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The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised


Samuel Stillman Mann


S. S. Mann
Port Orford and Coos Bay
   
San Francisco
1883

Statement of the Hon. S. S. Mann, at H. H. Bancroft's library, San Francisco, July 23rd, 1883.
   

    I think that Captain Tichenor was Collector of the post there at one time, at Port Orford. Dunbar was Collector. I know he was Collector quite a time. As to date and details, I find that my memory is failing me a good deal. I never was very good in remembering dates, details or anything that you want in that respect unless I had some particular reason for remembering them. So far as the Indian war was concerned, it was in a country perhaps 50 or 60 miles away from where I was. I did not mingle in with it and don't know all the incidents. I did have connections with it, because I was appointed Quartermaster over the Oregon volunteers and was at Coos Bay during all this time. I sent on the supplies and I had assistants at Port Orford. I sent them supplies. They had a volunteer company at Port Orford and at Coos Bay. General Kautz, then Lieut., was then at the time at Port Orford. I think he became a General afterwards, and Smith was there also. Of course you know that. Ord and Augur were also there. They commanded the three companies there as Captains. They became Major Generals. I have met Kautz there and had some little interest in him. I am quite sure he was promoted during the war and was called General Kautz some time. James Saunders was the Assistant Quartermaster at Port Orford. Bledsoe was commander at Rogue River or Port Orford. He was Captain of a company raised in that region. I don't remember his first name. Poland is not mentioned in my pamphlet, and in it I made no allusion to the Indian war at all. In my letter to you I did. I remember some things very indefinitely. I said there was some killed in an engagement, I did not know how many. For that matter, I never went out. The parties who were killed had been out gathering potatoes, and were surrounded by Indians. Some were killed and some wounded, and some reached the fort again. Of course, I could not tell you the details. I had but very little acquaintance with Ben Wright and knew but very little of him. I knew nothing of him until after the massacre took place. I merely heard and knew such a man was there. I have no knowledge of his personal character. At the time of the massacre at Modoc Lake Rogue River it was said--people were very much astonished at the massacre--It was believed he was on very good terms with the Indians and had confidence in them. The people were very much surprised that the Indians should have massacred them, but then this Indian hostility had commenced with Indian John, Chief John, up in the interior valleys of the Rogue River, even commenced down at the mouth of Rogue River. I believe now that they commenced at the mouth of Rogue River and were extended down up the valley. I don't know whether John was a Rogue River or Shasta Indian. I remember Chief John after he was taken prisoner and being escorted by a company of soldiers. I remember seeing him at the time. I don't know much about matters down at Port Orford, but at Coos Bay I do. I know more about that. The prospects are very flattering just at present. A company has formed with the expectation of building a [rail]road from Coos Bay to Roseburg, and with the further intention of extending it farther east to connect [to the] Union Pacific near Boise City. The capital is being raised and property being purchased by the parties who contemplate building the road. They have not yet concluded to buy up coal there. They are talking of purchasing whole properties there. They only made one purchase there of a town site, and lumber and timber land amounting to about $135,000.00. That was only a part of their projects and they intend, as I understand, to buy coal property, in fact, they did negotiate with a party for the purchase of coal property that I owned; whether they will do so or not is yet undecided. They do intend to do something of importance as is shown by their purchase or expending money in the purchase of property, and they intend to build the road. That is one part of their scheme, and their other schemes are only a part of the scheme to build a road. Our connections have always been with San Francisco, not with Oregon. We ship lumber and coal to San Francisco, but then a railroad coming out at Roseburg would make us a part of Oregon; now our connections are entirely with California. We have depended upon California for food. Our flour comes from California. They raise some flour in some parts of the county, but the greater portion comes from California. The farmers there some things we get from here. They raise some grain, not much. We have fruit--there that is the ordinary kind of fruit, early fruit comes from here. We have a great many kinds of berries and apples, pears and plums. I was a member of the Umpqua Company. I think Colonel Winchester who was editor of one of the San Francisco papers was up there. He was not up there much himself. Winchester, Payne & Co. I think was the company he was connected with. Winchester, Payne & Co. were the originators of the scheme. Payne was one of the originators, and he went there to live, two or three years, at Umpqua. I went up there in 1850, on the first vessel that went there. In the first place, there was an exploring schooner, the Samuel Rober which went up first and came back and reported the results of the discoveries, and those who had belonged to the company went on the next vessel. Governor Gibbs and quite a number of other parties, I would not volunteer to say how many, probably 30 or more, went up there as immigrants. I was among them. I could not tell you what year the light house was destroyed, and there is where I am at fault. The facts I remember, but the dates I do not. I resided on the Umpqua until 1856 and then removed to Coos Bay. The government is making improvements at Coos Bay, building a sea wall, also one at Coquille, and at Coos Bay they have been working for two or three seasons and there is still a large amount of work to do. They have made great improvements in the Bar at both places. It is a part of Coos County. I am not in charge or I would give you some idea of it. The name of the engineer in charge of work is Littlefield, and he resides at Coos Bay. He is at work now on the improvements at Coos Bay, and employing quite a number of men. They have built a wall now about 7 or 800 feet from the Point, extending out towards the sea, for the purpose of directing the force of the current on the Bar, to give it a greater scouring force. It has already produced a good effect. The Bar has been more permanent in one position, and more water on it. There has been more water of an average, though the wall is not more than half completed now. They are watching it very carefully to see the effect of it because it is an experiment on this coast for harbors of that kind, where there are sand bars. There are two papers published up at Coos Bay. I don't know that there is much difference in them for items and other things; of course I take the Coast Mail. About the time of the publication of my pamphlet there, there was, and shortly after, there was a long series of articles about the Indian war, written by the editor and Williams in the Coast Mail. It contained items of a great many other things that occurred on the Coast at the time about this matter. Mrs. Victor wrote to me for some information and I sent this information. Webster declined to send you copies of the Coast Mail. I want to preserve these papers. I think I may write a little history of it myself someday. I don't care to part with them. Webster wrote quite a series of articles and took particular pains to get information, and he since sold out the paper and now lives at Santa Cruz down here. If it would be any great advantage, I think you could get those papers. I wrote about the mining beds in my pamphlet, about all I knew about it. When we are in full operation, we generally put out about a hundred tons a day out of our mine, but it varies at different times. That is out of one mine. There are only two in operation now. The coal in my mine is called lignite. The Seattle coal is lignite. The Carbonado Mine is not lignite in the Cascades, but this lignite or brown coal is a superior kind. It makes good fuel; it has all the qualities of coal. They call all coal formed in sandstone lignite. It is found up and down the coast, only here and there. It pinches out and then appears somewhere else. There is some on the Columbia River. At Coos Bay, the veins are about five feet thick. North of Coos Bay they never have been found, only with small veins. I have seen them on the Umpqua. I do not exactly know the population of my county now. I can approximate it. At the last Census it was about five thousand, I don't remember the exact amount. There is a great deal of increase, natural increase and then an emigrating increase. There has been quite an accession to our population from Russian Finns. They are coming in there. Quite a number came there at first and their friends are coming one after another. Some of them are ship builders and workers. They work more generally as loggers and work in the woods getting out logs and other timber, such as staves and match wood. About two or three years ago there were are two or three ships building all the time at Coos Bay. A. M. Simpson & Co. build vessels there, and have always been building at their mill on the Bay. At Dean's & Co.'s mill there is always one or two building by different parties. They build for San Francisco parties generally, and Simpson generally builds for himself. He is engaged largely in shipping and owns a great deal of shipping on the Coast. He owns 7 or 8 mills on the Coast, owns one at Coos Bay and two at Umpqua and different places on the Coast (then a house here in San Francisco for the sale of lumber), one at Crescent City, one on the Columbia, and one at McCray's Harbor, and one at Shoalwater Bay. They are building these vessels for their own use under the firm name of Simpson Brothers & Co., these the same as here, Simpson, Brother & Co. I believe. There is a wagon road from Coos Bay to Roseburg, a military road. They got a subsidy from Congress to build a road from a point on Coos Bay up to Roseburg through the mountains. It is used now. It was not usable for a year or two and has been injured badly, but a mail contractor took hold of it and repaired it, and now it is in good condition, and he runs a daily stage over it. I was born in Randolph, Massachusetts, June 27th 1819. I spent my boyhood there principally in attending school. Finally, I went to Brown University and graduated there in 1841 at Providence, Rhode Island, and graduated in a class of 41. I was 29 years old when I came out on the Coast. I left Boston in the ship Leonore, February 4th 1849 and arrived here on the 5th of July, in San Francisco. I went to Oregon in 1850. I went up to the mines here a while and stayed, and then came down and went in some different employment here, worked at different kinds of business. Before I came here I was engaged in manufacturing in Massachusetts. I resided in Oregon since 1850. I went there in the fall of 1850 and resided there since. I resided on the Umpqua River for six years, from 1850 to 1856, principally with a speculative view as a town site holder there and also engaged in merchandising. The speculation did not amount to anything. In 1856 I became interested in a coal mine at Coos Bay and removed there. I still retain my interest in the coal mine at Coos Bay; that is my principal business now. They put out about a hundred tons a day, sometimes not so much. We employ about 50 men. The partnership is known as Flannagan & Mann. I held some inferior office there not worth mentioning. I served as County Judge of Coos County for two different terms. I have a wife and two children. I went East and married in Massachusetts, in 1863. My children are all living. They are with me, both of them. The oldest is 19 years of age, still living with me. The course of my life has been checkered with no events of great public importance. I made no allusion to the mines in my pamphlet. I have been interested in the coal business ever since I have been a resident of Coos Bay. I have taken some part in the official and political affairs of the county. We developed the Newport mine and opened it. There was another mine opened simultaneously, the same season. The other mine is not in operation now; it hasn't been for a while. Quite a number of mines were opened on Coos Bay; two of them proved profitable, most of them have been abandoned. I have been comparatively successful.
   

P.S. Major Reynolds was with the battalion of U.S. soldiers who took part in the Indian war at Rogue River, and commanded a corps of the army at the battle of Gettysburg, where he lost his life.
Bancroft Library P-A 80



Last revised September 22, 2017