Mary Minerva Hill Dunn's journey across the plains in 1852, then from Salem to Southern Oregon in 1853--along with events of the 1853 Rogue River Indian War. Compare with her sister Martha's account, transcribed here.
I initially transcribed the account from microfilm of the Ashland Daily Tidings, then learned the Jackson County Library System had a copy of the booklet in their collection. I subsequently added the preface and illustrations (and repaired many omissions and corrections) from the original booklet.
June 4, 1916 Oregonian
PREFACEFrom a beautiful spot in a valley of Tennessee, where they were surrounded by the rich associations of long-established friendships, an intrepid Southern family set out to conquer a new country of verdant beauty and unexploited resources. The story of their journey and ultimate home-building is a colorful romance fraught with privation and hardship, adventure and undaunted courage. They reveal in this the fruitage of their heritage from one English ancestor whose family motto is "Incorruptible" and from another whose faith is shown in their motto "non incautus futuri"--(unafraid of the future).
Mary M. Dunn, my grandmother, now ninety-three years of age, has lived a life spanning a long period of usefulness. She has been an inspiration to her many friends and a challenge for worthwhile things to all of her family. The material for this book has been compiled from stories she has written of various events of her life and from other family data. Much of it is from an old diary kept daily during the journey across the plains, by her mother, Elizabeth Fine Hill. Care has been taken in the historical exactness of all statements. This little book is presented for the benefit and pleasure of her friends and family.
Mary E. Stevens
By Mary M. Dunn
A Tale of Pioneer Life of Oregon
As Told by Well-Known Local Woman
Illustrations by Ina Collins Pruitt
(Editor's Note): Some time ago, Mrs. Mary M. Dunn of Portland, mother of Senator George Dunn of this city and one of the pioneers of Oregon, published an interesting booklet on pioneer life of Oregon, a tale well described by the title, "Undaunted Pioneers." There was of course but a limited number of these booklets published, but the tale is one which is of greatest interest and historical value to many of this community, and we have secured permission to publish the contents of the booklet, which we will do in serial form. The introduction and first chapter follow.
Long before the beginning of the United States of American several branches of my family were settled along the coast of the Atlantic. When the time came for the severance of our political ties from England they were ready to serve in establishing a government that would be true to the right and enduring in its justice. To each of the wars fought in the struggle for righteousness they contributed their full measure of support. The record of the Lee family is linked with military history from early in the eighteenth century. Through the Revolutionary War no body of troops raised in the colonies surpassed the work of Lee's Legion in effectiveness and courage. "Light Horse Harry" Lee, a cousin of my grandmother, received the thanks of Congress in recognition of his leadership. After the war he identified himself with the Federalist Party and sent to Congress. His son, Robert E. Lee, graduated from West Point and rendered valuable service during the Mexican War. At the time of the Civil War he was made commander of the Southern forces; his unblemished record of sincerity and devotion to his cause won the admiration of the North as well as the undying gratitude of the South. The nephew of Robert E. Lee, Fitzhugh Lee, was also a West Point man and did outstanding service in the Spanish-American War.
My great-grandfather, Isaac Lane, enlisted in the revolutionary forces from Vance County, Virginia, June, 1776; later he re-enlisted in Washington County, North Carolina. He attained the rank of lieutenant; on September 6, 1832 he was granted a soldier's pension. My grandfather, Joab Hill, was a colonel in the War of 1812; my great-grandfather, Thomas Russell, was a colonel in the Revolution. My grandfather, John Fine, fought in the War of 1812. His son, John M. Fine, died October 26, 1846, while returning from the Mexican War, and was buried at sea near Galveston. My grandmother had a vision and told grandfather she saw John being buried at sea, and when the man came to tell her of his death, it was just as she had seen it. Uncle kept asking if they wouldn't soon land, as he had an aversion about dying at sea. I can remember the men going to this war. Our place was headquarters for the men preparing to go, and everyone was busy making knapsacks. We children stood by the gate and watched the men marching away. Almost every family in the neighborhood had someone going, and the Yearwoods had three boys who went. One of them was killed who was flag bearer, and his brother grabbed the flag and went on with it.
We were out in Oregon at the time of the Civil War, so none of my immediate family were in it. Isham Keith, a cousin, was killed in a battle with the Indians in Lieutenant Elliott's company on Evans Creek in Southern Oregon, August 17, 1853. My husband, Patrick Dunn, was also wounded in the Indian wars. I had three grandsons who trained for service in the World War, but fortunately the armistice was signed before any went over the sea. Orville Dunn Caldwell trained in the hospital corps at Camp Kearny and San Diego. Donald Blair Rice became first lieutenant while training at the Presidio, Calif., and also spent some time at Camp Mead, Maryland. Edwin Dunn was a corporal in training at Camp Lewis. Dr. Harry B. Moore, the husband of my granddaughter, Marie Rice, was [a] major who saw service in the medical corps overseas; and William Gordon Smith, the husband of my granddaughter Erma Rice, was in the midst of the fighting in France.
Ashland Daily Tidings, September 11, 1929, page 2
LIFE IN THE SOUTHOur family history shows that the Lee, Lane, Hill and Fine families were all living in Virginia and Carolina country in the eighteenth century. John Lee married Agnes Jennings, and their daughter, Nancy, married John Fine in October of 1800. Their first children were born on the French Broad River, North Carolina. The spirit of adventure and romance led them to the fertile valley of Sweetwater, Tennessee. John Fine went there about the time of the Hiwassee Purchase, and bought his home of an Indian, who as he pointed out the advantages of the place remarked, "Heap big town here someday. Fine house stand there," being not perchance ignorant of the fertility of the soil and of the white man's enterprise. Having selected his future home, Mr. Fine made arrangements to move from Grainger County to Sweetwater. Starting from Newport, he loaded his household goods and his wife and little ones, Nancy being a babe of six months, and came by water to Lowden, which they reached the last of March, 1816. An unusually heavy fall of snow covered the ground, but they came on in covered wagons to their destination. One incident of this trip that they used to recall was meeting an Indian with a mud-bespattered saddle of venison thrown across his pony, his moccasined feet barely missing the snow.
The fertility and beauty of the valley soon attracted a busy community that grew and prospered. Mr. Fine built the first house that aspired to greater dimensions than the primitive log cabin, and it is an interesting fact that the glass windows were brought in a four-horse wagon from Augusta, Georgia. These were the first glass windows in Tennessee. There was an "upping block" of stone in front of the house for the use of horseback riders. I had a picture of the house taken when I visited Sweetwater in 1901, and the block is still there. Also a pear tree that was bearing when I was a child, and I ate some of the pears. For a long time trade from this section was carried on with Augusta, wagons going down twice a year, and occasionally the molasses jug was sent and other similar dainties in which the citizens indulged were brought.
For many years Mr. Fine's was a famous stopping place for travelers as the tide of trade and immigration passed through East Tennessee on foot and in wagons, on horseback and in carriages, to Georgia and Alabama. At the time of his last illness he owed a man one dollar, and he was quite concerned that it be paid before his death, which was done. The fact shows a heritage of independence and integrity of which his descendants may well be proud.
The Fine cemetery is in the old orchard. The first burial was of a man who came from Boston and had the smallpox. Grandfather and Grandmother both took it [i.e., contracted the disease].
My remembrance of my grandfather Fine and the beautiful country around Sweetwater is still vivid. When I was a little girl, Grandfather came home from a trip and called to Grandmother, "Nancy, come here. I have something to show you." We were all very much excited when he showed her some matches and told her that she could start a fire with them, but that they were very dangerous and that she must be very careful with them. I remember how frightened we all were to think Grandfather would keep such dangerous things in the house, even though they were each wrapped in tinfoil. We had always kept what was called a "seed of fire." If the fire did go out, he would take a flint and strike it until the sparks would fly, and the rich pine shavings catch.
A friend came to our house who had been visiting in Georgia, and while there she had seen a wonderful stove on which the family cooking was done. It was so much cleaner than the fireplace; there were no ashes nor smoke to contend with, and one could get a whole meal without having to change one's dress. Later there were some cook stoves brought into Tennessee, but I did not get to cook on one until after we came to Oregon.
Once when I was small I went with my grandfather Fine to visit a neighbor. She made some soda biscuits--the first I had ever tasted. I thought them delicious. Grandmother had always burned corncobs to make potash, with which she raised the bread. She would heat the corncobs in an oven, without burning them, until they could be powdered.
I remember the school house where I first went to school when I was five years old. It was a log cabin with one log left out to give light enough to see within the room. The old wooden benches had no backs; in the corner of the room was a wooden bucket with a gourd dipper. To this we made frequent trips to quench our thirst. Across each end of the room was an immense fireplace which furnished heat and light.
The first day was a momentous one for me. The teacher was hard of hearing, and when he heard a noise he could not locate he took a switch and beginning at one end of the room gave each pupil a cut as he went down the row. I watched him coming, and when his back was turned I moved over to the side that he had already chastised. I can hear the boys laugh yet, and I came near getting more than a passing cut. Later one of my teachers was Jab Taylor, who married my Aunt Minerva Fine.
We had a happy time there in Tennessee. We went to quilting parties and husking bees. The young fellows would hunt for a red ear [of corn] so they could have the privilege of kissing the girls. Every year there were wild grapes, plums, strawberries and raspberries to gather. Pawpaws and persimmons were also abundant. We raised flax, cotton, corn, tobacco, potatoes, ducks, geese, peacocks and many cattle and hogs. In the fall we gathered black walnuts and hickory nuts to eat around the fireplace in winter. We smoked the hams of young bear and deer and preserved all the fish we wanted. A barrel of brown sugar, a barrel of New Orleans molasses and a roll of white sugar a good deal like our cube sugar but weighing several pounds, kept us supplied with sweets. We had house raisings and log rollings. We went miles to church and camp meetings on horseback.
Ashland Daily Tidings, September 12, 1929, page 3
A TIME OF ANXIETYBut over our beautiful Southland a war cloud bided its time. Even the stoutest hearts felt a vague unrest as the time approached to take sides in the issues at stake. In our home the call of the West clamored insistently and persuasively. In 1849 my father, Isaac Hill, accompanied by his son, La Grande, his mother, Elizabeth Lane Hill (who was a relative of Joseph Lane, the first Governor of Oregon), his three brothers, William, Russell and George, his sister, Louise Kelley, with her husband and son, Isham Keith, and a nephew, Sterling Hill, crossed the plains. They spent the winter in the Willamette Valley, and Father built a sawmill in Clatsop County on the Columbia. Here he planned to establish a permanent home, but early in the spring of 1850 news of rich gold mines near Yreka, California stirred the little settlement. Preparations for going there were soon made. My uncle, Russell Hill, had married a Miss Cheadle near Salem, and Grandmother Hill made her home with them. They decided to remain in the valley, as did also my brother La Grande. Father and his brothers, William and George, left Yreka where they began working in the "Humbug Mines"--so called derisively and as it turned out inappropriately. As they passed through the Rogue River Valley they camped on what was later the Dunn farm, and its beauty was a lodestone that drew my father insistently.
When Aunt Louise and Uncle Kelly reached Yreka, and it became known that a white woman was in town, the miners, greatly excited, gathered around the little cabin just to gaze at her. Aunt Louise had taken a little sheet iron stove across the plains with her; now before an appreciative audience she collected her equipment and began to bake pungent dried apple pies. This was more than home pie-hungry, famished men could endure. They begged almost tearfully for the privilege of buying all she could bake. When that first day in Yreka drew to a close, Aunt Louise found herself possessed of fifty dollars and a thriving business.
It soon became evident that the Humbug Mines were rich in ore, and the Hill brothers worked in them successfully until the spring of 1851. Uncle George now decided to go on to Southern California. Uncle William returned to Missouri, and Father prepared to follow the trail back to Tennessee. He bought two mules, loaded one with provisions, mounted the other and set out for home. He arrived in Sweetwater in the fall of 1851.
THE DECISION TO MOVE WESTWARDAt once we began preparations for our long overland journey to Oregon. We put up quantities of dried peaches for our trip. It is never easy to break the tender ties that bind a well-established family to the old home community. My mother was filled with trepidations and anxieties, yet she bore her fears in Spartan silence. My two sisters, Haseltine (Has) and Martha (Lou), and my two brothers, John and Cicero, and myself were all fired with the curiosity and eagerness of youth in their teens. Some of this feeling was tempered as we began to realize the immensity of the undertaking in choosing the things that we could take with us. Father left all of our books except Pilgrim's Progress and the Bible. I smuggled my Kirkham grammar in and brought it along without his knowledge and have given it to one of my granddaughters.
Early in February, 1852, we left Sweetwater, Tennessee for our new home in faraway Oregon. All of our transportable possessions--bedding, clothing and food--were packed in boxes made of white poplar just the width of the wagon beds. They were placed in a large wagon drawn by mules. Has and I rode with the driver, and the rest came by horseback and in a light rig. We went fifteen miles to Lowden and stayed at a hotel that night. In the morning we went down the Tennessee River for two days to Decatur, Alabama. One event of the trip remains distinctly in my mind. Once we struck a rock and when the shock was over, the captain asked his wife, "Were you frightened?" "Not much," she replied. Then turning to me she asked, "Were you?" Thereupon they instructed me that if anything should happen I must hold fast to a bale of cotton, and I would be able to float. We passed a shot tower along the way. A cradle of boiling lead high in the tower was poured through a sieve and dropping into the cold water of the river made shot.
From Decatur we went overland to Tuscumbia[, Alabama] in a large bus drawn by six horses. They followed the railroad right-of-way which had been graded but not finished at that time. The scenery was beautiful as we went through the country of gardens and cotton fields with the darkies singing as they worked. This was around Muscle Shoals, of which we have heard so much the last few years. I remember it as a boiling tumble of water full of eddies and rapids. Here we boarded the Saranac and went north on the Tennessee River to the Ohio, then to the Mississippi. There was a heavy storm at Cairo, and we were detained there a day and a half. There was a big dance and a fine supper on the boat that night. Then we traveled on north to Saint Louis. Here on March first we transferred to the boat Kate Kearney and left on our last river ride to Alexandria. A stagecoach took us from there to Athens, Missouri. Here we were glad to visit on a farm with Father's sister, Elizabeth Duty, and to rest for the next lap of our journey. We stayed with these relatives during the month of March while Father and the boys worked on the outfit that we were to take across the plains. From Athens we went to Keokuk, Iowa to visit Father's brother, Claybourne Hill, who decided to accompany us west. I can remember one evening at Uncle Claybourne's we were all singing "How Firm a Foundation," and someone said, "Mary you sing like your father." He had such a beautiful voice, it made me very proud.
The days spent here were too busy for homesickness or regrets. We made tents, sunbonnets and other things for our comfort along the way. Father had a wagon made with a body in the shape of a boat and caulked it so that it could be rowed across streams too deep to ford. On the side of the wagon was hung a stove with reflectors to use for baking purposes. Father purchased one hundred fifty head of cattle, mostly young heifers, [and] a span of four fine mares in the country near Oskaloosa, Iowa. Finally all were ready for the start tomorrow. Nine wagons had been brought up to the house to be packed. Ox teams had been selected from the three hundred head of cattle. Our own family had four wagons, one hundred fifty head of cattle and six yoke of oxen and the mare teams. Our provisions for our family of seven and two hired men consisted of cornmeal, flour, beans, rice, bacon, sugar, coffee, tea, cream of tartar, dried fruits and quantities of corn for the stock. We had two tents.
Ashland Daily Tidings, September 13, 1929, page 2
THE LONG JOURNEY BEGUNAt last on April 14, 1852 we left Keokuk in company with Uncle Claybourne and his family; Mr. Standard, who married our cousin Jane Hill and settled in Brownsville, Oregon; two families of Templetons; John Pelton and a number of others, making our train of thirty wagons and some seventy-five people. The roads out of Keokuk were almost impassable, and at the time the wagons were mired up to the hubs, and travel was difficult and slow. Mud, mud, mud, that had to be got through and such "geeing" and "hawing" to the unruly oxen, the cracking of whips and bellowing of loose cattle can neither be described nor imagined. To jump out meant to wade over shoe tops, and no rubbers or galoshes were known in those days. Think of that first night out with tents in the mud, supper in the mud, and feather beds for the men in the mud. It was a great celebration for my sister Has' fourteenth birthday, but I guess no one remembered it but she. It was very tedious all the way across Iowa, and we had to double team to get through, but we continued on our way steadily and arrived at Council Bluffs May tenth.
Here we found an immense city of wagons waiting to be taken over in flat-bottomed ferryboats, propelled by oars. The river was very high and some two miles wide. Father had written to the man in charge of the emigrant trains crossing the Missouri River at this point and had informed him of the probable date of our arrival and had received a permit to cross. When we drove up ready to cross with the tongue of each wagon made fast to the wagon ahead, those who had arrived ahead of us were very angry. They ran our wagons back from the river and placed theirs ahead, then our men rolled the wagons back and placed ours in position again and stood guard over them all night. There was a great pushing and crowding, and many not belonging to Father's train got across on his permit.
There were no houses then at Council Bluffs, and on the Nebraska side where Omaha now stands were only some Indian tepees. It took three days, May 10, 11 and 12, to cross.
Ashland Daily Tidings, September 14, 1929, page 3
Almost all of our wagons were transported across the river the first day. The next morning, May 11, one of our wagons and a boat loaded with cattle started across the river. My brother, John, a young man twenty-three years of age, accompanied them. Suddenly the boat sank. An effort to save John was made, but it was unsuccessful. He was drowned, and his body was not found. A deep sense of loss and sadness fell upon us as we left the river to continue our journey, leaving John, who was so well beloved, behind us.
The next night we made camp on the site of the city of Omaha. The roads were very soft and miry in this vicinity. We arrived at a bog over which a bridge had been constructed by previous emigrant trains. Here we encountered Indians for the first time. They had surrounded the bridge and boldly insisted that we pay them to cross. My father told them to clear a path and get out of the way or he would make it unpleasant for them. They did as ordered in a hurry, and we went on our way unmolested.
Soon we discovered that three calves had been left behind; my sister Lou and cousin Caroline volunteered to go back and get them, provided they were supplied with pistols for the trip. After they had found the calves and were returning, the Indians gathered at the bridge again and demanded the calves as pay for having permitted the wagons to pass. Lou told them to take the calves, but Caroline drew her pistol and told them to get off the bridge. They did so without further parley.
The day we were coming to the Platte River we saw a black cloud, and Father called to hurry up and try to get to lower ground, but the cattle were slow and the wind blew very hard and it hailed on us. However, when we arrived at the river, we found that we had missed most of the storm. The wind had blown the covers off the wagons, flattened the tents, the cattle had stampeded, and the people were greatly frightened. We were thankful to have missed being in its path. Father endeavored to keep his teams in good condition and loaded one wagon with corn to feed the cattle till the grass got better. Brother Cicero had one yoke of big rawboned oxen in his team of four yoke. He named them "corn eaters." When he would get in the wagon, they would turn around and look at him, wanting some corn. Brother thought he would get even, so he took the leather aprons off a saddle and made them some blinds. They presented a very funny appearance and caused a lot of laughter.
When we reached the Elkhorn River, we found a great band of Indians already camped. Uncle Claybourne selected a good spot for a tent and requested a young Indian who was standing there to move. The Indian refused, and Uncle pushed him out of the way. The Indian ran away and soon returned with a number of his fellows armed with bows and arrows. They insisted that Uncle be punished. Father talked to them in their jargon, and they finally agreed to make peace if they could have a lot of bread. This was agreed upon, and while it was hard on the cooks, we all got busy and they were soon eating the bread of peace. In the morning we crossed the river by propping up the wagon beds so they would be above the water.
During this time we were milking about thirty cows where we had good grass, and would fill a large five- or six-gallon can with milk in the morning and put in the wagon. By evening we would have about a pound of butter. Soon, however, the grass grew scarce and the cows went dry, so we were without this food. The corn for the cattle became so reduced that one wagon had to be abandoned. It became hot and dry, but whether under the scorching rays of the sun or in pouring rain--go we must or we would not get over the mountain trail before winter came.
We girls were to cook supper and make down beds in the evening and to get breakfast and the packing done in the morning. It was our ambition to be started down the trail before the train. To get behind meant almost to be left behind. Along the Platte River all the cooking had to be done with "buffalo chips" for fuel, which we girls gathered as we went along. We walked a large part of the way, and when our hired men struck, I had to drive one of the yoke of oxen, so over that part of the road I at least doubled the distance. Beautiful scenery was often passed without a single look; we were so tired. I think the journey was harder on the women than the men. It usually took a couple of days to cross a river, and the women washed at these places.
Ashland Daily Tidings, September 16, 1929, page 2
We continued our journey along the Platte and soon arrived at Loup Fork. There were many wagon trains trying to cross it, as it was late evening. The bed of the river was mostly quicksand and was extremely dangerous to cross, so one wagon could not follow in the track of a former. Father watched them for some time and decided we would go farther up the stream in order to find a firm crossing. We followed up the river for two days and crossed without any trouble.
Cicero became ill before we reached Fort Laramie, and he could not eat our usual fare of fat bacon and beans. He begged some of the boys to cross the river and get him some potatoes. Father was sure we could not get any potatoes until we reached Oregon, but the boys crossed and came back with a bushel of them. They made a wonderful diversion for all of us to have a taste. As our small cousin, Lucerne Hill, watched the potatoes baking by the campfire he solemnly stated, "All I want in this world is just one more 'tater.'" Needless to say, he got it.
At Fort Laramie, where we arrived May 22, which was my birthday, we found that along the south side of the Platt the cholera had broken out, and hundreds were dying. Everyone was eager to get away from the dread disease as quickly as possible, and they crossed to the north side below Laramie, bringing the cholera with them. All was bustle, hurry and confusion. Father realized that it would be impossible to get away from it, so he calmly planned to go on our way and make the best of what should happen. He had a doctor in St. Louis prepare a box of medicine to use, and he probably saved many lives by prescribing these remedies. Many would pass us with their sick and dying, stopping only a few minutes to bury their dead by the roadside. It almost caused a riot in our own train. Those who had horse teams galloped ahead, but it only broke down their teams that were already almost unfit to travel. The country here was barren and waste. Our cattle were getting very poor, and Father lost two of his fine mares, but much worse was the fact that cholera had come into our midst. Our train fared better than many others, having very little sickness and only one death. The little Pickens child was sick a day or so before Father knew it, and she died. We managed to get a box for the body and gave her a Christian burial. The cholera stayed with the trains until they reached the Cascade Mountains. As we traveled that three hundred miles up the Platte we passed many graves where loved ones had been left by the wayside. These depressing, lonely graves coupled with a constant fear of the Indians caused us to face each day with dread of what it might bring to us.
The days when we were forced to do without fresh water were extremely trying; when there was no water for the stock, we traveled day and night. We had a fine Durham heifer that had belonged to my brother John who was drowned, and she was very precious to me. She was about to give out on account of the heat and lack of water. I stole a cup of water out of our scanty supply and gave it to her, then walked by her side the rest of the day in order that I might hold an umbrella over her. That help (with a biscuit which I fed her and for which I was roundly scolded) enabled her to reach the next stopping place and water.
We could see Chimney Rock ahead of us for days; it was a natural guidepost, and the road to it was very straight. We reached it June 6. One morning I was the first one up in camp, and upon leaving the tent I saw an immense herd of buffalo grazing nearby. I called the men, and one of them rushed out and began firing into the herd. Immediately they stampeded, and the ground shook so much that our cooking utensils rattled. It was a spectacular sight as they went thundering off in the dawn. This hill where the buffalo went out of sight was one of the few places I recognized when I followed the trail as nearly as I could by train in 1902, just fifty years later.
Our route led past Independence Rock, which covered some twenty-seven acres of ground and towered more than a hundred feet above Sweetwater River. We found good water here, plenty of green grass and many lovely flowers. Thousands of names had been carved upon its sides by those who had camped in the vicinity. We traveled a long distance along the beautiful Sweetwater River, and eventually came to the Devil's Gate, an opening through the solid rock, said to be four hundred feet deep and nearly vertical. Practically all routes west came through this cleft in the granite ledge, although they might take other paths at other places. We drove downstream in the bed of the river for some distance. So full of deep holes was the riverbed that the passage was very rough and dangerous. Many of us were frightened and nervous.
At South Pass where we crossed the Continental Divide we found the weather very raw and cold. There were snow drifts all around, and I picked flowers standing in a drift. As we moved westward we crossed the Green River on July 2, then on into Idaho where we reached Fort Hall on July 12. We crossed the Snake River near here for the first time. We found the country across Idaho very trying. The weather was hot and the dust heavy. The cattle suffered for water, and we were glad when we reached Boise River, which we followed down to the Snake, which we crossed near where the city of Boise is now. It was now July 31 and we lay by for a day, and it took us three days more to cross the river. The day the family crossed Mother and sister Has went with the first load, and Lou and I stayed with the goods until the last. The sun was very hot, and there was a group of Indians near. One of their number had died, and the whole tribe howled all day to add to our misgivings. It was nearly dark when Father returned for us. He loaded the three running gears of the wagons, piled all of the loose traps on top of them, and Lou and I climbed to the very top of the load. Across the river we started. Father had been rowing all day, and now his arms and hands began to cramp so painfully that he could neither row nor steer the boat. We drifted down the river a mile or more before we finally found a landing place. It was pitch dark by that time, and Father told us that we would have to go to camp for help, as he could not leave the wagon. We could see the light from the campfires, so we started out, making our way the best we could. We scrambled over rocks, brush and vines; sometimes we were up and sometimes down. It did not take much imagination to hear all kinds of wild animals, which added to our speed if not our comfort. We finally reached camp, two frightened, exhausted girls, and sent help to Father.
Ashland Daily Tidings, September 17, 1929, page 3
FIRST SIGHT OF OREGONWe followed the Snake River north and crossed the Burnt River, then on to the Powder River and followed it, then across country. It was hot and dusty, and we were becoming weary with our long trip. We reached the Grande Ronde Valley the 23rd of Aug. and lay by for a day. Father traded two cows for a beef, and we jerked it. This valley was green and fresh with a sparkling stream and was so beautiful. A Frenchman lived in the valley and had lots of horses and cattle. Indians were camped in wigwams everywhere.
At Umatilla, La Grande, my brother, met us, and it seemed as though we were not so far from home. On across the hot country, with little water for our stock. One afternoon we left camp, drove all night, all day and till the next night before we came to water at Mud Springs. September 7 we crossed the John Day River and the Deschutes on the 9th. At The Dalles, September 12, we saw the first houses since leaving Council Bluffs, June 10.
We came in over the Old Barlow Toll Road at the foot of Mt. Hood. It was a terrifying experience. All one day we traveled over a peculiar-shaped ridge called the Devil's Backbone. It was high, and the surface was covered with chuckholes which made it almost impassable. Where the road left off there was almost a straight drop down, and it was necessary for us to rough-lock the wheels and tie trees to the rear of the wagons to operate as a drag to hold them back. We also used chains on the wheels to keep them from turning around. Only two oxen were hitched to a wagon, and a man was stationed on each side with a whip in order to keep them going in the right direction. The side of the hill was covered with women and children, and the cattle that were turned loose. So steep was the grade that some of the women had to be assisted. A few days before a man had been killed here when his wagon turned over on him.
We arrived at [Philip] Foster's October 6, where we found plenty of fresh beef and potatoes, and we had one grand feast. From April to October without fresh food is a long time.
Our first real stop was made when we reached Oregon City. We lived here for two weeks, and sister Has, who had contracted mountain fever, was cared for by Dr. McLoughlin. As soon as she was better we went on to Salem, where we spent the winter. Father rented a large house that had been built for a hotel, and we fixed it up so that we could live in it, then rented part of it out to others. One of our renters was Dr. Weatherford. I met one of his daughters the day I was crowned Queen of the State Pioneer Reunion in June 1927.
Father came down with the fever, and he and Has were sick most of the winter. That year the snow was very deep, and the entire Willamette Valley was blanketed by a foot of it until the last of January. Feed for cattle was very scarce, and Father had about a hundred [head] of cattle that he hoped to take south with him. Cicero secured permission to cut timber. The cattle browsed on the limbs, and we used the rest of it for fuel. When the snow began to melt, Father thought it best to leave Salem to find feed for the cattle.
So the first of February found us again on the road on the last lap of our long journey. The road was so covered with water that it was often impossible to tell whether or not we were following the road. Wagons would mire down, the cattle would scatter, and we could only make a few miles a day. It rained nearly every day. We stopped in Brownsville, where Uncle Claybourne had settled. His family all grew up and married and played a large part in the development of that part of the country. The boys, Lucerne, Marshall, Harvey J., Thomas and Sterling Hill, and the girls, Anna, who married Mr. Woody, and Elizabeth, who married A. W. Stannard, have all passed to their last reward, and the third generation is carrying on the work of the world.
Lou and I had an interesting experience one day. Just before we came to Elk Creek near Roseburg we had loitered behind the wagons; when we reached the creek, we found that the wagons had crossed on without us. The water was deep and muddy, and we hardly knew what to do. We found a large tree had fallen across the creek, and immediately we determined to cross on it. We had two puppies with us, so I took them over and came back to help Lou, who became so dizzy that she declared she could never cross that way. I told here to get astride the log, and I would keep close so she couldn't see the water. When I turned around after reaching her, there were both puppies! I carried them back and finally we were all across and started for the road. A little way farther we found that we had to cross another stream. Lou began to cry. Luckily, we found another tree that had fallen across the stream, the top branches reaching over on our side. I told Lou that we could climb in the top and get down on the other side. I managed to get the puppies over and Lou followed. We reached camp in time to help get supper. Father gave us a lecture, but no one knew what a hard time we had had; we simply told them we had crossed on a log.
The first of March we reached Canyonville. There was a mill there and a few settlers. Father found a little cabin for Mother and us girls, pitched camp there and made us as comfortable as possible. Then he and Cicero started with the cattle for the Rogue River Valley Father had been much impressed with that valley on his first trip through it, and he had chosen a place for his claim. When he arrived, however, he found that Patrick Dunn and Fred Alberding had taken up that claim, so Father moved to a place a few miles south. Soon he had a little cabin erected, some ground broken up, and a garden planted. Leaving Cicero to care for the cattle and garden, Father started back with a train of pack mules for us at Canyonville, as there were no roads on from there, and we had to leave our wagons.
Ashland Daily Tidings, September 18, 1929, page 2
OUR JOURNEY ENDSAfter our months in camp we were eager to finish our journey home. Father put Has and me on a big mare he had brought across the plains and told us to go ahead to lead the pack animals. We had to follow the creek, being sometimes in the rocky bed and sometimes on the bank. The pack mules had made steps like stairs, as each had stepped in the track of the other. The old mare we were riding would overstep the distance all the time, and it was very uncomfortable riding. When we climbed up the bank it was easier for me, as I was in front, but easier for Has when we went down. If you think it was funny, you just try it. It took us all day to come to a camping place. We got a bit to eat, spread out our blankets and slept. I do not remember of hearing anyone say she was tired as we were, filled with the prospect of coming so soon to our home.
I do not know how many days it took for us to reach our destination. Every night we had to camp early so that the mules could find feed. We could not get through the canyon in one day, and one night we had to spend lying on a piece of canvas spread on the wet ground. It was early in April when we reached the Rogue River Valley. It was a beautiful sight with wildflowers growing everywhere. Along Bear Creek there was a rancheria of Indians with a lot of naked children running around.
At last, April 14, 1853, Father said to us, "Tonight we will be at home." How happy we were and how long was that last day. I called to Father, "How much further do we have to go?" He answered, "You will know when you get there." Along about sunset Father called, "Turn to the left, Mary! Turn to the left!" The road led along what is now Neil Creek and across what was later our upper farm. So I was glad to obey orders, and we turned, went around the hill, and there was our cabin. Cicero was standing in the clearing with his back to the road. When I called, he came running eagerly to meet us. He had spent a lonely time waiting for us. He had tried to make some bread and had used a cup of soda. There was an Indian rancheria where the Walker place is, and his other neighbors were farther away.
It would be impossible to tell of our feelings after our long journey to at last feel that we were at home. I wish I could picture to you the little log cabin nestled under the shadow of the Siskiyous with the mighty oaks and pines standing guard and the beautiful wildflowers nodding us welcome. Words cannot express the wild beauty of the place nor our joy in knowing our long journey was ended.
The cabin itself was a rough one-room structure with no windows, a dirt floor, no chairs, no tables--no anything. The first night we lay on our canvases on the ground. In contrast to our comfortable farm home in Tennessee the little cabin was a sorry spectacle. Mother was heartbroken, thinking of the advantages of which her daughters were deprived. We began though with a will to make this new home as attractive as possible. Father made a table, stools for us children and a chair for Mother. Curtains divided the interior into rooms. We brought dishes out from Salem with us and a stove also. There was a wonderful soda spring on the place, and the highway to Klamath Falls goes right through the claim where it leaves the Pacific Highway about six miles south of Ashland.
Ashland Daily Tidings, September 19, 1929, page 3
OREGON HOMEThere were many things which were hard and unpleasant, but Mother and we girls took our places side by side with husband, father, and brothers and fought the good fight in making a home there in the wilderness. Cicero and La Grande went over to Yreka to work in the mines, and that left the rest of us plenty to do. Father had an immense garden that year, and we milked forty cows and made butter and cheese, which we sold to the packers going over to the mines. Butter brought us one dollar a pound and cheese seventy-five cents.
Our staple foods--coffee, sugar, flour and bacon--were shipped from South America to Crescent City, they sent inland by pack train. Flour cost from forty to fifty cents a pound. At Jacksonville we once witnessed a remarkable transaction wherein fifty-two gold nuggets were weighed on one side of the scale and salt in the other.
When we arrived there were a few men located in the upper valley. Fred Alberding, Thomas Smith and Patrick Dunn had taken donation claims on what are now known as the Houck, Homes and Dunn places; Mr. Gibbs, James Russell and H. F. Barron had located at what is now the Barron ranch. The latter was then popularly called the Mountain House because it was at the base of the Siskiyous where the road starts up the steep mountain. Dick Evans' place joined Father's on the north or what is now known as the Kincaid place. Just after crossing the Rogue River we came to the T'Vaults' cabin, Merrimans' next, next came Dr. Coffins, then Gores, Van Dykes, Newhouse at Eagle Mills. I think Helmans, Emerys and Hargadines were all in Ashland. The fall of '53 quite an immigration came in, the Myers, Walkers, Wells; Myron Stearns took up a claim near the Lithia Springs and John Murphy had a claim nearby.
Mother and we three girls were the only women in the upper part of the valley and were asked to help with the sewing for the Mountain House. We made bed ticks, sheets, pillow slips and then were asked to keep them in condition. "The BOYS," as we called them, had one white shirt among them, and it was in the wash often. Our first summer was a busy one, as there were many demands upon our time and strength aside from the really hard work we were doing. Mother was nurse and counselor for all who needed care and sympathy. As the little valley began to fill up with other homeseekers, she was called on to help welcome the little strangers in these new homes, or to close the eyes of loved ones gone still further west.
Yet there were jolly times mingled with the more somber duties. Our few neighbors, all men, did not neglect their social duties, and on many Sunday mornings we would awake to find the fence in front of the cabin lined with those who had come, some of them many miles, to see "The Hill Girls," as we were called. Father would invite them all in, and we would spend the day cooking a substantial meal for them. Many of these men were miners who had been away from civilization a long time; the sight of the little home with "women folks" appealed to them mightily.
One day Mr. Gibbs brought some potatoes and three eggs from the Mountain House and said, "Mary, make me a little cake. I'm going to eat with you today." We made the cake; Mother made some biscuits, and we had a wonderful meal. The potatoes were about the size of hen eggs, but they were potatoes--the first we had seen since leaving Salem. Another time Mr. Gibbs brought us a cat that had come from Crescent City with the pack train of Mr. Russell. That cat was the first one in Southern Oregon. A little later Mr. Russell brought some chickens to Mother, and she was most happy to get them.
Some young men who ran a pack train to Yreka invited us girls to attend the Fourth of July celebration that year. Our Aunt Kelly who lived there wrote that there would be such a crowd of miners there at that time that we had better wait a few days. A little later the men came with horses for us to ride, and we started on our pleasure trip of forty miles. We rode Spanish side saddles covered with rawhide. There was only a trail over the Siskiyous, and in some places it was so steep that we had trouble in sticking on our horses.
We reached Yreka just as the sun was setting. The streets were filled with miners who were anxious to see some girls. I believe that Lou, Has and I were the first girls to cross the Siskiyous. Aunt Kelly invited some of her friends in to spend the evening with us. Some of them were fine musicians and entertained us delightfully. One man, a jeweler, made all kinds of jewelry out of pure gold taken from the mines at Yreka. He asked Aunt for permission to give us something he had made. He gave Lou a heavy gold ring and to each Has and I a set of earrings. He brought these over to Aunt's and put them in for us. I have worn mine ever since and have never had them out. While there we visited the print shop the day the first paper was printed in Yreka. I remember I got some of the printer's ink on my dress. It was a pretty taffeta made with lots of ruffles on the skirt.
Ashland Daily Tidings, September 20, 1929, page 3
A few days after that Mr. Gibbs came for Father to go down the valley with him to see if the people thought there was any danger from the Indians. They came back a little after noon. Father went inside to tell Mother, and Mr. Gibbs came in the shed where we were cooking. I was making pies (they must have been elderberry pies, for that was the only fruit we had) and he said I better go in and get ready, for there would be a wagon here in a few minutes to take us all down to the Dunn and Alberding place, where a few women had already been taken. After seeing that we were safely housed, the men formed a little company, of which my father was made captain. There were just twelve men, and Father divided them into three groups, and they started out to try to make peace with Sambo, the chief at the rancheria about one mile from us.
Mr. Dunn and three others got there first, and the Indians began firing on them at once. Mr. Dunn was shot in the shoulder and Andy Carter in the wrist, breaking both bones and severing the artery. The others heard the firing and came to their assistance. They killed several Indians and took the squaws prisoners and brought them to Mr. Dunn's place where we were. They brought Mr. Dunn and Mr. Carter home and sent about twenty miles to Jacksonville for a doctor. Mother did the best she could in giving them first aid, but Mr. Carter's wound was very serious on account of the bleeding. Lou and a man took turns about holding his wrist, as none of the rest of us could hold it tight enough to stop the bleeding. It was a hard night for all. We had no beds, just rolled up in blankets on the floor, and we could hear the squaws and their children and the men on guard walking back and forth. We were glad when daylight came, so we could at least see what was going on. Dr. Cleveland finally came and cut the bullet out of Mr. Dunn's shoulder and fixed up Mr. Carter's arm. It was a painful operation for each of them after waiting twenty-four hours and not having anything to deaden the pain.
Mr. Dunn's house consisted of a living room, a small bedroom and a "lean-to," and there was quite a crowd of us; Mr. and Mrs. Grubb and their five children, Mr. and Mrs. Heber and probably half a dozen more besides ourselves. We had to feed the squaws and the children and try to find something for ourselves to eat, as we had not brought anything with us. Father and another man started for the hills to get us fresh meat. While they were gone, Sambo came within calling distance and wanted to talk. Mr. Gibbs and two men went to him, and he wanted to make peace, promised to give up their arms and stay where they were if we would not send them to the fort. Mr. Gibbs agreed and let them come to the house where the squaws were. When Father returned, he was very much put out and said it would only be a day or two until the Indians from down the valley would come and attack us and that he would not risk his family there unless they sent the Indians away. Mr. Gibbs said that if he had fifty lives he would trust them all in Sambo's hands.
A party of about twenty men under the leadership of Geo. Tyler came over from Yreka and took us from Mr. Dunn's place to the fort at Wagner Creek. They made a wall of logs about ten feet high in a large square around Mr. Wagner's house, with a gate at each end and portholes at the corners. We had a row of beds next to the wall all around and a passageway between them and the house. Besides the crowd from Mr. Dunn's place who were there, I can remember Mr. and Mrs. Sam Colver and two children, Mr. and Mrs. Hiram Colver, the Reames, McCalls, Rockfellows, Helmans and Emerys. Also Mr. and Mrs. Samson and the Wrisleys stayed in the house with the Wagners. There was also an emigrant camp just outside of this enclosure.
Among the company of men from Yreka was my cousin Isham Keith. They all stayed at the fort the first night and then went on down the valley to join Lt. Elliott. They went over to Evans Creek to try to locate the main body of the Indians. They soon found traces of them and Lt. Elliott sent back four men for help. The rest sat down to eat, and the Indians began firing on them. They ran for their horses and one man was shot in the leg. Isham put him on his mule and helped him back to the timber. Lt. Elliott then ordered Isham and some others to go farther up on the mountain and try to keep the Indians from surrounding them. Geo. Tyler tried to keep Isham from going, saying he would be killed sure, but Isham said he was there to obey orders, and had just gained the top when he was shot. Mr. Tyler ran to him and asked if he were hurt. Isham said,"Yes, I am a dead man." He turned over, laid his head on his arms and was soon gone. He was born in September, 1834, and was killed August 17, 1853, not quite eighteen years old. He was Aunt Kelly's only child. They buried him on the mountainside where he fell, and about four days later Father, La Grande and Cicero went after the body and brought it to our home and buried him on the hillside just across from our cabin.
Ashland Daily Tidings, September 21, 1929, page 2
HILL CEMETERYMy father gave ten acres on the hill for a cemetery for Indian war victims. It was part of Sister Lou's portion of the claim, and she gave a deed to the district. Our own cousin Isham was the first one laid to rest, and Mr. Gibbs was the next to be buried there, having been shot by Sambo, the Indian chief whom Mr. Gibbs had said he would trust with fifty lives. Sambo first shot Mr. Gibbs in the arm. Mr. Gibbs said, "Why Sambo, I did not think that of you." Sambo grinned at him and shot him in the bowels. Mr. Gibbs was brought to the fort at Wagner Creek and died the next day. My mother prepared seventeen of these Indian war heroes for burial in the cemetery, and she and my father are laid to rest there as well as a number of other relatives. It is called the Hill Cemetery, and the American Legion furnishes flags for the soldiers' graves each Decoration Day. It is right on the Pacific Highway six miles south of Ashland, and my son George Dunn and the son of another pioneer, George Barron, have erected stone pillars at the gateway. My sister, Mrs. A. H. Russell (Has), has done much to perpetuate this place and has carved a history of it on a slab there seven feet long. Mr. Goff came to our place to board in the fall of '53 and made a vault over Isham Keith's grave.
A number of Indians came to Mr. Dunn's place and killed two men and wounded a number of others. They killed all of the stock, two oxen, a span of mules and three cows, burned all of the first crop and got away without being fired upon. I have no knowledge of how many were killed down the valley, but many good men lost their lives, stock was killed and crops burned all over the valley. About all we had left for our summer's work was a few potatoes. After the Indians had quieted down, Father took us home, and the next morning a train of emigrants came in. They had turned off the regular route at Fort Hall in the eastern part of Idaho and had come through the Klamath country and across the Green Spring Mountain. The Walkers, Wells, Myers and many others were in the party. Father killed a beef and gave them anything we had to eat, and the logs which Father had for our house they took and built a high fence so they were protected.
September 10, 1853, Gen. Joseph Lane made a treaty with the Indians near Table Rock. They agreed to take $60,000.00 to be paid in annual payments. Many of the Indians died that winter; some thought it was on account of their eating too many potatoes. Although they promised to live in peace, they continued to kill and rob whenever they had a chance.
A party of twenty-five went out reconnoitering over the hills and found three Indians killed by the Indians and named that the Dead Indian Country. Another party of five or six men went hunting over the mountainside. Henry Chapman shot a grizzly bear. He only wounded it, and it attacked him and tore his shoulder terribly. Chapman got hold of the bear's tongue and held on till the others got there and killed it. The men carried Chapman down to Wells' place, and he went later to San Francisco to have his shoulder fixed, but he never fully recovered from his experience. That mountain is named Grizzly Peak and is across Bear Creek from Ashland. They named Keene Creek for Mr. Keene, who was killed there.
Ashland Daily Tidings, September 23, 1929, page 5
NEW HOMES FOUNDEDDuring the winter Cupid was busy, and the spring found many new homes being started. I was married to Patrick Dunn, February 23, 1854; sister Has married James H. Russell May 9, 1854; and sister Lou married Alvin Gillette, April 25, 1855. Brother La Grande had boarded at the Owens' while running the mill at Clatsop, and he married Bethena Owen May 4, 1854. Brother Cicero married Sarah Powell, April 25, 1865. My wedding was the first in Jackson County, which at that time included Jackson, Josephine, Klamath and Lake counties, as they are now divided. Mother had a cook down from the Mountain House for three days preparing for the feast. Father killed a beef. The fruits and flour were from South America, packed over from Crescent City. Mr. Burns of Yreka baked a large fruitcake for the occasion, and Aunt Kelly carried it in a bucket in her lap as she rode over the Siskiyous horseback. There was a big dinner for everybody. Dr. Cleveland and three other men came from Jacksonville; and Mr. Brunner, a storekeeper whose brick store is now a curio shop in Jacksonville, sent me a box of cut glass, four glasses, pitcher and a dish. The men also brought a carving set, chopping knife, potato masher and a number of kitchen things. Father and Mother gave me three cows. Uncle Eb. Kelly and his wife and Joe Kelly rode over from Yreka. Other neighbors there that I remember were John McCall, Albert Rockfellow, Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Grubb, Mr. and Mrs. Giles Wells, Mr. and Mrs. Jennings and baby Cecelia Wells, Hugh Barron and Mr. Russell. My dress was of thin, white material much like the fine swiss of today, and we used the same material for Cecelia's dress, as she was my bridesmaid. John McCall was the best man. We had a rather large house then with a big fireplace, and we had a nice wedding. Rev. Myram Stearns, a Baptist preacher, married us at noon. We stayed that night at Father's and went down to the Dunn house the next day. Mrs. Grubb kept house for Mr. Dunn, and she had prepared a big dinner to welcome me to my new home. My father, mother, Has, Lou, Cicero and La Grande and McCall were all there that day with us.
My new home was about two miles from Father's, a log cabin with beds built onto the wall, rough unplaned floors without rugs or carpet, a few chairs, a homemade table, and an immense fireplace built across the end of the room which served as heater and cook stove. Not a very pleasing picture to the girl of today, but to us who had trained our minds and hearts to the thought of the future home, it was just the beginning of a hard fight to make out of the valley a garden spot where church bells and the school bells would soon be ringing, where the wildflowers so profuse would be replaced by the waving grain; and the apple, the peach and the pear would take the place of the mighty oak and fir.
Mr. Alberding, who had sold his farm to Mr. Tolman and gone back to Iowa to be married, came back the later part of August, 1855. He said he was hungry for some venison; so on the second of September he and two others started out hunting. They went about ten miles beyond the Soda Springs and camped. Next morning they missed a pony they had taken along to load with venison. They were sure the Indians had stolen it, so they decided to go back for help and try to talk the Indians into giving the pony back. About a dozen men went with them; and as soon as the Indians saw them, they began firing. The men had left their horses about a mile away, and they soon saw that the Indians far outnumbered them. Mr. Keene was killed; Mr. Tabor was wounded and fell beside Cicero, who helped him to his horse. [Compare this Keene/Tabor account with that of Rowena Nichols.] Several of the Indians were killed. Mr. Alberding had a piece of bone at the corner of his eye and the end of his nose shot off. The men finally reached our house, and I fixed Mr. Alberding up the best I could before his wife saw him, and then she nearly fainted, he looked so terrible. We sent to Jacksonville for the doctor, but he could not get to us until the next day, and they had to take Mr. Tabor's arm off at the shoulder.
On the 25th of September Harrison B. Oatman, Dan Brittain, and Calvin Fields, each driving an ox team with wagons loaded with flour, which had been ground at Wait's Mill near Father Williams' place down by Medford, were on their way over the Siskiyous going to Yreka. The road was very steep, and they would put all the oxen on one wagon and take it to the top, then another one until they would get all the loads up. When near the summit, Oatman and Fields were with one wagon, and Brittain stayed behind with the other wagons. He heard a shot fired, so he ran up the mountain until he could see the wagons, and the Indians were scalping a man. He turned and ran down the mountain, with the bullets whizzing past him, to the Mountain House where he got help, and they went back with him. They found Fields' body by the roadside; the twelve oxen had been killed, the flour sacks cut open and the flour emptied on the ground. Oatman had escaped and ran to Cole's, now Colestin, on the other side of the mountain. The long run almost killed him; in fact, he never did recover from it. Oatman had suffered much from the Indians. A company coming west were all massacred except two nieces of his, and one of them died later. The other one was found some twelve years later down in Arizona. She had been tattooed by them and had been their captive all those years.
On the 25th of September a young man named Cunningham was returning from Yreka with his team. His body was found behind a tree where he had tried to hide. Samuel Warner and several others were killed at the same place, and we supposed by the same Indians. They had been all cut to pieces. Their bodies were brought to Father's, and he and Mother tried to fix them up for burial.
Ashland Daily Tidings, September 24, 1929, page 3
"THE MASSACRE"On October 9, 1855, the most eventful day in the history of Southern Oregon, there were about twenty persons killed and a number of women and children taken prisoners. Many of the women were later killed, and some died from exposure. A Mr. Harris had a log cabin on a knoll a way north of Jacksonville. This day he was working about the place about nine o'clock when he saw a band of fifteen or twenty Indians. He returned to the house, and as he turned to close the door a volley of at least a dozen shots struck him in the breast. His daughter, Sophia, only seven, was shot also; but she ran upstairs without making any outcry. Mrs. Harris took the gun from her dying husband and kept firing from a chink in the wall for five hours. The Indians retreated about two o'clock, evidently thinking there were a number of men inside. She then noticed a trickle of blood from the upstairs. Rushing up she found that little Sophia had been wounded. Carefully bandaging the wound and applying restoratives, her next thought was for her little boy David, about ten. He had gone to spend the day with a bachelor friend, Samuel Bowden, who lived a quarter of a mile away. She straightened her husband's body and finally slipped out into the dark, carrying Sophia, and hid in the brush until morning. She heard horses coming and was terribly frightened, as she thought it was the Indians, but it proved to be a detachment of soldiers under command of Major Fitzgerald. After burying the dead and taking Mrs. Harris and the little girl to Jacksonville, they searched everywhere for David, but not even the child's wagon which he had with him could be found. Sophia married John S. Love of Jacksonville, but died in the smallpox scourge of 1869. She left two children, Mary and George, who have often heard their grandmother tell of their heroic and intrepid mother. [This version of the story clearly was taken directly from William Turner's 1888 account of the attack.]
It would be difficult to tell the state of alarm which swept over the valley when the details of the massacre became known. All business was stopped, and most of the families near Jacksonville went there for the winter. Others built club houses [sic] near their homes where a number of families could stay. We covered the windows of our house with slabs and filled sacks with grain and lined the kitchen with them as high as our heads. We had portholes through them so we could fire if we were attacked and kept two big barrels of water on hand in case we should be surrounded. Father and Mother, Mr. and Mrs. Alberding, her sister and a friend from Iowa, and a man who was working for us stayed with us. We lived this way all winter. The worst of the fighting was down the valley, and many were killed near where Grants Pass is now. Mr. Wagner was telling Mr. Dunn and me just before his death how his company had found a large band of Indians near Table Rock and how they got behind some trees and would stick their hats out; the Indians riddled their hats but used all their ammunition in doing so. Some of the men fighting lost their toes or their feet and some died from standing up to their knees in snow. The next spring the Indians were subdued, and the government placed them on a reservation at Siletz, north of Newport. We were then free from further trouble with them.
THE FIRST SCHOOLIn 1856 the upper valley settlers met at the home of Giles Wells for the purpose of making plans for building a school house. They elected Enoch Walker, Isaac Hill, J. C. Tolman, and H. F. Barron as directors and Mr. Dunn was elected clerk. They built a school house on our place about a half a mile north of our house. This building was used for church and all other community gatherings. The first church services were conducted by Rev. M. A. Williams in 1857. He came from Yreka and stayed at Father's house. Father went round and told all the neighbors that there would be preaching services at the school house the next Sunday. When the day arrived, Father's horses had strayed away, so Father hitched up a yoke of oxen to a big lumber wagon and took the preacher, his own family and as many of the neighbors as he could pick up. He was late, so he came down the road in a trot, and that was going some in those days. There was a good congregation; people came from all around as far as Myers' place over in Valley View, across Bear Creek. There was no other church nearer than a Methodist church in Jacksonville.
There were some good singers: John McCall, Albert Rockfellow, a Mr. Smith and wife, my father, Rev. Williams and others. Mr. A. V. Gillette played the flute and led the singing. Later other ministers came and preached there regularly. My sister Lou and I were the first to join the Presbyterian Church and were baptized by Father Williams.
There was soon quite a settlement near the school house. Wells built a saw mill and blacksmith shop near the bridge on the Tolman place, and several families settled near the mill. Tolman built a tannery on his place. A bachelor by the name of Osborne built a shoe and harness repair shop on our place which he named Bridge Port. He named the Tolman place Salmonville, as in those days the creek was full of fish, and the dam at the mill made them more numerous there. He named the school after some college in Vermont which I have forgotten. He was quite a character and sometimes composed poetry about the neighbors and their peculiarities. This was a real source of amusement and entertainment for us in the days before the movies came to town.
I sent for a Sunday school quarterly and tried to teach my children the lessons. Mrs. Tolman came and wanted her children to learn too; so I asked Mrs. John Taylor, who had several children, if she wanted to help me. We all went to the school house and had ten children to start a Sunday school. A Congregational minister who was sick and staying at our house sent word to his church, and they sent a box of six Bibles and several singing books. I wrote to Mr. Hoffman in Jacksonville, and he sent us a box of Sunday reading books. It was not long until we had quite a school, and I kept it going till we moved to Jacksonville in 1872.
As the country was settled and business developed, we lived the life of any American family with the varied interests of home, church and school. My grandmother Hill, who came out to Oregon in 1849, came and stayed with us for a while. She was very fond of my oldest daughter, Elizabeth. In 1856 she wanted to return to Tennessee to see her mother. Uncle George Hill took her to San Francisco and put her on a boat for Panama. She crossed the Isthmus on a mule. One day she lagged so far behind the rest of the pack train, they thought she must be lost. In the evening, however, she came trotting into camp. She then went by boat to New York and across the country to Athens, Missouri, where her daughter, Elizabeth Duty, lived. Her mother died that winter, so she was not permitted to see her again.
Ashland Daily Tidings, September 25, 1929, page 3
I have a letter from a school friend in Tennessee that I prize very much. I do not think it sounds as the seventeen-year-old girls talk today.
Sweetwater, Feb. 18, 1854.Dear Friend Mary:
It is with no small degree of pleasure that I hail the present laconic moment and embrace the opportunity of answering your very kind and much welcomed letter of September the 15th, which brought the joyful intelligence of your good health. Mary, I have just returned from your grandfather's. They are in their usual good health. They all look so lonesome, and they say they feel so. Mary, I am often made to feel humble when I go to the old school house and get to thinking of the joyous hours we have spent together there. Ah, what a heart joy it would be to meet you all again, but that would be a sweet pleasure that I never expect to enjoy. I have often studied about you all and wished that I could recall the happy hours that we have spent on the old play ground, but time once past can never be recalled. Accept the most ardent love of your absent friend.
Hattie OwenIt was a real treat to hear from any of our folks, and I have one letter on which the delivery fee was two dollars and a half. A letter from my father to a friend in the East shows how little news we had of the states.
Oregon Territory, July 8, 1857.Dear Friends:
We are well and have enjoyed good health. There is almost no sickness in this country. It is the pleasantest climate I ever lived in, but I will not say more about our pleasant country for fear you fall in love with it and move here before it is made a slave state. Cicero received a letter from Martha Fine, and Mary received two from her cousin Nancy and one from her brother since her death. They are all the letters we have since we came here. The miners from here have been doing well since the Indians have been removed. They are mining from here to the mouth of the Rogue River and on almost every stream that empties into it.
Your friend, Isaac HillIn the time of the Civil War we lived on what we could raise on our farms, as nothing was brought into the valley. We did without coffee and sugar for two years. Carrots made a good drink, but it was hard to prepare. We cut them in small cubes and roasted them. Dry goods was scarce and everything was high. The news from our friends in Tennessee was very meager. A letter to my mother written during that period shows the distress there.
Sweetwater, Tenn.Dear Betsy:
We received your letter and you cannot imagine what pleasure it afforded us to hear from you. I imagine I could see you and your little ones running around small children, and now they are parents. I have a good hope we shall meet where parting shall be no more. There are many changes in the country. In fact, there is scarcely anything remaining as when you left. All the timber between Lowden and your old place has been cut by the soldiers. We are groaning very much under the weight of our taxes; indeed it seems almost impossible to bear up under them. We are now under Negro rule, and I think you can sympathize with us, but I trust in God the time is short. Everything seems dark for the future--I have no hope of ever seeing you or your children, yet you and they shall have my best wishes and prayers.
Your friend, Daniel Haskell.Mother's brother, Peter Lee Fine, came to southwestern Missouri and settled at Rock Prairie. On January 26, 1858, he wrote to Mother telling of his children, Marshall Walker, then nine; George Washington, five; and Mahala Caroline, then two. He says: "Things are improving very rapidly. I made the trip to Tennessee in nine days and returned in eight." He would be surprised to know they are flying that distance now in that many hours. I also have a letter to Mother from her sister, Sarah Fine Beard, written in 1867. She says, "Dear Bessy: I have often remembered the morning you left the old place. I stood in the door and looked after you. I knew I would never see you more till the Judgment. O that we may not be separated then." She tells of the death of her son Ira. "I have great consolation believing he is now basking in all the sunshine of immortal glory. The last words he spoke were 'I am received.' Now sister how these words made me rejoice. Indeed, it gave me a sweet song in the night."
My husband, Patrick Dunn, was born in the beautiful country of Wexford, Province of Leinster, in the south of Ireland, March 24, 1824. His parents were Patrick and Johanna Toole Dunn, and he was the youngest of seven children. When he was only four they came to New York City and afterwards settled in Philadelphia, where he received his education. When he was nineteen, the family emigrated to Edwardsville, Illinois, and he was bookkeeper in a flouring mill. In 1850 Mr. Dunn came across the plains by mule team to California, arriving in Sacramento on August 9th. He thought his fortune was in the mines and went to the American River, working on Kelly's Bar, trying his fortune at Ophir and later at Auburn. Hearing of rich mines on the Salmon River in northern California, he and Alberding went to Trinidad[, California] from San Francisco by water, remaining there until fall, and enjoying saleratus flapjacks when flour was worth three dollars per pound and mule sirloin at the most fabulous rates. The sufferings of the miners in the Salmon River camp the winter of 1850-51, who were snowed in with limited food and supplies and absolutely cut off from any source of procuring more for many weeks, made one of the most thrilling stories chronicled in the early history of California. He and Alberding lived for several days on the shank of a mule someone had killed. Mr. A. D. Helman of Ashland was one of the men there that winter, and he tells of living on sugar only for seventeen days. In the spring Mr. Dunn crossed the mountain to Yreka on snowshoes and thence over the Siskiyous to the Rogue River Valley. He camped on the place he later took up. He often told of the beauty of this country when he first saw it that spring full of waving grasses waist high and wildflowers. He mined at Jacksonville for a while and had a fair measure of success. He took out over a thousand dollars in one day on Jackson Creek, but that luck did not last long.
He and his partner, Fred Alberding, came up the valley and took up claims. Captain Thos. Smith took up one at the same time also. Major Barron and a few men located at the Mountain House, further up. These men were the first actual settlers in that part of the Rogue River Valley above Phoenix.
It was soon after this that my family came, and I have told you of our wedding. Mr. Dunn was elected to the first territorial legislature in which he served two terms as Republican representative. A letter from him January 8, 1855, says: "Cicero (my brother) and myself will come home together as soon as the legislature session is over. It will terminate the first of February. I think I can go home from here in eight days. There are nearly three hundred miles between us which with the blessing and help of God will not remain long." While in Salem that time he ordered about three dozen fruit trees and brought a few home with him on his horse. He planted the first orchard in the valley, and a few of the pear trees are still bearing. Mr. Dunn was the Assessor of Jackson County in 1865 and was elected County Clerk in 1872, besides filling the office of County Commissioner for several terms and taking a lively interest in all educational matters. Mr. Alberding sent me the first rose bush in the country from Santa Rosa, California, in 1856, and a bush from it is still blooming at the home of my niece, Mrs. Geo. McConnell in Ashland.
Ashland Daily Tidings, September 26, 1929, page 3
We had six children. The oldest died in infancy, and one daughter, Amy Mae, died in 1883. In 1860 we felt that we had outgrown the log cabin and built the house which is still occupied by my grandson, Edwin Dunn, and his family. The weeping willow trees that are there were switches planted by my little girls. Our home was quite a center of activity of all kinds, just as the old Fine home had been back in Tennessee. We lived there until 1890 when we moved into Ashland, and my son, Geo. W. Dunn, took over the farm.
Mr. Dunn was not well the last years of his life and was confined to his home most of the time. One of his most regular visitors was Jacob Wagner, who came almost every day to talk over the happenings of the day. Mr. Dunn was keenly interested in the development of the country long after he was able to take an active part in the affairs. "He was always a warm-hearted, genial gentleman, whose hand was always open, guided by the golden rule." At last, completely worn out by the long struggle, the spirit of this old and rugged pioneer took its flight, and in the language of the text selected by the preacher, "in the evening there shall be light." He died July 29, 1901.
I would like to tell you of the many tributes to my mother's influence, for she displayed many worthy traits both in the happy hours of safety and the trying moments of peril. It was truly said of her that "she exemplified the many crowning graces that made her life beautiful in her pioneer home in the sunset land and gave her a strong hold on the affections of the people." She died at the home of my sister Has on the 14th of December, 1879. My father had died some years before, and she spent most of the time with me. Her refining influence on the lives of her children and grandchildren cannot be measured.
My brothers, La Grande and Cicero, were men of sterling worth and played their part well in the new country. However, my two sisters and myself were a trio whose interests were bound together in an unusual way. We reared our children together and faced the same conditions of a new country. As the years had advanced, we have had many reunions, and many expressions of love and esteem have been shown us. I am putting in part of a letter written back to my daughter by the son of my brother Cicero, after one of these gatherings.
My dear cousin:
I must write and tell you about a trip to Ashland. It was great. And the grub. Nothing but two-legged birds and cake all the time. Gained several pounds in good fowl flesh. We promised we would spend Thanksgiving in Ashland, so that is how we happened to go on that trip.
I had never been away from home before and was rather afraid of the [railroad] cars, but after a few hours I got accustomed to the motion, and as it was dark and I couldn't see how fast we were going I finally went to sleep.
We traveled all night (trains do that out here all the time). I think it is dangerous, but the trains don't seem to care whether it is or not. The car we were on was a rooming house car, and the chamber maid was a nigger. There wasn't any real partitions between the beds, just some cloth hung up for make-believe. I was ashamed to go to bed and stayed up until everybody else had gone and was snoring. Bunks is what they call beds on a rooming house car.
The next morning I was the first one up, and when I went to dress, bless you if that blooming black nigger hadn't cleaned my shoes off and set them alongside of my bunk. Why that chambermaid was the kindest fellow to us you ever heard of. Well, that day was an ever-changing panorama of rugged mountains and good fishing creeks and then spread out before us the beautiful Rogue River with its little burgs and interesting towns. Finally about two p.m. we landed at Ashland and saw Pat and Lyle awaiting us. Well, we were received all right, and the reception did not let up until our departure. Just one grand receive. Well, we began on chicken at Pat's, and I saw then it was a case of eat, eat, eat. By the way I forgot to tell you that I had a few other cousins out there, and they are all O.K., A1, 22-karat fine, it sort of runs in the tribe, and three of the finest aunts a feller ever had. One of them was away visiting, and I didn't see her, but she's a dear just the same, and I was sorry I did not get to see her.
Next morning we awoke to look on one of the prettiest landscapes that we have ever seen. Before us spread a peaceful valley, guarded by snow-tipped peaks, and behind were wooded hills through which, winding its way among many-fashioned rocks its clear water, dancing and dashing hither and thither, a pretty creek humming on toward its tomb, the river.
But we had not time to get oversentimental that morning, for there were things a-doing. It was Thanksgiving. Everyone looked happy, although I knew some were working hard to make others thankful they were alive.
We went to Van's for dinner. Oh! I forgot you were not acquainted with Van. Well, you ought to be. It makes a fellow feel good and better to know them. Van married a sister of Pat's. One of a sensitive turn could find Van's home without directions, for the harmony there pervades its interior, filters through to the outside, and you can feel it glow the minute you reach its threshold. There we met--well, I cannot tell you all we met, there were so many, but they had the something that draws you near, you know.
Well now, about that dinner, I do not know how many turkeys there were executed for the occasion, but they certainly were not a few. And they were cooked just as good as fat turkeys should be. The table was crowded with other good things just as well prepared as Mr. Turkey, and dainty cards at each place represented a love stroke for each one of the words it expressed. From away up somewhere festoons fell, whose garlands grasped the table's either corners, and amid the laughing of the happy hearts and witty words of witty people we ate and ate and ate. All things have an ending except eternity, so it was an impossibility to continue, after our stomachs were chockablock (that's a steamboat term signifying "not another pound of freight can be stored away"), and we were forced reluctantly to discontinue. Then a chatter, a happy all-souled chatter of many voices. Dr. W.'s a good talker and can express himself on all occasions, so he made appropriate remarks about the assembly. They, of course, drifted in the direction of dear, kind-faced Aunt Mary, who sat opposite to me and was the direct cause of nearly all the assembled crowd. As she sat there she must have been proud that she could look upon those happy faces and count so many that owed their existence to her motherhood. May she live many years to enjoy the pleasures that her large and interesting family are sure to bring her. The never-ceasing ticking of old time made us reluctantly withdraw from the warmth of the Van household and we adjourned to Pat's for a good old-fashioned chat before retiring.
We were lazy the next morning, and after breakfast Don piloted me up beautiful Ashland Creek to the falls. It was a most healthful and invigorating trip, and I enjoyed it highly. It took me back to times long past when I was there with both feet, in boyish vigor and expectation. After dinner George was there with a two-seated rig and his dandy span Queen and King, to take us out to the old Hill farm where Pat's grandparents and mine first settled when they came to the wild and woolly West. We arrived at the old place, and as I looked over its broad fields and beautiful hills I thought of him who in my boyhood was a lot with me, was ever my trusted friend, who encouraged me and helped me when life's problems were puzzling and difficult and who, when I stood beside him one drear morning at four, trying to feel a pulse not there, looked smilingly in my face and asked, "Is it still there?" and then closing his eyes never to see again said, "Let me rest," and rested the long rest. His eyes had seen the same scene, and in his boyishness he had leaped the same stream that we stood beside that day and had drink of the same spring with its soda scent from which we drank that day.
But there was not enough time to think of all the things the day suggested, for time was pressing; so after a last look at a memory-dear scene we started home, stopping at the site of the old farm house to take of the crystal ancient edged water a parting gulp. We also stopped at George's farm where Pat the original took Mary, a young wife in the long ago, to love, protect, help and keep, which family history says he did as well as man could do. It was there all the children were born and spent their childhood, and I could see through the drawn clouds of the past a girl in all her glee, romping and riding over fields and hills.
Another pleasant ride and we were at Otto's and Bird's to eat. They are cousins too and O.K. I had been told that I would like them immensely, and you can just put up your last dollar that I was given the right tip. Bird is simply charming, and their interesting family of tots tells one at once their home is builded with care, and that the old story of love and confidence has been told and retained within its walls. We had quails, and they were simply immense, and so was everything else. Then around the fireplace other cousins began to appear, and we had a gay evening.
Ashland Daily Tidings, September 27, 1929, page 3
The next day we all rounded up at dear Aunt Mary's. Fine as the dinner was, far better was it in her home, to hear her tell of the long agos and see the old-fashioned pictures of those we all love. I would like to say more about my visit here, for many pleasant and sombre thoughts were filling my brain that day, and I know that being in her home has stamped an impression on me that will ever influence me to live better.
The next day was Sunday, and of course we attended church. We listened to the best sermon I have ever heard in five years, then across the street to where another of the three dear girls whom I have had the honor to call Aunt. Aunt Has, the dear, had worked and worked I know as had cousins Nellie and Mabel, to make us happy. And happy we were. 'Tis a most pleasant home, theirs; the walls hold many beautiful scenes, the artistic work of cousins, and happy indeed is my dear aunt and proud of the pictures her girls produce. But they come by their artistic turn naturally, for Aunt can whittle stone herself to any design she likes, and I am told that experts say she has no superior. We passed a most pleasant time there and enjoyed every minute. Then we called to say farewell to Ottie and her family and went up the hill to get a last view of the charming scene spread out as a beautiful picture before us.
Wending back, we went to feed at the home of cousin Charlie and Lizzie. And feed we did. I can taste that stuff we had, the banana in the middle, yet. And that pink filling with cake between it will still be in my dreams when years have changed my locks to silver. We spent the evening most pleasantly, and Charlie and I discovered that we don't know one from the other when we were babies. We may be mixed now.
The next morning goodbye to Don, the maid, the monk, God bless them all, was said before they left for school. Pat went to the depot with us. Those goodbyes I hope are omitted in heaven, for I don't like them a little bit. It's not the words but the dumb lump in the windpipe that's so disagreeable. The train pulled out, and soon the last of pretty Ashland had faded from view, and we sat down and voted we had the finest time of our lives, excepting our wedding day.
Affectionately, your cousin, C---The last of these large reunions was held in Ashland in June 1923 (when some seventy gathered to commemorate the seventieth anniversary of our coming to the valley). My sister, Mrs. Ann Haseltine Hill Russell, and myself wore gowns made in the style of long ago, and Has wore a silk shawl she had worn on her wedding day. We had a dinner together in Pioneer Hall, which had been transformed into a bower of beauty. There were so many expressions of kind thoughts and well wishes from friends and flowers sent by the Chamber of Commerce and the Civic Club that I cannot take the time to tell of them all. Twenty years had passed since we had met in such a gathering, and we missed most of all our sister Lou, who had gone on before, June 5, 1920. The next day we met in Lithia Park with the Pioneer Association. Mr. Fred Wagner was toastmaster and welcomed Has and me with the poem of Joaquin Miller's, "Mothers of Men." My niece, Mrs. Merrick, gave a tribute to her mother (sister Lou) in the following verse.
We find God's message everywhereJune thirtieth was the last day of the reunion, and we closed with a final gathering in the Civic Club House. For a time happy groups chatted merrily, then Hugh Gillette, as master of ceremonies, presented a program given by members of the family. After music and readings had been beautifully given, Mabel Russell's pictures of Oregon scenes were shown in color on the screen. At the close "Sunset on Mount Shasta" was shown, and Mrs. Speer sang "The End of a Perfect Day" as it is rarely sung. Then the quartette sang "God Be with You Till We Meet Again."
To do good unto others;
But the crowning glory that he gave,
Was giving us our mothers.
When the trio of sisters was broken in 1920 by the death of my sister Lou, we all realized as never before what a wonderful woman she had been. Her granddaughter, Hazel McConnell Nims, gave such a true estimate of her in her paper for the D.A.R. meeting that I am going to let her words be my tribute.
Ashland Daily Tidings, September 28, 1929, page 3
"I am here giving to you a subject that is very near to my heart, the events in the pioneer life of my grandmother, Martha Hill Gillette, a woman whose spirit and supreme faith carried her through her eighty-six years, for from the thrill of adventuring into the primitive country to the everyday happenings of life, her living was the same cheerful, serene and the good Samaritan always.
"We speak of pioneer women with reverence and wonder, only half realizing the courage and dauntless spirit that gave to us this wonderful land of Oregon. All honor to the wonderful women who gave up home and friends to travel to an unknown land. Hardship that we cannot conceive awaited them--and the Hill family became one of Southern Oregon's pioneer families. Soon Martha Hill became Martha Gillette and settled in Ashland to live and see it grow to a prosperous town.
"Her love of God and her generosity to all made her a beloved woman. She was never too busy or too tired to lend a helping hand. Her love of nature and of the heavens was at all times her joy and solace.
"Prohibition and woman's suffrage stood foremost in her political life, and she lived to see both made laws. She was one of the founders of the First Presbyterian Church here, and an ardent worker and a devout Christian. One of the women's organizations of the church is dedicated to her, 'the Martha Gillette Chapter of the Westminster Guild.'"
To such a life tribute is paid, not in words, but in the hum of growing cities and the influence of loyalty and unselfishness upon the lives of those who knew her.
A friend quoted this to her memory:
Live all thy life,It is not only the sister that is gone on that I would have you know, for Mrs. Ann Haseltine Russell has lived a life filled to the full with deeds of usefulness and courage. She is the mother of eleven children, all but one of whom are still living. Her husband was a marble cutter, and she watched him chisel out his designs. One day she took a piece of marble, a chisel and a mallet into the house, drew a flower, put the marble on a kitchen chair, and kneeling down by it, began to carve it. Mr. Russell, hearing her, watched her awhile and said, "I declare that beats anything I ever saw." So she began a life as a marble cutter, and while she worked for the joy of it, success came; and later on when Mr. Russell became badly crippled in the mines, her marble trade became a real financial help. She continued the marble business after her husband's death, doing all the lettering, carving, designing, only hiring the bases cut. She has on her table in the entrance hall a carved white ribbon bow with the motto "For God and Home and Every Land." She says it is a testimonial of the policies of her home. She carved a beautiful emblem of white ribbon and placed it in the W.C.T.U. booth at a Jackson County Fair. It was solicited for the women's building at the World's Fair in Chicago, and after that it was taken to the Temperance Temple and is now in the memorial room at Rest Cottage, Evanston. She says, "I aim to please my customers and glorify God and hold the temperance banner high." She is now in Ashland in her home, and you have only to know her a short while to recognize a strong character that has lived a strenuous life of earnest endeavor. Her life has been crowded with service to the community and to her family, and they delight to do her honor. Her ninety-one years have been well lived.
Seem what thou are,
Nor from simplicity depart,
And peace shall come upon thy heart,
Live all thy life.
---Hazel McConnell Nims
An honor that has come to me of which I feel I am rightfully proud is that of being crowned "Mother Queen" of the Oregon pioneers, June 23, 1927. J. D. Lee, Portland, pioneer of 1864, placed the crown and congratulated me. My daughter, Mrs. Ella D. Rice; my granddaughter Mrs. Wm. G. Smith; and my great-granddaughter, Janet Smith, completed the circle of four generations there.
I am happy as I live over my ninety-three years in retrospect, surrounded by my family and a host of friends. My grandfather Fine would never say "goodbye," but "I wish you well." So may I close my story with these words, "I wish you well."
Ashland Daily Tidings, September 30, 1929, page 3
Word has been received in Ashland of the death of Andrew B. Carter, an old pioneer, who took part in the Rogue River Indian war. He died July 10 in the soldiers' home in Santa Monica, Cal., where he went from Ashland on the 25th of January last.
Mr. Carter was well known to all the old pioneers of Southern Oregon. He was born in Indiana and enlisted from Missouri in the Mexican War, serving under Col. Doniphan. In 1852 he arrived in Jackson County.
He was one of 12 men under Captain Hill who had a serious fight with a much larger number of Indians, near the Dunn place, south of Ashland, at the outbreak of the Indian trouble of '53 in Rogue River Valley, and he and Mr. P. Dunn, now of Ashland, were wounded in this fight. He located a donation claim on what is now the Wells homestead, south of Ashland, in early days, and Carter Creek, a small tributary of Emigrant, gained its name from his having first located a homestead upon its banks. Mr. Carter was a bachelor. Some relatives reside in Northern California.
"Oregon Pioneers Dead," Capital Journal, Salem, July 25, 1898, page 4
Nine miles to the next fortified house. Again we passed large farms, some of them of 80 acres, under cultivation. Everything was left to go to ruins. Fences were knocked down, and the crops were being destroyed by stray cattle. Fowl and hogs were about, with no one to take care of them. Men used to a border life do not thus desert their property except to save life. Life is more dear than property. We stopped a while at this fortified house, and found that they had 11 Indian prisoners there whom they were holding until they could take them to Jacksonville. This house was not well located for warfare purposes, and as there were too many bushes and trees near, behind which the foe could be sheltered from view. In time of peace, however, it was a beautiful place for a home. There was a wounded man [Patrick Dunn] there who received a ball in his shoulder when the brush occurred in which the 11 Indians were captured. I conversed for some time with an old lady of the family who was bitter against the Indians, and who was going to scalp the first one she could shoot. She little dreamed of the tragedy soon to be enacted there! We went on four miles to the Mountain House, at the foot of Siskiyou Mountain, where we spent the night. We had traveled 25 miles that day, and they were Oregon miles.
Stephen P. Blake, "Extracts from a Pioneer's Diary," Medford Mail Tribune, August 4, 1929, page 10
WOMAN, 95, PIONEER OF OREGON,
RECALLS EXCITING JOURNEY TO MINING TOWN IN 1853
Mrs. Mary Hill Dunn, Now of Portland, Tells of Early Days in Rogue River Valley,
of Indian Wars and Thrilling Visits of Spaniards; Trip to Yreka, Cal., Big Event.
BY MARGARET SKAVLAN
Three young women were all in a flutter. It was July, 1853, in the Rogue River Valley, and the three had received an invitation from their aunt to go over the Siskiyou Mountains for a visit at the new and booming mining town of Yreka.
One of the young women, who made haste to pack her blue silk bonnet and a cream-colored silk dress ruffled nearly to the waist, was Mary Hill, now Mrs. Mary Hill Dunn of 443 East Thirty-Seventh Street North, Portland, now in her 95th year, who will be guest of honor for a tea on Tuesday at 2:30 p.m., when Margaret Wyman addresses the book lovers and current events class on "The Pioneer Woman, in Life and Books" at the Young Women's Christian Association building.
"So far as we knew, we were the first white women ever to cross the Siskiyous into California," said Mrs. Dunn, who recalls the incident as if it were yesterday. "My aunt's invitation was a message written on a folded piece of paper, without an envelope, without a stamp, and brought by pack train from Yreka. We made ready to go, and three young men escorted us on the 40-mile horseback trip over the mountains."
Miners Stage Big Welcome.Sunday Oregonian, September 28, 1930, page 14
Mrs. Dunn's eyes light up when she thinks of the welcome the three young ladies received.
"We arrived in Yreka late in the day, and what was our astonishment but to see great crowds of miners fairly blocking the streets--they really weren't much like streets, but where the streets ought to be. I guess it had been a long time since they had seen any girls. They wanted to meet us with a band, but my aunt put a stop to that."
Band or not, the amateur musicians in the mining town entertained the three sisters nightly with music and society. Some of them had violins, and the strains of "Listen to the Mocking Bird," "The Old Oaken Bucket" and "Ben Bolt" could be heard almost any night at the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Evan Kelly, aunt and uncle of the girls.
"One night before we left," said Mrs. Dunn, "one of the musicians asked my aunt if he might make us a present. She said 'yes,' and from the gold mined there he had a fine ring made for my oldest sister, Martha Louisa, and he gave my sister, Ann Haseltine and me earrings alike. He came over and knelt down by my chair, pierced my ears and put in the earrings, and they have never been out of my ears these 78 years."
Indians Go on War Path.Lucky it was that the three sisters made their holiday trip when they did, for the Rogue River Indians went on a rampage the following month, and the first battle with them was fought August 6, 1853, Mrs Dunn recalls.
Just before this battle, a reconnoitering Indian visited the Hill log residence, where Mrs. Dunn's mother, Elizabeth Fine Hill, was alone at the time with her daughters. The father of the family, Isaac Hill, chanced to be away. On a shelf just outside the door were a number of tools and a little whetstone.
"The Indian drew out a knife as long as my forearm and began sharpening it on the whetstone," said Mrs. Dunn. "All the time he kept looking in the open door with a smile on his face. Finally he came in. He went to the bed and jerked back the bed curtains. There was my father's gun. I slipped in just ahead of him and grabbed the gun and drew it on him. He looked surprised and backed away, and then Patrick Dunn, who was later my husband, and John Gibbs, a neighbor, came and made him leave."
Log Fort Besieged.Stirring days followed in a log fort, where families huddled at night under a wagon sheet, where mothers crooned all night: "Lie still, children! Don't lift your head, children!" and where a wounded man, whose life was being saved by kind friends who held the artery of his arm in a human tourniquet, begged hour after hour: "Press harder! Press harder!" The Indians besieged them. To arms! To arms! Bloody work here in a few minutes!
One of the men wounded by the Indians was Patrick Dunn, and he stayed with the Hill family while recovering. On February 23, 1854, he was married to Mary Hill at the first wedding in Jackson County, with a three-day celebration for which a beef was killed and a cake made of fruits and flour from South America sent by way of Crescent City.
"When my father saw the Rogue River Valley in 1849 it was a glorious place, with grass waist-high for cattle. He picked out a spot which he believed the loveliest he had ever seen, and returned to Tennessee for us in 1851. When we got back in 1852 three other men had staked a claim there," said Mrs. Dunn. "Father was obliged to get a claim nearby, but not the one he had first seen. Then I got even, for I married one of those men and I still have the land."
New Home Crude Affair.The arrival of the Hill family at their new home, a log house which had been built while the womenfolk remained in Canyonville, was something to make the hearts of those who had traveled 3000 miles sink a bit.
"Mother was worn out with the trip, and when she saw that cabin with a dirt floor and nothing in it but a boarded place with my brother's blankets improvising a bed in the corner, she began to cry. Father felt awful bad, too, and when we went outside, he said to me, 'Well, Mary, what do you think of it?' I replied: 'Well, Father, I ain't had time to look around much.' He brightened up then and said: 'That's right, Mary, that's right.'"
Uncomforted by the familiar things of civilization, the boys and girls of the Hill family were overjoyed when they were visited by John Gibbs and his yellow cat.
"He was a fine, big, yellow cat," said Mrs. Dunn. "No, he didn't give him to us, but he loaned him to us for a while so we could enjoy him."
This same John Gibbs had the only chickens for miles around.
Early Days Hard."He lived three miles above us, and one day when his partner had been irrigating the corn and potatoes until he was tired and cross, he said to Gibbs, 'You can just finish irrigating yourself.' Gibbs said, 'All right,' and did so. When he had finished he hunted the eggs, and there were three. He came on down to our place with the eggs and some little potatoes he had dug about the same size and said to me, 'Mary, I'm simply dying for a taste of cake.' So I made a cake with the three eggs, and with cake and potatoes we certainly considered it a feast."
The girl who had celebrated her 16th birthday on the plains coming to Oregon by washing and baking bread and cooking bacon and beans, carried on her housewifely activities in the Rogue River Valley.
"My sisters and I milked 40 cows, and we took in washing for the mountain boys. Oh, it was not an easy life by any means. But sometimes the Spaniards would come through the valley from California. Oh, they had wonderful trappings on their horses, I can tell you. They would stop with us for a while, and at night played on the musical instruments they brought with them. It was something to remember, those visits from the Spaniards with their rich saddles and trappings and their music."
Senator Dunn Is Son.One sister of the picturesque adventures described by Mrs. Dunn in her book, "Undaunted Pioneers," is Mrs. Ann Haseltine Russell of Ashland, now in her 93rd year. And when Mrs. Dunn and Mrs. Russell are together, old days live! Mrs. Dunn has enjoyed the march of progress, and looks with understanding eyes upon today, which is her world as well as that of her son, Senator George W. Dunn of Ashland; her daughters, Mrs. E. J. VanSant, Mrs. Ottilla Dunn Caldwell and Mrs. Ella Dunn Rice, all of Portland; of her 30 grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and her four great-great-grandchildren.
There is philosophy and humor in the face of this slim, white-haired woman, and gracious femininity in the white lace collar which sets off her black dress as she rocks and talks in sprightly fashion of the Oregon of yesterday.
MRS. RUSSELL, 93, VALLEY PIONEER, REMEMBERS WELL
A little woman in an orchid hat with gay flowers caught in brim and crown sat in the old Masonic hall in the historic town of Jacksonville, listening to the program of the 54th reunion of the Southern Oregon pioneers.
Her brown eyes twinkled as memories of the old wagon road across the plains, mining days in Southern Oregon and stories of Indian wars were recalled. The twinkle failed to conquer the certain seriousness which ruled the lines of her face, but nothing about her appearance revealed the honor that was hers. The honor of being the oldest pioneer at the 54th reunion.
For the little woman was Anna Hill Russell, 93, of Ashland. A member of one of Southern Oregon's best-known pioneer families. She is a sister of Mrs. Mary Hill Dunn of Portland, to whom the Sunday Oregonian devoted several columns last week. She remembers with Mrs. Dunn, who is now 95, the dancing parties where fiddlers played "Listen to the Mocking Bird," "The Old Oaken Bucket" and "Ben Bolt."
She also remembers the earrings given to her sister and herself by one of the musicians in the little mining town in Northern California, when the three Hill girls crossed the Siskiyous into California for a visit at Yreka.
"Lucky it was the three sisters made their holiday trip when they did," the Oregonian writes of the expedition, "for the Rogue River Indians went on a rampage the following month, and the first battle with them was fought August 6, 1853."
Just before this battle an Indian visited the Hill log cabin, where Mrs. Elizabeth Fine Hill was alone with her daughters. On the shelf just outside the door were a number of tools and a little whetstone. The Indian drew out a knife and began sharpening it on the whetstone. While sharpening it, he watched the open door, smiling. He finally entered, Mrs. Dunn recalls, went to the bed and jerked back the bed curtains, where Mr. Hill's gun was placed. Mrs. Dunn rushed in ahead of him, grabbed the gun and drew it on him. He backed away and then Patrick Dunn, who later married Mary Hill, came and drove him away.
Indian battles followed, and long nights were spent in the log fort where pioneer mothers crooned hush songs to their frightened children and nursed wounded men.
The marriage of Mrs. Russell's sister, Mary, was an important affair, the first wedding in Jackson County. It was followed by a three-day celebration for which a beef was killed and a cake made of fruits and flour from South America, sent via Crescent City.
At their log cabin home, which was floored only with virgin soil, the three Hill girls learned many things. How to cook, bake and milk cows. They milked 40 cows and took in washing for the mountain boys.
One of the most exciting events of the pioneer days was the arrival of the Spaniards, who occasionally crossed the Siskiyous on horses, clothed in wonderful trappings. They brought with them music and romance for the few families scattered about the mountains, meeting obstacles and dangers with persistence and courage, which still are revealed in the lines of Mrs. Russell's face.
Medford Mail Tribune, October 6, 1930, page 7
Last revised May 17, 2019