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The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised


Gold Hill

The mine, that is.


Gold Quartz.
    On Saturday last the excitement upon this subject had reached its pitch. On the day previous a gentleman from Yreka had negotiated for one-fifth interest in the Ish claim, for which he was to pay $5000 cash. On Saturday morning this gentleman left for Yreka to return on Monday evening with the money. Saturday afternoon, however, Jimmy Hayes, the discoverer of the quartz, and one-fifth owner of the claim, was induced to dispose of his interest for $1000. Messrs. Williams, Taylor, McLaughlin and Klippel were the purchasers. Possession was given immediately, and the claim has since been only partially worked, we are informed, with quite indifferent success. Indeed grave doubts are entertained by some whether the ledge has yet been discovered. At all events, no uniform continuous vein has been found. During the whole work the hill has been frequented by parties all in eager search for gold-bearing quartz rock, large quantities of which, fragmentary and scattered, have been carried away. We are personally cognizant of the yield obtained from several lots of this rock, which have been crushed here in town, and will mention the following: Messrs. Lowden (Rynus) & Brown crushed 12½ pounds of rock which yielded $196; Granville Sears, from 12 pounds of quartz got $158. Besides this, he had sold for fifty cents about two pounds of the rock, in which no gold was visible, to a lad in town who got from it $7.50. Several other lots of rock averaged anywhere from eight to fifteen dollars to the pound of rock. The lowest yield we know of is forty cents from two pounds two ounces, but undoubtedly a good deal of the rock pays nothing, or not enough to justify crushing it. We hear that $1000 was taken from a single rock about the size of a man's head, but in our opinion the report wants confirmation.
    Since Tuesday the excitement has greatly subsided, however, and were it not for the scarcity of water, which prevents the placer miners from working their claims, there would probably be but few persons prospecting, or collecting fragment rocks at Gold Hill. Quite a number continue to visit the locality in mere curiosity, and this tends to keep up a rather lively appearance about there. Some, we hear, have been fortunate enough to find very promising diggings near there--among them Col. John E. Ross, who has gathered several pieces of coarse gold very near the surface earth. A trading post has been erected at the foot of the hill by Morg. Davis, and Ryan, of the Eureka Hotel, has fixed up very comfortable quarters for those who care to eat or lodge in that vicinity.
    Hick's vein continues to yield richly as ever, or in fact more bountifully, to its proprietors. On Saturday morning last, in about two hours, the brothers got out nearly $1000. Two pieces, each of the size of a hen's egg, were exhibited to us, surpassing anything we have yet seen. The gold was positively protruding in bits as large as a pea, and again woven through it in thick veins like tangled coarse silk. The proof of the pudding is in the eating, and we want no better proof of the richness of Hicks' claim than the weekly products they derive from it.
    Maury & Taylor completed their arrastra on Thursday, and we hope to hear good news from their claim next week. It is next above Hicks' in the same vein, and although in no place has their rock shown so astonishingly auriferous, each one of the repeated trials of the quartz has betokened it to be considerably beyond the average yield of the best veins in California.
Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, January 28, 1860, page 2


    MORE QUARTZ.--Last night, Mr. George Ish came to town with several pieces of quartz gold rock of extraordinary richness taken from a lead discovered somewhere in the neighborhood of Big Bar, yesterday. The rock is white and very hard, with fine veins of gold coursing all through it. He says the pieces exhibited are fair samples, and that the lead is quite extensive. If so, he will surely soon arrive at fortune.--Jacksonville Sentinel.
Oregon Statesman,
Salem, January 31, 1860, page 1


    I have just returned from a prospecting tour on "Gold Hill" and vicinity. All the seemingly fabulous tales that have been told and published with reference to the richness of the gold quartz discoveries in that region are more than true. I saw myself not less than one hundred thousand dollars' worth of the gold-bearing rock lying in the corner of one cabin, which had been taken from the ledge in the last three days. Until a day or two past, the opinion has in part prevailed that the very extreme richness was confined to the surface, or detached portions of the rock that had been thrown up, probably from an immense distance below the surface, but they have now struck what appears to be the main ledge, and find it even more profuse in the precious metal than the detached portions had been. It defies description, and is probably very far ahead of anything ever before discovered. The estimate is that it will yield at least fifty thousand dollars to the ton. The lead where they have struck it is about twenty-two inches in width, that will pay at the above ratio. They have only just begun it; of course it is impossible to say how far it extends downward, as they have not gone farther than two or three feet down, as yet.
"Letter from Jackson County," dated February 5, 1860, Oregon Statesman, Salem, February 21, 1860, page 1



LETTER FROM SOUTHERN OREGON.
----
The New Gold Discoveries.

Jacksonville, Southern Oregon,
    February 14, 1860.
    Our usually quiet community was recently thrown on its beam ends by a tremendous quartz furore; mortars and pestles discourse discordant, but yet sweet, financial considered, music from early morn till 10 o'clock at night, prospecting quartz and washing specimens.
The Quartz Era.
    Some five weeks ago, Mr. Charles Hicks, while prospecting at the head of Posey Gulch, on the south fork of Jackson Creek, some two miles back of town, found a quartz lead which prospected very well, and, by the way, the fact may be noted that then and there dawned the quartz era in Southern Oregon.
    Mr. Hicks' prospect induced him to pitch into the lead with commendable energy, followed by magical results, thick and fraught to the last degree with the lever that rotates and agitates the human family, niggers included--glittering gold. Hicks brought down some specimens, and exhibited them to the boys, when the excitement became somewhat intense, and the lead being nearby, the entire town turned out to have a sight. Charles did the honors, much to the credit of the Cherokee Nation, of which he is a member, from one of the first families. It is estimated that he paid out some $500 worth of specimens, on application to his bank of quartz. One of Charley's friends wished to take the pick and dig some in the vein; C. told him to go in; he did so, and at every stroke of the pick he would unearth and increase the metallic currency of the world at the modest rate of $500; when, much excited, he called to the crowd, "No use for the mint, boys; here it is with the eagles already on 'em."
    Hicks has already hammered out several thousand dollars with a mortar and pestle. His brother, a partner in the claim, sold out his interest for $5,00 a few days after finding it. The company is now Hicks & Taylor, who own 100 yards on the lead. They have put up an arrastra, and so soon as they get a face on the lead will test its richness and extent before sending for machinery. The effect of this discovery has been electric. Every quartz lead on Hicks' Mountain, whether positive or negative, was staked off. Hicks' lead was traced out some distance, and prospected well. Ten miles south of here, a lead has been found that will pay fifteen cents to the pound; another, twenty miles south, at Williamsburg, that will pay over twenty cents; also, one at the Willow Springs, six miles north of town, said to prospect thirty cents; and still another, at Blackwell Diggings, two miles further north, called the Moran lead, which is very rich, prospecting in the flat where it crops out one dollar to the pound; the two latter claims are supposed to be on the Hicks lead.
More Quartz.
    One discovery leads to another; developments thicken around us. Quartz has seized the entire public, no time to study politics, or even to read the President's Message. In passing notes, and on reflection, since the Hicks discovery, several men have recollected picking up pieces of quartz with gold in them plain to be seen while riding over the hills and mountains. Among the number was Jimmy Hay, who, while hunting cattle some time ago, on a mountain two miles below old Fort Lane, on Rogue River, dismounted from his mule to fix his saddle, when, by the merest chance he picked up a piece of quartz, mounted his mule and started, whistling, down the mountain after the cattle; on looking at the piece of quartz he found, to his surprise, it contained gold, visible to the eye, almost in the dark. But, strange to say, he went on, never thinking, perhaps, of a quartz lead. But since the Hicks discovery, Mr. Hay, Mr. George Ish and the Emigrant started out to find the place; after hunting some three days, they found the gulch on the east side of the mountain next [to] the river, with fragments of quartz scattered along on the surface, which they followed up the mountain, occasionally picking up a specimen, until they arrived nearly at the summit, where the lead crops out; here they dug up a few quartz boulders, broke them up, and then sat down amazed, ready to believe the hard yarns of Munchausen, or the fictions of Arabia. That evening, Jan. 13th, Jimmy Hay and Mr. Geo. Ish came to town, informed two of their discovery, then went to the Clerk's office and recorded five claims--three hundred yards on the lead; they then reported to the public their discovery of a mountain of gold, with a little quartz mixed with it, and proceeded to show specimens to substantiate the report.
On the Rush.
    In the autumn of 1848, being on the wing for St. Louis, when, as will happen in the voyage of life, we had to wait for the boat--not the wagon--at Hannibal, a pork and tobacco depot on the Mississippi River, in a corner of the state of Missouri. Now, most everybody knows how nervous people suffer while waiting for a boat--we suffered ourselves to make a tour of the Whole Hog Exchange while puffing rolled samples from the tobacco marts, merely to kill time; we soon voted the boat slow; we adjourned to the hotel for a consultation with spirits concerning the health of the boat's boilers, etc. We found a crowd--heard a buzz--somebody said gold, and we, of course, being mortal, became interested. Then we heard California--rich gold mines, and so on--and became excited--we concluded to mix with that crowd; saw some specimens; forgot the boat, she was too slow. We have been mixing with similar crowds ever since. That evening we commenced rushing westward for California--rushed to Gold Lake, Gold Bluff, Gold Beach, Australia, Peru, Colville, Fraser River, etc., but the most simultaneous get-up-and-bundle-out-to-diggings we ever saw was the rush to Gold Hill the other day. At midnight every stable in town was empty; everything that had wheels had a full freight. Saturday morning, Jan. 14th, Gold Hill looked like an overgrown camp meeting; horses were hitched to trees all round the glittering garden of gold. Like turkeys picking up corn did they pick up rocks loaded with gold.
Gold Hill
    is a very respectable mountain, sitting off by itself to the northwards of the Blackwell Hills, to which it is related by a low divide; Rogue River, from the east, strikes this divide, makes a bend to the north of Gold Hill, washing three-fourths of its base. The Blackwell Hills are an isolated bunch, left by accident, in the middle of Rogue River Valley. The lead, running nearly north and south, splits these hills, striking the golden peak about three hundred yards east of the summit; here it crops out, and in the course of ages debris quartz rolled down the hill in a gulch at [a] right angle from the ledge; here the crowd picked up about $5,000 worth of specimens, the result of the first day's work. Next day, Sunday, the census of the county could have been taken without much trouble, as everybody was at Gold Hill; the result was about the same; the surface dirt was dug up somewhat like a potato patch just harvested, and boulders of quartz found containing from $10 to $142 each of virgin ore. The crowd have been working on the public potato patch ever since, but specimens are growing scarce.
But the Lead
    from the way it opens is said to be the richest one in the world. Where it cropped out, the company have picked up about three tons of quartz that will average $10 per pound. Two of the discoverers, Jimmy Hay, and the Emigrants sold out within a week after finding it. Jimmy got $4,000 for his interest; the other got $5,000. This company now consists of Mr. Geo. Ish, Thomas Cavanaugh, Jack Long, John Ross & Co., one-fifth, and McLaughlin, Williams & Co. one -fifth. The company have organized, electing Mr. John Ross president, Mr. Geo. Ish secretary and Messrs. Maury & Davis, merchants of this place, treasurers. They have put up an arrastra, and next week will be grinding out gold. Quite a number of claims have been recorded on this, the Ish Lead, but it will take some time to uncover and trace them out.
    There is now no doubt of the immense value of our quartz resources, but it will take a year or two to develop them. A gentleman explains the richness of the Ish lead thus: That this country is out of the range of volcanoes, earthquakes, lightning, subterranean fires &c., and hence not burned up so much as California and other portions of the world; so that the gold in the Ish Lead quartz had been permitted to grow free from heat ever since the world was made. He may be right. From the discoveries being made from day to day, there will probably be a heavy demand on your city for quartz machinery this summer.
Washington Monument.
    Mr. R. F. Maury, of this place, has forwarded to your city lapidaries a quartz specimen from the Ish Lead, Gold Hill, to be cut and lettered with the words: "Jackson Company [sic], Oregon," on the face of it, which is to be sent to the Washington Monument Association. [If created at all, the stone was apparently never installed in the monument.]
Shares
    of one-fifth in the Ish Company could not be bought for $20,000 today, as they have no disposition to sell so long as they have $4,000 or $5,000 in sight. They have sunk down on the ledge some five feet, and it grows richer. How long it will continue to pay thus nobody knows, but it is to be hoped they may take out millions.
Rain.
    Up to this time we have been unfortunate enough to be blessed with the most delightful summer weather; the creeks are nearly dry; mining, per consequence, is a dry business. We have no ditches in the country. Under this pressure the discovery of rich quartz was an opportune windfall--a godsend.
New Diggings.
    Last Sunday new diggings were discovered on Wagner Creek, fifteen miles southeast of this place, causing quite an excitement. Seven miles of the creek is now staked off. It is to be hoped they prove good.
    The best diggings that have been found lately, with plenty of water to work them, are on the upper branches of Applegate River, near the Siskiyou Mountain, thirty miles south of here. Twenty-five miles of one branch will pay good wages. Some of the claims are now averaging $50 per day. There is a rush commencing up that way.
The Mails.
    We have none up this way at present, as our mail contractor dried up for want of funds. Other parties are, however, about to take the route who have bottom enough to stand the press.
    If Congress will not organize and pass the appropriation bills, we can form a little government of our own here on the Pacific, do our own legislation, manufacture our own goods, and dig up our own gold. The great American Republic has got negro wool in its eyes, and is fast going the same road that old Rome traveled, which led to the seaport called Decay, but any port in a storm. We hope, however, she will keep her wings spread on the sea of Progress, and anchor in the harbor of Eternal Empire, and send along her mails.
    May she long flutter.
ON THE WING.               
Daily Alta California, San Francisco, February 26, 1860, page 1


    THE JACKSONVILLE QUARTZ MINES.--Mr. Strickland, Shasta agent of the California Stage Company, informs us that the company of Ish & Co. recently crushed 1600 pounds, and obtained therefrom 477 ounces and seven dollars--worth over $8,000. The gold was assayed by Greathouse & Co., of Yreka. We were shown four bars of this gold by Mr. S., which were each worth over two thousand dollars.
Shasta Courier, Shasta City, California, March 10, 1860, page 3


    It appears that the richest quartz leads found are near Jacksonville, Oregon. A company at that place have produced from 350 pounds of quartz 440 ounces of gold, worth $16 per ounce, or $7,000! and that they crushed it all in one day with a single arrastra, driven by a mule; that two men took out from the lode in one day quartz valued at $50,000; that it pays $10 to the pound, etc. That beats Washoe.
Shasta Courier, Shasta City, California, March 10, 1860, page 4


The Ish Claim.
    This quartz claim, located near Jacksonville, Oregon, is perhaps the richest ever discovered on the coast. The Sacramento Standard is informed that--
    This remarkable claim was discovered in January last by an hostler in the employ of the California Stage Company, near Jacksonville. He literally stumbled upon it, while hunting for some horses belonging to his employers. Its location is not more than a quarter of a mile from the trail via Yreka to Fraser River, and thousands who went upon a fruitless voyage to that frozen region passed within that short distance of this undiscovered wealth. The discoverer had the claim recorded in the name of himself and another, and the Ish company, consisting of five men, purchased it for $4,000. The first day's work of an arrastra brought about $6,000, and that of the second day between $7,000 and $8,000. The yield has been so enormous thus far that the owners believe the quartz already exposed by them to contain half a million of gold. Whether this unparalleled richness is to continue to any extent, or is only the result of a single deposit, time, of course, alone can show.
    There is a circumstance connected with the discovery of the claim which is interesting. The hostler found exceedingly rich quartz above the ground. He would not, perhaps, have paid any attention to it if gold had not been plainly visible in it. Near the place, and it was not a place favorable for camping, was a tree, bearing upon it some initials, and the figures 1854. It is more than probable that some adventurer had found the treasure and had marked the lead by right of discovery. The Indians, who were at that time exceedingly hostile in that locality, must have made him one of their victims, for in no other way can we explain the fact that he never made a motion toward availing himself of the unbounded wealth thus accidentally opened to his gaze.
Shasta Courier, Shasta City, California, March 17, 1860, page 2


THE JACKSON COUNTY QUARTZ.
A correspondent writes:
    "All that you have heard in regard to the discovery and richness of quartz mines in this county is true. You probably remember that there is near the big bar on this side of Rogue River a tall bald mountain. It extends nearly to T'Vault's old place. It is a mountain of quartz. On the very top a vein of gold-bearing quartz has been discovered, of fabulous richness. It has been opened about ten feet, and I do not exaggerate when I say that over $100,000 has been taken out already. Four hands can take out $50,000 worth of rock per day. The lead or vein is circular, and is at present about three feet in diameter. In the center of the vein it is full one-half gold. Believe whatever they may tell you. It is the richest discovery of the age or world. About one mile toward Jacksonville another lead has been discovered, not so large, but very rich. The quartz rock is yellow with gold. There is also another lead on Jackson Creek, called the Hicks lead. It is a small vein of very rich quartz. Hicks takes a common mortar and pestle and gets out from 100 to 150 ounces per day. There is a quartz vein at Sterling that those who have examined say will yield $60 per ton. I understand that it is for sale--price $1000. There will be several quartz crushing machines here next summer. They are using the old-fashioned Mexican arrastras now."
"Domestic Items," Oregon Statesman, Salem, March 20, 1860, page 2


    THE ISH CLAIM.--We learn from a gentleman just from Jacksonville, and who has visited this extraordinarily rich quartz lead, that it still continues to pay fabulous amounts. He is of the opinion that it is of incalculable richness.
Shasta Courier, Shasta City, California, March 24, 1860, page 3


    The Jacksonville Sentinel says that the quartz mines there are yielding an immense amount of gold, but advises adventurers not to make a rush to Southern Oregon.
Weekly Oregonian, Portland, April 14, 1860, page 2


    Every number of the Sentinel contains news of fresh discoveries of auriferous quartz in Southern Oregon. Two boulders from Gold Hill, said to be "extravagantly rich," were taken to San Francisco by Chas. Williams and John McLaughlin, shareholders in the Gold Hill lead.

Oregon Statesman,
Salem, May 1, 1860, page 2


    The extremely rich quartz vein in Jackson County has been worked out; it will no longer pay with the arrastra. The vein will still pay with improved machinery, which is on the way there; until its arrival, work has been suspended.
"Domestic Items," Oregon Statesman, Salem, June 5, 1860, page 2


THE GOLD HILL LEAD.
SOME BITS OF HISTORY GRAPHICALLY TOLD BY A PIONEER.

TO THE EDITOR OF THE OREGONIAN
GOLD HILL, Or., May 19, '85.
    Some historical incidents connected with the once-famous Gold Hill mine, situated about two miles from this station, may not be uninteresting to your readers. One morning about 3 o'clock a.m., in the summer of 1853, Col. Wm. Martin, a pioneer of 1845, accompanied by a man named Barnes, rode to the residence of General Joseph Lane, in the Umpqua Valley, near the then-little village of Roseburg and called out "hallo."
    "What is wanted?" replied the General.
    Said Col. Martin: "The Rogue River Indians have broken out, and are murdering women and children, and we want you, general, to go to the rescue
    In twenty minutes the General was on his horse, along with Col. Martin and Barnes, riding rapidly toward the scene of hostilities. The General commanded every old pioneer whom he met to get their guns and pistols at once. The pioneers needed no persuasion; they had all of them surmounted many privations and dangers; they had good stuff in them, nor would they stand back when the lives of women and children were in jeopardy.
    General Lane was soon in command of a volunteer force, together with a few regulars. Nor was he long in ascertaining the whereabouts of the Indians; he traced them to a little creek, now called Battle Creek, that empties into Evans Creek a few miles below the little town of Woodville. He effected a complete surprise upon the wily Indians. The first intimation the chief (old Sam) had of danger was a murderous fusillade poured into them by Lane's forces. The Indians, with remarkable self-possession, seized their guns and returned the fire. For awhile the battle waxed fierce and the bullets flew thick, but it was evident and apparent to old Sam that Lane's men were getting much the best of the fight, and his heart began to fail him. Armstrong, as sure a man as ever breathed, fell, pierced through his noble heart. Gen. Lane was shot through the arm, from which the blood poured profusely. The old chief soon began to beg for quarter. Lane, however, was not inclined to listen to his gibberish. The volunteers, however, noticing that the General was pale and weak from the loss of blood, urged him to treat with the chief. He finally consented. Old Sam ordered the remainder of his warriors to cease firing. Many of his bravest ones had bitten the dust. The two leaders, Lane and Sam, walked out and seated themselves on a log for a powwow. Sam's daughter, a most beautiful young squaw, went with her father as a witness of her father's sincerity. A settlement was soon had, and the two chieftains agreed to meet at Table Rock at a given date to ratify the proceedings or agreement made that day. It was further stipulated that General Lane was to bring along a certain number of friends unarmed, and old Sam was to leave an equal number of warriors unarmed to bear witness to the ratification.
    General Lane selected Colonel Nesmith, Judge Deady, Colonel Martin, Captain Mosher, Bob Metcalfe and a few others. Nesmith did not approve of the plan, and he accordingly said to the General that he did not propose to go unarmed to the place selected, for the Indians were treacherous, and he thought it was folly to place themselves at the mercy of the savages. "Very well," said the General, "if you are afraid to go you can remain in camp." This nettled Nesmith, who replied, "General Lane, I think I have as little fear as you or any man on the earth, and if you put it on that ground I will go."
    When the day arrived Colonel Nesmith and General Lamerick, who was in command of the regulars, held a consultation. Lamerick shared Nesmith's views of the matter. He, too, feared treachery, and accordingly General Lamerick with field glasses went to a commanding mountain overlooking Table Rock, where he could observe the maneuvers of the Indians, who were strung along the ridges a distance of two miles from Table Rock towards Sams Valley. Finding a shade under a large laurel tree, General Lamerick seated himself on a large quartz rock that stood up some three feet out of the ground, and with his field glasses he watched with great anxiety what was going on across the river. Your readers will soon see what the battle of Evans Creek and the war of '53 had to do with the Gold Hill quartz mine.
    It is proper to say that Nesmith was right in his conjectures about the Indians. There was an attempt on the part of the savages to carry out their cowardly, murderous designs, and they were only prevented from doing so by the cool bravery of General Lane, who showed no fear of their treachery. The treaty was completed. And now I will turn to the discovery of the Gold Hill quartz mine. In September of 1859 Dan Fisher went out to kill a deer He wandered about in the mountains until quite late in the evening; finally he came to a high mountain, and noticed a quartz ledge cropping out for a distance of forty or fifty feet. He merely glanced at it, for it was getting quite late. He, however, was somewhat impressed with its appearance, so much so that he concluded to carve his name on the laurel tree that spread its branches over the ledge, and intended to return in a short time and prospect the lead. However, he failed to go back; hence he missed a fortune. In January, 1860, Uncle Tommy Chavner hired a young emigrant, direct from Iowa, to work for him on his ranch. The young man's name wan Hayes. One morning Mr. Chavner directed the young man to go out and look after some horses that had strayed off. The young man, in wandering around in the mountains, sat down to rest  near the top of a high mountain, and he noticed some beautiful quartz rock that lay scattered around. Upon picking up the pieces he noticed that they were literally covered with gold, and accordingly he filled his pockets and returned to Mr. Chavner's and showed him the specimens. Mr. C., with characteristic cunning, said: "Be quiet about this matter. Say nothing about it, and we will go out and look after this business. I will pay you well," said Uncle Tommy, "if you will show me the place where you found those specimens."
    Hayes, however, by this time became excited and could not keep his secret. He sent some of the specimens to Jacksonville. The miners of Jacksonville became intensely excited, and the 
next day they racked out in every direction to hunt the place where the rich ore had been found. Old George Ish called out to Dan Fisher when he passed Willow Springs, where Fisher was working, "Why ain't you out, Dan, hunting that rich quartz lead?" Fisher replied that he believed he knew where the lead was, and he would tell him right where it was located provided he (Ish) would take him in as a partner. Ish promised he would do so. Mr. Fisher then directed him to the place, and told him that he would find Dan Fisher's name carved on a large laurel tree that stood [with]in a few feet of the lead.
    Ish proceeded to the point described by Fisher and found the famous . There stood the laurel tree with Fisher's name cut on it. Uncle Tommy Chavner and the emigrant were by no means asleep; on the contrary, they were on the spot where young Hayes had found the specimens the day previous. Ish soon let Chavner know that he had found the lead. They at once located the mine. Chavner gave Hayes $5000 for his interest. The boy took the money and struck a bee-line for Iowa.
    About this time General Lamerick had occasion to visit Southern Oregon on business connected with the army. On hearing the fabulous stories about the Gold Hill mine he concluded to visit the lead. General Lamerick was noted for his profanity. When he arrived at the mine he did some genuine swearing. Said he, "I sat right there on that h--l fired ledge in 1853, when General Lane was treating with old Sam. Little did I know that a fortune was within my grasp." He inquired if there was a laurel tree standing at a given place he pointed to. The miners replied there was; then the General did some more cursing. The unkindest cut of all was the fact that Dan Fisher's name was not included with the locators. Uncle Tommy Chavner got away with about $30,000. He is the only man now who can show any money from what was, as long as it lasted, the richest quartz lead ever discovered on this coast.
OBSERVER.
Democratic Times, Jacksonville, June 5, 1885, page 1


Another Pioneer Gone.
    A Boise City (Idaho) dispatch of the 14th days: "All old-time miners will remember George H. Ish, who died here today, aged 78 years. He came to California from Virginia in 1849, and along in the fifties removed to Jacksonville, Or., near where in 1860 he discovered what was known as the great Ish lead. He found a big deposit of gold-bearing quartz and after taking out thousands of dollars worth of precious metal formed a stock company for the purpose of working the mine. The company put up a fine quartz mill, Ish spending all he had. The company never realized enough to pay for the mill, for the lead was not a mine at all, but merely a pocket. Ish was disappointed, and he left Oregon for Idaho. He went into the butchering business, then started a dairy and died quite wealthy."
    There is one discrepancy in the above statement, where it refers to the quartz discovery on Gold Hill. Jimmy Hay [James Willis Hay], and not Mr. Ish, found that immensely rich pocket, although Mr. Ish was one of the number who afterward became owners of it.
Democratic Times, January 22, 1892, page 3


HISTORY OF THE FIRST QUARTZ MILL IN OREGON.
    The mining industries in Southern Oregon have taken on new life lately. Yesterday's Oregon Mining Journal, from Grants Pass, is full of news of that section as well as of the mining history of the country. It says:
    "Jackson County had the honor of receiving the first quartz mill introduced into Oregon. The Gold Hill mine had just been discovered, and the owners were working in an arrastra quartz worth a dollar a pound. The old machine, with its cumbersome drags, lazy mules, etc., became repulsive to its owners, although they were dividing 1000 ounces of gold a week. So, in 1860, they let a milling contract to Henry Klippel, one of the firm, who went to San Francisco and purchased a 12-stamp mill, of the style then used. It had low, iron mortars, with wooden housings and six stamps working in each mortar. It was shipped by sea to Scottsburg, on the Umpqua, and hauled thence by team to Jacksonville, the steam engine and boiler accompanying. The freight bill alone was $2500, and the total cost of the mill when erected was $12,000. Its first performance was the reduction of 100 tons of refuse quartz from the vein, which had been thrown aside as too poor for the arrastra process. It yielded $100 per ton. The next run was on ordinary quartz from the mine, and much to the surprise of all it yielded only $3 a ton, owing, as was supposed, to defective amalgamation. Another run yielded only $2.40 per ton, and operations ceased. Later, the mill and engine passed into the hands of Jewett Brothers, who placed them on their mine, near Grants Pass, where they did good service for quite a while. Later still, they were converted into a sawmill. When last heard from the engine was in use at Parker's sawmill, on Big Butte Creek, in Jackson County. It should be preserved as a relic."
Oregonian, Portland, November 24, 1895, page 9


QUARTZ MILL
The First One Erected in Oregon.
On Gold Hill, Jackson Co.
Built by Klippel, McLaughlin and Williams--Not a Paying Investment.

    The story of the first quartz mill erected in Southern Oregon is recalled by the passing away of the pioneer miner, Henry Klippel, who is fully entitled to the name of the father of quartz mining in Oregon, through his connection with the industry at Gold Hill lode in 1860. It was in January of 1860 that a pioneer named Graham, who was better known by the sobriquet "Emigrant," located what proved to be the astonishingly rich pocket ledge of Gold Hill. Not being able to locate [i.e., claim] the whole ledge himself, the "Emigrant" took in the proposition with him John Long, George Fish, Thomas Chavner and Jas. Hays, who each staked claims. They found an abundance of flat rock on the surface of the ground which was rich in free gold, and the news of their strike spread over Jackson County like wildfire on a western prairie.
    Prospectors and miners flocked to the hill from all quarters of Southern Oregon and Northern California, and hundreds of claims were staked and marked out with no other boundary lines than ropes stretched along them. Among other locators was Henry Klippel, who picked up a piece of quartz rock on his claim weighing thirteen ounces that yielded five ounces in gold. The quartz was worked with mortars, and never before or since was money so plentiful in Jackson County as during those early days. The dull old town of Jacksonville at once assumed metropolitan airs, and was the headquarters for the miners of the whole section. Hotels, restaurants and stores multiplied, and an era of great prosperity was inaugurated. A daily stage line was put on the route between Jacksonville and the new mines and the buses were crowded with prospectors and sightseers bound for the Eldorado, Gold Hill. The gold fever seized on the whole country; farms were abandoned for the mines, and as long as the extraordinary output continued there was prosperity galore for everyone.
    After taking out a large amount of the precious metal from their claims, a disagreement arose among the original locators, and Graham sold his interest to Henry Klippel and John Ross for $5000, while James Hays disposed of his for a like amount to Klippel, John McLaughlin and Charles Williams. The new owners immediately began to develop the claims with vigor. Two arrastras were erected to reduce the rich rock, and were operated with mules as motive power. At the weekly cleanups for some time 100 ounces of gold was the rule. Such was the accumulation of ore that the arrastras were not equal to the work, so Mr. Klippel resolved on putting up a 20-stamp quartz mill, to be run with steam power, at a cost of $12,000. In company with McLaughlin and Williams, a quartz mill was purchased in San Francisco, and a contract entered into the mining company to reduce their ore at $8 per ton. The mill arrived in the spring of 1860, having come by water to Coos Bay and then by road, via Scottsburg. Very much difficulty was experienced in hauling the heavy freight over the rough roads. The freight bill alone is said to have been $2600.
    After a short time the mill was successfully erected and the machinery installed. Dardanelles was selected as a site for the pioneer mill, and it began work on a run of 200 tons of refuse quartz that had been thrown aside as having been too poor to run through the arrastra.
    The rock yielded $100 to the ton, and the prospects were rosy indeed. The next run, which was unassorted rock, however, was a great surprise to the owners, for it yielded only $3 per ton, and the paucity of the gold was attributed to defective amalgamation. But the mine was beginning to peter out, and another run of six weeks demonstrated that the location was a pocket ledge. Two dollars and forty cents per ton was a result of the last run, and during August both the mine and the mill closed down. Messrs. Klippel, McLaughlin and Williams lost about $11,000 on their venture with the pioneer quartz mill.
    The property was afterwards leased to a party of Siskiyou County miners, who could not make a go of it, so abandoned it. Then the mill was moved to the Jewett mine, situated on the south side of Rogue River, owned by the Jewett Brothers and William Douthitt, of Jacksonville. At this mine the cleanup showed the rock to yield $40 per ton, and in all $40,000 was pounded out of the Jewett claim.
    After this mine was exhausted the old quartz mill was successfully converted into a sawmill, and run as such for a long time. Afterwards it was dismantled and some years later the engine and boiler were moved to Parker's sawmill on Big Butte Creek, where good service was done by them for a number of years.--Ashland Tidings.
Crook County Journal, Prineville, December 12, 1901, page 1


THE DISCOVERY OF GOLD HILL.
An Interesting Account of the Finding of this Famous Ledge
from an Interview with the Survivor of the Five Original Locators.

    The Mail has been favored with the following account of the discovery of the rich pocket on Gold Hill by John X. Miller, of Trail, who is now the only survivor of the men who located and worked the ledge.
    "I have read so many different stories about this matter, most of them wide of the truth," said Mr. Miller, "that I would like for once to place a correct account of the transaction before the world. In my travels over the country, on numerous occasions I have had men tell me the story of Gold Hill in such a way that I, one of the principal actors in the matter, would never have recognized these stories as an account of an incident in which I was personally interested if the narrators hadn't said it was Gold Hill they were talking about.
    "But to come down to the story. It was on the 8th of January, 1860, that a man, whose name I never learned (fact is it wasn't considered etiquette to inquire too closely into another's affairs in those days) and Jas. Hayes were hunting horses on the hill where the ledge was afterward found. This unknown man had dismounted and had picked up a piece of float quartz. Just then his horse broke loose from him, and the two followed the animal for some time before they could catch him. The stranger slipped the rock into his pocket and came on to Jacksonville. Arriving there, he discovered that the sheriff was after him for horse stealing. Having been in the habit of irregular dealings in horseflesh, he skipped for Yreka, Calif. At Yreka he met George Ish, and having been befriended by him, showed him the rock and told him where he had found it.
    "At that time Jackson Long and I were running a saloon at the then flourishing camp of Willow Springs. One day who should come down the road but George Ish. As soon as I saw him I knew something was up, whether a season of conviviality or a business proposition of some kind, I didn't know. As soon as he could get me alone he showed me this piece of rock and told me how he had acquired it. It was literally full of gold. We then laid plans for finding the ledge. It was resolved that he and I should commence work on the following morning. In the morning, however, it was concluded to let my partner go while I attended to the business. Ish and Long searched all that day, but found nothing. The next day Long and I had to go to Jacksonville. There was an English emigrant there, whom I had been feeding for several weeks, and I gave him $3 to help Ish look for the ledge that day. They sought all over the hill but could not find the mine. At that time Hayes was plowing for Thos. Chavner in a field at the foot of the hill. They went down to him and asked him if he could show them the place where the horse thief's horse got away from him. He said he could, but didn't want to leave his work. Finally Ish gave him $3 to go with them; he consented, and soon located the spot. Ish stood at the place and looked around a few minutes, then pointing up a hill a short distance, said: 'There, boys, is the ledge.' And there it was, sticking up out of the ground and fairly glittering with gold. In staking out the claims Hayes claimed the right to include his friends, when Ish named me as one of the locators, so he was allowed that privilege, and named his employer, Thos. Chavner. Ish needn't have allowed this, as Hayes was working under salary, but he thought there would be enough for all. The claims were then located in the names of Ish, myself and my partner, Long, the emigrant, Hayes and Chavner, each with a fifth interest, myself and partner being classed as one. These were the original locators of the Gold Hill mine.
    "Before we had done any work at all, the emigrant sold his share to Henry Klippel and others for $6000, and Hayes sold his share to another company for $500.
    "We took out of that hole, from a space about two feet wide and twenty feet long, in the neighborhood of $100,000, working the work with an arrastra. It was the richest rock I ever saw. It wasn't rock with a few streaks of gold in it, as most quartz is, but it was rather gold with a few streaks of rock in it. Besides the amount we took out, I believe we had stolen from us and picked up by outside parties as much more. All this amount really belonged to the ledge, so that it is safe to say that the Gold Hill pocket yielded at least $200,000. The people used to fairly swarm on the hill, and would even come right into the workings and pick up specimens, and as those specimens were all exceedingly rich, a man could pack off a considerable sum in his pockets. One day I was there alone and they got so thick that I had to establish a deadline and guard it with a shot gun.
    "Finally the ledge pinched out. We expended a lot more money and went down about 75 feet, but all the gold was within 15 or 16 feet of the surface. Klippel and others brought a quartz mill from San Francisco at great expense, but they never realized anything, and at last the mine was practically abandoned. I have never sold my interest, neither did Chavner or Ish. The above is the correct story of the discovery of the mine. I know it, because I was right there all the time."
Medford Mail, March 27, 1903, page 2


A MIX OF SHREWDNESS AND NERVE
By the time Bill Hay was eighteen, he'd taken a crack at all the frontier had to offer; then, encouraged by living through it, Bill did it all over again!
By LEE DUFUR

    When James Willis (Bill) Hay died in 1926, at the age of eighty-four, Ben Hur Lampman, poet laureate of Oregon, wrote his obituary. He titled the eulogy "Bill Hay Takes a Big Share of Oregon Past to Grave." In prose that reads like poetry Mr. Lampman paralleled the life of Bill Hay and Oregon Territory--for the man and the land had been young and wild together, and each had an effect on the other.
    Bill Hay came to Oregon as an emigrant. He was acquainted with and later fought the ferocious Rogue Indians when he was fourteen years of age. He worked on the first wagon road over the almost impassable mountains from Crescent City, California to the inland valleys of Southern Oregon. Later he was blacksmith for the stagecoach lines, and rode with the stages from stop to stop to shoe the horses.
    With a friend Bill discovered the Gold Hill Pocket, one of the richest gold mines in Southern Oregon. He later managed a warehouse for the Southern Pacific railroad when stagecoaches were no longer used. He farmed and mined intermittently, and in his last years he fished the Rogue River with a pole he had made from old stage whips.
    Bill Hay showed a different personality to almost everyone. He was called taciturn by some, loquacious by others. One man has said that he was so crooked his "feet wouldn't track." Others have said Bill was so honest that he was careful to the point of boredom in trying to recall an incident exactly as it happened. At any rate, when Bill sat with his cronies in the saloon retelling the old stories and after he was too old to match friends drink for drink, he pretended to drink, letting his whiskey run into his beard and wringing it out into the spittoon.
    Ben Hur Lampman knew Bill well and described him in those last years as "a silent man, for the most part, whose silences had the dual quality of friendship and raillery, and who made speech with a piercing glance of his singularly keen eyes. By way of comment, such a glance from Old Bill Hay was customarily final and left nothing to be said, whether the matter concerned local politics or an extraordinary rough contest with a big trout, or the windy reminiscence of some fellow ancient."
   

    BILL HAY became a part of Oregon Territory in 1854, when he was twelve years old and almost five years before Oregon became a state. "He saw those interminable, dusty, splendid miles with the eyes of boyhood," Lampman said. What he didn't say was that Bill--then known as Willie--walked almost the whole of those "dusty splendid miles" all the way from Kentucky, a distance of nearly 2,000 miles, in five months. And a good part of that way he walked behind 5,000 sheep. The owner of the sheep also had 400 head of cattle which he was driving to California.
    Bill's family had started west in a train of twenty wagons drawn by oxen. The sheep owner made arrangements with the train members to help him with his animals, for which aid he promised that he would lead them through good grazing land, and see that they had no trouble with Indians. The grownups in the wagon train voted to accept the deal. They had several youngsters who would make good herders.
    Bill, being eleven, was old enough for herding but not for voting. So herd he did. When he was a bent old man, Bill Hay had no trouble recalling those panting, bleating, smelly sheep. In an interview in his seventies, he told about that journey west. "We didn't go by the regular emigrant road, though we often crossed it. For the most part we were five or ten miles to one side of the road, and while it was rougher traveling, there was good pasture and lots of wood and water." Bill did not remember this crossing as a trial or hardship, but one of excitement and high adventure--except for the sheep.
    When the Hay family settled on their donation land claim in Southern Oregon, that area of the Territory was isolated from the rest of the world. In any direction to get in or out, one had to cross mountains of such ruggedness that proper road building was beyond the means of people living there. Staples had to be hauled from Oregon City that first year, a distance of near 300 miles over a road that a wagon could barely traverse. Other supplies were packed in by mule from Scottsburg, over 100 miles away.
    Bill liked to tell of the resourcefulness of his father. In 1855 Bill accompanied him to Scottsburg to get provisions. When the ship came in from San Francisco, there was a general rush for the precious staples aboard. Bill's father was lucky and bought 100 pounds of potatoes at eight cents per pound. He then cut all the eyes from the potatoes, carefully stored the eyes on the mule's back, and went into the hotel and sold the potatoes--minus eyes--for what he had paid for them. Bill said they planted the eyes the next spring and had a fine crop of potatoes.
    Bill's father was provident in many ways. Within ten days from the time he took his donation land claim, a snug log cabin with a stick-and-mud chimney was ready for occupancy. The family arrived in late autumn, and it was necessary to house the father and mother, one daughter of sixteen, twin sons eighteen, and young Bill, who had had his twelfth birthday on the trail. Oregon's winter rains were soon upon them, but a good sturdy roof was over their heads.
    During the remainder of 1854 and most of 1855, Bill was kept busy with chopping down trees to enlarge the house and getting fences built for the cattle. He also heard spine-jarring stories of the atrocities of the Rogue River Indians of the area, and he became acquainted with some of the Indians who were willing to try to live in peace with the new settlers and miners.
    Bill spent as much time as possible listening to Mike Bushey, a scout for the volunteer soldiers in the area. Considering his age, it does not seem possible that Bill did much fighting, but he did say in an interview in the 1920s, "I served as a scout in the Rogue River War in 1855-56. I served under Mike Bushey. He was one of the best scouts that ever followed an Indian trail. He was tall and strong and had long black hair. When he wanted to get information, he would let his hair down . . . put a blanket over his shoulders, put on his moccasins and walk through the camp. . . .
    "After an attack Indians would scatter to the top of some butte. For miles around the Indians that had scattered like a covey of quail would begin signaling to one another. The way they did it was for an Indian to set fire to a handful of pine needles to make a smudge, and then stamp it out with his moccasin. We would see the puffs of smoke gather closer and closer till pretty soon the Indians had reassembled. I learned scouting from Bushey, and I was considered a good scout."
   

    THE INDIANS became more and more troublesome during the fall of 1855, and there were many reprehensible acts on both sides. It was agreed among most of the settlers that the Rogues would have to be eradicated or put on reservations. By January 1856 almost all the homes in the area were either forted up or the occupants had moved into the homes of their neighbors who were forted up. Fear ran abroad in the valleys of Southern Oregon, and Bill Hay's family home became a fort. It was named Fort Hay. His father and one of his brothers are listed on the muster rolls of the volunteers of 1855 and 1856.
    One incident is recorded in which Bill Hay did engage in a battle--or rout. One day in March 1856, Bill was coming home on the narrow trail from Long's Crossing. There were five men with him. One was the owner of the ferry at the crossing and some were volunteer soldiers. They were all riding to Fort Hay. Suddenly Bill announced that he "smelled Indians." Even as he spoke, Indians began to appear from behind every tree, shooting as they came. The survivors later reported that there were about 200 of them. Whatever the number, there were too many to fight, and the small party of white men made a sudden lunge forward--toward the fort and protection. Before they could get away, a volunteer's horse was shot from under him. Bill and Elias Wright turned back to help him. The report given by a man who was present states dramatically, "Willie Hay, only fourteen years of age, turned back with Wright and they both rode toward him, right into the blaze and smoke of the hostile guns."
    Wright was shot to death, and his body [later] badly mutilated. Olney, the volunteer soldier, got away by running, kicking off his spurs as he ran, and by finally getting into a creek and lying under water, for many hours, with only his nose out to the air. Bill and three other men escaped, and with yelling Rogue Indians in full pursuit, they went for Fort Hay as fast as their horses could take them.
    When Bill talked about the incident later it was in a matter-of-fact manner. "I just got out of there when I saw I couldn't help. When Olney's horse was shot, its blood squirted all over my horse and I thought I was shot. When I thought Olney was safe on Wright's horse I took off across country. I didn't need to whip my horse. He went over a log that was six feet high. He just climbed it and I hung on."
    A guard of the volunteers was stationed at the fort. As soon as the fleeing men turned in at the gate of the little stockade, couriers were sent out for help to an encampment of soldiers on Eight Dollar Mountain. Five men were sent out to recover Wright's body--and as they then thought, that of Olney. One of the volunteers was killed. It was a very bad night along the trail to Fort Hay that night. Mule trains were waylaid, and at least one driver was killed. The Indians promptly dumped all the flour on the ground and drank the whiskey.
    The long night finally ended and the Indians stole away, but it was remembered by the men of the vicinity that Bill Hay was never called "Willie" after that night. Afterwards Mike Bushey, who was then a captain int he volunteers, went up and down the creeks and rivers of Southern Oregon and all the way down the Rogue River to the coast, scouting for the white settlers. Perhaps Bill Hay was with him.
   

    WHEN the Indian wars were over that spring, Bill's father again enlarged his home and opened a store to supply the miners. He had rooms for the convenience of mule trains coming through. Bill worked in his father's blacksmith shop and store and helped with the cattle on the ranch. In 1857 his twin brothers went to British Columbia , as there were reports of rich gold strikes on the Fraser River. Bill had to stay home to help his father farm.
    There was still no adequate road system. Crescent City, California was just over the mountains, on the coast, but the grades were so steep that wagons could not get through. Surveys, authorized to try to find a suitable place for a wagon road, had all been unsuccessful; either the surveyors had become lost or they had been attacked by Indians. One group even scouted the wrong river.
    There was a mule train route from the coast to Jacksonville, then the main town in Southern Oregon. Bill watched the pack trains carry all kinds of supplies--even pool tables and pianos were brought along, slung between mules. There were also mule passenger trains.
    Crescent City citizens helped in trying to promote a wagon road to the interior. Such a road would increase the town's chances of becoming a major seaport.
    Materials brought over the passes by mule train were very expensive at the end of the line. Butter which sold for 50¢ per pound in Crescent City cost $1.50 inland. Salt could be purchased in San Francisco, shipped to Crescent City and sold there for 15¢ per pound, but by the time it was packed into the valley where Bill Hay lived it cost from $2.00 to $3.00. Onions increased in price from 25¢ to $2.00 per pound over the fifty-five-mile trip, and tobacco went from 50¢ on the coast to $5.00 inland. Also, when the weather was bad and teamsters couldn't get enough mules through to bring all the supplies, whiskey and salt had priority and other staples were omitted.
    Eventually, however, the wagon road was surveyed and during its construction Bill Hay was one of the workers. Sixty years later he talked about his part in this effort. "In 1858 they built a wagon road from Waldo to Crescent City. One hundred miles of grade and some deep cuts cost $100,000, which was an average of $1,000 a mile. . . . On one section of the road where I was working they struck a swamp in the redwood timber. The man in charge of the road building decided they would have to cut a road through the heavy redwood trees. If you have ever been in redwood timber you know that lots of these trees are six to twelve feet through.
    "I said, 'If I were building this road I'd go right across the swamp instead of making a detour around it and having to cut those heavy redwood trees.' I was only sixteen years old, and the road supervisor laughed and said, 'You are pretty young for a road engineer, aren't you? How would you build this road?' I told him that on our place I had built a road across a swamp by putting heavy bark across it in the form of corduroy, and that you could drive a four-horse team over it.
    "He had the men gather heavy redwood bark and pave the swamp with the bark. They laid it two layers deep, and for years it was the best piece of road between Waldo and Crescent City."
   

    MINING was one of the main occupations of Southern Oregon from the time of its initial settlement. Thousands came into the country, moving from creek bed to creek bed looking for gold. Dozens of rough mining towns were located in the Rogue River Valley and along the Applegate and Illinois rivers. But from the time Bill Hay was a youngster he had more interest in animals, blacksmithing, business and farming than in mining. For a time he made his living by furnishing miners with supplies, services and advice; and he was well aware of their problems, their mining methods, and he even prospected some.
    Bill Hay participated, if unwillingly, in the discovery of the Gold Hill Pocket. The story of the discovery is unusual. In the early part of January 1860, when Bill Hay was seventeen years old, he was working on a farm for a man named Thomas Chavner. This farm was in the area where the town of Gold Hill now stands. Bill had a friend whose name was purposely lost because at the time he was wanted by the law. They were riding along on Chavner's farm when the friend got off his horse to examine a piece of quartz. While he was so occupied, his horse ran away. He put the piece of quartz in his pocket.
    The boys recovered the horse, and Bill went back to his plowing. When his friend reached Jacksonville that night he was arrested and thrown in jail. He gave the piece of quartz to George Ish to have it assayed. He also explained where had found it. As soon as Ish examined it he knew that here was a bonanza. Ish showed the quartz to Jack Long and John Miller, saloon owners at nearby Willow Springs. Subsequently, Long and Miller took turns keeping the saloon open and, with Ish, searching for the ledge of gold. Long and Miller knew an English emigrant, who also seems to not have a name. For $3 he agreed to help.
    They went into the search area day after day, while a young man nearby continued to plow a field. No doubt he had the look of raillery in his eye that Mr. Lampman described so many years later. At last the disappointed seekers approached Bill at his plowing and asked if he had seen two men chasing a horse. He admitted that he was one of those men, but he couldn't leave his plowing. Another $3 got him to change hs mind, and he showed them the place where his friend had found the piece of quartz.
    When Mr. Chavner had been notified and the claim staked out, Bill Hay claimed a share for himself and a share for his friend in jail. After it was finally settled there seemed to be seven partners. But Bill, not being interested in mining, or perhaps not having the capital to help develop the mine, sold his part to the other partners for $5,000.
    The prospect of a new gold strike brought people from far and near. An interesting little letter was sent to the Daily Alta California newspaper and printed February 26, 1860. The writer dated his letter February 14 and mailed it from Jacksonville, signing it "On the Wing."
    The letter contained this paragraph: "But the most simultaneous get-up-and-bundle-out-to-diggin's we ever saw was the rush to Gold Hill the other day. At midnight every stable in town was empty; everything that had wheels had a full freight. Saturday morning, January 14, Gold Hill looked like an overgrown camp meeting; horses were hitched to trees all around the glittering garden of gold. Like turkeys picking up corn did they pick up rocks loaded with gold. . . . Next Sunday, the census of the county could have been taken without much trouble, as everybody was at Gold Hill."
   

    IT IS a safe bet that at least by the time this letter was in print, Bill Hay was over on the Applegate River with his $5,000 in his pocket, looking for a farm to buy.
    He later sold that farm and moved to Rock Point. A stage line had begun running between Portland and Sacramento. It was highly advertised and was the first "almost sure" way to get through safely, and it stopped at Rock Point. In line with his following what was happening in Oregon, Bill built a blacksmith shop there and was soon offered the job of shoeing horses for the stage line. He leased his blacksmith shop and started out.
    Lampman reported the interlude in this way: "At Rock Point the stages halted with a grinding of brakes and flourish of ribbons for such repairs as might be needed, for a nail in a shoe, a new fitting, and for the stretching of legs. There it was that Bill Hay became a blacksmith for the stage company, and the crony of the lean young valiants who drove. And there it was that he remained in a shower of sparks until the railroad went through and new chapter opened."
    Bill told the same story in his less dramatic way. "I practically had to shoe the horses on the go--not while the horses were going, but I had to travel from Roseburg to the other side of the Siskiyous, making every stage station and shoeing the horses. . . . I worked for the stage company until [1884], when the Southern Pacific railroad came through and put us out of business."
    Again as Oregon moved into a new era of growth, so did Bill Hay. After the railroad replaced the stage, Bill moved to Central Point and ran a warehouse for the Southern Pacific as a sideline to his blacksmith shop. For ten years he shod horses and made tools for the rapidly increasing farms. He also sold agricultural implements, ran a livery stable, and a dance hall above it. Most of these endeavors were going on simultaneously.
    Oregon was diversifying faster than Bill could, though. He said of this time, "I tried to get four hours sleep a day, but I didn't always make it!"
    At last he sold all his interest except the franchise for selling agricultural implements. It is said that he went bankrupt, but he never mentioned this in later interviews. In the early 1900s he moved to Gold Hill, the town named for that famous Gold Hill Pocket. Here he started another blacksmith shop and worked for another ten years or more, leaving relatives to operate a ranch he owned nearby.
    Then Bill retired to enjoy his fishing and meeting companions in the "Smoke House," a saloon belonging to his son. Bill Hay learned, long before the tourists did, that Oregon was a supreme place for retirement and that the Rogue River was particularly good for salmon and steelhead. A good description of his hobby is described in the final tribute Lampman paid him.
    "Old Bill had a fly rod in which there was magic and he made the rod himself, for craftsmanship dwelt in those aged hands. This rod was contrived of sections of historic stage whips, once flourished by celebrated drivers. It was of hickory and very heavy. . . . It was ponderously pliable, if such a phrase may fit, and in the hands of Old Bill it could and did wing a gray hackle far and away over the Rogue, to such haunts as steelheads prefer.
    "I do not recall that anybody ever saw him at his fishing or knew for a certainty which riffle was his. Yet presently Old Bill Hay would be coming up from the Rogue and at his shoulder would shine the silver flank of a fat fish or two, and in his eyes for all whom he met would be that light of raillery. He had opened the season. . . ..
    "I have but to reflect for a moment, a mere matter of memory, to see Bill Hay coming from across the tracks, where he had a cottage near the river--a powerful, rather dark-visaged old fellow, with a blacksmith's stoop to his heavy shoulders, and a very human twinkle in his eye. He was bearded like a bard, or rather he was bearded as were those characters of the old mining camps, the old trails, who have residence now only in the pages of Bret Harte and in towns such as Gold Hill."
    When Bill died he was buried in Hay's Cemetery where he had already buried some of his family, a cemetery which is a part of the last ranch he owned. This ranch has long since been split by a freeway and divided into many home sites along the river. The cemetery itself is on a hill overlooking the town of Gold Hill and in plain sight of the abandoned Gold Hill Pocket.
True West magazine, July-August 1975, pages 32-52



Last revised June 10, 2019