Jackson County News: 1851
For descriptions of Jackson County in 1851, click here.
FOR THE KLAMATH.
Capt. John K. Kennedy, David P. Carter, John L. Upton, James A. Hartman, John Clark, William Davidson, John I. Davidson, John Harper, William W. Wooley, Luzern Ransom, Jacob Zimmerman, George Faxon, Crous Arp, William Simpson, James Moon and Hiram Young leave this town this morning for the gold regions of Oregon. Most of these persons came into the Territory this fall, from Iowa and other western states.
Western Star, Milwaukie, January 2, 1851, page 2
The attention of the gold diggers is directed to the advertisement of Mr. Post, in another column. Those fitting out for the Klamath may find it to their interest to give him a call.
Oregon Spectator, Oregon City, January 9, 1851, page 2
To the Miners.
The subscriber has on hand, and is constantly manufacturing Riding Saddles, Pack do., Bridles and Equipment of all kinds suitable for packing. Also, on hand, a lot of Ladies' Superior Riding Saddles, Saddlebags, Riding Whips, Double and Single Harness, Macheers, Stirrups &c., and is prepared to manufacture at the shortest notice any article in his line of business, at the old stand.
A. R. POST.Oregon Spectator, Oregon City, January 9, 1851, page 3
. . . the discoveries on the Klamath and other streams during the last summer indicate quite clearly that what [Oregon's] citizens sought in California--gold--was left by them in that soil of their own land, waiting to reward richly the toil of those who should seek the treasure.
"Oregon," Alta California, San Francisco, quoted in Oregon Spectator, Oregon City, January 23, 1851, page 1
Klamath Gold Mines.
Some of our citizens have fitted out and started for the Klamath gold mines, and we are sorry to say that others are preparing for an early start, as soon as the weather and waters will permit in the spring. We had hoped that the gold fever had subsided in this Territory--that the losses and gains that befell and accrued to former adventurers from this Territory had taught our people a lesson they would not soon have forgotten. But nothing short of a wreck of hope or loss of present gain, it seems, will gratify the desires of the uninitiated. Past experience cannot counterpoise the glittering prospect that awaits the hardy adventurer. There are many here, old residents, who are free to acknowledge that it would have been much better, not only in point of comfort, but as an actual gain of fortune, had they remained upon and improved their farms. But persons appear unwilling to take the experience of others as a criterion, and a personal endeavor, hit or miss, is made; in many instances too, without counting the cost.
It should be borne in mind that there are many, very many, disappointed in California, who are eager and ready to embark in any enterprise that has greater temptations, or possesses more flattering inducements to work out a fortune. Our friends here must not expect to go there and find the country unoccupied.
There are many now on the ground and hundreds in readiness and only waiting the first opportunity to get off from California. They have given up all idea of digging out a fortune in the placers, hence their readiness to go whither they think the chances of success are more certain. That place, it is generally believed, is the Klamath. This belief is being strengthened by the weekly reports received, it is said, direct from the diggings, from persons who have unmistakable proofs in the way of large specimens to back up their assertions. It is in the power of interested persons, although they may not possess much shrewdness, to greatly deceive persons by false representations. To guard against such impositions we shall ever be on the lookout--"a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush" anytime. It would have been well for hundreds now in California if they had thought as much previous to starting from the States. It behooves them though to make the best of a bad bargain, to set themselves to work to enable them to return to their homes and firesides, where comfort and comparative ease once had a dwelling place, if they should have to labor, in future, to make both ends meet. They are satisfied with the experiments they have made, many of them; they have purchased their experience, some of them, and have paid dearly for it; all such are satisfied to quit even, whilst not a few would be glad to get off considerably, if not more, worsted.
We could name persons who are pursuing a course that will be followed by like results. If we were permitted we would whisper in their ears something that would be of benefit to them, provided they would heed it. But if they will not listen to us, they may go and be disappointed, like a great many others.
Oregon Spectator, Oregon City, January 23, 1851, page 2
Persons who have just arrived in this place bring, we are told, unmistakable evidence of the abundance of gold on the Klamath. The party brought with them lumps of unusual size; our informants state that they have one lump worth $800, and others varying from one to three ounces.
Oregon Spectator, Oregon City, February 13, 1851, page 2
The Gold Mania!
The recent reports from the gold mountain and the Klamath mines have produced great excitement throughout the Willamette Valley. In the country bordering on the lower Willamette, companies are preparing to start as soon as the state of the roads and condition of the streams render traveling easy and practicable. But quite a number, eager to get to the mines before the crowd shall have arrived, have taken time by the forelock and have started, some indeed as long ago as four weeks. We have had no account of them since they left, but we presume their progress has been greatly retarded by the great rise in the streams and the softness of the roads.
The people of this immediate neighborhood have been roused to an unusual excitement by the very flattering accounts given by Mr. Ingalls, who arrived here some two weeks since. The very large amount he is said to have procured while staying in the Klamath mines has caused the fever to rise to an unprecedented pitch. The intensity of the excitement may be judged of when we state that the fever is likely to carry off professors even of the healing art, expounders of the law, clerks, mechanics of all kinds, and many of our most industrious farmers. This class we are less able to spare than any of those we have mentioned. We have expostulated with our farmers time and again as to the propriety of staying at home and there prepare for an emergency that in all probability will arise about the time of gathering in the fall crop. We have advised this, not only because it would be of greater benefit to the country, but because we were of opinion that it would be more certain, and the exposure and risk less, and would ultimately prove of more advantage in a pecuniary point of view.
We regret very much the loss to the farming community of many of our most hardy and enterprising men, men who have the energy to carve out, in a few years, a sure and handsome competency. It is useless to cry over spilled milk; we shall therefore exhort those remaining to redoubled diligence. The provisions, we are told, have all to be taken from this valley, it being the only accessible way to reach the Klamath mines. Our friends in the Umpqua Valley are reminded that a fortune is in store for every agriculturalist who will take heed to what we have written above. It is but a short distance, only about two days' ride, from the Umpqua to the Klamath. The expense in packing from that section to the mines will be comparatively small to that from the Willamette Valley. Let every farmer in the Umpqua make the same amount of exertion that he would in the mines, and fortunes may be made in a few seasons; success must and will follow.
Oregon Spectator, Oregon City, February 27, 1851, page 2
A number of parties have lately left this place for the Klamath mines, and more getting ready. The excitement seems to be increasing rather than diminishing. We can but repeat what we have before advised our readers--that by staying at home and cultivating their farms they will discover a far richer mine of gold, and find a lead that will not fail them.
Oregon Spectator, Oregon City, March 6, 1851, page 2
The following spring  my father outfitted another team and we started south for the mines in California. On reaching the Rogue River the Indians told us of very rich mines a few days' travel down the river. At this time the United States had just formed a treaty with Chief Joseph of the Rogue River Indians, and it was considered perfectly safe to travel among them. Here our company divided, a part going on to the mines in California and the rest going down to the new mines, Father and myself among them, guided by the Indians. We were about a week, as well as I can remember, making our own roads as we traveled. Within three miles of the mines we had to leave our teams and pack into the mines. Some of the company remained with the teams to guard them.
We found good surface mining there, on what was supposed to be Illinois Creek. We remained there until about the middle of August, when the Indians plotted to capture us all. The plot was betrayed to us by a tame Indian boy belonging to the company who played with the other Indian boys that informed him of the intended raid and time. Late one afternoon a messenger was sent down to the camp at the mines for all to assemble at the wagons to resist an attack that night, everything being left in camp but the firearms. The attack occurred next morning just before daybreak, when our company killed three of the Indians and they withdrew without any of our company being killed or injured. Knowing the Indians were again on the warpath, a mounted company of volunteers, coming from where Yreka now is, came to our assistance, and we returned with them, not daring to trust the Indians any longer. I was the only woman in the entire company. It must be remembered there were no roads, towns or counties there in those early times, and I was the first white woman in that section of Oregon. I was honored by having the county named for me, but by whom I know not.
Josephine Rollins Ort, "Woman Tells of Naming of Josephine County," Rogue River Courier, Grants Pass, November 21, 1913, page 3
To Gold Diggers.
Persons going to the mines will find it to their advantage to call at NESMITH'S MILLS, on the Rickreall, before completing their outfits. We have constantly on hand a large supply of superfine flour, put up in convenient-sized sacks for packing, which will be sold at six dollars per hundred pounds, or at five dollars per hundred to those who prefer furnishing their own sacks. We have also a quantity of bacon, together with nearly every article necessary for an outfit for the mines. All of which will be sold on the most reasonable terms.
NESMITH & OWEN.
HO FOR KLAMATH!
From reliable information we are compelled to believe that the Klamath gold miles are no humbug. They are said to be rich and most extensive. To say the least, we should think that two-thirds of the male population in Oregon are leaving for these mines. This is a golden age and a golden country too--and men cannot be induced to follow their different vocations as long as the golden treasures in our rich placers invite them to come and partake. We have concluded to stay and look after the peace of the city--and think we shall not leave until after the June elections are over. We had much rather see our citizens cultivating the earth, and making improvements, but if they must go, why, go it is. But those who do not go must remember that we have an immense immigration to provide food and houses for next fall--much larger probably than ever at any previous period since the settlement of Oregon was commenced.
The best route to these mines from California is, unquestionably, by way of [the] Columbia River, and up the Willamette. It is only eight days travel from here, and there are a plenty of provisions and pack horses to be had and a wagon road to within 40 miles of the diggings. People in California can reach these mines in a few days by taking passage on the steamers. Reports that are to be relied on say that the miners are averaging from $10 to $50 per day.
Western Star, Milwaukie, March 13, 1851, page 2
Recent accounts from the Klamath go far towards sustaining the reports previously received. It is pretty generally believed that it will pay equally as well as any of the California mines. It seems, too, that the way of most easy access to the Klamath for those coming from California is via the Columbia River, and up through the Willamette Valley. All kinds of supplies can be purchased at as low rates in this valley as anywhere on the Pacific coast. The people of California would do well to see to this fact. Although many of our fellow citizens have gone to the mines, there are enough left to fit out well all who may take this route.
Oregon Spectator, Oregon City, March 27, 1851, page 2
For the Spectator.
Song of the Gold Hunters.
BY THEOPHILUS J. EAST.
Away to the Klamath! away! away!Oregon Spectator, Oregon City, March 27, 1851, page 2 *Wake kumtux="I don't understand."
Pack up all your chattels, make no delay;
From town and village, come young and old,
Leave off your employments, and hey! for the gold!
Come throw down the hoe, let the cabbages rot!
Let those dig potatoes who choose to, we'll not!
A truce to big turnips! the story's too old--
The Klamath contains larger turn-ups! of gold!
Come clean your revolvers and rifles anew;
We shall quarrel, no doubt, as all good miners do,
But if Indians assail us with arrows and whoops,
We can pocket our pistols and call for the troops!
Though the Spectator editor warns us to stay,
And tells us potatoes will equally pay,
Much obliged, Mr. Schneely, but still "wake kumtux,"*
For you'll alter your tune when we show you the rocks!
Come lawyers, and teachers, and parsons and all,
Join in the procession and help roll the ball;
For there's music in gold and away on the Klamath,
By the aid of our fingers we'll soon learn the gamut!
Where's the "Indefatigable"? come Sammy, come!
There's nothing but intrigue and grumbling at home;
They'll not send you back again, Sammy--you're sold--
So pack up your mule and come with us for gold!
Let the gents of the press stay at home if they choose--
We trust they'll remember to send us the news;
Our watchword is "onward," with stout hearts and bold,
Farewell to the plank roads, and hey! for the gold!
Astoria, O.T., March 12, '51.
LEG DEEP IN GOLD.--The San Francisco papers of the 5th of January, "prepared for the steamer," bring accounts of the discovery of a "gold coast" at the mouth of the Klamath River, twenty-seven miles beyond Trinity, where "the entire beach is covered with bright yellow gold," and the pedestrian sinks leg-deep in a quicksand of bullion at every step. "The Pacific Mining Company," headed by two well-known speculators in corner lots and fancy stocks, are the pioneers in this wonderful discovery. Gen. John Wilson, who had just returned from the spot when the steamer left, states the quantity of gold to be so very vast as to be quite embarrassing &c. Some of the black sand he says yields $10 in gold to the pound. "If you think I am fibbing," says the General, "go and see for yourselves," and strange to say, several vessels had been fitted out to "go and see."
We find the above in the New York Sunday Times of Feb. 23, and in view of the great excitement which has existed here, and still continues to a certain degree, we copy the extract above, that the "largely exaggerated" gold stories published in many of the California papers, when held up to the people in their proper colors, may excite that feeling of disgust and distrust in the minds of our readers, which their "monstrosity" deserves.
Oregon Spectator, Oregon City, April 17, 1851, page 2
There are in the Territory more than forty towns laid out in what are supposed to be good locations for business, but we have two causes which are to affect the great wants of business and determine their localities. The first is the agricultural and manufacturing interest; the second the "mining" interest. In California the "mines" have fixed the location of most of the town and cities, called them into being, determined the rapidity, nature and extent of their growth, and we may say the moment of their decline.
It is now well known that there are extensive "mines" on the Klamath, which are extending northward and westward. Hundreds of our citizens have gone there, and thousands have come from California. This turns the tide of population to the fertile valleys of the Umpqua and Rogue rivers, causing old localities to be forsaken and new ones to be filled up with a stirring population. But on the other hand the Land Bill induced many to leave their families and to feel that their homes are here among us still. We do not yet know what will be the most important locations, but there are many inviting fields of labor for the missionary. . . .
. . . the restless spirit, which is breaking up families and social ties and habits, and which does not cease after people have found new homes in the distant West. The spirit of immigration increases upon itself. Hardly do our settlers get their rude log cabins and a few acres "in wheat" before their thoughts wander to some other, as they suppose, more favorable valley, and the settlements and towns here sometimes seem more like large camping grounds, which may at any moment be deserted. Yet the large donation of land to occupants does impart some stability to the population.
George H. Atkinson to the American Home Missionary Society, letter of April 17, 1851. Congregational Home Missionary Society, Letters from Missionaries in Oregon, 1849-1893
I took up a claim this winter, and in company with George Richie worked our claims jointly until spring . I then, in company with my brother John Hunt, John Fresh, Samuel Hart of St. Louis, Mo., and his cousin Owens, started for the northern California mines. In crossing the Calapooia Mountains it rained so incessantly that we took refuge in a cabin some settler had put up and failed to move into. There were about sixty people who took refuge in this cabin from the rain, which fell in torrents. Of this number I remember Len Eoff, George Eoff, William Martin, Hy English, Pep Smith, John Downing, and a school teacher by the name of Vernon, and a sailor chap whom Martin had hired. These men had a deck of cards, and it soon became evident that the sailor had won about all the small cash, and the school teacher became so infatuated with the game of "Old Sledge" that when told that his horses that were tied together were wound up around a tree, made the remark that he would see to them, but he left them until morning, when he found his best horse dead, choked to death by the rope.
After staying here three weeks on account of the rain, we started on to the mines.
We finally reached South Umpqua River, after swimming every creek and gulch we came to.
While making a raft to cross South Umpqua, most of our company, becoming disheartened on hearing discouraging news from the mines and the rough trip they had endured, turned back. Some of our men also turned back at Myrtle Creek.
After numerous trials and difficulties we arrived at the Big Bar on Rogue River. There we found the Wheeler brothers making some gold. They worked some Indians, but as a general thing Indians were not good miners.
From here we pushed on to Applegate Creek near where the present city of Jacksonville is situated. We camped here and prospected. The Indians at this place seemed quite friendly, as Joe Lane had previously made a treaty with them and sent old Indian Joe's son to Washington, D.C., to be educated. [His son didn't make it to Washington; returning home soon after he left due to illness.] Here we relaxed our diligence so far as to turn our horses out on the range.
We found some gold here, and the second morning, Mr. Hart and myself went out to look for our stock, and found his bell horse dead, with five arrows sticking in him. We now saw we had trusted the Indians too far. We mounted the few horses that were staked about camp, about enough to carry four men. We went back to the Big Bar on Rogue River with the intention of taking the war chief Sam prisoner, and holding him until our horses were brought back. When Sam the chief arrived, he brought about ten or twelve braves, all well armed. As I was the only one in the company who could talk jargon, I told him of the treaty, and that we held him responsible for the return of the horses.
He was very insulting and defiant, and said it was not his men that stole the horses, which we knew was false.
For a moment I felt desperate, and stepping behind a pine tree close by, I cocked my pistol with the intention of shooting him, but my hand was stayed by an unseen power. We then went on down Rogue River to Perkins' Ferry to see old Joe, the peace chief. We told him of our grievances, and how Sam had treated us. He agreed if Perkins would go he would go with us after our horses. We finally persuaded Perkins to go with us, and Joe, with three of his braves, came on after us
to our camp on Applegate Creek. We had made an agreement with him that but one white man should go from our camp, but Mr. Hart and myself thought we both better go. The horse I rode on the trip was an unbroken Spanish horse, loaned me by a man by the name of [Morgan?] Keys of the Santiam country, who also went along.
I will here mention that we had a noted bully in our camp. When he learned our horses were stolen, he loaded his gun and swore he would kill the first Indian he saw. But while at the conference at the Big Bar with old Sam he was as quiet and harmless as a lamb. This man, while Mr. Hart and myself were getting ready to follow old Joe, blustered around because Joe was taking three braves. Although this man had a good mule, he failed to get ready to go on what seemed to be a dangerous trip. Mr. Hart and myself overtook old Joe and his braves several miles down Applegate Creek, which we swam every time we came to it, as it was very high.
At a big bend on Applegate Creek we found where the Indians had divided the horses. They then departed in different bands. I suppose before they separated they ate my mule, for I never saw it afterward.
We rode on the trail in the direction of Smith River until dark.
When we stopped to camp we stacked our guns and told the Indians to place theirs with ours. Then Mr. Hart and I made our beds close by the guns, for we feared treachery on the part of the Indians.
When we started on the trail next morning, the Indian braves showed us fires built on the mountain peaks to warn the horse thieves that we were on their trail.
Then commenced some of the hardest riding I ever did.
That day toward evening we found the trail strewn with debris which the Indians were disposing of to help on with their flight.
We kept pressing on in the direction of the coast, and the next day we overtook a small band of the thieves, who had about a dozen of our horses, there being seventy stolen.
Here we counseled with the Indians until morning, when old Joe sent two of his braves and several of the horse thieves in different directions to bring in the horse thieves and the remaining horses.
After camping here for a few days, two bands of the horse thieves came in with perhaps twenty horses. At the end of about eight days one of the braves arrived with Wolfskin, a subchief, who had headed the horse thieves down near the mouth of Rogue River (as he said he saw the ocean) with the remaining horses.
This Wolfskin was very defiant. He had been to our camp the day before our horses were stolen. With Wolfskin came some Indians from the Lower Rogue River, who, as old Joe said, "had never seen a white man." They would prowl around and hide in the bush, but could not be persuaded to come in sight or to the camp.
After the horses and the thieves came in, the Indians seated themselves in a circle, and commenced a council and a powwow, which lasted several days. On the afternoon of the last day of the council Wolfskin jumped up in the circle and commenced haranguing the Indians, and pointing to us frequently.
Finally old Joe got up and walked over to Wolfskin, and took hold of him and set him down, and pulling off his coat which Perkins had given him, handed it to Wolfskin to put on, which he did. Joe then dismissed the council, and we hastily gathered our horses and started for the ferry on Rogue River, Perkins and Joe going ahead of us, Mr. Keys and an Indian riding in the center, and Mr. Hart, myself, and two braves bringing up the rear. We had gone about eight miles when we discovered that the Indians, who had taken a shorter route, were following us. Here we again commenced some hard riding. The Indians finally came so near us in the rear that I told one of the braves if they did not keep back I would fire at them. They then took to the bluffs and tried to intercept us at a point of rocks that hung over the river. We reached the point first just as the Indians were coming down the bluffs. This conduct of the Indians I never fully understood.
One of the braves said to me in explanation that the Indians were sullix (mad) because they had to give up the horses.
While we were at the council we run entirely out of provisions, and had to live on grouse and fox squirrels.
This Mr. Keys I never could fully understand. As he had lost no horses, he not only loaned me a horse to ride on the trip, but volunteered to go with us, seemingly out of pure love of adventure, something very foreign to me, I assure you.
We finally arrived at our camp on Applegate Creek, where we found the men in charge of the camp very uneasy about us, as we had been gone about sixteen days. They were also contemplating moving on to the mines just discovered at Yreka, as they had given us up for lost.
Mr. Hart was well acquainted with the ways of the Indians, as he had been with Sublette in the Rocky Mountains. This Sublette was a trapper quite well known.
We now started for Yreka, and when we arrived at the new digging, near the present city of Yreka, there were about twenty men with six or eight rockers at work. They had dug about half a bushel of gold, or that was about the amount we saw. The gold was quite coarse, some pieces yielding hundreds of dollars. As the land at this place was all taken up, we went prospecting, and soon found fair diggings. A few days after our arrival here, the Pit River Indians stampeded William Martin's corral and drove off a lot of stock. The miners made up a party and followed them. When they overtook them they killed a lot of Indians, took the rest prisoners, and in a few days passed our camp in the following manner: First came two scouts with their horses' bits adorned with fresh Indian scalps reaching nearly to the ground, then came a litter on which lay a wounded man with an arrow in his breast, then came the prisoners on foot; then the rest of the scouts brought up the rear.
Colonel Ross of Southern Oregon, whom I met in Portland a few years ago, was with this party, and told me that when they tracked the Indians to the willows on Pit River they quietly dismounted and crawled up through the tall grass, and when they came near the Indian camp, an Indian who was on guard poked his head around a bunch of willows. Just then Mr. Ross shot him between the eyes. They then made a rush for the camp, disposed of the Indian bucks, took the women and children prisoners, but were not successful in recovering much of the stolen stock.
One day while I was at Yreka, while the party of miners were out after the Indians mentioned above, there arose a controversy between the Californians and Oregonians. The Californians contended that if the Indians were properly treated that they would be peaceful enough, while the Oregonians insisted that the best Indians were the dead ones. There were hundreds of miners collected here filled with the most villainous whiskey. The excitement was great. The Californians were supported by Buffalo Bill (not the renowned Buffalo Bill), and the Oregonians by Doc Fruit and a Mr. Collins of Olympia, Wash.
Following the controversy Doc Fruit jumped up, drew his pistol, and took after a pet Indian who was accused of being in the raid at Martin's coral. In the melee the Indian was killed. This and more whiskey brought on several fights. Doubtless many old Oregonians remember this exciting day.
In the meantime we heard of a rich strike on Smith River in the Rogue River country. My partner, Mr. Scott, said if I would go over there and take up a claim he would stay and work ours, and if I found the diggings rich he would sell our claim and come to me. In company with Mr. [John M.] Shively of the Astoria town site fame, we arrived at the crossing of Smith River; here we camped. While camped here we heard some shooting, and the next day we found where a party of prospectors had had a fight with the Indians, and three Indians and one white man had been killed. We overtook William Greenwood of Howell Prairie on the way, and on Josephine Creek we found a party of miners who had fair diggings. Here the Greenwood party tried to dodge us, but we struck their trail and finally arrived at Humbug Creek, a tributary of Josephine Creek.
We unpacked here and camped. We found good diggings here. Some New York men after we left commenced work here, and turned out over three thousand dollars.
While camped here one evening I had the misfortune to get my hand severely crushed by a large boulder under which I was working. That same evening Paul Darst of the Waldo Hills camped with us, and from him I received the first news from home that I had received since I left home.
After getting my hand crushed, I saw I would not be able to do much more for some time; and being somewhat broken down in health I decided to return home.
On arriving at the ferry on Rogue River I learned that the United States troops, while out on a scouting expedition, had been attacked by the Indians, and Capt. Stuart had been killed by a wounded Indian. At the time he was shot he was leaning over his horse to finish the Indian with the butt of his pistol. The Indian shot him with an arrow. I also learned that Joseph Lane was at the Big Bar raising a company of volunteers to help the troops put the Indians down.
As it was very dangerous to go on through Southern Oregon, I hesitated which course to take. I finally met two men named Rogers and Savage, and in company with them started on home. Mr. Rogers was a very reckless man, as reckless as ever I met.
When we arrived at "Jump Off Joe" Creek, a creek well known, we found the Indians on the lookout for us, but by fast riding we beat them to the cañon, where we stopped to let our horses eat a little grass, and pick some strawberries for ourselves. Here we discovered the Indians on our trail. We hastily mounted our tired horses, and passed through this dangerous cañon on the darkest night I ever saw, and camped on South Umpqua River, and after several days of tedious riding we arrived in the Waldo Hills.
I will here mention that while Mr. Williamson and myself were on Five Mile Creek he informed me that the Cow Creek Indians in the neighborhood of Shasta kept up their depredations the winter after I left Shasta. The miners formed a company and surrounded the Indian village, and the Indians took refuge in a large mud fort. Then Nathan Olney and Capt. Benjamin Wright rushed up to the hole in the top of the fort and emptied their revolvers into the struggling mass of Indians. They then piled brush and other combustibles on top of the fort and set it on fire, and any who attempted to escape were shot, although most of them remained inside and perished in the flames.
He also told me that Mr. Van Dusen, the old bear hunter of Shasta, shot a large grizzly on Clear Creek one day, and following it into the cañon, the bear sprung on to him before he could use his arms. The grizzly broke Van Dusen's arm, tore out his bowels, and a party going in search of him found where the encounter took place. Mr. Van Dusen's rifle was broken at the breech, still loaded, and one barrel of his revolver emptied, and near by the bear lay dead. On trailing Mr. Van Dusen, they found him with his little dog about a quarter of a mile away, where he had crawled, with his bowels protruding. They carried him to Shasta, where he died shortly after.
Not long after my arrival at home my father was married, July I, 1851, to Mrs. Nancy Smith, widow of Dr. Smith, who died on his way to Oregon, July 1, 1847, and was buried on the left bank of Green River. He was captain of a company of Missourians, among whom where the Kimseys, Townsends, Turners, and Bensons. The above mentioned families mostly settled in Polk Co., Ore.
Upon my arrival I found my father had established a mail route from Salem to his farm, and the post office was called Lebanon. He was also engaged in burning a brick kiln, the first one in the Waldo Hills.
G. W. Hunt, A History of the Hunt Family, Boston 1890, pages 57-72
FROM THE MINES.--From a private letter, lately received in this city, we make the following extract respecting the discovery of new diggings. We give it without the expression of an opinion:
"From a gentleman on his way from the Klamath mines to Scottsburg for supplies, I yesterday learned that a new and remarkable rich deposit of gold was discovered about the 1st inst. in the delta between the Klamath and Shasta rivers, about 120 miles from this. This timely discovery has given renewed hopes and energy to the seekers after the precious metal. Mr. Nichols, my informant, is of opinion the placer is extensive, and is now yielding from 40 to 100 dollars per diem to the hand, with a prospect of improved profit when the waters subside. So there is little hope that the people of Oregon now in the mines will return to their homes previous to the election, or that those who have returned discouraged will remain."
Oregon Spectator, Oregon City, April 24, 1851, page 2
THE MINES.--The news from the mines is so conflicting that it is impossible to get at the truth.
Weekly Oregonian, Portland, April 26, 1851, page 3
General Lane arrived in this city on Monday last, direct from the Klamath country, bringing gratifying intelligence of the mining prospects. He says miners who work can obtain from eight to ten dollars per day, and that those employed generally average that amount. Larger raises are sometimes made, though not often. He says the gold is scattered over a large extent of country, and cannot be exhausted by fifty years working. Provisions are plenty, and obtainable at fair rates.
A tribe of Indians (known as the Canyon Indians) living about halfway between South Umpqua and Rogue rivers are somewhat troublesome, and have murdered one white man, an Oregonian. Gov. Lane reports that a small detachment of soldiers are much needed there.
Oregon Statesman, Oregon City, May 2, 1851, page 2
The intelligence from the mines is rather encouraging than otherwise. Quite a large number have returned from the mines, or, rather, gave up the trip before they arrived there, having become disheartened at the bad state of the roads, and the unsettled weather that caused them. Gen. Lane reports rather favorably of the mines. He says that the most of the miners, by proper exertion, can make from $6 to $12 per day. There are some instances where men do much better. The General is of opinion that the mines in Oregon and California, the Shasta and Klamath diggings, will pay well for the next fifty years. There is a large scope of country in that part of Oregon that is decidedly rich. But the great obstacle in the way is the want of protection going there in the Rogue River country, those Indians having sworn eternal hostility to the whites. Several persons have been brutally murdered lately by the savages near what is generally known as the Umpqua Canyon. The General thinks government should by all means establish a garrison in that country, to protect persons going to and returning from the mines. It appears to be a well-conceded fact that up through the Willamette Valley is far the most preferable route to go to the mines, and that eventually the greater part of the supplies will seek this channel. The location of the Territorial road to the Umpqua, and the improvement of the small streams by bridging, etc., will remove many of the difficulties that are now in the way. This portion of Oregon is well represented in the mines. We hope they may all be successful, and live to return loaded down with the "root of evil."
Oregon Spectator, Oregon City, May 8, 1851, page 2
The Mines and Miners of Oregon.It is not, as a general thing, known by our citizens that Oregon has beyond question rich gold mines, and that there is a perfect gold fever pervading the whole community there, particularly that of the Willamette Valley. We are informed by Gen. McCarver, who has just arrived from Oregon, that at least one half of the people of the Territory have left the farms and towns and have gone or are going to the mines. These mines are but a continuation of the Californian mines. But little is known, it is true, with regard to the northern boundary line of the state, but wherever it lies, there can be no doubt that the mines of the South Fork of the Umpqua and those of Rogue River are in Oregon.
The streets of Oregon City and Portland are at the present time filled with pack animals and wagons which are continually loading up and pushing off for the mines. These towns present in their bustle and their general aspect at the present time very much the appearance of our Californian supply towns.
The miners on their way pass up the Willamette Valley to the dividing ridge between that and the Umpqua, over the ridge and down upon the South Fork of the Umpqua, or, keeping on, they cross the dividing ridge between the Umpqua and Rogue River valleys and so down on to Rogue River.
At the last advices there were at least a hundred wagons and several hundred miners waiting at the canyon between the Umpqua and Rogue River valleys, on account of the high water. So soon as the stream falls they will pass through.
Such is the feeling in relation to the Oregon mines that the Oregonian comes out in a leading article praying all Californians who have the interests of the Territory at heart to remain upon their farms. The argument it uses is after the style of the proverb "Money is the root of all evil." We imagine, however, if money is the root of all evil, the want of it is a pretty important branch thereof.
Sacramento Transcript, May 8, 1851, page 2
The following postscript of a letter from a gentleman at Umpqua Valley gives cheering news from that quarter:
P.S. "The steamer Com. Preble has within the last few days entered and left the Umpqua harbor. Her officers are well pleased with the entrance, and will hereafter make regular trips, touching at Humboldt and Trinidad bays. Quite an active trade is now spring up between Scottsburg and the mines, much to the advantage of the parties concerned."
Western Star, Milwaukie, May 8, 1851, page 2
Umpqua Valley, Oregon, April 22nd, 1851.Gentlemen:--Allow me to call your attention for a moment to Southern Oregon. It is not my intention to dwell upon the fertility of its soil--the beauty of its scenery--the grandeur of its forests--the purity of its waters, or the salubrity of its climate. It is generally allowed, I believe, to possess all these advantages. But in addition to all these, recent disclosures have satisfactorily shown that Rogue River is as rich in gold diggings as the Klamath, and the most intelligent men among us think that the Umpqua will prove equally fertile in gold. The distance from Scott's Bay, the head of schooner navigation on the Umpqua, to the mining regions on Rogue River is from seventy-five to ninety miles, with a fine road through the whole distance. Indeed, the route runs through the finest portion of Oregon, almost the entire way being over a level prairie. The mining region of the Umpqua and its tributaries is not more than fifty or sixty miles from Scottsburg. Goods and supplies can be easily transported on the route, and the miner will soon be able to obtain his supplies at a low rate.
Scottsburg is at least 175 miles nearer the Rogue River mines than either Oregon City or Portland, on the Willamette, and the road from this point is as good as the Willamette. Indeed, our road intersects with the road leading from Portland to Rogue and Klamath rivers at a distance of only thirty-five miles from Scottsburg. The demand for goods will be very great during the present season, and mules, horses and cattle are needed for transportation, as the supply in Oregon is not sufficient for the demand.
I believe that all who are competent to form any opinion on the subject say that the entrance to the Umpqua is as safe and easy of access as any that can be found on this coast to the north of San Francisco. There are three and one-half fathoms water on the bar at low tide, and large vessels find no difficulty in getting in the harbor.
In haste, yours,Daily Alta California, San Francisco, May 10, 1851, page 2
Joseph W. Drew
Red Cap's Bar April 30 / 51Dear Brother
I arrived here yesterday after a hard trip. We found the gulches from Trinidad to [the] redwoods very bad, and it was very bad traveling through the redwoods. My grey mule gave out, as well as some of Mr. Bender's. We stayed in the woods that night, and it took us [a] good part of the next day to get to Elk Camp. We stopped there one day and took it very moderate the rest of [the] way. Provisions are plenty and very low. Flour has been sold at 35 cts. here, and they say that it is not worth more than 25 cts. at the forks of the Salmon and other provisions at the same rate. Mules are selling low, and if you have not bought any I would advise you not to buy more than one to bring your things--and if you can bring anything more you had better bring some coffee & tea for us--get some more beads, white & blue, and some large brass wire & buttons if you can find them, also some long white beads, solid & tapering at one point, they will be first rate. Flour is just offered at 25 cts. You can make up your load of some kind of provisions and some hatchets to trade with the Indians. There has been some new diggings discovered on the Shasta plains, but I intend going up the Klamath. You can inquire at [the] ferry at Orleans Bar and also at the ferry at the mouth of the Salmon. I will leave word where I am going at those places. You had better come as soon as you can. We may be detained at the mouth of the Salmon a few days. Mr. Bender & Jack are calculating to go with us.
Yours &c.Personal collection of Greg Walter, Ashland, Oregon. Red Cap's Bar was on the Klamath River about three miles downstream from Orleans.
MINES OF OREGON. --The mines of the Umpqua Valley, Rogue River and the other gold mines of Oregon will doubtless have a prompt effect of throwing a heavy population into our neighboring Territory. The benefits that will result from this are great and obvious, for the various agricultural, manufacturing and mineral resources must inevitably be opened up as a result of the increased population. We notice that the Oregon weeklies are beginning to give mining intelligence. The Oregonian of May 3rd says:
"We have at length received late and reliable information from the mines, from which it is certain that those who are engaged in this important business are doing well--making from $8 to $12 per day--while some few are doing much better. Instances have occurred in which men have made $100--these, however, are like 'angel's visits, few and far between.'"
Sacramento Transcript, May 16, 1851, page 2
KLAMATH AND SHASTA MINES.--Mr. Geo. E. Frazer has written a letter to the Oregonian, dated the 3rd of May, relative to the above mines, from which we glean some interesting facts. Persons at work on Rogue River and vicinity were making from six to eight dollars per day, on an average. . . .
Sacramento Daily Union, May 17, 1851, page 2 Frazer's letter is not in surviving editions of the Oregonian. It may have been removed from later editions to accommodate news of Samuel Thurston's death.
From the Mines.
We are daily receiving additional evidence of the abundance of gold at the mines. There appears to be no abatement in the "gold fever," notwithstanding the prospects of good prices this fall for all kinds of provisions. Our farmers should remember that the large immigration now on their way here, together with the drought and recent fire in California, will have a tendency to enhance the price of all kinds of agricultural products.
Weekly Oregonian, Portland, May 17, 1851, page 2
NEWS FROM THE GOLD MINES.--A party from the Klamath and Shasta arrived in this city last week. They confirm the flattering reports before received, and state that money will be more plenty here the coming fall and winter than during the best days of the California mines. One of the party, Mr. S. H. L. Meek, showed us several "specimens" which he collected, varying in value from three to eighteen dollars. It is fine-looking gold, and we would not mind having a bushel of the "same sort."
Oregon Statesman, Oregon City, June 11, 1851, page 2
Umpqua County, O.T., 11th June, 1851.To Major Kearny, Commanding Detachment U. S. Army,
Sir: The undersigned, citizens of the United States and residents of Oregon, beg leave respectfully to inform you that the savages in this vicinity and along the southern frontier of this territory are now in a state of actual hostility to the white inhabitants.
They have recently attacked and robbed several parties, and murdered a number of citizens pursuing their peaceful avocations. Those engaged in mining operations have, by the determined hostility of the natives, been forced to embody themselves in large parties and maintain a military organization for their common safety, which draws heavily on the time of each individual, and greatly diminishes the profits of labor. Besides which, many persons who have formed settlements for agricultural and commercial purposes have been forced to abandon their homes and flee to a place of safety. All of these facts we are, if desired, able to establish by the most positive evidence.
We will further state that if you consider the case one justifying you in attempting the fortification and safety of the southern frontier, we pledge ourselves, so long as you may be detained in the performance of this, to us, highly important service, to supply your troops with ammunition and subsistence at prices as low to the government as such articles can be obtained and transported to the seat of your operations.
Earnestly soliciting a reply, we remain, with the highest respects,
Your most obedient servants,
Joseph Knott, W. Patterson, Wm. Harris, A. B. Florence, Wesley Carroll, John W. Lancaster, J. C. Gouldin, H. P. McGee, W. H. Bolander, D. Evans, Philander Gilbert, M. M. Foote, Samuel Hoffman, George B. Cullen, Franklin Kittredge, Daniel Grewell, J. D. Jewett, Jack Powell, Geo. C. Brown, William Judd, James F. Gazley, W. D. Eakin, Albert H. Hakes, Sam'l. McCullum, David Avery, Charles Perkins, Hearon Noble, Wm. T. Patton, John Sweet, Samuel Neill, David White, James Williams, N. P. Newton, David G. Boyd, Thomas N. Aubrey, J. M. Jesse, Gilbert Reynolds, Waldo Jewett, Sewell Johnson, Edward Griffin, R. Ferrel, John Dickens, John Fullerton, J. W. Corkins, A. Tyrrell, Wm. Burget, Reuben F. Burget, David Powell, Geo. T. Easterbrook, Leonard J. Powell, James G. McLealner, J. M. Stewart, C. G. Belknap, G. W. Bethards, H. A. Belknap, M. G. St. John, Reuben Dickens, Joseph A. Watt, James Watt, R. S. Jewett, Wm. Densmore, Wm. N. Wells, Jesse Hawley, Chisholm Griffith, Allen Nixon.
Elwood Evans, History of the Pacific Northwest: Oregon and Washington, 1889, page 382
PIONEER BOOK STORE--Just published a new map of Southern Oregon and Northern California, compiled from the best authorities and from personal surveys and explorations, exhibiting a reliable view of the gold region as well as the mineral region of Middle California, embracing also a corrected chart of the coast from San Francisco Bay to Columbia River, agreeably to the United States Coast Survey, by N. Schoefield, C.E. The author of this map has spent much time in exploring and surveying these portions of the country, and it is presumed to be more accurate and reliable than any other yet published.
MARVIN & HITCHCOCK,Daily Alta California, San Francisco, June 13, 1851, page 4
Montgomery St., near Clay.
The excitement about the mines has not yet subsided; men are going to and returning weekly. Stephen Meek returned to this city a few days ago with quite a handsome return for his labor, having averaged near about $400 per month. Mr. Meek is an industrious man--he made his money by "the hardest kind of digging."
Oregon Spectator, Oregon City, June 12, 1851, page 2
NEW MAP.--We have received from Mr. Nathan Scholfield, civil engineer, a lithographic map of Southern Oregon and Northern California, compiled from the best authorities and from personal observations and explorations. It also embraces a corrected chart of the coast between San Francisco and the Columbia River. The map is published by Marvin & Hitchcock. Mr. S. does not pretend to perfect accuracy in all details, but presents it as an approximate map, correct in all its main features. We subjoin a communication from the author relative to the result of his explorations, knowing that everything which relates to the Pacific coast is of interest to our readers. He differs in his opinions respecting certain localities from others who have made explorations and laid the results before the public:
San Francisco, June 13, 1851.Gentlemen:--Accompanying this I send you a map of Southern Oregon and Northern California, comprising a portion of the country lying between 40 and 44 degrees north latitude, which was till recently been but very little known, all previous maps of this portion being very erroneous and not to be depended on. Having spent considerable time in surveying and exploring this, as well as other portions embraced in this map, I am enabled to present the public with an approximate map, without pretending to perfect accuracy in all its detail, yet in all its main features it may be relied on as correct. One year since it was not known where the Trinity River entered the ocean, or whether it was tributary to some other river. Parties of miners endeavored to have it done, but on account of the numerous falls and rapids and the precipitancy of its banks, it was not easily effected; others attempted by cruising along the coast to find its entrance and ascend it from its mouth, but this had hardly been accomplished when a party with whom I acted set out to explore the Klamath River and valley. And for that purpose, with the maps of Fremont, Wilkes and several others, we sailed for a point on the coast in latitude 42 deg. 22 min., where, according to these maps, the Klamath was made to enter the ocean. Here we found a river, but not such an one as we were led to expect, and after exploring it we ascertained that this was not the Klamath, but the Tututni or Rogue River, which, by all our authorities, was made a tributary of the Klamath. We ascertained that the Klamath passed south, where it was joined by the Trinity, and then pursued its course to the ocean. Having satisfied ourselves of the general worthlessness of this river or any in its vicinity as a channel of communication with the interior, on account of the numerous rapids and high, precipitous banks, running even into the mountains, we left it in possession of the barbarous savages who infest it and bent our sails for the Umpqua River. Here, contrary to our expectations, we found an excellent harbor, spacious and well protected, with sufficient depth of water for vessels of large class, although in the language of Commander Wilkes of the United States Exploring Expedition, we were led to suppose "the Umpqua afforded no harbor for seagoing vessels and that there was but nine feet water on the bar." But we found eighteen feet on the bar at extreme low water, the same as at Columbia River, and a fine river, navigable for thirty miles to the head of tidewater, and opening into a fine agricultural country in the interior. After thoroughly exploring this river and tracing its meanderings as well as its several tributaries, and seeing the former maps were, in important points, very defective and erroneous, I deemed it expedient that a new one should be constructed, representing the main features of the country. I therefore offer this map to the public as the best representation of the country till such time as the government surveys are completed. In addition to my own surveys, I have consulted in its construction the best maps extant and the explorations and travels of scientific persons and miners, from which sources I have derived much valuable information. And lastly I have availed myself of the results of the late United States Coast Survey, by which I am enabled to give a corrected chart of the coast from San Francisco Bay to the Columbia River.
Yours, respectfully, N. SCHOLFIELD.
Daily Alta California, San Francisco, June 13, 1851, page 2
New diggings between Rogue River and the Klamath were discovered some 15 days ago, at which the miners are said to be making out well.
Oregon Spectator, Oregon City, June 19, 1851, page 2
War with the Indians.
Returning miners attacked by the Rogue River Indians--Dr. McBride's company--34 persons in imminent peril--5 or 6 Indians killed and as many more wounded--One white man wounded--the Indians finally repulsed--Eternal hostility declared by the Indians--Gen. Lane and Gov. Gaines gone to the scene of action.
On the first of May, Sunday, 20 miles beyond Rogue River, at the Green Willow Spring, 26 men returning to the Willamette Valley from the mines were attacked about noon by a band of Indians numbering from 150 to 300 warriors. The whites left the ground without sustaining any injury. The next day, a party of four persons were attacked, and their mules, together with their baggage and packs, were carried off by the Indians. They were recovered by a troop of soldiers, from the Shasta, on the following day--mules, baggage and packs.
On Tuesday, Dr. McBride's company, 32 persons, men and boys, were attacked; the company had only 17 guns, and the Indians had from 15 to 25. The Indians commenced firing--a brisk engagement ensued, which was kept up nearly the whole time for about four hours.--During the encounter some 5 or 6 Indians were killed and as many more wounded, several of whose wounds were considered mortal. Among the killed was a chief, Chuckle Head, considered by them a great warrior. The Indians were finally repulsed, leaving their dead upon the field of action. During the fight they were beaten back several times--they would rally again and drive back the whites; but their spirits flagged when their chief fell--he was several times seen urging them on to combat with the utmost zeal and ardor, himself leading the van.
The whites had but one man, James Barlow of this city, wounded; he was struck below the hip in one of his legs by an arrow which penetrated the flesh to the bone. The arrow was immediately extracted, not, however, without considerable force. (It caused some pain for several days, but is now nearly well.) The Indians succeeded in driving off the stock and capturing the booty. The Indians have sworn eternal vengeance upon the whites--the forces are being concentrated at different points along the road. The ferry, we learn, on Rogue River, has been abandoned--the owner was unable to employ a force sufficient to protect it. It is thought that a company of less than 25 men would peril their lives in attempting to pass the road, whilst the present excitement lasts. They are implacably hostile to all white persons. A species of guerrilla warfare will doubtless be practiced upon all parties not strong enough to intimidate them.
Gen. Lane went out on Friday morning last to the scene of the hostilities, with the view of preventing the commission of further depredations upon the whites. The General is favorably known among them, and it is hoped his influence will be acknowledged by them, and the whole matter so adjusted between the whites and Indians as to prevent all similar disturbances in future. It is deemed unsafe to travel the road to the mines in small companies. Notwithstanding the late encounters, Mr. Evans and several others started from this place on Monday for the mines.
Governor Gaines has repaired to the scene of war. Permission has been asked, we learn, of the Governor, to march into their country and slay the savages wherever they can be found. The prejudice against the Indians is very strong in the mines, and is daily increasing. This permission is asked of the Governor, no doubt, to get his sanction so that another claim may be set up against the government for services in another Indian war. There are many we suppose, who, disappointed in the mines, would prefer warring to mining, if they could draw pay for their time, or obtain a grant of land. The troops have all been ordered out of the country, and we are left without proper protection. There will be great need of assistance in the East--we fear the Snake Indians are going to be troublesome to the coming immigration.
Oregon Spectator, Oregon City, June 19, 1851, page 2
Foul Indian Murder.
Jacob Parsons, formerly of Quincy, Ill., was killed by the Indians beyond Rogue River, in Oregon. Mr. Parsons had for some months worked at his trade, blacksmithing, in this city. Early in the spring he started to the Klamath mines, where by trading he had made some money. About a month ago he returned to this city. In a conversation we had with him, we learned that it was his intention to return immediately to the mines with provisions and stores of various kinds; having procured his outfit and some eight or nine mules packed, he started again some three weeks since for the mines. He had gone along safely up to the time of the murder, and it was thought by the company generally that they were beyond the reach of danger. They had crossed the Rogue River. He and two other persons of the train proceeded in advance. In the evening they encamped, shortly after which four Indians appeared in their camp, apparently quite friendly. They had their suppers given them, and asked permission to remain with them overnight. This being granted, they all lay down on their blankets to repose for the night, one of the whites sitting up to keep guard. Weary from the fatigues of the day, the guard went to sleep. The Indians, discovering this, rose from their blankets, and seizing the loaded guns of the whites discharged two of them, one only, however, taking effect. The two remaining white persons immediately sprang to their feet, and jumping astride of their horses, tied near at hand, made their way back to the train and related the horrid tragedy that had occurred.
When the train arrived they found two of the horses hitched nearby the camp, saddled and bridled. Parsons was lying dead--upon examination it was discovered that the ball had entered his forehead and came out above his left ear--he was almost entirely covered over with flour--the Indians having reappeared in the camp ripped open the bags of flour, some 2500 lbs., and poured it over the body of Parsons, carrying with them the sacks, doubtless to be converted into shirts to cover their nakedness. It was supposed that the Indians were lying in ambush hard by, and that it was their intention to shoot the other two whilst in the act of untying the horses. It was thought, too, that they were frightened from their purpose by the largeness of the company. (They are wonderful cowardly--15 men could travel anywhere without molestation.)
Thus Parsons was shot with his own gun. We learn that he has left a wife and several children at Quincy. It was his intention to have returned to the States the coming fall, and in the spring following to remove his family to Oregon. Vengeance has been declared upon the Indians for this outrage. An engagement took place a few days afterward, a report of which will be found in another column.
Oregon Spectator, Oregon City, June 19, 1851, page 2 All indications are that this is a case of mistaken identity, and David Dilley was the victim.
There are various reports in circulation in reference to Indian hostilities on the Rogue River. A skirmish is said to have taken place between the Indians and a party of returning miners, in which several Indians were killed. None of the miners were killed, but several were wounded, among whom was James Barlow of Oregon City.
Gen. Lane has left for the Rogue River country, and will probably adjust matters peaceably.
Weekly Times, Portland, June 19, 1851, page 2
Indian Outrages.LATEST FROM THE MINES.--A gentleman arrived here last evening, ten days from the Shasta mines, and eight days from the Rogue River country. He reports that the Indians are very hostile, and avail themselves of every opportunity to murder and rob. Four additional murders had been committed near Rogue River.
A party from Oregonians, numbering thirty-two, under the command of Dr. James McBride, of Yamhill County, had a severe engagement with the Rogue River Indians on the 3rd inst. They were returning from the mines and encamped on the night of the 2nd at a place called Green Willow Springs, about twenty miles the other side of the crossing of Rogue River, where they were attacked at daybreak the following morning by a party of Indians, numbering from two to three hundred, under the lead of a Rogue River chief called by the whites "Chucklehead." Dr. McBride's party had seventeen guns, and the Indians had about the same number--the balance of them were armed with bows and arrows. The fight lasted four and a half hours, when the leader of the Indians (Chucklehead) was killed, and the band retreated in confusion. He was in the act of drawing his bow upon Mr. James Barlow, of this county, when one of the party, Mr. Richardson, taking deliberate aim, shot him through the chest. Several of his comrades immediately carried his body off the ground. As nearly as could be ascertained six or seven Indians were killed, and several wounded. None of Dr. McBride's party were killed, and but one wounded. Mr. Barlow was hit on the right thigh with an arrow, which penetrated to the bone. It was an arrow designed for the killing of game, and therefore not bearded, which rendered it extraction less difficult.
There were many narrow escapes on the part of the whites. Mr. Richardson's hat was pierced by a ball while upon his head, and the sleeve of his coat was grazed by another. While fighting in the woods (the engagement was mostly upon the prairie) Mr. Barlow looked from behind a tree for a "mark," when a ball hit the tree so near him as to fill his eyes with the shattered bark.
The Indians fired from the top of a hill, and consequently mostly over the heads of the whites. Otherwise, our informant states, their execution would have been very great.
The Indians stole three of the party's horses, and one pack mule belonging to Mr. Richardson, upon which was about $1,500 worth of property and gold dust. These were the only losses sustained.
On the 1st inst., a party of twenty-six men were attacked at the same place by a party of Indians. A slight skirmish ensued, in which one Indian was killed. The rest ran, and the party proceeded on their way to the mines.
On the 2nd, four men on the way to the mines were also attacked there and robbed of their mules and packs, but escaped themselves and retreated to the ferry. On the same day, Nichols' pack train was attacked and robbed of several animals and their packs. One of the party was wounded in the heel by a musket ball. Another party was fired upon but not injured, and a third party, it is reported, lost four men.
The provision stolen was lying about the ground untouched. They eat nothing they steal from the whites for fear of being poisoned. It is said that a Mr. Turner of St. Louis destroyed a portion of this same tribe sixteen or seventeen years since, by allowing them to rob him of a quantity of poisoned provisions.
About two weeks previous to the happening of the above difficulties, a party of three white men and two supposed friendly Indians, on the way to the mines, camped about twelve miles beyond. During the night the Indians arose and taking the only gun in the party, shot one of them, a young man named David Dilley, and fled to the mountains, taking with them the mules and packs. The other two escaped, and returned to a company two miles further back, who immediately went on and buried the body of the murdered man. Upon hearing of this, a party of thirty left the Shasta mines, under the command of Capt. Long of Portland, to revenge young Dilley's death. At the Rogue River crossing they came upon a party of Indians and killed a 2nd chief and one other Indian, and took two of the head chief's daughters and two men prisoners. The chief demanded the prisoners, but the captors refused to release them until the murderers of Dilley were given up and the stolen property restored. He refused to yield to this demand and left, saying he should soon return with his warriors and destroy the party.
It is said he can rally several hundred warriors. Capt. Long's company were at the crossing when our informant left, awaiting the threatened attack.
The Umpqua Indians report that the Rogue River tribe have taken their women and children to Cow Creek, between the Rogue River and Umpqua country, preparatory to a formal declaration of hostilities against the whites.
A messenger arrived here on Sunday, bringing petitions from citizens of Umpqua to Governor Gaines for authority to raise a volunteer company to fight the Indians. The Governor left this city on Tuesday to visit the scene of difficulties and learn what measures are necessary to restore peace.
Gen. Lane started last week for the mines, and it is reported that he intended to take a party with him to chastise the Indians. If so, he will be likely to soon bring them to terms by mild means or harsh ones--to "conquer a peace" if he cannot "talk" them into one.
Among those who exhibited great bravery and daring during the engagement on the 3rd, we hear mentioned the names of A. M. Richardson, of San Jose, California, James Barlow and Capt. Turpin, of this county, Jesse Dodson, of Yamhill, and his son, fourteen or fifteen years of age, Aaron Payne and Dillard Holman, of Yamhill, Jesse Runnels, Presley Lovelady and Richard Sparks, of Polk County. Dr. McBride is also said to have exhibited great coolness and self-possession. Others, whose names we have forgotten, were also mentioned in the same list.
Oregon Statesman, Oregon City, June 20, 1851, page 2
New diggings had been discovered on Rogue River, which are said to pay better than the Shasta mines. About three hundred miners came on with him to work them, and about one hundred came through to the valley.
Oregon Statesman, Oregon City, June 20, 1851, page 2
INDIAN MURDER.--We learn that Mr. Jacob Parsons, blacksmith, formerly of Quincy, Illinois, was lately murdered by the Indians in the vicinity of Rogue River. Some pretended friendly Indians obtained permission to camp with him and his two comrades for the night. When the party fell asleep they arose, stole the guns and shot Mr. Parsons. The other two escaped. The Indians opened the flour sacks and emptied the contents upon the body of Mr. P., completely covering it.
P.S. A later report states that Mr. Parsons is living, and that another man was murdered. Mr. S. H. L. Meek informs us that he saw Mr. Parsons a few miles this side of the Shasta mines, several days after the murder above referred to was committed. The man murdered was probably Dilley, referred to in another column.
Oregon Statesman, Oregon City, June 20, 1851, page 2
Hdqrs. Detachment First Dragoons,The Adjutant General, U.S. Army,
Camp on Branch of Rogue River, June 19, 1851.
Sir: I have the honor to report in detail that I left Columbia Barracks, Vancouver, on the 29th ultimo, pursuant to instructions from division headquarters, with the squadron of First Dragoons, late transferred from the Mounted Rifles, en route for California.
The first part of our march was the ordinary routine, passing through a thinly settled, but uncommonly fertile and beautiful, country. On nearing the extreme settlements, rumors of Indian hostilities met us. At Knotts, at the entrance of the Umpqua cañon, the truth of these was confirmed beyond a doubt; and I was waited on by a deputation of citizens with a petition requesting the protection of my command.
A post is required in this vicinity more than at any other point in Oregon. This point is the key to the road to California, and is the best entrance for emigrants to Oregon; and the Rogue River Indians are proverbially the tribe of all others to be dreaded as fierce and treacherous in the extreme. At this moment, not only is the "road" infested by them, but all the settlements throughout the Umpqua are in danger.
As, under my orders, it was not in my power to delay more than a limited period, I deemed it advisable to surprise these Indians, if possible. Consequently, having detached my train under Lieutenant Irvine, by the regular road, with as strong a force as I could spare, guided by Messrs. Jesse Applegate and Levi Scott, I penetrated by a new route, placing myself in rear of the presumed situation of the Rogue River villages; and thus I hoped, with even the limited force of sixty-seven men, to break them up before they could combine or disperse. We left Knotts on the 14th instant, following up the South Umpqua, crossed the Divide on the 16th, and reached the Rogue River on the following day.
Our difficulty was the uncertainty of the distance to, and the situation of, the villages. They were supposed to be from five to ten miles off. My plan was rapidly to sweep both sides of the river; but it was found for miles unfordable and dangerous in swimming from the swiftness of the current and nature of the banks.
We pushed on at a trot on discovering a fresh trail; but signals and cries soon convinced us that we had been discovered and our movements watched. The column took the gallop, trusting to anticipate the Indian scouts, Captain Walker leading with orders to seize cañons or passes when he could, and Captain Stuart following in supporting distance, but destined under my command to act on the right bank, the provisions and baggage following with a small guard.
A party of Indians being observed in a hammock, Captain Walker dismounted and cleared it, the Indians escaping by the river. Captain Stuart was ordered to cover this movement. Shortly after this period, Captain Walker most gallantly pushed across the river in defiance of all obstacles, and some Indians opposite, fortunately without accident. I then overtook and joined Captain Stuart's half squadron just in time to see it, in a brisk skirmish, charge and destroy a party of the enemy, who fought desperately--a charge brilliant in itself, but costly to us, as it resulted in the death of its most distinguished leader, who fell mortally wounded whilst leading his men. Two others were badly wounded. The train had now to be waited for, and the camp of the wounded established.
This occasioned a delay of some three-quarters of an hour, and left me but seventeen disposable men, with whom, accompanied by Lieutenant Williamson of the Topographical Engineers, whom I assigned to line duty, I pushed on again rapidly, hoping at least to make a diversion for Captain Walker. After passing on some miles, a smoke at a distance, which proved to be a signal fire, led me to suppose that Captain Walker had destroyed some villages.
I consequently disposed my men so as to intercept the fugitives. This brought me unexpectedly on a powerful war party of two hundred and fifty or three hundred Indians. Fortunately, an isolated clump of trees gave me a strong position and concealed my numbers. I maintained this position as long as I dared, without being cut off from my camp, and retired without loss.
The next day, fearing for Lieutenant Irvine's and Captain Walker's detachments, especially from our previous ignorance of a strong war party, and greatly hampered by hospital litters, I crossed to the left bank to avoid an action amidst the ravines and passes.
The 19th June, Captain Walker and Lieutenant Irvine joined me, from a camp at the foot of the Siskiyou Mountains. I enclose Captain Walker's report of his movements.
My position is such as to leave the enemy in doubt as to my future moves; and they are likely to remain deceived. In the meanwhile, I have sent Messrs. Applegate and Scott, with an address to the citizens in the several adjoining mining districts, calling on them to turn out in force, in which case our dragoons will do their duty in the main attack; and the volunteer companies will cut the Indians off from their villages, or pursue them to the mountains. I trust in this manner to afford relief from the Indian attacks until a post can be permanently established, which I now recommend as necessary. The post would in a short time be of little expense, as the Rogue River bottoms are very fertile.
In detailing those operations, I must mention that Messrs. Levi Scott, Jesse Applegate and W. G. T'Vault, gentlemen of high standing as pioneers in Oregon, have rendered me as much service, by their courage and coolness before the enemy, as by their knowledge as guides in this new region.
I have the honor again to report the satisfactory conduct of every man of my detachment, and of the gallant and efficient manner in which I have been supported by Captain Walker and Lieutenant Williamson. Brevet Captain Stuart's brilliant career raises him beyond the commendation of the individual commander. It can only be uttered by the united voice of the Army of Mexico.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Bvt. Major, First Dragoons.
Elwood Evans, History of the Pacific Northwest: Oregon and Washington, 1889, page 383
The Oregon Spectator has the particulars of the engagement which occurred on or about the 17th June, between the Rogue River Indians and a part of the Mounted Rifles, 28 in number, under Maj. Kearny's command (the Major being with them in the engagement), at a place called Table Rock, on Rogue River, some 12 or 15 miles east of the usual traveled road.
"The Indians had assembled at this place in considerable force--they were lying in ambush from which they commenced firing upon the riflemen. A conflict ensued in which some 11 Indians were killed and many more wounded. Of the whites, Lieut. Stuart was killed, and another officer, not named, is said to have been mortally wounded. Lieut. Stuart is represented to have been a noble officer--his loss will be greatly deplored.
"Major Kearny has expressed a determination not to leave the country until the savages are punished, or all prospect of further difficulties are removed. The Indians are said to have evinced great boldness.
"We have been favored with the subjoined account of the fight from Lieut. C. E. Irvine.
"Rogue River, June 20.
"Dear Sir--On the 17th inst., Maj. Kearny's command fought the Rogue River Indians. Captains James Stuart and Peck were severely wounded; Captain Stuart survived until the next day, the 18th. There was one other man slightly wounded. Among the Indians there were some 20 or 25 killed--number of wounded unknown. All well. In haste.
C. E. Irvine, Lt. R. M. Rifles, U.S.A."
Capt. Stuart is reported to have said before he expired, "It is too bad, after fighting six battles in Mexico, to be killed here by an Indian."
Savannah Republican, Georgia, August 28, 1851, page 2
The Indians still continue troublesome on the borders of Oregon. . . .
Very unpleasant tidings have been received from Rogue River Valley, concerning an encounter which was had with the Indians by the U.S. dragoons, on the 18th June, in which Captain Stuart, an officer highly respected and esteemed, was killed.
The following account of the affair is given by the Times:
"We have received intelligence that an encounter was had with the Rogue River Indians by a detachment of thirty U.S. troops on the 18th of June, in Rogue River Valley, near Table Rock. Capt. Stuart was shot through with an arrow, and lived 24 hours after receiving the wound. His dying words to his comrades were: 'It is too hard, after fighting six hard battles in Mexico, to be killed by an Indian.' Two Americans were slightly wounded. There were 100 Indians in the battle, and 17 were left dead on the field.
"It is said that there are more than 1000 warriors there who are hostile. Five hundred volunteers are expected from the mines to fight them. Gov. Gaines has a party of twelve men, and Gen. Lane another one of thirty, pushing on to the scene of danger. The Indian chief is reported to be very intelligent, and told the Americans that he could keep the air filled with 1000 arrows if he chose. We apprehend serious difficulty before the affair is settled. The best mode, in our opinion, is to subdue them, and the quicker the better. The Rogue River Indians are hostile the whole length of the river, and it is not safe to travel among them. The miners are represented as doing tolerably well, though few large strikes are made."
"Oregon Intelligence," Daily Alta California, San Francisco, July 16, 1851, page 2
(From the Benicia State Gazette)
UNITED STATES TROOPS IN CALIFORNIA.--In our paper of June 21st, we published an article purporting to give the officers and stations of the United States troops in this state. We have since been furnished, by the politeness of one of the officers at the barracks near this city, with the following, which is thought to be a correct list of the officers of the army, the corps, and stations of the troops now serving in California:
Brevet Brig. Gen. E. A. Hitchcock, Colonel 2nd Infantry, commanding Pacific Division. Headquarters at Sonoma.
Brevet Lieut. Col. J. Hooker, Assistant Adjutant General; Major H. Leonard, Paymaster; Assistant Surgeon J. S. Griffin; Brevet Capt. A. Gibbs, on leave (A.D.D. to Gen. Smith); 1st Lieut. G. H. Derby, Topographical Engineers; at Sonoma.
Major W. Seawell, 2nd Infantry, commanding; Brevet Capt. F. Steele, Adjutant; Assistant Surgeon C. P. Deyerle; Major A. S. Miller (sick). Companies C, G and F, 2nd Infantry--Brevet Lieut. Col. S. Casey, Brevet Major H. W. Wessells, 2nd Lieuts. T. Wright and J. W. Frazier; at the barracks, near Benicia.
Companies E and A, 1st Dragoons--Brevet Major Ed. H. Fitzgerald, commanding, 1st Lieut. Cave J. Couts (on leave at San Diego); Assistant Surgeon Francis Sorrel; encamped near Benicia.
Brevet Major Robt. Allen, Assistant Quartermaster, in charge of Division Depot, and Brevet Major G. P. Andrews, 3rd Artillery, Assistant Commissary of Subsistence, at Benicia.
Company E, 2nd Infantry--1st Lieut. N. H. Davis, 2nd Lieut. F. Paine, Assistant Surgeon R. O. Abbott; at Camp Far West, Bear Creek.
Company C, 1st Dragoons-Lieut. George Stoneman commanding, Assistant Surgeon John Campbell; escort to Dr. Wozencraft, Indian Commissioner, Sacramento Valley.
Brevet Major J. McKinstry, A.Q.M., in charge of supplies at Redding, awaiting Major Kearny's arrival from Oregon.
Companies B and K, 2nd Infantry--2nd Lieuts. T. Moore, N. H. McLean and A. Colcord; at a post on the headwaters of the San Joaquin.
Company M, 3rd Artillery--Capt. E. D. Keyes commanding, Brevet Capt. J. H. Lendrum, acting A.Q.M., 1st Lieut. H. G. Gibson, Surgeon C. M. Hitchcock; at Presidio de San Francisco.
Major A. B. Eaton, Commissary of Subsistence, Capt. J. L. Folsom, A.Q.M., and Capt. H. W. Halleck, Engineer, at San Francisco.
Company F, 3rd Artillery--Capt. H. S. Burton commanding, 1st Lieut. John Hamilton, 1st Lieut. Alfred Sully, Regimental Quartermaster, at Monterey.
Major C. S. Merchant, 3rd Artillery, commanding Southern District. Company I, 1st Artillery--Brevet Lieut. Col. J. B. Magruder, 1st Lieuts. A. R. Eddy and F. E. Patterson, Assistant Surgeon J. E. Summers, Major N. W. Brown, Paymaster; at Mission of San Diego.
Brevet Capt. N. Lyon, 2nd Infantry, in charge of the Quartermaster's, 2nd Lieut. T. D. Johns, in charge of subsistence depots, and Brevet Capt. Ed. L. F. Hardcastle, Topographical Engineers; at San Diego.
Company A, 2nd Infantry--Capt. C. S. Lovell commanding, 1st Lieut. J. W. Schureman, 2nd Lieut. C. Smith, and Assistant Surgeon I. L. Adkins; at Rancho del Chino.
Companies D, H and I, 2nd Infantry--Brevet Major S. P. Heintzleman commanding, Capt. D. Davidson, 1st Lieuts. Ed. Murray and H. B. Hendershott; at Santa Isabella.
2nd Lieut. J. W. Sweeney, 2nd Infantry, in command of a guard at junction of Gila and Colorado rivers.
Brevet Major P. Kearny, 1st Dragoons, commanding; Captains J. G. Walker and James Stuart, of the Rifles (latter reported killed by Indians on Rogue River), 2nd Lieut. R. S. Williamson, Topographical Engineers, and Assistant Surgeon W. F. Edgar; en route from Oregon to California, with about eighty Mounted Riflemen.
Brevet Capt. E. K. Kane, 2nd Dragoons, A.Q.M., en route to San Diego, with train of baggage wagons.
Major A. J. Smith, Paymaster, on special duty in Southern California.
Daily Alta California, San Francisco, July 20, 1851, page 2
Camp on Branch of Rogue River,Dear Sir:--Frequently, since I left Portland, have I thought of your request that I should keep you informed of any events of interest that might occur during our march to California; and though until very recently everything has passed off very quietly, I have desired to send you descriptions of the different parts of the country we passed over, not only on account of their beauty and resources, but because the information might have been valuable to such of your acquaintances as were about starting for the mines in this vicinity. Up to this time, however, my duties have occupied so much of my time that I have had no leisure for letter writing.
June 20th, 1851.
We left Portland, as you remember, on the 29th ult., with about 80 soldiers of the Regiment of Mounted Riflemen, who were going to California to fill up the Dragoon companies stationed there. Maj. Kearny of the 1st Dragoons was in command, and Capts. Walker and Stuart and Lieut. Irvine of the Rifles. Dr. Edgar of the Medical Department and Lieut. Williamson of the Topographical Engineers were the officers accompanying him. The recent rains has made the road exceedingly bad, and it was with the greatest difficulty our wagons passed over them. However, we made our way through the beautiful valley of the Willamette; crossed Calapooia Mountains, and reached Applegate's, on Elk Creek, on the 7th June. From all the trains coming from the southward that we had passed we had heard very discouraging accounts of the difficulty of passing "the canyon," as it is called--a pass through the Umpqua Mountains. Our guide being of the opinion that the canyon might be avoided by crossing the mountains some 20 miles to the eastward, Major Kearny was inclined to follow this route, and sent a party in advance to examine. Messrs. Applegate and Scott, prominent citizens of this section of the country, influenced by a desire of finding a route preferable to the one usually followed, consented to accompany us. The road from Applegate's passes to the southward about 50 miles, when it crosses the south branch of the Umpqua River and enters the canyon, the distance through which is called twelve miles, then following a tortuous course over steep hills forty miles, it strikes Rogue River, which it follows up, inclining to the eastward. The plan was to pass eastward of the South Umpqua, and then crossing the mountains in a southeasterly direction, to get into a large plain, the valley of Rogue River, striking that river high up. As Rogue River and the Umpqua were known to approach each other near their sources, it was hoped the distance over the mountain range between them would not be great, and if a good pass were found, the road to California would not only be greatly improved, but shortened. As we passed towards the canyon, we began to hear reports of Indian outrages having been recently committed, and upon arriving at Knott's settlement, at the south of the canyon, we found considerable excitement prevailing. The ferryman at Rogue River had been obliged to desert the ferry, and many Americans were waiting at Knott's to accumulate a sufficient force to pass onward in safety. Hearing of the approach of the troops, three men in conjunction with the residents drew up a petition [on June 11--see above] which they presented to Major K., asking him to use his command to quiet the country. In this new state of affairs, the major determined to follow the new route at all hazards, hoping by this means to get, undiscovered, in rear of the Indians. Therefore, sending the main provision train through the canyon in charge of Lt. Irvine, we followed up the Umpqua about 20 miles, and crossing the mountains by a route which would be found tolerably good for pack animals, and far preferable to the route through the canyon, we struck Rogue River on the morning of the 17th, a few miles above where it enters the valley. The plan now was for half of the command to follow down on each side of the river, in hopes of surprising and cutting off the Indians. We had not proceeded more than three or four miles before a few straggling Indians discovered us, and run yelling down the river. Capt. Walker, being detached with his company, swam the river within the face of a small party, and charging them, killed five, and wounding others; while Maj. K., with Capt. Stuart and his company proceeded down the right bank at a gallop, and soon ran upon a party of about twenty, with whom he had a brisk engagement, killing a large proportion. Nine of them are known to have been killed, and it is probable very few if any escaped. But our victory was a very dear one, for the gallant captain fell mortally wounded at the head of his men. His surely was a very hard lot--after passing through five of the great battles in Mexico, and gaining a reputation of which anyone might be proud, to fall at last by the arrow of a savage. He lived but 30 hours after receiving the wound. Corporals Peck and Day were also wounded, the former severely.
After our pack came up, Maj. K., leaving a sufficient guard with them and the wounded, proceeded with the remainder of the men, some 15 in number, down the river. After passing down some 5 miles, he discovered a large body of Indians, mostly mounted, and having many rifles with them, proceeding up towards him. At this time he had left half his small party in ambush, and had but 8 men with him. He reached a grove of oaks, and then waited till the others came up. In the meantime the Indians, who had also halted, had been continually reinforced by horsemen and men on foot from down the river, till their numbers amounted to from two to three hundred. After holding his strong position for an hour waiting in vain for an attack, and fearing to compromise the safety of his wounded by acting on the offensive against such great odds, he retired to camp, reaching it about sunset.
Nothing was heard of Capt. Walker that night, and the next morning we passed the river in hopes of rejoining him; and passing to the southward 20 miles, we struck the road at this place, and found he was still in advance. He had scoured the left bank of the river--passed the night without provisions, and not knowing where to find Maj. Kearny, had passed on to overtake Mr. Irvine. The next morning both he and Mr. Irvine rejoined us.
The fact of meeting so large a body of Indians assembled in a war party, and the numerous outrages recently committed, show conclusively that the Indians have assembled for no usual purpose. The detached settlements in the Umpqua may be swept away in a moment, the necessity of striking a decisive blow is apparent. Maj. Kearny has sent to the Shasta and Rogue River mines to raise a party of citizens; and in two or three days we hope to destroy the large band we met with--the citizens preventing them from retreating to the mountains, while the dragoons attack them in front.
Since I commenced writing the above, a small party of citizens came into camp and reported that they had just been attacked by Indians some three miles above and had lost two packs, and had some animals killed. We immediately started for the place, and searching about in the thick timber and underbrush of the banks of a small creek, came upon the party quietly cooking some of the flour they had just stolen. We fired into them, upon which they started across the creek and into the bushes beyond, which were so thick as to prevent pursuit. We recaptured the stolen packs and found also a rifle they in their haste had left behind. None were killed on the spot, but the blood on the ground showed our bullets had done some execution. The audacity of these fellows stopping within a half mile of where they made their attack, to eat their stolen provisions, is enough to show the necessity of active operations against them at once.
If I have time, I will send you an account of our future operations. At present I must close.
Yours truly, R.S.W. [likely Lt. Robert S. Williamson]Weekly Oregonian, Portland, July 26, 1851, page 2
Camp First Dragoon Detachment,Lieutenant C. E. Irvine,
Rogue River Plains, O.T., June 22, 1851.
Adjutant First Dragoon Detachment,
Sir: I have the honor to communicate for the information of Brevet Major First Dragoons, Commanding, that, agreeably to his orders, I crossed Rogue River on the morning of the 17th instant, with detachment Company E, First Dragoons, at a point about twenty miles north of this place, Major Kearny, with detachment Company A, under the late Brevet Captain Stuart, remaining on the right bank, the object being to sweep down both banks of the river and to chastise or destroy any bands of hostile Indians that might be encountered, and for me to act in concert with the command on the opposite shore as far as circumstances would allow. At the same time, each party was thought to be of sufficient strength to be successful against any force of hostile Indians that might be encountered, and also that the two companies would form a junction with each other at some point below, which in our ignorance of the country could not be designated.
In obeying these instructions, I pursued the course of the stream some ten or twelve miles, encountering and partly destroying several bands of hostile Indians. Before proceeding further down, I considered it important to gain, if possible, information of Major Kearny's position and route. For this purpose, I dispatched a noncommissioned officer with four men to return on my trail and ascertain, if possible, where Major Kearny then was, and to receive his orders. After several hours' absence, the party returned without bringing any information relative to Major Kearny's command, although the noncommissioned officer reported that he had gone almost to the point of our crossing in the morning, and was prevented from going to that point by encountering a large band of hostile Indians, which he supposed had been driven across by Major Kearny's command passing down on the opposite shore.
At the point I had then reached, the river formed a semicircle, my line of march being on the outer circumference, while the company under Major Kearny, by taking the chord of the arc, would arrive much sooner than I could at the point below, where a large force of hostile Indians were said to be assembled.
This line of march I supposed he had pursued; and in order to co-operate with the other company in the main attack, which I was now aware would be more serious than I had previously supposed, I pushed forward along the bank of the Rogue River for fifteen miles as rapidly as possible, endeavoring without success, at every point that looked fordable, to recross the river.
From an elevated point, I now obtained a good view of the country on the opposite side of the river, and saw to my surprise several hundred Indians (mounted and dismounted) on a plain at the base of what is known as Table Mountain. I then became still more desirous of recrossing and forming a junction with the command on the opposite side, wherever they might be, as I knew they were unprepared to encounter so formidable a force as the Indians had here assembled. Crossing here, however, was utterly impossible, as by the junction of several large tributaries the stream was here very deep and of great rapidity of current, assuming more the character of a torrent rushing between high banks of volcanic rock.
My anxiety to join Major Kearny was not lessened by remembering that my company was entirely unprovided with subsistence. To have countermarched twenty-five or thirty miles to the point where I left Major Kearny in the morning would have occupied all of next day; and on arriving there I might not find him, and during which time my company would be without food. Under these circumstances, I determined to endeavor to find the main road leading from Oregon to California, in hope of falling in with Lieutenant Irvine's subsistence train, or with some emigrant or mining party from whom subsistence might be procured.
I accordingly left the river, and, pursuing a southeastern direction for about five miles, had the satisfaction of finding the road, and, after traveling about six miles further, encamped for the night, having marched that day over forty miles.
The next morning, at daylight, I pursued my course, and before going far had the satisfaction of learning from a party of miners that Lieutenant Irvine was in advance of me; and, pushing on rapidly, I overtook him about noon on the 18th. I should have set out to rejoin Major Kearny's command immediately on getting supplies; but, from the exhaustion of both men and horses after two days of rapid marching, and the men without food, I considered it advisable not to set out on my return before the next morning. In the afternoon, however, I received orders from Major Kearny to follow back my route and join him here, with which I complied, joining him at this camp on the 19th instant.
I am, very respectfully, etc.,
J. G. Walker,
Bvt. Capt., Comdg. Det. First Dragoons.
Elwood Evans, History of the Pacific Northwest: Oregon and Washington, 1889, page 385
[Camp Stuart on Bear Creek]
[first page missing]Soon after picketing our animals an express arrived at our camp on his way to the ferry on Rogue River, who informed me that the Major had by that time set out with his command, dragoons and volunteers, for the purpose of making a forced march during the night in order to attack the Indians at daybreak the next morning. Early on Monday morning I set out with the hope of falling in with the Major or the Indians retreating from his command, and made a hard day's ride but failed to find the Major or the Indians. On Tuesday I proceeded to Camp Stuart with the hope of hearing of the command, but as yet no tidings had been received of their whereabouts. Late in the evening Capt. Scott and T'Vault, with a small party, came in for supplies and reinforcements. They informed me that two battles had been fought, one early on Monday morning, and one in the afternoon. In the last fight the Indians posted themselves for four hours and until the darkness of the night enabled them to make their escape. In both fights the Indians suffered severely. Several of our party were wounded, but none mortally. T'Vault received an arrow through his hat, just grazing his head. By nine o'clock at night we were on the march, and joined the Major at 2 o'clock Wednesday morning, when I had the pleasure of meeting my friends Applegate, Freaner and others.
Early in the morning we set out to carry into effect the plan of operations which had been agreed upon, and proceeded down the river and on Thursday morning crossed about seven miles from the ferry. We soon found an Indian trail leading up a large creek, and in a short time overtook and charged upon a party of Indians, killing one. The rest made their escape in a dense chaparral. We again pushed forward as rapidly as possible until late in the evening when we gave battle to another party of Indians, few of whom escaped. Twelve women and children were taken prisoners; several of those who escaped were wounded.
At this point we camped, and next morning took up the line of march and scoured the country to Rogue River, recrossing at the Table Mountains, and reached camp at dark on the evening of the 27th.
The Indians had been completely whipped in every fight. Some fifty of them were killed, many wounded, and thirty taken prisoners. It has, however, cost us dearly. We have lost Capt. Stuart, one of the bravest of the brave. A more gentlemanly man never lived; a more daring soldier never fell in battle. Too much cannot be said for Major Kearny. For more than ten days he was in the saddle at the head of his command, scouring the country and pouncing upon the Indians wherever they could be found. He has done much to humble the Rogue River Indians, and taught them to know that they can be hunted down and destroyed. Capt. Walker of the Rifles deserves the highest praise for gallant conduct. Lt. Williamson of the Topographical Corps and Lt. Irvine and command also deserve high praise for gallant conduct. The volunteers behaved well--nobly. Applegate, Scott, T'Vault for good conduct as guides and courage in battle are entitled to great credit. Capt. Armstrong, Blanchard, Boone and all of our Oregon men deserve credit for their good conduct and bravery. Col. Freaner from California with a party of volunteers from the mines promptly tendered their services and behaved nobly.
Never has an Indian country been invaded with better success, nor at a better time. The Indians had organized in great numbers for the purpose of killing and plundering our people passing to and from the mines. The establishment of a garrison in this district will be necessary for the maintenance of peace. That done, and a good agent located here, and we shall have no more trouble in this quarter.
This morning the question arose what must be done with the prisoners. The Major was anxious to turn them over to the citizens of Oregon to be delivered to the Superintendent of Indian Affairs. The citizens were generally bound to the mines, and none could be found to take charge of them. The Major was determined not to release them, holding that it would be wrong to give them up before a peace could be made. Consequently he determined to take them to San Francisco and then send them by sea to Oregon.
With great respect I am, sir"Copied from original letters in possession of Asahel Bush, Salem, Oregon."
Yr. obt. srvt.
Joseph Lane Letters
LATE FROM THE MINES.--Capt. Baker has just shown us a letter from his partner, Mr. Clark, who is now at the mines, from which we learn that mining operations are about as usual, some are doing well while others are doing but little. There is said to be plenty of gold, but the great objection is that it requires hard labor to obtain it. If some ingenious Yankee would invent a machine to perform the hard labor of working the mines, he would place the gold-seeking community under lasting obligation and secure a ready sale for his invention, provided he did not ask too much.
Weekly Oregonian, Portland, June 21, 1851, page 2
For the Spectator.
The Shasta peaks are white with snow,
Their wavy valley, warm and low,
Was once a lake in days of old,
But now's dry land and yielding gold.
Its northwest corner's very rich,
They find some gold where'er they ditch;
Green with grass and nearly level,
Paved with slate and gray with gravel.
Low spreading oaks and lofty pines
Shade the camps all o'er the mines;
From earth's four quarters, young and old
In legions come in quest of gold.
Here are about three thousand men,
And scarcely room for one in ten;
They have a law for each man's claim,
Which holds by tools or written name.
Each man makes his own survey,
Ten steps wide or square each way--
He steps so far at every stride,
It makes his claim one third too wide,
And some defy the lawful rules,
And hold two claims by extra tools--
And thus keep out many a poor man
By some old shovel, pick or pan.
M. V.Oregon Spectator, Oregon City, June 26, 1851, page 1
Camp on branch of Rogue River,Dear Sir: I have but a very few minutes to spare to tell you of our operations during the last week, and must be brief. At noon on the 22nd our express from the Rogue River mines returned, and reported that a small party of citizens were at the ferry, ready to cooperate with us; but that, as a general rule, the citizens could not be made to turn out. So much delay for nothing was rather discouraging, and it was determined to commence our operations at once, without preference to parties of citizens to operate in other directions. It was deemed expedient to obtain a position upon the other side of the river, without, if possible, the knowledge of the Indians. Therefore, as soon as it was dark, we saddled up, and at 9½ o'clock quietly crossed the creek, and went up the valley for 20 miles, when we forded the river near where it emerges from the mountains. Then, sweeping down the right bank, we reached "Table Rock," where we supposed the Indians were assembled. But much to our regret we found the main body had dispersed. We had a little skirmish in the bushes, in which one of our men was wounded in the arm. In the afternoon of this day we found a ranchero which we destroyed, killing several males, and capturing 8 squaws with some children. I forgot to mention that some 20 or 30 citizens, joining our packers before leaving camp, formed with a party of about 50 which accompanied us, and rendered us much assistance. The Indians being dispersed, we had to give up all hopes of a regular fight and all we could do was to scour the country, and destroy any small parties we might find. On the 23rd inst. we were joined by a party from the Shasta diggings, among whom was Maj. Freaner, the "Mustang" of Mexico and Texas notoriety. During the night of the 24th, Gen. Lane, with a small party of citizens, also joined us, and we had now quite a formidable party. From that time we have been searching about in the mountains, destroying villages, killing all the males we could find, and capturing women and children. We have killed about 30 altogether, and have 28 prisoners now in camp. The prisoners we will take with us and probably send them from California by sea to the Superintendent of Indian Affairs in Oregon. He having them in his possession will probably be able to bring the tribe to terms.
June 28th, 1851.
I regret I have so little time that I can give you none of the details of our operation. We are all well in camp, and tomorrow we recommence our march towards California, which I hope will not again be interrupted.
Yours very truly, R.S.W.Weekly Oregonian, Portland, August 2, 1851, page 2
Camp Stuart, Saturday, June 29, 1851,
Branch of Rogue River.Sir: I have the honor to continue the report of my late movements against the Rogue River Indians. My desire had been, by assembling a large force of volunteers, to simultaneously occupy the principal passes of the mountains, so that the Indians, retiring before our main party, might be intercepted in their retreat to the inner villages--our difficulty being a want of knowledge of the country and their system of detecting our movements by spies on the most elevated peaks.
The position of my camp enabled me, while awaiting volunteers, to cover the road, and to afford a safe resting spot to parties from the mines. I recaptured the only packs robbed within miles of me.
Sunday, the 22nd, at noon, Mr. Levi Scott returned from the Rogue River mines, and in the evening Mr. Jesse Applegate, accompanied by Colonel Freaner (of New Orleans), from Shasta plains. The desultory bonds of a mining community caused a comparatively small number to volunteer. Those who did, however, rendered much service, and were extremely active. They amounted, with Captain Humphrey's party (a volunteer force organized at my camp), to near one hundred.
As soon as it became dark, that same night, by a rapid march, I placed myself again near and above the point where I expected to find the rendezvous of the Indian war party. The shortness of the night caused it to be daylight before we could reach it; and our efforts to secure their horses were without avail. The 23rd and 24th were spent in breaking up the Indian ranches, and in destroying such war parties as we could meet.
On the afternoon of the 23rd, there was something of a brisk skirmish, in a dense hammock, with a party, which had been first intercepted by Colonel Freaner's spies. This gentleman deserves to be particularly noticed for the zealous manner with which he left important interests at the Shasta mines to volunteer in this quarter.
The night of the 24th, General Lane, who, on learning of the troubles, had raised a party and had been acting in the vicinity, joined our camp. As General Lane was present in a private capacity, it was not possible to yield (as I would have desired), as due to his position and distinguished reputation, the command of my detachment; but I had the honor, from that time, of acting in cooperation with him.
Accompanying General Lane with part of my dragoons (Captain Walker, Captain Humphreys and Colonel Freaner scouring the country at opposite points), we forded Rogue River from the left bank, at a point about ten miles above the ferry; and following up a creek, over a country hitherto unexplored, we spent the next three days in making a circuit around the stronghold near Table Rock. We returned to Camp Stuart (our permanent camp) on the evening of the 27th instant.
Whilst on this detour, General Lane's party succeeded in capturing the family of the head chief.
The occupations of the citizens are such, that in thus spiritedly turning out, they have done everything that could be expected. I declined assuming any direct command over them, although they have cheerfully acted on such points as I assigned to them. Governor Lane, of course, would have been chosen to that command had they acted in one body.
We have taken many prisoners from among the women and children,--above thirty. They will prove useful in effecting a treaty, or holding the Indians in check. It was impossible to spare the men, as they combat with desperation to the last, meeting any advances with treachery. In these late affairs, there have been a number of wounded, but none seriously.
The volunteers broke up on the 28th instant. This morning, the 29th, I will resume my march to California. The lateness of the rainy season, the temporary nature of my outfit for the detachment, this late delay of more than a fortnight's operations, which counts from my leaving Knotts, on the South Umpqua, imperatively demand that I lose no time (according to division orders) in organizing the Dragoons in California with the Rifle transfers, those present with us and those who went by sea, and I consequently must content myself with these rapid operations, which, as the enemy has been dispersed and many severe blows inflicted on him by the loss of life, capture of families and destruction of property, have had all and more success than I could have hoped. Still a post is instantly demanded to maintain quiet; nor have I any faith in a treaty with these people.
Whilst again recounting the efficiency of Brevet Captain Walker and Lieutenant Williamson, it gives me pleasure to state that Lieutenant Irvine, who has commanded detachment Company A, has proved himself as valuable a line officer as he has been indefatigable as acting Quartermaster and Commissary.
Assistant Surgeon Edgar has been untiring in the discharge of his duties to the sick and wounded. I am, sir, very respectfully, etc.,
Brevet Major First Dragoons, Comdg.Elwood Evans, History of the Pacific Northwest: Oregon and Washington, 1889, page 386
Fort Long, Rogue River FerryFriend Dryer:
June 29, 1851.
I arrived at this place on the 25th; our company from the north side of the Kanyon consisted of fourteen persons, but at this time it is not considered safe for so small a party to travel.
The government troops who have been on the river above here hunting Indians have left for California with over thirty prisoners; all women and children. In one of the battles we had seven men wounded, and in the first engagement Capt. Stuart was killed and two men wounded.
The volunteers who have been with the regulars commenced arriving here this morning in small parties, en route for the Willamette Valley. In the several battles they have had it is reported that only three Indians have been known to be killed. Some of the Indian women taken prisoners have been most brutally treated.
In order to effect anything here the Governor will have to permit volunteer companies to organize under his sanction and form a volunteer army. Not much doing in the mines at present. A man by the name of Geo. Sanderson was shot through the arm last night by a man named Jesse while on guard. The bearer is ready to leave and I must close.
Yours in haste,
Weekly Oregonian, Portland, July 19, 1851, page 2
Second Lieutenant Caleb E. Irvine, Mounted Riflemen, June 30, 1851.
"Resignations," United Service Journal, February 21, 1852, page 75 The Montana Historical Society says he resigned in September 1851.
Late and Important from Oregon.
The Columbia, Capt. LeRoy, arrived on Sunday in 56 hours from Astoria. She brings exciting news relative to the difficulties with the Indians on Rogue River. Several parties of whites have been attacked and a number of persons robbed and killed. Nine men are yet missing, whose names are J. Kirkpatrick, S. T. Slater, James H. Hussey, Cyrus Kidder, R. H. Broadess, T. H. McKiron, T. W. Ridwort, P. D. Palmer and Sumner. These persons were left by Capt. Tichenor at the mouth of the river on the 8th inst., on the last trip of the Sea Gull. Several skirmishes had taken place also between a tribe under the command of "Chucklehead" and the whites at several places along the river. Four different parties had been attacked at the Green Willow Springs, near the ferry on Rogue River. On the 3rd June, 32 whites under Dr. James McBride were attacked on their return from the mines by 100 Indians and a skirmish ensued, in which Mr. Jas. Barlow was wounded by an arrow and ten savages killed, among them their chief. Three horses and one pack mule, laden with property and gold dust to the value of $1500, were carried off by the Indians.
Rich diggings have been discovered on Rogue River.
Sacramento Daily Union, July 1, 1851, page 2
For more on the Indian war of 1851, click here.
Another Indian War!
From a private letter received in this place by a friend, we gather the following particulars of a battle that took place on or about the 17th ult., between the Rogue River Indians and a part of the Mounted Rifles, 20 in number, under Major Kearny's command (the Major being with them in the engagement) at a place called Table Rock, on Rogue River, some 12 or 15 miles east of the usually traveled road.
The Indians had assembled at this place in considerable force--they were lying in ambush from which they commenced firing upon the Riflemen. A conflict ensued in which some 11 Indians were killed and many more wounded. Of the whites, Lieut. Stuart was killed, and another officer, not named, is said to have been mortally wounded. Lieut. Stuart is represented to have been a noble officer--his loss will be greatly deplored.
Major Kearny has expressed a determination not to leave the country until the savages are punished, or all prospects of further difficulties are removed. The Indians are said to have evinced great boldness.
We have been favored with the subjoined.account of the fight from Lieut. C. E. Irvine:
Rogue River, June 20, 1851.Dear Sir--On the 17th inst., Major Kearny's command fought the Rogue River Indians. Captains James Stuart and Peck were severely wounded; Capt. Stuart survived until the next day, the 18th. There was one other man slightly wounded. Among the Indians there were some 20 or 25 killed--number of wounded unknown. All well. In haste.
Yours, &c.Oregon Spectator, Oregon City, July 3, 1851, page 2
C. E. IRVINE,
Lt. R. M. Rifles, U.S.A.
The accounts that have reached us lately from the mines are anything but encouraging to the lovers of the precious metal. The water in the dry diggings has so much disappeared that it is difficult to make anything more than expenses. The health of all the diggings is reported to be good. But one man is said to have died up to the middle of May from disease. Several have died from wounds received by attacks from the Indians.
Oregon Spectator, Oregon City, July 3, 1851, page 2
Explorations are being made for a road east of the canon by a portion of Major Kearny's command--under the guidance of Jesse Applegate, Esq. Levi Scott, Esq. is also with them. The result of which will be laid before you when it is made known here. The army have passed the canon, and the party exploring were, from last accounts, near Table Rock on Rogue River. . . .
Gov. Gaines arrived here on Sunday last. He is engaged in raising men for the purpose of visiting the chief of the hostile Indians. He will leave during this week. The army have passed Rogue River. Several companies are organized for the purpose of giving battle to the Indians. As yet, no battle of much importance has been fought.
"Arrival of Gov. Gaines," Oregon Statesman, Oregon City, July 4, 1851, page 2
For the Spectator.
Umpqua, July 5, 1851.
Having recently returned from Rogue River, late the field of Maj. Kearny's military operations, I may perhaps be able to give some information interesting to your readers.
Though not eyewitness to most of the skirmishes between the whites and Indians, as they have been the themes for abler pens, it is not my purpose to detail them, but to attempt a description of the various routes by which Maj. Kearny invested [sic] and scoured the Rogue River country. Ascertaining at Mr. Knott's house (at the mouth of the Canyon) that the Rogue River Indians were in actual hostilities with the white, and that they had embodied in the neighborhood of the Table Rock, Maj. Kearny determined to attack them at that point.
Table Rock is a noted landmark in the Rogue River Valley, on the north side of the river, which washes its base, about five miles north of the [Willow] Springs, and twenty miles above the crossing; it is by nature a strong military position, and from it marauding parties could by a few hours' march make their descents upon the unwary from the crossing of the river to the Siskiyou Mountains. Using the rock as a watchtower, the Indians in perfect security themselves have a large extent of the valley and a long line of the road under their eyes--which enables them to determine the strength of each passing party and the place of their encampment. To penetrate the Rogue River Valley by a route entirely new, which would enable him to attack and perhaps surprise the enemy in the rear of this stronghold, was the grand plan of Maj. Kearny's campaign, and the defeat and desperation of the Indians followed as a consequence of its successful executive.
This movement at a favorable time would have been easily effected, but owing to rainy weather and high water at the commencement of the march, it was not to be achieved without labor and perseverance.
Following the course of the South Umpqua, Major Kearny, by making ferries at some crossings and opening roads over mountains to avoid others, was three laborious days in reaching a point on that river only about 20 miles east of the canyon, which as the road is good when the river is fordable, may be traveled with pack animals in five or six hours.
From this point the line of march crosses the South Umpqua (which here comes from a northeasterly direction) and takes up a large creek which heads southerly, following the course of this stream sometimes through fir timber, but most generally through prairie in the bottom, or over grassy oak hills along the westerly face of the mountain. In about 15 miles the creek forks and the route still keeping a south course takes up the ridge between them, which it follows to the summit of the mountain dividing the valleys of Rogue River and Umpqua, and descends to the latter valley between the branches of a tributary of and about 5 miles from the main Rogue River.
The route chosen by Maj. Kearny was an old Indian trail which evidently from time immemorial served as the line of communication between the valleys; like all Indian roads, it seeks the open rather than the direct way between the points, besides many steep and rocky places, which might be easily avoided; it passes over the highest peak of the mountain dividing the valleys, while it is evident that on both sides there are chasms (perhaps canyons) where a road might be opened many hundreds of feet lower than the path.
Lieut. Williamson, of the Corps of Engineers, estimates the length of the march as follows:
From Knott's (mouth of canyon) to the leaving of South Umpqua,
I have therefore no hesitation in saying that by taking a route more easterly than the present one through the Umpqua Valley, so as to strike the headwaters of Myrtle Creek, and from thence to cross over to the South Umpqua at or near the point where Maj. Kearny's route leaves it, persons with horses bound to Shasta or other parts of California from Willamette will save a day's travel and have as good a road as the present one, and further, that half the amount of labor bestowed upon the present road will make of Maj. Kearny's route a shorter and in all respects a better wagon road.
I must so far notice the military results of Maj. Kearny's plan as to say that aside from the death of the gallant Capt. Stuart, I consider the first collision with the Indians as very unfortunate, because had not this smaller body of Indians supervened, I have no doubt the Maj. with unimpaired forces would have surprised their main body, in which event their power to do mischief would have been destroyed, and his judicious plan completely successful.
A GUIDE.Oregon Spectator, Oregon City, July 22, 1851, page 2
Camp in Shasta Valley, July 7.
Dear Sir: When last I wrote to you, from Rogue River Valley, I had but time to pen you a few hurried lines. I suppose, however, that you have received from other sources full accounts of our operations there.
The command left our depot camp in Rogue River Valley on the 29th ult. to pursue its march to California, and making short marches, our animals having suffered much from the fatigues of the preceding ten days, arrived here on the evening of the 2nd inst. Here we remained the next day to allow the Quartermaster time to procure provisions, &c., from the mining town, some 15 miles distance. Lieut. Irvine, the quartermaster, proceeded to town and procured the necessary supplies, which he sent forward, proposing to follow in an hour and overtake the train before it reached camp. About 3 o'clock p.m. he left town, and having ridden about two miles, dismounted, tied his horse to some bushes, and walked off a few paces for a private purpose. While leisurely arranging his dress, he was suddenly seized from behind by two Indians and a Frenchman, and his hands bound to his back. He was then put on his horse, tied fast to him, and rapidly led a short distance to a retired spot, where he was kept till sunset. He was then taken across very rough hills, in a northwardly direction, till they came to the Klamath River, which they struck some miles below the usual crossing. Here the party stopped, and Lieut. Irvine was bound to a tree, where he was kept some seven or eight hours. In the meantime, the Frenchman held some conversation with one of the Indians in the Wallah-Wallah language [Chinook jargon] about some horses, when the Indians left. Some time after, the other Indian, with whom the Frenchman conversed in what Lieut. Irvine supposed to be the Rogue River tongue, was also sent away. The Frenchman addressed Lieut. Irvine in French, Spanish and jargon, all of which he pretended not to understand, when finally he spoke out in plain English. Sometimes he spoke fluently and sometimes in broken English, but in such a manner as to induce the supposition that his inability to speak well was all pretense. He told Lieut. I. that he was going to turn him over to the Rogue River chief, laughed at him for the manner in which some of our operations had been conducted, and made no hesitation in confessing that he had been with, and advised, the Indians all the time we were in the valley. He was a man over six feet high, about 30 years old, well made, black twinkling eyes, black hair, and wore military whiskers and an imperial--his chin and upper lip being shaved.
About noon the Frenchman commenced molding bullets. The fire was near the tree to which Lieut. I. was tied, and the smoke blowing from him, the Frenchman placed himself between the Lieut. and the fire. About this time Lieut. I. discovered that the cord about his wrist was slightly loose, and after some trouble succeeded in getting one hand free. Then taking his knife from his pocket, he cut the cord from the other. In front of him, and within reach, lay a lead, such as is used in sounding at sea. This he cautiously reached, and having carefully twisted the cord attached to it around his wrist to prevent his dropping it in a scuffle, he stepped forward and with one blow buried the lead in the Frenchman's brains so deep that it stuck fast. Leaving the man for dead, he immediately went to get his arms and horse, but accidentally turning, saw the Frenchman had raised himself on his knee and was in the act of discharging an arrow at him. The arrow passed through the cloth of his pantaloons without inflicting any injury, and the man immediately after fell back dead. At this time, an Indian was heard to halloo some distance off, and another answered from a hill opposite. Lieut. I. mounted immediately and about 10 o'clock that night reached the mining town, after having spent a very uncomfortable 4th of July.
This is the most daring piece of kidnapping I think I ever heard of--perpetrated in the daytime, in the heart of a densely populated mining district, and but a couple of miles from a town of 500 inhabitants. We supposed, while in Rogue River Valley, we saw some whites among the Indians, but the extreme improbability of men accustomed to a civilized state of society adopting this mode of life, and waging a war of murder and robbery against their fellow citizens, inclined us to doubt the evidence of our senses. The fact is now placed beyond doubt, and it should have an important influence when a treaty is made with this tribe. Who this Frenchman was, it is impossible for us to say. The circumstances that occurred may be the means of ascertaining this point. Just before we left Portland, Lieut. Irvine procured a watch from Mr. Couch, a merchant of your city. After capturing him the Frenchman examined his pockets, and upon looking at the watch said, "I must have seen this watch before." Upon more careful examination he remarked, "I remember now, I saw it at Couch's in Portland."
It is probably that these men had followed the command on account of the prisoners we had with us. On the night of the 2nd the prisoners were sent to town, and turned over to Gen. Lane, who had agreed to take them to the proper authority in Oregon. Accident threw Mr. Irvine in their way and they seized him. He certainly had a most remarkable escape.
I mentioned in my first letter to you that Maj. Kearny had a strong desire to make this march beneficial to the country by gaining such information with regard to the route as would enable the citizens to open other roads, avoiding the most difficult places, and the information he gained on the route he took to avoid the canyon was of much importance. Up to this point, the road from Oregon is traveled by wagons, but beyond it is only passable by packs--the only wagon road at present known passing far to the eastward by Goose Lake, and being some 200 miles farther than this route. From information which the Major has obtained, he is led to hope that a route passing east of Mt. Shasta may be found, which will be a good wagon route; and he has detached Lieut. Williamson, topographical engineer, with a party of twenty men to examine that country. Maj. Freaner, who traveled over a portion of the route last year with the command of Capt. Lyons, 2nd Infantry, has kindly volunteered to accompany Lieut. W., and with his knowledge of the country and his remarkable backwoods instinct, you may feel pretty confident that if such a route exists it will be found. The road will enter the Sacramento Valley shortly above Redding's house, coming down Cow Creek. The only difficulty exists between this point and Pit River. A wagon road which could be traveled in seven days from here to Redding's would be an immense advantage to this section of the country, and a great thing for both Oregon and California, as it would shorten the route from 10 to 15 days. Still there are some who hope the party will be unsuccessful. There is quite a large town at "Redding's Springs," 25 mils north of Redding's house, and if the new route is opened all the travel now passing through this town will be taken in another direction. I am told that the citizens of this town offer a reward of $3000 to anyone who will find a wagon route west of the present traveled route.
I will write you from California, telling you the rest of Lieut. Williamson's exploration, and speaking more fully of the different parts of the present route, showing how it may be improved, for I believe this will be a subject upon which much interest is felt by many of your fellow citizens in Oregon.
Yours, very truly, R.S.W.Weekly Oregonian, Portland, August 9, 1851, page 2
ANOTHER INDIAN WAR.--The accounts from Rogue River are such as to have induced the Executive of this State to authorize General Miles of Marysville to repair to the seat of difficulties, and if it be required to call out the state militia and organize a campaign, with the express understanding that the troops must look to the general government for their pay, as the state cannot become responsible for a further outlay.
Daily Alta California, San Francisco, July 8, 1851, page 2
The Indian Difficulties.The latest intelligence from the Rogue River country reported Gen. Lane within ten miles of Table Rock, the place where the recent engagement between the troops and Indians took place. He had about 30 men and was hurrying on with all possible dispatch to give the Indians battle. The latter were collected in considerable force nearby, and were expecting a renewal of the attack. They said they were ready for war and would fight until every white man was driven from their country.
The report that a lieutenant was mortally wounded appears to have been a mistake. No lieutenant was wounded, but two privates were, and one mortally, it is supposed.
The brave Capt. Stuart was shot through the breast with an arrow. He survived about twenty-four hours. His last words are said to have been: "It is too bad that I should have fought through half the battles of Mexico unharmed, to be killed here by an Indian."
The general impression seems to be that much hard fighting must be done before the Indians can be subdued. They are reported to be numerous and warlike, and deadly hostile to the white race. It is said to be useless to treat with them--that they are treacherous and faithless, and would not hesitate to violate their treaty obligations whenever an opportunity to rob or murder presented itself. We understand that Gen. Lane formed a treaty with these same tribes about one year since, but that it has, from that time to this, been violated with impunity on the part of the Indians. If, then, all peaceable means have failed of securing redress and safety, severe measures should be resorted to and vigorously prosecuted until the Indians are taught to respect the lives and property of the whites.
The Washington Union, in commenting upon the former policy of our government with reference to the hostile Indian tribes, remarks that the true method of war with them is as plain as that two and two make four. It is not to wait for them to strike and fly, but to follow them into their mountain haunts, seize their horses and property, break up their camps and deposits of stolen goods, and scatter their warriors to the winds. Those who are familiar with their habits and pursuits can easily direct the course to be adopted. They are fond of their families, and after getting them together in some fine, secluded valley, abounding with grass, wood, water and game, they pass their time in numerous assemblages with real savage comfort and independence. This is the "day and the hour" to assail them. Two or three well-mounted regiments could easily hunt them out, surround and capture or destroy them. This course would annihilate them or subdue their daring spirit. They would then see and feel our power and, finding their mountain homes, always deemed impregnable, exposed to our arms, they would yield or be at our mercy. This is the course the government should at once adopt, and it is the only one that can ever be effectual. Embody a few battalions of Texas and Arkansas rangers for this service, push on with vigor and skill, and we believe that we would soon see these Indian depredations checked for all time to come. We are indebted to a very intelligent gentleman, who has resided for many years in that section of country, for these suggestions, and they are so palpably reasonable and practicable that we have deemed it our duty to lay them before the public. We hope the vacillating, temporizing policy that has hitherto prevailed will be abandoned for this, or some other not unworthy of our national character.
Oregon Statesman, Oregon City, July 8, 1851, page 2
People are now reaping the fruit matured by the sending of the Mounted Rifles from the Territory to another district of the country where they are much less needed. Not a week passes by but new reports reach us from the Rogue River country, all showing the implacable hostility the Indians have conceived against the whites and their manifest relentlessness towards persons passing through their country. It has been our painful duty to have recorded the deaths of some of our citizens for the past month. One conspicuous among the number was Capt. Stuart, whose loss is deeply deplored by all who knew him. He was one of the first officers of his rank, and had few superiors in point of discipline, judgment and bravery, and was with all truly a gentleman. We venture again the assertion that no part of the United States or its Territories is so inefficiently protected at this time as Oregon. Yet we have men among us who have, during the past year, clamorously urged their withdrawal from the country. There are some, even at this day, who stand ready to justify the movement--who say that they were an idle, lazy and corrupt set of men--unfit to dwell in so lovely a place as Oregon.
"Should Oregon Be Unprotected?" Oregon Spectator, Oregon City, July 10, 1851, page 2
A LETTER FROM B. F. DOWELL
Washington City, D.C.There has been an oral tradition in Southern Oregon about the hostilities of the Indians, and the death and burial under an oak tree at Phoenix, Jackson County Oregon [of Lieutenant Stuart] for many years; but its true history has never been published. With the assistance of Hon. Binger Hermann, our vigilant, active and able representative who has received the official reports from the Adjutant General office of the United States. Major Kearny in 1851 was ordered to march overland from Oregon City to Benicia, California. While in Umpqua he received a petition from the citizens requesting the protection of the troops and offering to supply them with ammunition etc. transported to the seat of action at very low prices, which petition was signed by the following citizens, namely:
March 25, 1887.
Headquarters Department 1st Regt.The Adjutant Gen., U.S. Army,
Dragoons, Camp on Rogue
River, June 19, 1851
Sir.--I have the honor to report that on reaching the Umpqua Canyon (the 13th inst.), finding the settlements exposed to, and roads infested by, hostile parties of Rogue River Indians, I took measure to attack them. We had several skirmishes on the 17th inst., in one of which I regret to state that Bvt. Captain Stuart was mortally wounded, while heading a charge of cavalry. Two others were wounded on the same occasion. We have killed some fifteen or more of the enemy. In these affairs the behavior of the command has been most satisfactory, and I have been very efficiently supported by Bvt. Captain Walker, M. Rs. [Mounted Rifles], and Lieut. Williamson, Top. Eng. [Topographical Engineers], on duty with my command. The Indians are combined in a war party, some 300 strong. We discovered several whites among them. I enclose a detailed account of our late movements.
I am, sir, very respectfully,Major General R. Jones
Your obedient servant,
Bvt. Major 1st Dragoons, Commanding.
Adjutant General, U.S.A.
Headquarters, Department, 1st DragoonsThe Adjutant General U.S. Army
Camp on Branch of Rogue River
June 19th, 1851.
Sir.--I have the honor to report in detail that I left Columbia barracks, Vancouver, on the 29th ult., pursuant to instructions from division headquarters, with the squadron of 1st Dragoons, late transfers from the Mounted Riflemen, en route for California.
The first part of our march was the ordinary routine, passing through a thinly settled but uncommonly beautiful and fertile country. On nearing the extreme settlements, rumors of Indian hostilities met us. At Knott's, at the entrance of the Umpqua canyon, the truth of these was confirmed beyond a doubt, and I was waited on by a deputation of citizens, with a petition requesting the protection of my command.
A post is required in this vicinity more than any other point in Oregon. This point is the key to the road to California, is the best entrance for immigrants to Oregon, and the Rogue River Indians are proverbially the tribe of all others most to be dreaded, as fierce and treacherous in the extreme. At this moment not only is the road infested by them, but all the settlements throughout the Umpqua are in danger. As under my orders it was not in my power to delay more than a limited period, I deemed it advisable to surprise these Indians, if possible. Consequently having dispatched my train under Lt. Irvine by the regular road, with as strong a force as I could spare--guided by Messrs. Applegate and Scott--I penetrated by a new route, placing myself in rear of the presumed situation of the Rogue River villages, and thus I hoped with even the limited force of 67 men to break them up before they could combine, or disperse. We left Knotts on the 14th inst., followed up the South Umpqua, crossing the divide on the 16th, and reached the Rogue River on the following day. One difficulty was the uncertainty of the distance to and the situation of the villages. They were supposed to be from five to ten miles off. My plan was to rapidly sweep both sides of the river, but it was found for miles unfordable and dangerous in swimming from the swiftness of the current and nature of the banks. We pushed on at trot on discovering a fresh trail. Signals and cries soon convinced us that we had been discovered and our movements watched. The column took the gallop, trusting to anticipate the Indian scouts, Captain Walker leading with orders to seize canoes, or pass where he could, Captain Stuart following in supporting distance but destined under my command to act on the right bank, the provision and baggage following with a small guard. A party of Indians being observed in a hammock, Captain Walker dismounted and cleared it; the Indians escaped by the river. Captain Stuart was ordered to cover this movement. Shortly after this period, Captain Walker most gallantly pushed across the river in defiance of all obstacles and some Indians opposite--fortunately without accident. I then overtook and joined Captain Stuart's half squadron just in time to see it in a brisk skirmish, charged and destroyed a part of the enemy, who fought desperately--a charge brilliant in itself; but most costly to us, as it resulted in the death of its most distinguished leader, who fell mortally wounded while leading his men. Two others were badly wounded. The train had now to be waited for, and the camp of the wounded to be established. This occasioned a delay of three-fourths of an hour, and left but seventeen disposable men, with which, accompanied by Lt. W. Williamson of the Top. Engr. (whom I had assigned to line duty) I pushed on again rapidly hoping at least to make a diversion for Captain Walker. After passing on some miles a smoke at a distance, which proved to be a signal fire, led me to suppose that Captain Walker had destroyed some village.
I consequently disposed of my men so as to intercept the fugitives. This brought me unexpectedly on a powerful war party of 250 or 300 Indians. Fortunately a small isolated clump of trees gave me a strong position, and concealed my numbers. I maintained this position as long as I dared, without being cut off from my camp, and retired without loss.
The next day fearing both for Lieut. Irvine's and Capt. Walker's detachments especially from our previous ignorance of a strong war party, and greatly hampered by my hospital litters, I crossed the left bank to avoid an action amidst the ravines and passes.
The 19th of June Captain Walker and Lt. Irvine joined me from a camp at the foot of the Siskiyou Mtns. I enclose Captain Walker's report of his movements.
My position is such as to leave the enemy in doubt as to my future moves, and they are likely to remain embodied. In the meantime I have sent Messrs. Applegate and Scott with an address to the citizens in the several adjoining districts, calling them to turn out in force, in which case our dragoons will do their duty in the main attack, and the volunteer companies will cut the Indians off from, or pursue them to the mountains. I trust in this matter to afford relief from the Indians' attack, until a post can be permanently established, which I now recommend as necessary. (The post would in a short time be of little expense, as the Rogue River bottoms are very fertile.) In detailing these operations, I must mention Messrs. Scott, Applegate and T'Vault, gentlemen of high standing as pioneers in Oregon, have rendered me as much by their courage and coolness before the enemy as by their knowledge as guides in this new region.
I have the honor again to repeat, as in my first report, the satisfactory conduct of every man of my detachment and of the gallant and efficient manner in which I have been supported by Capt. Walker and Lt. Williamson. Bvt. Captain Stuart's brilliant career raises him beyond the common station of the individual commander--it can only be uttered by the united voice of the army of Mexico.
I am, sir, very respectfully
Your obedient servant,
P. Kearny, Brevet Major
1st Dragoons, Com.
Camp Stuart, Rogue River Valley,Sir:--I have the honor to communicate for the information of Major Kearny, commanding, that agreeably to his order I crossed Rogue River with detachment Company E, 1st Dragoon, on the morning of the 17th inst., with instructions to pass down the left bank of river and to destroy or disperse any forces of hostile Indians that I might encounter. While with detachment Company [A], commanded by Capt. Stuart, the major commanding was to proceed down the opposite shore and by our joint movements to destroy or disperse any band of hostile Indians that might be collected together for the purpose of depredations on the inhabitants or travelers. My instructions were to cooperate with Maj. Kearny as far as practicable; at the same time it was believed that either company would be of sufficient strength to operate successfully against any force of hostile Indians in the country. Agreeably to these instructions, after crossing Rogue River I proceeded rapidly down the left bank about ten miles, falling in with and partly destroying several small bands of Rogue River Indians. At this point, hearing nothing of Major Kearny's command, I determined to halt and communicate with him for further orders. For this purpose I dispatched a noncommissioned officer with a small party to learn from Maj. Kearny his wishes to my further movements. After some hours absence the noncommissioned officer returned with his party and reported that he had proceeded nearly to the point on the river where we had crossed in the morning without seeing or hearing anything of Maj. Kearny's command, and that he was prevented going quite to this point by encountering a band of armed Indians, too numerous to be attacked by his small party. I would remark that from the information we had received we were led to believe that there was a large Indian village near us, but on which side of the river it was situated we were ignorant, and as I knew it was Maj. Kearny's object to reach this village and destroy it, I determined to proceed down the river and carry out his design. At the point I had then reached, the river forms almost a semicircle, my company being on the outer circumference, and thinking it probable that Maj. Kearny had taken the chord of the arc I pushed forward rapidly for nearly fifteen miles without seeing or hearing anything from the command on the opposite shore, but was able to see several miles distance, and saw a large Indian force, mounted, of several hundred. Some apprehensions were felt for the safety of Maj. Kearny, and I made several attempts to cross the river and cooperate with him, but it was impossible. I was without rations and determined to fall into the main road between Oregon and California, hoping to overtake Lieut. Irvine's supply train which had been dispatched by this route, and to procure rations from him and to return in the direction I supposed Maj. Kearny to be in or in the event of not meeting Lt. Irvine to procure, if possible, rations from some party of miners on the road, I overtook Lt. Irvine about noon on the 18th, and received orders from Maj. Kearny to join him at this camp, which I did at noon on the 19th inst.
Oregon, June 20th, 1851
I am, very respectfully,
Your obd't. servant,
Sig: J. G. Walker
1st Lt. R.M.R. and Bvt. Captain U.S.A.
Camp Stuart, Saturday, June 28, 1851Sir:--I have the honor to continue the report of my late movements against the Rogue River Indians.
Branch of Rogue River [Bear Creek]
The position of my camp enabled me, whilst awaiting volunteers, to cover the road, and to afford a safe resting place to parties from the mines. I captured the only packs robbed within miles of me.
The desultory bonds of mining community caused comparatively a small number to volunteer; those who did, however, rendered much service and were extremely active. They amounted to near one hundred.
The 23rd and 24th were spent in breaking up the Indian ranches [i.e., villages] and in destroying such war parties as we could meet. On the afternoon of the 23rd there was something of a brisk skirmish in a dense hammock with a party which had been intercepted by Col. Freaner's "spies."
The night of the 24th, General Lane, who learning [of] the troubles had raised a party, and had been acting in the vicinity, joined our camp. (As General Lane was present in a private capacity, it was not possible to yield, as I would have desired, as due to his position and distinguished reputation, the command of my detachment, but I had the honor from that time of acting in cooperation with him.)
Whilst on this detour, Gen. Lane's party succeeded in capturing the family of the head chief.
We have taken many prisoners among the women and children, above thirty. They will prove useful in effecting a treaty or holding the Indians in check.
Still, a post is instantly demanded to maintain quiet--nor have I faith in a treaty with these people.
I am, sir, very respectfully,
Your obdt. servt.
Sig: P. Kearny,
Bvt. Maj. 1st Dragoons Cmdg.
Head Qr. Det. Drg.Sir:--I have the honor to enclose a report of my late movements against the Rogue River Indians, together with the statement (and signatures) of the citizens of that frontier on which my action was founded.
Benicia Bks., Cal.
July 18th, 1851
I also enclose Gov. Lane's receipt for the prisoners, whom he is to deliver to Gov. Gaines or Mr. Dart, Supt. of Indian Affairs in Oregon.
I understood indirectly that it was Gov. Gaines' object by means of these captives to effect a treaty with the head chief.
Your obt. servant
Mr. Kearny also states that the Indians were combined in a war party of some 300 strong. He discovered several whites among them.
Roseburg Plaindealer, April 8, 1887, page 1
Governors Camp, Rogue River
July 8th 1851Dear Bush
I write you from Camp Stuart a brief account of Major Kearny's operations in the Rogue River country, and that he had very properly determined to take the prisoners with him. I arrived at the Shasta diggings on the morning of the 30th ult, which is within ten miles of the road leading to California on which the Major would pass by Wednesday noon. I had my business settled up and was ready to return to Oregon. Lt Irvine came in and reported that the Major had passed and would camp near the Shasta Butte, distant 25 miles. I told Irvine that if I could get the prisoners I would take them to Oregon and deliver them to the Governor or Supt of Indian Affairs.
He immediately dispatched a courier to Major Kearny bearing my letter, proposing to take charge of the prisoners, which reached him by seven o'clock in the evening. The Major promptly dispatched Capt Walker with them, who arrived at my camp just before daylight on Thursday morning. When a party of Oregonians, numbering some twenty, among whom was Dan, Waldo [Dan. Waldo?] and Hunter and Rust of Kentucky and Simonson of Ia. bound to Oregon, kindly offered to assist in bringing them in. We immediately set out and arrived here safe with all the prisoners, yesterday noon, when I had the pleasure of finding Gov Gaines with some fifteen men. To him I delivered the prisoners. His intention is to see the Indians and if possible make peace.
My son Jo will remain here with the Governor. By noon today I shall set out for the City but shall be compelled to travel quite slow, as I have to give protection to some wagoners who had the kindness to haul in some of the prisoners who were worn out traveling.
P.S. I omitted to mention that on my way down Rogue River with the prisoners I had a conversation with a considerable number of Indians across the river, who gave me a terrible account of the invasion of their country by our people. That they had come on horses in great numbers invading every portion of their country, that they now were afraid to lay down to sleep for fear the white people would be upon them before they could wake, that they were tired of war and now wanted peace. I told them that the Governor was at the crossing of the river, that I would leave the prisoners with him, and that they must go and talk with him and make their propositions of peace to him, who would be glad to see and talk and make peace with them.
"Copied from original letters in possession of Asahel Bush, Salem, Oregon." This particular letter was misfiled as being from 1857. The image of the original can be found on the second microfilm reel of the Jo Lane Papers.
FROM SHASTA VALLEY.--We see it stated in the Sacramento Union of the 14th that tidings of the death of Capt. Stuart, who was killed in an engagement with the Rogue River Indians, were received from Shasta Valley. That paper further says:
Lieut. Irvine was also captured by a Frenchman and two Indians. The lieutenant subsequently made his escape by killing the Frenchman with a bar of lead, with which they were casting bullets.
Daily Alta California, San Francisco, July 17, 1851, page 2
Latest from the Indian War.
On the 27th ult., Major Kearny ceased operations against the Rogue River Indians, having spent some twelve days in securing the Indian country. Many battles or skirmishes were fought and some fifty Indians were killed and many wounded, thirty prisoners taken, their villages burned and provisions (consisting of salmon, roots, berries and grass seed) destroyed. They were no longer to be found in force; broken up, they had fled for safety in small parties to the mountains, inaccessible for a mounted force, men and horses, regulars and volunteers worn out by almost constant hard service during the whole time. The major concluded to rest his command a day or two, and then in obedience to his orders proceed on his way to California. On the 28th the volunteers disbanded and most of them started for the diggings; but few were bound to Oregon, consequently not in sufficient force to safely conduct the prisoners to the settlements. Major Kearny was determined not to release them until peace could be made with their people. Concluding to take them to California and send them up by sea to the Superintendent of Indian Affairs, he proceeded with them to near the Shasta Butte, where he was overtaken by an express with a proposition from Gen. Lane (who had gone to Shasta diggings after active operations had ceased), to take the prisoners back to Oregon. The Major promptly complied and sent them back to the diggings by Capt. Walker, who traveled all night to get them to the diggings, where he delivered them to Gen. Lane, who had formed a party of some fifteen Oregonians, who promptly offered to assist in conducting the prisoners safely to the settlements, or until they could meet the Governor, who had been reported to be on his way to the scene of hostilities. The party arrived at the crossing of Rogue River on the 7th inst., where they found Gov. Gaines with some fifteen or twenty men, and to him they delivered the prisoners. On their way in, Gen. Lane had a talk with some fifty or sixty of the Indians; they manifested a desire for peace. The Gov. sent out his interpreter on the 8th inst. to invite the chiefs to come in for the purpose of talking with them about the difficulties, and if possible to make peace.
On the same day General Lane's party left for the settlements. The Gov. and his party were all well and in good spirits.
These Indians have for the first time been severely handled and well punished for their villainous conduct; they had collected a strong force for the purpose of killing and robbing our people while on their way to and from the mines, had committed many robberies, besides killing Dilley and one another man.
Major Kearny and command, regulars and volunteers, deserve the highest praise for their good conduct during the whole affair.
How exceedingly unfortunate it is for Oregon that the remnant of the Rifle Regiment should be ordered from the Territory at this time. Our interests are greatly paralyzed, the entire Territory left unprotected at the time when everyone must see the absolute necessity of a garrison in the Rogue River Valley.
Oregon Spectator, Oregon City, July 22, 1851, page 2
ANOTHER INDIAN WAR.--The accounts from Rogue River are such as have induced the executive of this state to authorize General Miles of Marysville to repair to the seat of difficulties, and if it be required, to call out the state militia and organize a campaign, with the express understanding that the troops must look to the general government for their pay, as the state cannot become responsible for a further outlay.--San Francisco Paper.
Oregon Statesman, Oregon City, July 22, 1851, page 3
We had the pleasure of seeing Gov. Gaines the other day, who has just returned from the late scene of hostilities on Rogue River. He arrived at the ferry on Rogue River with some ten men, whom he employed on the road as he hurriedly traveled along. He found, very much to his regret, that Major Kearny had left for California with the women and children captured by him in his late operations there. Being thus left without any military force, as above indicated, the Gov. increased his force as best he could from among the returning miners, and by means of an interpreter, whom he procured in the Umpqua Valley with difficulty, he tendered to the Indians peace or war, as best suited their taste. They gladly embraced the former and came to his camp in considerable numbers, say one hundred, amongst whom were eleven chiefs.
The Governor succeeded in concluding a treaty, which he thinks will be kept by them, provided an efficient Indian agent, aided by a small military force, are stationed there, both of which he hopes will be shortly forthcoming. The Indians place themselves under the exclusive jurisdiction and protection of the government of the United States, and bind themselves to restore all property at any time stolen from the whites.
The timely castigation given them by Major Kearny has impressed them favorably with the ability of our government to punish them, which the Governor is of opinion will incline them to observe the treaty. He thinks, however, that travelers will be safe only by caution and vigilance, on account of their (the Indians') thievish disposition, which being tempted, they could with difficulty resist.
The trade now being carried on between this Territory and California is found to be highly advantageous to our people, and the miners and traders who are honestly engaged in their lawful business generally ascribe the late difficulties to the indiscreet acts of a few unprincipled white men, and are, naturally enough, anxious to be relieved from the effect of such misconduct in the future.
In a former number of the Spectator we stated, on the authority of a miner, that a number of persons had offered their services to the Governor to overrun their country and slay the savages wherever they might be found. The Governor informed us that no such offer or tender of services was made by any person for such purposes. We willingly make this correction in order to set the matter before the public in its true light.
Oregon Spectator, Oregon City, July 29, 1851, page 2
The Indian Difficulties.
Gov. Gaines has returned from Rogue River. We learn from a gentleman who was with him at the ferry that he made a "treaty" with all but one tribe of the hostile Indians, by which they are to deliver up all stolen property, and to permit the whites to pass through their country unmolested. The whites are also to restore all property taken from the Indians. The Governor presented the Indians with fifteen or twenty blankets, a keg of tobacco and a quantity of pipes.
The prisoners left by Gen. Lane were given up before the so-called treaty was made. It was signed by Gov. Gaines and by eleven Indian chiefs.
We trust this proceeding will prove instrumental in securing peace, but we understand it to be entirely informal, and without binding force. If we mistake not, when the office of Superintendent of Indian Affairs in Oregon was created that officer was invested with this authority; if so, the Governor has no power whatever to make such a treaty.
Oregon Statesman, Oregon City, July 29, 1851, page 3
A letter from Gov. Gaines, lately received by the Superintendent of Indian Affairs, speaks more encouragingly of the state of affairs on Rogue River. He attributes much blame to the whites. So says the Spectator.
"Later from Oregon," Daily Alta California, San Francisco, July 30, 1851, page 2
For the Spectator.
My Dear Sir--I am happy to inform the citizens of Oregon that an amicable peace has been concluded with the Rogue River Indians by Governor Gaines. I am sorry to see any reflections cast upon our Governor for this step. The perseverance with which he met and overcame difficulties to accomplish this most desirable end is worthy of all praise. By reason of protracted and severe sickness, there was no [Indian] Agent in that field when the Governor, at the risk of his life, resorted to the theatre of war and carnage. By his prudence and good management, he finally collected the Indians, and they were in peaceful council when I arrived. The next day the treaty was concluded, to all appearances, greatly to the satisfaction of the Indians. I believe the Indians on their part will respect the treaty if they are not molested by the whites. All white persons, therefore, who may have occasion to travel or abide in that country, are respectfully, but most earnestly requested to aid the officers of government in maintaining peace and a good understanding with these tribes. The conditions of the treaty are to give up prisoners and property on both sides. The whites are to give up all property they have taken from the Indians; the Indians are to restore the property they have taken from the whites. For this end those persons who have taken horses from the Rogue River country are requested to restore such horses or mules, or an equivalent, to the Agent without delay. Persons who refuse to do so make it necessary for the law to double the amount, besides meeting all cost. Of course the government will redeem its own pledge. All persons who have lost property by the Rogue River Indians are requested to send in bills, with the prices of such property at the time and place of the loss. Sufficient testimony should accompany such bills to satisfy the government that the property was really taken or caused to be taken, or destroyed, or lost by the Indians. Such bills may be directed to me at Oregon City, or Calapooya, Linn Co., or Yoncalla, Umpqua Co. Persons who take this step, make our their bills properly, accompany them with sufficient testimony, may rest assured that their property will be restored to them, or an equivalent will be retained out of the monies to be paid to the Indians for their lands. Persons who have sustained great losses are respectfully requested to use forbearance. We may not be in a situation to make all their damages good at once. It will not be prudent to retain so much of the monies as to irritate the Indians, until we have an efficient force in that country, either of troops or settlers, to keep them in awe. The commissioners have appointed the 15th of Sept. to meet the Rogue River Indians, and to treat for their lands; and let me again most earnestly entreat my fellow citizens traveling among those Indians, to use every possible method to maintain peace and a good understanding. A little rashness on the part of a single white man may prevent our purchasing the country this season and involve the government in great expense. From testimony on all hands, the great loss of life and property were brought about by the brutal act of a single individual.
H. H. SPALDING.
Oregon Spectator, Oregon City, August 5, 1851, page 2
FROM THE MINES.--During the Indian excitement the mines have been forgotten. But reports begin again to come in from there; new and richer diggings have been discovered, and miners are represented to be generally doing well.
Oregon Statesman, Oregon City, August 5, 1851, page 3
A squaw was lately taken prisoner in the Rogue River country by some miners and taken to the Shasta diggings. Whether taken from the tribe with which the Governor recently treated or not we are unable to learn.
Oregon Statesman, Oregon City, August 5, 1851, page 3
Our files of the Oregonian and Spectator, via California, reach to the 21st of June.
The most important news to be noticed is the existence of general and preconcerted Indian hostilities on Rogue River, in which several parties of whites have been attacked, and several persons robbed and killed.
On the 1st of May, Sunday, 20 miles beyond Rogue River, at the Green Willow Spring, 26 men, returning to the Willamette Valley from the mines, were attacked about noon by a band of Indians numbering from 150 to 300 warriors. The whites left the ground without sustaining any injury. The next day, a party of four persons was attacked, and their mules, together with their baggage and packs, were carried off by the Indians. They were recovered by a troop of soldiers, from the Shasta, on the following day--mules, baggage and packs.
On Tuesday, Dr. Bride's company, 32 persons, men and boys, was attacked; the company had only 17 guns, and the Indians had from 15 to 25. The Indians commenced firing; a brisk engagement ensued, which was kept up nearly the whole time for about four hours. During the encounter, some five or six Indians were killed and as many more wounded, several of whose wounds were considered mortal. Among the killed was a chief, Chuckle-Head, considered by them a great warrior. The Indians were finally repulsed, leaving their dead upon the field of action.
On the day before, four men were attacked at this place and robbed of several animals and their packs, and one of the party wounded in the heel with a musket ball. The provision stolen was lying about the ground untouched. They eat nothing they steal from the whites, for fear of being poisoned. It is said that a Mr. Turner, of St. Louis, destroyed a portion of this same tribe, sixteen or seventeen years since, by poisoning them to rob him of a quantity of poisoned provisions.
We copy from the Statesman the following particulars of the origin of the war:
"About two weeks previous to the happening of the above difficulties, a party of three white men and two supposed friendly Indians on the way to the mines camped about 12 miles beyond. During the night the Indians arose, and taking the only gun in the party, shot one of them, a young man named David Dilley, and fled to the mountains, taking with them the mules and packs. The other two escaped and returned to a company two miles further back, who immediately went and buried the body of the murdered man. Upon hearing of this, a party of thirty left the Shasta mines under the command of Capt. Long, of Portland, to revenge young Dilley's death. At the Rogue River crossing they came upon a party of Indians and killed a second chief and one other Indian, and took two of the head chief's daughters and two men prisoners. The chief demanded the prisoners, but the captors refused to release them until the murderers of Dilley were given up and the stolen property restored. He refused to yield to this demand and left, saying he should return with his warriors and destroy the party.
"It is said he can rally several hundred warriors. Capt. Long's company were at the crossing when our informant left, awaiting the threatened attack.
"The Umpqua Indians report that the Rogue River tribes have taken their women and children to Cow Creek, between the Rogue River and Umpqua country, preparatory to a formal declaration of hostilities against the whites.
"A messenger arrived here on Sunday, bringing petitions from citizens of Umpqua to Gov. Gaines, for authority to raise a volunteer company to fight the Indians. The Governor left this city on Tuesday to visit the scene of difficulties and learn what measures are necessary to restore peace.
"Gen. Lane started last week for the mines, and it is reported that he intended to take a party with him to chastise the Indians."
. . . New diggings had been discovered on Rogue River before hostilities broke out, which yield as well as the Shasta mines.
. . . Jacob Parsons, formerly of Quincy, Ill., was killed by the Indians beyond Rogue River, in Oregon. Mr. Parsons had for some months worked at his trade, blacksmithing, in Oregon City.
. . . New gold mines have been discovered in the south of Oregon, which yield remarkably well.
New York Daily Tribune, August 7, 1851, page 7 All indications are that the "Jacob Parsons" killing is a case of mistaken identity, and David Dilley was the victim.
FROM OREGON.--We have files of Oregon papers to the 7th of August--the midst of what is called "the dry season." The farmers around Portland were busy harvesting. The crops were abundant. The Portland Times says that notwithstanding many persons went to the mines last year, there has been much cultivation, and there will be a large surplus of produce after supplying the home market.
The same paper says that the mines of Oregon appear to be paying well, both the Shasta diggings and those at Rogue River sending in good quantities of gold dust.
Daily Republic, Buffalo, New York, September 23, 1851, page 2
August 8th, 1851.
Mr. Dryer:--I notice in the Statesman of this week a letter from its "interesting correspondent," Ewald, in Umpqua, also an editorial originating therefrom. As the "facts" of the one and inferences of the other are alike false, I beg to hand you another version.
I heard the story of Lieut. Irvine in Shasta more than forty days since--two weeks at least before the treaty was made--and the people in that region intend to have it included in the next edition of "Aesop's Fables." I was at the Governor's camp during the negotiations for peace, and the treaty was made with the thirteen head chiefs of Rogue River nation. It is absurd to pretend, as they have, that these things have occurred since. The evident intention is to ridicule Gov. Gaines by any means whatever.
S. A. Clark.Weekly Oregonian, Portland, August 9, 1851, page 2
(No confidence need be placed in the statements of fictitious correspondents, and the editor of the Statesman cannot make a statement in relation to a government officer without making a barefaced and deliberation "variation." "As the twig is bent the tree is inclined."--Ed.)
THE ROGUE RIVER NEGOTIATION.--Some of the Governor's apologists have taken our correspondent to task for stating that the Indians "treated" with recently at Rogue River were, and always had been, friendly to the whites, and that the hostile tribes did not treat. We learn from another most reliable source that such was the case. They not only did not treat but expressly refused to do so, and at the same time avowed destruction to the whites, and to the inoffensive tribe with which the farce of making a treaty was enacted. The eleven "head chiefs," who, it is said, signed the document, we are told were nothing but heads or leaders of little fishing or hunting bands of the same tribe.
The Grave Creek and Siskiyou Mountain Indians are represented to be as hostile as ever, and as likely to rob and murder unprotected parties who may attempt to pass through their country. And the quiet which has for a few weeks existed is attributable not to any treaty or efforts of the Governor, but to the sound thrashing inflicted by Maj. Kearny and others. These gallant men treated with the faithless foe in the only ineffectual manner, and they should be suffered to wear their hard-earned laurels.
We should be pleased to have someone conversant with the matter acquaint the public with the facts respecting this jaunt to Rogue River, its original object, and the vaunted "treaty" resulting from it.
Oregon Statesman, Oregon City, August 12, 1851, page 2
The trade now being carried on between Oregon and the mining districts has become of very great importance, and is daily increasing. Many of those engaged in this trade are among our most worthy citizens. To encourage them in this legitimate enterprise should be the desire and aim of all good citizens. It is our wish and shall be our endeavor to foster this highly praiseworthy pursuit. It is not only of considerable importance now, but it is bound to become one of the leading interests of the country. There is scarcely a week passes but that there is more or less communication with the mines. Though many of the miners have already left and are still leaving, there is quite a number there, some engaged in throwing up dirt for the winter season, when they expect to receive a handsome return for their summer's labor. The great majority now in the mines will remain till winter, and a goodly number of those who returned to their homes will leave again for the mines (dry diggings) in time to take advantage of the early rains in the fall. The great calculation with most men is based upon what they can do with a reasonable supply of water, and the impression is general that the Shasta mines will yield well in the winter. The amount taken out this summer has been comparatively small.
We have conversed with several traders who have recently come in from the mines. They represent the Indians as being quiet and peaceable. Mr. Ingalls, an Oregon man well acquainted with Indian character, and a man of considerable experience and who is engaged in the mining trade, informs us that there is a good feeling on the part of the Indians towards the whites. He informed us that it is considered safe to travel alone, and that persons are passing and repassing continually without molestation. He thinks, however, that it would be well for persons to keep a close manage on their stock, etc., as "they always will steal." But he represents them as harmless. He thinks the treaty will have a good effect upon them--that they will respect the treaty if they are fairly dealt with.
We are glad to hear of this friendly spirit existing among them; it affords some security to those traveling through the country. We regret very much that [there] are a few unprincipled men who have no respect for themselves nor their government and who seem to take a delight in shooting down an Indian without any provocation. There are very few of this latter class, however, and we are not without the hope that these few can be made to see the error of their ways. It is said the treaty entered into by Gen. Lane with the Rogue River Indians was first violated by a few inconsiderate white men. It is certainly a source of deep regret that we have men in the country who feel no kind of responsibility in a matter that so deeply concerns the welfare of our whole people, the great mass of whom are an order-loving and law-abiding people. Is there no way of bringing to an account the few outlaws who are a nuisance to the country? What are we to think of men who will persist in such lawlessness in the face of everything that is right and humane--who will continue to violate every generous impulse! and commit daily aggressions upon a poor, miserable race of beings who deserve kindness more than severity.
"Mines--Indian Matters--Rogue River, &c.," Oregon Spectator, Oregon City, August 12, 1851, page 2
From the days of the Plymouth colony on the Atlantic to the present period when the Pacific bounds--for how brief a time let us not attempt to say--the "area of freedom," the extermination of the Indian race on the continent has been as gradual and as natural as the growth of an empire, and the increase of the whites over the hunting grounds once possessed by the dusky tribes of America. In vain humanity has pleaded the cause of the "poor Indian," in vain national efforts have been put forth to save, and in vain civilization has provided a seat beside her in the triumphal car of Progress and Improvement for the child of nature and of "nature's God." His path has been downward from the day that disclosed to him the stranger's track upon the Atlantic shore. His destiny, or doom, has been to perish with his native wilds. Slowly he has receded before the paleface, in a line of march towards the setting sun. He has reached the last "vestige of dry land," and even thither he has been followed, until the waters of the Pacific wash alike the feet of the white and the red man.
Could that decree of fate which has followed the Indian to the verge of ocean rest here as readily as we withdraw from the contemplation of its unceasing pursuit, tracked out as it has been by scores of writers, there still might linger for many centuries to come a worthy remnant of the brave men who once held sway on the continent. But we know that this may not be. Once it was but by the light of prophetic vision that we saw the last Indian hunted to the shores of the western ocean. Today we overlook the Pacific wave, and build our homes upon the crumbling ashes of Indian huts and above the mounds of whole tribes that have been swept from before us. We stand upon the eastern coast of the great western waters, and across its waves we look for fresh signs invoking further extension of the homes of freemen. But the Indian whom we have hunted to these shores--where is his abiding place?
This we call "manifest destiny." It gives us this broad expanse of land and water, and levels the primitive forms of nature, and bows down even unto the dust the outcasts of humanity. It is to no purpose that we proclaim redemption and strive to avert the fast-closing doom of the Indian. The nature of our existence does not permit of success being attained. The practices and usages of our people, from the days of the pilgrim fathers to the present moment, have involved the annihilation of the Indian race as a necessity and a part of the irresistible impulse of America's destiny. They perish, and were ordained, or at least are identified with their native wilds, to perish and pass away with the forest and hill. We may labor at "policy," and perhaps provide for a few tribes a few years' lengthened period of existence or lingering decay, but we never can save. We never can by allotments of land, by government rations, or by any system which we may adopt for the promotion of the welfare of the red man, cure the wound that is rankling in his race. We cannot shut out for him a remnant of territory of which he may be taught to feel sole possessorship, where he may prosperously and at peace pass his days. We cannot debar him from intercourse with our frontiers, while from the touch of the pernicious influences wrought by pioneer settlements he recoils as from the deadly upas, with the poison breath drying up his life.
And more than this, the cause of pioneering immigration admits of no mild, humane, pacifying or conciliatory doctrines and practices. When the march of civilizing improvement is seriously impeded or obstructed, peace or war are the only and ready alternatives. No humanizing or Christianizing course could be adopted. The men who are always thrown in advance of the body of immigration are always but poor apostles in the work of conversion or reform. The axe and the rifle bear out their only ideas of improvement. When stubborn tribes of Indians do not readily conform to the elements of the new life established among them, they are like the wild beasts of the forest, and must shun the quick glance of the white settler. When it becomes necessary to subdue them, the rifle is substituted for the axe, and the day's work of slaughter counted up as though the change from the ordinary avocation of the woodsman among the forest trees to the "clearing" of a "patch" of Indians were hardly noticed.
It is difficult to realize that, with all our pious resolves to sustain a humane Indian policy only, here in California, many wild sections of country can only be reclaimed from the hands of the Indian by the method usually adopted to redeem the forest land from its primitive, wild and unprofitable condition. Yet such is the fact. Government agents, with their rum and tobacco dispensations, can accomplish very little in the work of attaching to some of our public lands a marketable value, or encouraging settlement in many districts of the state. Towards her northern boundary, many of the fairest lands of California are overrun with troublesome and untamable tribes of Indians. The Rogue River Indians are an unalterably vicious and dangerous people. They will never, in their mountain homes, consent to partake of the thralldom of the white man's law, and preach against the practice as we may, they can only be removed by the exterminating encroachments of their superior enemy--by the law of the rifle and the axe, and the code of practice usually "served out" by the pioneer.
That extermination is only another name for the warfare already commenced in this country is shown by the following extract from a letter written by one of an expedition at present ranging the Rogue River country. He says:
"During this period we have been searching about in the mountains, destroying villages, killing all the males we could find, and capturing women and children. We have killed about 30 altogether, and have 28 prisoners now in camp."
This system of singling out and deliberately destroying "all the males" is on the plan of indiscriminate massacre. We may treat these things with strong disfavor, but by such process, and by this barbarous practice, do our pioneers prepare the way for settlement and civilization.
Daily Alta California, San Francisco, August 15, 1851, page 2
FROM THE MINES.--Late news from the mines assures us that the miners are making as usual from $5 to $10 per day.
Weekly Oregonian, Portland, August 16, 1851, page 2
The Rogue River Treaty.
As there seems to be a studied effort on the part of a few evil-disposed persons, who are willing to sacrifice truth, honor and justice for the accomplishment of their ends, to bring the treaty made by Gov. Gaines in disrepute, it would be well for persons to examine the motives that govern these men in all their actions.
It is well understood by all who have watched the progress of affairs in Oregon for the last eight months that there are men here holding responsible positions who are ever ready to assault and assail everything and everybody who will not bow down and worship at their bidding for their own base and groveling purposes. The Statesman press has bent its whole energies, from its first issue to the present time, to crush and destroy everything that would not subserve its own advancement and aggrandizement. The Statesman editor, with the assistance of "our correspondent," as he vauntingly calls "Ewald," has labored hard to bring the acts of Gov. Gaines into disrepute for his agency in this matter. The course pursued by the Governor was highly approved of by Gen. Lane, who was better acquainted with all the facts and circumstances than any other man, and infinitely more competent to judge in such matters than the editor of the Statesman, or his youthful friend ("Ewald") who corresponds for his paper. General Lane told us, the evening before his departure for the States, that Gov. Gaines had done all that could have been done to terminate hostilities between the Indians and the whites--that he had full confidence [that] if the whites would refrain from practicing any further lawless and inhuman cruelties upon the Indians, they would remain peaceable and quiet, and all would be well. He looked upon the treaty as an important matter to our citizens and gave Gov. Gaines much credit for its accomplishment.
On the contrary, these youths who have recently come into the country--one a hireling in the service of an individual, the other an apprentice for a clerkship, whereby he might get his bread without "the sweat of his brow"--assault by innuendos and falsehoods the acts of the Governor of the Territory, in a matter of which they are totally incompetent to judge, with a view of building up for themselves a party whom they hope to lead and govern. In matters of this kind, during the progress of an open WAR, it appears to us to be far better to take the affirmation of men who have "set a squadron in the field, and the division of a battle knew," rather than the editor who by chance controls the columns of a newspaper, or of his correspondent--neither of whom were at or near the seat of hostilities, and therefore could not properly judge of the facts in the case. Messrs. Geiger, Clark and others who were there affirm that all the charges and innuendos that have appeared in the Statesman are false. Gen. Lane, Jesse Applegate and many other old, substantial and well-known citizens of Oregon, who were also where danger threatened and duty called them, deny the allegations of the Statesman. It is apparent, therefore, what motives this pair of worthies have in view, in their attacks upon Gov. Gaines, with reference to this treaty.
Let the people of this Territory who have interests here above that of party look well to the motives of these men, who would plunge the Territory into a bloody war with the Indian tribes within our borders, at the expense of millions of dollars, and at the sacrifice of life and property, to build up a political party who might pander to their political ambition. Such persons are now here, persons who, by making false representations, seek to incite the relentless hands of lawless men to the commission of outrageous acts of violence against the Indians, thereby inducing them to recommence the war which was terminated by the treaty of Gov. Gaines, and, judging by their past conduct, they would stop at nothing short of such a result to accomplish their end and aim. "Rule or ruin" seems to be their motto.
Weekly Oregonian, Portland, August 16, 1851, page 2
Winchester, Umpqua, O.T.To the Editor of the Oregonian:
Aug. 15, 1851.
Sir--The various incorrect reports which are current in the newspapers of the country in relation to the operations of Gov. Gaines, among the hostile Indians on Rogue River, render it important that a correct account of what he actually did and did not do should be laid before the public.
As I was a member of Gov. Gaines' party, I had an opportunity of knowing what was done, and propose, with your consent, to lay before your readers the following statement:
Gov. Gaines arrived in the Umpqua [Valley] on the 22nd of June last, and announced his intention of at once proceeding to Rogue River. Delaying a few days to raise a small escort, on the 26th he left Winchester, accompanied by ten of the citizens of this valley, en route for the seat of war. By rapid traveling he reached Rogue River about noon of the 28th, and there met a large party of returning miners and volunteers, among them Messrs. Applegate and Scott from this valley. They informed him that the detachment of troops under the command of Brevet Maj. Kearny was encamped at the northern base of the Siskiyou Mountains, intending to cross the next day. Selecting the best animals in his company he dispatched four men on express to Maj. Kearny's camp, bearing a request to him to delay his march one day that he might overtake him. The express reached the camp the same night, having traveled about sixty-five miles that day, but Maj. Kearny, for reasons best known to himself, declined acceding to the request, and the next morning soon after daylight took up the line of march for California.
Upon hearing of the departure of Maj. Kearny, the Governor returned to the crossing of Rogue River and there encamped for the double purpose of recruiting his much exhausted animals and learning, if possible, the whereabouts of the Indians. Hearing that a large body of the enemy were encamped on the north side of the river, about thirty miles below his camp, he proposed to several large parties of returning miners to accompany him as volunteers, for the purpose of attacking them. They however declined so doing, and he was left with his force of only ten men, barely strong enough to act on the defensive.
I mention this in order to correct a false impression which may have arisen from an article (editorial) which appeared in the Spectator, stating that a party had offered their services to the Governor to attack the Indians. To my certain knowledge, no such offer was made; on the contrary, every effort to induce them to do so was declined.
About the 8th of July, Gen. Lane arrived from Shasta having in charge the prisoners, twenty-eight in number, which had been taken during the war. He informed the Governor that on his way down the day previous, he held a conversation with the Indians across the river, about twenty miles above the ford, who expressed to him their great desire for peace, that they were in a starving condition, and that they were unable even to sleep for fear of the "Bostons." To this the General replied that he was informed that the Governor was below at the ferry, and that if they would go down and see him; if they wanted peace in good faith, he had no doubt it would be granted; and on the following morning one of the party, with an interpreter and one of the prisoners, was sent up on the north side of the river to endeavor to communicate with the Indians and acquaint them with our willingness to grant them peace. They proceeded up some distance without seeing any of the enemy, but when opposite the "Point of Rocks" they were fired upon with arrows from the heights above. The interpreter, by addressing them in their own language, made them understand that they were not there for the purpose of molesting them in any way, and made known the Governor's wishes and intentions.
With this new assurance, in addition to what Gen'l. Lane had said to them, they concluded to come to a parley, naming the next day for the interview. On the tenth two Indians (one a minor chief) came to the camp very cautiously, as though fearing treachery, but by a few small presents they were restored to confidence, and expressed a desire for peace. The Governor told them that he wished to see all the chiefs and principal men of the tribe, that he would grant them peace but it must be peace with the whole nation, and appointed a day (the 13th) for a general interview. The Indians left, promising to return, and on the appointed day, soon after sunrise, Indians began to flock in from all quarters, and before noon nearly or quite a hundred had collected. Provisions and a few presents of tobacco &c. were distributed among them, after which they were invited to a council.
They expressed an ardent desire for a cessation of hostilities--said that the whites were everywhere through their country--had killed their men and taken their women and children prisoners--driven them from their fisheries and prairies into the mountains, where they could not obtain the means of subsistence, and that they were in a state of starvation. They seemed to have quite a correct idea of the utter folly of offering any resistance to the power of the whites.
The terms upon which our government was willing to make peace were known to them, and they declared themselves willing to accede to them. The council was then adjourned till next day, and the prisoners, though not permitted to leave the ground, were suffered to intermingle with their friends. They were not, as stated in the Statesman, "given up before the treaty was concluded," nor were they permitted to hold any intercourse with their people until they had signified their willingness to agree to the terms proposed.
On the morning of the 14th, a treaty was drawn up and signed by the Governor on the part of the U. States, and by eleven chiefs on the part of the Indians.
The chiefs who entered into the compact represented the whole of the Indians on Rogue River and its tributaries, with the exception of a small band known as the "Grave Creek Indians" (about thirty men), who were not on friendly terms with either the South Umpqua or Rogue River tribes. Several efforts were made with both these tribes to induce them to send a messenger to this band (the Grave Creek), but they uniformly refused, saying: "that they were on bad terms with them, and that any message by their means would be unavailing."
The Grave Creeks had in fact left the Rogue River Valley and sought refuge on a branch of the South Umpqua to avoid taking a part in the hostilities then going on, as we were informed.
I know not who the "intelligent Umpqua friend" of the editor of the Statesman is, who writes to him as follows: "The hostile savages refused to meet him. They are the Grave Creek and Siskiyou Mountain Indians. The tribes with which he treated are now, and as I understand ever have been, friendly." He must be grossly misinformed, or he willfully misrepresents. The Indians who were included in the treaty were the same who fought the battle where Capt. Stuart was killed--the same who fought the "Hammock Fight"--the same who fought every battle with the troops--the same who murdered Dilly at the foot of the Siskiyou Mountain--the same who attacked McBride's party--the same who robbed Messrs. Scott and Nichols, and the same of whom the prisoners were captured, and to whom delivered. They were in fact, the only Indians (save the Grave Creek band, who were not seen at all, and therefore could not have refused) north of the California line with whom the whites have had any difficulty.
The Statesman also says: "The general opinion entertained of this treaty in the southern part of the Territory may be gathered from the allusion made to it by our regular Umpqua correspondent. 'Ewald,' whose interesting letter will be found in another column. The unmistakable murmurings of the people of that section at the inefficient, do-nothing course pursued by the Governor seem to have changed to ridicule at the farcical manner of its close."
I have conversed with various persons in all parts of this county on the subject of the treaty, and with the single exception of our recent Yankee importation "Ewald," whom the editor of the Statesman assumed to be the organ of the sentiments of the people of this section, I have never found a man who has not heartily approved of the Governor's course. One sentiment seems to prevail among the whole community, and that is: unqualified approbation of the treaty, and the manner in which it was concluded.
"Ewald" in speaking of the reported capture and escape of Lieut. Irvine, says: "This is a fine comment upon the treaty which was made a few days since."
Comments are commonly understood to follow the thing commented on, but here the order of the two appears to be reversed; as the affair between Lieut. Irvine and the Frenchman occurred (if it occurred at all) on the 4th of July, ten days before the treaty was concluded, and several days before the Indians were informed of our willingness to make peace.
The treaty was, as nearly as I recollect, in substance as follows:
"Hostilities to cease, and peace faithfully to be observed. The Indians hereafter to be under the exclusive superintendence and protection of the American government and to be bound by the decision of its agents in all disputes that may arise hereafter. All prisoners taken or property stolen by either party to be delivered up, and the whites are at liberty to pass and repass unmolested through the country, and the Indians to be held to a strict accountability for all depredations."
The conduct of the Indians since the treaty was concluded has been such as to give confidence to the belief that they will continue to observe its terms, if they are observed on our part.
They are now very friendly, and have not been guilty of a single overt act, not even a theft--since the compact was entered into. Travelers in passing through the country go in small companies, and have universally found it unnecessary to stand guard; and suffer their animals to run loose, unhampered. Several instances have occurred of single persons passing through the whole country alone.
I have deemed it no more than justice to Gov. Gaines to give this statement publicly, and trust you will pardon the length to which it is necessarily extended.
Yours respectfully, &c. S. [likely James Sinclair]Weekly Oregonian, Portland, September 6, 1851, page 2
The Statesman has been laboring with all its power, aided by a correspondent, to prove that the late treaty entered into with the Rogue River Indians by the Governor of Oregon was of no avail. The Indian agent, Mr. Spalding, says that he has entire confidence in the treaty, its validity and the good results that will follow from it. We have conversed with returning miners who represent the whole road from Rogue River to the canyon as safe; they also concur in representing the Indians quiet and peaceable. This state of things is of the utmost importance to the country--may it long continue.
Oregon Spectator, Oregon City, August 19, 1851, page 2
Indian Murder in Oregon.Indiana State Sentinel, Indianapolis, August 21, 1851, page 2
The Mr. Dilley, whose murder by the Indians [was] near the Klamath mines in Oregon, proves to be Mr. David Dille, who formerly resided near Knightstown, Indiana. He was killed by Rogue River Indians. Joe Lane is after them, and they will be severely chastised for the act.
We give place today to a communication from S------ upon the subject of the Rogue River Treaty, who is a gentleman of unimpeachable integrity, and who is well posted up in relation to the whole matter. We do not deem it necessary to publish a single line or sentence to defend Gov. Gaines from the cowardly attacks of his vilifiers, who appear in the Statesman both editorially and over fictitious signatures. It would require a thousand such calumniations to convince any honorable man that the Governor has not done all in his power to secure peace to our citizens, and protection to their property. By the way, we are informed by a gentleman who was an eyewitness to many of the transactions described by our correspondent S------ that it was suspected by many in the southern part of Oregon that Mr. Ewald, and also the "intelligent" correspondent of the Statesman, are one and the same little gentleman, who was the first person employed by the Governor in the Umpqua Valley to accompany him to Rogue River, and who was the first and only person who violated his engagement (in the exercise, we suppose of his right of secession) without consulting the other party to the compact, sending a verbal message that he considered it his duty, in accordance with a previous promise, to remain at home to open the mail.
Weekly Oregonian, Portland, September 6, 1851, page 2
Late from the Mines.
Several gentlemen who have just arrived from Shasta and Rogue River represent the mines to be yielding a fair compensation to the miner for his labor. The stocks of goods are said to be large, and articles are selling at prices much lower than formerly. The Indians are orderly and friendly; small parties and even single individuals pass and repass through their country with perfect safety.
The Rogue River treaty made by Gov. Gaines has had a salutary and beneficial effect so far, and is regarded with respect throughout the whole southern borders, notwithstanding the puny efforts of the Statesman and its coadjutors to get up another Indian war to assist them to make political capital. Wonder if these valiant boys wouldn't make "good time" in running in case they should see an arrow pointed at them.
Weekly Oregonian, Portland, September 6, 1851, page 2
ROGUE RIVER MATTERS.--Dr. Dart and suit have left for Port Orford on the Pacific to purchase of the Indians their land in that vicinity and about the mouth of Rogue River. This band of Indians is small and is separate and distinct from any of the tribes generally denominated Rogue River Indians. It was the intention of the Superintendent at first to have shipped all his goods &c. intended for presents to the Indians to that point, but learning that no practicable road can be made from there to the interior--and that there is no communication between the tribes above and below on Rogue River--the idea was abandoned; the usually traveled route to that country will be adopted immediately on his return, and the goods etc. are to be packed overland.
We rejoice that the time for quieting the nerves of some of the paragraph writers who have been haunted by "bugaboos" in the Rogue River country is near at hand. There has been much said about the faithlessness of the Indians, their constant depredations, for three or four months past, upon the whites, and their utter disregard of the treaty lately entered into. We have received information direct from there a few days since. Mr. Courtney Walker, a reliable Democrat, favorably known to many of our readers as a gentleman and scholar, reports all quietness in that quarter, and the best feeling (as we have frequently stated before) prevails among the Indians for the whites, and he says, too, that the treaty has been faithfully observed by the Indians ever since it was made.
Mr. Walker pronounced the statements made by the editor and his hopeful correspondent, "Ewald," of the Statesman, a tissue of falsehoods from beginning to end. "We want no better authority to convict the editor of the Statesman of the most dark-hearted villainy in endeavoring to stir up strife, to promote discord among the people, and lessen thereby respect for the government and its officers and render ineffectual the labor of men who were striving to stop the further effusion of blood. There have been occasions in our country's history that such a course on the part of an editor would have been considered treason. And it is just as much treason now as the secession and nullification movements are in South Carolina.
We take from the Oregonian the following extracts, which are written by a resident of the Umpqua, and who composed one of the escort at the time the treaty was made, and is conversant with all the facts relating thereto:
"I know not who the 'intelligent Umpqua Friend' of the editor of the Statesman is, who writes to him as follows: 'The hostile savages refused to meet him. They are the Grave Creek and Siskiyou Mountain Indians. The tribes with which he treated are now, and as I understand ever have been, friendly.' He must be grossly misinformed, or he willfully misrepresents. The Indians who were included in the treaty were the same who fought the battle where Capt. Stuart was killed--the same who fought the 'Hammock Fight'--the same who fought every battle with the troops--the same who murdered Dilley at the foot of the Siskiyou Mountain--the same who attacked McBride's party--the same who robbed Messrs. Scott and Nichols, and the same of whom the prisoners were captured, and to whom delivered. They were in fact the only Indians (save the Grave Creek band, who were not seen at all, and therefore could not have refused) north of the California line with whom the whites have had any difficulty.
"The Statesman also says: 'The general opinion entertained of this treaty in the southern part of the Territory may be gathered from the allusion made to it by our regular Umpqua correspondent, "Ewald," whose interesting letter will be found in another column. The unmistakable murmurings of the people of that section at the inefficient, do-nothing course pursued by the Governor seem to have changed to ridicule at the farcical manner of its close.'
"I have conversed with various persons in all parts of this county on the subject of the treaty, and with the single exception of our recent Yankee importation 'Ewald,' whom the editor of the Statesman assumed to be the organ of the sentiments of the people of this section, I have never found a man who has not heartily approved of the Governor's course. One sentiment seems to prevail among the whole community, and that is: unqualified approbation of the treaty, and the manner in which it was concluded.
"'Ewald' in speaking of the reported capture and escape of Lieut. Irvine, says: 'This is a fine comment upon the treaty which was made a few days since.'
"Comments are commonly understood to follow the thing commented on, but here the order of the two appears to be reversed; as the affair between Lieut. Irvine and the Frenchman occurred (if it occurred at all) on the 4th of July, ten days before the treaty was concluded, and several days before the Indians were informed of our willingness to make peace.
"The treaty was, as nearly as I recollect, in substance as follows:
"'Hostilities to cease, and peace faithfully to be observed. The Indians hereafter to be under the exclusive superintendence and protection of the American government and to be bound by the decision of its agents in all disputes that may arise hereafter. All prisoners taken or property stolen by either party to be delivered up, and the whites are at liberty to pass and repass unmolested through the country, and the Indians to be held to a strict accountability for all depredations.'
"The conduct of the Indians since the treaty was concluded has been such as to give confidence to the belief that they will continue to observe its terms, if they are observed on our part. They are now very friendly, and have not been guilty of a single overt act, not even a theft, since the compact was entered into. Travelers in passing through the country go in small companies, and have universally found it unnecessary to stand guard; and suffer their animals to run loose, unhampered. Several instances have occurred of single persons passing through the whole country alone.
"I have deemed it no more than justice to Gov. Gaines to give this statement publicly, and trust you will pardon the length to which it is necessarily extended.
"Yours respectfully, &c. S." [likely James Sinclair]Oregon Spectator, Oregon City, September 16, 1851, page 2
We cut the annexed paragraphs from the Oregonian of Sept. 6th:
LATE FROM THE MINES.--Several gentlemen who have just arrived from Shasta and Rogue River represent the mines to be yielding a fair compensation to the miner for his labor. The stocks of goods are said to be large, and articles are selling at prices much lower than formerly. The Indians are orderly and friendly; small parties and even single individuals pass and repass through their country with perfect safety.
The Rogue River treaty made by Gov. Gaines has had a salutary and beneficial effect so far, and is regarded with respect throughout the whole southern borders.
MILITARY POST.--General Hitchcock, commander-in-chief of the forces on the Pacific coast, has determined to establish a military post at or near Table Rock, on Rogue River.
"From Oregon," Daily Alta California, San Francisco, September 16, 1851, page 2
Latest News Direct from Rogue River Country.Mr. James Sinclair, who is a gentleman of intelligence and character, arrived last night direct from Shasta and Rogue River, having passed through the entire Indian country on his way here. He informs us that the Indians are quiet, well disposed to the whites, and are anxious to maintain peace. Mr. Sinclair came through accompanied with his servant only. He saw and conversed with several Indians, among whom was the principal chief that commanded the tribes during the recent difficulties. Mr. S. met several small parties of whites (in some cases only two persons, and they unarmed) in the midst of the Indian country, who were passing and re-passing with feelings of the most perfect safety. This gentleman was with Maj. Kearny's command during their entire journey from Umpqua Valley through; and, consequently, is fully competent to judge of the difference in the relations and feelings existing between the whites and Indians before the treaty made by Gov. Gaines, and at this time.
He says the treaty is respected by all citizens who desire peace, and is looked upon as an important matter to the safety and welfare of the people in that section of the Territory.
Our readers will now see what reliance should be placed upon the false statements put forth by the Statesman designed to injure the effect of the treaty, merely to bring its author into disrepute for party purposes.
The aiders and abetters in such principles will be sunk so low in their party slime and filth that no political resurrection will ever find them; or we have overestimated the sentiments which have always characterized honorable political opponents.
Weekly Oregonian, Portland, September 13, 1851, page 2
Winchester, Umpqua CountyMr. Bush--I write you from a flourishing little town, the name of which heads this letter. It is situated on the south bank of the Main or North Fork of the Umpqua River, where the great thoroughfare from the Willamette Valley to the mines crosses. From its central position to the Umpqua Valley, the favorable site and convenience to the mines, it must become, in the course of the settlement of the country, a place of considerable trade. It will also be the seat of justice for the new county, which we hope will be organized at the next session of the Legislature.
September 16, 1851.
The country around Winchester is rapidly increasing in population, though somewhat retarded by our Indian difficulties, which appear to be growing worse. The Umpqua Indians, having been twice disappointed by the nonattendance of the agent at the time and place he had appointed to meet them in council, have no longer any confidence in his promises, and now threaten to drive off the settlers.
The Cow Creek Indians, who inhabit the country on both sides of the Umpqua Mountain, have committed several acts of aggression since the conclusion of the Rogue River Treaty, and from their hostile demonstrations kept the whole southern country in a state of alarm, and the Rogue River Indians have been at their old game of stealing horses in the southern end of that valley. And those living along the main river, the only band that have pretended friendship (and they were whipped into it by Maj. Kearny) are enraged with the request of the Superintendent to meet him at Port Orford instead of the place of meeting in their own country as promised them. From this state of things, those best acquainted with these Indians are of opinion that there is now more danger to be apprehended from them than heretofore. The privilege given by the agent to traders and others to sell them guns and ammunition, of which the Indians have availed themselves to the utmost, will contribute not a little to raise their courage and make them formidable. Whatever these difficulties result in, I am confident they have grown out of the improper conduct of those whose business it is to prevent them, and I hope, sincerely, that our agents will, hereafter, make no promises to Indians that they do not intend to perform.
A MINER.Oregon Statesman, Oregon City, September 30, 1851, page 2
J. M. Shively, Esq., of Astoria, arrived in this city on Thursday, from Rogue River country. He states that the Indians were becoming troublesome, and a revival of difficulties was feared. A short distance this side of the Cañon the settlers had caught an Indian in the act of breaking open and robbing a house, and were making preparations to try and punish him. They had sent for the chiefs of the tribe to which he belonged--the Grave Creek. The feeling was strong in favor of hanging or shooting him. The house had before been broken open and robbed, and some persons were consequently set to watch it, and thus the offender was detected and caught.
Some miners who arrived here Saturday evening report that the Rogue River Indians are very troublesome. They were attacked by about forty Indians, but escaped without injury. They also met a party on their way to the mines who were fired upon by a large body of Indians in ambush. They returned the fire, but were unable to learn whether with effect or not. Several horses have been stolen from the miners. The Indians declare their purpose to drive the whites from the country. It is said they complain that the "Boston Tyee" did not perform his promises to them.
"From Oregon," Daily Alta California, San Francisco, September 18, 1851, page 2
Judge A. A. Skinner has received the appointment of Indian agent, vice B. S. Allen resigned, and Mr. E. A. Sterling takes the place of the Rev. Mr. Spalding.
Oregon Spectator, Oregon City, September 23, 1851, page 2
ROGUE RIVER MATTERS.--Dr. Dart and suite have left for Port Orford on the Pacific, to purchase of the Indians their land in that vicinity and about the mouth of Rogue River. This band of Indians is small and is separate and distinct from any of the tribes generally denominated Rogue River Indians. [Spectator.
"From Oregon," Daily Alta California, San Francisco, September 28, 1851, page 2
Oregon CityHon. Joseph Lane
1st Oct 1851
The treaty with the Rogue River Indians was concluded on the 14th July last. On the 15th July Gov. Gaines left for Oregon City and I was left in charge of a party of 12 men on Rogue River at the request of the Indian agent H. H. Spalding to remain in the country with the Indians until the superintendent or himself should return and make a purchase of the Indian lands. The object of leaving me in the country was to see that the terms of the treaty were observed and to visit all the Indians. This was done thoroughly. And I returned to Oregon City on the 10th Sept. last and on presenting my account to the superintendent, Dr. Dart, he said he had not authorized Mr. Spalding to have a parley etc., consequently would not pay anything etc. Now Dr. Dart was at Oregon City when Govr. Gaines and Mr. Spalding returned this way on the 22nd July. Mr .Spalding made his report to Dr. Dart. And Mr. Spalding wrote me on the 28th day July stating that "Dr. Dart had resolved to meet the Indians about the 15th Sept. at the ferry on Rogue River or at Table Rock and requested I should retain what men I had and notify the Indians of his intention" etc. I done so--visiting all the Indians from the Kenyon on Umpqua to Table Rock on Rogue River, to which proposition the Indians consented.
On the 14th day of August Dr. Dart dictated a letter to D. D. Bayley stating "if he would go into the Rogue River country and get the Indians to meet him at Port Orford he would pay him $5 per day and make the Indians a present" etc. Mr. Bayley reached Rogue River on the day I had concluded the arrangements with the Indians according to advice of Mr. Spalding. Upon the arrival of Bayley I hastened to Oregon City to see Dr. Dart before he should leave for Port Orford. I succeeded by making the trip in seven days and convinced Dr. D. of the impossibility of taking the Indians on the Coast, they never having been there and knowing nothing of it--besides it is almost an impossible chain of mountains etc. etc. Dr. D. again resolves to meet them in their own country and authorizes Mr. Cary (who is trading there) to say as much to the Indians.
This, sir, is a brief account of this matter. My object in writing you is to get the use of your kindness and influence to see that the debt credited there (in all only $21.00) to be paid.
Inasmuch as you are aware the importance of holding a treaty of peace with the Indians at the time Govr. Gaines made it and also the necessity of having a parley with the Indians to see that the terms of the treaty be observed.
I refer you to Govr. Gaines and Dr. Dart to satisfy you that I done the part assigned me faithfully and satisfactorily to both parties. I was with the Grave Creek Indians near a week and passed amongst them several times they were left perfectly friendly and expressed a disposition to remain so.
And no well-disposed person can reasonably find fault with living upon terms of peace with those Indians knowing that their country abounds in gold mines and our people spreading over it daily. Long before I left many of the young Indian men had engaged and were working for the miners and were giving satisfaction. And I truly believe a better step could not have been taken than this one by Govr. Gaines.
Indulging a hope you will honor my present request with your consideration,
I remainN.B. I am quite unwell, which I hope will serve as an excuse for this scrawl. C.M.W.
C. M. Walker
Joseph Lane Letters
We were pleased to see, a few days since, the identical Parsons who was said to have been murdered by the Rogue River Indians last spring, and whose death was published by us. He is still worth a dozen dead men, and looks as well now as we ever saw him. His friends will be pleased to learn of his still being among the living.
Oregon Spectator, Oregon City, October 7, 1851, page 2
Correspondence of the Statesman.
Gold Discoveries, Vessels in Umpqua Bay, Business &c.
Gardiner, Umpqua, Sept. 23.Friend Bush:--Mr. Kelley is now here immediately from [the] Shasta mines, who confirms the report that an extensive and rich vein of quartz has been found in that vicinity, and that arrangements are being made to work the same.
Packers are now at Scottsburg making preparations to supply the fall and winter trade. A rich harvest is expected by the miners.
Two vessels are now lying in Umpqua Bay--the brig Almira, loading with piles and lumber, and the Fawn, owned by the enterprising firm of Wood & Co., San Francisco. She comes in for a cargo of fish.
Business men here are taking hold with more confidence since the discovery of rich quartz at Shasta, and since it has been ascertained that a road cannot be made from the Oregon mines and Rogues' River Valley to Port Orford.
Respectfully yours, G.Oregon Statesman, Oregon City, October 7, 1851, page 2
Port Orford Correspondence.
The Indian Treaties in Oregon--T'Vault's Expedition--The Rogue
and Coquille Rivers--Probable Errors in Their Geographical Determination--Discoveries, &c. &c.
Port Orford (O.T.), Oct. 7, 1851.Messrs. Editors:--In a previous communication I promised to furnish you an account of the proceedings of Dr. Dart, the Superintendent of Indian Affairs, who for several days has been negotiating with the different tribes in this vicinity, and with satisfactory results, the object of the treaty on the part of the government being to secure peace and thereby afford the privilege of traveling through, with safety, all the Indian territory in this vicinity, and also for the purpose of purchasing their lands. In these projects the Superintendent has succeeded, except with the Coquille tribe, which is the most formidable tribe on the Pacific coast, and with whom a treaty at the present time is absolutely demanded. It will be remembered that this is the tribe into whose hands Capt. T'Vault and his company of ten men fell, and of which only two made their escape.
The extent of territory inhabited by the Indians with whom a treaty of peace and friendship has been concluded, and from whom lands have been purchased, extends from the Coquille River on the north to a point some twenty miles south of Rogue River and extending back from the coast fifty miles, making an area of four thousand square miles, or 2,550,000 acres, at an aggregate cost of $25,000. The terms of the treaty give to each tribe the privilege of traveling with safety through any portion of the territory occupied by other tribes, and also gives the whites the privilege to occupy any portion of said territory which may be desired, in consideration of which the government of the United States has agreed to pay the said tribes, for ten years, yearly installments consisting principally of clothing and provisions. Dr. Dart estimates the whole expense of the treaty and purchase will not exceed the sum of $25,000. The Indians seem to be very much pleased with the great bargain that they have made, and seldom have I witnessed proceedings of a public character that were more interesting. Knowledge of the most serviceable character in regard to the geography of the country has been made known at these negotiations, and in the future explorations of this portion of Oregon it will be of the greatest importance. From the Indians and what we have gained from our own discoveries, we are led to believe that there has been a great error committed in naming the rivers of the interior in accordance with the names applied where they empty into the Pacific.
McArthur, in his survey of the coast, has placed the delta of Rogue River some twenty miles north from the line of California, and from many sources we learn that there is an extensive farming country bordering on Rogue River and extending from thirty miles back into the interior. But Mr. T'Vault, while on his recent adventurous tour, contradicts this report and positively asserts that there is but a small portion of farming land situated upon this river, and that is at or near the coast. But while passing down the Coquille River, he found the description which had been given of Rogue River exceedingly applicable to that, and he reports a large river, with extensive farming lands bordering upon it, and extending back into the interior at a distance not less than fifty miles, where the tide in the river ebbs and flows at a height of two feet. Judging from these facts, we are led to believe that the description of what has been termed Rogue River was intended for the Coquille; we are also inclined to believe that the river passed over by the Oregon Trail, and supposed to be Rogue River, is none other than the Coquille. We arrive at this conclusion, however, more particularly from the pleasing descriptions of the geography of the country. We have taken much interest in making all the inquiry possible in regard to this same subject, and from all the information thus obtained, from persons who have actually traveled over the Oregon Trail from the Willamette Valley to the Shasta mines, we gain the same important information. We learn that after leaving the south branch of the Umpqua the trail leads a southerly direction until it reaches Rogue River. This distance, they say, is from thirty-five to forty miles, and that they cross no river of any importance between the two points. Now it is a well-known fact that the coast between the Umpqua and Cape Blanco, and in fact to the California line, extends about north and south, and the trail, we are informed, runs parallel with the coast. Consequently, at the point where it crosses the river, which is supposed to be Rogue River, it cannot be over sixty miles from the coast, for at the point where it crosses the Umpqua, it is less than that distance to the coast. After crossing Rogue River the trail follows up the river on an easterly course some thirty miles, at which point it again leads off [in] a southerly course. At this point, where the trail leaves the river, the distance to the California line is put down at forty miles. These facts convince us that there is a mistake somewhere in regard to the application of names to the rivers from the Umpqua southward. If not, where does the Coquille head, or where does it come from? It is most assuredly equal in size to Rogue River, and far more susceptible of navigation. According to the most reliable information, Rogue River rises in Oregon and runs a westerly course, passes into California, and when some seventy miles from the coast recrosses the line into Oregon and empties into the Pacific some twenty miles from the California line. Consequently the trail leading from the Willamette Valley to the Shasta mines cannot at any point on the borders of the stream named Rogue River in McArthur's coast survey be a distance of forty miles [sic]. Another fact, and one which convinces us more forcibly that there is a mistake somewhere, is this: When Capt. T'Vault and his company reached the Coquille River, or rather a branch of that river, they supposed that it was a small river that empties into the Pacific Ocean some twelve miles south of the Umpqua. But while passing down that stream, and to their great disappointment, they found that it was nothing more or less than a branch of the Coquille, and from the discoveries made by them, compares with the description of those who have explored Rogue River for several miles below the crossing.
These circumstances appear plausible, and almost positively indicate that the river over which the Oregon Trail passes, and known as Rogue River, is none other than the Coquille; yet we may be mistaken. It is a subject that causes much speculation in the minds of adventurers, and I have no doubt that if these remarks should meet the observation of any person who is sufficiently conversant with the geography of the country to furnish the desired information, he will confer a great favor by making the same known to the public.
Having already occupied a much greater space than I intended in my remarks upon the above subjects, I shall content myself with giving an account of the discoveries of gold, as related by Messrs. T'Vault and Brush, by barely making mention of the fact, and reserve the principal remarks as a subject of interest for a future communication. We are convinced that they discovered an extensive mining region, and not unfrequently, while passing over high mountains several thousand feet above the neighboring streams, they found gold-bearing quartz, and from appearances exceedingly rich and extensive.
More anon. CLINTON. [probably William Clinton Tichenor]
Daily Alta California, San Francisco, October 16, 1851, page 2
Shasta Butte City, Cal.Dear Bro.,
Oct. 10, 1851
I left the wilds of Oregon for this city. I visited the rivers of Applegate & Rogue's. The Indians on the latter are shrewd, cunning & hostile. I witnessed a fight between two tribes. It was bloody & desperate. I was anxious to join one side. I want a few of their scalps ere I leave this region. They have taken mules & provision from us and killed a young man that I had with me, & several others with whom I was not acquainted. I do not know what to do. I am well aware that I can do well here this winter by practicing both medicine & dentistry, in which I have been engaged for the last year.
The difficulties are that my health is not good by any means & seems to grow worse. I think it is entirely owing to the damp, cold climate of this mountain country. Again, I lost most all of my medicines &c. & it will be impossible to obtain supplies at this late season on account of the difficulties to be overcome. This is 400 miles from Sacramento City, the mountain part of which is 150 miles and can only be passed by pack mules, the remainder by wagons. Also it is very doubtful whether a train of mules can get through, as the snow fell on the hills last week. It will not do to remain here on expense as everything is very high. Cannot get a room for less than 3 or $400 for the winter and board from 25 to $30 per week. If I had medicines & instruments or could get them this fall I would not think of leaving. It would cost me from 5 to $600 to get home from here & I do not wish to spend my money in that way if I can make it yield me anything here. In this country a man cannot calculate what will be the result of a movement or investment. It may make him a fortune, or blast his most sanguine hopes. This city is situated in the N.E. part of Cala. in sight of the Oregon line & near the noted Shasta Butte, forever covered with everlasting snow. Diggings are quite good here, but I tried mining 6 or 8 weeks during spring and summer & am satisfied. I will leave the country ere I ever do another hour's work of that kind. Timber in the valleys, mostly scrubby oaks, on the hills pines, fir, cedar, arbor vitae, spruce, juniper berry and serviceberry. Game common blacktailed deer; black, brown and grizzly bears; mountain sheep, a peculiar animal with hair & color like a deer & shape of a sheep inhabiting the most rocky & craggy mtn. heights, possessing great activity.
I can't write now as I feel uncomfortable both in body & mind. Ere another week passes I will either settle here for another year or leave the country. You shall hear from me in due time. The last news from home was Sept. 1850, and now this is Oct. 1851. I fear I will hear bad news, but I hope not.
Dr. Mathias Lair Harter, letter to his brother Samuel Kyle Harter, Troy, Ohio, as transcribed circa 1890s by Jane Abbott Harter, manuscript in possession of Dr. Harter's great-granddaughter, Elizabeth Tilton, Santa Barbara, California. Harter did leave for home--he was in San Francisco by November 1, 1851.
One hundred days after date we or either of us promise to pay Wm. Johnson on order three hundred & sixty dollars for value received of him.
Rogue River Oct. the 12th 1851Promissory note, probate records of Philip Dairy, Marion County, Oregon "Long" is apparently J. B. Long, operator of a ferry below Vannoy's ferry.
Long & Cary
We have conversed with several persons direct from the mines; they all concur in their statements relative to the feeling entertained for the whites throughout the entire Rogue River country, except the small roving and marauding band of Grave Creek Indians, with whom no treaty has ever been made, and who are no better than the bears and wolves that roam over the forests. They are a small band consisting of about 40 head. Persons are passing and repassing daily without interruption, and are not compelled to stand guard, save in the neighborhood of the Grave Creeks. This is a very desirable state of things and contrasts very favorably with that that prevailed previous to the making of the treaty. The only dissatisfaction that exists is said to be the failure as to the time on the part of the government to make good the stipulations of the treaty. This has, in a great measure, exhausted their patience. We have no fears but that Mr. Skinner, now on his way thither, will soon render full satisfaction on this source.
Oregon Spectator, Oregon City, October 21, 1851, page 2
A. A. Skinner, Indian Agent, left for the Rogue River country on Tuesday last, the place assigned for him for future operations. He has gone prepared to make the Indians presents, which, when distributed, will no doubt have a tendency to render permanent the good feeling that now prevails.
The portion of country assigned E. A. Starling is north of the Columbia River.
Oregon Spectator, Oregon City, October 21, 1851, page 2
For the Spectator.
Editor Spectator--Sir: For some time past I have sought an opportunity to redeem my engagement of writing to you and giving as correct an account of these "diggins" as possible, for the benefit of your readers. My apology for this long delay is simply that, on my arrival here, I was necessarily much longer in getting located and fixed for digging than I expected to be. An account of a miner's life &c. is unnecessary in this letter, for the reason that but a very few of the Oregonians are uninformed upon that point, not only by reading, but they have personal experience of the matter, and those who have not will very readily obtain oral descriptions of it, which cannot but be much more satisfactory and vivid. The mining on this river at present consists almost entirely of working the bed of the river; a few, however, are still working in the banks.
Before any of the dams were ready to take out gold, great hopes were entertained, and nearly all were confident of a liberal and even a large return for their time, expense and labor. These dams are worked by companies of miners, the company varying in number from 8 to 20 or more. A system of speculation was tolerated by the miners here, which, I understand, was not suffered to exist in Lower California, at least when those mines were as new as these.
It seems that those who were somewhat in advance of the rush for this river immediately, each for himself, laid claim to a sufficient portion of the bed of the river for from 10 to 20 men to work out in one season, and then, when the working miners came, sold to them shares, the number being according to the length of their claim, asking from $100 to $400 per share, and thereby in many cases making moderate fortunes without a stroke by fleecing from the hard-working miner his honestly obtained and hard-earned gold. A more wholesale imposition upon the industrious miner I never heard of, and am only surprised that such a system of robbery should have been for a moment tolerated or gained the foothold it has. In a majority of cases, however, the condition of the payment was made to be that the purchase money was first to be taken out of the claim, and drawn by the shareholder from the treasurer as the income for his share. The fact of very many of these dams failing in whole, or in part, has very much disappointed the undeserving and in many cases dishonest speculator, and nipped his golden dreams in the bud. I am of the opinion, however, that Scott River--that portion of it which is being worked--is as rich as perhaps any river that up to this time has been worked in California. I may be wrong in this, as my knowledge of Lower California has been obtained from others altogether. Some of the dams are very rich--some pay from $20 to $40 per day--and others from ½ to an ounce per day, while very many will hardly pay for working, and a good many [are] already abandoned, the two last, perhaps, embracing the larger number. The old Goodwin, at present called the Lafayette Damming Company, took out the other day something over $8000, not using the entire day either--as I understand they were moving timbers or something else a small portion of the day. These latter things, however, are always necessary to carrying on the works and must be done. They by no means average the above amount, but the claim is very rich, and those engaged (22 in number) will make a good "raise." If it had not been for a lawsuit with certain other claimants, which cost the company some $3000 or $4000, they would have done something better still. All the dams are troubled very much with leakage water, to a greater or lesser extent, according to the depth of their diggings, which causes much expense and labor to remove. Pumps of different kinds are in use with various success. The Lafayette Company are using a pump propelled by water, the pump consisting of a tight box of the required length, and about 13 inches by 6, one end submerged in the water about 1 or ½ feet. Strong canvas is then prepared of equal width with the box or pump, and the two ends sewed together, two rollers of same width as the pump are fastened one at each end, upon which the canvas rolls. Upon this cloth, at a distance of 16 or 18 inches apart, are fastened blocks, nicely fitting the pump, and when put in motion, the blocks finding water in the lower end of the pump, force it up until it empties itself out of the top, and then runs off in any manner the person desires.
This company have two of these pumps, and they are answering a very good purpose. The best and by far the fastest pump I have seen on the river is worked by water power on the "Gipsey" claim, about two miles below Scotts Bar. It is a screw pump, and probably the principle is familiar to most of your readers. This pump was constructed at great expense (some $1200) by Frederick Derrick, the enterprising foreman of the company (at the mutual expense of the company, however). Mr. Derrick is from Rockford, Ill., and some time since in the employ of the N. American Fur Company, and while in their employ builder of Fort Laramie. For his great ingenuity and perseverance in the construction of this pump (which throws the enormous amount of a barrel of water a second), and that too without any of the conveniences of lumber, ready sawed, and with a very poor and scanty supply of tools he receives, and is deserving of, the highest praise and commendation.
The gold taken from this river is of the very best quality, and mostly coarse. A short time since, there was taken from the Little Company, the first above the Lafayette, and opposite the town, a solid piece of gold weighing 10 lbs. avoirdupois. I would here caution the reader unacquainted with mining against forming too favorable an opinion of them, and bear in mind that while one man is so fortunate as to find diggings of this description, perhaps 500 may be with some difficulty making even moderate wages, and perhaps half this number hardly paying expenses.
It is at present rather a dull time here; those miners whose dams have failed have mostly left for the mountains to hunt winter diggings. It is very confidently expected that rich mines will be found in some of the gulches leading into Scott River. I am myself inclined to that opinion, but do not think they will be found until water comes, at least not to any extent. At this time there is probably three or four hundred miners in the mountains about this river and the Shasta diggings. It is rumored that some small parties have found very rich mines somewhere around here, and I do not credit the tale. [Those stories may have been about the discovery of the Althouse diggings in Josephine County.] It is rather amusing to see the pertinacity with which some entertain this belief. If they see a party of half a dozen or so traveling by themselves, with any appearance of having supplies with them, some who are on the watch will immediately set out and follow them, and the party followed all the time upon the same errand as themselves. I verily believe I could take my horse, and start out at evening with a little manifestation of a desire to be alone, and get a hundred men to dog my steps upon and over some of the most awful mountains ever traversed by a mule!
The miners about Shasta are doing very little at present, but the city is being built up very fast, and is already quite a town. Confident anticipations are entertained of doing well about there when the rains set in--I think they will. Supplies are plenty in this country and cheap; flour about 30¢ per lb.; beef 25 to 30¢ lb. on this river, and at Shasta 20 to 25¢ per lb.; potatoes 50¢ per bushel; onions 60¢; clothing plenty and reasonable.
The Indians appear to be friendly at present, and we all hope that no difficulty will occur. If you are acquainted with an upholsterer in Oregon who is desirous of going into the manufacture of mattresses, just send him out here; he will find plenty of hair, some curled and some not--he can make his fortune!
The Oregonians must not depend too much upon receipts of gold dust from these mines to make trade lively this winter, for the larger portion of it goes and will go to California. I occasionally see a Spectator here, and would like to see them much oftener. We are compelled to lead a kind [of] hermit's life here, which to those accustomed to living in old settled countries where news is plenty, and received by lightning, is at first rather dull and tedious--but as I have made my bed, so will I lie on it.
Yours,Oregon Spectator, Oregon City, October 21, 1851, page 2
GOLD IN SOUTHERN OREGON.
Its "First Discovery" Attributed to Men Named Bills.
Correspondence of Ashland Tidings.
It has been published and republished, iterated and reiterated some thousands of times, that James Clugage and James Pool in passing through the valley, from the Willamette to California, in the fall of 1851, camped on Rich Gulch, within the present corporate limits of Jacksonville, and that while in camp Mr. Pool did some prospecting with a pan and made the discovery. Nobody disputes the prospecting by Mr. Pool, or the finding of gold, but was this the first discovery in Southern Oregon? The purpose of this paper is to show that it was not.
Mr. David Linn, who has lived in Jacksonville since early in the spring of 1852, and whose word is as good as his bond, says he left Oregon City in the fall of 1851 in company with Wesley McGanigal, a man with whom he had just crossed the plains. They walked from Oregon City to Salem, and bought their outfit and two ponies. They packed the ponies and started on foot for California. Arriving at Canyonville, they found the town to consist of one log cabin, and no modern adjunct in the shape of a real estate agent to boom the prospects of the place and offer corner lots at bankrupt prices. The two men stopped here a short time for reinforcements, as it was considered dangerous for so small a party to travel through the Rogue River country. The next day after their arrival a party of three men came along, going to California, and together the five pursued their journey south, leaving Canyonville the morning of October 23, 1851. Mr. Linn remembers the date distinctly on account of it being his birthday. The party went through the Canyon in a day, and camped at Hardy Elliff's. Judge Skinner and party were there on their way to Rogue River, where Mr. Skinner was to take up his residence as Indian agent. The five men continued their journey on the 29th, leaving the Skinner party, who had ox teams, which would travel too slow for the packers.
On the 1st or 2nd day of November the party arrived at Perkins' ferry, on Rogue River. There were three or four men at the ferry, and they had built a stockade to protect themselves against the Indians. They advised the party not to cross the river until reinforced, as the Indians were hostile and had killed a number of persons up in the valley a few days before. The party, however, crossed the river, and went about two miles and camped for the night in a secluded bend in the river. The next morning, after starting out, they met a man on horseback, whom McGanigal recognized as an old schoolmate by the name of Bills. After greeting each other, Bills requested us to camp about a half mile south of the rocky point, a noted place for Indians to attack travelers, and that he would return in the evening, as he was only going to Perkins' ferry for some boards to cover his cabin. About sundown Bills returned, and McGanigal went with him up the river to Big Bar, and there found young Bills' father. They were engaged in mining, and had apparently been there for some time.
When McGanigal returned to camp he was greatly excited. He said there were thousands of Indians up there, but that young Bills and his father told him the Indians would not disturb the party, and that they could pursue their journey in safety. In passing up through the valley, the only evidence of civilization met was a log enclosure, four or five logs high at the back and one log in front, the sides tapering from the back to the front and forming a sort of scoop-shaped camp, without covering. There were some blankets and other things in the camp, indicating that someone was stopping there, but the party saw no one. This was at the Willow Springs. When the party arrived near where the flouring mill ditch crosses the county road above Phoenix, they came across three packers who had been killed by the Indians and thrown together, and the flour sacks cut open and the flour poured over them. [This was apparently the Jacob Parsons incident--see below. Other accounts say the two men accompanying him escaped.] As assured by the two Bills, the five reached Yreka without being molested.
Your correspondent expects this statement to call out a strong protest, if not a vigorous attack, because when an idea concerning any important matter or event becomes crystallized in the public mind, it becomes a sort of cherished memory, and if the idol is shattered or its foundations shaken, somebody is sure to kick.
Oregonian, Portland, January 19, 1900, page 6
A. A. Skinner, Indian Agent, left for the Rogue River country on Tuesday last, the place assigned for him for future operations. He has gone prepared to make the Indians presents, which, when distributed, will no doubt have a tendency to render permanent the good feeling that now prevails.--[Spectator.
"Arrival of the Columbia--Two Weeks Later from Oregon!" Daily Alta California, San Francisco, October 28, 1851, page 2
For the Spectator.
Umpqua Valley, Oct. 20, '51.Dear Spectator:--I see in your journal descriptions of various parts of the country, north, east, west and some from the southern portion of the Territory, but I have seen but little from this valley for some time--I having traveled over a large portion of the Territory myself, I am satisfied that no portion of Oregon offers the inducements to settlers that the Umpqua Valley affords.
Being a resident of this section, I may be accused of partiality in this matter--but must claim the credit of being candid in my opinion. The large increase in the population of this country during the past three months is certainly a very strong argument in favor of my assertion. Where three months since no sign of civilization was manifest--but all was wild, and the "beauty of nature's handiwork" unmolested--now the settler cabins may be seen and the results of industry and Yankee enterprise are exhibited.
A good many emigrants from the States who came the southern route have taken claims and settled themselves, perfectly contented. Also many that came to the Territory by the northern route. Those emigrants who traveled the southern route report a plenty of grass along the road, and that many persons from their companies left them in the Klamath country to try their fortunes in the mines, with the intention of making farms here in the spring. The road over to Scottsburg is, I understand, progressing finely, and it is expected to be completed this winter. Large pack trains are continually arriving at that place for goods, and I have found some difficulty heretofore in getting fitted out, for want of sufficient stocks of goods. Some of them have been compelled to wait six or eight days for their supplies, but they still come, and those who have traveled this route to the mines and are also familiar with the road to the "springs" (Cala.) [Redding's Springs], are determined to travel this route in future, if they can be supplied with goods without delay. They say that it is but a few miles farther this way, and that they can, notwithstanding the difference in the distance, make the trip in the same time, with heavier loads, and with equal ease to their animals. Anyone acquainted with the country through the pack trail [that] leads to the "springs" can readily believe their statements. I see the soundness of their reasons.
We are soon to be relieved in this valley from the heavy drain upon our time and money we have been so long subjected to in going abroad after flour and all kinds of breadstuffs. Mr. Applegate's grist mill is nearly ready to run, and we expect soon to be supporting "home manufactures." A sawmill is also being rapidly built at the foot of the Calapooyas, on this side. It is reported that still another of Mr. T'Vault's party, heretofore supposed to be lost, has made his appearance, but for its truth I cannot vouch. The long-mooted question as to the adaptation of the country to the growing of corn is at length decided, and in the affirmative. Mr. ------ Applegate raised a small field of as fine corn this season as I ever saw in any country, and as rich in appearance as any lover of "corn dodgers" need desire. I expect to travel through the country some in a few days and will give you "more anon."
Yours, A SETTLER.Oregon Spectator, Oregon City, November 11, 1851, page 2
Some unknown fiend entered at night, a short time since, the front yard of J. Q. Thornton, of this city, and girdled with a sharp instrument all the trees in it, among which were some valuable fruit trees. It was a dastardly act and deserves severe punishment.
Oregon Spectator, Oregon City, November 18, 1851, page 2
FIRE!--The law office of J. Q. Thornton was last night burnt to the ground--cause not fully ascertained, but supposed to be the work of an incendiary.
Oregon Spectator, Oregon City, November 18, 1851, page 2
Correspondence of the Oregon Statesman.
Indian Massacre on Rogues River; Brig Ashore;
Condition of One of the Port Orford Unfortunates.
Scottsburg, Nov. 16, 1851.Editor of the Statesman: Sir:--A report has just reached this place, through a packer named Daniels, of another massacre by the Indians on Rogue River. Rumor says that two men, who were driving a herd of swine down to the Rogues' River country, were attacked by a party of savages, and that both were either instantly killed or mortally wounded. Various names are given to the victims, but owing to the uncertainty of Dame Rumor's dispatches, we refrain from giving them.
The brig Orchilla is reported as having gone ashore at the mouth of the river. She was bound for San Francisco with a cargo of piles. The causes that led to this disaster are not known.
Mr. Williams, one of the unfortunate remnants of the Port Orford expedition, under Mr. T'Vault, is still at Gardiner, suffering severely from the effects of his wounds. He does not, however, surrender the hope that the energetic and humane Capt. Tichenor will yet make his appearance in the steamer Sea Gull with the benevolent design of removing him to San Francisco and procuring him that medical assistance which he so much requires.
Truly yours,Oregon Statesman, Oregon City, November 25, 1851 page 2
A report to the effect that Judge Skinner's party were robbed, and three of his men killed by Indians, we have heard circulated about town, and are happy to state that it is unfounded. By the last advices they were all safe.
Oregon Spectator, Oregon City, December 2, 1851, page 2
We have been shown some fine specimens of gold-bearing quartz, from the Shasta mines, which from appearance are as rich as any in California. This quartz is said to be abundant through the Shasta and Rogue River mines. If so, it will prove a most profitable business as soon as the requisite machinery can be obtained for working it.
Weekly Oregonian, Portland, December 13, 1851, page 2
Correspondence of the Spectator.
Madison County, Dec. 10, '51.Editors Spectator:--Having just returned from the gold mines on Scott River and about Shasta, I thought that perhaps a short account of the state of matters out there might be acceptable to your readers. I left Scott River about the 22nd of November, and had no trouble with the Indians during our journey into this valley. When on Rogue River, I met Judge Skinner and his party, and learned for the first time of his appointment as Indian agent for that quarter. When I was there he was some 15 miles above the old ferry on the south side of the river, and intended to establish himself somewhere near what was called the "gold bar," about 18 or 25 miles from the old crossing of that river. Everybody was very much gratified to see him come on such a mission, for it could not be expected that the timely interference of Gov. Gaines and the peace established by him would last always, without any steps being taken on our part to prove ourselves well disposed by the distribution of a few presents, which an Indian always expects upon any treaty or stipulation of whatever nature with the whites. We met the party that were taking back the Shasta horse thieves, near Rogue River. "Doc. Hartley" escaped at that river, but was overtaken, and the last we heard from them they were getting along very well. The other prisoners were in irons, and they probably put Hartley in irons also, after his recapture. The Indians about Shasta and Scott rivers are peaceable and give no trouble, steal little things occasionally, but that's the nature of the animal.
The miners had left Scott River almost entirely, but little encouragement being found to remain. The "bank diggings" at the "bar" were mostly abandoned. The old Goodwin claim had a man on the ground to hold possession until the dry season should come again and enable them to go on and work it out. The hunting for dry diggings in the gulches and mountains about this river had not been generally successful. The quartz veins in Scott River Valley were about being worked by companies who, I understand, had received the machinery necessary for carrying on mining of this kind, and I believe they were nearly ready to commence operations. Two of these veins have been found in that vicinity. There was also a vein of quartz, bearing gold, found between Shasta and Humbug Creek, some 7 or 8 miles from Shasta Butte City. It was reported as quite rich, and preparations were being made to work it. A sawmill was just completed ready for business some 4 miles from Shasta City, but could not run when I left for want of water, but probably are at work ere this.
Winslow, who was charged with being an accomplice of the horse-thieving gang, had a trial at Shasta Butte City, and was bound over for another, to take place at Redding's Springs. Good comfortable buildings, and a plenty of them, had been put up at Shasta, and supplies were abundant. Flour from 30 to 34 cts. per lb.; beef 20 to 25; onions, wholesale, 20 to 25; potatoes, wholesale, 60 to 75; eggs $6.00 per dozen. Indian horses 60 to 75 dollars, mules 75 to 120.
The miners about Shasta were doing only tolerably well, making some $5 or $6 per day, hardly averaging that amount. They were waiting for water when I left, it not having rained any to speak of up to that time. The weather, however, indicated rain soon, the air being filled with clouds nearly all the time. Very many of the miners about Shasta had been engaged for some time in throwing up dirt, to be washed when water came, and it was generally supposed they would do tolerable well. A large and commodious building was being fitted up at Shasta City, to be used as a billiard saloon, by some gentlemen lately arrived with a table, names unknown to me.
The gamblers were having rather a poor time, not making any money by "fair dealing," but contrived by dint of robbing and stealing, or in other words, "hoodwinking" an occasional customer out of his all, to keep their heads above water--a curse to their country, their fellow men, and to themselves.
Yours, PICK AXE.Oregon Spectator, Oregon City, December 16, 1851, page 3
We publish today a letter from a correspondent in the Rogue River country containing an account of an attempt by a white man to incite the Indians of that section to acts of hostility against the miners. It is a fact long known to us that such monsters in the shape of humanity were in that section, endeavoring by all kinds of means to accomplish their various diabolical designs--and we have felt the necessity of some steps being taken to arrest them in their criminal career. The appointment of Hon. A. A. Skinner as Indian agent in that quarter was an excellent one, and everything to preserve peace there will be done by him which it is possible for any man to do in his circumstances. The prompt and efficient measures taken by him in this case to bring the accused to trial are eminently worthy of commendation. But if by any means a serious outbreak should occur, it would be utterly impossible for him to suppress it with the feeble means with his reach. These facts will undoubtedly be properly represented by our delegate to Congress, and it is to be hoped that his efforts to have a military force permanently stationed in that section may prove successful.
Oregon Spectator, Oregon City, January 20, 1852, page 2
Correspondence of the Spectator.It happened to be just at the time the troubles broke out among the Rogue River Indians, when our people were being murdered by them, when [the soldiers] were thus transferred from the rifles to the dragoon service. The troops thus transferred consisted of two companies, one commanded by Captain Walker, the other by the gallant and lamented Stuart, who, after covering himself with unfading laurels in Mexico, unfortunately fell in that distant land, in defense of his exposed countrymen. The people of Oregon will cherish his memory, and I hope and believe they will, as they ought, erect a monument to perpetuate it.
Letter from Rogue River Country--Treachery of a White Man--
Attempt by Him to Induce the Indians to Massacre the Miners!--
Indian Agency, Stuart's Creek,Messrs. Editors:--We arrived here on the 15th November--found the Indians perfectly friendly--and they remained so until the 20th December. The Agent received an express from the falls (where some 12 or 16 miners were at work; it is also the residence of the 2nd Shasta chief, Sam), notifying him of approaching hostilities on the part of the Shasta Indians. He repaired to the spot immediately and ascertained that Worthington Bills, a most consummate scoundrel, was the cause of the difficulty. This Bills and his father had taken claims at the falls, some five or six weeks subsequent to our arrival. They entered into an agreement with the Indians for a tract of land, which contains some five or six sections. The Indians, on their part, were to prohibit the whites from settling on it, and when they sold their lands to government they were to make a reservation of that particular tract, for the two Bills' especial benefit. They were to build Sam (the Chief) a house, and give them various ictas ["things"]. Young Bills has legally married a niece of the chief's, according to the Shasta method--notwithstanding, I have been informed that he has a wife and three or four children in the States. They have done everything to ingratiate themselves into the good will of the Indians.
Dec. 28, '51.
Sam, the chief, informed the Agent that Bills told him the miners were going to shoot him through a certain crack in his house which Bills showed him. Bills did not deny the assertion. Sam also stated that he wanted him to commence at Mr. Long's, which is the farthest down the river, and exterminate all the whites, except the Agent. In the meantime, Bills sent his squaw to the Table Rock, distant five or six miles, to notify the Indians there that the miners would kill Sam. They sent an Indian immediately down the river 13 miles, where two of the subordinate chiefs resided (Sam's and Jo's brothers). They came immediately to the bar and asked the miners if they had killed Sam, their brother--whereupon an explanation took place, which seemed to satisfy both parties. Sam stated afterwards that if it had not been for his two brothers coming up, he would have attacked the whites that night. Bills, in the meantime, remarked to the miners, "Damn him," (meaning Sam), "why don't you shoot him." During the night the miners stood guard. Bills retired in the same room, and requested the guard to wake him when the Indians made the attack--that he wished to tell the Indians that he had nothing to do with the difficulty. The Agent arrested him and brought him to the agency; knowing that it was only a finable offense, he did not think it expedient to enforce the rigorous treatment of a criminal. Bills, on some pretext, went out and immediately fled. On the same night we searched diligently for him, but it was all of no avail. As there is no military force here, and not more than 40 whites, scattered over as many miles, the Agent thought it expedient to offer a reward which would induce the Indians to bring him in. The price was agreed upon and the Indians succeeded in capturing him that evening, which was the 24th ult. The express reached him at 12 p.m. informing him of the facts. He started immediately for the chief's residence, where he received the prisoner. He gave Mr. Dean charge of him, the gentleman that takes him to the [Willamette] valley.
Old Mr. Bills is the man that Dryer [T. J. Dryer, of the Oregonian] advertised last spring as having left without paying for his advertisement in, and subscription to, his paper.
The old man left about the 15th ult. for the Willamette Valley. He borrowed two or three horses from the miners, and has not been heard of since. It is the opinion of the citizens that he (the old man) laid the plan to exterminate all the whites, and that Worthington, his son, was to carry it out during his absence, and they were to have the Indians rob all the pack trains, and they would reap the rewards of the booty arising therefrom.
It is difficult for you in the valley to appreciate the anxiety we feel when we find such scoundrels, as this man has shown himself to be, lurking in our midst. Our situations and occupations necessarily expose us in many ways when the Indians, although of themselves friendly enough, can, if led on by villainous whites, not only steal our property, but take our lives without the shadow of hope on our part of being able to discover them in time to save ourselves, or that friends can ever learn with certainty what has become of those missing. There is no limit to the mischief such murderous villains can accomplish, and when caught the utmost vigor of the law should in every case, upon conviction, be enforced against them.
Yours, ROBT. PAINTER.
Oregon Spectator, Oregon City, January 20, 1852, page 2
Correspondence of the Spectator.
The Late Difficulty with the Rogue River Indians--Full Particulars.
Editor Spectator--In a late number of a certain Democratic newspaper, which has during the past season acquired considerable notoriety for "getting up" terrible accounts of Indian hostilities in Southern Oregon, I noticed another horrible account of an attack upon whites by Indians in the vicinity of the Siskiyou Mountains. The account was copied from a California paper if I remember right, and from reading it many would infer that these murderous savages were still carrying on their depredations as bad as ever. To show upon that foundation these accounts are made out, and eagerly seized upon by a certain class of editors and paraded before the public for political purposes, I will give you the account recently received from a gentleman who can be relied upon:
"Since I have been at this place (mouth of the Kanyon), I have seen several men who have just come in from Rogue River from whom I learn that on the 29th ult. a difficulty occurred on Rogue River, near the foot of the Siskiyou Mountain, in which one white man and one Indian were killed, and one white man and one Indian wounded. From all I can learn about the affair, some white men (among whom was Mr. Moffet, who was killed) had been staying for several days on the creek where the affray occurred, with a drove of hogs, and that the Indians alleged that the hogs had destroyed some of the acorns which they had collected for food, and [they] demanded one of the hogs as compensation for the acorns--and one of the Indians pointed his gun at one of the hogs and, as Mr. Moffet supposed, with the intention of shooting it. That Mr. Moffet in drawing his pistol discharged it and wounded his own hand, and that, irritated at the accident, he fired at the Indian; at that another Indian fired at Moffet, giving him a mortal wound."
Some two weeks later, in speaking of the same affair, the gentleman from whom the above account came says: "From all that I can learn I am well satisfied that it was the result of a misunderstanding between the whites and Indians, and not in consequence of any previous hostile feelings on the part of the Indians, and that there was as much blame to be attributed to the whites as to the Indians."
When will designing demagogues cease to catch at every flying rumor, giving it the importance of reliable information, with the view of creating an impression abroad or at home that the government officers have not done their duty towards promoting friendly relations with the Indians of Oregon?
Dec. 18, 1851. VERITAS.Oregon Spectator, Oregon City, January 6, 1852, page 2
Those troops, the whole being under the command of Major Kearny, moved in the direction of the Indian troubles; and it was my fortune, with a few gallant Oregonians, to fall in with them then, also including some brave volunteer Californians, and witness and participate in the service which followed. But for those troops, who remained only two weeks in the country, and at the seat of Indian troubles, the whole outside settlements would have been crushed. But they gave the Indians a severe flogging and a severe chastisement, such a one as has kept them, up to the present time, in that quarter, apparently friendly, though they have killed a few whites since; but that is so frequent an occurrence that we hardly think of asking this government to avenge it. The killing of one or two men is no unusual thing there; but we take care of these comparatively small disturbances ourselves. But when it is evident that there is a general hostility, as there is now, it is the imperative duty of the government to interpose and give us aid.
Now, while I am speaking of the Indian war in which Captain Stuart fell, I would like to say that South Carolinians, of which State he was a native, that he was an ornament to that gallant State; that he was the best officer of his age in the American Army, and more familiar with duties of an officer than any young man in the Army. He had distinguished himself in every battle he was in in Mexico--and he was in nearly all of them--and fell fighting for the people of Oregon. I learned, about the time of his death, that a portion of his salary was annually or quarterly devoted to the benefit of his mother, now, I learn, living in this District. I hope that some friend of that man will take care to propose that a pension be granted to that mother; a mother who bore such a noble son is entitled, in my opinion, to the benefit of a pension.
"Speech of Hon. Joseph Lane," Oregon Weekly Times, Portland, April 17, 1852, page 2
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Sir, I take the liberty to address a note to your excellency. I was a resident of Milwaukie O.T. for fourteen months and worked on the steamer Lot Whitcomb built at that place and named after our much lamented friend. Getting the gold fever I took an ox team and started for Scotts River, upon the way we had trouble with the Rogue River Indians, then hostile to the whites. A body of United States mounted men under Col. Kearny followed in our rear, we a party numbering 40 escaped but the troops were attacked and Col. Kearny called for volunteers. Your excellency and Col. Applegate raised a party of volunteers to aid the troops and defeated [the] Indians, taking 33 prisoners with the loss of the brave and noble Capt. John Stuart. The prisoners were delivered over to your excellency's charge and returned to Rogue River Ferry where a treaty was formed with the Indians and set free. I being a volunteer under your excellency and knowing your noble spirit wish to address you to see if I cannot like many others obtain a section of land for services rendered the U.States government under your command. The fever and ague caused me to leave the territory and return to the States but I have often regretted that necessity. I was happy to see your own excellency's name on the list of candidates for the Presidency and hoped there would be no choice by the people that you might stand a chance of election by the House. No such good luck however and they have caught up a man whose only merit seems to be that he has split rails, while the brave old general who has fought battle after battle covering himself with glory and never sheathing his sword except in victory should be voted down, is outrageous.
If your excellency will answer this letter recognizing my services you will confer a great favor upon your humble servant
John S. LearnardJo Lane Papers.
Jan 12th 1861
Major Philip Kearny had scarcely been transferred from the Atlantic to the Pacific coast when he demonstrated the truth of what has so often been claimed for him, that he seemed destined to shine in whatever he undertook. His summer campaign of 1851, against the Rogue River Indians, was one of the most telling blows ever delivered by our army in this harassing warfare. These savages at that period were the most wicked, most warlike, and most difficult to subdue of all the tribes on our Pacific coast. What rendered them more formidable was the fact that they occupied a district which intercepted all intercourse between Oregon and California; scattered along and across the direct road, north and south, on the banks of the Rogue River, which drains a rugged, mountainous wilderness, and flows as a general thing west and perpendicular to the coast, emptying into the Pacific, twenty miles south of Port Orford, and fifty miles north of Crescent City.
Much information in regard to this expedition is derived from Major-General Rufus Ingalls, Chief Quartermaster for so many campaigns of the Army of the Potomac. At that time he was stationed at Fort Vancouver, on the Washington shore of the Columbia River, where he fitted out Major Kearny. To use his language, "this handsome campaign opened that country." It has often been commented upon with surprise how Kearny, one-armed as he was, kept his saddle on all occasions, even when the march lay along mountain tracks most dangerous, and often seemingly impracticable for a soldier on horseback, tracks difficult enough for the sure-footed mules. The principal engagement was that of the Table Rock, laid down on the maps as Fort Lane, about midway between Roseburg, north, and Crescent City, south. The former (Roseburg) is the residence of Joe Lane, as he was familiarly styled, then Governor of the Territory, who wrote to Kearny one of the most flattering letters which can reward an officer who has succeeded in solving a difficult and dangerous problem. He gave him the greatest credit for the ability with which he had planned, and the resolution with which he had executed his operations. The fight at the Table Rock was a complete triumph. It awed the savages, pacified the district, and accomplished the great object in view, making the route safe between our farthest northwestern territory and California. On this occasion a very gallant officer fell, Captain Stuart, who passed through the whole Mexican War with distinction, unscathed, to die at the hands of a miserable Indian, shot through the body with an arrow by that savage whom he had rushed forward to save from the just fury of our troops. The torture which preceded his decease must have been terrific, as was testified by his reply to Major Kearny's question, "Stuart, are you suffering much'?" "Suffering! I feel as if a red-hot bar of iron was thrust through my bowels."
Major Kearny took the greatest pride in the letter which he received from Governor Lane of Oregon in relation to these engagements and their happy results. This letter he exhibited to the writer when next they met with an honest exultation, such as he seldom displayed, as an acknowledgment of his able and brilliant soldiership. This letter, like all the rest of the testimonials which Kearny received from time to time, is no longer to be found. As soon as the present work was projected, a letter was addressed to Governor Lane in the hope that a copy of it might have been preserved by him. The following is the Governor's reply, but it cannot approach the concise elegance with which he expressed his commendation in the original document :
Roseburg, Oregon, April 27th, 1868.General de Peyster:
Sir:--I regret my inability to furnish you a copy of the letter you mention in yours of the 21st January, but it affords me pleasure to supply, as well as I can from memory, a brief statement of the conduct, in Oregon, of the late General Kearny, the important results of which induced from myself the merited compliment to which you allude.
During the summer of 1851 Major Phil Kearny received orders to proceed with two companies of United States Dragoons, Captains Stuart and Walker from Oregon to some point in California. En route, he was informed of a recent attack of the Rogue River Indians, in which they succeeded in killing quite a number of miners, and doing other mischief.
These Indians were at that time the most warlike and formidable tribe on the Pacific coast. Never having known defeat, they were exceedingly bold in their depredations upon the miners and settlers, and were the terror of all. Major Kearny determined, if possible, to give them battle, and finally found them, three hundred braves strong, in the occupation of an excellent position. He ordered an attack, and, after a sharp engagement, succeeded in dislodging them, killing, wounding, and capturing fifty or more. It was here that the lamented, brave, and brilliant Stuart fell. The Indians retreated across Rogue River, and feeling that they had not been sufficiently chastised, the Major concluded to pursue them, and, whilst in the prosecution of this purpose, I joined him. He followed until the Indians made a stand quite favorable to themselves on Evans Creek, about thirty miles distant from the scene of their late disaster. Here he again attacked them, killed and wounded a few, and captured about forty, among the latter a very important prisoner in the person of the Great Chief's favorite wife. By means of this capture, and these successes an advantageous peace was obtained. Being an eyewitness, in part, of Kearny's movements and action, I can, with great truth, and do with no less pleasure, bear testimony to his gallantry as a soldier and his ability as an officer. I was then, and still am, sensible of the great good secured to Oregon by his achievements at that particular tune.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
(Signed) Joseph Lane.
John Watts de Peyster, Personal and Military History of Philip Kearny, 1870, page 155
Yoncalla, Ogn Feb. 23rd '84
Dear Sir, Your note of 21st inst. received. I have already given a brief account of the main facts of the Rogue River War of  to Mr. Lang at Jacksonville.
As the Rogue River Indians had dispersed and their allies returned home before the volunteers under Gen. Lane arrived, no event of historical importance occurred after [omission]. At the time Kearny had his fight Gen. Lane was mining on Althouse Creek, Jo junior being with him. He responded promptly to Kearny's call for help bringing some two hundred or three hundred miners with him. From that time forward in military phrase he was commander in chief to the close of the campaign.
The country was pretty thoroughly secured and no enemy offering resistance was found. The volunteers surprised a small camp on Evans Creek 20 miles up it, another on Little Butte near its mouth. Of the few men with these camps one or two were killed; the rest escaped. Some 20 or 30 women were captured to be held as hostages for the good behavior of the tribe.
No one to my knowledge engaged in this affair ever claimed compensation for his services. Gen. Lane and his fellow miners returned to their work. Major Kearny resumed his march to California, taking the prisoners with him to Fort Jones there to be held subject to the Oregon Indian authorities. This is all, except a few anecdotes illustrative of personal character, which Mr. Walling I presume would regard as valueless. Best respects to Mrs. Mosher.
Truly YoursJo Lane Papers, Reel 8
T'Vault himself sometime achieved a soldierly title, but how I know not. He was a colonel but not a military colonel. His life was one of the most extraordinary that was ever lived by any Oregonian. I have not the full details of his life in Oregon, and not a word of his previous existence, but subsequent to his coming here in 1845 it was full of adventures and experiences. We find him admitted to the bar at Oregon City, along with Nathan Olney, and appearing as attorney in miscellaneous cases, divorces and such, for there were marriages and dissolutions of marriages in those days. He continued to act as postmaster general and prosecuting attorney for Oregon, but his specialty seems to have consisted in procuring divorces for people. In 1851 T'Vault guided Major Phil Kearny (the hero who fell at Chantilly in the late war), and his command of U.S. troops from Vancouver southward on their way to Benicia, California. This was in the time of the earliest placer gold discoveries in southern Oregon, and the Indians were hostile and trying to kill every white man that entered their country. Captain Stuart was of this force, and was killed in a battle, or, more properly, a skirmish, on the Rogue River near the mouth of Bear Creek. T'Vault next joined Captain Tichenor's expedition to found a city at Port Orford, in Curry County, and within a few days after landing there he set out with eight others, all well armed, to explore a route for travel between the coast and the old Oregon and California trail, some thirty miles inland. The party were out about a week and had a terrible time. They got out of provisions, and although game abounded and still abound in that region, they nearly starved. Getting down on the navigable part of the Coquille River, a long distance off their proper route, they got an Indian to take them in his boat to the mouth of the river. Landing at a native village to procure food, they were set upon by the redskins, and five of them were slain. L. L. Williams and Cyrus Hedden escaped northward, the former with a dreadful wound, and getting to Scottsburg, Williams lay there for several years--seven, I think--before he recovered sufficiently to be removed. Redden took care of and supported him throughout. They were good samples of the hardy adventurer of that period. T'Vault with a companion made his escape, naked and despairingly, and got to Port Orford by the aid of friendly Indians.
"The Spectator," Oregonian, Portland, August 6, 1885, page 4
Mrs. Elizabeth Kenney, now living in Jacksonville, came to the Rogue River Valley May 12, 1852--fifty years ago. Her father, Col. W. G. T'Vault, who had been through here before, came through the valley in the spring of '51 as guide to the dragoons, en route from Vancouver to Benicia, Calif., and was present when Capt. Stuart was killed, a short distance above Phoenix. In order to obliterate the place of burial the cavalry horses were corralled about the grave, and next morning the ground was so cut up by the fresh-shod horses that no trace of the grave could be seen. Col. T'Vault, however, took bearings from the adjacent trees, so in case it was desirable to find the grave he could do so. Sometime in '53 Capt. Stuart's mother, who lived in the East, sent for the body of her son to have it shipped home. Col. T'Vault was called upon and pointed out the place of burial, and the remains were exhumed and sent east. But for this foresight and critical marking by the colonel the remains could never have been found.
W. J. Plymale, "Scraps of Early History," Medford Mail, May 16, 1902, page 2
The road to California, traveled continually to the gold rush, became more and more unsafe through all the region roamed over by the Shasta, Rogue River tribes and their allies. Notwithstanding the treaty entered into between Governor Joseph Lane of Oregon Territory and the Chief of the Rogue River Indians the previous year, great caution was necessary in selecting and guarding camping places and crossing streams.
If a party wishing to cross a river constructed a ferry boat and left it tied up for a party in the rear, the latter on arriving found it gone. While making another, guard had to be maintained, in spite of which their horses and pack animals were likely to be stampeded. When a part of their outfit was ferried over, guard had to be maintained on both sides of the stream, which divided their forces and increased their peril.
These annoyances and occasional conflicts led to irritation on the part of the miners, who, as they grew stronger, were less careful of their conduct towards the Indians, who were only too ready to find provocation in their contempt of the white man.
Finally, in May of 1851, contempt was turned into desire for vengeance by the treacherous murder of David Dilley, one of a party of three white men, and two professedly friendly Rogue River Indians. While encamped for the night the Indians stealthily arose, seized Dilley's gun, and shot him dead, as he slept.
The other two white men, who were unarmed, escaped back to a party in the rear, and the news was sent to Shasta, where a company of volunteers was formed, headed by a Captain Long, who crossed the Siskiyous, killed two Indians, one a sub-chief, and took several prisoners as hostages for the delivery of the murderers.
Demanding the surrender of the murderers was well enough, but the demand being accompanied or preceded by revenge gave the head chief a plausible ground for refusing to give up the guilty parties. Further, he threatened to destroy Long's company of volunteers, which remained at the crossing of the Rogue River, awaiting turn of events.
He was not molested, but at a ferry south of this one several skirmishes occurred. One party of twenty-six men was attacked 1 June 1851 and one Indian was killed in the encounter. On the day following, at the same place, three different parties were set upon and robbed, one of which lost four men in the skirmish.
On 3 June, Dr. James McBride and thirty-one men, returning from the gold mines, were attacked in a camp south of the Rogue River. There were but seventeen guns in the party, while the Indians were two hundred strong, and had in addition to bows and arrows about as many firearms. They were led by a chief known as "Chucklehead," the battle commencing at daybreak and lasting for four hours and a half until "Chucklehead" was killed, when the Indians withdrew.
No loss of life or serious wounds were sustained by the white men, but about sixteen hundred dollars' property and gold dust were carried off by the Indians.
This series of incidents resulted in the dispatch of Major Philip Kearny and two companies of the 1st U. S. Dragoons. These troops, augmented by volunteers of General Lane, engaged in a skirmish with the Indians on 17 June near the Rogue River. On the 2nd, another engagement took place at Table Rock. An all-out attack was planned for [the] 25th, but upon arrival at the Indian camp they found all the Indians had disappeared.
Taking up their trail, Kearny's regulars managed to bring back some 30 Indian prisoners to Camp Stuart, which had been named in honor of Captain James Stuart, who was mortally wounded in the engagement of 17 June and died the following day. The prisoners were turned over to General Lane of the volunteers for delivery to Governor Gaines at Oregon City.
By means of these prisoners, Governor Gaines induced eleven of the head men and about 100 followers to consent to a treaty by which the Indians agreed to submit to the jurisdiction and accept the protection of the United States and to restore the property stolen from white people. Upon agreement, the captive families were returned.
Virgil Field, "Militia in the Rogue River War," The Official History of the Washington National Guard, 1959, Volume I
But I may here be permitted to pay my tribute to one destined to fall on another and far distant field; who always, in battle, attracted the admiration of soldiers and the affection of those who knew him, everywhere; and who was one of the first Americans to enter Mexico that day. Jemmy Stuart, as we all called him, was the son of a brilliant editor of the Charleston Mercury, grand-nephew of the Conqueror of Maida, and descendant of the last royal family of Scotland. He entered the Rifles from West Point, a stripling of twenty years. In person and manner he was refined and attractive, with an almost feminine beauty of countenance, he was [as] diffident in the presence of strangers as a young girl. And his brown, silky hair, pearly teeth, and sweet expression of mouth gave, to a casual observer, no indication of the high spirit and dashing courage which made him prompt to resent insult, and foremost in battle.
He passed unwounded through all of our Mexican battles; and perhaps no officer of his rank gained a reputation more enviable than his was when peace was made. We all loved and respected him, while our officers seemed to regard him as their Bayard.
Several years after, when the Rifles were ordered out of Oregon, he and Captain Walker of Missouri were sent down into California to turn over to the dragoons our men and horses. The two were intimate friends, and on this march occupied the same tent. The duty on which they were engaged was a sort of indulgence to them; and no idea of actual service, or danger, had been connected with it. When, one night, or rather morning, about 2 o'clock, Walker awakened, and Stuart said to him, "I have been lying awake at night. I have upon me a conviction, which I cannot shake off, that my death is at hand; and I wish you to receive and promise to execute, in that event, certain requests, which I now shall make."
Walker endeavored in vain to disabuse him of the sad forebodings, which seemed to oppress him. For while he was ready to acknowledge their absurdity, he could not shake off their influence, and insisted on a promise of fulfilling his last requests.
Next evening, to the surprise of us all, the command found signs of hostile Indians being near, and made preparations to hunt them up and attack them next day.
At breakfast next morning, Captain Stuart related to the other officers a vivid dream he had the night before, in which a Rogue River Indian had seemed to come to the door of his tent, and after aiming first at Walker, then at him, to discharge his arrow through his (Stuart's) body. Before 10 o'clock that morning the command under Stuart found and attacked and routed the Indians. Stuart, as usual, led the attack, and was shot through the body by an arrow, from the bow of a Rogue River Indian. He was the only one of our men hurt in the fight.
He lingered in great agony for near two days. We buried him at the root of a large tree near the road. His remains have since been removed, and now rest in his beloved South Carolina.
His was a pure and beautiful character. He lived and died without fear and without reproach.
"Recollections of the Rifles," Southern Literary Messenger, November 1861, page 375
OVERLAND TO CALIFORNIA IN 1851.In the spring of 1851, the news came to Portland that rich mines had been struck in the vicinity of Mount Shasta, in Northern California. The accounts were "gilt-edged," and so attractive that many of the old Oregonians, who had got over the gold fever of '49, packed their provision and tools and started for the new gold fields. Myself and others, of Portland, rigged out ox teams and put them in motion. 1 had come around by way of the Isthmus, and lacked the wild experience and adventure of those who crossed the plains, and this trip overland through these primitive regions was spiced with romance in advance, and undertaken more to round out an adequate career than from the love of lucre, which idea had not then, nor ever since, possessed me to the extent both prudent and advisable.
BY S. A. CLARKE.
The wagons were loaded with all sorts of plunder, and on the tenth day of May we crossed the river and camped at Milwaukie; thence we went slowly marching on towards Oregon City, our beasts bloating on the way from too copious a feed of chopped wheat that came near ending the journey right there. Day after day we pushed on through the valley, crossing the Waldo Hills in ignorance of the vicinity of Salem, and after we had reached the prairies of Linn County, our way was through grassy prairies and over swelling plains in Lane County, with very faint traces of civilization here or there. Where they had largest herds they had no milk, and were in blissful ignorance of butter. The average Missourian of that day possessed the country, at intervals, and flour, bacon and coffee, whiskey and tobacco were the chief staples of existence.
For three days in succession, we inquired the way and the distance to the Calapooia Mountains with doubtful success. They either did not know or else could not tell the truth, those pioneers that were at that early day camped along the ragged edge of civilization, and it was amusing to learn that it was fifteen miles to the mountains when we shook the whiplash over Tom and Jerry in the morning and to be informed that it was twenty when we laid down at night, but that was about the way it worked.
Finally, we crossed the Calapooias and were in the yet wilder regions of the Umpqua, regions where the romance of hill and dale, and stream and fountain were displayed in greater contrast than in the lands of the Willamette, where since then have been developed the most favorable sheep walks of our gate.
Capt. Scott and the Applegates were the pioneers of the Umpqua and had it all to themselves. The unusual travel had roused up the wilderness with tokens of unaccustomed life, but the valley of the Yoncalla then lay untrammeled by fences, and ignorant of yellow fields of grain. At the other end of the valley, at the mouth of the dreaded canyon, we found Joe Knott waiting for wayfarers, and that was the outermost post of Oregon civilization, only planted there at the intimation that the California travel had money in it.
Climbing the Umpqua Mountains consisted of wading through Canyon Creek over a hundred times, at crossings, and marching up against the current for a goodly distance, with an occasional abrupt climb of one to four feet of rocky ledge, where the wagons and their loads had to be lifted bodily over the obstructions. Our party had increased as there had come back rumors of war and travelers and teamsters bound south found it convenient to join forces. The Indians of Rogue River were on the war path, and our only safety lay in numbers. We wound our way up and over the dividing range and came down into a beautiful valley on the other side, where the untrodden grasses were waving in luxuriance. The only Indian scare we had was just as we halted, but it was a false alarm. We waited there until other forces came up, enough to constitute a respectable array, then elected Pleasant Armstrong, of Yamhill, our captain, and with an organized company pushed on, snaking a detour down Rogue River, to prospect for diggings, but passing by the rich placers that afterwards gave such great rewards, and finally crossing Klamath, and driving our oxen in solemn procession past the grand presence of hoary-headed Shasta.
We had stood guard all the way from the Umpqua, and night and day had kept up the eternal vigilance necessary to keep one's scalp on in an Indian country. The Indians had been engaged in combat with the dragoons, just before we passed through, and we saw the battlefield where the grave of Capt. Stewart was made, in a sugar pine grove near the road.
The journey was a summer idyll to me, rich with romance and bright with an undefined hopefulness. Standing guard in a rainy night, on the bank of Rogue River, was not much of an illusion, but came as an alloy to the pure romance of the excursion. I was young and drank in the newness of the wilderness and the life of adventure with avidity, and I have a delightful remembrance of brave men and good fellows who were in the company, of whom Pleasant Armstrong was certainly fit to be captain, and Joe Bailey was the brave ideal of a gallant frontiersman. Both of these men afterwards fell in battle with Indians, and Oregon sustained a great loss when they were killed.
Mining life at what was afterwards Yreka, but was then a great collection of tents and shanties known as Shasta Butte City, partook of all the undisciplined traits that made up the sum of character in the Golden State in the early times. We had all the excitement of the gambler's life, the occasional call for recruits to go after the Indians, and the rumors of rich strikes made far and near. The only thing that was not a humbug was Humbug Diggings, that panned out marvelous fortunes.
As long as the water lasted, we hauled dirt off the plain and washed it at our tom, in the creek, and when the creek went dry I packed up and started back on horseback. The journey out, with all its windings, counted 450 miles that was made on foot. The trip was not profitable in anything but adventure, though I sold to the hay makers of Scotts Valley a scythe and snath for $37.50, and could have got twice as much if I had asked it.
On the way back I found Governor Gaines and Gen. Joe Lane engaged trying to make a treaty with the Indians, on the north bank of Rogue River, which was finally effected but did not prove very permanent. In the summer of 1850 there was found to be only about 6,500 people in what was then Oregon, and now constitutes Oregon, Washington and Idaho. During the few weeks I was absent, many new occupants and claimants had established themselves on the road. The valleys of Umpqua and Willamette were filling up. It is something to remember the time when the widespread and diversified lands of the Willamette were only scantily occupied, and when the whole Umpqua Valley, with very small exceptions, was a wilderness, when the oak-covered hillsides claimed a continual remembrance of the orchards of the olden time in other lands. Beyond lay the beautiful Rogue River country, as wild as imagination could picture it, and we read only a few days ago, with amused interest, that the Indians left of those who of old made terrible this for the settlers, who were conquered and then banished to Grand Ronde Reservation in this valley, have lately returned to visit the homes of their people, clothed with the attributes of civilization and so well posted in the progress of our times that one of the first acts, on their arrival at Jacksonville, was to telegraph to their relatives and friends among the Shastas at or near Yreka to come over and have a dance at Kanaka Flat. They certainly have improved upon the time when with torch and tomahawk they ravaged the newly settled country and wreaked their savage vengeance on the whites.
Many incidents of that journey were interesting but cannot be given in detail, and I have only aimed to sketch the early epoch and to give an idea of the newness of the civilization of that time; the scenes and incidents of the journeys made and the prospecting done; the savage times in the wilderness and the scarce less savage features in the mining camps; the meeting of soldiers, citizens and savages to smoke the pipe of peace by the council fire; the wild life and its rough speech and hasty actions, come to my memory as a panorama of early days, and my mind recalls nothing with more vividness than the remembrance of being alone, on my return, in almost untrodden [omission] ways, and far from any settler's home, with a vicious and balky horse that refused to be a means of locomotion.
I had traded a footsore horse on Rogue River, and paid a big bonus for an animal, grey in color and rawboned in structure, that proved stubborn to the last degree. On the Calapooia Mountains he refused to move for whip or spur or word of mouth. I was all alone and had a weary time leading him, at his own gait, for he was minded to go slow, and having got tired in my turn, I had mounted to try for another ride when a stranger came riding up who stopped to take in the situation. I plied whip and spur, but old grey had braced himself for a rest and there he stood. The traveler knew the horse of old, for his first remark was: "It's d----d lucky for you, my friend, that that horse is thin in flesh and pretty near worn out, or he would throw you higher than a kite."
The West Shore, Portland, August 1, 1879, pages 226-227
THIRTY YEARS AGO.Thirty years in these latter days works no inconsiderable changes in older countries than Oregon, as the absentee will discover who returns to New York with only a remembrance of what that city was in 1851, for he will hardly be able to recall any portion of the lower city from the Battery to Union Square, and above there a new city almost entirely will defy his best efforts at remembrance. But with our country the changes of thirty years made about all of civilization and development that has been accomplished. It was over thirty years ago that the news of gold discoveries took away the males of Oregon and left the embryo territory effectually under "petticoat government," and nobly the woman of '48 and '49 manned the breach made in society by the absence of husband and father, and became masters of the situation. How people managed to reach the gold fields would be an interesting hit of history if it could be worked up thoroughly, and a graphic picture of the early days of the gold fever in Oregon would be a chapter well worth perusing if it could be correctly compiled.
But our sketch commences at a later day, when Oregonians were returning from the plains of California well repaid with their wealth of gold dust. With the outbreak of 1848 and 1849 Portland commenced to grow, and in 1850 was a lively collection of all sorts of construction, for in addition to the erections from logs, lumber and shingles of home manufacture, there were houses of wood and iron shipped around the Horn ready to be thrown together in short space, and converted into domiciles or business establishments.
But it is not our intention to tell how Portland grew, how ships and steamers learned their way up the channels of the grand Columbia and broad Willamette, but to glance at these things as we pass along and make an overland journey to the mining fields of Northern California. It was in the spring of 1851 that word came that rich mines were discovered and worked on the waters of Shasta, in Northern California, and a relapse of the gold fever seized many who could not resist another attempt when they heard that mines had been discovered so near home, for a journey of 300 miles or more was not much of an incident to hardy pioneers who had cracked their ox whips for 3,000 miles on the overland route, and had started for the diggings in '49 with as little preparation as they would go a-hunting in the Cascade Mountains. By this time a wagon track was marked out between Oregon and California, and May, 1851, saw a lively procession of wagons, horsemen and pack animals with not a few footmen who pegged along the roadside, while their traps and calamities were wheeled along in some wagon. People naturally drift into companies in such journeys, and the small groups that were marching for the same destination were certain to come together when they reached the new-made track that led towards the latest El Dorado.
May is a delightful month in the Willamette. Now there is the bloom of orchards, the fresh vegetation of gardens, and the beautiful bloom of countless acres of grain; but then the roads of this beautiful valley were unmade, the orchards and gardens not planted, and the wheat fields were few and far between. What bloom and fragrance there was came from nature unassisted. Sprays of ocean, as we called it, wreathed the thickets; dogwood was gorgeous within the woods; syringa or mock orange rivaled the heliotrope in sweets, and the maples with dense green foliage were putting forth their pendant flowers. Wild clover grew on the hills and plains, and the woods were rich with the so-called Oregon grape, with glossy holly leaves, and with the gay flowering currant, also with the beautiful mountain ash. May was a charming season, so long ago, but you will need to hunt some deep sylvan solitude today to find the forest beauty that was so abundant in '51.
Several ox teams started out together from Portland and wended their way towards the upper valley by slow marches. All the way from this place to Milwaukie the civilization was knee deep in mud. Milwaukie was a candidate for metropolitan honors then, for the genius of Lot Whitcomb was striving; to make it the commercial center round which the progress of the 19th century should concenter. Alas for the hopes of thirty years ago! Oregon City was then the chief town of this whole region, and looks to me but little larger now than it was then. Its relative importance was no doubt greater than at present. Beyond Oregon City there were almost pathless roads, as we took the back track that led through Dibble's Prairie up the Molalla, and thence on through Howell Prairie and the Waldo Hills. There was a "right smarts" sprinkle of settlement and improvement on this beautiful prairie, but with donation claims a mile square population did not crowd itself for room and bare prairie reaches were extensive.
Through the Waldo Hills our course lay past the old Waldo claim, missing Salem, which was then dull enough, though waking to some signs of its coming business importance. About this time a distich was popular, more remarkable for its vigor and originality than for its elegance:
"Salem for beauty, Champoeg for pride,In 1861-2 there came a flood--not exactly of prosperity--that leveled the pride of Champoeg so that it never has held up its head since, and it swept Oregon City as with a broom of destruction, almost setting even Salem afloat.
If it hadn't been for salmon Oregon City would have died."
In the spring of '51 the Waldo Hills were not by any means densely populated. Where now are richest fields and choicest homes, there was then wide districts that even whole section donation claims could not cover. We crossed the Santiam River at the city so named and pushed forward over the prairies of Linn County, with a feeling of loneliness that has since been displaced by the farms and fences that don't leave one enough spare room to waste in melancholy. To think now what chances we missed so long ago, for instead of pushing towards some uncertain El Dorado one could have claimed 640 acres of Linn County soil and have been an honest farmer and stock raiser. All through the upper end of the great Willamette Valley we found some herds of cattle but little or no milk or butter. They had no time to milk, or do anything else. Slab huts or log cabins were scattered over this beautiful region, and often there would be a notice that the claimant was going to be absent a few weeks, and no one was to trespass on his vested rights. That was the way three-fourths of the settlement was represented, and the other fourth camped on the ground, with perhaps a garden spot and a corral fenced in, and the dependence of the family was not on its own labor and industry, but rather on the growth of herds of cattle and bands of horses that roamed on unfenced prairies and won for their owners better returns than those secured who prospected for distant placers. But we who traveled for days and days over these prairies and rolling uplands found bitter fault in our hearts with the sort of civilization that Missouri had sent over to Oregon. A squalid hut on a prairie, great bands of cattle close at hand, but no milk, no butter, no meat, nothing like the civilization that now has got that once-wilderness into such delightful bloom. But it must not be understood that that were no exceptions to this rule of border squalor. There was enough to grow and bear fruit in our day, but the general average thirty years ago was very unattractive.
It was curious and perplexing, and annoying, too, to see how much ignorance prevailed concerning surrounding distances and localities. As we approached the head of the valley we tried to ascertain how far it was to the Calapooia Mountains. One said it was thirty miles, and then we pushed on all day to learn that it was still 30 miles to the Scott crossing, and actually traveled day after day in blissful ignorance, until at last we found ourselves climbing the mountain, which was the first certainty we felt as to its location. Later in the summer, when returning from California, we passed down through the west side to discover that the oldest civilization in the country had established itself in Yamhill and Washington counties, and since then we have always appreciated the peculiar advantage possessed by the man who "got his start in Yamhill." Even at that early day Yamhill sustained a high reputation with travelers, which was confirmed so far as possible by my own frequent testimony.
Crossing the Calapooias in June, we dropped down from these wooded ridges into the beautiful vale of Yoncalla, where already the pioneer Applegates had made their homes and given beauty and character to their surroundings. They were the advanced guard of immigration, and beyond them was the howling wilderness and the treacherous Indians. Whenever I think yet of Yoncalla, the lines occur to me of Tom Moore's "Meeting of the Waters," "Sweet Vale of Avoca." Now the railroad curves through it, but does not mar it, and as it climbs the grade at the further end, if you do yourself the kindness to look back, you will see a vision of scenic beauty that cannot he surpassed for its quiet loveliness. We were now adrift upon a wilderness that knew nothing about homes and mocked at any attempt to dispel the rule of barbarism. Away across the Umpqua region there was a rude "hostelrie" kept by Joe Knott, who had turned monopolist and gone half way to Shasta to take possession of the Canyon pass through the Umpqua mountains and entertain, for a consideration, the humanity that was flocking to the placers. There was also a ferry on the Umpqua River, but otherwise all the unbroken way from Yoncalla to Mt. Shasta was a "howling wilderness," literally so because coyotes and savages howled in unison, and were a common terror. Stopping at Knott's when we reached there, we enjoyed our latest taste of Oregon civilization, and having by this time gathered together a company of seventy persons with a common destiny, or at least a common destination, we pushed on up the canyon road and experienced such an episode of travel as one never forgets and does not care often to repeat.
The Umpqua Canyon was, years since, surmounted by a stage road that has been in its time a great convenience and very notorious for the inconvenient litigation it has been the cause of. The road, however, went much smoother than the litigation, as it was duly finished, whereas the litigation never has been, and possibly never will be. Often within the later epoch I have rode over it in comfort in the excellent stages that for many years have crossed the mountain, and have looked down upon the scene of our almost discomfiture so long ago. The beautiful grades of the present road were not dreamed of then, and the only known route of travel was to follow up the course of the brawling stream that poured down the canyon. We crossed the meddlesome affluent of Cow Creek between ninety and one hundred times in making the ascent, passing over intervening points of roughness "between the times," and one especial time we remained in the boulder-crowded bed of the miserable little torrent for the space of three perturbed miles, simply because walls of basalt held us within its inconvenient channel. The culmination of our mishaps was when, within this space, our long train of loaded wagons met an abrupt fall of about four feet, over which no teams could pull an empty, much less a heavy vehicle, but our frontiersmen were not to be balked; they literally put their shoulders to the wheels and each helping each made a jest of hoisting wagons, loads, and all, up the declivity.
So we reached the summit and by easy descent came down into a beautiful bottom where the valley grass grew in primeval luxuriance, evidently not having been browsed by living thing. There is something very reassuring in thus dropping into a world that your fellow man has not invaded. You remember the Idyll of Adam and Eve and look round you for the tempting apple and the tempter's serpent. All the harmony of nature is perfectly preserved, for, as well as the abundant vegetation, the animated nature of air and earth, all have been free from human, if not humane, influences. The questions as to how long they might be expected to remain so was answered in our case with sudden abruptness. We were now in hostile territory. The Umpqua Indians had not been considered on the war path, but we were among the Grave Creek Hills and nearing the desolate Rogue River Valley, and the inhabitants of all these wilds--and they were "sure-enough wilds"--seemed to have been born to a ruthless taste for murder and rapine. We had hardly drawn together in camp when on the mountain above us and in the very path behind us rose yells and shouts and resounded the report of firearms. In haste every man seized his rifle and prepared for war, but the promise of peace soon "smoothed the wrinkled front," as we found that a noisier party than our own, having completed the passage through the canyon, were celebrating the event with demonstrations that we mistook for actual war. They joined camps with us, we fraternized, and concluding to prosecute the march through the hostile territory in company, we organized into a regular force, with a certain amount of discipline, elected officers, and from thenceforth stood guard at night, and were on the qui vive by day, of which the hostile tribes may have been possibly aware, for they let us severely alone.
Looking back from three score, for thirty years brings before you vivid pictures of life and your associates. Especially is this so when your life at thirty was thrown among stirring scenes, and your companionship was with men of the early time who met danger with the cool skill of veterans. The captain of our party was Pleasant Armstrong, of Yamhill, and our Lieutenant, Joe Bailey. Armstrong was a man of mature years, of savant character and great natural courage and caution, who inspired confidence as well as respect. Joe Bailey was one of several brothers, most of them older, but Joe was a man among men, as brave as a lion, cool and inspiring by nature, one of those men born to be popular leaders. The short experience of that journey left an impression on my mind concerning him that is pleasant to recall, because it is a pleasure when your head is grey to look back and count the men you have known who were above the average, and both these men were nature's noblemen. The young men of our company naturally liked Joe, and he accepted their popular regard with a quiet modesty and unassuming confidence that aided his popularity. If I am not mistaken both Capt. Armstrong and Joe Bailey afterwards were killed in battle with Indians. I tried to trace the history of the younger man, but soon after heard that such was his fate.
The gold of Rogue River did not glitter in our way, and we did not discover it, but within a year rich diggings were found on the ground our party prospected on that stream, and millions of treasure came out of it. In course of time, after traveling 450 miles in all, our train reached what is now Yreka, but was then called Shasta Butte City, because the great mountain was not far to the eastward of it. Returning in after years, I recognized the spot where the stage road crosses the creek, in entering the town, as the site of my "tom," where the biggest day's wages I ever made was $12.37. I might have got rich cutting and hauling hay in Shasta Valley, for I had a scythe with me, but with dull infatuation I sold the scythe for $50, when I could as well have had $75, and so threw away another opportunity. One at our party I remember was Michael Cosgrove, from French Prairie; others have never returned to Oregon, and the personnel of the expedition is confined by my memory to a few persons.
Shasta Butte City was an agglomeration of tents and clapboard shanties, and presented a graphic picture as it shimmered in the summer sun. Here were pack trains coming and going. Gamblers were in profusion, and the gambling haunts were great social centers. The place wits ignorant of any attempt at a hotel, though grub could be had for a dollar a rough meal. Some Oregon family, I recollect, had struck a bonanza by driving thither some milk cows that the girls milked and tended, a business that panned out better than ordinary placer mining. Those were wild times, when alarms were frequent, and calls for volunteers a common occurrence. Sometimes we heard of great strikes, and one nugget was unearthed valued at $2,200. Shasta Plain was soon a worked-out placer, though not distant was a mining camp that bore the significant name of "Humbug," that belied its title by turning out millions of treasure. Whether the placer paid me or not, it was worth all it cost to gather experience from such wild fountains, and the sight of that grandest of mountains, Shasta, looming up in the east dwarfing the tremendous ranges and mocking the whiteness of the clouds, combining majesty and beauty in one startling coup d'oeil, was worth more than I can tell.
When I returned to Oregon General Joe Lane and Governor John P. Gaines were holding a grand council on the banks of Rogue River, trying to make peace with the hellish tribes of that region. A temporary peace was fixed up, but when the mining interests of Jackson County led to settlement of that valley, these fiends made war with a savage ferocity hardly equaled in the annals of time.
The history of any mining camp of that early day would he replete with startling incidents, for which gambling would generally afford the cause. Mining was finally prosecuted late in the season, over on the Klamath. Such an incident occurred one beautiful Sunday morning, and it is doubtful if so thrilling a murder and terrible a judgment was ever before realized in so brief a time. Sunday was the miners' holiday, the gamblers' harvest. On that Sabbath day, amid the pines that stood sparsely near the river, the camps were set. Under a tree about a gambling table had gathered a crowd of packers, miners and others, and close by the long row of aparejos and cargo showed that a pack train was not far off. Some miner, it seems, had been unusually "down on his luck," and by continued losses was reduced to his last half dollar. Miners are superstitious, and holding his last piece in his hand thus, he looked around and asked: "Is there anyone here who never bet on a card?" The crowd pushed forward a tall, awkward youth, whose looks bore out the assertion of his friends that he had never bet a dollar. He tried to escape, and even refused to become in any way a participant, but the urgent request of the ruined gamester, aided by the entreaties or his own friends, overcame his scruples. Not even knowing the meaning of his act, he placed the coin upon the table, and as it won changed it from spot to spot. Following one of these freaks of fortune that are occasionally surprising, his winnings rapidly doubled up, and in less time than it can be told, without a word being uttered, the bank was broken and the novice in faro, who was a young man of irreproachable character from way down in Maine, turned quietly to leave the scene. At this moment the owner of the broken bank, seizing a bowie knife, shouting: "By G-d, no man with such luck as that shall live," stabbed him to the heart and he fell dead. The scene was terrific. Miners and others in large numbers had watched the game, as the circumstances created unusual interest. These closed in around the table. Gamblers, too, had gathered around their comrade, and they now tried to rally to his defense. lt seemed certain that the bloody episode must culminate in further horrors, when suddenly some outsider seized a lariat from the pack saddles near by, and making a loop, threw it accurately to the center of the crowd, where it was slipped over the gambler's head, and scarce a moment passed from the time he struck the fatal blow, when retributive justice had accomplished his fate, and he was swinging to a neighboring tree.
S. A. Clarke, The West Shore, Portland, October 1, 1881, pages 245-247
Last revised September 8, 2018