county fellow citizen Daniel Giles, whose company of immigrants reached the Willamette Valley by ox teams in 1852.
"Local Items," Coquille City Herald, November 22, 1898, page 3
Daniel Giles, of the brick and tile manufacturing firm of Giles & Son, Myrtle, Point, was in this place last Friday, and extended his trip on business to Bandon. While here, he appointed W. H. Mansell, at Messer's stable, to act as agent for the brick, and Mr. M. will take orders and keep on hand an ordinary supply for small demands. Giles & Son were delayed this season, but are now catching up. They have a kiln of 150,000 brick now burning, and will have another immediately following. They have on hand also a kiln of tile, 7, 6 and 4 inch, subject to orders.
"Local Items," Coquille City Herald, August 15, 1899, page 3
"When I first came to the Coos country in 1853," said Daniel Giles, pointing to the sand hills, "the mouth of the Coquille River was over there, a half a mile north of where it is now. This cost country undergoes constant change. The prevailing winds are from the north, and they drive the sand before them. The north side of the river was filled with sand, and the current was driven against the south shore. This process brought the mought down against this bluff. It will remain here."
And now Mr. Giles made a prediction which will interest miners: "It was this changing of the face of the country and the course of the streams that caused the placer workers to lose the pay streak at Whisky Run. But it will be found again by boring or other prospecting, and somebody will make a fortune."
Whisky Run was in sight of the encampment several miles to the north. At its mouth, in the spring of 1853, rich beach diggings were struck. Daniel Giles was one of the argonauts who was attracted by this golden fleece. The camp which grew into existence as a result of this discovery was called Randolph, and at one time it enumerated nearly 5000 souls.
A squaw man by the name of Hinch discovered the old beach deposits of gold while he was in hiding because of the murder of an Indian woman who had assaulted his consort. Giles believes that Hinch took out as much as $50,000 in dust.
In May 1854, "Coarse Gold" Johnson and several companions left the Randolph mies and started overland for the Rogue River country. While fording a small creek putting into the south fork of the Coquille River, Johnson discovered gold in the sand. The party followed up the auriferous indications and discovered a rich placer deposit. The creek was called Johnson Creek, from the name of its discoverer. Daniel Giles was one of the first to take advantage of the discovery. He made quite a stake. From time to time large sums have been taken from this mineral belt, and some mining has been done ever since. The mining industry here has just recently taken the permanent form of quartz working. Mr. Giles, who has watched its progress from the first discovery on Johnson Creek, believes that the richest mines are yet to be found.
"Early Times in Coos," Morning Oregonian, Portland, August 22, 1900, page 4
Of the four sons and three daughters born to his parents Daniel Giles was the youngest, and by the death of his father when about two years old, he was deprived of many of the advantages which might otherwise have been his. In 1838 his mother removed with her family to Fairfield County, Ohio, and a few years later was again married. Until he was eight years old Daniel Giles remained at home but was then compelled to seek his own livelihood. For two years he worked for his board and clothes, after which he secured a place which gave him a little money, with which he attended school for three months. With the energy and perseverance characteristic of the pioneer lad he continued to work at whatever his hands found to do, not only caring for himself but helping his mother as well, until the spring of 1851, when he went to Davis County, Iowa, from which state he set out in the following year to become a pioneer of the Northwest. This trip is one of the most memorable events in the life of Mr. Giles, for though full of hardships and danger it was also enjoyable, for he traveled in a large train and had many exciting and interesting adventures while en route. Although but sixteen years old he had entered the employ of Leonard Buell for the six-month journey, but on account of cholera breaking out in the train he and his brother-in-law, the latter with his family being also a member of the company, as well as several other families, withdrew from the train and completed the journey alone. When within twenty-two miles of Foster on the old Barlow route they were compelled to send Daniel on afoot to get provisions and return with them and meet the family the following day, which duty he performed courageously. Having been compelled to leave many articles, among them the family Bible, back in the Cascade Mountains on account of their team being exhausted, after securing a fresh team they traveled again the twenty-five miles to secure the abandoned articles.
On his arrival in Oregon Mr. Giles located with his brother-in-law on French Prairie, his first work in Oregon being the familiar farm labor which he gave up later to work on a boat called the Oregon, just completed that year. In the spring of 1853 he set out for the mines at Jacksonville in the Rogue River Valley, and at Corvallis, then known by the name of Marysville, he fell in with a pack train with which he worked his way to the south, being employed by Thomas Holdman and his father, these two men having a general merchandise store at Jacksonville. They had quite a large train of mules and Mr. Giles learned well the work of packing, which was so remunerative an employment in the early days. Upon his arrival in Jacksonville he decided to continue working for Mr. Holdman, as he knew nothing about mining, and shortly afterward went with his employer to Crescent City, Cal., for a supply of goods to establish another store on Applegate River, at a location about seven miles from Jacksonville. This proved an exciting and interesting trip, taken through a beautiful country rich in vegetable, animal and mineral products, but in several different adventures Mr. Giles came near losing his life. The store at Applegate was successfully established and Mr. Giles remained as clerk for some time. He made friends with many of the Indians, who gave him a warning at the time of the uprising in 1853, which he in turn imparted to Mr. Holdman, who, however, did not credit it, and could not be induced to move the store to Jacksonville until the danger was more evident. On the night of the uprising Mr. Holdman became very ill and Mr. Giles set out for Jacksonville in order to obtain a physician, and while on the way was suddenly surrounded by a company of Indians. His life was spared through the intervention of the chief's son, Charley, with whom he had been very friendly, the two having gone hunting together many times in the days of peace. While parleying a company of soldiers appeared and took the Indians prisoners, and Mr. Giles continued on his way to Jacksonville though warned of the danger by the captain of the company, who told him the town was surrounded by Indians. Through pluck and skill he succeeded in his undertaking and reached the town, and though he could not persuade the physician to return with him he secured some medicine and once more set out upon his perilous journey. The return trip was one of extreme danger and tried his courage to the utmost, but it was safely accomplished. A short time afterward Mr. Holdman moved his store to Jacksonville and there sold his pack train to two men, with whom Mr. Giles entered into employment as a packer to go to Scottsburg for a cargo of flour. While on the way he had an exciting experience in search of several of their mules which had wandered from the train, the two men who were sent out becoming separated and lost in the brush and timber, where they were forced to remain throughout the long, dark hours of a cold, rainy night. Morning set them right as to their trail and early in the afternoon they reached the camp. This exposure proved too much for Mr. Giles, for he was attacked with a lameness which prevented his traveling any further, and he was therefore left with a family by the name of Bunton, where he was to remain until his employers came after another load of produce. On his recovery Mr. Giles went to what is now Coos County, and again this trip furnished him with reminiscences for future days. After leaving the employ of the men with whom he had traveled to Empire City Mr. Giles purchased a mining claim near Randolph beach, paying $150. However, he found more profitable employment in whipsawing lumber in that locality, as there was a great demand for lumber. In partnership with the two men who owned the business he purchased several other claims, only one of them, however, bringing them any returns. Later the three men, one of whom was a sailor, built a boat, the intention being to carry supplies to the mouth of the Coquille River. One trip, however, was enough for Mr. Giles, and not caring for a seafaring life he left the boat in June, 1854, and struck out for the mines at the headwaters of the Coquille River, where he remained for some time, meeting with considerable success. On the approach of winter he went north, remaining until 1855 with his brother-in-law and family, who had located on Deer Creek, Douglas County. The following spring he returned to the mines of southern Oregon, but found the Indians so hostile that mining operations were exceedingly dangerous; in fact, the greater part of the population of that locality had enlisted as soldiers in the effort to protect the settlers' homes. Mr. Giles also enlisted as a volunteer, serving in Company A, under Capt. Samuel Gordon, and Company H, under Capt. Edward Sheffield. For special services during that war Mr. Giles is now drawing a pension, his courage and self-sacrificing efforts calling forth the commendation of all who knew him.
In 1855 Mr. Giles purchased a farm of two hundred and twelve acres located on Deer Creek, Douglas County, where he remained until 1866, becoming a power for good in his community. Helpfully interested in local affairs he served from 1859 to 1866 as deputy sheriff of Douglas County, through the influence of the Republican Party, of which he is an adherent, and was also elected in 1861 as county assessor. He likewise served as school director and road supervisor. In 1866 he removed from his location in Douglas County, on account of his health, which had suffered from exposure in the Rogue River Indian War, settling two miles south of Myrtle Point, Coos County, upon a ranch of three hundred and sixty-six acres. Here he remained until February, 1891, when he rented his farm and came into Myrtle Point, where he engaged in the manufacture of brick and tile, his yard occupying eight acres of land. Through his successful conduct of this business Mr. Giles has become one of the prominent men of the town in industrial circles, and as such occupies an influential position in the development of its resources. It was largely through his influence that the fine, modern school building of Myrtle Point was erected, his manufactory furnishing the brick as well as that for many other buildings there. In 1903 Mr. Giles disposed of his large ranch which had been his home for so many years, but he still owns a farm of one hundred acres located on the north fork of the Coquille River.
Mr. Giles has been married twice, the first ceremony being performed October 24, 1861, on South Deer Creek, uniting him with America Agnes Braden, who was born in Platte County, Mo., and crossed the plains in 1852. Her death occurred in Coos County in 1878. She was the mother of six children, all of whom are living: John Henry; Samuel Criswell; Effie May; Susanna Nancy; Julia Ann Rebecca; and Daisy Bell. December 24, 1881, at Myrtle Point, Mr. Giles was united in marriage with Nannie H. Ransom, who was born in Vacaville, Cal., May 28, 1857. Four children were born to them, namely: Daniel William; Earl Ransom, deceased; Claud Harry; and Clark Ransom. In his fraternal relations Mr. Giles is identified with the Masons, being a member of Myrtle Lodge No. 78, A.F.&A.M., and with his wife is a member of the Eastern Star. In his religious convictions he belongs to the reorganized Church of Latter Day Saints.
To sum up in brief: The life of Mr. Giles, though in part like that of many of the early pioneers of Oregon, has been remarkable, more through the personality of the man than the character of the events. Not alone endowed with physical courage, he never lost an opportunity to extend a hand to any whom he found in need, one of his first generous acts being the rescue of a lad from drowning while on the trip across the plains. In his intercourse with the Indians of Oregon he ever displayed a kindly spirit, and their recognition of his gentleness was a remembrance in his hour of danger. Steadfast in his friendships, upright in all his business dealings, generous in self-sacrifice toward the advancement of all that pertained to the general good such a character is that of Daniel Giles, and his name is justly enrolled among those who counted not the cost of the effort to lay the foundation for a western commonwealth.
Portrait and Biographical Record of Western Oregon, 1904, page 430
COOS COUNTY PIONEER, 81
Daniel Giles, Who Crossed Plains in 1852, Dies at Myrtle Point.
MARSHFIELD, Or., July 20.--(Special.)--Daniel Giles, whose death occurred recently at his home at Myrtle Point, is said to have been the oldest Coos County pioneer at the time of his death. Mr. Giles crossed the plains in 1852 and settled in Coos County in 1853, having thereby been a resident here for 65 years.
He was 81 years of age and left a widow and nine living children: S. C., of Arizona; J. H., of Marshfield; Mrs. Daisy Short, of Myrtle Point; Mrs. H. H. Harris and Claude Giles, of Myrtle Point; Mrs. R. H. Dickey, Arizona; Mrs. Julia Stewart, Powers; Daniel Giles, Powers, and Lieutenant Clark R. Giles, with the American Expeditionary Forces in France.
In early days Daniel Giles and T. M. Herman were partners and brought into the county the first mowing machine and the first thresher. He also served in the Indian war during 1855 and 1856.
Sunday Oregonian, Portland, July 21, 1918, page 15
As Told To
FAIRY DAVIS KELEMEN
"I can hardly be called a pioneer," said Mrs. Daniel Giles (née Nanny Ransom), who was born in 1857 at Vacaville, Calif., the daughter of Dr. William Clark Ransom.
The Ransoms came to Oregon about 1859, Dr. Ransom taking up a claim near Table Rock in the vicinity of Medford the year of the great flood . Mrs. Giles recalls that their house was built with a lean-to kitchen between two great oaks. During a terrific storm, one oak split and fell on the cabin, knocking down the chimney, smashing the kitchen and breaking the stove and dishes, but none of the family was hurt. However, they had to move into the new granary.
Soon after, they moved to a farm near Jacksonville, where Mrs. Ransom passed on. They lived awhile near Crescent City, Calif., then Mrs. Giles went to Douglas County, where she made her home with her elder sister Cordelia (Mrs. William Rackleff). The Rackleffs soon moved to Coos County, bringing Mrs. Giles with them.
They brought their goods and oxen on a scow which was towed by steamer down the Umpqua from Scottsburg to Gardiner, then they drove their ox team down the beach to a point opposite Empire. Hank Barrett gave them permission to camp in his warehouse. His Indian wife had just died, and the Indians were howling and mourning for her. Mr. Rackleff procured a skiff and crossed to Empire for supplies, then hired Barrett and his half-breed son to take them to Isthmus Slough to a place kept by Judge Hall. They arrived cold and hungry. Here Mrs. Giles ate her first elk steak, which was delicious, she says.
Next day they were joined by Valentine Gant and met by Capt. Rackleff's brother, who helped them across the isthmus. Their goods were dragged on a sled by a mule; the family walked and carried the baby and a small boy. They went down Beaver Slough in small boats. The Mountain Buck, a huge canoe made of a large log, awaited them at the mouth of Beaver Slough. It belonged to Capt. Rackleff's father and was used by the settlers to transport their goods.
The Rackleffs brought their goods to the forks of the Coquille River, where Capt. Rackleff's father, Capt. Wm. R. Rackleff, owned a store on what is now the Butler place. Coquille consisted of one shack at that time. Afterward Capt. Wm. Rackleff took over the store.
Myrtle Point was as yet only the Lehnherr farm. There were two or three old empty houses on the place. One was called the Lockhart house.
Mrs. Giles walked from the forks of the river to school on the Gant place south of town. A Mr. Wilkins was the teacher. The first day Mrs. Giles was a little late. She stood looking at the wooden latch, with the buckskin string, dreading to lift it and enter a strange school, but she gathered up her courage and opened the door. Everyone turned to look at her as she entered. However, she soon became acquainted with Fanny Lehnherr (née Dixon), who was jolly and full of life.
Mr. Cline taught a later term, and among the students Mrs. Giles recalls were Charley and Bill Phillips, Sam and Belle Rowley, a Cribbins family and Russell Dement. The teacher allowed Mr. Dement to take his books outdoors and study where he pleased, as he was a very studious boy and the teacher knew that he could trust him.
The Stemmermans lived at what was later called Reed's Ferry.
The lowlands were then covered with dense forests of the most beautiful maple and myrtle, with only trails through them.
One of the first roads built went from the forks of the river up to Reed's Ferry.
Only one or two farmers had wagons on their places. Goods were brought in by boat or on the backs of pack animals. Practically all traffic was by skiff and canoe on the river.
When they lived at the forks, Mrs. Giles' job was to ferry people across the north fork of the river. The ferry was a scow on a cable. Those crossing usually helped to pull it across.
Canoeing was the chief amusement of Fanny Lehnherr Dixon and Mrs. Giles, and they both became very skillful at it.
Mrs. Giles' brother-in-law, Capt. Rackleff, built the first steamer on the Coquille. Afterwards they moved to Grooby's mill a little above Parkersburg, where he built the Cordelia, which could be run by steam or sail.
Two schooners came into the river, but could not get out as there was no tug, so Mr. Rackleff built this boat and towed them out.
Later, Mrs. Rackleff and Mrs. Giles went to San Francisco with Capt. Rackleff.
It was a dangerous trip; the channel was narrow, and there was a large rock in it, called the Rackleff Rock. Many of their neighbors went to the bluff to watch them cross the bar. As it was very rough, Mr. Rackleff made Mrs. Rackleff and Mrs. Giles go below lest they be washed overboard. He had built a small room for them off the main one. They were the first white women to cross the Coquille bar.
They stayed a few days in San Francisco while Mr. Rackleff purchased supplies for the store. The girls remained on the boat most of the time.
"San Francisco looked like an immense city to me," Mrs. Giles said. "The harbor seemed to be full of sailboats--schooners, freighters, square-riggers--a sea of masts. The streets were paved with cobblestones; street cars were drawn by horses."
This was Mrs. Giles' first trip to San Francisco, but afterward she attended school there for several months. On the return trip, south of San Francisco, they were 11 days beating around in the storm before they reached home. Mr. Rackleff used to say that small boats were safer than steamers because waves did not affect them so much.
While the boat was at the wharf of Pershbaker's store at Randolph, there was an earthquake sufficiently severe to bump the boat against the wharf and rattle the dishes in the store. Everyone was excited except Mrs. Giles, who calmly slept through it all.
Although Mrs. Giles felt that pioneering days were over, some people still used bottles with candle wicking drawn through a piece of tin in the cork for ordinary lights. More candles were used than kerosene; many made their own. "Grandma" Rackleff always used two "store" candles on her table and was considered extravagant by her neighbors.
The Giles were married Dec. 24, 1881, at Myrtle Point and made their home on Mr. Giles' farm, now the Bert Davenport place, on Catching Creek. Mr. Giles built a brickyard on his ranch, first using a horsepower pug mill. John Barklow taught him to make bricks.
In 1890, the Giles rented their ranch and moved to Myrtle Point, where Mr. Giles became manager of the Myrtle Point hotel, which he conducted for nearly a year. He then sold his lease on the hotel and moved his family back to the ranch, where they lived for about two years before they returned to Myrtle Point, where Mr. Giles bought a house and half the block where Henry Hermann's blacksmith shop now stands, and also purchased the place below town, now owned by Cal Gant, where he established a brickyard with modern machinery. He built a shop for Mrs. Giles, in the block where Hulling, Lundy and Sons now stands, in which she conducted a millinery business for many years. Hats had previously been carried by the general merchandise stores. Mrs. Giles purchased Amy Lehnherr Miller's millinery stock and added to it.
"Hats went through many stages while I was in the shop,' Mrs. Giles said. "Soon after I went into the store hats were small with little room for trimming; they sat on top of the head and were held there by long hat pins. Later, they went to the other extreme and were very large crowns. Frames were made of wire or buckram, covered with shirred chiffon or other materials and loaded with fruits, flowers or plumes. Milliners often worked hours making one frame. It was a great relief when they were able to purchase them ready made.
Bustles were in style then. Dresses were long, nearly touching the ground. Some women handled their skirts gracefully, but many did not. Skirts were wide, lined and interlined with binding and a dust ruffle around the bottom. Basques, elaborately stitched, with huge, puffed sleeves and high collars held up by strips of whalebone; high shoes; petticoats, padded and quilted, and wood or cotton hose were in vogue. Styles came from the "outside" via visitors, and happy indeed was one young girl who found her sleeves "every bit as big" as those of a stranger from Roseburg by whom she sat at a celebration.
After about 20 years, the Giles sold their town property to Russell Dement and moved to the acreage where they had conducted the brickyard, the machinery of which they had sold and moved away.
The Giles house was always full of guests; no one was ever turned away hungry, as Mr. Giles said he knew what it was to be hungry.
They sold their farm to Cal Gant and bought a house in town on Fourth Street, where they lived until 1921, when Mr. Giles passed on.
Mrs. Giles spent several years in California with her son Clark, and four winters in Arizona with her stepdaughter, Mrs. N. G. W. Perkins, but is now living again in her home on Fourth Street in Myrtle Point.
Myrtle Point Herald, October 17, 1935, page 2
Last revised October 28, 2018