The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised

Correspondence of the Oregon Superintendency
News articles and Southern Oregon-related correspondence with the Oregon Superintendency for Indian Affairs.

Click here for Superintendency correspondence 1844-1900.

After a good night's rest we again take to the road following the same route back until we entered the Ft. Klamath military road. After passing over the summit or rather the divides between the waters of the Rogue and Klamath rivers, we come to where Wood River bursts out of the mountainside. Where it comes out of the mountain there is plenty of water to run a good-sized mill and as clear as crystal, and cold as ice water. This water is supposed to come out of Crater Lake, which is about 5 or 6 miles away. The flow never gets any less or any greater; the banks of this stream is composed of lava, blown from the crater. How the water ever forced its way through the solid rock is one of the wonders, we saw stone that had broken off these solid rock, 10 feet long, 2 feet thick and 3 or 4 feet wide, and as straight and smooth as if they were sawed off. After following this Wood River for 15 or 20 miles we come out on what is known as Klamath Valley, a country which reminds our company of the Platte Valley with fine grass and lots of fine fat cattle, but after traveling down it for a few miles we find the grass getting short, and see no grain. Upon inquiry we find the dry season has cut the grass crop short and that we are at too high an attitude to raise any grain as they are liable to have frost any night in the summer, and 4 feet of snow is nothing uncommon. We camp on the bank of Wood River, the same stream we saw in the morning bursting out of its mountain home; but now it is a large river too deep to ford and in fact made the boundary line between the Indian reservation and the land of the paleface. Bro. Jones again starts out to replenish our larder, as it is getting low, but meets with the same flattering results as before. So we conclude that bacon is a much healthier diet on a journey of this kind than fish, so after partaking of a hasty meal of such provisions as we have and taking a look to see whether or not there is any stray Indians lying around ready to scalp us, for we are in an Indian country, we wrap ourselves in our blankets and are goon far away. July 9 we start on usual time, crossing Wood River on the bridge we pass into the Indian reservation. Just after crossing the stream we pass two four-horse teams driven by Indians on their way after hay. Just before reaching the town of Ft. Klamath we pass the graveyard of the soldiers; it is fenced in with a white picket fence and laid off in rows, each grave having a tombstone and all alike. We also pass a few graves of Indians, who were executed as criminals by soldiers. We find Ft. Klamath a very beautiful town, laid out in streets with broad grounds, flag staff with Stars and Stripes flying. We ask permission of the only soldier we see to drive around the town; we find everything kept in the very best condition, we even find a man with a four-mule team sprinkling the streets. The place is supplied with water from a cool mountain stream running through the town, the finest water I ever drank near the town. We find a store, the only one there taking the place of sutler of the Army, he having to have permission from Uncle Sam; it being only five days after the 4th we found the store pretty well sold out, the Indians having bought nearly everything from the proceeds of sale of 35 head of fat steers; they have to get permission to sell from the agent before selling anything except their ponies. The Indians have large herds of cattle scattered over their reservations. As we pass along through the country we see what kind of farmers the Indians make. It is easy to see that they are not experts at it. The first field we pass is about 100 rods long and 10 rods wide. After leaving the fort we pass the Indian school seven miles from the fort; there is about 75 scholars. The agency is located here also, also a sawmill run by one of those fine mountain streams. It being vacation time we saw very few Indians around. After leaving the agency we came to and follow along the east side of Klamath Lake, which is a a fine body of water fed by mountain streams, 20x67 miles in the widest place. The banks are low and swampy covered over with tule, or what is known in the East as rush. A great deal of it is cut for hay and it is said that cattle do well on it. The reservation is 40x60 miles, containing one and one-half million acres of land, a greater portion [of] fine valley land which would be very valuable were it not for its high elevation, which makes it so cold. We were told that they were liable to frost any night in the year, but as a stock country I think it is a success, as all the cattle we saw were in fine condition. The Indians all have small houses but very poorly constructed; some of them have stables or small barns. We also see near nearly all the houses little wigwams, where the warm weather is spent. We passed one little farm at the noon hour and saw sitting on the ground Big Injun eating his dinner; his squaw was working around near him keeping him supplied with provisions. Near them we see an old squaw busily engaged grinding meal or flour in their stone mill, consisting of a hollow stone which they fill with grain and pound or rub it it with another stone held in the hand. We find the homes most all deserted as this is the season of the year that the Indians are out fishing and the squaws are gathering their supplies of the rush for their matting for wigwams and baskets. At 1:30 we came to what is called Williams River, where we were told by some Indians, and also by some white men, that this stream was the best fishing grounds in the known world, and by common consent we concluded to sojourn on its banks a few days to replenish our larder. After eating a hurried dinner, we drove up the stream about 3 miles to where there is a ripple, and staked out our tent and hied away to the ripple, with bright anticipations and expectation, for hadn't an honest man of the forest directed us where to cast our hook. We were glad on account of Bro. Jones, as he was becoming desperate over his many disappointments as an angler. We start in to solid fishing at 3:45 and fish until 6:59, commence again at 7:15 and fish until 9 p.m. We then snatch a few hours of sleep, commencing again at 4:45 a.m. and fish until the gong sounds for breakfast, after which we again amuse ourselves until noon, when we very reluctantly conclude that the sign is all wrong or else we have been mistaken in our calling, as we had caught nothing with the exception of one little minnow about three inches long.
J. H. Faris, "A Trip to Wonderland," The Aurora Sun, Aurora, Nebraska, August 3, 1889, page 4

    About two dozen male and female Indians from the Siletz Indian Reservation gave a war dance at the opera house last evening under the management of T. C. Jackson and Alex Catfish. It was slimly attended and was a boisterous affair. The aborigines gave a parade on the streets before the performance, which discounted the Salvation Army. The bucks had their war paint on, and the women were dressed in their gaudiest colors. One of them had on a discarded bustle of the most approved dimensions and another had a roll of hair done up on the back of her head as big as a bushel basket. The red men are good hop pickers, but on the stage lack the delicate and full perception of their role, or something else, calculated to win success. They whooped 'em lively in their gorgeous splendor of paint and feather and actually drowned the noise of the small boys in the gallery, and charged 25 cents admission.--[Albany Herald.
"State and Coast," Ashland Tidings, September 27, 1889, page 4

Oregon Letter.
    Well, my son Plato and I started for the Pacific Coast, a distance of 60 miles, to a place called big Nestucca, so called because a river of that name comes into the ocean there. Well, as we went we passed through the Indian reservation called Grand Ronde Valley, and we saw the house where Gen. Phil Sheridan had his headquarters when he was there. We saw a number of Indians there and from the number of half breeds, we think a few white men believed in Indian equality. After we crossed the reservation we began to climb the Coast Mountains, and it was over thirty miles before we got to the ocean. Sometimes we would be on fearful heights, creeping on the side of a mountain where there was barely room for the wagon track and if we had slipped off, that certainly would have been the last of us. Then we would be in deep narrow valleys, surrounded by steep high peaks. These mountains have all been covered with a heavy forest of fir timber, but the fire went through it 50 years ago and now there is nothing but naked trees and snags and black logs on the ground. Now and then there is fern and salal in abundance. When these forests burn there must certainly be smoke for hundreds of miles.
    We arrived at the ocean late in the evening. We could hear it for four miles off. There was a tall rock, called Haystack Rock, that stood one mile in the ocean. It was 150 feet tall and looked like a large round haystack. Three miles away we camped for the night and next morning we walked over a sand hill and then we had three-quarters of a mile to go before we got to the water and oh, how hot the sun did pour down upon us. We almost sank beneath the intense heat, but when we got near the water we felt a very cool breeze. Then we stood and watched the breakers or waves. They looked like a succession of waterfalls and  were from 5 to 8 feet high and if a person would stand where they would roll around him, he would feel very much like going back with them into the sea. We took off our shoes and tried that and when we got out our feet were as cold as if they had been on ice and we thought that would do, so we took a walk along the beach and saw trees, logs and lumber that had been thrown ashore during a storm. That evening while we were in camp, one old man and four young men came in somewhat excited and said they saw 5 whales, a sea horse and a sea lion.
    We stayed two nights and one day at the coast. The air was so cool at night that we found an overcoat very comfortable. As we camped near the mouth of the river named above and salmon fishing is carried on several miles up the river, we saw how they caught these; men stretch a net across the river and the salmon, in trying to pass up the river, will get their gills fast in the net and there they stay until the fisherman comes and lifts them into his boat. My son bought a salmon of one of the fishermen that measured 3½ feet long and looked almost as large as a small boy around the body. The meat of these salmon looks like a red watermelon. These fish are canned on the coast and sent out to all the world I suppose.
    We went to the state fair at Salem on the 18th. We will say it was a long way behind the Iowa state fair. Oregon does not give encouragement to men of other states. They would not give a premium on machinery that was invented outside of the state. I saw men there with fine horses from other states. Salem claims a population of 10,000, but the town looks like it was at least 50 years behind.
    J. M. MCFEE.
Perry Chief, Perry, Iowa, October 4, 1889, page 4

Indian Depredation Claims.
    Walter H. Bishop came out from Washington Friday as a government agent for the examination of claims against the government for Indian depredations. After staying in Ashland four days, he left for Jacksonville, thence to Crescent City, from whence he will go to Coos and Curry counties. We believe the only claim presented here was one for $500, presented by John P. Walker, for horses stolen by the Klamath Indians in 1855, which has been "hung up" ever since.
    Mr. Bishop is an old friend and neighbor of B. F. Snyder and family, of the European restaurant, with whom he spent an enjoyable visit while here.
Valley Record, Ashland, October 10, 1889, page 3

Indian Agent.
    President Harrison has finally appointed Gen. E. L. Applegate as agent for the Klamath Indian agency, vice Jos. Emery resigned. This is pursuant to the request of Senator Mitchell and the Oregon delegation, since the declination of Rev. W. R. Bishop of East Portland to qualify. It was at first doubtful whether the general would actually receive the appointment, as this position has in the past been given to the Methodists as one of their quota of agencies in Oregon, they all being divided up among the churches promiscuous-like. We haven't seen 'Lish lately, but the last time he was around he had no symptoms of being much of a Methodist. But then people do choose their religions sometime. Can it be that the general, while out on his farm in the interior of Josephine, has reflected on the wickedness of the ways of himself, his party, and everybody else, and the great weight of the load of wickedness has crushed into his conscience, knocking "the world, the flesh, and the devil" out the other way, and has he been fattening upon yellow-legged chickens all this time? Who knows? We have heard of similar things before. But at any rate the Record and numerous others of the general's friends congratulate him on his appointment, which is a good one.
Valley Record, Ashland, October 10, 1889, page 3

The Fort Klamath Abandonment.
Linkville Star.]
    The question of the abandonment of Fort Klamath has been answered in the negative. Lieutenant Swift's orders to sell the military telegraph lines have been revoked or held in abeyance indefinitely. Major Burton, who built the telegraph line, says that Fort Klamath will have at least one cavalry troop this winter; that G troop is coming from Ft. Bidwell, and, if forage enough can be procured, another cavalry troop will be quartered at the Fort before snow flies. If, however, not enough forage can be obtained, the other troop will be there in the spring. Bill Webb, of Ft. Klamath, says that thirty-six wagons are going to Bidwell to haul away the "dunnage" of the cavalry.
Valley Record, Ashland, October 10, 1889, page 3

Last revised Auguswt 20, 2023