The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised

Jackson County 1860

    Jackson County is bounded on the north by Douglas, on the east by the Cascades, on the south by California, and on the west by Josephine and Curry.
    County Officers.--Sheriff, L. J. C. Duncan; County Clerk, Wm. Hoffman; Treasurer, David Linn; Assessor, John Q. Tabor; Coroner, James Hamlin; County Judge, James G. Tolman; County Commissioners, Frederick Heber, John M. Nichols, and James C. Tolman.
Oregon and Washington Almanac, 1860, page 32

Jacksonville, Feb. 26, 1860.   
    FRIEND BUSH: Allow me, through the medium of your paper, to offer to your many readers a few items of interest and notes from the "Sunny South." This part of the country is rather in the downward tendency, with regard to improvements of most every description, and most particularly the circulation of money is very slow. The principal cause of these uncommonly slow times is the remarkably dry winter we are having, the consequence of which is that the placer mines are not being worked, and they are very nearly the only source from which there are any anticipations of the spondulix. The mines are the rich pastures on which the merchants, farmers, gamblers, loafers and men of any occupation graze, and some few get very fat, but seldom the miners who take out the money. There is a constant draining of our county, but no filling up. I do not put this county up as being of much consequence in the future unless the discoveries of gold-bearing quartz [at Gold Hill] prove to be as good as now thought. You have in the Sentinel a very authentic account of the quartz discoveries and excitement in this vicinity.
    I would like to awaken the law-abiding portion of people here to a sense of their moral, virtuous and local duty. Our laws are made too much a farce of here. We have too many gamblers, blacklegs and loafers in our midst. There are too many shooting affrays left almost unnoticed, too many murders committed, and the guilty go unpunished. The above-mentioned class of men have too much to say in our courts of pretended justice. No longer ago than last week the deputy sheriff of this county was circulating a petition for the commutation of Bowen's sentence, who was to have been hung on the 10th inst., but his time was prolonged by the Governor, to give them time to get all the signers possible. Bowen, in attempting to rob a Chinaman of his money, killed him, and now a great many say he ought not to be punished for killing a defenseless Chinaman. It seems to me a cowardly act, which he knew he could commit with impunity and run no risk of losing his own life, unless by the execution of the law, which he is about to avoid by the help of many interested friends. I hope, however, that our Gov. will not be blinded on this matter, but let him pull hemp. Everything is ready, the gallows built, the coffin made, the rope purchased and everything in readiness for the execution and interment.
    Lamerick is thought to be recovering; if he gets well, I think the affair will pass by without much noise.
    Politics run very low here, at this time, with the exception of trouble in regard to electing a Speaker. As there is so much talk about a dissolution, I feel curious to know, like some others, how they are going to do it? I would like to vote on the point myself, for I don't like to trust in Jo. [Lane] and Lansing to vote as my proxies. If it should be dissolved, I would like to know what part of the tunes "Hail Columbia" and "Yankee Doodle" they are going to give the North and what the South, and what part of the fourth of July and many other little things that would spoil to divide them!
               A MINER.
Letter dated February 26, 1860, Oregon Statesman, Oregon City, March 27, 1860, page 1

Jacksonville, Oregon, Dec. 5, 1860.
Towns in Rogue River Valley.
    The first little town we come to is Ashland, situated eight miles from the head of this valley. It contains a post office, flouring mill, hotel, saloon, shops, etc., and is a sort of headquarters for a thriving community of farmers, stock raisers and miners. The waters of Mill Creek--which runs down from the hills and enters Bear Creek a mile below this--are claimed for milling, though no doubt they could be used for mining to more advantage in a year than for milling in a century.
    It is proverbial in California that Oregonians hate work, are rather inert in their habits, etc., but Jackson County bears testimony strong as holy writ to the contrary. I have investigated the subject a little, and will venture a bold assertion, but a true one, to wit: that California cannot produce, or has not got within her boundaries, as thrifty and enterprising a set of farmers, even in her most of all exalted and pretentious county of Alameda, or the valley of San Jose, as can be seen right here in Rogue River Valley. The visitor will roam over the farms and climb the best of fences on all sides, and declare himself most agreeably disappointed, after having perused sketches of travel concocted at home, setting off Oregon matters in a most unenviable style. He may, indeed, find labor-saving machines which our people would have never thought of, such as the plow which needs no one to hold it. I saw one the other day for the first time; it is constructed with the beam resting on an axle, with two wooden wheels about twenty-six inches in diameter, one of which travels in the furrow, and the other one to the left, or on the unplowed ground. They hold the plow steady in its place, and cause it to cut an even furrow, both in width and depth.
    Phoenix is another town, somewhat larger than Ashland, and situated on the main road leading to Jacksonville. It has similar advantages in many respects, and is a pretty place. On my return I intend to give it a huge puff.
Productions of the Soil.
    Mr. Emery, at Ashland, has shown me a few specimens of his own, among which are admirable growths of onions, corn, potatoes, etc., and grand squashes. Traveling down the valley, it becomes wider, and such an uninterrupted scene of peace and plenty would satisfy a cormorant. My route led me off the stage road several miles farther towards the central portion, where farms and meadows are spread out in unsurpassed loveliness on either side of the stream. I wandered thither to take a look at things, and good fortune brought me to the door of S. M. Wait, Esq., whose residence and improvements, in a few short years, have received that degree of care and expense seldom seen, and which would be a credit to a country settled fifty years ago. He raises good corn, barley, potatoes and wheat on his poorest lands; say, of the latter, forty bushels to the acre--a fair estimate. It is a superior article, and kept clear of smut by dampening the seed in a solution of blue vitriol. He has 400 grape vines growing, and also a young orchard, keeps a thousand sheep, the profits on wool being considerable, though far away from market. It occurs to me that a woolen factory at Jacksonville would be a good idea.
    Mr. W. is certain that there are many places in the hills, on the west side of the valley, where miners could average twenty-five dollars per diem each, if they only had water. As it is, many of them are not even claimed. He also tells me that money is scarce, that men who are worth their $20,000 cannot raise $2,000, and that some of those who now feel this want have brought it on themselves, perhaps, by a little too much extravagance, but a larger portion from the failure of government to pay the war debt. . . .
C. L. G. [C. L. Graves?]
Daily Alta California, San Francisco, December 16, 1860, page 1

Jacksonville, Oregon, Dec. 6th, 1860.
Fruit Growing.
    Rogue River Valley has, as yet, few orchards old enough to bear much fruit. In the quantity produced, they will probably always remain behind their neighbors of Willamette, but time will better establish to what extent they will be enabled to compete in this trade. Some fine commencements have been made in the way of young orchards; the trees appear to thrive well, and no doubt is entertained that in a year Jackson County will have fruit to keep and to sell, which now she has to purchase at high prices from her affluent neighbor, the Willamette. I noticed a day or two since a new idea for setting out trees in rows. It consists of a right-angled triangle, made of laths or other light material, and of sufficient length to reach from one row to another. Three men carry it and set the trees by it; this, unlike the Oregon plow, is not a labor-saving machine, the economy consisting entirely in the neatness which perfect geometrical proportions impart to all orchards.
Grain Raising.
    The lands for wheat are now being plowed and sowed. Some soils require deep and some shallow plowing, according to the variations or depth. The seeding goes on all winter, there being no cessation necessary until everything is finished up in the spring. In this way, the Oregon farmer is relieved of the usual winter idleness which most farmers elsewhere enjoy.
Jacksonville, Oregon.
    This incorporated city lies in the western corner of the valley [and] is romantically located, with the rising hills on one side and the gentle slope towards the valley on [the] other. There is plenty of lumber and good water in the vicinity, and the scenery is very beautiful in every direction. To the northeast, over the hilltops, is McLoughlin's Butte, presenting a most regular and commanding appearance, being very white and without any seeming rough exterior, but gently rising up, a cone of perfect model and elegance. It is supposed to be at least 1,300 feet above the level of the sea, and was named in honor of Dr. McLoughlin, former chief factor of the Hudson Bay Co., and who died some two years ago at Oregon City, where he had resided for many years. It is a worthy tribute to the memory of that good man that this noble mountain bears his name. In early times it is told of him that when the famished immigrants arrived from the plains, he freely gave them cattle to eat and horses to cultivate the soil with, and to no one who seemed needy was his charity refused. In full view of Jacksonville, Mount McLoughlin peeps over from behind the hills as a bright white monument, seemingly erected there for some remembrance of good deeds.
    Jacksonville is a place of considerable importance and destined for a bright future. Its mines only require labor to lift it from its present humble position to the first rank among the interior cities on the coast. It contains twelve or fifteen fine stores, some fireproof buildings, a large number of blacksmiths, shoemakers, gunsmiths and other mechanical shops, two churches with spires (Catholic and Methodist), a straight-out Democratic newspaper, several billiard saloons, and more than the usual average of good residences. Mr. Beekman runs an express to Yreka; Mr. Eddy, of San Francisco, has a dancing schooling prosperous circumstances, &c.
    On my return, I intend to "do" Jacksonville handsomely in the way of minute detail of her establishments, her people, their manners and customs, their wealth and public spirit, &c. I shall then dilate upon the advantages that will accrue to them from a Pacific railroad, a ditch from Applegate, and the damages likely to be caused by the failure of the U.S. marshal to more than half take the census of the county, and I shall make known to the world the benefits likely to result or hinge upon the future wranglings of the incorporated ditch company, &c.
    During my stay, I have been much pleased with the urbanity of many gentlemen, among whom may be enumerated Messrs. James O'Meara, I. D. Haines, H. Parker, Sachs Bros., H. C. Lessions [and] mine host, Horne of the United States Hotel.
Mining Camps in the Vicinity.
    There are the following to visit and describe when I return to this portion of the state: Rich Gulch, Poorman's Creek, Sterling, Applegate, Buncom, Jackson Creek, Willow Springs, Gold Hill, Williamsburg and perhaps some others.
C. L. G.
Daily Alta California, San Francisco, December 17, 1860, page 1

Jacksonville, Oregon, Dec. 13, 1860.
Road and Railroad.
    It is a very nice thing to ride seven or eight hundred miles in a stage--to be jolted from one side to the other till you are compelled to get out, and then to run on foot till you are obliged to get in. The Oregon route, in both these respects, much surpasses the Southern Overland. Their road is a plain--ours isn't; their country is champagne--ours is Tom and Jerry, well mixed. The southerners want a railroad over that route; they ought to be ashamed of themselves. With a level road all the way, stages are good enough. The Republicans want a railroad over the central route, with an extension over this way to Oregon that would come over valleys and under mountains, and are in favor of railroads wherever it is too rough for staging, regardless of expense. They "soot" me; on that topic, they're my sort. The people here want it; they are a State, and they voted for Lincoln. Oregon must have a railroad some way, and if the incoming administration, with your Senators and our Senators, does not manage this, it will be a subject for animadversion.
Leaving Jacksonville for the North.
    It was a cool morning the 4th inst. that, leaving Jacksonville at 4 a.m., we traveled at a fast gait through the "grey rain curtains" and over an excellent road, thirty-two miles before breakfast. Our driver, Mr. Asher Wall, is one of those careful yet expeditious men which the C.S. Company always so judiciously select. This is the first time since leaving Sacramento that I have not been wrapt in the beauties of the morning, and the first time that I have been wrapt in a fog so thick that there has to be cowcatchers on the 'eds of the 'orses. At the station where we breakfasted, they keep a pet deer which actually chews tobacco with avidity. They intend to teach him to drink whiskey.
    The country is a succession of hills and dales, densely covered with pines, firs, oaks, etc. On some of the streams where tillable bottom lands appear there have been good beginnings--houses built and fences made, most of which are desolate from Indian wars, and the old palisades look dingy now, and hollow, as if the wind whistled through them at night and spirits of murdered women and children walked there. Farther on we find, occasionally, that work has been resumed, and some few comfortable-looking homes have sprung up again.
    Passing over about sixty miles of this kind of region, we reach the famous cañon about which so much has been told, and which has for years been the great hindrance to travel between the Umpqua and Rogue River valleys. It is about twelve miles in length, consisting of a narrow gorge between high mountains and through which a small stream of water flows in each direction from the highest point, situated two or three miles north of the southern end of it. The rise and descent is very gradual, and the whole distance is a perfect copse or jungle of trees and brushwood, through which the pioneer explorers were several days in forcing their way. A portion of the wagon road is rough, and some two or three miles of it is at present very muddy, but it is neither bilge water, a sewer or quagmire that people cannot go through, or teams either, if they only think so. The road can be made a good one with little expense, and I presume Umpqua County will attend to that next summer.
    As soon as we get through we arrive at Cañonville, north of Jacksonville seventy-five miles. Having reached the place after dark, and departed next morning before light, I can say nothing of the town at present. . . .
C. L. G.
Daily Alta California, San Francisco, December 25, 1860, page 1

Last revised June 18, 2016