SOUTHERN OREGON.Those who have heard the accounts of travelers returning from Oregon and California can imagine the ideas I had of the personal character of the people with whom I would have to deal. They had been painted as rough, unrestrained and nomadic, generous while at the same time on the lookout for monetary gain. It was with these impressions that I went from Portland (a distance of 100 miles) to southern Oregon, the vast field of my future endeavors. I owe it to the truth, however, to point out that the facts far from corroborated my expectations. For ten years in Oregon and on the border of California, I have always found the people as civilized and sociable as the people of Canada; they equal or surpass them in activity and are at least as liberal. For example: the clergy and nuns travel on boats, railways and stages at half price, often for free. Everywhere they are the object of the courtesy and politeness of Americans, many of whom are not prejudiced. I am not speaking of religious bigots; they are always rude and intolerant. There are twice as many of them in Oregon as there are in California.
It was November 23, 1863 that I took possession of the Jacksonville mission. The chapel was small, as was the assembly that came together for services. The
southern Oregon mission is 200 miles in length by 150 wide. As you see, it would make a vast diocese. You can see that the missionary must be a traveler, ordinarily covering one thousand miles in the space of a year, if he wants to visit his scattered sheep twice.
Within a week, the missionary once traveled two hundred seventy-four miles
to minister to two dying patients.
Here are some details on the Jacksonville mission: The main city of southern Oregon is incorporated; it is also the principal town of Jackson County; it is located on the edge of a beautiful valley and is the center of a district rich in mines, cattle and agricultural products. Its population is more than 1,000 souls; the rest
the county has 6 or 7,000. There are two churches in Jacksonville, the Catholic church and the Protestant church, and in addition several schools, among them St. Mary's Academy for girls, under the direction of four Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. Rich merchants, lawyers and even workers have beautiful residences and shops. Two newspapers are published in Jacksonville, each following the colors of its political party.
Sixteen years ago there was very little mention of the Catholic religion in these parts: no priest, no church, and only a small group of Catholics. Some priests from
Oregon and California visited while passing through the young village of Jacksonville and administered the sacraments to those who were there. In 1858 and 1860 Archbishop Blanchet also evangelized this colony as a simple missionary. In 1858, under the direction of His Grace, the Most Reverend Mr. Croke, now Vicar-General of San Francisco, built a small church under the patronage of St. Joseph. Although modest, it is well maintained. When decorated on holidays it is the glory of Catholics, and Protestants call it a pretty theater.
Rev. Fierens, now Grand Vicar and Curé of Portland, administered St. Joseph parish for nearly two years, and all the old parishioners remember his zeal and piety.
François Xavier Blanchet, Dix Ans sur la Coté du Pacifique (Ten Years on the Pacific Coast), 1873, page 38
Letter from Father Waugh.
Jacksonville, (Oregon), June 13.Ed. Appeal: Since leaving Marysville, I have kept busily moving and working in our temperance cause among the youth, and doing all in my power at the same time for the old folks, and we are having some encouragement and success. The Sons of Temperance have recently been effecting much good among the citizens in many of these northern mining districts. In some of the towns a most happy change is witnessed and acknowledged by all. Yet it is true that the great and effectual change can only be brought about by the proper training of the youth. And this will be done when the attention and judgment of our citizens can be fully reached, and aroused to action. The cause is really the great cause of the age--for intemperance is everywhere effecting results lamentable in the extreme--as is witnessed and admitted by all who are sensible and sober.
Many of our liquor dealers, I am happy to say, show a willingness to encourage my work among the youth: and it is a rare thing to find anyone willing openly to oppose the object. I am happy to say the people are treating me with kindness and
respect, and some of them show a thoughtfulness in affording a mite of pecuniary
encouragement to the cause.
The natural scenery in the northern portion of California is truly varied, and much of it sublime and grand beyond description. In the way of mountains, Trinity and Scott and Siskiyou are well calculated to leave large impressions. There are a number of beautiful valleys, too, settled and cultivated--grain, vegetables, fruit, butter, cheese, fowls, fine horses, fat cattle, sheep, hogs, honey--everything needed--nice families, smart children and general good health. Mr. Redding, in Little Shasta Valley, told me he was the last bachelor left there. They are as nearly independent of everybody else in these valleys as any people I have ever seen.
When in Little Shasta Valley, you seem to be near the base of the world-renowned Shasta Peak, though it would require some 25 miles travel to get round and up the accessible side to the pinnacle, and they say the ascent cannot be made this early in the season. This peak is now a grand sight, towering as it does, in its snowy grandeur, above every object in the land.
The Table Rock in this valley is a remarkable formation, having the Soda Springs near its base.
In passing over the Siskiyou, the noted Pilot Rock lies on your right, and is said to be seen from the ocean. Crossing over Siskiyou Mountain, the Rogue River Valley opens on the vision in the distance, with its celebrated Table Rock, and other striking objects. The valley itself is delightful, containing many neat houses, fine farms, and orchards already bending under their loads of fruit.
The road all the way from Shasta to Jacksonville, Oregon, is in fine condition,
and to the sober, contented traveler is rendered a perfect pleasure ride--seated, as
we are, in the California Stage Company's easy coaches, with horses well trained and spirited, and fine as care and money can make them, and with drivers sober, careful and accommodating. Indeed, the intelligent public traveling over this line cannot fail to be impressed with the fact that many thanks are richly due the company for the energy and pains they have exhibited in rendering traveling so easy, safe and rapid over such a country and such a distance. The heaviest portion of the road, I am informed, was constructed by the company with an enormous outlay of money--that portion, for instance, over the Scott Mountain--which is the greatest triumph in the way of road making in the state.
My calculation is to return from this place, visiting the different settlements on
my way down.
L. Waugh.Daily Appeal, Marysville, California, June 18, 1863, page 3
What strange feelings come over us as we look upon some of the many mining camps of the early days of gold hunting, located here and there over a vast expanse of country, which have for years gradually decreased in population, until in time they became entirely deserted, as the miners refused to yield their former prolific abundance of auriferous particles to the adventurous miner's sturdy stroke and unabated demands. Feelings of gloominess creep over us as we pass among the worked-out, deserted ravines, creeks and gulches, where the rocks lie heaped on the banks, removed from their ancient resting place and original deposit. The earth washed away to other parts exposes the now ghastly skeletons of once-beautiful, meandering streams that coursed their way down the mountainsides, through evergreen groves of towering furze and lofty pines--through the valleys to the larger streams below. As we pass along, we look in through the half-open doors of empty cabins, and sigh as we think of the many probably disappointed hopes indulged by those who here inhabited; hopes that at best are uncertain and, as miners well know, too often disappointed.
In those crumbling, decaying cabins how many castles have been built in the air on the hopes of fortune, so soon to be wrecked in the billowy ocean of attending disappointment! Upon the earthen floor lie scattered about remaining fragments of the pioneer's scanty household and kitchen furniture. The door swings gently to and fro on its wooden hinges, in complaisant submission to the winds--creaks and moans as if singing to the loneliness of the scene a dirge to its long-gone occupant's departed hopes. By the wall, in the corner, stands the rough, cobwebbed bunk, whereon the miner often dreamed of home and friends far away in the old Atlantic States, or in some distant, foreign land, perchance, of one more dear--a fair one for whom he was then enduring the toils and privations of a miner's life.
Surrounded by many trying hardships, the savage, warlike aborigines, fierce, wild beasts, that nightly roam at large in search of prey--tramping and hunting over high mountains to more easily worked placers--are feeble attempts at enumeration of the many dangers and difficulties of early days in the mines, encountered by the adventurous, noble spirits who forsook the society of endearing friends, and amid sad parting tears of loved ones, set their faces to the westward. Alas! how few has fortune allowed to return to console and make happy the anxious loved ones at home. Struggling against Fate, how many a noble son and brother, the pride and hope of a happy family far away, has succumbed to overtasked energies, the ravages of disease, or by accident or the hand of violence, been hurried to the "bourne from whence no traveler returns"! They now slumber in unknown and unmarked graves, in the forest, on the hillside, on the plain, or by the cabin, where soon shall rest your
NON EST MINER.Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, October 31, 1863, page 7
Last revised June 18, 2018