The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised

Jackson County 1866

    Jacksonville is finely located at a southwestern point in the large Rogue River Valley. Back of it, coming down from the southeast, and passing it just to the west, there bending directly to the north, is a rolling, hilly or mountainous forest region. This rises higher as it extends to the north, till, at a distance of some twenty-five miles, where the river breaks out of the valley, it turns directly to the east as a high mountain range, dark with its dense forests and varied by ridges, till shut from view by the beginning of another high range, rising abruptly from the valley some twelve miles distant, and extending past the town on the east to join the first-mentioned heights some forty miles to the northeast. Thus there is left a rich, magnificent valley in front of the town, the main body of it some twenty miles in diameter, with two great branches--one up the Rogue River to the east, shut out from view by the last high range, the other running southeast up Bear Creek, forty miles to its head, by eight or ten wide in front of the town.
    Over all this region summer rains are common--sufficient for the finest meadows of timothy grass and all varieties of grain. The winters, also, are mild, with rarely ten inches of snow.
    The town is not large--of perhaps some four hundred inhabitants--though most of this large valley is taken up and cultivated by good farms and ranches.
    There is one good public school in the place, and a large organization of Good Templars for the promotion of temperance, and also both Odd Fellows and Masons. There is religious worship, with preaching in the town Rev. Mr. [Moses] Williams, Presbyterian, once in three weeks, and a good Sunday school each Sabbath.
    Mr. Williams has been laboring with ability and much acceptance in this region for the last five or six years, improving each Sabbath in different parts of his large field. For, excepting an assistant lately arrived, Mr. Williams has been for some time the only Protestant minister of whom we could hear in four or even five southern counties of Oregon, Mr. W. also corroborating this statement as according with his information. His assistant is Rev. Mr. Hanna, from the Willamette Valley, who has this spring come into the region to labor as a Presbyterian minister, settling at Ashland, nearly twenty miles southeast of Jacksonville.
    This large, splendid region must teem with an immense population in the course of time, but the moral, religious and even general character of the people must be greatly determined by the faithful labors of these two ministers of the cross of Christ.
    Aside from the standard of morality and virtue which religion sets up, or is handed down as a tradition from religion, there is no such standard among a people, and men sink towards the brutes. But true Christian instruction elevates, purifies, ennobles a people without limit and blesses them in every department of good.
    The stage took us rapidly on up this beautiful valley, gradually narrowing between mountainous wooded ranges into a most romantic vale, till at length the road, turning to the right, rose higher and higher, far away for hours, up the real Siskiyou Mountains. On the narrow summit suddenly burst upon our view the Klamath region and wild, broken, mountainous northern California. We had seen nothing like it in the state. With none of the regularity of the Sierra Nevadas, there appeared broken ranges, spurs and peaks extending far way to the south, one beyond the other, till streaked snow summits closed up the distant view, while scattered among all were many large valleys, parched by the dry, hot air or green with growing vegetation where the soil was moist by nature or rendered productive by the hand of man.
    Rapidly the stage bore us down the mountain, across the Klamath, round the mountains, along the valleys, on thirty miles to Yreka, and we were to rest awhile.
    Thus we had left Oregon, a land of mild, pleasant summers and of wet, chilling, sleeting winters; a land of mountains, of valleys, of forests and of farms; of good vegetables, of abundant grains and of excellent fruit--literally a land of "milk and honey"; of a people contented, settled in homes, laborious and steadily improving. We had enjoyed our excursion upon her magnificent rivers and never tired in viewing the varied, romantic and lovely features of natural scenery. The resources of the country are permanent and sufficient for the support of an immense population. The timber from the mountains the world, it would seem, could not exhaust, though it is not often of the best quality for lumber, as it consists mostly of a species of fir--tough and enduring, but not good for a fine finish.
    Its farms yield in abundance all the usual productions of the temperate zones. The fruits, especially the winter varieties, are of the best quality, but peaches and grapes do not do well. Yet the Isabella and Catawba varieties we saw, in a few places, growing very finely. One of this kind was shown us in the garden of Rev. Mr. Dickinson, of Salem, which was the largest and finest we ever saw, from which the best of fruit, we were told, was gathered. In Vancouver, and in Corvallis also, a few fine arbors of the same were seen.
    Stock raising has been a great business of Oregon farmers, especially in the southern part, but this business, which is only fit for a half-savage people, has been gradually changing to more civilizing pursuits.
    Wool growing is assuming more and more prominence in all parts of the state, except in the very hilly regions. The wool, we were informed, is regarded as of the best quality on the coast, commanding nearly double the price in market of that of a more southern climate. We saw some very fine specimens of sheep, especially of the French Merino. Mr. Naylor, of Forest Grove, appeared to have the best flock we saw, and, among a number of very superior bucks was one in particular, of remarkably fine, firm wool--the best perhaps we had ever seen--and this, too, where none were stall fed, but exposed to all kinds of weather, ranging in good pastures.
    There are three large and successfully conducted woolen factories in Oregon, and a fourth in contemplation, using up at present about one million pounds of wool a year.
    Among other features evincing the progress of Oregon is the fact that the government mail contract overland from California through to Portland, always before this taken by a California company, is now and for the coming four years taken by an enterprising Oregon company, H. W. Corbett & Co., of Portland, men of wealth, of whom all spoke well for honesty, benevolence, public spirit and Christian regard. The current report was that they had taken the contract at a saving to the government of over $40,000 a year, notwithstanding which we hope it will prove fairly remunerative to themselves. The coaches we found good and all the drivers careful, accommodating and kind. We think we heard only two oaths from them on the route.
    To anyone who could enjoy some of the most varied, pleasing, romantic and magnificent features of scenery combined in the world, we would recommend this route by land to Oregon greatly in preference to any others yet opened.
S. V.
The Pacific, San Francisco, August 30, 1866, page 1

Last revised October 31, 2016