The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised

Bancroft's Rogue River Indian Wars

    The demand for the office of an Indian agent in western Oregon began in 1849, or as soon as the Indians learned that white men might be expected to travel through their country with horses, provisions, and property of various kinds, which they might be desirous to have. The trade in horses was good in the mines of California, and Cayuse stock was purchased and driven there by Oregon traders, who made a large profit.25 Many miners also returned from California overland, and in doing so had frequent encounters with Indians, generally at the crossing of Rogue River.26 The ferrying at this place was performed in canoes, made for the occasion, and which, when used and left, were stolen by the Indians to compel the next party to make another, the delay affording opportunity for falling on them should they prove unwary. After several companies had been attacked the miners turned upon the Indians and became the assailants. And to stop the stealing of canoes, left for the convenience of those in the rear, some miners concealed themselves and lay in wait for the thieves, who when they entered the canoe were shot. However beneficial this may have been for the protection of the ferry it did not mend matters in a general way. If the Indians had at first been instigated simply by a desire for plunder,27 they had now gained from the retaliation of the Americans another motive--revenge.
    In the spring of 1850 a party of miners, who had collected a considerable sum in gold dust in the placers of California and were returning home, reached the Rogue River, crossing one day, toward sunset, and encamped about Rock Point. They did not keep a very careful watch, and a sudden attack caused them to run to cover, while the Indians plundered the camp of everything of value, including the bags of gold dust. But one man, who had his treasure on his person, escaped being robbed.
    It was to settle with these rogues for this and like transactions that Lane set out in May or June 1850 to visit Southern Oregon, as before mentioned. The party consisted of fifteen white men, and the same number of Klickitats, under their chief Quatley, the determined enemy of the Rogue River people. Quatley was told what was expected of him, which was not to fight unless it become necessary, but to assist in making a treaty. They overtook on the way some cattle-drivers going to California, who traveled with them, glad of an escort. All were well mounted, with plenty of provisions on pack horses, and well armed. They proceeded leisurely, and stopped to hunt and dry venison in the valley of Grave Creek. About the middle of June they arrived at Rogue River, and encamped near the Indian villages, Lane sending word to the principal chief that he had come to talk with him and his people, and to make a treaty of peace and friendship. To this message the chief returned answer that he would come in two days with all his people, unarmed, as Lane stipulated.
    Accordingly, the two principal chiefs and about seventy-five warriors came and crossed to the south side, where Lane's company were encamped. A circle was formed, Lane and the chiefs standing inside the ring. But before the conference began a second band, as large as the first, and fully armed with bows and arrows, began descending a neighboring hill upon the camp. Lane told Quatley to come inside the ring, and stand, with two or three of his Indians, beside the head Rogue River chief. The newcomers were ordered to lay down their arms and be seated, and the business of the council proceeded, Lane keeping a sharp lookout, and exchanging significant glances with Quatley and his party. The occasion of the visit was then fully explained to the people of Rogue River; they were reminded of their uniform conduct toward white men, of their murders and robberies, and were told that hereafter white people must travel through their country in safety; that their laws had been extended over all that region, and if obeyed everyone could live in peace; and that if the Indians behaved well compensation would be made them for their lands that might be settled upon, and an agent sent to see that they had justice.
    Following Lane's speech, the Rogue River chief addressed, in loud, deliberate tones, his people, when presently they all rose and raised the war cry, and those who had arms displayed them. Lane told Quatley to hold fast the head chief, whom he had already seized, and ordering his men not to fire, he sprang with revolver in hand into the line of the traitors and knocked up their guns, commanding them to be seated and lay down their arms. As the chief was a prisoner, and Quatley held a knife at his throat, they were constrained to obey. The captive chief, who had not counted upon this prompt action, and whose brothers had previously disposed themselves among their people to be ready for action, finding his situation critical, told them to do as the white chief had said. After a brief consultation they rose again, being ordered by the chief to retire and not to return for two days, when they should come in a friendly manner to another council. The Indians then took their departure, sullen and humiliated, leaving their chief a prisoner in the hands of the white men, by whom he was secured in such a manner that he could not escape.
    Lane used the two days to impress upon the mind of the savage that he had better accept the offered friendship, and again gave him the promise of government aid if he should make and observe a treaty allowing white men to pass safely through the country, to mine in the vicinity, and to settle in the Rogue River Valley.28 By the time his people returned, he had become convinced that this was his best course, and advised them to accept the terms offered, and live in peace, which was finally agreed to. But the gold dust of the Oregon party they had robbed in the spring was gone past all reclaim, as they had, without knowing its value, poured it all into the river, at a point where it was impossible to recover it. Some property of no value was given up; and thus was made the first treaty with this tribe, a treaty which was observed with passable fidelity for about a year.29
    The treaty concluded, Lane gave the Indians slips of paper stating the fact, and warning white men to do them no injury. These papers, bearing his signature, became a talisman among these Indians, who on approaching a white man would hold one of them out exclaiming, "Jo Lane, Jo Lane," the only English words they knew. On taking leave the chief, whose name hereafter by consent of Lane was to be Jo, presented his friend with a boy slave from the Modoc tribe, who accompanied him to the Shasta mines to which he now proceeded, the time when his resignation was to take effect having passed. Here he dug gold, and dodged Indian arrows like any common miner until the spring of 1851, when he was recalled to Oregon.30
    The gold discoveries of 1850 in the Klamath Valley caused an exodus of Oregonians thither early in the following year; and notwithstanding Lane's treaty with Chief Jo, great vigilance was required to prevent hostile encounters with his tribe as well as with that of the Umpqua Valley south of the cañon.31 It soon became evident that Jo, even if he were honestly intentioned, could not keep the peace, the annoying and often threatening demonstrations of his people leading to occasional overt acts on the part of the miners, a circumstance likely to be construed by the Indians as sufficient provocation to further and more pronounced hostility.
    Some time in May a young man named Dilley was treacherously murdered by two Rogue River Indians, who, professing to be friendly, were traveling and camping with three white men. They rose in the night, took Dilley's gun, the only one in the party, shot him while sleeping, and made off with the horses and property, the other two men fleeing back to a company in the rear. On hearing of it thirty men of Shasta formed a company, headed by one Long, marched over the Siskiyou, and coming upon a band at the crossing of Rogue River, killed a subchief and one other Indian, took two warriors and two daughters of another chief prisoners, and held them as hostages for the delivery of the murderers of Dilley. The chief refused to give up the guilty Indians, but threatened instead to send a strong party to destroy Long's company, which remained at the crossing awaiting events.32 It does not appear that Long's party was attacked, but several unsuspecting companies suffered in their stead. These attacks were made chiefly at one place some distance south of the ferry where Long and his men encamped.33 The alarm spread throughout the southern valleys, and a petition was forwarded to Governor Gaines from the settlers in the Umpqua for permission to raise a company of volunteers to fight the Indians. The governor decided to look over the field before granting leave to the citizens to fight, and repaired in person to the scene of the reported hostilities.
    The Spectator, which was understood to lean toward Gaines and the administration, as opposed to the Statesman and democracy, referring to the petition remarked that leave had been asked to march into the Indian country and slay the savages wherever found; that the prejudice against Indians was very strong in the mines and daily increasing; and that no doubt this petition had been sent to the Governor to secure his sanction to bringing a claim against the government for the expenses of another Indian war.

    One of Thurston's measures had been the removal from the territory of the United States troops, which after years of private and legislative appeal were at an enormous expense finally stationed at the different posts according to the desire of the people. He represented to Congress that so far from being a blessing they were really a curse to the country, which would gladly be rid of them. To his constituents he said that the cost of maintaining the rifle regiment was four hundred thousand dollars a year. He proposed as a substitute to persuade Congress to furnish a good supply of arms, ammunition, and military stores to Oregon, and authorize the Governor to call out volunteers when needed, both as a saving to the government and a means of profit to the territory, a part of the plan being to expend one hundred thousand dollars saved in goods for the Indians, which should be purchased only of American merchants in Oregon.
    Thurston's plan had been carried out so far as removing the rifle regiment was concerned, which in the month of April began to depart in divisions for California, and thence to Jefferson Barracks;34 leaving on the 1st of June, when Major Kearny began his march southward with the last division, only two skeleton companies of artillerymen to take charge of the government property at Steilacoom, Astoria, Vancouver, and The Dalles. He moved slowly, examining the country for military stations, and the best route for a military road which should avoid the Umpqua Cañon. On arriving at Yoncalla,35 Kearny consulted with Jesse Applegate, whom he prevailed upon to assist in the exploration of the country east of the cañon, in which they were engaged when the Indian war began in Rogue River Valley.
    The exploring party had proceeded as far as this pass when they learned from a settler at the north end of the cañon, one Knott, of the hostilities, and that the Indians were gathered at Table Rock, an almost impregnable position about twenty miles east of the ferry on Rogue River.36 On this information Kearny, with a detachment of twenty-eight men, took up the march for the Indian stronghold with the design of dislodging them. A heavy rain had swollen the streams and impeded his progress, and it was not until the morning of the 17th of June that he reached Rogue River at a point five miles distant from Table Rock. While looking for a ford indications of Indians in the vicinity were discovered, and Kearny hoped to be able to surprise them. He ordered the command to fasten their sabers to their saddles to prevent noise, and divided his force, a part under Captain Walker crossing to the south side of the river to intercept any fugitives, while the remainder under Captain James Stuart kept upon the north side.
    Stuart soon came upon the Indians, who were prepared for battle. Dismounting his men, who in their haste left their sabers tied to their saddles, Stuart made a dash upon the enemy. They met him with equal courage. A brief struggle took place in which eleven Indians were killed and several wounded. Stuart himself was matched against a powerful warrior, who had been struck more than once without meeting his death. As the captain approached, the savage, though prostrate, let fly an arrow which pierced him through, lodging in the kidneys, of which wound he died the day after the battle.37 Captain Peck was also wounded severely, and one of the troops slightly.
    The Indians, who were found to be in large numbers, retreated upon their stronghold, and Kearny also fell back to wait for the coming up of lieutenants Williamson and Irvine with a detachment, and the volunteer companies hastily gathered among the miners.38 Camp was made at the mouth of a tributary of Rogue River, entering a few miles below Table Rock, which was named Stuart Creek after the dying captain. It was not till the 23rd that the Indians were again engaged. A skirmish occurred in the morning, and a four hours' battle in the afternoon of that day. The Indians were stationed in a densely wooded hummock, which gave them the advantage in point of position, while in the matter of arms the troops were better furnished. In these battles the savages again suffered severely, and on the other side several were wounded but none killed.
    While these events were in progress both Gaines and Lane were on their way to the scene of action. The governor's position was not an enviable one. Scarcely were the riflemen beyond the Willamette when he was forced to write the President representing the imprudence of withdrawing the troops at this time, no provision having been made by the legislature for organizing the militia of the territory, or for meeting in any way the emergency evidently arising.39 The reply which in due time he received was that the rifle regiment had been withdrawn, first because its services were needed on the frontier of Mexico and Texas, and secondly because the Oregon delegate had assured the department that its presence in Oregon was not needed. In answer to the Governor's suggestion that a post should be established in Southern Oregon, the secretary gave it as his opinion that the commanding officer in California should order a reconnaissance in that part of the country, with a view to selecting a proper site for such a post without loss of time. But with regard to troops, there were none that could be sent to Oregon; nor could they, if put en route at that time, it being already September, reach there in time to meet the emergency. The secretary therefore suggested that companies of militia might be organized, which could be mustered into service for short periods, and used in conjunction with the regular troops in the pursuit of Indians, or as the exigencies of the service demanded.
    Meanwhile Gaines, deprived entirely of military support, endeavored to raise a volunteer company at Yoncalla to escort him over the dangerous portion of the route to Rogue River; but most of the men of Umpqua having either gone to the mines or to reinforce Kearny, this was a difficult undertaking, detaining him so that it was the last of the month before he reached his destination. Lane, having already started south to look after his mining property before quitting Oregon for Washington, arrived at the Umpqua Cañon on the 21st, where he was met by a party going north, from whom he obtained the news of the battle of the 17th and the results, with the information that more fighting was expected. Hastening forward with his party of about forty men he arrived at the foot of the Rogue River mountains on the night of the 22nd, where he learned from an express rider that Kearny had by that time left camp on Stuart Creek with the intention of making a night march in order to strike the Indians at daybreak of the 23rd.
    He set out to join Kearny, but after a hard day's ride, being unsuccessful, proceeded next morning to Camp Stuart with the hope of learning something of the movements of Kearny's command. That evening Scott and T'Vault came to camp with a small party, for supplies, and Lane returned with them to the army, riding from nine o'clock in the evening to two o'clock in the morning, and being heartily welcomed both by Kearny and the volunteers.
    Early on the 25th, the command moved back down the river to overtake the Indians, who had escaped during the night, and crossing the river seven miles above the ferry found the trail leading up Sardine Creek, which being followed brought them up with the fugitives, one of whom was killed, while the others scattered through the woods like a covey of quail in the grass. Two days were spent in pursuing and taking prisoners the women and children, the men escaping. On the 27th the army scoured the country from the ferry to Table Rock, returning in the evening to Camp Stuart, when the campaign was considered as closed. Fifty Indians had been killed and thirty prisoners taken, while the loss to the white warriors, since the first battle, was a few wounded.
    The Indians had at the first been proudly defiant, Chief Jo boasting that he had a thousand warriors, and could keep that number of arrows in the air continually. But their pride had suffered a fall which left them apparently humbled. They complained to Lane, whom they recognized, talking across the river in stentorian tones, that white men had come on horses in great numbers, invading every portion of their country. They were afraid, they said, to lie down to sleep lest the strangers should be upon them. They wearied of war and wanted peace.40 There was truth as well as oratorical effect in their harangues, for just at this time their sleep was indeed insecure; but it was not taken into account by them that they had given white men this feeling of insecurity of which they complained.
    Now that the fighting was over Kearny was anxious to resume his march toward California, but was embarrassed with the charge of prisoners. The governor had not yet arrived; the Ssuperintendent of Indian Affairs was a great distance off in another part of the territory; there was no place where they could be confined in Rogue River Valley, nor did he know of any means of sending them to Oregon City. But he was determined not to release them until they had consented to a treaty of peace. Sooner than do that he would take them with him to California and send them back to Oregon by sea. Indeed he had proceeded with them to within twenty-five miles of Shasta Butte, a mining town afterward named Yreka,41 when Lane, who when his services were no longer needed in the field had continued his journey to Shasta Valley, again came to his relief by offering to escort the prisoners to Oregon City whither he was about to return, or to deliver them to the Governor or Superintendent of Indian Affairs wherever he might find them. Lieutenant Irvine,42 from whom Lane learned Kearny's predicament, carried Lane's proposition to the major, and the prisoners were at once sent to his care, escorted by Captain Walker. Lane's party43 set out immediately for the north, and on the 7th of July delivered their charge to Governor Gaines, who had arrived at the ferry, where he was encamped with fifteen men waiting for his interpreters to bring the Rogue River chiefs to a council, his success in which undertaking was greatly due to his possession of their families. Lane then hastened to Oregon City to embark for the national capital, having added much to his reputation with the people by his readiness of action in this first Indian war west of the Cascade Mountains, as well as in the prompt arrest of the deserting riflemen in the spring of 1850. To do, to do quickly, and generally to do the thing pleasing to the people, of whom he always seemed to be thinking, was natural and easy for him, and in this lay the secret of his popularity.
    When Gaines arrived at Rogue River he found Kearny had gone, not a trooper in the country, and the Indians scattered. He made an attempt to collect them for a council, and succeeded, as I have intimated, by means of the prisoners Lane brought him, in inducing about one hundred, among whom were eleven headmen, to agree to a peace. By the terms of the treaty, which was altogether informal, his commission having been withdrawn, the Indians placed themselves under the jurisdiction and protection of the United States, and agreed to restore all the property stolen at any time from white persons, in return for which promises of good behavior they received back their wives and children and any property taken from them. There was nothing in the treaty to prevent the Indians, as soon as they were reunited to their families, from resuming their hostilities; and indeed it was well known that there were two parties amongst them--one in favor of war and the other opposed to it, but the majority for it. Though so severely punished, the head chief of the war party refused to treat with Kearny, and challenged him to further combat, after the battle of the 23rd. It was quite natural therefore that the Governor should qualify his belief that they would observe the treaty, provided an efficient agent and a small military force could be sent among them. And it was no less natural that the miners and settlers should doubt the keeping of the compact, and believe in a peace procured by the rifle.

    25 Honolulu Friend, Aug. 24, 1850.
    26 Hancock's Thirteen Years, MS.; Johnson's Cal. and Or., 121-2, 133.
    27 Barnes' Or, and Cal., MS., 13. Says Lane, speaking of the chief at Rogue River, over whom he obtained a strong influence: "Joe told me that the first time he shed white blood, he, with another Indian, discovered late in the afternoon two whites on horseback passing through their country. At first they thought these might be men intending some mischief to their people, but having watched them to their camp and seen them build their fire for the night, they conceived the idea of murdering them for the sake of the horses and luggage. This they did, taking their scalps. After that they always killed any whites they could for the sake of plunder." Autobiography, MS, 148.
    28 "The morning after the chief had been made a prisoner his old wife (he had several others, but said he only loved his first wife) came very cautiously to the bank of the river opposite, and asked to come over and stay with her chief; that she did not wish to be free while he was a prisoner. She was told to come and stay, and was kindly treated." Lane's Autobiography, MS., 94-5.
    29 Like many another old soldier Lane loved to boast of his exploits. "He asked the interpreter the name of the white chief," says the general, "and requested me to come to him as he wanted to talk. As I walked up to him he said, 'Mika name Jo Lane?' I said, 'Nawitka,' which is 'Yes.' He said, 'I want you to give me your name, for,' said he, 'I have seen no man like you.' I told the interpreter to say to him that I would give him half my name, but not all; that he should be called Jo. He was much pleased, and to the day of his death he was known as Jo. At his request I named his wife, calling her Sally. They had a son and a daughter, a lad of fourteen, the girl being about sixteen. She was quite a young queen in her manner and bearing, and for an Indian quite pretty. I named the boy Ben, and the girl Mary." Lane's Autobiography, MS., 96-8.
    30 Sacramento Transcript, Jan. 14, 1851. Lane had his adventures in the mines, some of which are well told in his Autobiography. While on Pit River, his Modoc boy, whom he named John, and who from being kindly treated became a devoted servant, was the means of saving his life and that of an Oregonian named Driscoll. pp. 88-108.
    31 Cardwell, in his Emigrant Company, MS., 2-11, gives a history of his personal experience in traveling through and residing in Southern Oregon in 1851 with 27 others. The Cow Creek Indians followed and annoyed them for some distance, when finally one of them was shot and wounded in the act of taking a horse from camp. At Grave Creek, in Rogue River Valley, three Indians pretending to be friendly offered to show his party where gold could be found on the surface of the ground, telling their story so artfully that cross-questioning of the three separately did not show any contradiction in their statements, and the party consented to follow these guides. On a plain, subsequently known as Harris Flat, the wagons stopped and 11 men were left to guard them, while the rest of the company kept on with the Indians. They were led some distance up Applegate Creek, where on examining the bars fine gold was found, but none of the promised nuggets. When the men began prospecting the stream the Indians collected on the sides of the hills above them, yelling and rolling stones down the descent. The miners, however, continued to examine the bars up the stream, a part of them standing guard rifle in hand; working in this manner two days and encamping in open ground at night. On the evening of the second day their tormentors withdrew in that mysterious manner which precedes an attack, and Cardwell's party fled in haste through the favoring darkness relieved by a late moon, across the ridge to Rogue River. At Perkins' ferry, just established, they found Chief Jo, who was rather ostentatiously protecting this first white settlement. While breakfasting a pursuing party of Indians rode up within a short distance of camp where they were stopped by the presented rifles of the white men. Jo called this a hunting party and assured the miners they should not be molested in passing through the country; on which explanation and promise word was sent to the wagon train, and the company proceeded across the Siskiyou Mountains to Shasta Flat, where they discovered good mines on the 12th of March.
    32 Or. Statesman, June 20, 1851; Or. Spectator, June 19, 1851.
    33 On the 1st of June 26 men were attacked at the same place, and an Indian was killed in the skirmish. On the 2nd four men were set upon in this camp and robbed of their horses and property, but escaped alive to Perkins' ferry; and on the same day a pack train belonging to one Nichols was robbed of a number of animals with their packs, one of the men being wounded in the heel by a ball. Two other parties were attacked on the same day, one of which lost four men. On the 3rd of June McBride and 31 others were attacked in camp south of Rogue River. A. Richardson, of San José, California, James Barlow, Captain Turpin, Jesse Dodson and son, Aaron Payne, Dillard Holman, Jesse Runnels, Presley Lovelady, and Richard Sparks of Oregon were in the company and were commended for bravery. Or. Statesman, June 20, 1851. There were but 17 guns in the party, while the Indians numbered over 200, having about the same number of guns besides their bows and arrows, and were led by a chief known as Chucklehead. The attack was made at daybreak, and the battle lasted four hours and a half, when Chucklehead being killed the Indians withdrew. It was believed that the Rogue River people lost several killed and wounded. None of the white men were seriously hurt, owing to the bad firing of the Indians, not yet used to guns, not to mention their station on the top of a hill. Three horses, a mule, and $1,500 worth of other property and gold dust were taken by the Indians.
    34 Brackett's U.S. Cavalry, 129; Or. Spectator, April 10, 1851; Or. Statesman, May 30, 1851; 32nd Cong., 1st Sess., H. Ex. Doc. 2, pt. i. 144-53.
    36 Yoncalla is a compound of yonc, eagle, and calla or calla-calla, bird or fowl, in the Indian dialect. It was applied as a name to a conspicuous butte in the Umpqua Valley, at the foot of which Jesse Applegate made his home, a large and hospitable mansion, now going to ruin. Applegate agreed to assist Kearny only in case of a better route than the cañon road being discovered, his men should put it in condition to be traveled by the immigration that year, to which Kearny consented, and a detachment of 28 men, under Lieutenant Williamson, accompanied by Levi Scott as well as Applegate, began the reconnaissance about the 10th of June, the main body of Kearny's command traveling the old road. It was almost with satisfaction that Applegate and Scott found that no better route than the one they opened in 1846 could be discovered, since it removed the reproach of their enemies that they were to blame for not finding a better one at that time. None other has ever been found, though Applegate himself expected when with Kearny to be able to get a road saving 40 miles of travel. Ewald, in Or. Statesman, July 22, 1851.
    36 Table Rock is a flat-topped mountain overhanging Rogue River. Using the rock as a watchtower, the Indians in perfect security had a large extent of country and a long line of road under their observation, and could determine the strength of any passing company of travelers and their place of encampment before sallying forth to the attack. Or. Statesman, July 22, 1851.
    37 Brackett; in his U.S. Cavalry, calls this officer "the excellent and beloved Captain James Stuart." The nature of the wound caused excruciating pain, but his great regret was that after passing unharmed through six hard battles in Mexico he should die in the wilderness at the hands of an Indian. It is doubtful, however, if death on a Mexican battlefield would have brought with it a more lasting renown. Stuart Creek, on which he was interred--camp being made over his grave to obliterate it--and the warm place kept for him in the hearts of Oregonians, will perpetuate his memory. Cardwell's Emigrant Company, MS., 14; Or. Statesman, July 8, 1851; S.F. Alta, July 16, 1851; State Rights Democrat, Dec. 15th and 22nd, 1876.
    38 Cardwell relates that his company were returning from Josephine Creek--named after a daughter of Kerby who founded Kerbyville [Josephine Creek and county were named after Josephine Rollins]--on their way to Yreka, when they met Applegate at the ferry on Rogue River, who suggested that it "would be proper enough to assist the government troops and Lamerick's volunteers to clean out the Indians in Rogue River Valley." Thirty men upon this suggestion went to Willow Springs on the 16th, upon the understanding that Kearny would make an attack next day near the mouth of Stuart's Creek, when it was thought the Indians would move in this direction, and the volunteers could engage them until the troops came up. "At daylight the following morning," says Cardwell, "we heard the firing commence. It was kept up quite briskly for about fifteen minutes. There was a terrible yelling and crying by the Indians, and howling of dogs during the battle."' Emigrant Company, MS., 12; Crane's Top. Mem., MS., 40. The names of Applegate, Scott, Boone, T'Vault, Armstrong, Blanchard, and Colonel Tranor from California are mentioned in Lane's correspondence in the Or. Statesman July 22, 1851, as ready to assist the troops. I suppose this to be James W. Tranor, formerly of the New Orleans press, "an adventurous pioneer and brilliant newspaper writer," who was afterward killed by Indians while crossing Pit River. Oakland Transcript, Dec. 7, 1872.
    39 32nd Cong., 1st Sess., H. Ex. Doc. 2, pt. i. 145; Or. Spectator, Aug. 12, 1851.
    40 Letter of Lane, in Or. Statesman, July 22, 1851.
    41 It is said that the Indians called Mount Shasta Yee-ka, and that the miners having caught something of Spanish orthography and pronunciation changed it to Yreka; hence Shasta Butte City became Yreka. E. Steele, in Or. Council, Jour. 1857-8, app. 44.
    42 Irvine, who was with Williamson on a topographical expedition, had an adventure before he was well out of the Shasta country with two Indians and a Frenchman who took him prisoner, bound him to a tree, and inflicted some tortures upon him. The Frenchman who was using the Indians for his own purposes finally sent them away on some pretense, and taking the watch and valuables belonging to Irvine sat down by the campfire to count his spoil. While thus engaged the lieutenant succeeded in freeing himself from his bonds, and rushing upon the fellow struck him senseless for a moment. On recovering himself the Frenchman struggled desperately with his former prisoner but was finally killed and Irvine escaped. Or. Statesman, Aug. 5, 1851.
    43 Among Lane's company were Daniel Waldo, Hunter, and Rust of Kentucky, and Simonson of Indiana.
Hubert Howe Bancroft, History of the Pacific States of North America, vol. XXV Oregon, 1888, pages 218-232


    NOTWITHSTANDING the treaty entered into, as I have related, by certain chiefs of Rogue River in the summer of 1852, hostilities had not altogether ceased, although conducted less openly than before. With such a rough element in their country as these miners and settlers, many of them bloody-minded and unprincipled men, and most of them holding the opinion that it was right and altogether proper that the natives should be killed, it was impossible to have peace. The white men, many of them, did not want peace. The quicker the country was rid of the redskin vermin the better, they said. And in carrying out their determination, they often outdid the savage in savagery.
    There was a subchief, called Taylor by white men, who ranged the country about Grave Creek, a northern tributary of Rogue River, who was specially hated, having killed a party of seven during a winter storm and reported them drowned. He committed other depredations upon small parties passing over the road.1 It was believed, also, that white women were prisoners among the Indians near Table Rock, a rumor arising probably from the vague reports of the captivity of two white girls near Klamath Lake.
    Excited by what they knew and what they imagined, about the 1st of June, 1853, a party from Jacksonville and vicinity took Taylor with three others and hanged them. Then they went to Table Rock to rescue the alleged captive white women, and finding none, they fired into a village of natives, killing six, then went their way to get drunk and boast of their brave deeds.2
    There was present neither Indian agent nor military officer to prevent the outrages on either side. [Alonzo Skinner began his service as Indian agent in the Rogue River country in December 1851. He was replaced by Samuel H. Culver--not Sam Colver--in May 1853, but Culver was not dispatched to the Rogue River Valley until August 1853.] The new superintendent, Palmer, was hardly installed in office, and had at his command but one agent,3 whom he dispatched with the company raised to open the middle route over the Cascade Mountains. As to troops, the 4th infantry had been sent to the northwest coast in the preceding September, but were so distributed that no companies were within reach of Rogue River.4 As might have been expected, a few weeks after the exploits of the Jacksonville company, the settlements were suddenly attacked, and a bloody carnival followed.5 Volunteer companies quickly gathered up the isolated families and patrolled the country, occasionally being fired at by the concealed foe.6 A petition was addressed to Captain Alden, in command of Fort Jones in Scott Valley, asking for arms and ammunition. Alden immediately came forward with twelve men. Isaac Hill, with a small company, kept guard at Ashland.7
    On the 7th of June, Hill attacked some Indians five miles from Ashland, and killed six of them. In return, the Indians on the 17th surprised an immigrant camp and killed and wounded several.8 The houses everywhere were now fortified; business was suspended, and every available man started out to hunt Indians.9
    On the 15th S. Ettinger was sent to Salem with a request to Governor Curry for a requisition on Colonel Bonneville, in command at Vancouver, for a howitzer, rifles, and ammunition, which was granted. With the howitzer went Lieutenant Kautz and six artillerymen; and as escort forty volunteers, officered by J. W. Nesmith captain, L. F. Grover 1st lieutenant, W. K. Beale 2nd lieutenant, J. D. McCurdy surgeon, J. M. Crooks orderly sergeant.10 Over two hundred volunteers were enrolled in two companies, and the chief command was given to Alden. From Yreka there were also eighty volunteers, under Captain Goodall. By the 9th of August, both Nesmith and the Indian superintendent were at Yoncalla.
    Fighters were plenty, but they were without subsistence. Alden appointed a board of military commissioners to constitute a general department of supply.11 Learning that the Indians were in force near Table Rock, Alden planned an attack for the night of the 11th; but in the meantime information came that the Indians were in the valley killing and burning right and left. Without waiting for officers or orders, away rushed the volunteers to the defense of their homes, and for several days the white men scoured the country in small bands in pursuit of the foe. Sam, the war chief of Rogue River, now approached the volunteer camp and offered battle. Alden, having once more collected his forces, made a movement on the 15th to dislodge the enemy, supposed to be encamped in a bushy cañon five miles north of Table Rock, but whom he found to have changed their position to some unknown place of concealment. Following their trail was exceedingly difficult, as the savages had fired the woods behind them, which obliterated it, filled the atmosphere with smoke and heat, and made progress dangerous. It was not until the morning of the 17th that Lieutenant Ely of the Yreka company discovered the Indians on Evans Creek, ten miles north of their last encampment. Having but twenty-five men, and the main force having returned to Camp Stuart for supplies, Ely fell back to an open piece of ground, crossed by creek channels lined with bunches of willows, where, after sending a messenger to headquarters for reinforcements, he halted. But before the other companies could come up, he was discovered by Sam, who hastened to attack him.
    Advancing along the gullies and behind the willows, the Indians opened fire, killing two men at the first discharge. The company retreated for shelter, as rapidly as possible, to a pine ridge a quarter of a mile away, but the savages soon flanked and surrounded them. The fight continued for three and a half hours, Ely having four more men killed and four wounded.12 Goodall with the remainder of his company then came up, and the Indians retreated.

    On the 21st, and before Alden was ready to move, Lane arrived with a small force from Roseburg.13 The command was tendered to Lane, who accepted it.14
    A battalion under Ross was now directed to proceed up Evans Creek to a designated rendezvous, while two companies, captains Goodall and Rhodes, under Alden with Lane at their head, marched by the way of Table Rock. The first day brought Alden's command fifteen miles beyond Table Rock without having discovered the enemy; the second day they passed over a broken country enveloped in clouds of smoke; the third day they made camp at the eastern base of a rocky ridge between Evans Creek and a small stream farther up Rogue River. On the morning of the fourth day scouts reported the Indian trail, and a road to it was made by cutting a passage for the horses through a thicket.
    Between nine and ten o'clock, Lane, riding in advance along the trail which here was quite broad, heard a gun fired and distinguished voices. The troops were halted on the summit of the ridge, and ordered to dismount in silence and tie their horses. When all were ready, Alden with Goodall's company was directed to proceed on foot along the trail and attack the Indians in front, while Rhodes with his men took a ridge to the left to turn the enemy's flank, Lane waiting for the rear guard to come up, whom he intended to lead into action.15
    The first intimation the Indians had that they were discovered was when Alden's command fired into their camp. Although completely surprised, they made a vigorous resistance, their camp being fortified with logs, and well supplied with ammunition. To get at them it was necessary to charge through dense thickets, an operation both difficult and dangerous from the opportunities offered of an ambush. Before Lane brought up the rear, Alden had been severely wounded, the general finding him lying in the arms of a sergeant. Lane then led a charge in person, and when within thirty yards of the enemy, was struck by a rifle ball in his right arm near the shoulder.
    In the afternoon, the Indians called out for a parley, and desired peace; whereupon Lane ordered a suspension of firing, and sent Robert B. Metcalfe and James Bruce into their lines to learn what they had to say. Being told that their former friend, Lane, was in command, they desired an interview, which was granted.
    On going into their camp, Lane found many wounded; and they were burning their dead, as if fearful they would fall into the hands of the enemy. He was met by Chief Jo, his namesake, and his brothers Sam and Jim, who told him their hearts were sick of war, and that they would meet him seven days thereafter at Table Rock, when they would give up their arms,16 make a treaty of peace, and place themselves under the protection of the Indian superintendent, who should be sent for to be present at the council. To this Lane agreed, taking a son of Jo as hostage, and returning to the volunteer encampment at the place of dismounting in the morning, where the wounded were being cared for and the dead being buried.17
    The Ross battalion arrived too late for the fight, and having had a toilsome march were disappointed, and would have renewed the battle, but were restrained by Lane. Although for two days the camps were within four hundred yards of each other, the truce remained unbroken. During this interval the Indian women brought water for the wounded white men; and when the white men moved to camp, the red men furnished bearers for their litters.18 I find no mention made of any such humane or Christian conduct on the part of the superior race.
    On the 29th, both the white and red battalions moved slowly toward the valley, each wearing the appearance of confidence, though a strict watch was covertly kept on both sides.19 The Indians established themselves for the time on a high piece of ground directly opposite the perpendicular cliffs of Table Rock, while Lane made his camp in the valley, in plain view from the Indian position, and about one mile distant, on the spot where Fort Lane was afterward located.
    The armistice continued inviolate so far as concerned the volunteer army under Lane, and the Indians under Sam, Jo, and Jim. But hostilities were not suspended between independent companies ranging the country and the Grave Creek and Applegate Creek Indians, and a band of Shastas under Tipso, whose haunts were in the Siskiyou Mountains.20
    A council, preliminary to a treaty, was held the 4th of September, when more hostages were given, and the next day Lane, with Smith, Palmer, Grover, and others, visited the Rogue River camp. The 8th was set for the treaty-making. On that day the white men presented themselves at the Indian encampment in good force and well armed. There had arrived, besides, the company from the Willamette, with Kautz and his howitzer,21 all of which had its effect to obtain their consent to terms which, although hard, the condition of the white settlers made imperative,22 placing the conquered wholly in the power of the conquerors, and in return for which they were to receive quasi benefits which they did not want, could not understand, and were better off without. A treaty was also made with the Cow Creek band of Umpquas, usually a quiet people, but affected by contact with the Grave Creek band of the Rogue River nation.23
    On the whole, the people of Rogue River behaved very well after the treaty. The settlers and miners in the Illinois Valley about the middle of October being troubled by incursions of the coast tribes, who had fled into the interior to escape the penalty of their depredations on the beach miners about Crescent City, Lieutenant R. C. W. Radford was sent from Fort Lane with a small detachment to chastise them. Finding them more numerous than was expected, Radford was compelled to send for reinforcements, which arriving under Lieutenant Caster on the 22nd, a three days' chase over a mountainous country brought them up with the marauders, when the troops had a skirmish with them, killing ten or more, and capturing a considerable amount of property which had been stolen, but losing two men killed and four wounded.
    After this the miners hereabout took care of themselves, and made a treaty with that part of the Rogue River tribe, which was observed until January 1854, when a party of miners from Sailor Diggings, in their pursuit of an unknown band of robbers attacked the treaty Indians, some being killed on both sides; but the Indian agent being sent for, an explanation ensued, and peace was temporarily restored.

    The Indian disturbances of 1853 in this part of Oregon, according to the report of the Secretary of War,24 cost the lives of more than a hundred white persons and several hundred Indians. The expense was estimated at $7,000 a day, or a total of $258,000, though the war lasted for little more than a month, and there had been in the field only from 200 to 500 men.
    In addition to the actual direct expense of the war was the loss by settlers, computed by a commission consisting of L. F. Grover, A. C. Gibbs, and G. H. Ambrose25 to be little less than $46,000. Of this amount $17,800, including payment for the improvements on the reserved lands, was deducted from the sum paid to the Indians for their lands, which left only $29,000 to be paid by Congress, which claims, together with those of the volunteers, were finally settled on that basis.26

    1 Drew, in Or. Jour. Council, 1857-8, app. 26; Or. Statesman, June 28, 1853; Jacksonville Sentinel, May 25, 1867; Dowell's Nar., MS., 5-6.
    2 "Let our motto be extermination," cries the editor of the Yreka Herald, "and death to all opposers." See also S.F. Alta, June 14, 1853; Jacksonville
Sentinel, May 25, 1867. The leaders of the company were Bates and Twogood. [Bates was captain of the company; James Twogood is not known to have participated.]
    3 This was J. M. Garrison. Other appointments arrived soon after, designating Samuel H. Culver and R. R. Thompson. J. L. Parrish was retained as sub-agent. Rept. of Supt Palmer, in Ù.S. H. Ex. Doc., i., vol. i. pt. i. 448, 33rd cong. 1st sess.
    4 Five companies were stationed at Columbia Barracks, Fort Vancouver, one at Fort Steilacoom, one at the mouth of Umpqua River, two at Port Orford, and one at Humboldt Bay. Cal. Mil. Af. Scraps, 13-14; Or. Statesman, Sept. 4, 1852.
    5 August 4th, Richard Edwards was killed. August 5th, next night, Thomas J. Wills [or Wells] and Rhodes Noland were killed, and one Davis and Burrel B. Griffin were wounded. Ten houses were burned between Jacksonville and W. G. T'Vault's place, known as the Dardanelles, a distance of ten miles.
    6 Thus were killed John R. Hardin and Dr. Rose, both prominent citizens of Jackson County. Or. Statesman, Aug. 23, 1853.
    7 The men were quartered at the houses of Frederick Alberding and Patrick Dunn. Their names, so far as I know, besides Alberding and Dunn, were Thomas Smith, William Taylor, and Andrew B. Carter. The names of settlers who were gathered in at this place were Frederick Heber and wife; Robert Wright and wife; Samuel Grubb, wife and five children; William Taylor, R. B. Hargadine, John Gibbs, M. B. Morris, R. Tungate, Morris Howell. On the 13th of Aug. they were joined by an immigrant party just arrived. consisting of A. G. Fordyce, wife and three children, J. Kennedy, Hugh Smith, Brice Whitmore, Ira Arrowsmith, William Hodgkins, wife and three children, all of Iowa, and George Barnett of Illinois. Scraps of Southern Or. Hist., in Ashland Tidings, Sept. 27, 1878.
    8 Hugh Sunith and John Gibbs were killed; William Hodgkins, Brice Whitman, A. G. Fordyce, and M. B. Morris wounded.
    9 Duncan's Southern Or., MS., 8, says: "The enraged populace began to slaughter right and left." Martin Angel, from his own door, shot an Indian. Or. Statesman, Aug. 23, 1853.
    10 Grover's Pub. Life in Or., MS., 29; Or. Statesman, Aug. 23, 30, 1853.
    11 George Dart, Edward Sheil, L. A. Loomis, and Richard Dugan constituted the commission.
    12 J. Shane, F. Keith, Frank Perry, A. Douglas, A. C. Colburn, and L. Locktirg [Stocktirz/Stockling?] were killed, and Lieut. Ely, John Albin, James Carrol, and Z. Shutz wounded. Or. Statesman, Sept. 6, 1853; S.F. Alta, Aug. 28, 1853.
    13 Accompanying Lane were Pleasant Armstrong of Yamhill County, James Clugage, who had been to the Umpqua Valley to enlist if possible the Klickitat Indians against the Rogue Rivers, but without success, and eleven others. See Lane's Autobiography, MS., 63.
    14 Curry had commissioned Lane brigadier general, and Nesmith, who had not yet arrived, was bearer of the commission, but this was unknown to either Alden or Lane at the time. Besides, Lane was a more experienced field officer than Alden; but Capt. Cram, of the topographical engineers, subsequently blamed Alden, as well as the volunteers, because the command was given to Lane, "while Alden, an army officer, was there to take it." U.S. H. Ex. Doc., 114, p. 41, 35th cong. 2nd sess.; H. Ex. Doc., i., pt. ii. 42, 33rd cong. 1st sess.
    15 In this expedition, W. G. T'Vault acted as aide to Gen. Lane, C. Lewis, a volunteer captain, as asst. adjutant gen., but falling ill on the 29th, Capt. L. F. Mosher, who afterward married one of Lane's daughters, took his place. Mosher had belonged to the 4th Ohio volunteers. Lane's Rept. in U.S. H. Ex. Doc. i., pt. ii. 40, 33rd cong. 1st sess.
    16 They had 111 rifles and 86 pistols. S.F. Alta, Sept. 4, 1853.
    17 See Or. Statesman, Nov. 15, 1853. Among the slain was Pleasant Armstrong, brother of the author of Oregon, a descriptive work from which I have sometimes quoted. The latter says that as soon as the troops were away the remains of his brother were exhumed, and being cut to pieces were left to the wolves. Armstrong's Or., 52-3. John Scarborough and Isaac Bradley were also killed. The wounded were 5 in number, one of whom, Charles C. Abbe, afterward died of his wounds. The Indian loss was 8 killed and 20 wounded.
    18 Lane's Autobiography, MS., 96-7.
    19 Siskiyou County Affairs, MS., 2, 4-5; Minto's Early Days, MS., 46; Grover's Pub. Life, MS., 28-51; Brown's Salem Dir., 1871, 33-5; Yreka Mountain Herald, Sept. 24, 1853; Or. Statesman, Oct. 11, 1853; U.S. H. Ex. Doc., 114, p. 41-2, 35th cong. 2nd sess.; Jacksonville Sentinel, July 1, 1867; Meteorol. Reg., 1853-4, 594; Nesmith's Reminiscences, in Trans. Or. Pioneer Asso., 1879, p. 44; Or. Statesman, Sept. 27, 1853.
    20 R. Williams killed 12 Indians and lost one man, Thomas Phillips. Owens, on Grave Creek, under pledge of peace, got the Indians into his camp and shot them all. U.S. H. Ex. Doc., 99, p. 4, 33rd cong. 1st sess. Again Williams surprised a party of Indians on Applegate Creek, and after inducing them to lay down their arms shot 18 of them, etc.
    21 The Indians had news of the approach of the howitzer several days before it reached Rogue River. They said it was a hyas rifle, which took a hatful of powder for a load, and would shoot down a tree. It was an object of great terror to the Indians, and they begged not to have it fired. Or. Statesman, Sept. 27, 1853.
    22 The treaty bound the Indians to reside permanently in a place to be set aside for them; to give up their firearms to the agent put over them, except a few for hunting purposes, 17 guns in all; to pay out of the sum received for their lands indemnity for property destroyed by them; to forfeit all their annuities should they go to war again against the settlers; to notify the agent of other tribes entering the valley with warlike intent, and assist in expelling them; to apply to the agent for redress whenever they suffered any grievances at the hands of the white people; to give up, in short, their entire independence and become the wards of a government of which they knew nothing.
    The treaty of sale of their lands, concluded on the 10th, conveyed all the country claimed by them, which was bounded by a line beginning at a point near the mouth of Applegate Creek, running southerly to the summit of the Siskiyou Mountains, and along the summits of the Siskiyou and Cascade Mountains to the headwaters of Rogue River, and down that stream to Jumpoff Joe Creek, thence down said creek to a point due north of, and thence to, the place of beginning--a temporary reservation being made of about 100 square miles on the north side of Rogue River, between Table Rock and Evans Creek, embracing but ten or twelve square miles of arable land, the remainder being rough and mountainous, abounding in game, while the vicinity of Table Rock furnished their favorite edible roots.
    The United States agreed to pay for the whole Rogue River Valley thus sold the sum of $60,000, after deducting $15,000 for indemnity for losses of property by settlers; $5,000 of the remaining $45,000 to be expended agricultural implements, blankets, clothing, and other goods deemed by the sup. most conducive to the welfare of the Indians, on or before the 1st day of September 1854, and for the payment of such permanent improvements as had been made on the land reserved by white claimants, the value of which should be ascertained by three persons appointed by the sup. to appraise them, The remaining $40,000 was to be paid in 16 equal annual installments of $2,500 each, commencing on or about the 1st of September, 1854, in clothing, blankets, farming utensils, stock, and such other articles as would best meet the needs of the Indians. It was further agreed to erect at the expense of the government a dwelling house for each of three principal chiefs, the cost of which should not exceed $500 each, which buildings should be put up as soon as practicable after the ratification of the treaty. When the Indians should be removed to another permanent reserve, buildings of equal value should be erected for the chiefs, and $15,000 additional should be paid to the tribe in five annual installments, commencing at the expiration of the previous installments.
    Other articles were added to the treaty, by which the Indians were bound to protect the agents or other persons sent by the U.S. to reside among them, and to refrain from molesting any white person passing through their reserves. It was agreed that no private revenges or retaliations should be indulged in on either side; that the chiefs should, on complaint being made to the Indian agent, deliver up the offender to be tried and punished, conformably to the laws of the U.S.; and also that on complaint of the Indians for any violation of law by white men against them, the latter should suffer the penalty of the law.
    The sacredness of property was equally secured on either side, the Indians promising to assist in recovering horses that had been or might be stolen by their people, and the United States promising indemnification for property taken from them by the white men. And to prevent mischief being made by evil-disposed persons, the Indians were required to deliver up on the requisition of the U.S. authorities or the agents or sup. any white person residing among them. The names appended to the treaty were Joel Palmer, Superintendent of Indian Affairs; Samuel H. Culver, Indian agent; Apserkahar (Jo), Toquahear (Sam), Anachaharah (Jim), John, and Lympe. The witnesses were Joseph Lane, Augustus V. Kautz, J. W. Nesmith, R. B. Metcalfe, John [Ross?] (interpreter), J. D. Mason, and T. T. Tierney. Or. Statesman, Sept. 27, 1853; Nesmith's Reminiscences, in Trans. Or. Pioneer Asso., 1879, 46; Portland West Shore, May, 1879, 154-5; S.F. Alta, Sept. 24, 1853; Palmer's Wagon Trains, MS., 50; Ind. Aff. Rept., 1856, 265-7; and 1865, 469-71.
    23 The land purchased from the Cow Creek band was in extent about 800 square miles, nearly one half of which was excellent farming land, and the remainder mountainous, with a good soil and fine timber. The price agreed upon was $12,000, two small houses, costing about $200, fencing and plowing a field of five acres, and furnishing the seed to sow it; the purchase money to be paid in annual installments of goods. This sum was insignificant compared to the value of the land, but bargains of this kind were graded by the number of persons in the band, the Cow Creeks being but few. Besides, Indian agents who intend to have their treaties ratified must get the best bargains that can be extorted from ignorance and need.
    24 U.S. H. Ex. Doc., i., pt. ii. 43, 33rd cong. 1st sess.
    25 Portland Oregonian, Dec. 30, 1854; U.S. H. Ex. Doc., 65, 43rd cong. 2nd sess.
    The names of the claimants on account of property destroyed, on which the Indian Department paid a pro rata of 34.77 percent out of the $15,000 retained from the treaty appropriation for that purpose, were as follows, showing who were doing business, had settled, or were mining in the Rogue River Valley at this period: Daniel and Ephraim Raymond, Clinton Barney, Davis Evans, Martin Angel, Michael Brennan, Albert B. Jennison, William J. Newton, Wm. Thompson, Henry Rowland, John W. Patrick, John R. Hardin, Pleasant W. Stone, Jeremiah Yarnell, Wm. S. King, Cram, Rogers & Co., Edith M. Nickel, John Benjamin, David N. Birdseye, Lewis Rothermel, Mary Ann Hodgkins, George H. C. Taylor, John Markley, Sigmond Ettlinger, James C. Tolman, Henry Helms, William M. Elliott, Silas and Edward Day, James Triplett, Nathan B. Lane, John Agy, James Bruce, James B. Fryer, Wm. G. T'Vault, Hall & Burpee, John Penniger, John E. Ross, John S. Miller, D. Irwin, Burrel B. Griffin, Traveena McComb, Wm. N. Ballard, Freeman Smith, Nicholas Klopfenstein, Daniel F. Fisher, Thomas D. Jewett, Sylvester Pease, David Hayhart, McGreer, Drury & Runnels, James Mooney, John Gheen, Theodric Cameron, James Abrahams, Francis Nasarett, Galley & Oliver, T. B. Sanderson, Frederick Rosenstock, Dunn & Alberding, Asa G. Fordyce, Obadiah D. Harris, James L. London, Samuel Grubb, Wm. Kahler, Samuel Williams, Hiram Niday, John Anderson, Elias Huntington, Sherlock Abrams, Thomas Frazelle, Weller & Rose, Robert B. Metcalfe, Charles Williams, John Swinden, James R. Davis, Isaac Woolen, Wm. M. Hughes. Of the settlers on the reservation lands who brought claims were these: Davis Evans, Matthew G. Kennedy, John G. Cook, William Hutchinson, Charles Grey, Robert B. Metcalfe, Jacob Gall, George H. C. Taylor, John M. Silcott, James Leslie. Report of Supt. Palmer, in U.S. H. Ex. Doc., 52, p. 3-5, 38th cong. 2nd sess.
Hubert Howe Bancroft, History of the Pacific States of North America, vol. XXV Oregon, 1888, pages 311-321

Last revised January 28, 2021