The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised

Edward G. Kilgore

By Fred Lockley
    (A pioneer whose life has been spent in Southern Oregon tells Mr. Lockley about the early history of Ashland and other towns of that section, and of his going to the Klamath country and what befell him there.)
    "Yes, I'm a Bunchgrasser" [Oregonian living east of the Cascades], said [Edward] G. Kilgore. "I was born a Buckeye and later became a Webfoot. I was born in Ohio, August 10, 1852, and I was one of 11 children. Mrs. Josie Squires, my sister, lives here in Portland. My people came across the plains when I was a baby, so I don't remember a thing about it.. When we got to Ashland the Rogue River war had started, and the people were 'forted up' in the grist mill. The first settlers to make permanent homes in Jackson County were the men who established ferries there--at Long's Ferry, Perkins' Ferry and Evans' Ferry. This was in 1851, the same year in which Judge A. A. Skinner, Indian agent of the Rogue River Indians, took up the first claim in the county, southeast of Table Rock. He built a log cabin on Bear Creek. The government interpreter, Chesley Gray, took a claim next to Judge Skinner's. Late in December 1851, Moses Hopwood took a claim on Bear Creek. Jackson County was organized by an act of the territorial legislature passed January 12, 1852. In 1854 two grist mills were built on Bear Creek--one the Eagle Mills, by Tom Brothers, the other the Ashland mills, by Helman, Emery and Morris on the present site of Ashland. The first sawmill was put up in 1852 by A. V. Gillett. In 1855 Jackson County had more population and more wealth than any other county in Oregon. Jacksonville was flourishing and was the metropolis of Southern Oregon. After living two years at Ashland our family moved to Central Point.
     "The first settlement at Ashland was made January 6, 1852 by R. B. Hargadine and a man named Pease. About a week later A. D. Helman, Dowd Farley, E. Emery, J. B. Emery, J. A. Cardwell and A. M. Rogers took up places there. The first log house was that of Hargadine. Then came the sawmill built by Eber and J. B. Emery, D. Hurley and J. A. Cardwell. It was begun in February and was ready to saw by June. It was named the Ashland sawmill in honor of the hometown of Ashland, Ohio, of A. D. Helman. The third building was A. D. Helman's house. Then came Eber Emery's. The building of the big grist mill, the Ashland mills, really determined the fact that the site of the mills would become a permanent city.     "Central Point, to which place we moved from Jacksonville, took its name from being in the center of the county. Later we bought the John T. Miller farm, and I went to school at Jacksonville. Ben Beekman, Robert A. Miller, Bill and Tom Kinney, Alvin and Dave Cardwell, Florence, May, Mike, Bill and Ed Hanley were schoolmates of mine. Ed Hanley lives in Alaska and at Seattle. Bill Hanley lives at Burns. Bob Miller lives in Portland and is a politician and lawyer. Ben Beekman also lives in Portland. The rest have scattered hither and yon.
    "In the early '70s I took a band of cattle over the Green Spring Trail to Klamath County, and we took up a place in Langells Valley, not far from Linkville. Linkville--now called Klamath Falls--at that time had but one store, and a hotel run by Uncle George Nurse. Matt Langell was a shoemaker at Jacksonville. His brother Arthur was a stockman. The valley was named for these brothers. My son, Ivan E. Kilgore, bought the 2800-acre ranch owned by Arthur Langell. Langell was killed in a dispute over a pasture boundary. I married Nettie Herron of Ashland. Her brother Dave lives here in Portland, and her brother Fred in Ashland. Her brother Will is the head of the legal department of the Southern Pacific and lives at San Francisco.
    "I was in the Modoc War. I made two trips to the mouth of Lost River. I drove the rig in which we brought out Meacham, the peace commissioner. He had been knocked on the head and partially scalped. Later he, with an associate, got up an Indian show and took it east. Some of his Indians couldn't stand the East, so they got away and made their way back to Klamath County. The promoters had all sorts of evil luck, so the show broke up.
    "In the early days packers got 9 cents a pound for bringing in freight on the pack horses from Ashland to Linkville. Lots of the freight was wet goods, and it flowed pretty freely. As a consequence there used to be occasional killings in the saloons. I happened to be in one of the saloons when a man named White was shot and killed over a difference of opinion in a poker game. One of the men who worked for me, Frank Trimble, was killed in the Lava Beds. It was foggy. He thought he saw an Indian, and so he raised up to get a better view and fell back dead. It was an Indian he had seen, and the Indian got him--through the head."
Edward G. Kilgore, interviewed by Fred Lockley, "Observations and Impressions of the Journal Man," Oregon Journal, Portland, December 14, 1921, page 10; reprinted in "Pioneer Recounts Early Experience in Southern Oregon," Ashland Tidings, December 21, 1921

Last revised July 23, 2016