The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised

Bear Stories
Also see John B. Griffin's tales and the story of Reelfoot.

JACKSONVILLE, O.T.--The Sentinel, of Nov. 13th, chronicles the annexed intelligence:
    "We learn from J. M. Durban that himself and two others, Charles Lythus and Seth Hall, were attacked one day last week, near the mouth of Little Butte Creek, by a large grizzly bear. Durban was the only one who had a gun, and he fired at the bear, wounding him, but the bear continued to pursue them, and overtook Hall, and bit him severely on the back of the neck and on the calf of his leg, and then fell dead. On examination, it was found that the ball had gone through the lower portion of the heart of the bear, who ran afterwards over a hundred yards before he fell. The bear weighed over twelve hundred pounds; one of his feet measured thirteen inches in length. Hall, we learn, is recovering from his wounds."
Sacramento Daily Union, November 22, 1858, page 3

    ENCOUNTER WITH A GRIZZLY IN OREGON.--The Oregon Sentinel, of November 10th, relates the following:
    A German named William Brahmer, living on Rogue River, two miles below Bethel's Ferry, had a terrible adventure with a grizzly bear on the morning of Thursday of last week. He was out hunting, accompanied by his two dogs. When about two miles from his cabin, in the woods, his dogs started upon the track of some animal, which they traced to a clump of brush. Here they halted and soon commenced barking violently. Brahmer, thinking that they had discovered a black bear, hastened to the spot. Just as he came in front of the stump of an old oak tree, a grizzly came charging toward him with jaws wide open, growling and snorting. Our hunter raised his rifle, quickly aimed at the brute's head, but before he could pull [the] trigger the bear was within a few feet of him. Instantly he lowered his piece so as to hit the monster directly in the mouth, and pulled. The cap snapped
[i.e., the rifle misfired]. In a moment, quick as a flash, the bear rose upon his hind feet, caught Brahmer's right arm between his teeth, and with his forepaws forcibly threw his victim to the ground. Before letting go with his teeth, the grizzly had torn the great muscle of Brahmer's upper arm almost entirely away, thus completely crippling him. But the plucky fellow reached for his knife with his left hand. The effort was vain, and meanwhile the bear was biting and tearing his limbs and flesh fearfully. With great presence of mind, Brahmer then, as a last chance for escape from the clutches of his assailant, cried out for his dogs. They answered to his call, happily, and at once set to worrying the common foe. Finding himself thus unceremoniously attacked in the rear, the grizzly turned, left Brahmer and commenced to battle with the dogs. The lacerated man took advantage of this diversion and, gathering all his energies, rose to his feet [and] made a pretty fleet run for about two hundred yards, when he fell exhausted and lay panting, awaiting reaction of vigor. The dogs and bear continued fighting. The loss of blood and the severe pain of his wounds began to tell upon Brahmer, yet he managed to creep and drag his way to his own cabin, which he reached in two or three hours' time. The bear had tracked him for a part of the way, but was kept from close approach by the faithful dogs. Some men happened to be at the cabin when Brahmer arrived, and while some of them attended to him, the rest went in search of the bear. He had made good his escape, and the dogs, apparently well content to let him alone, had returned to their master's cabin. Dr. Brooks was sent for, and on Friday he dressed the wounds that were serious or severe. On Monday Brahmer was brought to town and is now at Dr. Brooks' hospital, where we saw him on Wednesday and received from his own lips a sketch of his fearful adventure. His body is bitten and lacerated terribly. He has over fifty wounds in all--twenty-eight of which are quite serious. More than two pounds of flesh has been torn from his right arm, and the great muscle is quite gone. It is doubtful if he ever recovers any use of this limb.
Sacramento Daily Union, November 17, 1860, page 3

    CONVALESCING.--Brahmer, who was so terribly mauled and torn by a grizzly a few weeks ago, on Rogue River, is rapidly recovering from his wounds, and is enabled to go about the streets on crutches. His right arm, from which the great muscle was bitten, will never regain its strength or full use. He is lucky to get off so well.
Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, November 24, 1860, page 3

(From the Jacksonville Times.)
    Last Saturday evening, Washington Obenchain, who resides on Big Butte Creek, about 30 miles from Jacksonville, noticed that something had been disturbing his cattle, and on making search, found the intruder to be a very large grizzly bear. Early next morning, Mr. Obenchain, accompanied by his two brothers, took their guns and dogs and started in search of the grizzly, and the dogs succeeded in overhauling him in about four miles travel, bringing him to a standstill. The men spurred up their horses and were soon on the ground, which is known as 80-acre prairie, dismounted, and one of them fired on him, but without any perceivable effect, except to start him for the brush. Washington Obenchain then mounted his horse and followed him into the brush, where the dogs had again brought him to bay. Mr. Obenchain, finding himself in close quarters, raised his gun and let him have a load of buckshot, which set bruin in excellent fighting humor, and he turned on him for revenge, knocking his horse from under him, and was using him up pretty fast, when the dogs, who were vigorously attacking the bear in the rear, attracted bruin's attention, saving their master from further mutilation, until one of the other men came up and gave him a dead shot, which caused him to retire in disgust, and the dogs then took satisfaction out of him. The bear was of enormous size and would weigh about 1,200 pounds. One of his forefeet measured 12 inches in length and 9 inches in width. This bear has been a pest to the citizens of that section for years. We learn from Dr. Aiken, who dressed the wounds of Mr. Obenchain, that he received twelve flesh wounds, nine of which are serious and the rest slight, the most dangerous being where the bear bit him through the legs. Mr. Obenchain is convalescing, but it is not likely that he will hanker after another bear fight soon.
State Rights Democrat, Albany, Oregon, October 11, 1872, page 1   For later, mythologized, versions click here.

    The most wonderful bear stories are related by these courageous backwoodsmen. I can only believe them by taking a look at their stocks of bear, panther and deer skins. I am thinking of bringing home with me enough bear skins to carpet one or two of our rooms. I asked if there was any danger of exterminating this game, and received as an answer that there would not be in 200 years.
Adam Klippel, "A Missourian's Observations," Ashland Tidings, October 12, 1877, page 1

A Grizzly Bear Story.
    It was away back in the dawn of the early days--in 1854. Col. T'Vault then lived a short distance this side of Dardanelles and a few miners had erected their little log huts in the gulches in the vicinity--along the foothills toward the Willow Springs. A few farmers had begun in a moderate way to stir up the bottom lands, and among others thus engaged was one Dr. Kane. The day before the circumstance of which we write a son of Dr. Kane, having been out in the manzanita hills not far east of the T'Vault place, had discovered the retreat of a huge grizzly bear; for in those days,
The grizzly, king of the forest,
Peerless in courage and brawn,
Oft wandered abroad in the valley,
In the shadowy gray of the dawn,
and usually spent the day among the manzanita and chaparral of the foothills. Well, a party of five men, avowedly as brave as any in the settlement, armed themselves for the conflict, and, guided by young Kane, started out in search of the "b'ar," expecting to have some rare sport. Among others engaged in this hazardous raid was one H. C. Hill, a young man of courage and muscularity, who was armed with a squirrel gun and otherwise equipped for a fierce encounter, with his ursine highness. As the party advanced through the thickets, "every man in the rear" as Mark Twain would say, it happened that they scattered over quite a district of country and it was evident that as they would not all be together when the bear was found; there would be a chance for some to escape. Dr. Kane and Mr. Hill, while creeping along through the manzanita, drifted into each other's company and, soon after, came up suddenly within thirty feet of the bear, whereupon the monster rose up on his hind feet and snorted so loudly that even the manzanita leaves trembled and the two valiant hunters felt the electric influence of sudden excitement--it was not fear--actually lifting their hats into the air. Dr. Kane leveled his shotgun and fired, in spite of the warning of his cooler comrade, and as quick as a flash, the bear was after him and the doctor fleeing for life. In pursuing the doctor, the bear passed within a few feet of Mr. Hill, who, hoping to save his friend by a well-directed shot, let fly with his squirrel gun. As he had wished, his friend was saved but his own safety was not so well assured, for it was now his time to run, with the bear close at his heels. He was strong and fleet of foot but he was no match for the bear, and, while endeavoring to turn around a sapling quicker than the bear could, he tripped and fell and the bear was upon him in a moment. With one huge claw it tore off his hat rim, so close the blow came to his head, and then seized him by the side just above the hip bone with its teeth, raised him from the ground and shook him as a cat would a mouse. At this moment Mr. Hill's large Newfoundland dog came up and seized the bear, which turned at once upon its new antagonist. The dog seemed to know just what was required, and kept up the engagement, seizing the bear whenever it made a start for Mr. Hill and then retreating a little way, pursued by the bear, until the two were a hundred yards away. All this time Mr. Hill's comrades, although they had heard his cry of "My God, he's got me!" had kept safely secreted behind brush and trees until the dog had led the bear away and the coast was clear. They now came up to console him with words of sympathy and received such a lecture from the prostrate man, that the reverberations of his eloquence resounded, for ever so long, through the deep gulches and along the rocky hillsides. Mr. Hill was dangerously hurt, but they carried him to his cabin, and, being a man of iron constitution, he eventually recovered. The dark red lines are today plainly visible on his side where the tusks of the monster plowed their way through the flesh. The next day a party of perhaps 20 men re-entered the thickets, hunted out the hiding place of the bear, and taking up their positions in oaks on different sides, brought him down with a score of shots. The grizzly weighed 900 lbs., and was evidently an old fellow. In one of his legs they found a copper ball, an ounce in weight, which had evidently been there many years, perhaps ever since the days when the trappers of the Hudson Bay Co. traversed this then wilderness land, and had so many thrilling adventures with wild beasts and wild men. For the verification of this story we take pleasure in referring our readers to H. C. Hill, Esq., one of the city fathers of Ashland town.
Ashland Tidings, November 23, 1877, page 3

    OUR REGULAR BEAR STORY.--Prof. Leek informs us that Mr. Sim Farlow of Butte Creek a few days ago came near having a very serious experience with a bear. It appears that while out hunting, accompanied by his dogs, he came suddenly onto a mealy-nosed bear, an animal nearly approaching the grizzly in size and ferocity. The dogs at once gave chase and the bear went up a tree just far enough to be out of their reach. Mr. Farlow, not fully realizing the danger perhaps, came up within a few paces and fired. The bear, not seriously hurt, was after him in a moment and Mr. Farlow making his best time over logs and through thickets. But the bear steadily gained on him and just as he was turning around a huge boulder the mealy nose of the man-destroyer was within a few inches of him. Just at this moment the dogs seized the bear, and as it turned to beat them off Mr. Farlow made a lucky shot and brought the "varmint" down in its tracks.
Ashland Tidings, November 30, 1877, page 3

Bear Story Extraordinary.
(From the Roseburg Plaindealer.)
    One of the most remarkable accidents we have ever heard of happened to Mr. G. W. Smith, of Douglas County, on Wednesday last. During a temporary lull in the rain storm, when the sun shone clear and warmly, Mr. Smith took his Henry rifle and strolled off over the hill. After hunting for some game, and seeing none, he turned his steps homeward. While walking along a shady hillside where a little snow yet lay, he discovered the fresh imprints of a bear's feet. They led him over hill and valley for about two miles and disappeared in a dense jungle. When half way across he heard a slight noise behind him. He turned quickly and saw the object he was in search of, walking leisurely toward him, and not more than thirty feet distant. To say that Mr. Smith was slightly agitated would perhaps be superfluous, but he raised his gun and fired. In his excitement his aim was not unerring--the ball but grazed the cinnamon's flank. This wound, though slight, aroused the animal's ire and in a moment, before the rifle could be aimed, he sprang at the hunter. With one sweep of his powerful paw he sent the weapon flying through space. Just as bruin was about to commence the sausage-grinding operation the clear report of a rifle was heard. The bear gave a convulsive shudder, staggered toward the hunter and dropped dead. Smith was of course overjoyed that assistance had reached him and went to the spot where he supposed his rescuer was concealed, but no person met his sight. There lay his rifle, but no human was visible. He picked it up, and walked to where the bear lay. The animal was stone dead. Shot through the heart. He then unloaded the rifle and found but eight bullets. He was confident that he had placed ten bullets in the magazine before starting from home, and that he had shot but once. It was plain then that a bullet from his own gun, which had exploded when it struck the ground, had saved his life. Mr. Smith has the bear's hide, which he intends keeping as a memento of the fight. The rifle hewill never part with.
Ashland Tidings, April 4, 1879, page 3

A Halloween Bear Story.
Editor Valley Record.]
    Charley Carney has just returned from the mountains, where has been rusticating for some time, and relates quite an interesting adventure with a bear, which is worth recording: Armed with his Schnellbacher 45-70, Charley took his horse and rode some distance from his companions; tethering his horse to a tree in the dense forest, he cast his eagle eye around for game, and when several rods from his animal he discovered an immense bear glaring at him full in the face. Now, Charley wasn't loaded for bear; otherwise this would have been a simple and ordinary bear story.
    The bear wasn't troublesome, but whenever Charley would start to retreat, bruin would advance a few paces toward him, and if Charley would advance toward the bear, bruin would show his teeth and retreat a few steps. Thus, with considerable maneuvering around, about the same relative positions were maintained. Charley searched his pockets for a suitable weapon, and finally found a ten-penny nail. A bright idea seized Charley; he carefully drew the shell from his Schnellbacher and inserted the nail. The bear was standing with his tail against a tree, and Charley took aim, fired and nailed the bear's tail to the tree. The bear was now unable to advance, and Charley retreated to where his horse was tethered. Arriving at this point, another brilliant idea struck Charley; taking his riding whip and returning to the scene of the adventure, he began plying the bear with the whip, in spite of its howls and protests. Finally the hide was so loosened that the bear jumped out of its skin and made its way around a rock pile.
    Charley calmly drew the nail from the tree, slung the skin over his shoulder, mounted his horse and returned to camp. Unfortunately while the hunter was crossing a large stream the bear skin fell off and was lost. Charley, however, has the ten-penny nail and would be pleased to show it.
    Note.--Readers will find the moral of this story posted on lone pine.
Valley Record, Ashland, November 17, 1892, page 1

Origin of the Shasta Indians.
    The Oregon Native Son magazine of Portland gives the following legend:
    The Shastas ascribe their origin to the falling of one of the daughters of the Great Spirit from the top of Mt. Shasta to its base, where she fell among a family of grizzly bears. Until she was grown she was brought up in ignorance of her parentage, and on arriving at maturity married married one of the sons of the mother grizzly who had reared her from infancy. After her marriage she gave birth to children who were the progenitors of the Indians. This is why the Indians living around Mt. Shasta will never kill a grizzly bear, and whenever one of their number is killed by such kings of the forest they are burned where they fall, and all passersby throw upon the place a stone until a great pile is erected to mark the spot.
Valley Record, Ashland, September 6, 1900, page 3

Was Baptized So in Memory of the Thrilling Experience of the Henry Chapman Party with a Band of Grizzlies in 1855, When Chapman Was Literally Chawed and Clawed to Pieces and Left for Dead by a Monstrous Grizzly--Equals the Events of Daniel Boone and Kit Carson.
    Grizzly Butte is a prominent projection of the the Cascade Range overlooking Bear Creek Valley, opposite Ashland, which attains a height of 6000 feet. Seen by the traveler from Ashland station, with its bald southern face flecked with the light and somber tints as the sun is nearing the crest line of the mountain range on the west, the origin of its name is easily suggested from the garb with which nature has clothed the mountain mass. But the traveler would be in error. It was named for the grizzly bear, and the name dates from a terrible encounter with one of the big plantigrades on this mountain 45 years ago, in which Henry Chapman was shockingly mangled, and nearly lost his life.
    That portion of the Cascades east of Ashland was once the favorite haunt of the grizzly bear; they were the kings of the wilds there, and old settlers say they were more numerous than in the adjacent Siskiyou Range. Mr. Chapman, an aged and respected pioneer citizen, now resides on his ranch a few miles south of Ashland, and it was from him the narrative of the battle with the bear is obtained, and of which his body bears the scars of the cruel wounds he suffered.
    The year 1855 was marked by an Indian war in Southern Oregon, and the few pioneer settlers in Upper Bear Creek Valley were placed in great peril. They were always watchful for Indians, and hence when on September 5th of that year Henry Chapman, W. F. Songer, E. Wells, Joe Wells, Frog Wells, Frost and Coyote Johnson started out on a bear hunt, they were prepared to fight Indians as well. They camped the first night on Frog Creek, above where the "sweat" house now is.
    Erastus Wells was put on guard. He discovered a signal fire of the Indians at Boone ranch, now known as the Mickelson ranch, which aroused the party, who then stood guard until daylight. After breakfast Chapman, accompanied by Erastus and Joe Wells, went out to look for bear. They went over to the foot of the mountain (Grizzly) and discovered the tracks of five or six grizzlies. Taking up the trail, they followed the bears into and through a thicket of firs, hearing them run out on the upper side. Thence they tracked the bears around and up the east side of the mountain to the summit of Big Prairie, where they separated, Erastus going down next to Antelope Creek, Chapman along the south side, and Joe about midway between them, all going west.
    "After some little time," said Chapman, "not seeing the other boys, I began to feel uneasy. Directly I looked to my left I saw something in the thick fir brush, and on hearing a bear squall, I worked around cautiously to get a view a little further around the bush, when I saw two old grizzlies and four cubs feeding on berries. I was armed with a double-barreled, muzzle-loading shotgun. I had previously loaded it heavily with buckshot for Indians. I now put an ounce ball in each barrel, and aiming carefully off my knee, let go at one of the old bears. He fell, and the other big fellow and the cubs ran away, but there were others, for, glancing to my right, I saw another one running down through the prairie. I ran out on the prairie and shot at this one as he went by. He fell down, rolled over, then got up again and made off in his original course across the opening.
    "Turning my gun down to reload, I heard the first one I had shot, and which I supposed dead, coming my way. The bear made directly for me, and I started on a run for three trees which I saw standing in a bunch on the prairie. Making tracks as fast as my legs would carry me, one of my shoes came off and I lost my shoe, hat and gun all in the same place. As I ran on some distance, I saw Erastus and Joe looking ahead as if they thought I was in pursuit of something. Glancing over my shoulder, I saw the bear within ten feet of me, and I cried to them that it was a bear. Just then the bear roared, which so terrified the boys that they dropped their guns and ran, Erastus making for some neighboring brush and Joe climbing an old stump about 10 feet high. Now the bear was all but on me; I had powder and shot in my coat pocket, and in running the coat flew back, and as the bear came within reach of me, the first swipe he made caught the coat pocket and tore off the flap. This gave me a little start of the bear, and I reached one of the trees, the bear close after me.
    "I did some active dodging as I ran around the tree. The bear raked at me first on one side and then on the other with her paws, and it was plain I could not last long there. I then called to the boys for help and made a dash for another tree, but had to keep an eye on the bear all the time to avoid a blow. I had not gone far when she struck me on the head, splitting the flesh to the bone from the top of my head to my eyebrows. I was knocked down and the ferocious beast was on top of me. She first caught me by the right thigh, mashing the flesh from the bone. I made a desperate effort to get up, when she seized me by the shoulder, mashing it, then snapped at my throat, cutting the leaders [ligaments?] all off, and for a miracle just missing the jugular vein. I continued in a blind way trying to do something, and thrust my hand in the bear's mouth. She bit through my hand and then caught me in the shoulder and bit into the hollow, which made me faint, and I could not see.
    "I suppose the bear thought me dead, for she now gave her attention to Erastus and Joe. Each had a navy revolver tied over his shoulder with a buckskin string, but in the excitement and hurry they pulled them so tight they could not get them untied. Joe fired at the bear with the pistol tied to him, and yelled to Erastus that the bear was coming. The latter made up a limb on a log, the bear scraping his foot as he went up. The bear now appeared to be master of the field. I was plainly a goner, and Joe and Erastus were in a mighty tight place. But good luck was to turn the tide for us; Joe fired at random with his pistol and broke the bear's back; another shot broke her neck, and Erastus now turned loose on her and emptied his revolver into her body.
    "By this time I had regained my senses and tried to get up, but I could not do so. I sat up and put my hand to my throat. I thought my jugular vein was cut, and supposed, of course, I could not last long. Joe came to me, asking how bad I was hurt, and I told him my jugular vein was cut. Then Erastus came up and immediately turned to go away. I called out not to leave me, as I could not live long, when he came back and I said all I asked of him was not to write to my folks. They then took their silk handkerchiefs and bound them around my neck. Erastus then asked bow many bears there were, and I said about 15 or 16. Then bears and Indians would both be upon us soon, he said, and he grabbed me up, threw me over his shoulder and started on a run, calling to Joe to bring the guns. After a time Joe said I was dead, and Erastus laid me down, face to the ground. I had fainted again, but with the shock on the ground I recovered, and told them I was not dead, whereupon Erastus picked me up again and threw me over his shoulder, but this I could not stand, and insisted on being left in the brush, as I could not live anyway. They declared they would take me out, and after further delay so much time had elapsed that I concluded my jugular vein was not cut, and that there was a chance for me.
    "Well, they finally raised me to my feet, and, supporting me, one on each side, we got to the foot of the hill, where we found some others of our party, who helped us to camp. The desire of this party for bear hunting had been fully satisfied, and the boys broke camp and hastened to get me home. I was carried to Daddy Wells'. The old man sewed up the wounds, and the only available doctor at Jacksonville was sent for to dress my wounds. He came the next day, cut open, probed and sewed up my wounds. I laid helpless about six weeks in bed, being fed on soup with a spoon. It was a year before I was well."
    So we have the story of Grizzly Peak, which, together with other well-accredited tragical and adventurous incidents in the pioneer life of the Oregonians, should be gathered and collected by those interested in the work of the Oregon Historical Society. Mr. Chapman has passed the 45 years since his hard day with the bear on Grizzly Peak as a successful rancher, and has seen the pretty city of Ashland grow up almost in sight of that summit plateau where big grizzlies and hostile Indians were to be looked for at every step. W. F. Songer, who constituted one of the party, is now a well-known resident of Ashland.
Valley Record, Ashland, February 28, 1901, page 3

A Famous Napoleon of the Forest Finishes His Eventful Career.
    Old "Knock-Knee," the big bear that has terrorized the regions of the Upper Chetco district of southwestern Josephine County has been slain. Old "Knock-Knee," as he was familiarly known by the inhabitants of that section of the state, was the largest bear ever killed in the West. His length was eight feet four inches, from tip to tip, and he weighed 820 pounds--as large as a giant grizzly. His years were many, as was attested by the fact that 17 musket balls were taken from his body, when slain, aside from dozens of slugs and buckshot that were bedded beneath his skin.
    "Knock-Knee" terrorized the ranchers of the Upper Chetco regions for a number of years. Scores of goats, calves and even cattle and horses have fallen victims to his voracious appetite. Time and again he had been shot, and by ranchmen who prided themselves of their unerring aim; the fact that old "Knock-Knee" paid no more attention to these hunters' rifles than he would peas from a popgun caused the superstitious to believe that the old bear was an agent of the devil. He was called "Knock-Knee" on account of a deformity of one of his feet, which was caused by a gunshot wound.
    "Knock-Knee's" depredations increased, and finally became of such magnitude that all the ranchmen of the Chetco were forced to unite in a campaign against the marauder. A few days ago every man armed himself to the teeth, and with the best dogs in the neighborhood set out to hunt the bear. After an exciting chase up the Chetco, during which nearly all the dogs were slain and the hunters forced to flee, one man climbed a tree, closely followed by the bear. The big brute attempted to
wrest the rifle from the hunter, and in so doing took the muzzle in his mouth. At this opportune moment the shot was fired that brought him to his death.
Valley Record, Ashland, June 19, 1902, page 1

    Miss Ruth Jackson, a former resident of Grants Pass, but now of Baker City, and her friend, Miss Angle of Medford, who is visiting Miss Jackson, had a very interesting adventure with a bear in the mountains near Austin, a few days ago. The young ladies in company with Ray Jackson, Miss Ruth's brother, were out camping, and for amusement they spent the time hunting and fishing. It is not asserted positively that when they started out it was their intention to hunt for bear, but being engaged in the pursuit, they were brave enough to tackle a bear should one cross their path, and that is exactly what happened. Miss Jackson was carrying the gun when they met a bear in the path, and without further ceremony she took aim and fired. Her aim was true. She brought down the game, and although not killing instantly, it was mortally wounded. Miss Angle took part in the slaughter, ending the struggles of the bear with a club.
    The ladies are very proud of their achievement, and while not boasting of their prowess, they modestly accept the congratulations of their friends, and insist that they were not frightened, although they have no desire to encounter a bear every time they go camping.

Rogue River Courier, Grants Pass, August 14, 1902, page 3

By Fred Lockley
    "My brother Henry Chapman was 8 years older than I; he was born in 1833," said Mrs. V. S. C. Mickelson, when I visited her at her home at Ashland recently. "He was a frail and sickly child, and he was never strong. I was a light sleeper, so from the time I was a little tot I slept on a pallet beside his bed so as to cover his feet at night or give him his medicine. The doctor said a complete change of climate might be beneficial to him; so in 1853, when I was 12 years old, he and my brother Daniel started across the plains for Oregon. Daniel got a job driving a prairie schooner for Enoch Walker, while Henry, who was 20, drove a wagon for Enoch's brother, Fruit Walker. I cried because I could not go to Oregon with my brother Henry. I remember they laughed at me when I cried and said, 'Poor Henry! who will cover his feet and give him his medicine if I do not go along?'
    "On the way across the plains one of Fruit Walker's drivers, a man named Griffiths, quarreled with another teamster and, picking up an ox yoke, tried to brain him. Fruit Walker grabbed the yoke in time to save the man from being killed. This made Griffiths crazy with anger, so, pulling an Allen pepperbox revolver from his pocket, he shot Fruit Walker through the groin, killing him. Fruit Walker's young widow had two small children and was expecting another shortly. My brother Henry took charge for her and brought her safe through to Oregon. Shortly after she reached the Willamette Valley she gave birth to a son, who of course never saw his father and knew of him only by hearsay. Not long after arriving in Oregon she married Fruit Walker's brother John.
    "My brother Daniel Chapman settled near Ashland. Some of his children and grandchildren still reside in Jackson County. My brother Henry went to Yreka, Cal., to work in the mines, but his health was so impaired that he could not do hard work, so he came back to Southern Oregon and took up a donation land claim on Emigrant Creek, seven miles from Ashland.
    "During the second Rogue River war, in 1855-56, Henry, with two neighbors, was out in the hills looking for hostile Indians. He saw several grizzly bears on the hillside eating serviceberries. Henry was a good shot. He had a hard-shooting muzzle-loading gun. He took careful aim and shot at one of the largest of the bears. It fell in its tracks. He loaded his gun and shot another bear, which made off in the direction taken by the other bears. Henry, carelessly, did not reload his gun, but went up to examine the dead bear, which was a huge one. Just as he got to it the bear came to and made for Henry. Henry started to run. The bear struck at him, tearing Henry's coat nearly off. Henry ran for a tree, which proved too large for him to climb. He ran toward a smaller tree, but the bear overtook him and with one blow knocked him down and tore his shoulder blade loose. The bear with one or two strokes of his claws tore Henry's clothes off. Henry had heard an Indian say that if a grizzly attacked you, if you 'memaloosed' the bear would leave you alone so Henry played dead. The bear had never heard that bears do not molest dead men, for he bit my brother in the loins and back so that Henry screamed from the pain. Then the bear clawed his head and turned him over to bite his neck. My brother rammed his fist into the bear's mouth. The bear crushed the bones in his hand and wrist. Then the bear bit him through the shoulder and stripped the flesh from one leg from the thigh to the knee. The two young men with my brother heard him scream when the bear bit him in the loins, and hurried back. They shot and killed the grizzly. My brother was still conscious, and as they rolled the bear off him he said, 'I'll never see Mother or Father or old Kentucky again.' Then he fainted. They thought he was dead so they tied him across his horse to bring him in for Christian burial. The motion of the horse brought him to. They took him to the home of Daddy Wells, a nearby settler. There was no doctor nearer than Jacksonville so one of the boys rode at full speed to get the doctor, while Daddy Wells washed my brother's wounds and with a sack needle and twine sewed the flesh that was hanging loose back into place. When the doctor came he had to rip out all the stitches so as to wash the torn flesh better. Henry's neck was terribly lacerated. They thought he could not live but he kept alive day after day and at last they decided to send him to San Francisco to secure the services of a surgeon to fix his shoulder, which was so badly shattered when the bear crunched it that the local doctor could not fix it. Even the San Francisco surgeon could not restore its strength and usefulness.
    "My brother proved up on his donation claim, and in 1862 went back home by way of the Isthmus. They still call the mountain where the bear and my brother had their fight Grizzly Butte. Come out on the porch and I will point out Grizzly Butte to you."

Oregon Journal, Portland, September 2, 1924, page 6


    Hob Deuel of this city, while going down the trail to his homestead in the Butte Falls district, the first of the week, was nearly undressed by a year-old black bear cub he attempted to capture.
    Deuel met the bear in the trail, and thought it would make a fine pet. He grabbed the bear by the scruff of the neck, and the bear grabbed Deuel by the scruff of the pants, and the contest was on. Mr. Deuel's efforts to let go of the bear were futile, so he proceeded to choke the wind out of him. While this was going on the cub would fold up like a portable typewriter and let fly with his hind legs, with telling effect.
    After about five minutes of lively tussling the bear, relaxed from lack of atmosphere, and before he got his second wind, was tied and securely tethered.
    The bear showed no marks of the conflict, but Mr. Deuel was torn loose from one pants leg and had the hide scratched off his forearms and hands.
    The captive was taken to Butte Falls, where he is now on exhibition, spending his time eating peanut candy and crying for his mother.
    A brother of Mr. Deuel's antagonist was captured by another homesteader and is also on display. He was brought into civilization without a fracas.
Medford Mail Tribune, February 20, 1925, page 3

The Bear Facts Are Given.
    To the Editor:
    I noticed in your esteemed columns recently an account of a desperate adventure with a bloodthirsty bear experienced by that well-known and usually highly veracious young Medford man, Hob Deuel. Heroism of any sort appeals to me, and as I read of this hair-raising deed of dour daring I had the same old thrill and the same feeling of hero worship that a brave deed, done out here in the wide open spaces where men are men, always inspires in me, and in any other patron of a well-run Bill Hart or Bill Farnum reel.
    As soon as I could I showed it to various of the oldtimers. "There," I said, "that young fellow Deuel, some guy, hey." I was considerably astonished and rather hurt by the lack of enthusiasm they all displayed, until I heard the account of the actual happening of Hob and the bear. It runs something like this.
    Some time ago Charley Patton and Bill Hughes, two homesteaders, captured two tiny bear cubs in a cave. The boys made pets of the little fellows, and raised them by hand until they got to be two pretty fair yearlings. These bear cubs had the freedom of the place, and roamed around at their will, harming nobody, except one too-ardent high school girl. She hugged one of them too hard one today, I mean one of the bear cubs, and the cub, in its frantic endeavors to get away from the lady's embrace, scratched her slightly on the forehead.
    A week or so ago Hob Deuel was on his way to his homestead. Suddenly a bear approached in the path ahead. Instead of running away, it advanced confidently upon Hob. Deuel, with shaking hands, raised his rifle to his shoulder and fired. He missed. The bear came on. With a yell of despair Deuel threw away his gun and raced for a tree, the bear following after him. Hob madly scrambled up the tree, forgetting that bears can climb better than he. For some reason the bear did not climb after him, but appeared busy nosing around the roots of the tree.
    Presently another bear appeared. This was too much for Hob, and he howled for help. Charley Patton came on the run. "What's the matter, Hob?" said Charley; "these little fellows won't hurt you." Charley finally got Deuel down out of the tree. "Gee, Hob," remarked Charley, "you've got syrup all over you." The two bears made for Deuel, and started to climb up on him, licking the syrup. It seems that Deuel had a large can of syrup strapped to his back and in throwing away his gun, the front sight of the gun ripped a hole in the syrup can. The bear had followed Hob up, licking the syrup.
    I have been very careful in getting these facts, for the truth of which I refer you to Claude Miles, called for short "Shorty," to Nick Carter, in fact, to all the oldtimers here. As the late Mark Twain once remarked about reports of his death, it is slightly exaggerated.
    Butte Falls, Feb. 23.
"Communications," Medford Mail Tribune, February 25, 1925, page 4

The Bear Facts Again
    To the Editor: Replying to the communication of George Barker in yesterday's paper concerning my alleged adventure with a bear, or bears, as Mr. Barker puts it, I now see that in spite of my native modesty it will be necessary for me to go into print and explain the barefaced exaggerations that have been attributed wrongfully to me. Mr. Barker has a manner and style of gathering his facts that would do credit to the celebrated Baron Munchausen. I take it, however, that being a banker his pen is used largely in computing principal and interest and has acquired a reckless abandon that is quite beyond his control.
    Now the bare facts concerning the bear are as follows:
    As I was proceeding along the mountain trail on the way to my homestead, I was attracted by a mixture of sounds at some little distance from the trail. Hearing frantic appeals for help in that direction, I started toward the sound and had gone but a short distance when I beheld a most unusual spectacle. In the topmost branches of a huge sugar pine tree I saw two hound dogs standing erect on their hind legs. On the very top most limb of the tree and apparently trying to get onto a passing fog cloud, right close behind the dogs, was a bareheaded and baldheaded, squat and blocky-built man, who I readily identified as Shorty Miles. On approaching closer to the tree I saw at the foot of it what I at first took to be a small badger or coon cub. Everyone who knows me knows that I do not carry a gun in the closed season. I am rather timid by nature and had I known that the animal at the foot of the tree was a bear, I probably would have kept my distance, but as before stated, I took it for a coon and approached, and only discovered that it was a small motherless baby bear, which had attempted to adopt Shorty as a parent. After I got the bear in my overcoat pocket Shorty came down out of the tree, but it was necessary to get a shovel and cover up the bear smell around the foot of the tree before the dogs would come down. These are the unvarnished facts, told without reservation.
"Communications," Medford Mail Tribune, February 26, 1925, page 4

    "I killed my first bear when I was 11, my first elk when I was 14 and my first and only grizzly when I was 15 [around 1894]. I guess that was about as near as I ever came to passing in my checks in all the years I spent out in the hills. If you have been in Oregon for the past 30 or 40 years you must have heard of 'Old Clubfoot.' They say he killed more colts, calves and other stock than any other bear that ever roamed the hills of Southern Oregon. For years he had succeeded in steering clear of traps and hunters. The only time he came to grief was once when he got caught in a bear trap and had to bite part of his foot off to get free. That's how he got the name of Old Clubfoot. He had been seen and shot at, but he seemed to have a charmed life. He was marked in a very peculiar way. The top of his head was white. It wasn't grizzly-colored, or gray, but white, just as if he was the great-granddaddy of all the other bears in Southern Oregon. I don't think it was age that made it white, but it was just a freak marking.
    "Old Clubfoot ranged in and around Chimney Rock. I was out hunting with my two bear dogs, Old Tyler and Pete, one day, about four or five miles south of Chimney Rock. I hadn't lost any grizzly bears, and was out after black bears. Grizzly bears are bad actors. They have hair-trigger tempers, surly dispositions, and they don't know when they are licked. Moreover, they are mighty hard to kill, for they can carry a big load of lead and will keep coming at you as long as they can move. I was standing on a sidehill covered with a heavy growth of scrub oak. There wasn't a tree of any size on the whole hillside. I began sizing up the hillside, for it looked like a good bear country. I heard a crackling in the brush, and in a second or so I saw the brush swaying near the foot of the hill, about 100 yards below me. I moved around till I could see that there was a bear there, eating manzanita berries. I couldn't see it distinctly, but when I was satisfied that it was a bear I aimed at about where its shoulder should be, and fired. I scored a hit, but so far as doing any harm to the bear, I might as well have hit him with a switch or slapped him on the wrist. He let out a roar that made my hair stand on end. I was using black powder, so he located me instantly. He started up that hill like an express train. If it hadn't been for Old Tyler and Pete I wouldn't be here telling you about it. They ran to meet him, and instantly tackled him.
    "I had taught them to break holds when I whistled. They grabbed him from the rear. I whistled, and they jumped back, and I got in several shots. They tackled him again, but he just kept coming and didn't pay any more attention to the dogs than if they had been mosquitoes. I whistled to my dogs again to jar loose, and I emptied my magazine into Old Clubfoot. He never even slackened his pace, so I began backing up the hill, while I filled my magazine with shells. I knew that if I didn't stop him it was all off with me, so I fired as fast as I could work the lever of my gun. At that close range I couldn't miss him, but I couldn't seem to get him in a vital spot. Old Tyler and Pete closed in on him and worried him while I kept backing up the hill. I whistled to them again to give me a chance, and as they jumped aside I shot at close range. Old Clubfoot let out a terrific roar and reared up on his hind feet. The white hair on his head was streaked with blood, and his massive chest was spouting blood. He opened his jaws and as he roared I saw the bloody foam dripping from his jaws. I shot at his wide-open mouth. He lurched and pitched forward. The bullet had gone through the roof of his mouth and got him in the brain. He dressed over 1000 pounds, so you may know he was some bear."
Perry Lee Randles, quoted by Fred Lockley, "Impressions and Observations of the Journal Man," Oregon Journal, Portland, February 5, 1927, page 4  "Clubfoot" was the name given Reelfoot in California, but this was a different bear.

Bair Killed in Fight With Grizzly Bear
    B. H. Baird was killed by a grizzly bear on October 24, 1864, and was buried in the old Croxton Cemetery located on the ridge between North Ninth and North Tenth streets. The incident was related by Mr. Appleton, who was a member of the party on the ill-fated hunting trip.
    James Appleton, the father, and John, who was then seven years of age, were hunting with Baird on Grave Creek, about a mile and a half south of the present Grave Creek bridge on the Pacific Highway. Baird had seen bear signs in a clover meadow and went early on the morning of the 24th to look for the bear. Sure enough, he ran onto the big fellow. He first located a tree to climb and fired. At the sound the grizzly whirled and started for Baird, who dropped his gun and climbed the tree. He had two dogs with him, and these attacked the bear and attracted his attention. The big fellow was about to get away with the dogs, so Baird descended from the tree to get the gun, but before he could regain his tree, the bear "ketched" him. Baird fought him with his hunting knife but in the fight the bear tore out an eye, clawed the side of his face and stripped the flesh from one side of his ribs. Baird finally got away and reached camp but died that same evening. The next day the Appletons went to the scene of the fight and found the bear dead about 200 yards from the spot.--Courier July 25, 1924.
Grants Pass Daily Courier, April 2, 1960, page 24

Last revised April 10, 2024