HOME



The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised


Albert Gallatin Rockfellow


Claim No. 67    Bank
    and owned by Albert G. & Allison L. Rockfellow situated on the left hand bank of the right hand fork of Jackson Creek commencing at a stake at the top above the big falls of said creek at the head of the big flat and running down said flat fifty yards to a stake it being 2 claims and held by right of discovery.
Jacksonville July 25th 1855
Recorded by me this July 25th 1855
    Hiram Abbott
    Miners Recorder

Notice to hold 3 quartz mining claims
    Notice is hereby given that the undersigned claim three quartz mining claims, one claim by discovery and two by location, situated on a quartz lead, lying between Willow Creek and Lane Creek, at the foot of the highest point between said creeks, commencing at the prospect hole or said lead where the said lead was struck and running from said prospect hole with the course and bearing of said lead in each direction from said prospect hole for the distance of 375 feet, making the whole distance for said claims 750 feet or 250 feet for each claim and 75 feet on each side of said lead, together with all the dips, angles and outcroppings belonging to the same.
Isom Brown
A. G. Rockfellow
Filed for record January 12th 1864
Wm. Hoffman
County Clerk & Recorder
Jackson County Oregon
Blossom Family Papers Mss 746, Oregon Historical Society Research Library


    A. G. Rockfellow, of Ashland, Or., exhibited a patent yard and farm gate, which is really the first successful combination of beauty, durability and convenience in gates. A full description of it here would be too lengthy, but we can say truly that it is a perfect beauty. Builders should send to Mr. Rockfellow at Ashland, Or., for full particulars. It was also on exhibition at the industrial exhibit at Portland, where it was greatly admired. It is needless to add that this gate took first premium. It should have been awarded a special gold medal for special merit of its inventor.
"State Fair Notes," Douglas Independent, Roseburg, November 16, 1878, page 5


    CHAMPION GATE.--The gates put up at the court house not working well, Mr. A. G. Rockfellow, the patentee, put them in order himself last week and they now work splendidly. Mr. Rockfellow is putting one up for Judge Hanna, which will be the champion gate of this town. Its main advantage is that it compensates for shrinkage and swelling and will not stay open. It is evidently cowproof.
Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, February 12, 1879, page 3


    A. G. Rockfellow left in the Tidings office the other day an immense tooth, which, with a portion of the jawbone, was washed out of the ground at Mr. Rockfellow's mines below Ashland a few years ago. It is a molar of one of the huge elephants which used to roam over Southern Oregon in prehistoric times.
Oregon State Journal, Eugene, May 1, 1880, page 5


    The copartnership recently existing between A. G. Rockfellow, A. D. Rockfellow and others of Ashland for mining, legal and other purposes has been dissolved. A. G. Rockfellow retires from the legal and real estate department and A. D. Rockfellow from the mining department.
"Local Items," Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, December 30, 1882, page 3


THE SPINNING WHEEL AND THE BICYCLE.
(By Albert G. Rockfellow.)

The wheel, the wheel, the spinning wheel;
    Our mothers used to run it;
And many a day and many a year
    Our sisters, too, have spun it.
   
That was the wheel that spun the yarn
    That made our fathers' breeches,
And spun the flax that made the thread
    That sewed the trusty stitches.
   
There was a time when that old wheel
    Was high in estimation
Of folks of high or low degree—
    By every class and station.

No matter if they had to walk
    And turn the wheel by hand, sir;
They wrought with all the cheerfulness
    That mortal could command, sir.
   
But that old wheel is laid away
    To moulder in seclusion;
Our sisters now can ride and spin—
    And this is no delusion.
   
Ah, yes! and spin two wheels at once—
    Our spinsters, too, can spin them—
And court and woo as the lassies do,
    The shy old larks and win them.
   
Our married sisters, too, can bike
    And congregate together,
And drink their tea and spin their yarns,
    In fair or foulest weather.
   
Whilst hubby he will stay at home,
    To wash and scrub, it may be,
And darn and sew the buttons on,
    And cook, and care for baby.
   
Our sisters now don't stay at home
    And drudge and drudge forever;
They mount their wheel just like a man,
    And not a whit less clever.
   
They spin away to shop and store,
    Dismount and stop a minute,
Then out and mount the wheel again—
    How gracefully they spin it.
   
The drive so long, the time so short,
    How can the dear ones make it?
Ten blocks are passed and shadows flown
    Ere camera can take it.
   
"Come, oh, my lover, come along,
    And ride with me today, sir.
I'll spin for you a yarn, my boy,
    That is no childish play, sir."
   
The stakes are up, the wheels are off—
    The stakes are hearts and rider—
Her speed is pressing two and ten,
    And he is right beside her.
   
Now, wheel and wheel, right on they go,
    And each with strong endeavor,
Is striving hard to win the race,
    By beating it? No! never!
   
And so 'tis plain that both will win,
    And they will be in clover—
Two hearts will beat in unison,
    When racing time is over.
   
So then farewell, ye old-time wheel,
    And the dear old folks that spun it;
Farewell, ye bonnie barefoot girls
    Who helped the old folks run it.
   
And now hurrah! for the brand new wheel,
    And the brand "new woman" on it;
Hurrah! for the jolly cyclers, all,
    Hurrah! for the hat and bonnet.
Ashland Tidings, July 25, 1912, page 3


Old Indian Wars
Interesting Account of the Early Troubles in Southern Oregon
Remembered by Old Timers.

    To the pioneer reunion of Southern Oregon, held at Ashland, Ore., on September 7, 1911, the writer, A. G. Rockfellow, submits the following statement of his services in the Indian war of Southern Oregon during the war of 1855 and 1856:
    After the Indian outbreak, Jacob Thompson and myself, two old friends from childhood, agreed that between ourselves we would keep one man in the service from that time until the close of the war, one of us only to serve at the same time, and it was decided that I should be the first one to take the field.
    Accordingly, about the first of December, 1855, with my own gun bought for that special purpose at fifty dollars, I mounted Mr. Thompson's horse and wended my way to Fort Vannoy, two miles below the present site of Grants Pass, where I was duly enrolled in Major James Bruce's command, under C. A. Rice as captain and J. S. Miller as first lieutenant. I cannot now recall the names of our lower officers, but we were all under Colonel Robert Williams (known as private life as Bob Williams) as the Southern Battalion of Oregon Mounted Volunteers.
    This organization constituted the army of the southern part of the state. But we were soon joined by a company from the northern part of the state under the command of Captain Rinearson, making altogether quite an imposing army. And now under the leadership of Colonel Robert Williams, who was by nature both escort and leader, on the forgotten day of September [sic] we set out for the "cabins" in the Applegate country where the Indians were known to be encamped. On arriving there guards were promptly placed around the cabins to prevent any attempt the Indians might make to steal away under cover of night, while the command was waiting the arrival of a howitzer known to be on the way under the escort of Captain Judah of Fort Jones, California.
    In the placing of the guards a young man by the name of Miller and called "Doc" Miller, from Crescent City, Cal., and myself were placed together at the edge of the water of the Applegate, with a bank about four feet high in front of us and between us and the cabins, and about fifty yards away from the cabins. Immediately on top of this bank of the river and between us and the cabins stood a pine tree large enough to shield one man as long as he kept it between himself and the enemy. But to do good duty as a guard he had to put his head out to one side of the tree so that he could see if the Indians were making any movement toward going away. I had just had my turn standing at that place and watching by putting my head out from behind the tree, when Miller came to my relief and took my place, while I was now crouching between the bank and the water. I think it could not have been more than five minutes after our change of places when a gunshot report rang out from the direction of the cabins, and simultaneous with the report of the gun Miller fell over by my side dead, with a bullet hole through his head. Thus it can be seen how on many occasions one may barely escape the fatal shot that takes the life of another one. And why, you may ask, does it sometimes so happen? To this question I can only answer by saying I am not here to philosophize and can only answer you by repeating your own question, "Why?"
    I cannot now recollect whether this circumstance transpired before or after the bombardment of the cabins, but I am quite sure that on the night after the bombardment the Indians made their way out of their perilous situation, through a dense growth of underbrush on the north side of the cabins.
    But the question will be asked, "Did you follow them?" To this question the answer may be justly given. By the morning light of the next day the Indians were many miles away in a heavily timbered and brush-covered mountainous country, where to have followed them now would have been to court death from behind every tree, every rock and every clump of brush behind which an Indian could hide himself and, after shooting his man, slip away down the side of the mountain unobserved to a place of safety.
    The army now returned to headquarters at Fort Vannoy to recruit and get ready for the next expedition, when our scouts, chief of whom is now again our late Colonel Williams (now only Colonel Bob), again located them in a heavy wooded country opposite the upper end of the Big Meadows on Rogue River. All ready now for the renewal of the conflict at the Meadows with our gallant Colonel Williams still at the head of the army, though just now fresh from the scenes of the scout. We now move in warlike style for the scenes of the coming fray opposite the Big Meadows, hopeful of success this time. Arrived at the Meadows, we made camp for the night in the middle of that open and extensive meadow, with a strong guard all round us to prevent any attempt of the cowardly foe, who, not now more than a mile distant from us, did not dare to attack us, but under cover of their heavily wooded and brush-environed camp lay quietly during the night, wondering, I suppose, how we were on the morrow to cross the river and meet them face to face, and the sequel shows how vainly we strove to cross the river in the face of their well-selected place of defense.
    On the morrow, at the sound of the bugle call, all hands were up and preparing the morning meal, with a noonday lunch, while engaged in an almost hand-to-hand encounter with the Indians in their stronghold. During the night, on our side of the river, the movements for the morrow were all arranged. Fully equipped for a day of hard work, the army, with the exception of a few campkeepers, were to march down to the river and of the drift logs that lay on the bank of the stream were to construct a raft on which the army could be rafted over into the timber, where it would have an equal fight with the redskins, and while the axmen were at work on the raft the balance were sitting on the high ground overlooking them. Very unexpectedly to all hands, a report as of the exploding of a gun cap was heard as if from across the river, and immediately followed by the loud report of a gun from the same direction. At once the whole force of the men on the side of the hill were on the run for the river, where they might find shelter among the rocks and logs and trees abounding there, a few of us stopping on the hillside to take advantage of the rocks and small trees there for shelter. Here myself and another young man took our chance for safety behind a tree whose body was not more than half as large as our bodies, and soon the rifle and yager balls came whizzing past us and some lighting in rather ominous proximity to our faulty retreat, my partner left me and ran for a better shelter among the rocks and trees at the river. When about halfway down, his arms flying high above his head, a yager ball struck and broke one of them, when he tumbled over and lay there for a moment only. On seeing the man fall the reds on the opposite side of the river were made jubilant with the glad shouts of the happy Indians hidden among the trees over the river. Well, now I was left alone, sheltered only by that little tree. As long as I stayed there I was a standing target for the bullets of the enemy, and if I run I may get shot as my comrade did, or I may be killed, and I said I will run. And asking the protection of my Heavenly Father, which was my everyday rule from childhood, I ran, not with Indians behind me, but with scores of them in front of me, all anxious to take my life, and I came out of the difficulty unscathed.
    A few hours later myself and another comrade were sent as an escort with the broken-armed man to camp. And still a few hours later the whole command returned to camp. And why not? Does any reasonable person suppose that under the conditions just now brought to light, the army could have crossed the river on an open raft with that band of Indians in front of them and perfectly concealed from view? It could not have done any such thing, for supposing that in its sheltered position, out of sight of the Indians, it could have completed the raft and, loading it with men, sent it afloat on the water, where it now floats out in full view of the Indians, before it could be landed on the Indian side of the river every man on it would be killed and the raft would become the property of the Indians, to be used in the defense of themselves. Such, doubtless, it seemed to the command of the army, and it returned to headquarters to think of the difficulties of waging an Indian war in a mountainous and heavily timbered and brush-covered country, and in studying how best to keep the enemy quiet until peace could be brought about in some successful way.
    I have written the foregoing movements of the army during the winter of 1855-6, for the remembrance of the old-time pioneers, of whom but a few remain to this present, but more especially have I written it for the later and younger pioneers--the second and third edition of them--and to the strangers also now among us, that all may understand what this now blessed and happy country cost the early pioneers, of whom, as said above, only a few of us now remain.
    Thus ended my war experience in the Indian war of 1855 and 1856, when I turned over my war outfit to my friend, Jacob Thompson, with his own horse, to be by him used in the following campaign, when I returned home to look after business there and to prepare for the next call to arms, which never came and for which, in the name of a prosperous country and a happy people, I sincerely thank the Southern Battalion of Oregon Mounted Volunteers, together with the Indians of Southern Oregon by a treaty of peace made with them by General Joseph Lane, Governor of Oregon at that time.
ALBERT G. ROCKFELLOW.
Ashland Tidings, October 7, 1912, page 4   Joseph Lane's term as Governor expired in 1851.


    A few cases are known where one person or family uses the wrong spelling while all the other near kin of the name spell it correctly.
    To illustrate, I will quote from a letter received from Mr. Albert G. Rockfellow of Ashland, Oregon, on March 26th, 1914.
    "But I am not a Rockefeller. I never have known a Rockefeller. But my father was a Rockafellar, a born Rockafellar, born and raised in Trenton, New Jersey. Myself and two brothers, William and George, changed our names from Rockafellar to Rockfellow while crossing the Great Plains from Iowa to California in 1850."
    His grandfather spelled his surname Rockefeller.
Henry Oscar Rockefeller, The Transactions of the Rockefeller Family Association, Little & Ives 1915, page 62


Recalls Indian Wars of 1855-56
    A. G. Rockfellow, who cast the first vote in the second ward last week for the bonds, is one of the oldest pioneers in the state. On the third of next month he will reach his eighty-ninth year, and one of his greatest disappointments is that he could not attend the meeting of Oregon Trail Blazers in Portland this week. This disappointment has been made doubly bitter by reason of the presence at the meeting of his old commanding major during the early Indian days of Jackson County and Southern Oregon. Mr. Rockfellow says:
    "Major James Bruce, referred to in the Trail Blazers' meeting and referred to in the accompanying clipping, was the commanding major in the company to which I belonged in the Indian war of 1855-6, in which the ill-fated Dr. Miller of Crescent City, Cal., fell dead at my side with a bullet hole through the head. Only a few moments previous my own head occupied the same position from which he fell.
    "This engagement was at the cabins on the Applegate Creek, where we had the Indians surrounded and were bombarding them with shells from a howitzer on the hillside nearby.
    "It is almost needless to say that during the night following the Indians escaped from their hiding place in the brush to the brush of the mountains and far away from their pursuers by the following morning."
    Numbered in the pioneer visitors expected to attend Tuesday's reunion are many who crossed the Oregon Trail, the historic old way to the Northwest said to have been marked by the graves of 25,000 men, women and children, most of them nameless, who gave up their lives between 1840 and 1859.
    There is Major James Bruce, one of the most widely known pioneers of Oregon, who was born in Indiana in 1827, and who came to Oregon by way of California in 1850. He is a nephew of that famous pioneer, Daniel Boone, his mother being a sister of the Kentucky woodsman. He engaged in the mercantile business in Jacksonville, afterward settling on a farm in Benton County, and now residing at McMinnville. In 1857 he married Miss Margaret Kinney, who died in 1884. In 1886 he married Elizabeth Marsh. He has one daughter, Catherine. In 1874-1876 he was a member of the Oregon legislature.
    One of these successful pioneers was William D. Stillwell of Tillamook, who wears a badge of 1844. He was born in Ohio in 1824, and came to Oregon with an "oxomobile" as far as Boise, where his party took pack horses for the remainder of the distance. He says that for only three days of the trip did he enjoy the luxury of riding, walking otherwise the whole of the way, driving an ox team for his father and mother and afterwards the pack animals. He settled in Yamhill County, and when his father, Thomas Stillwell, moved to Douglas County, William stayed with Yamhill. He was one of the founders of that city and resided there for many years, establishing the first mercantile establishment, known as Stillwell's store from Portland to Roseburg by every pioneer.
    Afterwards he removed to Tillamook County and engaged in the dairying business, now residing in the city of Tillamook, passing the last years of a ripe old age in peace and comfort. He married Elizabeth Baxter in 1851, who died in 1863. He has four sons, all living in Tillamook County. His vigorous step and kindly smile, with a full head of only partly gray hair, would not indicate that the "Oregon country" had dealt hard with him.
    Captain Thomas Mountain. another distinguished pioneer, came to Oregon in 1841, and is probably the earliest pioneer of Oregon now living. He was a member of the Captain Wilkes party that was wrecked on the United States sloop Peacock off the Columbia river, and is undoubtedly the only survivor of that expedition now alive, although he escaped from the wreck. He served with distinction through the Mexican War, afterwards coming to Oregon again about 1849. For many years he served as an officer aboard river and coast vessels and steamers, then as a warehouse and wharf tender, finally retiring in 1903. His health is not good, but it is hoped to secure his presence at the reunion Thursday for a little while. He was married in New York City in 1843 to Margaret Frances Barnes. They had twelve children, six of whom are now living, scattered through the Northwest.
    Expected, too, is the Rev. John Flynn, the oldest pioneer now living in Oregon, having been born in Ireland March 26, 1817. He came to Oregon as a Methodist missionary in 1850, finding Portland a thriving metropolis of 250 people. He was given the circuit of Multnomah, Yamhill and Polk counties, and is one of the best known ministers in the Northwest.
    In 1856 he married Mary E. Royal, a native of Illinois, who came to Oregon in 1853. Eight children were born to them, six of whom are now living.
    George L. Story is another of the old timers who will be on hand. Mr. Story was born in Massachusetts April 30, 1833, and came around Cape Horn to Oregon in 1850 and established himself in the drug business in this city the next year, when it was only a hamlet of less than 500 souls. With the exception of two or three years Mr. Story has been connected with the business affairs of Portland up to the present time.
Ashland Tidings, June 25, 1914, page 6


Pioneer Passes Quietly to Sleep
    Albert G. Rockfellow, one of Ashland's oldest pioneers, passed away Sunday evening at 7 o'clock. Mr. Rockfellow was in good health until last Friday when he took to his bed. The end came quietly and without pain, the deceased passing off quietly while asleep. He was 89 years, 8 months and 25 days old.
    Mr. Rockfellow was born in New Trenton, Linn County, Indiana, and came to Ashland in 1852. He was a writer and poet of more than local repute. He has been a familiar figure on the streets of Ashland for many years and is known and revered
by all of Ashland's prominent citizens.
    He leaves one son, Alfred Rockfellow. who came down from Seattle Saturday. Mr. Rockfellow is related to several of the old families of Ashland, among them being the Meyer, Walker, Anderson and Wagner families,
    Funeral services will be held Wednesday afternoon at 2 o'clock, from the Methodist church.
Ashland Tidings, March 29, 1915, page 1



    With probably only one or two exceptions Albert G. Rockfellow, who died Sunday in his 90th year, was probably the oldest resident of this vicinity. Moreover, he was a pioneer, having come here in 1852. He was a native of Indiana, and was a man of gifted intellect, both as a writer of prose and verse. He was also a painstaking investigator in the realm of scientific research and wielded a ready pen in support of his contentions along these lines. Mrs. Rockfellow died years ago. One son survives, Alfred Rockfellow, of Seattle. Funeral was held Wednesday.
"Aged Pioneer Dead at Ashland," Medford Mail Tribune, March 31, 1915, page 8


Ashland Pioneer Crosses Divide
   
Sunset and evening star
    And one clear call for me,
And may there be no moaning of the bar
    When I put out to sea.
   
For though from out our bourne of Time and Place
    The flood may hear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
    When I have crost the bar.
   
    Another of the early Southern Oregon pioneers has crossed out to sea. Albert Gallatin Rockfellow, who first came "across the plains" to the Pacific Coast in 1850, and settled in the Rogue River Valley, on Wagner Creek, near the present town of Talent, in 1852, died in Ashland Sunday evening, the ninetieth year of his age. The end came quietly and without pain and after a very few days of illness.
    Mr. Rockfellow was born in New Trenton, Linn County, Indiana, July third, 1825. The name was formerly spelled Rockafellar. He was one of six brothers and one half brother. The latter only of this family survives and is a resident of Iowa, John Henry Rockfellow. In the company in which Mr. Rockfellow first came to this country were two of his brothers, William and George, and all were well-known pioneers of this section. A daughter of the latter, Mrs. Minnie Lane, wife of C. E. Lane, is now a resident of Ashland.
    Mr. Rockfellow mined in Siskiyou County, California, for a time, but was among the first group who established homes in the upper Rogue River Valley. This was in the year 1852, on Wagner Creek near the present town of Talent. In 1862 Mr. Rockfellow became a resident of the then village of Ashland and was associated in business here with some of the earliest factors in its subsequent growth and development. He removed with his family to San Diego, California, in 1888, where he made his home until 1904. Returning to Ashland, he was content to spend his remaining years amidst the old familiar scenes and amongst the friends of days gone by. He was a soldier of the Rogue River Indian War of 1855-6 and saw active service in the campaigns of those years to break the power of the red man over this country.
    Mr. Rockfellow was a man of gentle and kindly disposition and one in whose mind it is doubtful if thoughts of wrongdoing ever entered. He was of a poetic temperament and possessed native literary ability. For many years he indulged his fancies in both prose and poetry, and the files of the Ashland papers will reveal not a few of his writings. He also assisted in compiling the first volume of Southern Oregon history ever published and was active in the work of the Pioneer Society of Southern Oregon, of which he was one of the first members.
    Mr. Rockfellow was married in this county March twelfth, 1856, to Sarah B. Myer, a member of the prominent Southern Oregon pioneer family of that name. She died at San Diego, California, January twenty-sixth, 1904 at the age of eighty-eight years. Seven children were born to them, five of whom died in infancy. Eugene F., the elder son, died less than two years ago, leaving two sons and two grandsons. One son only of the deceased pioneer survives, W. Alfred Rockfellow, a traveling salesman, who dutifully cared for his aged parent and attended him in his last illness.
    Mr. Rockfellow was an active worker in all good causes, notably along educational and religious lines, and was a leader in the work of the Methodist Church in this city for many years. From this church his funeral took place Wednesday afternoon, March thirty-first, where the services in his memory were conducted by the pastor, Rev. W. J. Douglass, at two o'clock. The interment was in the family plot in Ashland Cemetery.
Ashland Tidings, April 1, 1915, page 8


    Mrs. Anderson (Elizabeth Myer) was born near Wellsville, Ohio, on October 30th, 1831. When ten years of age, her parents removed to Iowa, residing there until the spring of 1853, when her father and mother, together with her two brothers, W. C. Myer and B. Frank Myer, her sisters, Temperance (later Mrs. Fowler), Mary Ann (afterward Mrs. J. P. Walker), and Sarah (later Mrs. A. G. Rockfellow) and the Walker brothers, Enoch, Minus and John, and others started for Oregon. Nearly all of the wagons were drawn by oxen, although Elizabeth drove a fine team of black horses belonging to Mrs. W. C. Myer.
"Death Called Aged Citizen Last Friday," Ashland Tidings, January 12, 1921, page 4



  
Last revised May 12, 2020