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.

    G. Elksnat, who went to Klamath County to do the allotment surveying, had to return on account of the winter hanging on too late out there.
"Medford Items," Valley Record, Ashland, April 4, 1895, page 4

A Famous Methodist Missionary and Oregon Pioneer.
    Salem, Or., May 31.--Rev. J. L. Parrish died today.
    Joseph Lamberson Parrish was born in Onandaga County, N.Y., October 14, 1806. From his father he learned the trades of blacksmithing and farming, and to them he devoted most of his time till he reached the age of 24. At that time failure of his health from overwork caused him to turn his attention to the harness and saddlery trade. At about the same time he began preaching as a local preacher in the Methodist church at Pike, Allegany County, N.Y. In 1833 he was married to Elizabeth Winn. Two years later he closed out his business as a saddle and harness dealer, and devoted his time mainly to preaching until 1839. He was then appointed blacksmith to the Methodist mission of Oregon by the New York board. In company with Jason Lee he came to Oregon in the ship Lausanne around Cape Horn. After reaching Oregon Mr. Parrish spent two years in blacksmithing for various missionary stations and settlers in the Willamette Valley. In 1843 he was appointed missionary to the Indians at the mouth of the Columbia River. He remained there till the mission was closed in 1846. After a short stay at Oregon City he was appointed to the circuit on the west side of the Willamette, his field extending from Portland to Corvallis. To the arduous duties of that field he devoted himself with characteristic energy and faithfulness for nearly four years. In 1848 an east side circuit was added, extending from Spoor's place in Lane County to Molalla Prairie, near Oregon City. In 1849 he was appointed Indian agent for Oregon by President Taylor. He entered upon his duties a year later, having in his jurisdiction the vast region between the summit of the Rockies and the Pacific, bounded on the north by the Straits of Fuca, and on the south by the California line. Through a curious blunder he was appointed as "Joseph" L. Parrish, instead of "Josiah," and was obliged to do all business through the latter personage as deputy. At his reappointment by President Pierce the mistake was rectified. Many persons, however, believed that the two names belonged to two men. Owing to ill health he resigned after the Rogue River War, at the end of which the Indians were put on reservations. His last work in that line was the organization of the reservation, of which Port Orford was the headquarters. These important official duties having been well ended, he was again appointed by the Oregon conference as a missionary to the Indians. In 1856 he was put on the retired list. After that time, though he had no regular charge, he maintained his connection with the conference and was not idle. For sixteen years he was acting chaplain of the Oregon penitentiary, holding services every two weeks, for which arduous work he received neither pay nor reward. On the alternate Sundays he preached to various congregations, often Indians. In his last years he preached to the Indian youth at the government training school at Chemawa. The name of this school was given by Mr. Parrish from a band of Calapooias who occupied the site of the old Methodist mission near Wheatland, on the west side of the Willamette. Father Parrish's family by his first wife consisted of four sons, Lamberson, Norman, Samuel and Charles. The eldest died in 1840. Samuel was at one time chief of police in Portland. The first wife died in 1859, and Mr. Parrish was married again in the following year to Jennie L. Lichtenthaler. She died in 1887. A year later, Mr. Parrish was married to Mrs. Mattie A. Pierce.
Seattle Post-Intelligencer, June 1, 1895, page 1

How They Have Decreased Under the Influence of Civilization.
    "The Rogue River Indians," says B. F. Dowell in a letter to the Portland Tribune, "have been gradually decreasing ever since the whites settled among them in 1852. Agent Skinner estimated them at 800 in 1852. Agent Samuel H. Culver reports that in November, 1854, one-fourth of them had died since the treaty of 1853, after the war. Superintendent Palmer, about the same time, wrote that one-fifth of the Rogue River Indians had died during the same time. J. Ross Browne, a Treasury agent, in his report after the Indians were on the northern reservation, reports that the Rogue River Indians and Shasta Indians numbered 554. He did not state how many of these were California Shasta Indians, and there were quite a number of them surrendered to Colonel Buchanan in Southern Oregon. The census taken in 1893, by the agent, shows there were but 54 living, and none of them could read or write, notwithstanding the government had furnished good schools for them. In 1894, at the Siletz agency, there were 580 Indians, These consisted mostly of the Willamette Indians, and the report is more favorable as to education than at the Grand Ronde agency. The agent, in 1894, reports that there was 159 of them that could read and write, and of the whole number, 354 could speak English. Since the allotment of lands to the Indians on the reservation, there had been born 59 children on the Grand Ronde agency, and the parents of these children desired land for their babies. At the Klamath agency, the agent reports the population, in 1893, to be 950 Indians. Of these there were 442 males and 508 females. They were improving very rapidly, and they had decreased a little since his last report."
Independence Enterprise, Independence, Oregon, June 20, 1895, page 4

Siletz Reserve.
A Brief Description of the Land
Toward Which Many Are
    The portion of Oregon that is now attracting the most attention from homeseekers at the present time is the Siletz Reservation. The reservation embraces a body of land about 24 miles long north and south, by about 15 miles wide east and west. It was formerly situated in the counties of Benton and Tillamook, but when Lincoln County was created it was made to embrace the entire reservation within its boundaries.
    By virtue of a proclamation of President Cleveland the lands of this reserve, not already allotted to the Indians in severalty, will be opened for settlement at 12 o'clock, noon, on Thursday, July 25, 1895.
    The general topography of the reservation is hilly or mountainous, with valleys along the streams of varying sizes. The east line of the reservation runs along near the summit of the Coast Range, and the land slopes westward to the sea. The slope does not vary in any considerable particular from that of all the other coast counties in the state from the summit of the mountains to the sea.
    The principal questions which arises in connection with this reservation are, what are the opportunities in the way of getting good land, and how and what other
opportunities are open? We would answer that the following inducements will be offered at the opening, viz; good farm, fruit and grazing lands, good timber lands, good fishing waters, and all other business opportunities that go with them. We will take them in order named, and endeavor to set them forth in their true lights without exaggeration. These statements will be made from personal observation to a large extent.
    The agricultural lands of the Siletz lie along the various streams that wind through its hills and along the low slope of the coast. The largest stream, and the one on which the principal amount of arable land lies, is the Siletz River. The Siletz River heads near the summit of the Coast Range and empties into the Siletz Bay. In an air line from source to mouth it is perhaps not more than thirty miles, yet so winding and sinuous is this stream that it is estimated to be from 90 to 110 miles in length. All along its length are valleys, or bottoms, of varying width. In some places these bottoms will contain hundreds of acres of the richest land that an Oregon mist ever fell upon or the sun ever warmed with its genial rays. The bottoms are something of the same formation as the famous beaver dam lands in some places in the Willamette Valley. They are the overflow and deposit decayed vegetable [matter] of years accumulation. In the places where these lands have been cleared and farmed they have abundantly yielded in everything tried upon them. The soil is second to none and the climate is the same as other coast counties, all that could be asked. The Salmon River is the next in size to the Siletz, and lies in the north part of the county. The same description, except as to size, applies to it that describes the Siletz. It empties into Salmon Bay. Drift Creek and Schooner Creek, streams of considerable size, empty into Siletz Bay, while Spencer Creek, and several other small streams empty into the ocean direct, and along all these streams are valleys and bottoms, varying in size according to the stream. The largest bay, and the only one of any size emptying into the ocean, is the Siletz Bay. This bay is about four miles long east and west by about two and a half north and south, at the widest part. Lying on the bay are large bodies of the finest tide lands it has ever been our lot to see. The open tide land is high and from the vegetation growing on it, we would judge that it never overflowed except in the highest winter tides. Back further from the tidelands are large bodies of bottom lands, in the most part covered with alder and vine maple thickets. These lands are the very best of land when they are cleared and cultivated. There are heavy bodies of tidelands along the Salmon River and bay. Between Siletz and Salmon River, near the coast, is a large lake around which are also hundreds of acres of good lands. Of course, at the present time it is impossible to estimate the amount of tillable land along these streams. Much land which at first observation does not look fit for agriculture will be found to be good land, only covered with a heavy growth of alder, vine maple, cherry or crab apple. These lands will all be taken and cleared up, and they will surprise one by their fineness, after the brush and timber is cleared off of them. There are 366 sections of land on the reservation, containing 234,240 acres. Of this there has been allotted to the Indians 42,560. This leaves a total of 191,680 acres unallotted. Placing only one-fifth of this as good farm and grazing lands and it would make 38,400 acres in round numbers, or 240 homesteads of 160 acres each to be had on the reserve outside of the Indian allotments. This means 240 homes for actual settlers, homes where they may live and prosper. In addition to this must be added the fact that nearly if not all of the hill land is well adapted to grazing for cattle, sheep and goats. In fact there are certain parts of the hills in the reserve that are said to be the best grazing lands in the state. They are in some places open mountains on which the grass grows waist high and is very nutritious. Cattle will and do live on these hills the year round, rolling fat. These bald mountains, as they are called, are the stockmen's paradise.
    The timber lands of the Siletz are equal to any of the Coast Range. The best timber is on the hills and mountains near the heads of the various streams, although all along the rivers are fine bodies of timber that would be considered simply first-class in every respect in other less favored countries. The timber consists principally of fir, both white and yellow, spruce, larch, alder and cedar. There are some of the finest bodies of spruce and fir contiguous to the Siletz and its tributaries that there are in the Coast Range. The time is not far distant when there will be mills on the Siletz that will be sawing thousands of feet of the spruce and fir lumber each day, which will be carried by the lumber schooners to all parts of the coast.
    The fishing industries of the Siletz are in their virgin state. The Siletz is said to have the largest run of salmon of any stream between the Columbia and Rogue River. It is a virgin stream and has never been fished out of. On account of the large body of fresh water that runs down the Siletz it is said to attract the large number of salmon. The party or parties that get the first cannery on the Siletz River or Bay is going to reap the greatest harvest that has been had in the fishing industry since the palmy days of the canneries on the Columbia River. All the advantages are  present on the Siletz for the successful prosecution of this industry, and it is safe to say that not many months will elapse before some man or firm will erect a cannery on the Siletz and reap the benefit of this great run of fish that are now going to waste.
    As stated above, there will be on July 25, 1895, at noon, 191,680 acres of land subject to settlement. Of this a portion has been surveyed, and all of that surveyed portion will be subject to entry at that time. There is no school land on the reservation, the state having already received its portion of this land in the way of selections of lien lands in other parts of the state. The methods of obtaining these lands are through the homestead, timber and stone, and town site laws. Some of these laws have already been published in this paper but will be again published here. By the terms of the act ratifying the treaty made with the Indians the land entered under the homestead law will be governed by the general provisions of the homestead law with the following exceptions, to quote from the act, "Provided, however, that each settler under and in accordance with the provisions of said homestead law shall, at the time of making his original entry, pay the sum of fifty cents per acre in addition to the fees now required by law, and at the time of making final proof pay the further sum of one dollar per acre, final proof to be made within five years from date of making entry, and three years actual residence on the land shall be established by such evidence as is now required in homestead proofs, as a prerequisite to title or patent." The provisions of the homestead law, to be brief, are: That entrymen must be 21 years of age or over, or the head of a family, that he is a citizen of the United States, or has declared his intention to become such; must describe accurately the land he desires to enter; that he is not the owner of more than 160 acres of land in any state or territory; that he is making the entry in good faith and not for the purpose of speculation, nor in the interest of [a] person or corporation, but for his own use and benefit. The fee to accompany such entry is about $16 for 160 acres, which added to the cash payment of fifty cents per acre makes a total of $96 required to enter 160 acres. It is not absolutely necessary to enter a full 160 acres unless the entryman so desires, but he can enter 40 acres, or any amount from that up to 160 acres. The fees would be in proportion to those named above. Settlement can be made on unsurveyed land, and the settler has the exclusive right to enter said land for a period of three months after such land is surveyed and subject to entry. The time of actual residence may be counted in at the time of making proof.
    The mineral lands will subject be to entry under the ordinary provision of the mining laws, a copy of which may be obtained by addressing the local or general land office.
    The principal provisions of the townsite laws have already been published, and will be of no material interest at this time.
    The principal and most important question to be determined by the prospective settler who would make a home on the Siletz is this: Are all the good lands allotted to the Indians. To this we would answer, not by any means. It is true that allotments have been made of all the improved lands, and in fact, of all the land close to the agency. But as you go up and down the river there can be seen hundreds of acres of just as good land as any of that owned by the Indians yet unallotted. There are large bottoms in bends of the river that are yet open for the sturdy settler. What is true of the Siletz is also true of every other stream in the reservation in proportion to the size of the streams. Many of the Indian allotments have been taken solely with the view of fronting the river, and the land is wholly unfit for agriculture. In no instance after you leave what is known as the lower farm, six miles below the agency, does a single allotment reach more than a half mile back from the river, and in many cases they do not extend nearly so far. There are bottoms that are two or three miles wide. There are many good homes in these when the strong and willing arm of the farmer puts them in shape.
    For the man who wishes to settle on the Siletz and feels uncertain of making a living for a year or two, or until he gets his ground partly in a state of cultivation, there is a chance to lease Indian land for cultivation. The Indians can now lease their lands for from one to three years for farming purposes. This will give a man a chance to get a home started, some land cleared and a start made.
    There are several ways by which one may reach the reservation. There is a good wagon road leading from the Valley over the mountains to the head of Salmon River, and thence down the river to the coast. This is about the only means of ingress to the northern part of the reservation. To reach the central and southern part one has a choice of the O.C.&E. railroad and a wagon road from Corvallis over the mountains. By these routes Toledo is reached, and from here there is a good wagon road onto the reservation.
    In conclusion we would say that the Siletz country does not have all of the advantages in the world, but to the man who is toiling his life out on a rented farm, it offers a home where he can be free and independent. It offers an opportunity
for a man of limited means to get a good piece of land in a good country in a good state. The country is going to settle up. There are hundreds of men who are looking for just such a chance to get land. So if a person wants to make a home where every effort of honest toil will be rewarded; where the killing hot winds and the destructive cyclones are unknown; where it can be truly said that "the husbandman tickles the earth with a hoe and it laughs forth an abundant harvest;" where nature has been so prolific that man can live with the smallest amount of effort, and the balance of his labors be fully rewarded, then let him come to the land of the Siletz in Lincoln County. We can picture in our minds the happy, prosperous and contented people that the land of the Siletz will contain and shelter in its beautiful valleys and on its sunny hillsides before many years have passed away. Can anyone imagine a more entrancing picture than a home on the banks of the beautiful Siletz, with the field and the orchard on which the husbandman can rely with calm content, knowing that he has only to put forth the effort of his labor and it will be fully rewarded. His flocks and herds pasture on the hillsides and in the glades, his gardens, grain and fruits ripen in the sun, his bees gather honey from the clover fields, the buds and the blossoms; the timber furnishes his fuel, fencing, etc.; the river gives him fish, and in the forest are deer and other game. Should not peace, prosperity and contentment rest upon the man who makes his home under these conditions? Then come and view the land of the Siletz, one of the last Indian reservations ever to be opened for settlement by Uncle Sam. You may not like it.
You might wish for the broad acres of a prairie where you could wear mind and body out trying to grow corn or wheat. You may not take kindly to our country with its diversified products. But come and see the land anyway. View its hills and its valleys. Gaze on its tall, majestic trees. Take a canoe ride down the river and pay tribute to old Medicine Rock. Gaze on the grand old Pacific Ocean as it breaks on the shingly beach. See all of it that is to be seen, and then if you do not think you could live and prosper amid its hills and valleys, return from whence you came. But come and see the land of the Siletz.
Lincoln County Leader, Toledo, Oregon, July 4, 1895, page 2

Indian Lands Opened.
    CORVALLIS (Or.), July 26.--The opening of the Siletz Indian Reservation to settlement caused very little excitement, owing to the small amount of land available after the allotment had been made to the Indians. Not more than 100 filings will be made
San Francisco Chronicle, July 27, 1895, page 3

    J. O. Holt, the teacher at Yainax Indian school, is visiting his folks in Jackson County. He attended the institute at Tacoma.
"Medford Items," Valley Record, Ashland, August 1, 1895, page 3

The Klamath County Indians Seeking to Have Their Rights Established.
Klamath Falls Express.
    The reservation Indians, Klamaths, Modocs and Snakes, held a general council at Klamath Agency last Thursday to discuss and take action in regard to the road land grant and boundary questions, so long matters of contention. The Indian agent, Dr. Petit, on the request of the Indians stated briefly the objects of the council, after which Allen David, who signed the treaty of 1864 as Boos-ki-you, and who was for many years head chief of the Klamath tribe, was chosen to preside over the council and Jas. Willis, an educated Snake Indian, acted as its secretary. The road land grant takes nearly a hundred thousand acres of land within the reservation limits, to which the Indians had every reason to believe their title good. The government in justice to these people ought to settle with the road company, thus acting in good faith with a people who have always been friendly to the United States, and in fact its allies in the wars with other tribes.
    The boundary question arises from the indefiniteness of the treaty description on the boundary of the reservation made at the great treaty of Oct. 14, 1864, at which date the government's representatives at the treaty council were not conversant with the geography of the country bordering the Klamath Valley, especially north and east. A settlement of those questions so long matters of contention would be gratifying to both whites and Indians. The allotment of lands, a work now in progress under the efficient management of Maj. C. E. Worden, could be carried to an earlier completion, and questions which involve the races in serious troubles hereafter would be settled.
    Capt. Ivan D. Applegate, who has long been familiar with reservation history, was unanimously chosen by the council to assist the Indians in defending their interests before the departments.
    The nine representative men chosen by the council to take initial action on these questions were in Klamath Falls last Saturday, with Capt. O. C. Applegate as charge d'affairs, signing papers in presence of the county judge, C. S. Moore. They have all been more or less prominent in Klamath history, and several of them were signers of the treaty. They may be mentioned briefly as follows:
    Tom Chocktoot--headman of treaty with Snake Indians, son of a former head chief of Yahooskin Snakes.
    Rev. Jesse Kirk (Kellogue)--educated Klamath Indian, one of the foremost leaders of the present nation occupying Klamath Reservation, son of Chief Kellogue, signer of treaty of 1864.
    Jack Palmer--educated Klamath, and a leading man, son of Chief Palmer, a signer of the treaty.
    Mosenkosket--ex-chief of Sprague River Klamaths; signer of treaty and scout in Capt. O. C. Applegate's company during Modoc War.
    Le-lu--signer of treaty. Formerly chief of the Kow-um-kans. Scout in Modoc War.
    Chief George--chief of Modocs, signer of treaty, in rank next to Schonchin. Loyal to United States during Modoc War.
    Lole-to-bux (Blow)--signer of treaty, for several years head chief of Klamath nation. Scout for whites in both Snake and Modoc wars.
    Henry Jackson--a leading man among Sprague River Indians. Formerly a Pitt River slave; adopted into Klamath tribe after he became free. Now the Croesus of the tribe; scout with troops in Modoc War.
    Long John--formerly a Klamath chief, prominent scout and ally of whites in Modoc War.
Valley Record, Ashland, October 31, 1895, page 1

Klamath Indian Agent's Report.
    Washington, Dec. 4.--Marshal Petit, United States Indian agent at Klamath, makes a straightforward, common-sense report of his affairs at his agency to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs. Since he has charge, the Indians have been at work making an effort to build themselves houses. The sawmill has been repaired, and lumber is being manufactured for the Indians' use. Repairs have been made on the agency buildings and the school buildings. This is what he has to say about irrigation and the reclamation of lands on the reservation.
    "In studying the topography of the country, I am convinced that a ditch can be constructed across the southwest corner of the reservation that would reclaim from its present aridity six townships. I have reported that 90,000 acres of swamp land on the Big Klamath marsh would be reclaimed by lowering the channel of the Williamson River. This would provide a fine quality of grazing and hay land to be allotted to the Indians, without which a number of them will be compelled to accept land that will not produce hay or grazing. The land on this reservation that does not produce grass is worthless, except it be timbered. It has been estimated by a civil engineer that the school grounds at the agency could be irrigated and made a beautiful greensward at a small cost. I would recommend that this improvement be made."
    Some trouble has been encountered in dealing with the stockmen who graze cattle on the reservation, but the agent expects to obtain leases which will bring about amicable relations.
    There has been no drunkenness among the Indians, and advancement toward civilization is apparent.
Valley Record, Ashland, December 12, 1895, page 1

Last revised August 31, 2023