CAPT. THOMAS SMITH.--Captain Smith, the intrepid Indian fighter and pioneer, has seen the beginning of every Indian disturbance in Southern Oregon, and his narratives are therefore of peculiar interest.
He was born September 14, 1809, in Campbell County, Kentucky. At the age of seventeen he removed with his recently widowed mother to Boone County, and learned the trade of a carpenter. In 1839 he went to Texas, and in 1849 formed a party designated as the Equal Rights Company, to cross the plains by the southern route via El Paso and the Gila River to California. The journey was notably difficult, chiefly from the excessive heat and lack of water. Captain Smith's indomitable spirit had many occasions in which to be tested, as when he recovered a horse and mule from the Pima Indians on the Gila, or led his column--seventy-five men and two hundred and fifty animals--across the desert, following Colonel Crook's trail by the animals of the government train which had died and had dried up by reason of the desert air, and finding water and grass on a sunken river and at a small lake.
Arrived in California in the autumn, Captain Smith's experiences in the mines at Dry Creek, Oroville, and on the Feather River, were of the checkered character of the argonauts--more of sickness and ill luck than of success. By 1851 he was at Yreka, and thence came over into Oregon, and, seeing a better prospect in raising vegetables than in digging gold, he induced three others, Patrick Dunn, Frederick Alberding and David S. Earl, to join him on a place near the present site of Ashland. That was almost the first settlement of Southern Oregon. The difficulties of that undertaking are so explicitly described by the Captain that we insert here his own account. He says: "While waiting for my companions to come to my claim, I was left here about eleven days and nights, and saw not one white man, but great numbers of Indians who were anxious to know why I wanted to stop here. I had to delude them the best I could, and, when the boys came, old Tipsy the chief came to have an understanding, as he saw that all of us were still remaining. I then knew that if we were to stop here I must tell him the truth. He first inquired as to which of us was the tyee. Dunn told him that I was, and he therefore directed his talk to me, and we had a long conversation, which amounted to a treaty. We were to be good people, and not to disturb one another, not to steal, and in particular not to interfere with their women or horses. We were to be allowed to stay there one warm season and raise a crop of vegetables and trade, as they called it, for 'chickamin' ["money"], and then leave the country to them. They on their part were not to allow any bad Indians to come here and disturb or steal from us while we were thus engaged.
"In a very few days John Gibbs, James H. Russell, Hugh F. Bowman and Thomas Hair came over the mountains and settled on the Mountain House claim, giving us two small parties of men in this end of the valley. In the meantime N. C. Dean and Jack Kennedy settled at the Willow Springs, and E. K. Anderson, Stone and Pints settled on Wagner's Creek. It was now the middle of November or later, and we were hurrying to get our logs for a cabin hauled so that Alberding could start for our supply of seed, to be obtained from the Willamette Valley. Getting him off, we began putting up our house, and while at it some Indians stole from our tent all our guns, revolvers, butcher knives, powder and lead, and other things that they fancied, leaving us in a serious position. Tipsy's son passing by late in the evening, I sent by him word to his father to be at home next morning, that I was going down and tell him of the theft. In the morning early I went to see Tipsy, his camp then being where the plaza now is, and where the Ashland Flouring Mill now stands. I was soon informed by a blind Indian, who was led by a squaw, that Tipsy and all the Indians had gone to my place. So I returned and found a large body of Indians around my tent, and the chief informed me that I must talk to his interpreter--a sign that serious business was on hand. I told him what had been stolen, and that it was done by Indians, as we knew by the tracks left in the mud, and that the goods must be returned. Tipsy declared that his Indians had not committed the theft, and that the goods could not be returned, that some bad Indians had come and done the capswallaing. This story he stuck to strictly till evening. Having thus spent a whole day in useless questioning and answers, I got out of all patience, and, having learned that it was a part of the Indian's nature to respect a brave man, I determined to try an experiment. There were but four of us--Gibbs, from the Mountain House, having joined our number--and a host of them. But I instructed the interpreter to tell Tipsy that I had heard that plea long enough, and would have no more of it, that the stolen goods must be returned, or I would go to Yreka and raise a company
of men and come back and memaloose ["kill"] every Indian that we could find, and burn their houses and run their families out of the country, unless the missing articles were returned. As soon as it was made known, the warriors sprang to their feet and raged around terribly. Some strung their bows and took three arrows in their teeth, and were begging Tipsy to let them settle the matter. This we all could see, and one of my party left his seat and came to me, begging me to take back what I had said, and let the things go. I told him to be quiet, that they had passed me for a chief, and that it was only I that could talk. He turned away reluctantly, saying, 'Settle it, then;' and I do not know that he could have looked any more pale and ashy had he been dead. The Indians all saw his condition. And then Tipsy spoke two or three soft words and quieted the tumult. He addressed the interpreter, who turned to me and asked what I had said I would do in case the things should not be returned, and while I was just about to answer, a tall Indian that we called Big Impudence came forward within three feet of me, and looked me steadfastly in the eye while I repeated precisely what I had said before. I also added that I knew what they were talking about, that they were talking of killing us, that there were plenty of them to do it, and I pointed at them, saying: 'You would be great cowards to do so after you have stolen our calapins, ["guns"] and now we have nothing to fight with. If you are going to murder us, give us our guns, and then talk about killing us, and we will fight all of you. Your tyee has told me that he was brave, and that you are all brave, but I see you are cowards.'
"While this speech was taking effect, Tipsy's squaw came to the front and made a speech in her native language, which I judged from her gestures was very eloquent. Thereupon, leaving us, they had a big talk among themselves, and as a result the interpreter was directed to tell me that they would settle the trouble by sending for the things. It was now late in the evening, and I was informed that they had determined to start early in the morning and get our property, but the chief wanted to know how many suns I would allow them to go and return in. He held up three fingers to denote the number of days. After a little further delay, five days were agreed upon, and the next morning early two Indians called at our tent well mounted, and said they were going after our ictas, ["things"] and wanted their breakfast, and as soon as that was over they mounted and left in the direction of Yreka, saying it was the Shastas that had stolen our things, and I found this to be true. The third day, late in the evening, they returned with two rifles, and said that the other things had been traded off to Indians who would kill them if they went among them; should they tell Tipsy that we were satisfied and would be friendly? I answered, no, that we were not satisfied as long as any of our things remained stolen.
"Tipsy came around early the next morning, and declared that he had done all that could be done without risking the lives of his Indians, and he wanted to be friendly. Would I not be satisfied and be friends? I told him it could not be as long as anything was stolen and not returned. At this his patience gave way, and he stormed and stamped upon the ground, and declared that this was his illahee. 'This is my ground. You have never given me anything for it. It don't belong to you.' I replied to him that we did not claim the ground, but that he had agreed to let us stay here one warm season and plant and raise hiyou wappatoes ["many potatoes"] and ictas, and we were not to be disturbed, and bad Indians were not be allowed to come here and steal. At this he said 'close,' and then asked, if he gave me a certain boundary of country, whether I would say no more about our stolen goods and be friendly. I told him I would. He said 'close,' or all right, and with great kindness and dignity came up and took me by the hand, saying, 'This land is yours. My people will not claim it any more, and we will be friends.'
"A few days afterwards he was at my place, and I was reading a medical work. Tipsy expressed a great desire to see the sketches, and asked me if it were all Boston waw-waw (language), and desired to know if I understood it. I told him that I did."
A few days afterwards Tipsy was wounded in a fight with the Shastas, and sent his sons for Smith to come and see him. Says the Captain: "In the morning I went down, and, entering his wigwam, I could not see Tipsy, and when I inquired for him was pointed to some blankets at one side, where they had him in a pit that had been well heated with hot rocks, and was reeking with steam by water having been poured upon them. I had him taken out and cooled off, and found that he was about gone. After getting him so that he could breathe and talk again, I examined his wounds, one of which had been made with a pistol shot in the chin, and the other by a knife in the small of the back, and still a third was a long gash from an arrow down the right shoulder blade. I shortly had him revived, and he feebly asked me if I thought he would get well. I told him that if his people had not made matters bad by heating him so hot, he certainly could, but now I could not tell. I had, however, with me some material to make poultices, and had had some practice in treating wounded men on the frontier. After poulticing him with some wild wormwood, dampened with whisky, he said he felt so much better that he would try to get well, and asked me if the Siwash ["Indian"] doctoring had not memaloosed him, how long I thought it would be until he could walk again. I told him that if it all came out right, he might walk again in ten or twelve suns, and at the expiration of that time he walked all the way up to my place to show me that I had saved his life, and to thank me for it. He said that the Indians would surely have killed him, that he was nearly dead, that a little while and Tipsy would have been no more, and he told me that he would always be my friend, and that he never would fight me nor my friends, and that his men must never shoot at me, for I was a good medicine man and must not be killed.
"While I was getting him recruited, there were about fifty Indians in the wigwam, and when I told him he might get well they began all talking in turn. They would jabber as fast as they could speak, and those not engaged in the talk would come in like a Methodist with their amen. I asked the interpreter what they were talking about. He replied that they were waw-wawing--pointing his finger upward--to the Saghalie Tyee (the Great Spirit) to help me to make Tipsy skookum (strong), and always afterwards, when I would see Tipsy, he would talk to me of our old trouble, and how well we had settled it, and how he liked a good, brave man, and said that, if my tum tum (heart) had been little and weak like the man's who came to me when I was talking skookum, his men would have killed us all, that he told his men that I had a big heart and must not be killed."
Captain Smith thus relates the last he saw of Tipsy: "As the whites began to encroach, Tipsy often called upon me to talk about the way the settlers were treating him about his land. He said that when he asked them to pay him for it, they would curse him and tell him to clatawa ["go away"], and in the spring of 1853 he came by one day to bid me a final farewell, saying that he was going away, and that he would not come back to this valley anymore. He said he had agreed with me that he would not kill any Boston men. They kept coming and taking his land, and when he asked them for pay they cursed him and made him go away. He declared that he did not claim my land anymore--that we were friends, and that that was all right. He first went to Applegate Creek, and then over to the cave of the Klamath, where his old enemies, the Shastas, met and killed him. In justice to his memory I have to say that ever after our first troubles he was honorable with me."
The war of 1853 was provoked by the secret murder of a white man, Edward Edwards, who was found shot dead with arrows. Some eleven men collected, with Isaac Hill as captain, and Smith, with three other men, were detailed to enter the camp of Sambo, chief of a neighboring tribe, and learn the cause of the murder. The Captain thus relates what there occurred: "Getting to their camp, we found them all lying about in the shade, and I began talking to the interpreter, whom we called Jim, and said that we had come to have a talk with them, and I wanted him to tell all his people that they must all be there to meet the Bostons, who were coming to have a friendly counsel. He said all right, and was just in the act of speaking to his people, when I observed a large, strange, wild-looking Indian just in the act of getting up and throwing his quiver over his shoulder, and picking up his bow, when Carter (one of the white men's party), who was a little to my right, shouted at the top of his voice, 'Stop, stop, I'll shoot you;' and before I had time to speak he fired an old single-barreled pistol, the only firearm he had with him. It bounded back and cut his forehead, and I saw the pistol bury itself in the sand thirty feet away. By this very foolish maneuver we were thrown into a very ugly little fight. On our side Carter and Dunn were wounded. In the evening we had about twenty Indian women and children and seven men, and found one dead warrior at the edge of the brush, the others having gone to the woods."
The settlers made a fort, to which five men with their families and seven single men repaired. Smith stayed on his place. Sambo, with ten Indians, surrendered, gave up his arms and wanted to stop at the fort. Smith was anxious to get them away, but neither Ross nor the captain at Fort Hoxie would take them. Apprehensive of an attack by outside Indians to relieve the captives, Smith kept a lookout, and thus relates what happened:
"On my return from Fort Hoxie in the evening, when within six hundred yards of our fort I saw an impress made by an Indian's heel in the dust where he had jumped across the road. I got down and on examination found quite a number of tracks, and when reaching the fort I called Gibbs and told him of the discovery I had made. I said these were Indians that had come to release the prisoners, and that they surely would do it if he were not well on his guard. I declared that if the attack were made, the Indians would massacre everyone in the fort and burn all the property. I advised him to arrange, without alarming the women, to have all the men on guard, and if he got through the night I would take some men and scour the woods in the morning. But he had great confidence in Sambo, and said if there were Indians about Sambo would have told him. He even called Sambo and said that I could satisfy myself, and to my questioning he denied all knowledge of any Indians in the region. Gibbs then said to me that I could see he knew nothing of it. I persisted, however, that Sambo could not be believed, and reluctantly rode away to my cabin. So deeply was I impressed with the presence of danger that I did not remove my clothes, and even had my mule saddled, and tied him in the chimney corner, while I took what rest I could. At early twilight in the morning I was already moving, when I heard a gun fired at a distance of about half a mile, and as quickly as it could be done I was on my mule and galloping down. When within eighty yards of the fort, the firing ceased, and I saw the flames rising from the grain stacks. I rushed into the fort without injury, but in what a condition I found my companions! They had put but one man on guard, and he had come to the conclusion that he would rather sleep, and had lain down on a bench at the back of the house with a lady's work basket as a pillow, and was roused from his slumber by an Indian ball tearing through the basket. I found Hugh Smith killed. Gibbs, Fordyce, Hodgins, Whitmore, Morris, Howell, and I think one other, were wounded. Hodgins, Whitmore and Gibbs died soon after. I found that when the firing began Gibbs and Howell were lying together on the porch with Sambo nearby, and, as Gibbs rose with his gun in his hand, this treacherous savage seized and wrenched the piece from him, and stepping back shot him down."
The war of 1855 began with horse-stealing by the Indians. Smith lost a fine span in 1854, and a band of hunters at Green Spring in 1855 lost a horse. Returning to the settlements, these hunters made up a party of fifteen, including Smith, that went to the mountains in August to recover the property. The Captain thus describes the first encounter of that war. "When we arrived at the place where the Indians were camped when the horse was stolen, we found that they had gone, so we passed on through the clump of timber to open ground, and happened to be talking about the way that the Indians were doing business when I saw an Indian's head protrude from the brush above, and said to the boys, 'I better call to him.' But just at that moment he ducked his head and fired off a gun, evidently a signal, and, supposing it was intended to harm us, I said to the boys, 'Curse them, if they are for fighting, draw your revolvers and we will go into them.' Advancing, we found several camp fires, and plenty of women and children all going in the opposite direction and up the hill; getting to the edge of the brush, I saw two bucks eighty or ninety yards ahead, and hailed them in jargon to come back, as I wanted to talk. One of them hallooed back in the same language, that he did not want to talk to Bostons. I then gave orders to shoot. Two shots were fired, and we charged up in the direction the Indians were running. But, upon reaching the spot where the first two had disappeared in the brush, I saw that we were getting into a trap, and hallooed back to the boys, warning them of the situation, and telling them to get behind something immediately. Very quickly the Indians opened on us with their guns. But all of our party had started to retreat, some running directly from their fire, and some few were more lucky in going a little farther so as to cross their fire. I selected a far-off tree as a good place for safety. In approaching it I clutched the bark with my left hand to give a quick lodgment and stop myself in time, and in doing so came up against my comrade, A. Hedden."
From this unlucky beginning the little company did its best to get back safely to the settlement. Two men, Tabor and Alberding, were wounded and at great risk carried out, and one Keene was killed, but his body was recovered. During the war that followed, Captain Smith took an active part with a company of thirty men, and later with a company of thirty-five. Lieutenant Sweitzer, to whom he tendered his first company, he found indisposed to fight, while Major Fitzgerald, who was sent up from Fort Lane with forty men to avenge the death of Fields and Cunningham, who were shot from an ambuscade on the Siskiyou Mountain, to whom Smith offered thirty-five men, was ready to chastise the savages. The volunteers followed the Indians to the agency, and there occurred the fight which has been called the massacre, a full account of which is found in the history of the war in Southern Oregon, in the first volume of this work.
After these troublous times, in which the country was conquered from its original possessors, Captain Smith returned to his home, but was soon elected to the legislature, and has been re-elected a number of terms, 1880 being the date of his last election. He was married in 1867 at Salem to Miss Margaret P., daughter of William Harrison of Missouri, and a member of the Tippecanoe family of presidential fame. In the white winter of his age, at four score years, Captain Smith is still an active man, and greatly respected by all his neighbors, and honored in history.
Elwood Evans, History of the Pacific Northwest: Oregon and Washington, vol. II, 1889, pages 571-574
ORIGIN OF AN INDIAN WAR.The following relation of events which transpired in the upper part of Bear Creek Valley is dictated by Captain Thomas Smith, now of Ashland, who wishes to disprove the account set forth in the History of Southern Oregon, and to present a more acceptable theory of the cause of the Indian war of 1855 than is advanced in that work.
An Interesting Narrative by Capt. Thomas Smith.
Settlers in Jackson County, Oregon, in the Early '50s--
The First Settlement on Bear Creek, Near Ashland--A Murder by Indians.
To the Editor of the Oregonian:
The captain says: In 1855, just previous to the breaking out of the celebrated Indian war of Southern Oregon, there were but few settlers on Bear Creek, Jackson County. Their number was so small that I could get but twenty-five or thirty men who comprised nearly or quite all the able-bodied grown-up males for any purpose of Indian fighting and the recovery of stolen goods, etc. Of those who took part in such actions there are now living: Daniel and Henry Chapman; Cicero Hill, now of East Portland; Enoch and John Walker and Giles Wells, now living near Jacksonville; Abram Hedden of Linn County; Hugh Barron and Pat. Dunn of Jackson County; Louis Hiatt of Baker County, and one or two others
I lived five miles south of what is now Ashland, with three partners--Patrick Dunn, David Earl and Frederick Alberding. We had undertaken in 1851 to make a settlement there, and had gone into raising vegetables and stock, for miners, on a claim I found on Bear Creek in returning from the newly discovered Josephine mines. We lived there permanently until 1854, when Alberding sold to Judge Tolman. In 1855 he brought a wife from Missouri, just previous to the breaking out of the Indian difficulties, which he may be said to have in some measure started. Shortly after Alberding's arrival he set out, hunting, with Louis Hiatt, of whom I spoke. While encamped at Green Springs, fifteen miles east of Ashland, on the present Linkville road, a horse was stolen from them in the dark by Indians.
I forgot to say that at the time the Indians were supposed to be all on the reservation at Table Rock, where Captain A. J. Smith with his regular troops was herding them and maintaining peace between them and the white settlers. The next morning Alberding and Hiatt followed the trail of the lost animal to what is now called Keene Creek, where they saw an Indian camp which, as they feared hostility on the part of the redskins, they retreated from [them] and returned to the settlement. Here they raised a little company of fourteen volunteers from among us, for the purpose of trying to recover the horse. I joined the crowd, as the men were anxious, but I objected to going in the night, owing to the unnecessarily increased danger and difficulty, and the probability that the Indians might consider it a formal attack, whereas if we went by day and openly we might prevail without recourse to arms--talking them into surrendering the animal. 'The men, however, chose to go as far as Green Springs, and by moving early to the rancheria we would get there before the bucks started hunting, as was their custom. I agreed and we proceeded on that plan. We arrived at the spring, camped and rose early in the morning. Here Granville Keene, a young man from Tennessee, persisted in eating breakfast before we left camp, although the rest of us desired to visit the Indians first and then return for breakfast.
I spoke jestingly to the boys, saying there was not much breakfast, and if we deferred eating there would probably be fewer mouths to feed and more to put in each. Keene replied, "I'll take my share now, for when I come back I may not need it." So we ate and started for the Indian camp. The two men who trailed the horse took us to where they said they saw the camp fires burning. We found signs of a fire but no Indians, so we went in through the timber, and not seeing the enemy we stopped to talk it over. During our conversation I caught sight of the head and shoulders of a siwash protruding over the brush, 100 yards away, which I pointed out to them, saying, "Hadn't I better call to him?" He ducked his head and at the same instant a gun was fired. I said, "Damn them, if they are in for a fight, let's draw out revolvers and go into them!" This first shot proved to be a signal to Indians who had formed an ambuscade for us nearby, for in running forward into the brush where we saw the Indians, we came upon an encampment where there were several squaws and papooses and two "bucks." In pursuing the latter we ran up a brushy hill, and getting out upon open ground I saw the two about to enter the brush again, and called to them in Chinook: "Tillicum, chahko, mika, hias tika wawa!" His answer was "Mika wake tika wawa. God d--n Boston!" ["People, come, I really want to talk!" "You don't want to talk. Goddamned white man!"]
I then said: "Shoot 'em boys, shoot 'em!" I think about three shots were fired at them, but they were just entering the brush and we couldn't tell whether they were hit or not. Cicero Hill and I, being in advance, ran along up the hill until we got opposite the place where they disappeared, and I heard footsteps in the brush. I knew then we were ambushed, from this circumstance and from the extremely favorable location for such. I immediately called to the men to hide, as we were ambuscaded. Hill proposed to remain to examine a squaw basket which we saw nearby, but I cursed him and told him to leave instantly or he would be killed. When I retreated I took the precaution to cross what I conceived would be their line of fire. I got behind a tree. Those who ran directly away were shot at, and Keene was killed by a bullet which passed through his heart. He fell on his face and never moved again. Alberding was wounded nearly at the same instant, the ball striking him on the outer part of the orbit of the eye and laying his temple bare for two inches above his ear, and knocking him down. I sprang behind the same tree which sheltered Hedden, and on asking him if anybody was hurt, he said, "There's Tabor down there, wounded." I looked down and saw him in a reclining position, as though he were sinking to the ground, bleeding very much from a gunshot wound right through the upper arm. Looking further over, I saw two Indians in the brush on the left of our advance, who were tiptoeing and looking over the brush to see what had become of Tabor, and evidently about to attack him. I told Hedden to shoot at them, when they disappeared. Taking advantage of this, we ran down and seizing Tabor, who lay fainting and helpless, we packed him to the tree we had left. To stop the blood I tied a handkerchief around his arm as quickly as possible, and then looked to see what had become of the other men. They had taken fright from the fall of Keene and Alberding, and were making rapid time away. I asked them to return, but without effect, and Hedden and I took up the wounded Tabor, one on each side, and packed him off. After carrying him about a half mile more or less, we were severely exhausted, and in going up a bald hill I looked back and saw an Indian at the crossing of Keene Creek. The runaways had halted and joined us, and as there was a large lone tree in our front I asked two men, Jennison and Land, to step behind it and endeavor to repulse the savages when they came up. The solitary Indian fired at us, his bullet missing us and knocking up particles of rock against us. Tabor, who had not spoken until now, said pitifully, "Boys, for God Almighty's sake, don't leave me." I replied that we were not going to leave him, and Hedden added: "By God, they can cut me into inch pieces, and then I won't leave you!"
We proceeded uphill and lost sight of the natives after that last shot. Dan Chapman said: "Thank God, we are out of danger now! If we can get back to the road we are all right." I told him it would never do to go to the road, because those of the Indians who were on our left had disappeared from the fight early and probably had gone to the emigrant road to waylay us, hence we should have to make our way back to Green Springs by a new route. We found our way back safely, and discovered that the man whom we had left in charge of the horses was asleep. We saddled up quickly, taking our wounded men on horseback. Just as we got out into open ground the Indians rose up out of the brush in a canyon above, whooping and yelling and firing their guns, disappointed in not having waylaid us.
We came down to the settlements, and a man was sent to Fort Lane to bear the intelligence to Captain Smith of the regular army, who sent up a troop of forty of his soldiers to investigate the matter. I returned to the battleground with a company of volunteers to bring in Keene's body. On our homeward march we found the regulars in camp at the soda springs under command of Lieutenant Sweitzer. We rode up to the lieutenant and questioned him as to his proposed disposition of the troops. I said I supposed that he came to subdue the hostile Indians and return them to the reservation. He allowed that this was his object, when I offered the services of my volunteers to assist. He replied: "I think I have men enough to manage all the Indians in these woods." I repeated my offer, agreeing to be on hand at 9 o'clock, at which time he announced that he would set out. The next morning I was there before 9 o'clock, with thirty men, but the troops were all gone except some half-asleep, who were cooking dinner. The troops had been gone half an hour, so we set out on their trail, and when about a mile from their camp we met them returning. I asked why they turned back without having found the enemy, and was informed by Sweitzer that it was nonsense to hunt the Indians in the woods, and it wasn't worthwhile to try. I tried to persuade him to join us in a hunt after the natives, but he remained deaf to my persuasions, as did himself and his men to the jeers and taunts of the volunteers. He refused, alleging that it would be only a waste of time, and he wouldn't go. I sent my men across a gulch, to be away from provocation, while I remained to do the talking. We had brought Keene's body in, and had buried him the same evening, where Kingsbury lives now, seven miles above Ashland. Keene's Creek was named to commemorate his melancholy end. His death took place, as I forgot to say, on the first day of September, 1855. The soldiers went out on the 2nd, and returned on the 3rd.
We will now pass on to the 25th of the same month, when the Indians ambushed some teamsters on the Siskiyou route, some thirteen miles from Ashland, on this side of the mountain, and killed a man named Fields and a boy, Cunningham. H. B. Oatman, now of Portland, and Dan Brittain of Phoenix ran a narrow escape. The Indians shot the oxen dead, leaving them all chained together. A messenger was instantly sent to Fort Lane bearing the news, who returned with information that forty soldiers would be sent up next day, and I prepared to join them with thirty-odd men. On arriving at the Mountain House we met Major Fitzgerald, a well-known and dashing dragoon, with whom I entered into conversation. I offered the services of our volunteer corps, but the major objected, saying that we should proceed, taking charge, and his men should act a secondary part. He gave us directions to proceed, and said, "We are at your command."
We proceeded onto the mountains, intersected the trail of the enemy, and trailed them to Keene Creek. Before seeing any Indians we struck the fresh trail of a running horse and concluded that it must have been that of a scout, who had probably warned the enemy of our whereabouts. We came soon to an Indian camp, where the embers were still smoking. Fitzgerald examined the situation of things and sent out a reconnoitering party, who soon reported that the Indians were gone. We found their departing trail, followed it to Jenny Creek and across the emigrant road and a considerable distance up in the mountains toward Butte Creek. A steep and rough mountain prevented our advance on horseback, and Fitzgerald's men being dragoons could go no further. The regulars, therefore, guarded our horses while we trailed the enemy to where they left Jenny Creek and turned off in the direction of Fort Lane reservation, their trail disappearing from our view in the craggy rocks. We scouted to see if the trail went on, and found that it did. We followed it as far as we could during the day, and found it to keep the general direction toward Butte Creek or the reservation. We returned to Fitzgerald and reported as above. He professed himself as certain that the malcontents were Indians of the reservation, and thought it best for his force to go to the fort and intercept them as they returned. But about that time the major was ordered to Vancouver, and he was lost to this section henceforth.
Lupton raised volunteers and sent to intercept them west and found Indians camped on Butte Creek. Lieutenant Sweitzer came out at the same time with his 40 men and pretended that it was all right, that those Indians might and ought to be chastised.
Lupton wanted to attack the night they got there while they were on Butte; Sweitzer persuaded them not to, but wait for him next day to assist. That night the Indians drew off and crossed Rogue River to [the] reservation, and Sweitzer didn't come. Lupton then ordered his men to lay by all day and cross at night, and made attack on the Indians at daylight, so he was killed. Sheppard died some days after. Fitzgerald started for Vancouver, and the Indians who were not killed slaughtered 25 people. Fitzgerald overtook and killed some at House Creek. He was a man. Lupton is a perfect gentleman, mild, unassuming, etc.
These Indians had returned toward the reservation, as I believe, following the ordinary plan of running away, committing murders and outrages and returning to military protection before the settlers could punish them. Some men in and around Jacksonville, including some of the best citizens of the place, collected together and resolved to attack those redskins, who had gone down to the mouth of Butte Creek so as to be handy to the reservation. Lieutenant Sweitzer, of Fort Lane, had a conversation with Major Lupton, who was one of the party, and was asked to join in an attack on the natives, but refused to do so at once, but acknowledged that they ought to be chastised. During this time the Indians crossed the Rogue River and camped on the bank, in the reservation. [The village site was actually just outside the reservation boundaries; later apologists would use this fact as one justification for the attack.] Lupton and his party crossed in the evening of October 7, and getting in the brush around the camp, waited for the morning to break, when the attack was made. In it Major Lupton was killed and another man, Sheppard, wounded, and a number of Indians killed. It is not true that no buck Indians were there, as the regular army officers declared. The fight was a hard one, and lasted quite a while. Those Indians who were not killed broke out the next morning--October 9, 1855--and massacred twenty-five people. Fitzgerald, with his dragoons, who were on the road to Vancouver, overtook and killed some of the red devils, and the war of 1855-6 followed. Lupton was a good man, mild and gentlemanly, and did not, as has been said, join the expedition to Butte Creek for any improper motive.
Oregonian, Portland, May 28, 1885, page 2
Ashland, Oregon, Nov. 6th 1885Mr. Bancroft, dear sir
I at this time send you a brief statement of the early settlement and incidents that occurred at the time of the breaking out of the wars of 1853 and '5 with the Rogue River Indians--a matter that was entirely neglected by Mr. Walling in his so-called history of Southern Oregon. You will also find a description of Tipsy, the chief who had control of the country east of Rogue River. This I do because some knowing (or would-be such) an individual had furnished Mr. Walling with an erroneous description of him. I would further state that I do not know in what way this sketch that I have wrote could best be used in a history, and that will have to be left to your judgment. I give the facts as they occurred. The account I give is true and the dates correct. You might bear in mind the vicinity of Jacksonville was claimed as headquarters, while my operations was from 25 to 45 miles from there, and those in command there seemed to not care to have anything to do with our part of the country, only when some rough work had to be done. And you will see in all their reports we of the southern part of the valley have been left out, which was a trifle too glaring for some of those who had to undergo so much hardship to let it pass and never be heard of in the history of our country, but seeing that we had been so much misused and accused of wantonly bringing about a brutal and uncalled-for war, I only claim that justice should be done. When you have used the sketch I have sent, please return the same to me, as it might be used in the winding up of a somewhat thrilling and interesting narrative.
Thos. SmithTo A. L. Bancroft
Biography and Brief Sketches of Early Incidents
and Beginning of the Wars of 1853 and 1855
with the Rogue River Indians.
By Thomas Smith
I had to talk through an interpreter in jargon. I told him we were going to stay for the coming winter and the next summer and plant and raise a crop of (wappatos other ictas) potatoes and other things to swap to the miners beyond the mountains and other places for (chickamin) money, and then we were going away. He wanted to know if my men would (kapswalla) steal their (cuitan or klootchman) horses or women. I told him we did not want either. He then wanted to know how much (illahe I wanted to mamook) ground I wanted to work. I pointed out 5 or 6 acres, and after a long (wawa) or talk we came to an agreement as follows: We were to live [as] quiet and peaceful neighbors, not to steal from each other nor allow it to be done by those who might come here. He pointed out a large scope of country which he claimed to have control of and that bad Indians should not come here and disturb us and steal our things. I would see that no bad Boston man would come here to steal from or molest them. We also agreed that if our animals should stray off and we should know of their whereabouts the owner was to be informed or the stock returned to them, for which a suitable compensation would be given. By this time the Mountain House claim had been taken by 4 young men, viz. John Gibbs, James H. Russell, Hugh T. Barron and Thos. Hare. Meantime the material for a cabin had been got together, and while we were raising it some Indians entered our tent and stole 2 rifles, a revolver, some knives and other notions. That evening one of Tipsy's sons came by; it was after sunset. By him I sent word to Tipsy that I was coming to see him the next morning on business. He asked what I wanted and I gave him the nature of it and next morning went alone to Tipsy's camp, which was on the flat now occupied by the Ashland Mill, and as I approached I was met [by] a squaw leading an old Indian holding to one end of a stick 4 or 5 feet long to guide him as he was perfectly blind though he stood erect facing me and spoke plain and distinct (icta mika tika sir), "What do you want, sir?" I explained the case to him; he said it was bad to have such bad Indians about and that his heart was good and he would not (kapswalla) steal. I thought he was all right, unless he had help. I inquired for Tipsy and was told that he and all the other Indians both men and women had gone to my place. They had went by another rancherie and taken them along also, so I hastened back and found the prairie about my tent literally lined with Indians. I soon began to talk to Tipsy, but he pointed out a young unknown Indian as interpreter who I must talk to, which I did, and seeing the surroundings I came to the conclusion that presence of so many Indians where there were but 4 of us was to intimidate us, and I was determined that I would not be outdone in that way and told the interpreter plainly that the stolen things must be returned. There were present of us Patrick Dunn, David Earl, John Gibbs one of the Mountain House men and myself, Alberding having gone to the Willamette Valley for supplies and seed.Tipsy's reply was that his (tillicums) men had not stolen the goods and could not be held responsible, and this plea for some hours they tried to enforce. At length, seeing that I could get nothing else out of them, I resorted to the most rigid means. I said, "You told me you owned and controlled all this country and no bad Indians was allowed to come here, and now if you have allowed others to come and (kapswalla ictas) steal things I will not look to them but will hold you responsible for their return, and if you do not have them returned, quick too, I will go to Yreka and (iskum hiyou tillicums) and get lots of men and return here and (memaloose konaway mesika tillicums) kill all your men and burn your stick houses and destroy all your people." This came near being too much; the men flew in[to] a great rage, and such a wawa you never heard, which continued for some time, the young warriors naturally foaming at the mouth, some of them stringing their bows, taking 3 arrows in their teeth and one to bowstring and were ready at a moment's notice to dispatch us. At this juncture Earl became much alarmed and ran to me, saying, "Tom, let them keep the guns; they will kill us." I told him to be quiet, and just at this time Tipsy called on me to state again what I intended to do, and a big, impudent-looking [Indian] came around and stood and looked me right in the eye while I repeated exactly what I had said before, but I went further and said, "We know what you are saying. You are talking about killing us, but if you do it won't do you any good. We have friends as plenty as the trees, and if you kill us they will come and find us not here. They will hunt up and kill all of you. We are not cowards. Tipsy told me he and his men were brave and had big hearts, and now you have stolen our guns and knives. We have nothing to fight with. You are here all around and want to kill us. You can do it; we will not cry or beg, but you would be great cowards to kill us, unarmed as we are." This proved the winning card. Tipsy's wife, who hitherto had been silent, now broke forth, apparently with eloquence of a lawyer. She held the whole tribe spellbound half an hour when Tipsy through his spokesman told me that they were talking better and he thought it would be settled, and after another considerable talk he told me that they had agreed to go and get the stolen things, that two men would be at my house soon in the morning, and we must give them their breakfast and asked how many days I would allow for them. I asked him how many he wanted. He held up 3 fingers, saying, "Okoke suns," to which I gave my assent, but after a little more talk he said if they could not make it in 3 would I give him five suns and not (mamook solleks) not fight, to which I agreed. The 2 men were on time the next morning for muckamuck. As soon as they ate breakfast they mounted their horses and left in the direction of Yreka, from which fact I supposed it was the Shastas that had the stolen property, and from their returning on the third day late in the evening and coming from that direction I have no doubt but the Shastas done the stealing. They brought back the 2 rifles and reported that they could not go to where the other things were and asked me if I would not be satisfied with what they had returned. I told them that all that had been stolen must be returned. They left, and the next morning Tipsy came up and began to talk about the stolen things. He said it was the Shasta Siwashes that stole them, and that they had traded them to another tribe that lived away down on the Klamath, and they were hostile to his people and would kill them if they went there; that he had done all that he could to have them returned, but it could not be done and he wanted me to be satisfied with what they had done and be good friends. I told him that I could not be friendly to any people that would steal my things. He pled his innocence, laying it all on the Shastas, saying he had done all that could be done and that the (ictas) things could never be obtained and that he wanted to be a good friend, making a strong appeal for friendship, saying he wanted me to be his friend and let the stolen things go. I told him I could not be a friend as long as anything was stolen. So after a long talk, and all to the same effect, he acted as though he was mad, stamping his foot on the ground, saying, "This is my land. You never gave anything for it. You came and stayed here without giving me anything. (okoke illahee nika illahee wake mika wake mika potlach ictas) This land is mine; it's not yours. You never gave me anything for it." I told [him], "Yes, the land is yours." He then said, "Suppose I give you (describing a boundary of land consisting I should I judge of about 4 thousand acres). This land will you say no more about what was stolen and be friendly?" I told him I would. He came up & gave me his hand, saying, "This is your land, and we will never disturb you again," that he would tell his people and they would not intrude on my land by killing deer or otherwise--but the poor old fellow was doomed to see trouble soon again. The Shastas, who were always his deadly enemies, came over unexpectedly to him when only he and 2 of his sons were in camp and they had a desperate fight. Tipsy was wounded; he thought he was going to die and sent his son for me to go down and see him. It was then after sunset. Their camp was 4 miles away. I told the young chief that I would see Tipsy in the morning. So early next morning I went for Tipsy's camp, which I found on the little flat where the Ashland Mill now stands. All was silent as death, although there were near a hundred Indians there. I asked to see Tipsy and was escorted to his wigwam by an Indian. Upon entering I found the wickiup which was large, filled with Indians, but there were no Tipsy to be seen. Upon inquiring they pointed out a spot where there was some blankets, but as they seemed to be spread on the ground I thought it was a bad show for Tipsy, so I said I wanted to see Tipsy. They then began to grabble him out of a pit which they had het with hot rocks, and as they approached him the steam began to rise as it would from a newly scalded hog. The old fellow was nearly gone up. I had him cooled off gradually and found he had 3 wounds, none of which needed to have been fatal, but I feared he might have been overheated. But I determined as this was my first case and the whole tribe had their eyes & in fact their hearts fixed on its result that I would do what I could for him. When I got him cooled off he asked me to tell him if I could do anything for him. I told him if the heating did not prove bad I could cure him. I treated quite a number of men for wounds, and he would get well if he was not ruined by too much hot. He wanted to know if all went well how many days till he could walk. I told him in 10 or 12 days. I had poultices prepared of wild wormwood and whiskey & showed them how to use and when to renew, and if 2 days passed and he got no worse he would get well. I thought but little more about it till the 10th day when the old fellow with his sons came walking up to my place to show me that I was a great medicine man and a prophet. He gave me illustrations to show how grateful he was for the great good I had done in saving his life, that we were now and always was to be friends. But the old fellow had not been well long when the Shastas came for him again, but this time they did not get away so well--I had been plowing and went to the house in the evening and was sitting in the door knocking the dirt out of my boots when I heard my faithful old dog baying at the little creek 75 yds. from the house where I saw an Indian with his gun pointed at my dog. My gun being handy I leveled it on him. Seeing what was up, he dropped his gun and went to tumbling to prevent me from hitting him. It was now fun for me, so I kept him tumbling till I saw he was worn out. I lowered my gun and called to him to come up. He came puffing and blowing & grunting at a terrible rate. I told him if he memaloosed hopshen [sic] I would memaloose him. He said he was a man of great importance and that my dog was only a dog. I told him my dog was worth more to me than 40 such men as he was. About this time there was quite a lot of Shastas come up, and they all had a talk, but he agreed that he would not try to shoot my dog anymore and they then told me they were going to kill Tipsy and all his men and take all his women and horses and all the things he had over the mountains. Our animals were all gone to the Willamette and I knew they could get to Tipsy's camp before I could, but as luck would have it Tipsy was apprised and ready for them. He let them walk into an ambush and took them all in and made them give everything they had with them and the next day sent some Indians back with them to get other trinkets that they hadn't with them.
The next trouble Tipsy had was with a white man, and the way he described it was very amusing. He found some animals that had strayed or got away from their home some 8 miles, and to be equally prompt as he had promised he and his son came by my place with the stock and told [me] who it belonged to and said they were taking them home. I told them it's all right; I was busy plowing and in the afternoon they came by again and followed me around, and when Tipsy spoke, saying he was mad, I stopped my plow and asked him if he was mad at me. He said he was not, that I was a good man and he liked me. I asked him what he was mad at, and after some descriptive signs he made me understand that one of [the] owners of the animals he had delivered was a very bad man and that he had struck him with a stick, which mode of treatment he considered a great disgrace. He showed how he fended off the blow and got his elbow skinned. I asked him why he let him do it. Said I, "You told me you were a very strong man and could handle any Siwash you ever had hold of. He is not skookum; why did you let [him] strike you with a stick?" He said he & his son was great men, and by putting down his hand about 18 inches from [the] ground said, "That Boston man was a very small man," and with his fingers, one of which was representing himself and the [other] me, and that we were both big men and that all other Indians and white men were away down below us. He said he would not strike him, and his son should not, for in rank he was next to him, and they were both honorable men, but he said if he had had an Indian with him that was a very bad man such as the common Indian would not associate with--one that they had cut off his hair and knocked him down & spit on him, whipped him with sticks--that if such an Indian had been with him he would have made him whip that very small Boston man and then went on to say that I was too big a man to notice so small a man as he was and referred back to the time that we had trouble about the stolen things and said that my heart and his was skookum tumtums ["strong hearts"] that we were not kwass, or cowards, and if my heart had been little and fluttered like the man's that ran to me when his men was talking about killing us that they would have killed us, but he told his men that I was a great tyee and had a big strong heart and that they must not kill me and that I was a good man and that his men should not hurt me. I afterwards learned that the trouble between him and his Boston man originated in this way: When they took the animals home the boys gave each of them a shirt, but as it was near 12 and this little Boston man was cook that day the chief and his son stayed expecting to get dinner and was ordered away by the cook, and as they did not go he struck the chief as described.
Next came the discovery of placer diggins at Jacksonville in Feb. /52, which brought many people to this country and caused the old man uneasiness. In the fall of that year he told [me] the Bostons was treating him very badly, that they were coming here and staying on his land and had never paid him anything for it, and just at this time the Modocs commenced slaughtering the emigrants about Tule Lake. A company was raised in this valley to go to their assistance, which I joined. We got out there in Sept. about the 20th. We found Ben Wright there with a company from Yreka. Our company was commanded by John E. Ross. We found that quite a number of persons had been killed and that one entire train had all been killed. They had been driven from the road at a short bend, chased through the sagebrush for about a mile and a half and all slaughtered there. We could easily track them where they had ran and also the Indians that had chased them, some to their right and others to their left. This was a sight that no man could look upon and not feel that those poor people should be avenged. There were their tracks, shortening at every step; at each side could be seen the tracks of their pursuers. Now we begin to find arrows sticking in bunches of sagebrush, and as we advance more and more of them. Now we come to a skeleton; it was that of a man. A few more steps and we are where the bloody work was consummated. There had been men, women and children, and nearly all their bones as well as the flesh had been devoured by wild animals. All that was left of the children was a lock now and then of their soft flaxen hair. We got together and brought what we could find of their bones, but we could not find anything that would tell who they were. We found a piece of paper with some directions; it seemed to have been wrote in Iowa. It read about as follows: "When you get to Burlington buy 2 halters; tell Mr. Myers to show you the right road. If he is not at home Mrs. Myers can do so. And drive slow; don't aim to make more than 20 miles a day. Save old John all you can. 20 miles a day you can see will take you to St. Jo by the 10th of May where I will meet you." That with some pieces of a Greek dictionary saturated with blood was all we found.
We then proceeded out towards Goose Lake, where we met some women about a mile in advance of their train, not knowing the danger they were in. We put notices up warning those behind of the danger they were in and scouted the train to [a] point of safety. We then took the Indian trail and followed it through Lost River Gap but, having found many of the emigrants out of provisions and supplied them, we were getting short and had to return homeward. On our arrival at Lost River, crossing on what was called the natural bridge, all of our company determined [to] return via Yreka. I told them I should go home on the old emigrant trail and started out alone a little ahead of them and only had a little salt and 3 or 4 lbs of flour, but when the company got to where my road left the Yreka road an old miner that we called Cal. Jack left the company and followed me and overtook me about noon. I was glad to have his company, although I knew he had a holy horror for Indians, but he would be company I saw a nice sage hen run and skulk in the sage bushes. I dismounted, saying, "Jack, hold my mule and I'll shoot that hen's head off and we will have some meat," and when in the act of shooting Jack hollered to me "For god's sake don't aim at its head or we'll have no meat," but its head went off all the same. In the evening when within a few miles of the point where [we] had to leave the lake and take through the timber we stopped to camp at a spring of cold pure water, the first we had seen that day. We built a fire and got our supper, or dinner it was for us, and our animals picketed out to to the finest kind of grass and now nearly dark I discovered 4 Indian fires further around on the lake, and not caring to alarm Jack I said, "Let's get our animals packed up and leave here." He said, "No, we surely will not leave such a camp as this at such a time." I pointed to their fires, saying, "Do you see that?" It was then getting dark enough to see their fires pretty plain. No other plea was necessary; the animals was soon ready and we was off. We again was alarmed while passing through the woods before reaching the Klamath River. Suddenly a bright light sprung up near a ravine about 20 rods from us and nearly in front. I dismounted and had Jack to do so and directed him to hold our mules in such a way that they could make no noise till I could creep up and find out what it meant. I could distinctly hear poor old Jack's heart a-fluttering like it meant to come out of that. After getting within 20 yds. I discovered it to be fire in an old pine root that would burst out in a bright blaze and then all would be dark again. My old friend was much relieved on learning how it was. We arrived at and crossed the Klamath River and went a mile and a half up a small creek, where we stayed till morning, when I went to stake our mules where they could get good grass while we would fix some breakfast,. Meantime Jack, thinking owing to the heavy dew he had better fire off his gun and done so, which was answered by that of Indians with a whoop not more than 4 hundred yds. from us. I brought the animals in. We was not long in getting ready and leaving that place. About 10 o'clock I killed a deer. We took one quarter from it and hung the remainder by [the] roadside for any emigrant that might come that way, and it was well we did, for Robert Houston with his wife & mother and her family from Iowa had left the train bound for Yreka and followed my trail and would have suffered without it. He told me that when they came to the spring where we had got our supper and where we had our fire it was full of Indian tracks and that they had followed us to where we crossed the river. This was in the fall of 1852. In the summer of that year while mining on Jackson Creek there was some trouble with Jo and Sam's band on the west side of Rogue River, which was soon quieted, in which I did not participate as my home was near that of Tipsy. I left the mines and raised a squad of men to keep him straight. In the spring of 1853 Tipsy became vexed with the Bostons, as he called the white people, and came to my place to bid me farewell, saying he was going to leave the valley and not return again. He said the Saghalie Tyee (Great Spririt) was mad at him for letting the Bostons come and mamook the illahee (work the land) without paying him anything for it, and he was going away and he would not see me anymore. And that was the last time I saw him, but there was a part of his people left here under Sambo, a young chief. I learned that Tipsy's new home was on Applegate about 30 miles from his old home.
In Sept. the 13th /53 Edward Edwards, a bachelor who had taken a claim on the east side of Bear Creeknear Phoenix, was found killed at his house, had been shot with arrows, which caused an excitement and the settlers thought it their duty to investigate. A company was organized at Jacksonville, and they sent a note to me by John Gibbs, who happened to be there, requesting me to get as many men as I could and go and see Sambo & his band, and if they were peaceably disposed to have them come in and give up their arms and stay with us till the matter was settled. Eleven men was all we could get in so short a notice, for it seemed that it all had to be done the same day, and at this late date I can only give a part of their names, viz. Isaac Hill, John Gibbs, Richard Evans, Patrick Dunn, Andrew Carter, Wm. Taylor, Cicero Hill and myself and Robert Houston, 3 others I cannot call to mind. They assembled at my place The Indians were camped about a mile above on the creek. When we were about ready to start Gibbs [said], "Now, boys, let the old man take command." This was Isaac Hill. "Well," he said, "Smith, you take 3 men, Dunn, Carter & Taylor and go up the creek and have a talk with them, as you can understand them, and tell them there are more men coming and we all want to talk with them, and I will come in above by the time you can have them understand it." I went as directed into their camp and, seeing an Indian that could talk jargon, I spoke to him as directed. He asked me if it was to be a friendly talk. I told him it was, and just as he was turning to talk to the Indians I saw a big wild-looking strange Indian, who had been lying on the grass, in the act of throwing his quiver over his shoulder & taking ahold of his bow. Carter, being a little back and within arm's length of me, called out, "Stop, god damn your soul, I shoot you," having nothing to shoot with but an old-time single-barrel horseman pistol loaded to the very muzzle with lead and rags--and before I could say a word he blazed away at the Indian, blinding me with the smoke, his pistol bounding [and] striking him on the forehead which about paralyzed him, burying itself in the sand 30 or 40 feet away. Just at this time I could not say our position was desirable. There were 3 of us that had something to shoot with and 20-odd Indian men. We was in fight and there was no remedy for it. The Indians broke for the brush. I emptied my gun at one as he was entering the brush and here came the squaws a-yelling and wanted to know what they must do. I told them to stay under the shade of that tree till the fight was over and they would not be hurt. They done so at once and turned yelling to laughter. I spoke to my 3 men, saying, "Follow me quick," and ran to the brush where the Indians went in and there met Hill and his 7 men coming from above. I called to them, saying, "In here, boys, they are in here. Follow me in." Hill countermanded the order, saying, "No, no, don't one of you go in there; you will all be killed." The men all followed him out but Taylor, who stayed with me. Hill and the others went off 75 or 80 yds. from the brush where Dunn and Carter were wounded. Times were now lively. The brush on the creek was narrow, and the Indians trying to conceal themselves would run across the bends, taking the chances of being shot at, and just at this eventful moment a packer returning from Yreka came along and seeing what was up and without the touch of any missile fainted & fell from his horse. Houston ran to his relief and found he was not dead or wounded. He got him roused up, gave him a cursing and told him to go on. Those were the first guns fired in the Indian war of 1853. We found one dead Indian at the edge of brush where they entered [and] took 20 prisoners of all grades. The most of the fighting men made their way to the woods. The prisoners were taken to Fred Alberding's which is now owned by Judge Tolman where the people of the neighborhood assembled and fortified. This took place on the 13th of August, and the same day there came some emigrants who also stopped at the same place. They were Asa Fordyce and family, John Hodgins and wife and 3 young men, viz. Hugh Whitmore, Hugh Smith and Ira Arrowsmith. Of settlers there were but about 8 men that could stay about the fort. They were John Gibbs, M. B. Morris, Morris Howell, Uriah Tungate, Frederick Heber, Robert Wright and Samuel Grubb and a man whose name I have forgotten. On about the 19th of August one of the Indians that had escaped to the woods came out on the foothills and called to a squaw that was in the harvest gleaning. Happening to be at the fort and hearing the call, I went out and asked what he wanted. She said he wanted to talk with Tyee Smith. I told her to tell him I would come out and talk with him if he would meet me alone without arms. He said he would if [I] would come in the same way. I returned to the fort and told them what had been going on and get their ideas about getting them to come in. They all thought it would be safer to have them come in, so I went out to talk to the Indian, which proved to be Sambo.
I asked him what he wanted. He said the men wanted to come in and stay where their women was, and they would be good Indians if we would let them do so. We made an agreement that they could come in by giving up their arms and staying quietly at the fort till peace was concluded with the Indians below, where the trouble had arisen. He went out to see if his men would agree to it and soon returned, saying it was agreed to, and they would come now if I would let him call them. I told him to do so. He gave a whoop and 10 Indians came on the run and laid their [arms] down near me. I ordered them to carry them down to the fort, which they did and there gave them up. Gibbs had taken charge of the prisoners, but when this addition came, seeing the weakness of the fort I thought it would be best for the us to get rid of the prisoners, but Gibbs had all confidence in Sambo, he having been a kind of pet Indian with him. He said with the assistance of Sambo he had no fear but all would go right, but I wrote a note and sent it down to headquarters, saying, "We have quite a number of prisoners and but very few men to look after them. Can't you send some men here and take [them] where they can be kept in safety? Gibbs will go along and manage them." I directed the above to the commandant at headquarters and got a reply by the courier in about these words:
"Capt. Smith, you will hold those prisoners till you receive further orders from headquarters." signed John E. Ross. This came to hand on the 21 of August. On the 22nd I went down to Ft. Hoxie to see if they would not allow us to take the prisoners there by us being at all expense, but they refused to have anything to do with them. On my return that evening when within 4 or 500 yards of the fort just at dusk I saw an impression made by the heel of an Indian where he had aimed to jump across the road and not quite clearing it left the heel impress in the dust. I dismounted and found that several Indians had went in the same direction. I rode up to the fort and called out Gibbs and inquired if any of the prisoners had been out in that direction during the day. He said they had not. I then told him that there were other Indians than that [who] had come there to release those prisoners and they will make an attack on you before sunrise in the morning and to put out a careful guard, and for the morning guard have every man on duty, and if the attack was not made I would get some help and scour them woods & find out what it ment the next day. He said, "Smith, you are excited. I can find out all about it by calling out Sambo. He will tell me if any strange Indians are here." Uriah Tungate also came out, and Sambo said there were no Siwashes about there or he would know. I then told Sambo that was all I wanted to know; he could go back, and when he had gone I said, "Gibbs, Sambo don't know or he lies. The Indians are here and will make the attack. Do as I have told you. I would stay and attend to it, but if I did they would burn me out so I'll go home and my dog will give me warning and I can keep them away." I then said to Tungate, "Won't you go and stay with me tonight." He said, "No I'll be damed if I do stay there for all that you've got or for all of Oregon." It was but a little over ½ mile to my house, and I knew I could hear if the attack was made. I fed my mule in the corner of the chimney, leaving the saddle on, took off my boots and lay down with my clothes on, and when I saw it was getting a little light I sprang out and was drawing my first boot on when I heard the fire open at the fort. As quick as I could I bridled and mounted, galloping to the fort and into it just as they ceased firing. I found things in a terrible fix. Hugh Smith was killed dead, Hodgins and Whitmore and Gibbs wounded and afterwards died, and M. B. Morris, Asa Fordyce, Morris Howell wounded but recovered. Gibbs and Howell had been asleep on the porch together. Sambo was there when the attack was made, and as Gibbs rose up with his gun in hand Sambo sprang forward, wringing the gun out of Gibbs' hand, [and] flying back a step or so shot him with it. So much for a pet Indian that had the confidence of Gibbs to such a degree that only the night before that he would just as soon believe that his brother would betray him as think that Sambo would. On reaching the fort I entered the house, as no Indians was to be seen. They had got the wounded all in; they were lying on the floor, having pallets made of blankets.. Gibbs called me to him, saying, "I am wounded. I wish you would examine and tell me what you think of it." I said, "Where is your wound?" He said, "I am shot in the groin." I told him it was in a very bad place, saying, "Gibbs, did you do as I told you?" He said, "Oh, no, but it is too late now to talk about it,. Tell me what you think I had better do." I said, "You ought to have a skillful surgeon, and I will get one if I can." He said, "You can't go now; these woods is full of Indians." I [said] "Yes, but if I go quick I can get through." I mounted my mule and dashed off through a dense thicket that joined the fort on one side, the old emigrant road passing that way. Going out I saw no sign of Indians, but coming back it was all covered with tracks. I inquired into the whole affair and learned that my friend Gibbs had kept his own counsel and that no one but him and Tungate knew of any danger. Grubb was on the morning watch and believing that all was right he laid down on a bench back of the house and, putting a little workbasket under his head, had gone to sleep. An Indian had prepared for him and in creeping up under the shade of the house took aim and put a ball through the basket & his head was all right but there was a dilapidated basket. The Indians had also killed some oxen & mules that [were] in a corral belonging to parties there and took away a mare belonging to a man whose name I cannot now give. And inasmuch as I only started out to narrate incidents that came under my immediate notice, leaving matters outside of my scope of country that seemed from circumstances to [be] got under my care, I pass on to [the] spring of 1854, when I had a span of American horses stolen by the Indians and from strict orders given by Capt. A. J. Smith, commandant [at] Ft. Lane I was forbid to follow or in any way try to recover the property, only by or through him and the troops. I went to the fort several times to urge Capt. Smith and agent Culver to have my property returned and was always assured that it would be done. I told Capt. Smith that if he would allow me to do so I could get my horses in short order. He said for me not to be uneasy, that he would send the agent with an escort of soldiers and get my horses in a few days, that the agent had already been as near the Indian camp as he dare go alone and had met with some of them, who had told him that the horses was there and they would be sure to get them. But they never did, and through their management I lost my horses and never got a cent for them. The Indians were then on Applegate. It was from there they came to rescue those prisoners. From there Tipsy went to the cave on the Klamath and was killed by his old enemies the Shastas.
Tipsy I would say was a half-breed, 5 feet 6 or 7 inches high, heavy set and compact built, powerfully muscled, dark hazel eyes, brown hair and sandy chin whiskers, which caused his people to call him Tipsu Tyee, or the bearded chief. He was brave but cautious and had more good traits than was common among Indians.
I now propose to set forth the facts and circumstances connected with the firing of the first gun in 1855 and commencement of [the] war of that [time] with the Indians.
Frederick Alberding, one of my former partners, sold his claim in 1854 to James C. Tolman, the present surveyor of Oregon, and returned to Mo. and married and again returned to Oregon in August 1855. Stopping for a time among his old neighbors, he got one of them, Lewis Hiatt, a good hunter, to go out with him to kill some game. The place selected for their hunt was then called the Green Springs on the emigrant road about 10 miles above his old place, or 15 mi. above Ashland. At that time there [was] no white in all this part of our valley but what believed that Capt. A. J. Smith with his strict discipline of non-interference policy had all the Indians on their reservation on the west side of the Rogue River known as the Table Rocks or Sams Valley. Alberding and Hiatt camped at the Green Springs the night of the 27th of August. About 11 o'clock they heard one of their horses going away, crossing the point of a stony mountain and making a great deal of noise on the rocks. In the morning they took the trail and followed over the mountain and to and across a small creek now known as Keene Creek, the trail going into a clump of timber. They advanced till they saw the fire and some Indians, and there being but 2 of them they thought it unsafe to go further and returned to the settlement to get some men to go with them and demand the stolen horse. I was not made acquainted with any of these facts till the evening of the 31st, when Alberding came to my house late in the evening, saying he, "I want you to go with us and make them Indians that stole my horse give him up," and after hearing his explanation I asked him when he wanted to go. He said now. It was then nearly dusk. I tried to prevail on him [to] wait till the next day, but he said he had got 14 of the boys all ready over on the creek, and they were there waiting and would not go unless I would go. I said, "If we go tonight it will bring on a fight and Capt. Smith will throw the whole blame on us." He said, "It is not our intention to go further than the Green Springs tonight and go over early in the morning while they are all in camp and have our talk." I got ready; we went over to Wm. Taylor's place on Bear Creek, where they had gathered. I found there Daniel and Henry Chapman, John Taylor, J. Q. Tabor, Abraham Hedden, Granville Keene, I. D. Smith, Cicero Hill, James M. Johnson, Hiatt, Jennison, Land, Alberding and myself, there being 1 name I can't now recall, making 15 all told. We reached the Green Springs at 11 o'clock and was up early on the morning of Sept. the 1st, 1855. The men placed me in command. I said, "Johnson, you stay and take care of the horses while the rest of us goes over to see those Indians," and in a jesting way said, "Boys, I see but little sign of anything to eat. Suppose we go and see the red buggers before we take breakfast & those that return will be the better provided for. Some of us may find it convenient to camp there." Keene spoke up, saying, "I want my share before we go, for I may not need it on my return." So we ate breakfast and went over the mountain to the place where Hiatt and Alberding had trailed the animal to, went into the clump of timber where they had seen the fire and found they had moved camp. We passed though that knot of timber & was standing talking when I saw an Indian's head protruding out of the underbrush and [I] said to the boys "There's an Indian; shall I call to him?" Just at that moment he ducked his head out of sight and a gun was fired from their camp, which at the time I thought was fired at us, and without hesitation I said, "Boys, damn them; if they are for a fight draw your revolvers and we will go in for them." On entering [we] found some squaws and children about the fires and some retreating. Following them to open ground we saw 2 men near 100 yds. further up the slope of the mountain. I called to them in Chinook, saying, "Chahko tillicums nika hyas tika wawa," which in our language was "Come here, men, I want to talk." One of them spoke in a loud voice, "Nika wake tika wawa god damn Bostons--I don't want to talk to godamned white men." They were in the act of entering the brush. I ordered the men to shoot them. About 3 shots were fired when they were out of sight. We then ran up the slope, it being clear on our right, and behind us was thick brush. Arriving at the place near where they had entered I halted to scan the situation. Hill was close to me and a squaw basket near at hand; the other boys about 15 steps behind. At that critical moment I chanced to hear a creaking in the leaves. I saw the whole trick at a glance. The gun that had been fired was a signal [that] they were all ready in their ambuscade. Those two bucks had led us into it. I called to the men that they were in [an] ambush, to get behind something quick. Hill, being close to the basket, laid his hand on it and said, "I'll see what's in this first." I cursed him, saying, "Get, you damn fool; you'll be shot in a second." We had made but a few steps when the firing began. The most of the boys ran up the hill from the brush toward some pine trees. I chose one further off, but I was crossing their fire. I found Abraham Hedden already sheltered there, saying, "Abe is this you? Do you know if anyone is hurt?" He pointed down the hill, saying, "There's Tabor wounded." I [saw] him about 25 yds. below us in the low brush, reclining as one seeking a place to rest or die as the case might be. One side was all bloody, and beyond at the edge of the timber was 2 Indians seemed to be on tiptoe to [see] what had come of Tabor. I [said] to Hedden, "If your gun is loaded shoot quick." It was done. They drew back in the brush. I said, "Let us go down and get him." We did so and packed him to our tree. He was shot through the upper left arm and was bleeding freely I ran a handkerchief twice around and in a measure stopped the blood and cast around to see where the other boys were as they ran from the brush. Keene had been shot dead and Alberding knocked down, a ball striking the bone at the outside corner of his eye, baring the skull for 2 inches above his ear. These men falling in their midst gave them a fright, and they were 150 yds. or more away and on the quickstep. Seeing I could not stop them, I said, "Hedden, we must go too." We gathered up Tabor and followed. We worried along through and over that brush for near a half mile before coming up with our comrades. They were climbing a steep hill covered with loose, shelly rock. I got them to halt here, and as we were approaching them I saw behind us at the creek an Indian by a tree. He was waiting to steady his nerves before firing on us. I saw one lone pine 20 steps ahead. I said, "Men, there's the Indians, and they will shoot in a few moments. Let us pass close to that tree and you, Jennison and Land, you drop behind it and give them devils the best shot you can, for that is our only chance." But before getting to the tree we was fired on, the ball passing between our legs and dashing the loose rocks in our faces. Tabor, who had not spoken in all this time, turned his head, looking over his shoulder, and in a pensive tone said, "Boys, for God Almighty's sake don't leave me." I told him we were not going to do so. Hedden said, "No, they may cut me to inch pieces and I won't leave you." We had got but a few steps from the tree when our men fired on them, putting a stop to their sport. We worked our way on till we were out of range of their guns, when Daniel Chapman spoke, saying, "Now we are safe; if we can get to the road we are all right." I said, "It will not do for us to go to the road, for those Indians on our left were not in the fight after the first five [minutes], and they have gone to waylay us at the road. We must find some other way to our horses," and we did so. And when we arrived there we found our man asleep. We got things together and started out, and as I had expected the red devils were waiting for us at the canyon above, and seeing [that] we had beat them they raised from their ambuscade and whooped and yelled and fired off their guns. As soon as we got to [the] settlement I sent a man to Ft. Lane informing Capt. Smith and requesting him to send men enough up to take those hostile Indians to their reservation or we would be compelled to take them in hand. His answer was that on the next day he would send 40 men to take charge of them. On that day I was in command of 30 men [and] had been out and was bringing in the body of Granville Keene that we had been compelled to leave where he fell. When we got down to the soda spring we met the 40 dragoons that had been promised us. They were just preparing to camp. The first soldier I met I inquired for their commander. Lieut. Sweitzer was pointed out to me. I rode up to him, saying, "Is this Lieutenant Sweitzer." He said, "It is." I said, "I suppose you have come to chastise those hostiles and take them to the reservation." He said, "Yes." I said, "Well, Lieut., as this country is strange to you and your men would you like to have some help to hunt them and help you to get them." He said, "I think I have men enough to manage all the Indians there are in these mountains." I told him I did not doubt it, "But you may not be as successful in finding them as those better acquainted with this country," to which he made no reply. I then asked him at what time he would break camp in the morning. He said, "About 9 o'clock." I said, "Well, Lieutenant, I can be here by that time with some men. I can't say how many, but I will be here." We proceeded with our dead man to the place now owned by C. B. Kingsbury near the head of the valley and buried our friend, after which I said to the men, "All of you that think you can be ready and will go with me tomorrow to help get those Indians will please step out this way." They all came and in the morning a few others fell in, but my friend Hedden had enough to do him the first day. He said he would not go out again for all the dead men in the world, nor for all of Oregon. I was at the soldiers' camp the next morning by ½ past 8 to find them all gone but about 6 or 7 men who had their pots of beans on, boiling for dinner. I asked how long they had been gone. They said ½ an hour. I said, "Boys, will take their trail and overtake them." We went about a mile and met them coming back. I asked them what they meant [by this]. Sweitzer said it was no use; they could never find them in that woods. I told him to go back with me and we would find them, but all I could say did not induce him to do so. The men with me got out of humor and commenced taunting them and called them cowards and many ill names. They had just come up out of a steep hollow when we met. I told my men to cross the hollow and I would do the talking. They done so. I told Sweitzer to return with us and we would find the red devils and whip them into measures, and there would be no trouble with those volunteers. Seeing I could accomplish nothing I said to Sweitzer, "You know what you are here for. If you came to chastise the Indians we are here to help you do it. If you intend to go back as you've started, do that. I must go over to the men; they are getting to talk too much." I went to the volunteers and told them to keep quiet and let them think the matter over and they would yet join us, but they finally drew off toward the fort when some of my men hallooed at them, saying, "You are not a damned bit better than than the Indians. Just square yourselves now and we will clean you out too quick," and Giles Wells called to Sweitzer and said, "Go by my house and get my wife's petticoat for a flag; it becomes you a damned sight better than the one you have." I detained my men as much as I could to give them time to get out of the way, fearing a collision, but when we retraced our route back to the soda spring they had gone, having turned out numerous piles of half-boiled beans on the grass. This was the commencement of the war of 1855. Keene was the first man killed on a creek on a road to Linkville about 18 miles from Ashland. To commemorate the event we gave the creek the name of Keene's Creek.
We will now pass on to the 25th of Sept. of the same month and year /55 when those same Indians prepared an ambush near the road on the Siskiyou Mountain by sticking fir boughs and stalks of fern in the bark of a fallen fir, making a complete blind within a rod of the road. Harry Oatman, now of Portland, and Daniel Brittain of Wagner Creek [and Calvin] Field were taking freight over the mountains, and [John] Cunningham was coming this way and about to pass each other when they were fired on. Brittain had been left behind with 2 wagons. Oatman and Fields had doubled teams and gone on with one wagon. Field was killed dead. Oatman and Cunningham ran up the mountain when near the top. Cunningham was struck by a ball which stopped him. He got in the cavity of a burnt-sided tree, where he was afterwards killed. Oatman got over the mountain to Cole's. Brittain, finding how matters were, ran down to the Mountain House. I heard of it and went to [the] Mountain House that evening, and next morning went up to [the] scene. There were 6 cattle in one pile fast to one wagon and 10 to another, all wound up in a pile, all killed. The men was not stripped, as has been reported and published, but were left where they fell. I sent a messenger to Ft. Lane informing Capt. Smith and requesting him to send us aid. Word came back the 40 troops would be sent up the next day on the 27th. On the morning of the 28th at 8 o'clock I was at the mountain with 30-odd men and went immediately to the soldiers' camp. They were just about ready to start. I rode up & inquired for their officer. A tall and noble-looking gentleman was pointed out to me as Major Fitzgerald. I was in his presence but a moment when my mind was made up that this time that I had a soldier and a gentleman to deal with. I saluted him, saying, "This I presume is Major Fitzgerald." He said it is. I said, "Well, Major, I suppose you are here for the purpose of subduing those hostile Indians." He said, "That is what we would like to do." "And that is what we would like to have done" was my reply. I said, "Major, I thought as all was strange to you where those Indians are located that we might be able to afford you some assistance in finding them, and if you are willing to accept, our service is at your disposal. I think we can find them, and if you are willing we are now at your service." He said, "You are acquainted with this country and know better how to proceed than we do. Lead off, and we will be at your service." I said, "Major, I have not come here to supersede you in command." He called to his Lieutenant, saying, "We go today with this man. Give him your attention and whatever orders he may give, see that they are executed." I said, "If I am to lead I will not go to where the deed was done to get their trail but will intercept it several miles from here." We found it beyond Keene Creek and were following on and discovered a fresh horse track that had been on the run. This was discouraging. I knew that we had been discovered. A half a mile further brought [us] in sight of a camp; the smoke was rising as from a lively fire. I sent some men to reconnoiter. They reported all gone. We took their trail and followed over onto Jenny Creek and up it, crossing the emigrant road and up to where the mountains set in close and were steep and rough. Here the trail left the trail and took up a steep point. They had slipped and scrambled through a reef of craggy rocks. I sent some men around to see if they had passed on. They reported they had. They were going in the direction of Butte Creek on the reservation. I said, "We will follow them till we are satisfied as to where they go." Fitzgerald said his was cavalry men and we cannot compel them go where they cannot ride. I said, "If you will have your men take our horses back where there is grass and water we will follow further." He done so, and we went on till we were satisfied that they were aiming for the reservation. We returned in the evening and camped at Jenny Creek. Fitzgerald said he was satisfied that they were Indians that should be on the reservation and that we could effect nothing by following them. We can go back to the fort, he said, and intersect them and settle with them for all this. We returned to the valley [and] Fitzgerald to the fort. About this time the Governor had got worked up; the Indians were committing depredations north as well as south. The Governor ordered the raising of volunteer companies to suppress hostilities. I raised a company of which there are still living a number of men, viz. Giles Wells, Enoch and John Walker, Daniel and Henry Chapman, Hugh F. Barron, John R. Roberts of Lake County, J. D. Smith, Isaac Woolen now of Sect. 16, Capt. J. M. McCall, [Asa] Fordyce, A. D. Helman, Wm. Chase, James Tolman, _____Corday of Sacramento mines, Walker dead, John Murphy, Saml. Clayton dead. The muster roll having being destroyed, I cannot now remember their names. There were near 50 men in the company. We were mustered into service and went in the mountains east of Ashland to ascertain if Indians were yet there. We were not long in finding sign. Following it, we found where they had killed a beef. Following on about 20 miles out after much difficulty we discovered a camp. It was at the head of one of the branches of Butte Creek at [the] edge of the timber [along] a long strip of prairie. Their fires were in good trim and burning lively under a ton and a half or more of beef, which they were drying. This was about in line from Jenny to Butte Creek. We approached their camp carefully but found it vacant, but there were 2 dead Indians covered with a wagon sheet, from which fact that locality has inherited the title of the Dead Indian country. And here I may revert back to the Keene Creek affair to identify them with that affair. John Taylor borrowed a coat of Wm. Taylor the night we went out to the Green Springs. It was a new coat and nappy, and in his fright at the stampede he threw it away. One of those dead Indians had it on. What the cause of their demise was we never knew, but I conjecture that those were the fellows that stole the horse, thereby bringing on the trouble, that we had routed them from their serviceberry harvest on Keene Creek and now from their huckleberry fields and would be apt to entirely rout them from that country that next day, and they [the Indians] shot and killed them while they were asleep, for the muzzle of the gun had been so near as to burn the napping of [the coat] off for 3 inches in diameter. He lay there with his eyes wide open, looking as wicked as though he was in a fight. They had killed and was drying the meat of 7 beeves that they had drove from near Ashland, and that was what gave us so much trouble in trailing, it being so scattered & and running in all directions. The cattle killed belonged [to] Enoch Walker. We followed on their retreating down Butte Creek for a considerable distance away
Bancroft Library MS P-A 94. Dated 1885. Punctuation added. Smith's manuscript is completely innocent of any puncutation.
A Pioneer Dead.
ASHLAND, Or.--Nov. 5.--Captain Thos. Smith, a prominent Oregon pioneer, died here Friday night, aged 83 years. Captain Smith came to Oregon in 1851. He was a conspicuous figure in the early history of the state. He was a member of the territorial legislature and afterwards of the state legislature and was captain of the volunteers in the Rogue River Indian wars in the early fifties. About two years ago he was stricken with partial paralysis and has been helpless since. The funeral will take place tomorrow afternoon.
Capital Journal, Salem, November 7, 1892, page 2
MEMORIAL RESOLUTIONS.WHEREAS, Our fraternal band is called to mourn the departure of a brother who after a long and eventful life falls like the ripened grain before the reaper, be it
RESOLVED, That in the death of our brother, Thomas Smith, Ashland Lodge No. 23, A.F.&A.M., loses one who for many years was among its most active and faithful members, and our fraternity loses a stalwart of its ranks, who during his long affiliation was ever interested in the high principles and tenets of Masonry and their practical application, morally and socially,
RESOLVED, That while we realize with the pang of final earthly parting that we shall see our brother no more among us and that the place he so long occupied as an honored citizen of our community is now vacant, we remember that he had long passed the alloted three score and ten years, and that in the fullness of years--years that have ended in quiet and contentment a long and eventful career--calm and peaceful in the contemplation of an honorable life that reflected clear and strong his honest convictions, he quietly folded the robe of mortality about him and closed his eyes for his last sleep without a tremor of anxiety or apprehension of his destiny in the realm of the great unknown to which we soon must all follow him.
RESOLVED, That our warmest sympathy is extended to the bereaved daughter who is left to mourn the loss of the father who with her comprised all of their immediate family living on the Pacific Coast.
RESOLVED, That a copy of these resolutions be spread upon the minutes of our lodge, a copy presented to the daughter of our deceased brother and a copy offered to the local press for publication. Fraternally submitted,
W. H. LEEDS, )Ashland Tidings, November 11, 1892, page 3
JAMES H. CHISHOLM, ) Committee
W. A. PATRICK, )
DIED.SMITH--In Ashland, Nov. 4, 1892, Capt. Thos Smith, aged 83 years.
A little less than two years ago, "Uncle Tommy" suffered a paralytic stroke and has been helpless since, though his general health has been good and his mind clear for one of his age. However, he has had no control of his limbs but was compelled to be lifted or wheeled about. For several weeks he had been gradually failing, and Friday night about 11 o'clock passed away. The funeral occurred on Sunday at 2 p.m., in charge of Ashland lodge A.F.&A.M., deceased having been a Mason for many years. He was also an active member of Alpha Chapter No. 1, O.E.S., and the chapter attended the funeral in a body also. Services at the late residence were conducted by Rev. G. J. Webster.
The death of Capt. Smith takes away one of the historical characters of Southern Oregon, as well as a highly honored and esteemed citizen, and the news of his death, though not unexpected, will be heard with regret by all old settlers in this part of the state.
----Capt. Thos. Smith was born in Campbell County, Kentucky, Sept. 14, 1809. When 23 years of age, with his mother and sisters, he moved to Boone County, same state, where he remained working at the carpenter trade until 1839, when he concluded to try his luck in Texas. He remained in Texas ten years, and the lessons learned in fronter life were of great advantage to him in his subsequent pioneer life on the Pacific. In 1849 he came to California, crossing the plains by way of Fredericksburg and El Paso, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona and the great desert through Lower California, and arrived in the mines in October of that year. At Fredericksburg he was elected captain of a company of 75 men who were the pioneers over this route for 500 miles to El Paso. In the spring of 1851 he came to the Yreka mines, where, hearing of the Oregon mines down in what is now Josephine County, crossed the Siskiyous on the 7th of June and engaged in mining on Josephine Creek until October. When returning he prospected for and found gold in considerable quantities at Blackwell and Willow Springs. Believing that good mines would soon be found at these places, he at once determined if possible to raise a crop of vegetables in the valley to sell to the miners. He at once located on the place until recently known as Capt. Smith's ranch, five miles south of Ashland, and went to Yreka to find some other parties who were willing to join him in such an enterprise. David Earl, Frederick Alberding and Patrick Dunn, the latter of whom is still a resident of Ashland, whither he moved from the old places a few years ago, agreed to take the chances and at once began preparations. Mr. Smith returned, and on the 11th of November pitched his tent at the place which was his home for twenty years, Messrs. Dunn, Earl and Alberding following in less than two weeks, and all taking claims together. During the early years of his life at this home he and his neighbors passed through many exciting experiences. For several years Indian Chief Tipsu and band were near neighbors and made themselves more sociable than agreeable. In the wars of 1853-5 he was frequently called upon by neighbors to assist in chastising Indians for robbery and in the adoption of measures to prevent this band from joining with the balance of the Rogue River Indians in active hostilities against the white people. Mr. Smith was called by his constituents to represent them in the territorial legislature of 1855-6. In 1868 he was elected to the state legislature and again in 1880 elected to the same position. His wife, Margaret J., to whom he was married in 1857, died Dec. Dec. 22, 1874. The only child is Ella C.
Ashland Tidings, November 11, 1892, page 3
The Late Capt. Thos. Smith
(Died in Ashland, Nov. 4, 1892.)
The subject of this biographical sketch is one of the first permanent settlers in this valley. Born in Campbell County, Kentucky, he inherited the adventurous spirit of the early emigrants to that "dark and bloody ground," made famous in history by the daring exploits of Daniel Boone and his heroic contemporaries. Leaving the state of his nativity in 1839, he went to Texas and remained ten years, when the fame of California attracted his attention, and in 1849 he, with a company of seventy-five others, started overland for the New Eldorado. The means of conveyance were mule teams, and the expedition was named "The Company of Equal Rights," with Smith as captain. They came by way of Cook's trail, which led by El Paso and up the Rio Grande. After innumerable privations, dangers and hardships, they arrived in California late in the fall in small companies, the original company having separated on the route. Captain Smith's first mining was done on Dry Creek, forty miles from Sacramento City. Thence in the spring of 1850 he came to Reading and in a short time returned to Hamilton, a small town near Marysville, where he took up a settler's claim, which he sold the following spring and came to Yreka, then a new camp. New mines had been struck in what is now Josephine County, Oregon, and the captain started hither after a short sojourn in Yreka. In the fall he returned to Jackson County and located on a donation claim near Ashland, where he remained until the fall of 1878, when he sold out and removed to a neat residence in Ashland, which he had constructed some years previous. Captain Smith, being the first settler in Oregon south of Wagner Creek, had much trouble with the Indians, whom he controlled by dealing firmly but justly with them. He was frequently threatened by them and took part in several engagements in which numbers of the settlers were killed and wounded. As the country settled up and societies organized, representative men were required, and Capt. Thos. Smith was soon placed at the front by his party, the old Jeffersonian Democratic organization, to represent them in the legislature. He was elected once under the territorial and twice under the state organization. He always acted according to his best convictions of right and won the respect of all who came in contact with him in his legislative career.
He was married in August, 1857, to Margaret J. Harrison, of Crawford County, Mo., who died December 22, 1874. Only one child, Miss Ella Cordelia Smith, blessed their union, and attended and comforted her father in his last days.
Valley Record, Ashland, November 17, 1892, page 1
Last revised April 20, 2018