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The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised


Jackson County News: 1858


    DITCH ENTERPRISE IN OREGON. From the Oregon Sentinel, of the 23rd ult., we learn that a mass meeting of the citizens of Rogue River Valley is to be held at Jacksonville, on the 6th inst., for the purpose of making an energetic move towards bringing the waters of Applegate to the Sterling and Jacksonville mines. The Sentinel thinks there is no other question of so great importance to the whole population of Jackson County as that of procuring a supply of water to miners throughout the year. It has long been well known that the mines near Jacksonville and Sterling are rich and extensive, but the absence of water has prevented their being worked except a short portion of the year. If the proposed enterprise succeeds, it will open a new era of prosperity for Jackson County.--Yreka Union.
Daily Alta California, San Francisco, February 4, 1858, page 1


    A MAN MISSING IN SOUTHERN OREGON.--We learn that, on the 25th of April, a young man who was in the employ of Sykes, on Evans Creek, in this county, left the house about 8 o'clock in the evening, without coat or shoes, and has not since been seen or heard of. Search was made for several days afterwards, but nothing was discovered that gave any clue to his whereabouts or fate. His name is Morrison; he is about twenty-seven years old, and was from Eugene City, Oregon.--Jacksonville Sentinel.
Oregon Statesman,
Salem, June 15, 1858, page 2


DIED.
    At Jacksonville, O.T., July 12, D. B. Brennan, Esq., formerly of Ohio.
New York Times, August 28, 1858, page 2


    WAR--"SPIRIT OF THE TIMES."--The Siskiyou Chronicle relates the following: On Saturday, 3rd inst., an extra, claiming to have been printed in Shasta, was brought into Jacksonville O.T., containing astonishing war news. The British war steamer Styx had been captured by a Yankee privateer, fitted out for the purpose, and brought into Charleston, S.C., and that [the] government had approved the act, and accepted the services of hundreds of privateers, and the war had commenced. This important news had been printed by a "junior" in one of the Jacksonville offices, sent out on the road, and brought into town by a man claiming to be an expressman from Yreka. Great excitement ensued, and the whole town was in an uproar. All the anvils, and nearly all the powder, in town was brought into use to fire guns, several parties trying which could fire the oftenest. After a season of general rejoicing, it leaked out that they had been humbugged. The wrath which followed this discovery can be imagined, and the authors of the trick of course made themselves scarce.
Sonoma County Journal, Petaluma, California, July 23, 1858, page 2


    WASHINGTON, Sept. 17.--Major Townsend, Assistant Adjutant General, has by direction of the Secretary of War just issued an order saying the department to the Pacific is to be divided into two parts, to be called the Department of California, with the headquarters at San Francisco, and the other, northern, part to embrace the territories of Washington and Oregon excepting the Rogue River and Umpqua districts, which will be called the Department of Oregon, with the headquarters at Fort Vancouver. Brevet Brigadier General Clarke of the Sixth Infantry is assigned to the command of the Department of California.
"From Washington," Hartford Daily Courant, Hartford, Connecticut, September 18, 1858, page 3



Letter from Rogue River.
Jacksonville, O.T., Aug. 20th, 1858.
    Editor Statesman!--Sir: Since I last wrote to you, nothing has occurred here worthy of much note. Dullness predominates in every department of our "Sunny South." A stranger who should come within our borders would almost imagine he had entered the confines of the "Silent Land," so deathlike is the stillness that pervades everywhere. Our people are now indulging in their usual summer nap, which extends throughout those months when the "dog star rages," and which is only interrupted by an occasional half-waking visit to the bar of the "El Dorado" or the "New State" (not Oregon, but the other new state) in search of "suthin' cold." A "thorough awakening" need not be expected until the winter rains set in--the camp meeting to the contrary notwithstanding.
    The prisoners confined in our jail--five in number--took advantage of the somnolency (which, by the way, I am inclined to think is constitutional) of the jailer to make their escape on the night of the 2nd instant. They effected their exit from durance vile by means of a broom handle, with which they made a breach in the wall three times larger than was necessary for their purpose, the jailer, in the meanwhile, sleeping calmly in an adjoining room, undisturbed by the sound of the falling rocks and mortar. One of the fugitives was arrested a day or two afterwards, on Evans Creek, about twenty miles from town. The other four are probably wending their way to Fraser River, where they will perhaps find exercise for their skill in digging.
    Speaking of Fraser River reminds me that many persons who went there from this neighborhood are returning. They are satisfied to remain and work in our mines. Hundreds of persons who went from California are also returning by way of Crescent City, many of whom will stop in the mines of Jackson and Josephine counties during the winter. Our mines are far from being worked out, and new discoveries are being made of rich deposits of gold. On Wards Creek, about sixteen miles from Jacksonville, diggings have lately been struck which will pay all the way from five dollars to an ounce per day to the man. The "hill country round about" Jacksonville is full of the precious metal, but there is a want of water to work it.
    Our citizens feel much flattered by the marked compliment paid them by the state legislature in the selection of a worthy and distinguished member from our county to fill the chair of Speaker of the House. The compliment is the more appreciated as it was entirely unexpected. [W. G. T'Vault was elected Speaker for a special session in July 1858.]
    Some interest was caused by the appearance of the Statesman, containing the Washington correspondence signed "Metropolis," as also by private letters received here by last mail.
SOUTH.
Oregon Statesman, Salem, September 7, 1858, page 2


    The campaign opened in Jacksonville, April 15, 1858. At that time the mails from the states east of the Missouri and from California were brought into Oregon by the overland route from Sacramento to Jacksonville, and thence to the counties north, all the way to Portland, by weekly service, in one-horse conveyance or on horseback, except between Salem and Portland, in which a semi-weekly stage line or small river steamers of the Upper Willamette were employed as carriers, as time and occasion offered in point of expedition. Pack trains and freight wagons occasionally traveled the long route to the Umpqua and to Southern Oregon. I recall that as late as August, 1857, Colonel John D. Fry and myself made the first journey from Salem to Rogue River that had ever been traveled in a top buggy, and in stopping at roadside hospitable farm houses of nights--there were no hotels or taverns--the trouble was to prevent the children of the household from climbing in the buggy and working open and shut the lifting and closing top.

*    *    *
    About noon of the fourth day from Eugene we reached Jacksonville. The meeting, or speaking, as the term was common, was appointed for that afternoon at 2 o'clock, in a beautiful grove on the outskirts of the town, outdoors. Seats were not provided. Audience and candidates could either stand, squat or move around. A large number gathered. Jacksonville was unlike the towns of the Willamette. It depended mainly upon its adjacent gold diggings for business and support. Along Bear Creek, in Rogue River Valley, and in other portions of the county, lands were of uncommon fertility. Farms and vegetable patches produced enough to supply the miners, and the merchants of Jacksonville were the middlemen of this easy traffic. Gold was plenty, prices ruled high. Few practiced frugality. Extravagance was the rule, and Jacksonville was as a mining camp of California. The inhabitants did not include themselves in the Territory of Oregon. It was the common phrase of any departing on a trip to the Willamette region, "I am going down to Oregon." The singularity was that the Willamette was far north--so that to go north was to go down.
*    *    *
    At the opening meeting of the campaign, in Jacksonville, Lafayette Grover made the starting speech. It was plausible, self-laudatory, with bare reference to his colleagues upon the ticket, an hour long and of feeble effect. Colonel Kelly followed in a speech adapted to the occasion, directed to the political issues of the contest. next followed Delazon Smith, the admitted orator of the party, skilled in declamation, of stentorian voice, conscious of his power of speech, and by no means careful of either his utterance or his logic, his harangue was mainly directed at the "Little California Adventurer" [O'Meara] who was a candidate for state printer upon the national [Democratic] ticket. The object of Smith's ungenerous speech followed Delazon, and was not long in appreciating that the sympathies and favor of the people of Jackson County were with the nationals, and that their antipathy to the clique party and its candidates was very apparent. H. Rush, not withstanding he had been active in politics for years in Oregon, made his maiden speech before a large audience on that occasion. He was a shrewd party manager; he did not aspire to campaign declamation. His forte was in council and not on the stump. Heath barely announced his own candidacy. Whiteaker patiently sat and comfortably smoked his solacing pipe. None could make issue or be offended with his remarks. The meeting ended with sharp exchanges between Smith and the national candidate for state printer in which neither of them were discreet. At the subsequent meetings the two found it more judicious to preserve their tempers and better regulate their speeches. Still, their occasional sharp hits at each other were as nuts to some of their hearers. It is in the nature of a multitude to cheer the remarks against another which, if made in relation to themselves, would violently enrage and provoke a fight.
    In Jacksonville at that time were two weekly newspapers--the Sentinel, of William G. T'Vault, and the Herald, of William J. Boggs. T'Vault was an early pioneer of Oregon from Arkansas. He was editor of the Oregon Spectator in 1847, and founded the Sentinel, the first newspaper in Southern Oregon, at Jacksonville. He was aged, crafty and crooked in his walks and ways. Boggs was the son of a clergyman, young, bright, flippant and incurably vicious. The Sentinel favored the nationals. The Herald took sides vehemently with the clique party. Boggs' fierce antagonism to T'Vault for the assembly resulted in his election to the first state legislature. At the Jacksonville meeting I had opportunity to learn of Delazon Smith's extraordinary faculty of memorizing. At Quincey [sic] Twogood's I found two or three copies of a Boston paper, which was Edward Everett's polished eulogy of Daniel Webster. Delazon had stopped at Quincey's two days before and taken away a copy of the same paper. At Jacksonville he was invited to deliver an evening address. He announced as his subject "An Oration on Daniel Webster." I listened throughout his remarkable oration, delivered without notes or pause. It was the precise language of Everett, from beginning to end. The incident was to me in explanation of the nickname given to him of "Delusion," by which he was commonly known in Oregon. Delazon was nevertheless a really very able campaign speaker. In 1860 he encountered Colonel E. D. Baker in the state campaign, and that great orator bore willing testimony to Smith's ability and eloquence.
James O'Meara, "Our Pioneer History," Oregonian, Portland, November 9, 1890, page 16



Last revised September 16, 2017