Stephen Palmer Blake
Siskiyou County, California
I promised to give you an account of my trip out here and how we fared on the road. I took passage and sailed from San Francisco on a small vessel, a schooner I believe they called it. I was sailing for Crescent City, some 300 miles further north on the coast. There were seven passengers on board and our quarters were like shelves which the sailors called bunks, on each side of a little cabin in which we could not stand upright. I am not going to undertake to tell you of the seasickness in our quarters on the passage. Indeed no one of us could describe it. Seasickness cannot be explained nor described. I so completely was emptied of food that we had eaten while passing out of the harbor that we cashed up our account, and emptied ourselves complete. But there is little or nothing left to say.
We were seventeen days on the passing, and having met with headwinds and strong seas, we were afraid to go on deck. There was such a rushing of water and shifting of the little craft in the sea that the swimming of the head and getting out from under our seats on the deck when we made any attempt to walk, we were content to remain in our bunks. To our inquiries of the sailors as to our progress we got but little encouragement. One day they told us they had not seen the vessels ahead for three days. But at last for all our worry of self we were reassured by arrival at destination and landing. But it was some time before we could feel sure that the land was not rising or falling under our feet and it would not slip away and leave us as the deck had often done.
So much of the journey had been accomplished, and here my fellow passengers went each one on his separate way. On the beach were a few houses, frail-built things, mostly covered with cotton cloth. Numbers of tents to be seen here and there. It was but a depot or landing place for provisions from which the miners on the Smith River could be supplied. Such was Crescent City. All goods were packed on mules over rugged mountains to the mines. There were no roads. No wagons had ever been seen there. No social life, no family ties found men here. It was gold. Greed for gold that brought hither the struggling crowd.
North of the town was a small Indian village, an old established port of the red man, I suppose, by many graves nearby. Each grave is covered with hewn redwood planks, many of them 9'x4' and two inches thick. I noticed they all lay in a line with the coast, northwest by southeast. Some of the coverings of the planks had evidently been a long time there, being much decayed. At the grave of the man there was the weapons that he had used in life, silently standing at the head; and also at the grave of the woman would be seen the short pointed stick, several feet in length, with which she dug roots or clams and impaled on them the baskets with which she carried her load.
I walked through the village. Already that much of civilization had made its mark. Although Crescent City was not six months old, the Indians had easily taken up the vices of the white men without learning any of their virtues. There were old men and women. Trouble with the whites had caused the warriors to step from sight into the forest. A young woman asked me for tobacco but when she approached near enough to retrieve it from the point of a bowie knife, taking it from there in a rather careless manner, she cut a finger.
The females were all tattooed on the face with a dark line being drawn from the corner of their mouth and crossing up on their cheek. Also from the middle of the underlip down on the chin. This is done in youth and appears to be done to distinguish the different tribes, or rather families, that live about 10 or 15 miles apart. Each group is often called by a different name.
Nothing could be more primitive than their mode of cooking clams or fish, merely throwing them into the fire and roasting, or boiling them in baskets made of little twigs and made watertight with grass roots. The boiling was achieved by putting hot stones into the water in the basket. Clams and mussels are found and easily procured. They are cooked in this way. The spears appear to be the most ready way to take the fish, although they had nets, too. Immediately back from the south cove there was a swamp which appeared to be the bed of a river grown up with trees and bushes. The Indians gathered large quantities of berries, then into town trading them off for beads and accessories.
After spending one day in port and about town, I started for Smith River to take a look at the country, having for companions several passengers from San Francisco. The country was wild, no roads, only trails. Miles out from Crescent City the ground was rather low. We traveled in the old river bed before mentioned. It was dangerous and we knew it. All the able-bodied warriors from about Crescent City were in the forest owing to trouble with the whites.
Starting in the afternoon we proceeded a few miles out and came to the hills. Our blankets on the pack train had not arrived. We camped in a forest of redwoods not far from the only house we have seen since leaving Crescent City. Much has been said about the redwoods, the large size. But I have noticed something I have not seen mentioned, which is that where the large trees grow there were no small ones. All large or all small. Sometimes we passed an open space of a half mile where there would be no trees, leaving a thick forest of very large ones and passing through open space, we encountered a forest of much smaller ones, nearly all of a uniform size. In the open spaces there were usually found serviceberry bushes which were then bearing fruit. They are a small blue berry and very sweet, rather unpleasant to me.
Leaving our camp early in the morn, two of us going ahead of the party, we entered the heavy redwood through which the path led, and traveled on steadily, intending to make "Hardscrabble" before night. In the forest we entered, the trees were very large. We measured one 18 feet diameter and 100 feet to the lower limb. The branches were so closely united above that no sunshine reached the ground. It was silent and gloomy traveling through the forest. We sometimes passed a fallen monarch that was an immense size.
No living thing had been seen since our entering this gloomy place. We must have gone some miles when I heard a short crunching noise a little ahead and on our right. There must have been a large animal that broke a stick with his foot. We stopped nearby a very large tree and a moment after saw a very large black bear coming toward us and going to cross our path. My companion had a double-barreled shotgun loaded with shot. I had a 6-inch Colt 5 shooter and a bowie knife with an 8" blade. Had the trees been of a size we could have climbed, I should at once have climbed up the tree. But there were no trees that were less than 8 or 10 feet in diameter and the bear was coming on the lope and passed close to where we stood. I thought I should set the example of climbing but it was impossible, so I set the example of backing up against the tree on the side opposite the bear. George followed beside me and with his gun prepared for action. I was only afraid he would fire at the animal which I knew would be useless with small shot. Neither would I do it with a heavy rifle, for if hit by a small shot he would have killed one or both of us before dying. I therefore said to him, "Don't you fire at the bear. Sit quiet and let him pass. He will not molest us unless we wound him."
I drew my weapons and held them prepared to use them only if we were attacked. I knew this much about bears than to attack one while on foot. On a steady gallop the animal came and passed within 10 feet of us, apparently unconscious of our being so near. Before I could move or speak to prevent it, George leveled his gun which he retrieved and fired at him at a distance of 30 feet. With a savage growl he turned rapidly around several times as if to return and attack from behind, but not seeing from whence came the attack, he started off on his old course. It was well he did not see us. We were well satisfied to let him go.
We soon began to ascend, reaching a high elevation on a pine ridge between Smith River and the coast. We traveled ten miles on the backbone of the mountain, having an extensive view of the Pacific on one hand and a beautiful diversified mountain scene on the other. Part of the time the clouds were far below us on the mountainside.
The descent from the high elevation to the river was the most wearing part of the trip so far, and so difficult to keep a secure foothold. A step out of the narrow trail would have been fatal. But finally we came to a little flat of land and saw on a large oak board, "Hardscrabble," and nearby a large tent that was the mining station.
We slept that night in an old dilapidated hut that we found a mile further up the river bed. It was built of spruce bows and rather open. I suspect it had been built in one night. You could look out from any part of it. An old black bear or someone of the same tribe poked his head in one of the openings and tried to steal our boots in the night. One of the parties objected to being robbed in that way and proposed to shoot. Meanwhile George and I advised him to go outside where he could have a clear shot. At least the bear when wounded should charge on the house and then he could run into the river. He left, however, and troubled us no more.
A few days after his arrival, the three of us started to look up the trail on which "California Jack" had been killed by Indians some weeks before. Said to be rich in gold. We could form no idea as to where it was, more than that it was on the south fork of the river. We had a very wearing tramp uphill still further, following a "blind trail," that is, one on which we see nothing to prove it is the right trail until we came to an old camp--and then we knew it was a white man's trail. Found several seashells, a bottle and part of the New York Herald. I could not prevail on my companions to go further. We were already in the wilderness and sought shelter. Spending a night in an old Indian hut, our provisions fell short and seeing nothing else we gathered some snails and shot a crow. We gathered bark from a tree that would make no smoke.
July 8, 1853
Yesterday I arrived here, Rogue River, and received from home three letters bearing dates 22nd of May, and 27th of May, 1853. I have written you before and told you some of the troubles about here with the Indians. I have not the writing with me, but I think I closed with an account of the meeting held by the people of this place to determine what should be done. It was thought best to go out and see them, make a treaty, and then employ some of them to act as scouts and guides. It has since been found impossible to get them in; they are scattered about and will not come in. The women are frequently seen about the town, and one old fatty lives in the town, but the men are not to be found. No one knows why it is so. I think they fear they will be killed if they come in and give up their arms. They do not molest anyone, and it is probable they will not be troubled by the whites. When we look at these facts and take it home to ourselves, it is rather hard that the mere remnants of the red men that once lived in this country cannot live in peace and enjoy what little they require.
Now I propose to give you a short account of my cruise, up to my arrival here, taking in the Rogue River trouble, etc. I had delayed leaving the bay, hoping to get letters until June. I then fell in with one of the old gentlemen that came out with me. He was bound for Crescent City, a small town that had grown up with this year's passage, situated latitude 41-5-3 north. I left the bay 23 June in the schooner San Diego. The same evening ran into Bodega Bay and took a large surf boat on board. There was one small fishing schooner at anchor there.
During our passage up, we had stormy northwest winds, at times so stormy as we were bound off the coast. Of course the wind was dead ahead. The schooner was a small craft--56 tons. She was nearly buried under water for the first 14 days, and during that time I do not think there was an instance that water did not stand on her deck. We stood off the land for three days, and then found we had made about twenty miles north. After that, made shorter tacks off land and frequently stood within one-half mile of the breakers. As we got more to the north, the mountain range was well wooded. It was a beautiful sight: tall straight redwood trees, 200 feet high, stood so close together that to the eye they covered the earth. The mountains in many places came down abruptly right into the sea, where the surf rolled, tumbled and climbed their steep sides with a roar that could be heard for miles. In other places where the range was a little back, the surf beat against a wall of stone from 30 to 300 feet high. When the range is back to the mountains there was but a gentle slope with grass. Only once did I see any sand beach and that was not more than a fourth of a mile in length. It was where the coast made a bend in and a small stream put in with the ocean. It would be a beautiful place to settle down and live until death.
After 15 days passage we arrived at Crescent City on July 8th. We had a splendid view of Gold Bluff just before we got into the harbor. They are very high, couldn't say how high, as we viewed them from 10 miles distance.
I stand immediately on the beach and there are colors [i.e., indications of gold] of light burned brick. There was a great excitement about them in the '50s. Gold was found on the beach in the sand. It was very fine and was thrown up with the surf, evenly mixed with the sand, so that it appeared in a streak at high water, with a mark of a golden color. It is still golden here but not in sufficient quantities to keep but few miners here. There is about eight miles of beach where this golden sand is found immediately bordering on the Pacific.
Off the harbor we had light breezes which kept us off in fine view of the town for a couple of hours. Saw large quantities of seals and sea lions. They would raise their heads up out of the water a short distance from the schooner, and after people had looked at them, made a most tremendous sound. I could not tell you what the sound was like, nothing like I had ever heard before.
There is no good harbor at Crescent City. It was formerly called Paragon Bay after a small brig of that name that parted her cables while sitting at anchor there and drifted ashore and was lost. A bend of the coast inward forms a crescent at the northmost point. There is a rather high bluff of rocks and off the bluff down the coast there are several more islands and rocks. This is about what forms the harbor at Crescent City. It is not safe for large vessels. But I think it would be fine for any other vessel to anchor there.
On arrival there, found many buildings going up and business rather "brisk." On the bluff I speak of as forming the northern horn of the crescent, there lives a remnant of a tribe of Indians, probably thirty or more. They are friendly to the whites, mingle and go about town without any hesitation. They supply themselves with food and clothing by exchanging fish and clams.
There must have been a large number living here at one time, for there are the ruins of many homes. They built their houses much the same as those I wrote to you about before, only built-up boards up the sides and laid on the roof; the door or entrance is a round hole close to the ground about two feet in diameter with a large board sliding back and forth to close it with.
These Indians are better looking and much more to be feared as enemies than those before. They are many of them tall and powerful, with the features of those that formerly lived there. They dress in fox skin, although many of them get clothes from the whites. I saw many of their graves. They do not burn their dead, but bury them with all that belongs to them in the way of clothing, ornaments, etc. When a man dies, in his grave is laid all his weapons of war, and the paddles from his canoe and fishing tackle are laid upon the grave. A large board is laid over the grave covering it entirely. At the head they put spears or sticks with which they dig clams according to the sex. I measured a board that covered a grave which was 3'6" wide and 7' long, perfectly clear and split out and made of redwood. There were some graves where I saw the baskets the women used to bring water in. Also they used to gather clams or put fish in. At the head of one of these graves I also found standing a stick which they used to dig clams with. It is 3 feet long and about 1½" in diameter and sharpened at both ends. This is stuck in the ground as a headstone.
A few miles above Crescent City at the mouth of the Smith River, there is a large village of Indians that were a short time ago hostile to the whites, quite a lot of them. I was told 30 or more came down and lived with those at Crescent City, and although they were there among the whites, they could not stop stealing. They went so far as to kill several white men. One day a few white men took their knives up on the bluff and "cleaned them out." One or two of the friendly Indians got killed in the siege; the whites found them with the others and did not know them. A few of the Smith River Indians escaped. They then killed several white men up the Smith River that were mining The people at Crescent City got up a small company of volunteers and went out twice and punished them severely. When I left they were quiet.
There are other Indians living below. They are called the Klamath Indians; they frequently visit the town and have always been friendly. I stayed three or four days in Crescent City and started on up the Smith River to see the kind of mines there were there. It is only 15 miles to what is called "Hard Scrabble Diggins." The road for the first six miles lay in the valley which has the appearance of being that of a large river, it then turns off into the mountains.
We left town in the afternoon and stopped for the night at the "mountain house," so called because it is built where the road turns off to the mountain. The pack train that had our blankets on board did not arrive that night and we were obliged to sleep by our campfire. The landlord had no blankets to share. He had not been there long and had no accommodations for lodgers. He told me a yarn during the evening, of his being out one day about two miles from the house. Coming home he saw a small party of Indians. Not willing to lose the top of his head just then, he took another course to reach the house, had not gone far when he met three Indians, two men and one women. They immediately formed "in a line of battle," that is, they got behind a tree. He did the same. They fired first, and whenever he showed his head they kept a perfect "clothes line" of arrows coming towards him--this was his expression. With his pistol and gun he fired eight shots. In a short time he killed one Indian and thereafter wounded the other so he could not escape. The woman went up to the wounded man, and so did he with pistol in hand. She fell on her knees and pleaded for the life of her husband. But he had threatened the white man's life and there was no pardon. He shot him dead. She said no more but stayed by the body probably expecting he would kill her, too. He did not, however, but hastened home. He told me he had always treated them well when they came to his house, gave them food, etc. He wished he had killed the woman but said, "She had no weapons. I could not kill her and did not know what moment other Indians might arrive hearing the noise."
The next day we waited until the pack train arrived with blankets, etc. During that time I took a short cruise in the woods nearby. I have never been anyplace where there were so many kinds of berries. First came the salmonberry; they grow on bushes 10 or 15 feet high and are shaped like a raspberry; has a light green color and grow upwards of an inch in length. They are very sweet and good. Then there is the pie blackberry. They grow very large, too, and in much quantity. There are two kinds of blueberries. One kind is light blue, the other very dark blue. The first grow on a bush 3, 4 or 5 feet high; the dark ones do not exceed 10 or 12 inches and often not over 4. Then there is the whortleberries of two kinds--one kind the same as you have there; the other kind grows in thick woods in bushes five to eight feet high and are of a light red color and have a tart taste. When thirsty they are far the best berry I tasted in the country. There is also the strawberry, much the same as you have there wild. They were about gone when I got to Crescent City. There is the salmonberry too, and of two kinds. One was like those you have, the others grow on bushes 4-6 feet high and is of a crimson color. They are tart and tender when ripe so that it is difficult to gather them without their breaking. The Indian women when picking berries paint their faces with these. There is also the serviceberry. They grow on low land and the bushes sometimes get as high as ten feet. There are gooseberries also of two kinds, one the same as those you have there; the others have a very small sharp thorn all over the berry which are troublesome when they are green, but when ripe they fall off. I have now described 13 kinds of berries, all of which kind I have seen growing and have eaten all but two. The strawberries were about gone and the large gooseberries were not ripe. All the others I did eat.
While waiting for our pack train to come up we were very much pleased with the country we had seen. The timber, too. It beats anything that ever was dreamed of in the state of Maine or any other country. It beats all other countries in the size and beauty. What we see we made the least. The king of the forest is the redwood. I have seen them that measured 18 feet though a little above the ground, going 100 feet without a limb and total upwards a total of 200 feet.
This is a hard story to tell, I know, nevertheless it is true. Ten and twelve feet, though, is common. In a forest of these redwoods, they grow so thick and close together that sunshine rarely finds a crevice where it can get to the ground. I was so completely surprised that I sat down among them and gazed on this beautiful sight. They are of all sizes and so very straight, smooth and majestic that all travelers notice them. It is the stoutest of any wood I have ever seen.
Then there is spruce, cedar, fir, pine, oak, alder, cottonwood and other kinds I cannot name now. Many of the pines are eight feet in diameter and very high. As soon as our train came in sight, two of us started on ahead and entered a very thick forest soon after leaving the house, mostly redwood. My companion was fresh from the eastern states and was much struck with the size and appearance of the trees. Presently we heard the bushes cracking as if some large animal was making his way through at full speed. We listened and presently it ceased and we went on.
A very large redwood was just alongside the trail, and we were looking at it when I heard a stick break close by. I looked in that direction and saw a large black bear coming at full speed directly for the tree. I thought from his looks that something had frightened him and he was leaving as fast as possible. I immediately whispered to my companion to cock his gun, and at the same time I drew my Colt and cocked it; we stood still. The bear came up and turned and went around the lower side of the tree and crossed the trail at full speed. My companion drew up and gave him one barrel of his gun but the bear did not take the least notice of this, other than a savage growl. In an instant he was out of sight in the bushes. We found it was eight steps from where we stood to where the bear was. Had he come on the other side of the tree he would have met us face to face. I felt perfectly satisfied the bear was "bound off" and had no idea of molesting us. In fact, he did not know we were there. Therefore, I did not attempt to fire on him. Moreover, from what I have learned of bears by experience I will always let them alone when they will do the same for me unless I am out hunting them.
Nothing worthy of note transpired during our journey up to the "picking" unless it be crossing the mountain, when arrived at the top and while traveling on the backbone for two miles or more there was the most beautiful view as far as the eye can reach. Even to the Pacific. In cloudy weather the travelers were enveloped in the clouds and hurried on. On the east side of the mountain the trail goes directly down to the Smith River. It is down, down, no foot of level land. Drop a rock from the mountainside or a small stone and it goes leaping and bounding until it reaches the river. To get out off the trail and miss your foothold would be death. The mountain is too steep to travel on only by holding onto the bushes.
The merchants in Crescent City hired men at $90 per month and had the trail built on the east side of the mountain. They dug it out and fixed it so that a mule train could travel. It is the most tiresome road I have ever traveled. I could hardly keep from going at full run down. It was so steep that it made my knees ache bracing back.
Arrived at the river; there is a small place just where a small creek forms a junction with Smith River. There is a round tent with its store, tavern and place of general resort for all the miners. A few bags of flour, a half dozen hens, a few pieces of pork, a bag of beans, a half dozen picks and shovels, four or five kegs, a few shirts and socks, and you have the contents of this store.
I read the mining laws which were posted on the center pole of the tent. The miners met in a mass meeting, framed and passed it. The next man I saw was an old friend and shipmate. He did not give me a good account of the mines. He advised me to prospect it myself. I did so. I found gold, but it was very fine. A few miners were making $5 to $8 a day. Many had put in wing dams and had left, their claims not proving good. I put blankets on my back, some bread and raw pork, and three of us went out prospecting. We found gold most anywhere but not in sufficient quantity to work.
We went up to the fork of the river, and up the north fork some miles, went up south fork a short distance. Found a ledge but could see no gold in it. Camped in a deserted Indian village, had nothing to eat. Shot a raven and a few blue jays. Found them tough eating without salt, bread or fixings of any kind. During the night some wild beast tried to steal our boots from under our heads.
Next day we returned to camp and reported proceedings. It was agreed that two of our party should go out and try again while the other two should work a small valley to try to make expenses while we were gone. Another man joined us, making three to go out. We wanted to find the trail that California Jack made when he prospected the Smith River. It was thought that he found good diggings. He was killed by the Indians in April or May. I am not sure it was not as late as June that he was killed.
We started early in the morn, taking more to eat and no blankets. First night camped in the deserted Indian village. As we had no blankets, we slept in one of their houses. It stood on the river bank about 100 yards from the water at low water mark. It was partially under ground, built of boards split out of cedar. The entrance was toward the river and was a square hole of 15 inches each way. There was no running out of the door or running into the house. It was crawl in and crawl out. I went in, or crawled in, and inspected the interior of it. I found a raised platform at one end of the house where they had slept. Near the middle was a square hole in the ground, neatly lined with stones, that served as a fireplace. I crawled out and reported favorably. We gathered leaves and put in for our bed, and dry bark from a tree that was nearby, I think it was alder, that makes no smoke. There we ate our supper, smoked and spun yarns at the same hearthstones where the Indians had been at home.
There were baskets just as they had left them, a few flat stones where they had made their arrowheads, also a hatchet and some other things. We passed a very comfortable night. I forgot to state that the house was only 8'x10' and not high enough to stand up in. I noticed that there had been at one time a large village there, and another on the other side of the river. It is easy to tell where their homes had been by the hole they made in the ground. There was but two that had been inhabited recently. The others had been in ruins for a long time. Many were burned, as I could see by the charcoal on the sticks sticking out of the ground.
We took up a line of march up the river bank. Saw many traps that had been made by Indians to catch small game. Some of these were intended for otters and still had the bones of the fish they had baited them with in them. Others were for hares, and then I saw one large trap and I did not know what it was intended for. After traveling for about one mile, came to the forks of the river. We took the south fork and went up less than a mile, then turned still more to the south and struck into a dense forest. Thus far we had traveled in a small valley and continued to do so for a short time when we came to a trail; where it led we knew not. But took it and followed it and directly came to the foot of the mountain. It took us up the mountain and on we went. It was a long and tedious walk up, and many times we sat down to rest.
The trail was well beat by bear, elk, deer and wolves. One of the party shot a grouse with his pistol. We might have got more but found out that we had only two rounds of caps.
We traveled on up for two hours, resting at times. Arrived at the top and found a little spot up there with tolerable good grass of fifty or sixty acres and two beautiful springs of water. At the spring I found an old Indian basket and a shell which I know must have come from the seacoast. We found that the trail took us along the backbone of the mountain and we went on the trail. I picked up another seashell. We followed the trail for two miles, most of the time on the mountain back, when we came to the head of a ravine which ran into the valley opposite the side we came up on. There, too, was a beautiful spring of water, and there had been a white man's camp. The tent holes stood there yet. There were bones of elk and a broken bottle and a piece of the New York Herald dated April 12, 1853. There was no mistake but it was a camp where some white men had lived for some days, but we could find no mark or signs to tell us who it was. A large pine had been felled, and by one who knew how to use the axe. We cooked our bird there and ate dinner.
I wished to go and see what we could see, but could not prevail on the other two to go on. They would return to camp. As it was late to return to camp and go the road we had come, we thought it best to take a shortcut for being so high on the mountain. We could see pretty nearly across to "Hardscrabble." It was with reluctance that I turned back; having gone this far I wanted to go on and see what was in the valley below. We found our "cutoff."
In many places the side of the mountain was so steep that we were obliged to hold on to the bushes. We reached camp the eve after dark. I afterwards saw three men that had been on the same trail as far as the flat on the top of the mountain. They said it was California Jack's trail and the one he was on when he was killed. We saw no Indians but saw many signs that they had often been on that trail.
We found the colors almost everywhere, but the gold was light and lay near the top of the ground. Down in the rock bed there was no gold. It proved the same wherever we prospected. I think it is so all over Smith River. I was told by one of the party that we were doing the best of anyone on the dig, that they did not find their gold on the bedrock. Also there is but little dirt to wash, nearly all rock. We went out once more to give the country a good prospect. We went up a ravine about a mile off the river near which we saw a small stream that buried itself on a flat as it reached the river. We found colors in the bank, then turned the stream and worked several yards up bedrock and got the colors but once. We then left and returned to camp. I was for going on towards Yreka but the rest of the party could not go and the consensus was that next morn we start for Crescent City.
We took a pack train down and rode the mules on the pack south. Arrived at Crescent City 28 July. I was several days trying to get passage down to San Francisco, but could not. The weather while I was there was foggy most of the time. Wind from the southwest there. Appeared to be much building going on, and the merchants having a large stock of goods on hand. While there, I walked up the coast some distance following the beach. Found on the beach some beautiful agates. There are other stones also, beautiful ones.
August 3rd, 1853 started for Yreka, distance about 160 miles. I had one companion, one who had been an old companion of mine in '49. We took blankets and an old musket and started on foot. Just outside town met a man carrying in a large fat elk which weighed 900 lbs. When I left Crescent City this meat could be bought for 7¢ a pound. For a time there was no other meat than elk, deer and bear to be had. And when beef could be had, it was 25¢ to 35¢ a pound. People preferred venison, etc.
The first day we made "Hardscrabble Diggins." Next day started earlier and addressed ourselves to a hard day's walk, having the mountain to cross called "Four Mile Mountain." It is by far the worst I have ever been up and we were obliged to stop every few hundred yards. It is well wooded with pine and cedar on the west side, but the east side is nearly barren. Some years ago fire burned over the east side, and hardly a green bush or tree is to be seen. Whole forests of large pines stand dead and charred.
It was a hot day, calm and still. We had no water from the time we left the river until we reached the west side of the mountain, a mile or more from the summit, where there is a spring called "Cold Spring." And well does it deserve the name. I never drank as cold water from a spring as I did from that. We were very thirsty when we reached the spring. A glass of cold water was more valuable to us than a bottle of whiskey or a pound of gold. Water only would quench our thirst. The spring is small, not over 2½ feet in diameter, between two large rocks and approximately two feet deep. The rocks surround it so that it is a kind of basin. The water rises and flows gently over the top running in a riddle down the mountainside, where it is then drunk up by the parched earth.
We stopped there some little time to rest and refresh ourselves with the cold water. We bathed our heads and washed our feet. There was no shade there, only what could be had from the bodies of several large pines that stood beside the spring. They were dead, black and charred by fire. As we left the spring, rested travelers, the trail led down the mountain. The descent was gradual and a good trail. We reached "Elk Camp" in good time. I noticed during this day's travel for the first time in California the little striped squirrels, the same as we have at home. I have recently seen the gray squirrels that live in trees, also the ground squirrel of California which is near the size of the gray and much the same color, rather more of a fox color on the back however.
We had a good trail the day following, for a mountain trail. The country was well washed with pine, ash and cedar. The redwoods do not extend so far inland. Our course has been east, northeast most of the time. The day was very warm but water was plenty, passed many little streams and crossed rivers. Reached a house in time for dinner. There we saw the first woman we had seen since we left Crescent City. During the afternoon passed through the "Sailors Diggins." There diggins are extensive and are what the miners term surface diggings. The gold is very fine and lays there in or on top of the ground. At the time we passed through there they were entirely deserted, being no water to work with. We passed very good log cabins on the road, and the surrounding hills were spotted with them here and there.
The country in and about the diggings is open and the hills low and rolling. There is some timber nearby and a few miles off an abundance of heavy pines. The earth is of a dark red mixed with broken stone of a dark reddish color. There was one house in the diggings inhabited and kept as a tavern. An attempt has been made to cut a race to bring water from a river nearly "18 miles" into the diggings but failed after partly finishing it. It can and will be done some day.
We reached Cochran's Ranch just before night, tired and footsore. My boots were not tight and the dust and small gravel got into them and made my feet very sore. Cochran's Ranch is situated immediately at the foot of "Democratic Gulch" where some few mines are doing well. The gold is coarse and rather dry. There too many have left for lack of water. About three miles from the ranch are the diggings at "Althouse Creek." They are extensive. I know but little of them. I washed my feet at every opportunity and when blistered and chapped I found it did them much good.
We left in the morning after an early breakfast and took a new trail which was said to be shorter than the old one. After traveling three miles we passed Hay's Ranch; one mile further we passed Johnson Ranch. I learned this from a little girl that was playing in front of the house. Soon after, we crossed quite a large flat and then entered a thick forest of pine and various other kinds of wood. We passed around the foot of a high mountain, and once several low spurs all covered with heavy pine and thick underwood. After traveling until about midday, came to Mooney's Ranch, a house in the woods, solitary and lonesome; here we found the prospectors of the house both alone. Two others had gone out to bring in provisions.
The deer and all kinds of game are more plentiful about here than any place we have passed except perhaps Crescent City where people live on game. Mr. Mooney told me that they got deer and bears whenever they wanted them. The trail was full of deer, bear and wolf tracks. We also saw grouse and hares. After about four miles, we came to a steep little mountain, the trail going directly over it. After traveling about 16 miles it became too hard for us to climb this mountain. It was steep and the trail full of rolling stones so it was difficult to go up two feet and not slide back one. Before we got to the top, we met two young men coming down with mules. They had dismounted and were leading them down. These two travelers were the only ones we met for more than 45 miles. After reaching the top of the mountain, we took a short rest and went on the trail that went along the back of the mountain some little distance, and then the descent was gradual, with mountains looking off a long distance, at the foot of it a small creek. There I saw a small bunch of muskflowers the same as those I saw on the Smith River.
When we came into the valley I found wild cherries, ripe, and quite a treat they were. They were the first I had ever seen in this state. They were rather large, black, and grew on bushes about eight feet high. Soon after, came to a small river. It was broad at the ford but little over knee deep and very swift. Came to a large pine blazed with a notice that the new trail was three miles nearer than the old one. On another tree saw a notice to this effect, "Turn, turn, and don't delay, why will you go three miles out of your way!" Notwithstanding this admonition, we took the old trail, not knowing how far it might be to a house on the new one. We walked until the sun had disappeared behind the mountain and the shadows of night gathered around us. Yet we kept on. We came to a creek with thick bushes all around its banks. The water was very low as we ascended its banks. A house was on the right side going up to the river. We found it deserted. It was just built and had never been furnished. There were some blankets and a few cooking utensils, but nothing to eat but about half pound of bacon skin. Thinking that that would be hard to digest, we left it and made our beds in a corner. There was just light enough when we got there to read a couple of notices on a tree a few yards from the house. One related to the claim and the other requested the people about there not to molest the Indians living nearby as they were friendly and well disposed towards the whites. This was signed by five people. It was quite a good house, had four rooms and was well put up.
This had been our greatest day's work. We had walked over 30 miles, packed as we were, and had had no regular meals since morning. We had nothing to eat here so therefore "turned in." Saw a lot of fires at the foot of a mountain a short distance off.
At the break of day we were up and on our road. We only had to shoulder our packs and "march," for there was no cooking to be done and certainly nothing to eat. About two miles from the house where we slept we came to an Indian village there by a creek, the same we had crossed before. When we first saw it we cheered it, hoping we could get some fish from the Indians. We were hungry and surprised to find the village was totally deserted. We went from lodge to lodge but they were all gone. The tracks were fresh as if just made. They had gone off on the trail the same way we were going and had evidently left the eve before, and it was their campfires we had seen from where we had stopped. We did not know how close it was to the next house.
We crossed some rolling hills covered in places with manzanita bushes. The berries were just getting ripe. We stopped. My companion laid down with the gun beside him while I went off a short distance to gather some manzanita berries. They are nearly all seeds and have a sour taste. My companion told me not to go too far off. I picked my hat full of berries and went back and found my friend singing. This day, all along the road saw Indian tracks and heard their shouting on the mountain. It trailed about ten miles when we heard the crack of a rifle on the side of the mountain on our left and shortly after two loud yells. We kept on, taking no notice, thinking it was Indians. Crossed Applegate Creek and took a trail up the north bank. Saw two Indians with rifles near the trail. They went up the side of the mountain and we did not see them afterwards.
We had now come to where there was mining going on down the creek. Passed log cabins, wing dams and mining claims deserted. Came to where some Indians had been fishing for salmon. Saw an old man, unarmed. He came into the road and stood still without speaking My companion could talk jargon, a kind of a language understood by nearly all the Northern Californian and Oregon Indians, altogether different from their native tongue. We asked him how far it was to a house. The old man told him it was a short distance and that there were many white men there. I saw a small boy with a bow and arrow and a little child lying on a wing dam on the opposite side of the creek. The others had probably hid when they saw us coming.
We had now reached Applegate Valley and soon after came to a log house, and a little further there were more. We stopped at one that appeared to be the principal one, for there was quite a crowd collected there. They were all armed and appeared to be earnestly talking over some important matters. We soon learned it. The Indians had commenced war against the whites. Their first attack had been near Jacksonville. And at the time it was made, all the Indian villages had been deserted and they took to the mountains. This looked suspicious, and the miners collected together to investigate the matter. A few Indians that lived with the whites still lingered about the settlement. They dared not come boldly out and mingle with the white men, yet they left not because they were hostile towards them, but feared they might be killed.
We had found that all the villages below were deserted before the Indians attacked Jacksonville. This looked as if they knew the attack was meditated and left in time to secure safety for the women and children. The fact of the Applegate Indians leaving their houses and going into the mountains does not prove that they commenced hostilities. They knew the white men too well to think themselves safe there. There is no doubt but they were aware that the Rogue River Indians were about to take up arms against the whites. But it remains to be proved that they were concerned [i.e., involved] too.
We arrived at the valley at about 10:30 a.m., and I can assure you we were hungry and tired, having traveled 45 miles without anything except the berries. It was not safe for us to go on to Jacksonville, ten miles. And as a party was going the next morning we concluded to go on with them. It was voted by the miners and settlers there that the next morning a committee of four should go to the Applegate Indians and ask them if they wished for war. If not, to tell them to come and live in the valley near the whites, for if they stayed out they would be considered as hostile and be attacked by the first party that would find them. The committee were to take an Indian with them that had long lived with the whites and could talk English. There was one that took an active part. He was known by the familiar name of "Old Grizzly." He was tall and straight as a candle; his hair and beard were nearly white, hence the name. His beard was long and flowing, reaching down on his breast. I thought his ideas with respect to the way to act were good, yet he was strongly opposed by some who "went in" for killing all the Indians.
On the following morning we started for Jacksonville. The party consisted of 10 persons, mostly well armed. We passed on the road dead horses that had been shot by the Indians. Arrived at Jacksonville and found the town in a state of alarm. The Indians had all gone to their strongholds in the mountains, killing, burning and destroying as they went. Many settlers lived in the valley; some had their families. They too were alarmed and took their wives to Jacksonville. Some that lived at a distance of 15 or 20 miles from town met at their neighbors' houses and fortified them. There they took their families and made a stand. I should have stated before that the town of Jacksonville was on the Rogue River in the Oregon Territory, near the rolling hills on the southwest side; and situated in the immediate vicinity are rich dry diggings. The trail from there to Crescent City makes it easy communication with San Francisco. There are nearly a thousand miles on this trail packing from Crescent City to Jacksonville and Yreka.
An express rider was immediately sent off to Yreka for Vaughn Pierce, also to the Scott's Valley to Col. Alden, commander of the United States troops stationed there. One great trouble was want of firearms. There were not enough to arm more than one third of the people; being the dry season, there were but few miners, and they were about the only ones that had arms. Many living in and about the town had sold their rifles to the very Indians they were now at war with. It was known that the Indians were well armed with the best of rifles and had plenty of powder and shot. It is also a fact that one chief called Sam had told some of the citizens of Jacksonville that the Indians were about to make war. He called out one man alone and told him he had something to tell him, but the man would not go and listen to what the old chief had to say.
At the same time I arrived at Yreka, the Indians were camped near Table Rock, so called because of the singular flatness on top. To all appearances it is level. There is said to be but two trails that reach the top. Everywhere else the sides of the rock were perpendicular for several hundred feet. It is certainly one of the greatest strongholds in the country. Twenty well-armed men could hold it against a thousand. On this rock the Indians had assembled with their great chief, Sam. The Indians had all lived among the whites and knew many of them by name. They knew they had but few arms and entertained the rare hope that they could take this valley from the white men. They thought the whites here were but a small tribe that had been driven out by others and would be afraid to go back where they had come from and they could kill them off. Had they only known how many children "Uncle Sam" has. Probably many poor Indians would not live.
A company of mountain volunteers was raised to go out against the Indians, commanded by Captain M----. There were about 30 men. They went out toward Table Rock and camped August 8, 1853.
I went to the Robinson House and entered my name as a boarder. I could not go out to Yreka as it was not safe for two men to go. A wounded man was in the house; he was a very young man [probably Thomas J. Wills] and had a wife in the country, I think. He was shot while on horseback, the ball taking effect in the small of his back and going entirely through him. Three Indians had been taken prisoner shortly after he was wounded and were brought into Jacksonville and hung without ceremony.
The morning of the ninth of August a company of volunteers arrived from Yreka; also nine men came from Scott's Valley with 30 muskets. Being all that were left in camp, two companies had gone out on the immigrant trail to protect those most advanced from the Indians there. These were the Modoc Indians. One company had gone on the coast about 60 miles above Crescent City. During the day more volunteers were coming all the time. They formed into a company under Captain [James P. Goodall] and mustered upwards of 80 men. Every horse or mule that could be got was taken to mount the men about Jacksonville. Those from Yreka came on animals of their own. All stock that could be got in was corralled to keep them from being driven off by the Indians. During the time I remained at Jacksonville, I was but a spectator and unarmed. My object was to get to Yreka, but dared not go. It was reported that the attempt to make a treaty with the Applegate Indians was not successful and they had collected together and war was their cry. As there was but a few of them, a small group of 22 men were sent down under Captain [Simeon Ely] to watch their movements and give them battle if they were disposed to fight. Before they were sent, two of the committee that were chosen to be with them came to Jacksonville and stated that they could not find the Indians, that they were afraid of the whites and had fled to the mountains. That they were supposed to be friendly if the whites would let them be so. That the whites were the first aggressors. It was thought that they favored the Indians too much, and they were both put under arrest.
After it was known that the Indians had collected together at Applegate and were prepared to fight, these two men were liberated and joined the party that sent them down there. A day or two after they arrived there, the Indians surprised them while they were eating dinner. They killed and wounded several of this party, took all their horses (except two), blankets and provisions, and all else except their knives. It appeared that they had not seen the Indians and had no idea that they were about there, but there is no doubt that the Indians had watched them and then chose the time when they had dismounted to eat, to attack them. The white men camped or had halted to eat a bite in an open space. They built a fire and were cooking dinner when the Indians "stole a march on them." And the first time they knew the enemy was near was when they heard the crack of their rifles. The whites made an immediate retreat for some bushes and trees opposite from where the fire came from; one of the party was killed by the first fire--Old Grizzly--and several wounded. One of their men had an ounce of lead in him, jumped on his mule and retreated, thereby making a hasty retreat and saving his animal. The whites found that the Indians followed them, but they retreated no further. If need be one of the party would be dispatched for relief from Jacksonville. There is no doubt that they would have died. They were behind trees and bushes when they heard friends approaching; the Indians heard them also and retreated. They far outnumbered the whites and would have killed them all, had not assistance arrived from town.
A messenger went to town. There was no man there that could lead, and he was obliged to go to headquarters near "Table Rock." They passed through Jacksonville on their way to Applegate about 3:00 in the morning. I saw the wounded men brought into Jacksonville. One that had a ball in his hip [probably "Greasy John" Alban] had received it at the hands of an Indian whose scalp was brought in with him to Jacksonville. I took the scalp and looked at it. I never had seen or handled one before; killing them is enough without the scalp.
Another company now arrived for Yreka and Humbug Creek under command of Captain [Jacob Rhodes]. They went out to the headquarters. The town of Jacksonville had by this time got plenty well awake to the sense of their dangers and also of their folly in letting these Indians have their knives, powder and shot. The town was regularly guarded at night by sentries posted within a few yards of each other all around it. One night the whole town was aroused by the guard reporting fires at a distance and with this came the news of another attack on two men that were going from headquarters to their families, which were in a fortified house some miles distant. First at dark the Indians fired on them; one fled from his house immediately. The other received a mortal wound through the belly. His horse was frightened and ran with him. He kept his feet until the horse got to the house where was his wife and family. He has since died. There were six or eight men at the house. They heard the guns and supposed there was trouble but would not leave the women and children unprotected; they could have done no good if they had, and in the meantime the Indians might have attacked the house. They did not, however, and went to a deserted house nearby and burned it, also the hay and barley. This was so near the fortified house they could definitely hear the yelling of the Indians, and the fires were then seen from Jacksonville. The people of Jacksonville greeted the Yreka and Humbug boys with much joy. They formed a line on each side of the road as they entered town and gave them three hearty cheers, then of course followed sharing gin cocktails, brandy straight, etc.
The 13th of August, a party of eight men started for Yreka; we joined them, making twenty in all. They depended mostly on our numbers deterring the Indians from attacking, for not one half of us were armed. I rode right through the valley part of the way, the rest over rolling hills wooded with oak, ash and cedars and other kinds of woods. We passed many deserted houses, many with cultivated fields with the grain ripe and going to ruin; some had been partly harvested and was left in the shock or on the ground. In one place we saw where there stood a large stack of hay and grain.
After traveling twelve miles, we came to a house that they were fortifying with palisades (a row of large pointed stakes forming a fence as fortification). There were some eight or nine families. There was no way that an Indian could get near the house or steal up with a rifle shot without being seen.
From there on it was nine miles before we came to another inhabited house. We passed many large farms; some of them were 80 acres under cultivation. Everything was left to go to ruin. There was the fowl and haystacks with no one to take care of them, the fences knocked down and crops being destroyed by stray cattle. The ripe grain falling down and the houses exposed to the torch of the Indians. Men do not thus desert the homes and property and leave all at stake unless the case becomes desperate. No, not men like these, used to the dangers of a border life. It was a melancholy night as we passed those deserted houses. When we stake life for life, our homes and land are nothing in our eyes.
The next fortified house we stopped awhile at was not so good a location as the others; thick bushes ran immediately back of them and within 10 yards. There were trees all around close by. In time of peace it was a beautiful place for a house, but not at this time. I conversed some time with an old lady there. She was bigger in her wishes towards the Indians and declared that should she have the opportunity she would shoot one and then scalp him.
There was little thought of the tragedy that would be an act there so soon. At this house there were eleven prisoners taken when the man was wounded.
We went on four miles to the "Mountain House" and there spent the night. We had seen no Indians to molest us and the only place where we thought they might lay an ambush for us was at the "Siskiyou Mountain" which we had to cross the next day. We had traveled 25 miles that day, Oregon miles, too.
The next morning we started early to get over the mountain before the heat of the day. The rise was very gradual at first and then up a rather steep trail where it is nearly level for some distance, then winding around the main part of the mountain. We passed through thick forests of pine and fir trees, the trail full of bear tracks and also many grouse. There are two places where it rose very steep and required no small quantity of time to get up without stopping every few yards. On our right ran a high peak covered with snow. It looked beautiful with the sun shining on it like a tall watchtower from which to guard the rest. The west side of the mountain was covered with big bushes and heavy pines scattered here and there. From the top of the mountain, had a splendid view off far to the eastward. It looked to me as if the earth had been at one time like a sea in a gale, mountain after mountain reared its dark head as far as the eye could reach. The descent was gradual for a short distance, then very steep and a trail full of broken stones.
At the foot of the mountain came to a house and there was a cool spring of water. I rode now through open country with good grass although dry at that time. We now came to a house with a man and his family. It was a log cabin. At the moment I put my foot inside I noticed a difference, for here was a house that lived a women. Everything in and about the house was neat and orderly. We stopped there and rested a few moments. A pair of beautiful little tame deer that played about the house excited much attention from our party. They were the friends of the little girl, ten years old, following her wherever she went, feeding from her hand and frisking about in the most playful way. The next house we came to was at Cottonwood Creek, so called because of the quantity of cottonwood trees growing on it. Did not stop but hurried on to the next house where it was intended we stop for the night.
Went through rolling hills with no wood on them, but covered with dry grass, the weather calm and warm. Came in sight of Klamath River and traveled along the northwest bank a mile, when we came to the ferry. The river here was about 60 yards wide, deep and swift. It ran silently along here for a mile or more and in nearly a straight line northeast of southwest at the foot of a mountain, then it turned to the east. The water did not taste good and cool after drinking the water from the springs and small streams in the mountains. At the ferry we "came to" for the night. I noticed the people on this side of the Siskiyou Mountains had not deserted their houses although there were Indians living in cottonwoods and on the Klamath. It was the Rogue Rivers they were afraid of.
At the house where we stopped for the night, it appeared to me that the people had lived on deer altogether. They used the skin for clothes, belts and covering for saddles and many other things. I saw piles of them in and about the house. The animals were the Indians' "mainstay" and were so plentiful they could always get a supply of meat at any time. But the white man and rifle had killed many off and drove the remains into the mountains where they stay until the snow falls. Then they steal down into the valley, many of them never to return.
I learned from a man who stayed at the ferry that since the trouble in Rogue River Valley, the Indians about there had all disappeared. There used to be four come to the house frequently and bring several skins to exchange for beads and something else that passed their fancy. At the time of the Indian troubles over the mountain, they left. One man at the house told me he met one a day or two after they left that neighborhood as he was riding along the road. The Indian stopped and clicked his rifle. The white man was about to dismount and go up to the Indian when the Indian presented his rifle and told him to keep his seat. Go on your way and he would leave him alone. But if he put his foot on the ground he would shoot him. He was very surprised at the conduct of the Indian. He had often come to the white man's house, eaten, drunk and slept. There had never been any difficulty between them. Moreover, he was unarmed. The Indian told him to go on and he would let him alone. He felt the Indian was determined, and had all the chances in his favor. Therefore, he went on. The Indian told him there was war between the Rogue Rivers and the whites and that the whites killed the Indians wherever they found them. He saw the white man had no arms and was determined not to take advantage of him. I should think from the way the white man spoke that if they ever met again, one of them will die.
We left early in the morning and traveled over hilly country wooded with pine and oak; the road went around the base of the mountain that I spoke of as being near the "K" River.
After traveling about five miles came into Shasta Valley and in view of the Shasta Butte Mountain, the highest in California, 14,000 feet; nearly one half of the mountain was covered with snow. It was certainly the most beautiful sight I saw on the trip as it stood towering far above all others like a tall giant looking down on the crowd around him. The weather was rather smoky and we could not see it so plain as it would otherwise have offered.
Passed the Willow Spring Ranch, so called because the beautiful spring water surrounded it and it was completely shaded by willows. We did not stop. It was but four or five miles further on to Yreka. Met a party of ten men mounted and armed on their way to Jacksonville to join the volunteers. One of the number was an old friend of mine, one of the Pauline boys we had recruited two years ago at Nicolaus. The meeting was altogether unexpected. I knew he was living at Yreka.
My companion from Crescent City being one of the Pauline boys, we were three met there, four years and seven months after we embarked at "Aushoner" [sic--Naushon Island?] to double Cape Horn and visit the land of gold. It is cheering to the heart when in distant lands far from home to meet an old friend, tried and proven.
Shortly after leaving this party we came to the Shasta River. It is a small stream, ten or fifteen yards wide and pretty swift. The water is clear and cool. It is a branch of the Klamath and at the Butte Mountain. We bathed there, but the water was too cold to indulge in it very long. We were now nearly at our journey's end and went on with a light heart. I knew that there I would greet no parent, brothers or sisters, yet I felt a joy of coming in sight of the town. We arrived at 1:00 p.m. the 15th day of [August] 1853.
Yreka is quite a town and is the depot for the provisions and a resort for the miners from Cottonwood, Deadwood, Greenhorn, Humbug and Hungry Creek to get their provisions and mining tools. There generally is a large crowd in town on Saturday evening and Sunday from the mines about the town and the neighboring creeks. Some are looking for letters at the express office; some meet old acquaintances and spin long yarns. Others get provisions to take over to their claims, and a few get drunk and keep the whole town in an uproar while they are there.
The town is laid out in a north-south direction and is probably 200 homes. Most of them, however, are miner's log cabins. There is a house that was built for a church, but there are no pastors, no members and no congregation.
I recognize some men that I had known in the low country and in the states. Also one of the Paulines that I had not seen since the fall of 1850. I soon found that I had left the civilized part of California and had got out of reach of law, gospel and nearly all that would bring a New England home to mind. This I did not notice during the routine of everyday life. But on the Sabbath from morn 'til night the horse market is open and the auctioneer is mounted on horse or mule the whole day with his "$95, give me a $100 and you have the horse," etc., galloping up and down the street from one end of the town to the other.
The only difference between Sunday and the rest of the week is this--hired men do not work unless it be those employed in hotels, etc., where they cannot be spared. But drinking, card playing, horse racing, etc., is done to any degree; everyone carries sidearms, "pistol and knife," and I think that they are right on account of the late difficulties with the Indians. It is not prudent for a man to travel far in a country where people do not recognize any one day of the seven as being sacred.
There are many men here, no doubt, that do observe the Sabbath day, and I would not have you think there are no exceptions; I felt glad when I arrived but did not like the people altogether. It appeared to me that I never saw so many gamblers in so small a place. I found that there was no state mail from here direct to the lower country. The mail was carried into Oregon twice a month. To get letters it was necessary to send [Gregory's] Express, the cost $2.00 for each letter.
I looked about on the flat where the miners had worked when there was water, also up in the "diggins" where both of which the prospecting is good when there is water. I visited what they called a court of justice. The judge was apparently 20 or 25 years of age, sitting at a table covered with a blanket. On his left sat the district attorney whittling on a stick; at his right, lawyers smoking cigars. The court had started and the crowd that now filled it were many of them sitting on the counters; some leaned against the wall, others sat on benches, some had hats on, some took them off. In the background immediately behind the judge, a few men squatted down and appeared to be earnestly whispering together for a few moments. Then one of them picked up a bottle and took a drink from it and passed it to the other. I left the room just then. I want no law when it is a mockery of all law that I have seen in civilized lands. No law that is backed by the "whiskey bottle."
I saw here the elder brothers of the young man [Joseph Knight, Jr.] that was lost aboard the Pauline on the River La Plate, the 21st of March, 1849. About a quarter of an hour before the brig sailed for Charleston, this man came on board and told me his brother was going out in the brig, wished me to give him a little advice when he needed it. I thought he needed it when he came on deck during that gale and I advised him to go below. He heeded it not.
During the few days I stayed here there was much excitement about the Indian wars. Many had gone over to Rogue River. Those there were trying to come to some terms with the Indians, I do not think the Indians had any idea of taking arms against the whites; they left their rancherias because they feared the whites would look on all Indians alike, fall on them and kill them before they could say anything to prove they were innocent. In that they were right.
20th day of August
Nothing very exciting. The Indians had left the vicinity of Table Rock and had gone further back into the mountains. They were afraid to go on the rock for fear the whites would close the passages to it and then there would be an end of the Rogue River tribe.
General Lane had arrived from Portland, "I think" with a few men and had taken charge of the volunteers and had called for more, determined to carry the war to knife into the heart of their country, and kill them off, or to bring them to such terms as he should dictate. [Lane was living in Douglas County.]
A small party came over to Yreka from headquarters to hire some horses for the government. They brought the news of an attack on a house about four miles from the foot of Siskiyou Mountains, the same place I spoke of as being fortified. When I was there an old lady said she would shoot an Indian and scalp him. When we passed through there they had eleven Indian prisoners that had been taken in a brush with some Indians that lived nearby there. It was thought they belonged to the same tribe that had been doing so much mischief near Jacksonville and the people went to disarm them and bring them to peaceable terms. The prisoners were not guarded very strictly nor treated badly. Some people had passed there and advised their keepers to take them out and hang them, and some went so far they insisted on the men being hung. But the head keeper said he would not answer for their conduct and they were the people to let them live. A guard was kept at the house during the night. They thought they had sufficient guard to notify them during the day if anyone approached.
Early in the morning, just at break of day, the attack commenced. It appeared the Indians had crawled up and chose their position before daybreak. Then when it became light enough, they opened fire without moving; the guard was killed with the first fire. They then rushed on the house. The man that had stood guard during the night, and had been relieved before the attack commenced, lay down on the ground beside the house. He was wounded in two places with the first fire; one shot broke his arm. He reared up and took his knife that lay by his blanket with the intention of defending himself when one of the prisoners came out, laid on him, wrestled the knife from him, and shot him through the back. This is the same man that had pleaded for the lives of the prisoners. They liberated the prisoners confined there and went off in a hurry. They did not fire but a few guns after the first rifle and only where they thought they would be restricted. They killed a man that slept under a wagon or wounded him so that he died shortly after.
They also wounded severely a man that slept in his wagon with his wife and child: she told me that he received a ball through his clothes first fire and then took her and the child out of the wagon and shot her husband. She said they did not attempt to kill her or the child. There were 12 or 15 bullet holes in the wagon. Had the Indians followed up this advantage they might have killed any soul there and burned the house. Why they did not do so is a mystery to me. I know not whether it was because they feared someone would come along and catch them in their own trap that might have heard the firing, or if they had liberated their friends which they came determined to do and did not wish to kill any more than they were obliged to accomplish this feat. They carried off nothing as plunder. The people at the house were completely taken by surprise. Some were sleeping in the house, others out in and under wagons as I have stated. As the attack was being made, they all rushed for the house. When they all got in and barred the doors, had the Indians then burst in, no doubt some of them would have been killed, but they outnumbered the whites 5 to 1. The prisoners heard the firing and appeared to understand it, for they instantly liberated themselves and made off. One white man was killed instantly and six wounded, and three of them have since died.
The presence of General Lane at the Rogue River had called out another small party to go over and join the volunteers or would have gone could they have got arms. In war time the ladies of Yreka had not been idle. They had provided the material and with their hands wrought two beautiful flags, one for the Yreka and one for the Humbug volunteers. There were stars and stripes, also in the union was the eagle and the words, "Humbug volunteers;" on the other "Yreka volunteers." Two men were sent to carry these flags over to headquarters and to present them to their respective companies.
Stephen Palmer Blake, in Elizabeth Hurst Ellwood, ed., The Life of Captain Stephen Palmer Blake from his Journals, Genealogy Publishing Service 1995, pages 293-323
Yreka, Siskiyou Co., California
24 August 1853
The first few lines are rather out of place, but you will see that I wrote this first. I have not time to write it off another sheet; therefore, it must do as it is.
Of the papers I sent you, you will learn something of the difficulty between the Indians and the white man in this part of the country. For upwards of 100 miles the road is thought to be unsafe for travelers unless it is in large parties and well armed. Now, there is no war, but the Rogue River Indians are hostile and take every advantage of the whites to rob and murder. This I know to be a fact, for what we see we may believe. Rogue River Valley, I should have said Jacksonville, is in the valley 60 miles from here. When the Indians there took up arms against the white man, which was about the 8th day of 1853, then the white man in and about this place took their rifles and went over to Jacksonville. This was to assist in putting them down. Enough were left about here to protect this place, etc., and a strict eye was kept on the Shasta Indians to see they did not go over to those Rogue Rivers or act in any way suspicious.
The Shastas are a small remnant of the tribe that lived on Shasta River. They lead a wandering life, camping here and there and everywhere and only in winter have any permanent house. They get a great deal of help from the whites in and about the town. Also clothing, guns, powder and ball, etc.
During the Indian troubles on the Immigrant Road, some of these Indians went out there and fought for the whites, acting as scouts. There they proved faithful and brave. They number only about 26 [white] men that can bear arms. A few days after the Indians on Rogue River commenced hostilities, a small party of the Shastas were coming down the river toward this place. They were aware of the trouble over at Rogue River and they wished to get near the town that they might be protected from the Rogue River Indians. They threatened to exterminate them if they did not come over to them against the whites. They also wished to camp near a town, that the white men might see that they had no arms against them. A few minutes from town they saw a man on horseback going full speed towards town and coming on the road from Jacksonville. The Indians knew that something was up and they knew what the whites were in these parts when there was trouble with them. Therefore, the chief sent two of his men, swift and true, up on a high hill that overlooked the town to see what was going on there, and report to him. The fact was, they were alarmed. They had their women and children with them and they knew that if the white man did attack, they could not protect themselves.
The horseman, thinking the Indians had attempted to cut him off from the bridge to kill him, rode into town at full speed and reported accordingly. Did you ever see an ants' nest stirred up? Just so the people here were on the jump. The bell was rung and all hands called "to arms." In a short time 100 men met at the Yreka Hotel armed and mounted. They went out to find the Indians and kill men, women and children. The spies sent on the hill to watch the town saw this and by a shortcut, returned and reported that they saw a large body of armed men coming out of town at full speed.
The chief had two women with him on his horse. There were also some 12 other Indians mounted. I am told that was perhaps all the Shastas that were left. He knew he could not escape from the whites on these horses and his only hope was take to the bushes and hide. Therefore, he told his men to look out for themselves while he and a few others stayed with the women. They all scattered in the bushes, but two stayed with the horses. They saw the white men coming for them. One spoke, I have fought under the whites and I know them. I know how they fight and if we stay here we shall be killed. They left their horses and took to the bushes. The whites found the horses and knew the Indians were not far off. They charged about in the bushes like the devil and came upon one young Indian and fired. He wounded one man, but escaped himself.
After some time the chief sent a young woman out, told her to go over to the whites and explain the matter to them and tell them they did not wish to fight, that they were their friends. She walked boldly out and showed herself, holding up both hands as a sign of peace. My thoughts and feelings concerning this affair are what yours would be when you read it. Was this Indian girl sent out to explain matters to the whites partly because she was a woman or girl if you like and partly because she had lived near the town and was well known. She walked into the river and nearly crossed it, "all this time the white men were collecting there, when one man drew up his rifle and shot her." The ball struck her in the breast; another man, I should call them men, dismounted and scalped her while she yet lived, then cut her throat and stabbed her through the heart. She put her hands up to her head and spoke to him while he was taking her scalp.
Don't understand me to say that all those 100 men were willing witnesses to this. Most of them were. She was shot instantly, not a word had been spoken.
In a short time the chief sent another young woman out to talk to the white men. They knew the instant a man showed himself, he would be the mark for 100 rifles. She came out and made the same sign as the first one did, raised her hands and gave herself up as a prisoner. No one attempted to shoot her; no one there wished or dared to do it, or his life would have been taken instantly.
They found it was useless to try to get the Indians out; therefore, they took their horses and returned, taking the woman with them. On examining the Indian woman, she told them the whole story, told them that the Indians did not wish to take up arms against the white men. That the Rogue and the Pit River Indians had threatened to kill them all if they did not come over to them against the whites. That they were afraid the others would kill them. They were afraid of the Rogue River Indians and they do fear the white men; where then shall they go.
A meeting of the citizens to consider what was best to do, whether to trust them or to exterminate them, was held at the Yreka House. It was found that the house was very much divided, one party was for extermination while the other was for taking them at their word and making a treaty with them. After much talk a committee of five was chosen to meet with the Indians and learn from them what they wished to do, and then report as soon as possible.
The whole country is in arms, ranches, deserted crops and stock are left to be destroyed or to take care of themselves. Some have left their houses and collected on ranches and fortified them. One of the ranches was attacked by the Indians at break of day. The whites lost one man and six wounded. The loss to the Indians is not known. This was not done by the Shastas; it is supposed to have been the Rogue or Klamath Indians.
On the evening of the 23rd, the bell was rung and all hands called together to hear the report of the committee on Indian affairs. The Yreka House was crowded, and many could not get in the room at all, 42x40. One of the committee was present with a written report which the chairman read.
The substance of it was the Indians were ready and willing for a treaty with the whites, that the affair on the river was all together a mistake on the part of the whites, that the Indian that fired the gun supposed that his life would be taken and fired in self-defense, that they had one woman and a small boy killed and lost their horses, etc. They were willing to deliver up their arms and come near town and camp, but they wished to be protected. Also part of their men would act as scouts, guides, etc. against the Rogue River Valley Indians there. They wished to have their horses back.
After the report was read, a gent got on the table and told the people his mind on the matter. He said that the Indians were disposed to be friendly, that it was far better to have a treaty with them, and it was true they were few in number but well armed and knew the country so well that they could do much damage. Many lives might be lost. He further stated his opinion that it was wrong to slay them like wolves in the sight of God and man. He thought it best to disarm them and make a treaty and send some of them over to the Rogue River Valley to assist the whites to put down the Indians there.
During the time he had been speaking, he had been several times interrupted by someone who was "in for extermination." The house appeared to be much divided and grew quite stormy. Immediately after the first speaker left the card table, another took his place, a tall man in the middle of life. He did not go in for coming to any terms with the Indians. Let it be a war of extermination. Let the white men take up arms and defend their wives and children, their property, and not sit trembling like old women. He had no sympathy for the Indians.
There were some there who went in for bringing the Indians here and letting them live with the whites. Others called them cowards and said they had squaw sympathy. There were many of that kind present. For his part, he did not think an Indian was any better than a dog and any white man who took this part, he looked on as worse than a dog and a coward. He had two of the horses taken from the Indians; they were in his corral. Any of the squaw sympathizers that wanted to give them to the Indians again could try and take them out. They should not have them, and before they get the horses out, said he, I will shoot them dead myself. He "went in" for selling the horses and taking the money to defray the expenses of those who went down to disarm the Indians, who murdered a young squaw and killed a boy. Also let it be used to pay the wounded man's expense. During this man's speech he used much bad language. He grew bolder as he went on, for he knew that the house was much divided, and at times he received thunderous applause.
During the first of his speech the opposite side was silent. But as he grew more bold and insulting he was hissed until he left the stand. Just then there was a rush in the crowd for the doors and a cry, "Let him shoot him," and a rush for the table where the speaker stood. Those who do not wish to endanger their lives by getting in range of shot in so thick a crowd rushed out of the house, upsetting all before them. I sat at a table and did not see the man advance to shoot the speaker until I got up and I found that I stood between the two. The cry still was "let him shoot."
There were those present who did all in their power to prevent the man from drawing his pistol, knowing the instant he did the other party would fire, and in such a crowd someone must receive a bullet. As the storm grew louder, intermingled with the clicks of pistol locks, I got on the stairs where I was out of range. The proprietors of the house got on the stand as quick as possible and standing between the parties, and told them they were very wrong to draw their pistols and think of shooting there, that where so many were present it was not possible to fire without killing someone and at the same time requesting them to put their pistols away and let the meeting go on and do their fighting another time.
After some talk and cries of disarm "that coward and squaw sympathizer," they drew quiet at seeing the pistols in their holsters. The man who had just left the stand and who had used insulting language [and] nearly caused bloodshed, was the one, in the most inhuman manner, scalped the squaw I have before spoken of. For my part I was delighted to see justice done, to see him shot down, as he wished to see the Indians, and was disappointed that someone who spoke about as "coward and squaw sympathizer" did not shoot him from the stand; [it] shows in the end he will not gain much. His talk had roused the feelings of everyone present who had the least spark of humanity in their hearts. Several took the stand and came out with their feelings in full. They were for peace and returning the horses taken from the Indians.
One man took the stand, and he probably had no idea of doing so when he came in, but felt indignant at what he had heard. He was the blacksmith who worked hard and did not interfere with others' affairs. His looks told his feelings as he got up and said, "Indian sympathizer as I am," placing his hand on his heart, "I cannot but express my feelings. Let it be Indian as white man." He felt for the white man that was wounded by the Indian, though also did he feel for the Indians and wished them to have their horses and peace with the whites. "Give them what belongs to them," said he, "and as for the expenses of the wounded man, etc., I shall start a collection and put $20.00 at the head of it. There are others here who I think will put down more." There were cries of yes, yes, all over the house.
Another got up and said he was in favor of peace. The Indians had done no wrong, done no more than anyone would do, treated as they had been. Give them, said he, their horses, and live near the town where there will be security, feed them, for they cannot get their living if we take their arms, and I here offer $50.00 as my part of the wounded man's expenses. I will also do my part towards feeding the Indians until the war with the Rogue River Indians is over so they can have their arms again.
Several others made the same offer, and it was finally agreed to leave that subject until the question was decided whether or not the Indians shall die. There was one way to do it, by the voice of people. The majority must rule. Therefore, the chairman requested all in favor of a treaty with them to step over the north side of the room; those for extermination on the opposite side.
The room was crowded so full that the space between the two parties was hardly wide enough for a man to walk in, and for an instant there was a general rush for each side, but as it grew more still, the chairman stood up, and looking at both parties, declared the vote to be in favor of a treaty. It was voted on and appeared that 7 out of 8 of the people were in favor of letting the Indians have their rights. Right was the winning card that time, and when the vote was declared, the house shook and the cheers could be heard I don't know how far. There was but little else to do. A committee of four was chosen to meet the Indians to form the treaty, bringing it before the chairman of this place for ratification.
Stephen Palmer Blake, in Elizabeth Hurst Ellwood, ed., The Life of Captain Stephen Palmer Blake from his Journals, Genealogy Publishing Service 1995, pages 187-193
26th day of August, 1853
A party of 15 started from Yreka for headquarters on the Rogue River taking the flags to be presented to the Yreka and Humbug companies. Also some horses to replace those killed and taken by the Indians. I joined the party. We did not start from the town until 11:00 a.m., yet we traveled 40 miles that day before we came to a halt. Nothing worthy of note took place, and the only difficulty was in crossing the Siskiyou Mountain. We did not get to the foot of it until dark; then, as we had 13 loose animals to drive it was rather difficult going up the eastern side. We could see enough to tell when one of the animals went out of the trail, for it was mostly open overhead with low bushes on each side of the trail. Going down the west side where the trees were thick and tall and came together overhead, eyes were of no use whatsoever. It was a steep rock trail and a man could not see the head of the animal he was riding. All he could do was let the animals take their own course. They did and came out all right. At 10:00 p.m. we arrived at the Mountain House.
Started early the next morning so as to get well on our road before the heat of the day. After four miles traveling, we came to the house that was attacked and where the prisoners had been kept. Saw the position the Indians had occupied when they fired on the guard. Also the wagon riddled with bullets. Some six or eight were in or about the sides of the house. One struck one of the posts that support the shade in front of the house. While there we received an account of the whole affair. I did not see the old lady that was going to scalp the first Indian she could shoot; she had gone to a house further on the road to Jacksonville, with palisades around it.
Before we reached Jacksonville, met an express rider, learning news of another fight with the Indians. We did not learn particulars but hurried on to Jacksonville. There we arrived at about 3:00 p.m. There we learned that the Indians had retreated to the north followed by the Yreka and Humbug companies. On the morn of the 27th of August, two companies under command of General Lane and Col. Alden, with experienced scouts and guides, were used in all the arts and tricks of Indian warfare. They were on the trail of the Indians when at the top of the high divide they heard a gun fired in the ravine below them. I do not give this from any account published but from a particular friend of mine that was there.
Of course, they knew it indicated the presence of Indians, although just out of sight and gunshot. The command was given to dismount. A party was left to guard the horses. They then commenced to descend in two lines so as to surround the Indians. They didn't know where the Indians were, that is, their camp. They had reason to think it was in that ravine. The gun might have been fired in camp by some one of them out hunting. They had not descended far when all doubt was at an end, for they could hear children playing and laughing. There, of course, was the camp, and for that reason they proceeded with all caution. The side of the mountain was steep with no trail and it was difficult to go down without making more or less noise. It was a good place for a camp. A place that could not be surrounded by an enemy while they were awake and in daytime too. The Indians were not surrounded this time but they were completely surprised. They had no idea that the white man would ever follow them there. It was not possible to get up to their camp and take them alive. Might as well attempt to pop it like a hornet's nest and not be stung. The Indians were aware of the whites coming and also that they could get a company of men on the opposite side to surround the camp. They were so surprised that they gave up all idea of retreat. This camp was arranged so they could eat, sleep and fight in it. A small stream of water ran through it and the bushes were very thick around it. On being surprised with the whites coming, a long chilling cry brought them all together. This probably they heard from the chief and then took to the bushes and trees and the most commanding positions. They fired the first gun, but the whites drew the first blood. They killed several of the Indians before they could get their positions. The Chiefs Sam and Jim were there. They kept up a-yelling most of the time, more especially when they saw a white man fall.
The chief had a powerful voice. He sat somewhere in a thicket concealed, yet he was where he could see and know all that passed and kept up a constant communication with his men. He told them to stand their ground, not to retreat, for they were surrounded and to retreat would mean death. The white men were behind every tree. General Lane ordered Captain Rhodes to "charge that thicket" and drive those devils out. Captain Rhodes found he had but 13 men with him; the rest were extended down the creek. A small creek ran down in the ravine. To keep the Indians from outflanking them, he told the General he had but 13 men, but if you say "charge," we do so. General Lane told him not to attempt it with so few men. The chief was in that thicket and no doubt the main body of the warriors were with him. He was heard to tell the men about him not to fire until the white man made a charge and had they done so with 13 men, not a soul of them would have escaped.
It was regular Indian fighting from behind trees, logs and bushes. The Indians were far more numerous than the whites and determined if need be to die where they were. Those in the bushes the whites could not see, and they were continually firing at the whites whenever they showed themselves. Yet on the other hand an Indian could not show an arm or leg or his head, but he would receive a ball in it instantly. The 13 of Captain Rhodes' company were stationed on a small point where there was a small bend. They were behind trees and logs and most of the time entertained [restrained?] their fire expecting that if the Indians attempted to force a passage out, that would be the place. At times when one of them got a good shot, he did not fail to improve it. My friend was there and when the orders were given to charge, he pulled off his boots and threw them away. They had become slippery and he could not go down the hill with them on. Another of the party saw an Indian nearby who stuck his head from behind a tree. "There is one of the red devils," said he, and he jumped out from his tree to get a good shot, but the Indian had his rifle already up and it was not "who shoots best but who shoots first." He popped the first shot and hit the white man in his left arm. No doubt had he got the first shot he would have killed the Indian.
Very often during the fight, Sam's [sister], who was nearby him, made herself heard by all present. She told the Indians to stand their ground, for the whites were determined to kill them off. "Take good aim," she said, "and fight for your wives and children, don't throw away any lead. The white men are not your friends, they have never been your friends, kill them all." In this manner her voice was often heard cheering them on. There were probably 50 shots fired into the thicket where Sam's voice was heard, but none hit him. For three hours the fire was kept up. There were about 70 men there and it was thought the firing would bring up Captain Miller's company, when General Lane attempted to surround them and drive them from their hiding places at all hazards. It was getting long after midday, with clear warm weather, and the men were exposed to the heat without being able to get a drop of water, while the Indian women were all the time carrying water to their warriors. Two of them lost their lives by exposing themselves too much, for nothing alive showed itself without being instantly shot at.
After the three hours of fighting the Indians, thinking they were in a "tight place" and seeing the whites were determined to keep them there until they could get their other company up and when there would be no help for them, they ceased fire by orders of Sam, and called for a parley. It was some time before the whites stopped firing. When they did the interpreters asked Sam what he wanted. He said he wanted to talk. The General took an interpreter and went into the bush where the Indians were.
He had received a ball through the arm near the shoulder an hour or more before. Sam proposed to make a treaty. He did not want to fight and if the white man were disposed to a treaty, they would meet at Table Rock within seven days. It was agreed that hostility should cease for the present while each party attended to their wounded and buried their dead. In a few minutes they were mixed together, all who had been trying to kill each other. Many of the Indians that Sam called his "wild ones" did not show themselves from their hiding places. The women brought water and gave it to the General and all the men who were very thirsty. The white men had lost but 3 killed and 5 wounded. Both the General and the Colonel [Alden] were wounded, the latter severely. The ball struck in a line on the right side of his neck, below the collar bone and went through him. There were eight dead Indians and 15 or 20 wounded, most of the mortally wounded being in the lead. Some that were present thought that they lost many more, that the whites did not see all of their dead and wounded; however, the number I stated were seen.
So after the firing ceased, Captain Miller's company came up. If they had arrived hours sooner, it would have altered the case materially, but it was too late then. The General had given his word that hostilities should cease until the end of the seventh day. Then if they did not agree, it should be war to the death.
The Indians brought the wounded [whites] many miles on litters until they could be put on litters carried by mules. The dead were buried there. The company came back and camped on Rogue River about 10 miles from Jacksonville. Most of the men were dissatisfied with the arrangements. They had followed the Indians through the plain and over the mountains night and day; had surprised them, entrapped them and therefore they wanted to carry it on to the last. Some five or six Indians went with the whites to their camp. While we were in Jacksonville, the wounded were brought in.
Morn of 28th of August started for camp. Arrived there and found everyone waiting for the time to come for the Indians to come in. The Indians on Applegate still continue to rob and burn when they could. They attacked a Spanish pack team and wounded three of the four men that were with it. They killed one mule and got his pack, boots and hats. The rest escaped. They brought this train to Jacksonville and unpacked before they had their wounds dressed. The Indians burned all the houses in Applegate Valley.
A small party of volunteers took five of their women prisoners and sent them to headquarters. General Lane sent another company down there to bring them to their senses. Sam denies the Applegate Indians, saying they do not belong to his tribe and he has no command over them. I think he is right in telling the truth. These Indians are in small parties and each party has a head man. They have no chiefs that hold sway over them for many miles in extent. This country does not appear to have been so thickly populated with them as it has been. Everywhere I go I find where there has been many years ago large villages, now deserted in many instances, and where there had been twenty houses there are now two or three. It is the same all over the state wherever I have been. I think some fatal disease must have swept them off and nearly decimated the country.
We remained in camp several days, idle and uneasy, wishing one thing and wanting another. On September 1st the flags were presented to the Yreka and Humbug captains. The troops were all drawn up in a square and addressed by General Lane and several others. It was a pleasant scene.
Volunteers kept coming in from all quarters. A company arrived after we did from Crescent City. Another one from Althouse and more on the way from the north. It was thought that all the small tribes would unite and make a desperate stand. The Rogue River Indians are noted for being warlike. One of Captain Miller's company was drummed out of camp for bad conduct in the presence of "all hands"; no doubt many present supported him but no one expressed their feelings. His conduct had been such that it could not be passed over, and by orders of General Lane he was thus publicly disgraced. I pity the man, but his sentence was just. The Indians in camp did not know what was up when the company were all drawn out. They kept a good distance off until they learned it was a peaceable move.
A respectable-looking young man that has been about camp for some time caused so much disturbance that he was put under guard. He thought he was at the head of five nations and a particular friend of Santa Anna. He is said to have wealthy and respectable parents in the Atlantic states. Here the poor fellow appeared to have but one friend.
3rd day of September
The Indians had arrived at the place appointed to meet the whites. One chief, Jim, came into camp. He stated that the rest were afraid to come in, that their wounded were still behind; they could not bring them but a little way in a day. Many of them had died, the weather was so hot. General Lane told Jim that they must come to his camp by the next day and then he would come to their camp. Next day, Sam, Jo and Jim with several others, among whom was the famous squaw warrior, Sam's wife, came into camp. [All other sources identify her as Mary, Sam's sister.] They were afraid and wished to go into the little log cabin where the general slept. A guard was placed at the door to keep the crowd away. They rode on horses, saddles and bridles taken from the whites. Two of them had on coats that belonged to some of our company. They had a long talk in the cabin. They said they wanted a little talk next day, a little the next and then the third day, much talk.
Sam is a stout fat man, I never saw an Indian more so, about 50 years of age. Jo is about the same age, taller and not so fiery. Jim is the youngest, 25 or 40, tall and powerful, an eye like an eagle and the most powerful voice. Sam's wife is probably 40 years old, she had an old calico dress on and a blanket around her with the usual headdress that she wore. In council they kept on that stern look which you can imagine Indian warriors have when you read the Indian history of our northeast country. They gave great attention to what General Lane said, answering by a look, grunt or nod, spoke only when it came their turn, then spoke freely and earnestly.
Sam denied he had any command over the Applegate Indians; they have their own chief. He also denied his men made the attack on the house near the foot of the mountain. It is supposed to have been Tipsy's tribe. They live on Cottonwood Creek. On just the Rogue River, they have been prowling about stealing horses and mules.
4th day of September
General Lane with the captains of the various companies went out about 5 miles to meet the chief and had a grand time. They met about 30 Indians. The others would not come in. They feared the whites. They were hid all about in the bushes among the rocks. General Lane told them they must give up the guns they had and return all the stolen property. They must pay for the property they destroyed during the war. Each chief would be allowed a gun. The chiefs did not like the idea of giving up their guns and went so far as to refuse, when the General told them that war should be carried on and hostilities commenced as soon as their final answer was given. After a short confrontation among themselves, they consented to give them up. A time was appointed for them to come in and deliver their arms and make a permanent treaty. General Lane has done what is right for the Indians; he taught them that they must fall back; they could not, with their guns, stand before the rifles of the white man and then were later convinced of these things and at his mercy. They were for peace and he grants it. While a Rogue River Indian lived, his name at least will be remembered by them. They knew him before, but probably had forgotten or did not know that he was in Oregon. In '50 or '51 he was out with volunteers against some Indians and they knew him as soon as they had seen him in the last battle and cried out, "General Lane, General Lane."
There was little else to do. The General ordered the Yreka and the Humbug and the Crescent City companies to be discharged. The last main company carried a flag inscribed "Crescent City volunteers," our motto, Extermination. They were well armed and mounted and had come upwards of 100 miles. During the time we stayed at camp [we] had several days of rainy weather which made it very disagreeable, having not a tent on the ground.
5th day of September
Clear, pleasant weather; a high peak to eastward shows itself covered with snow, contrasting strongly with the dark blue sky. Afternoon, Captain Rhodes' company started for Jacksonville.
Morning of the 6th day of September
I was sent back to headquarters. I was to go across the valley from there and meet the company at the Mountain House. Found a few of the settlers had returned to their homes. There were many deserted houses on the road and an old Indian woman with four young ones gathering grass seed. The young ones ran as we approached, but the old woman stood and looked at us. She was doubtful whether we were intent on wrong or not. We dismounted and got into a field to get some melons. The old woman watched us all the time till then. Then she walked slowly off in the direction the others had taken. They did not show themselves again, probably thinking it was not fair to tempt us, notwithstanding we were disposed to let them alone.
Passed an elegant wagon from Wisconsin. They had camped, stopped and lighted a fire and we had a few moments to converse with them. I met the company at the Mountain House and the following morning we all proceeded on. Nothing remarkable transpired on our way to Yreka, where we arrived the seventh of September. This closed the Indian difficulties in this neighborhood.
The Applegates had nothing to do with the treaty made with the Rogue Rivers. They still continued to prowl about and steal. The company sent down there by General Lane had a short encounter with them in which the Indians lost ten men, the whites one. Tipsy, the Cottonwood chief, is still prowling about with his whole party stealing stock and etc. The General intends to settle with him before he comes from there.
21st day of September
The captain [Col. Alden] that was severely wounded by the Indians at the last battle arrived here today, having recovered so as to be able to ride in a wagon. A company also arrived this way going to Rogue River. Col. Wright commanded them.
The citizens of Yreka, hearing of Col. Alden's coming, assembled together and greeted him with a hearty welcome. He is much esteemed by the citizens here, and respected by those of Jacksonville for his promptness in coming to their relief. On once seeing him you behold the gentleman. When he fell at Evans Creek and was supposed mortally wounded, his men crawled around him, determined to die as a man rather than fall back and leave him exposed to the fury of the Indians.
After my return to Yreka, I received several letters from home. I was happy to receive them although they were several months old, having been directed to Nicolaus, from thence to San Francisco and then came here. I answered them immediately, September 25, 1853.
The last few days have been clear and pleasant. Had showers in the later part of August, and again about the 15th of September it rained more or less for two days. The nights are cool, have seen no frost. I am staying at The Yreka, the largest and best hotel in town. It was built and is now owned by the Bunker Hill company. The new elected county officers are showing their zeal. One house is indicated as a brothel, another has no license. A friend proposed to me to accompany him to Oregon this winter and in the spring return here and thence to the Sandwich Islands. I have not yet decided to go.
About the 18th of this month had the chills and fever; that is enough to make me wish to leave California forever. I have not seen Oregon yet. It is nearby and probably I shall not have another opportunity of going there. There is nothing that would give me greater pleasure than going home, but really, I do not see how I can. I have lost this last year, that is according to the calculations of a Yankee. I have made nothing. My little I have in California is likely to be but little. But during the past year I have seen some of the world and have spent but few pleasant hours looking at it and watching the troubled waves of life as they rise and fall. I have seen some who sail along smoothly; to them the weather is always pleasant. The wind is always fair no matter what their course. Others meet the rough weathers of life. Theirs is truly a winter passage on every course, and every track is the same. So few keep their reckoning up day by day. They believe in mind the port of destination, and whether this be the rough or the smooth passage through life, they are bound for that port.
Stephen Palmer Blake, in Elizabeth Hurst Ellwood, ed., The Life of Captain Stephen Palmer Blake from his Journals, Genealogy Publishing Service 1995, pages 323-332
22nd day of September
I will here state that the committee went out with an Indian guide from Scott's Valley to find their Indians. They did find some few of them, mostly women and children, but they could not get them together. They are afraid to trust themselves with the white man. After spending some days trying to get the Indians together, they returned telling those they saw that the white man would not hurt any of them if they did no mischief. No doubt they thought it better to keep their rifles and trust to the chances in the mountains than come in and running the risk of having their lives taken. As to their keeping their word about the treaty, those that sent word that they wished to do so were seen and were willing to come to terms, but the wilder ones that had already lived in the mountains, and had seen but little of the white men, they were afraid to come out.
No doubt they were so indignant at the murder of their woman and little boy, killed by a chance shot, that whether they wished to make war or not, they would not make a treaty fearing it might be a trick to get them together and crush them at one blow.
10th day of December, 1853
My pen has been laid idle for a long time. I have not been so situated that I could write but little and then there was so much noise and confusion that I could hardly tell what I was writing about.
The Indian troubles that I before spoke of have ceased. The treaty has enabled the settlers in Rogue Valley to continue to harvest their crops. Many people blame the officers that made the treaty for doing so, and say that they should have followed up the advantage they had on Evans Creek and terminated the war by exterminating the Indians. No doubt it could have been done, yet it would have taken some time and cost some valuable lives. It would also have prevented the settlers from returning to their farms and many would have lost their entire crop which would have been their all. As it was, the treaty was made and signed by the respected chiefs of the tribe.
The Applegate Indians would not come in and sign the treaty. They acknowledged no allegiance to the Rogue River chief, and after the treaty was signed they still continued to make war on the whites. They were few in number, but feeling safe in their mountain fort they refused to bury the hatchet.
A company was sent to hunt them up and bring them to terms by force if it could be done no other way. But the mountains where they had retreated to proved inaccessible to horsemen. Therefore they left them. They were hunted like the wild beasts. They had no place where the white man could not follow them, no place where they could leave their women and children in safety. Neither could they retreat fast enough to have them safe. Therefore they turned back, left their women and children to go on while they fought their foes. They met the whites in full pursuit and somewhat surprised them by their bold attack. The struggle was short, but bloody. The Indians were in full retreat, leaving many of their warriors on the ground. They were not followed and the terror they received at last proved salutary, and since then they have committed no deprivations. One white man has been killed since the treaty was made by the Indians. The high chiefs came in promptly and gave up the murderers.
The Shasta Indians kept quiet and were seldom seen. The women came into town occasionally, but the whereabouts of the men is not known and no plans taken to find out. A party of the Indians made a descent on the eastern part of Shasta Valley and carried off a lot of cattle. They also burned some homes. It is not known the precise place they came from or what tribe they were. But is supposed to have been the Cloud River Indians. They drove off cattle from Shasta Valley during the summer of 1852 and were followed a hundred miles. A few of the cattle were retaken, but the Indians then being in the heart of the country turned boldly and forced the whites to retreat. They had no firearms, only bows and arrows. The white men fell back on their trail slowly, always showing their teeth as they went in retreat and many an Indian bit the dust, that is, if he had life enough left in him when he fell, to bite. I have been told by those who went out there that it is a beautiful country, well timbered and is undoubtedly a mining country. The Indians look on all white men that come there as enemies and are very hostile. A government officer was killed in the Cloud River Valley in the summer of 1850 or 1851. He was trying to find a route for a wagon road from Shasta to Sacramento Valley. Only one of his party escaped. I do not go in for killing the Indians off as we would will. Yet there are many that call it the only true policy. It is well known that during the severe winter of 1852 when in this part of the country there was no food, many of those who were mining left their claims and went to the Indians for meat. They gave them of what they had. The white men on Klamath River did this. Some of the miners lived with the Indians during the entire winter and always had a share when they had meat. Probably, some will think the Indians were afraid and therefore gave them part of their meat. But I assure you it was pure charity, for the white men were starving. Perhaps you do not know that during the winter of '52 there was so much suffering in the upper part of California. It was partly owing to there being but little flour in the country. The chief cause here was the severity of the winter.
The only trail to the lower country is over very high mountains, Trinity, on which the snow lay upwards of 20 feet deep and for weeks the mountain was veiled in clouds so dense that it was impossible for a man to pass over it. The road to Oregon, being still further north, was also impassable. Here in the valley stood Yreka, apparently doomed to starvation. It was during the month of November '52 that there was a heavy fall of snow which continued for some days. A few days afterward a pack train coming from Shasta City attempted to cross the Trinity Mountain, when there came on another heavy storm and the snow fell so fast that it was with great difficulty that the packers could retrace their steps after getting about one third of the way up on the other side. They got back to a house at the foot of the mountain and were obliged to unpack there, and turned their mules out. After that time, no train passed over the mountain until March.
Snow continued to fall until it was 30 feet deep in the mountains; thus you see the people were completely "shut in" here. There was but a small stock of provisions on hand, especially flour, of which there was but little in the country. The people soon became aware of the situation. The nonarrival of the trains which had been long due, the severity of the weather, all told the fearful truth: they were "cut off" from the rest of the world.
I have often heard of love, how it would "scale walls" and encounter the most eminent dangers, etc., but I tell you it is nothing compared with hunger. Hunger makes a man not only daring and bold but savage and desperate. So it was with the people here when the last pound of flour had been consumed and they had but a few potatoes and beans. Flour sold at $2 per pound, quick, until there was none left.
One man had a few hundred pounds of potatoes which he sold at 25¢ a pound. A man came from Humbug Creek and offered 30¢ a pound and took the lot. Humbug is about 8 miles off. The people could not see what provisions were carried off so they came together a few of them and quietly looked to see if said man would take the 5¢ advanced price. He was wise enough to refuse it, knowing that he had sold them; the crowd looking on would have taken them away from both of them. He kept them and retailed them at 25¢ per pound. There were many that could get nothing to eat but beef. All kinds of groceries had gone off at $2 and $3 per pound until beef was their "staff of life." Then there was no salt. Every old keg, box, or anything that had salt in it, or salt meat or fish, was completely overhauled and the salt saved. Those that had any to dispose of sold it at $16 per pound and ofttimes it would have readily commanded double that price. There was a pretty good supply of beef. It sold for 30¢-35¢ per pound. At the meat eating houses, $2 per meal, "boiled beef," 21 times a week. There were but one or two eating houses open. All the others had starved out. One of the Pauline's boys, during the time there, with no flour, heard that he could get a sack of 100 pounds at Scott's Valley, 25 miles distant. He went on a mule and got the flour, for which he paid $200. That flour was made into pies and sold at $2 each. I have been told that it would take 8 of them to weigh a pound and yet the house was full of people every evening playing cards for pies. Four men sat down and played for 12 pies. They were brought to the table and they got up as hungry as they sat down, not feeling as if they had eaten anything. You must naturally suppose that the crust was thin and the quantity of boiled beef, without pepper, salt or anything else, was small.
During this time there were parties out hunting, and others were making desperate efforts to cut a passage through the snow over the mountain. It was impossible. The distance was so great and the snow so deep that they made but little progress, and then when they turned back, there had been so much fallen that they could hardly return the way they came.
The hunters were often not successful. The deer had gotten into the thickets and it was difficult to find them. When they were found there was no trouble about killing a whole herd for the snow was so deep they could hardly keep out of the man's way. Deer could get nothing to eat but twigs from off the bushes and they too suffered. Thousands of quail, grouse and other birds that depend much on the ground for their food died.
Several parties started for Oregon. One got through and stayed there. There was no getting back. The Siskiyou Mountain was covered with snow as deep as the Trinity was, and for months there was no passing over it. Several times desperate efforts were made to cross the Trinity and sometime in March a passage was effected.
The gamblers that had been shut up here all winter on such fare were the first to leave when there was no doubt that they could get below. The snow fell damp and it became impossible to get over the mountain. Then trains started from below with provisions and vats [sic] loaded, succeeded in getting to Yreka. With utmost excitement people went out many miles to meet them. Can you imagine their joy when they came in sight and assisted them. It was a day of rejoicing when the first train arrived. Every kind of provision sold at $1.25 per pound and was sold as fast as it could be unpacked. Throughout California during the winter flour had been high and the quantity very limited but in March when it sold for $1.25 a pound here, it could be bought in San Francisco for $1 per 100 pounds. It was some weeks before it fell in price.
There was much suffering throughout all over the mining district, and as I before stated, many that lived in the vicinity of the Indians went to them and got food. Some stayed and hunted with them. Their rifles brought down the game, then the Indians with his snowshoes would pack it into camp. When people talk of exterminating them, they should think of these things. They have all the feelings of men, human beings. It is true they are wild and they do not express as much feeling and do not show the same outwardly as we do, but they do feel grateful for a kindness and if an opportunity offers will reward or return it. They are but a remnant of what they have been in numbers throughout the entire country. There is proof of this by their old rancherias which may be found on all the rivers and in every valley, and now there is not one Indian to one deserted wigwam.
Of the Shasta tribe there is less than 100 all told, and yet I can find more than that number of old mounds where once stood a house within three miles of Yreka. It is not the rifle of the white man that has reduced them to this, although many have been killed, but sickness, probably smallpox, which invaded them some years before the gold was found here and of which I have before spoken.
An old chief told me last March that he was very old, upwards of 75, and said he was many years older than that. Also that he never remembered a winter when there was so much water as there was last winter. He had known it cold, and seen it snow in the valley. I never did, but the man disappeared very soon after it fell. He could not tell why there should be so much water every winter since the white man had come into the country. Three winters since the gold had been found, all the rivers had overflowed their banks, each time the water coming higher than before. He did not know, but he was suspicious that the white men had spoken to their God, he called it "this great man above," for more water to enable them to wash out bowls. He had heard that they had a God, that he was above, that when they were sick or in trouble, they conversed with him and asked for help. He said that all his tribe would soon be gone, that they died. But for himself he didn't think that he should ever die. I told him he surely would some time. But he would not have it so; he had lived through all the sickness years ago, smallpox, when nearly all died; he had lived through all the wars with other Indians; he had lived when the cholera took off all his best men and left him with one wife, and he did not think he should ever die. I have known that old chief since 1849, and his words in regard to what he had seen and lived through are true. His body bore many scars as proof of the deadly conflicts he has been in. He is also marked with smallpox.
In October 1850, when the cholera disease carried off many of his men in his rancheria, he had it and was one of the few that survived. He is still strong and vigorous, takes part in fishing and hunting with the younger men. Although the load of 80 winters has not changed the color of his hair nor bent his frame, still straight and active, yet the seed of death is there. Dust will return to dust.
The winter is fast closing on us. The mountains have for some weeks had their white caps on, and the lower hills are also covered with snow. The miners have made preparation for the winter, have laid in a stock of food, got the cabins in order, all holes stuffed with mud, and pile of wood before the door, his claim is ready for working, boxes are overhauled and repaired if need be, waterproof boots are on, 7 league and the rubber coats. The merchant has also prepared for winter as will be seen by the pile of flour in his store. He, too, does not forget the last winter and has laid in a large stock so that if shut in by snow he can get that staff of life at some price. The gamblers, too, sharks, they know winter is here and as the miners come in to their winter diggins, they come too, hoping for a rich harvest from their buckskin purses, always ready to take advantage of those who lay themselves open to their tricks. They watch the bars, and as the cocktails, whiskey and bitters are called for, they shuffle and deal, always ready for a candidate, a newcomer with a "Pop, lay out." They are always willing to treat those who play at their tables, especially if they are losers, hoping they may double their bets to make themselves whole. The man that plays and loses, then drinks, plays, drinks again, and then after losing all that time, becomes excited, and doubles his bet hoping to win back what he has lost. Still he hopes and prays, cursing his luck. If a friend whispers in his ear, "a cold deck," he heeds it not. He takes no advice, but calls for a brandy straight. The gambler smiles, shuffles and deals. At this stage of the game, there is no hope of his leaving and the gambler knows it. It is no longer man to man, but bum against the Devil, and in the end the one who plays such games is ruined. Yreka abounds in gamblers. They dress the best, live the best, and are in fact the head of society in the place. They attend balls, cotillion parties, and take the lead, salute and converse familiarly with judges and clerks, etc. Always very civil to the miners until they have seen enough of him to find out whether he will play with them. If he does, they are always civil, etc. If he is steady and when he comes to town, gets what he needs and lets cards alone, then he is not noticed.
There is no tricky device, but they will play to get the gold from the pockets of honest men. The deed, however black, ever conceived by the Devil, but what they will commit to gain this end. Generally, they like to get their money by what they call "fair play," that is, to cheat all they can, so that none but an experienced gambler can detect them, and take every advantage of a man being a little strung to follow play or get him to drink if possible.
The Indians have prepared for winter. They have caught, smoked and dried large quantities of salmon, which they have put into a secure place for winter use. They have also gathered large quantities of acorns and manzanita berries and stored them up. They always depend on getting a portion of food from the white men. They frequent the slaughterhouse and carry off the heads and feet of cattle; oftentimes when available, they take the hide. This they cut into convenient pieces as large as a man's hat, throw it on hot coals, burn the hair off and by that time it is cooked. Everybody and every animal, even the rat, have prepared for the winter which is now here.
The wood rats have built themselves houses, three to five feet high, with dry thick leaves, etc. They generally get their houses near young oak trees, and I have noticed they climb the oak trees and bite off the young twigs. These they carry into their houses, for the purpose I know not, unless it is for food. I have noticed small oaks without a twig on it and saw also that they had all been cut off by the sharp teeth of the rats. On the same tree there is seen the nub of small branches that have been bit off years ago. Probably they work in the night, for I have never seen [them], although I have passed many houses in the day.
Yreka 20th day of December, 1853
It appears that the Chinese are more or less persecuted wherever they go. In the lower mines they work in great numbers, are generally found to be quiet and peaceable, but they were not allowed to go on quietly and make their "pile."
Frequently they were smoked out by the great "Joaquin," and in a single night, a whole camp murdered by parties of his band, and finally they were driven out of the southern mines altogether. They then went to the bay in great numbers. I heard it stated there were some 4 to 5 thousand in San Francisco in the winter 1852. They also went to the northern mines, where they have generally met with better treatment than they did below.
Some hundred of them have found their way up here; whole trains of them may be occasionally seen coming in with their long poles across their shoulders and hanging on them their mining tools, clothing, provisions and often a gun or rifle. It is truly surprising what loads they will pack in this way and over mountains too, over dusty plains, through mud and water, it is all the same they pack on. Occasionally, when tired of carrying their bundles on one side, they shift it to the other side. They have as yet been treated here well by the whites, and already one has commenced washing and ironing in town, sticking out the usual sign. In every gulch and in all of the flat about here there are more or less of them at work. They also invariably are rockers and often wash over the old tailings that had been cast out of the mines by the white men.
They are satisfied with making $2 or $3 per day and by working on in that way making little, they sometimes "strike it" and make large sums where a white man would have left and looked for better diggins. They do not seem to mingle with the Americans. They have all nearly built their houses on one little rise on the ground and thus formed quite a group. This they do mostly from fear of being troubled by white men and partly from the love of being together.
They may be said to be always temperate at least as far as spirits go. I don't know that I ever saw one intoxicated. They form a distinctive class by themselves, more so than any other foreigners that come to California.
On the 17th of this month there was some little excitement got up about here as a consequence of a Chinaman being robbed by two Indians. He was mining alone in a gulch below Lick Gullet working on rock when two Indians came along and stopped to see him work. This they frequently do and will ask questions as to the quantity of gold found around.
He had laid his coat aside while working and was "washing out" his cradle. All those who have worked them know they have to be worked out about every 10 or 15 buckets or after that much has been mined. After talking a little while and seeing him put the gold in his pan, one of the Indians picked up a stone and knocked the gentleman down. Then taking the pan, made off immediately. The other took his coat and followed the first. I suppose they intended to steal the gold in the pan and the coat. Probably they had no idea that the pocket in his coat contained the entire "pile" of the Chinaman, but it was so. The little he made with his cradle day by day was put in a little buckskin bag which he always carried about with him. There was $100 in the bag and a few dollars in the pan. He had no weapons with him nor did he feel disposed to follow the Indians alone but started off for the gulch above where he had worked, where there were some five or six Chinese at work. Also two white men. His story was told to them in a few words. In a few seconds he turned to the white men and called out, "Help, John, come," making motions with his hands at the same time. They immediately started off towards him to see what the matter was. A man that was driving cattle along in the road also left them and ran back. I was in a cabin some 150 yards from the scene described and heard the noise and stopped what I was doing and took down a shotgun, the only one we had, and went to the door.
The Chinese man made a sign for me to come, crying, "Come, come," at the same time starting off towards the river on the run. I knew not what I was running for, but I did run with the rest, although somewhat behind them. I suspected there was trouble but had no idea with whom or what. I thought at first it might be a grizzly that had come on them suddenly and had taken it in his head to hug some of them. During the chase I gained on some of the party and caught the word "Indian." Then the thought came to me that they had been attacked by a party of the Shastas or Klamath Indians and someone had been killed. I knew there were some Chinese working down towards the river all along in the gulches and on the side of the river.
The Chinaman that had been robbed was far ahead of the rest and arrived on the hill that overlooked the river just in time to see the two Indians going up the steep bank on the opposite side. When we all arrived, they were about 100 yards up the hill. Where we stood we were some distance from the water, probably 200 yards, but it was rather steep and one could have gone down so quickly that it would not have been possible for them to have gotten out a rifle shot. No one had a rifle there. I had the only gun of any kind. It was useless to try to reach them with that. They ascended the hill slowly. It was very steep and hard to get up, yet they felt secure, as they could see we had no rifles and were only looking at them.
We were at the same time listening to the story of the Chinaman. One had come up that could talk a little English and told us after the others had left him. Although the Indians were still climbing the opposite hill, there was no bush or tree on the hills there on the other side. They were near enough to hear our voices distinctly. Once they got up the hill, their courage got up and they began to be defiant, telling us if we dared to cross the river, the Indians would kill us. We did not hear all but enough to know that they felt themselves safe, and so they were, before we could arm ourselves and get to their rancheria they, knowing the country well, would be out of our reach. Occasionally they would stop and yell and make gestures as if in "contact with the foe," giving frequent taunts and yells. All this made us not a little anxious to see them punished. Oh, for a good rifle with us when we first reached the top of that hill. There would have been little time for them to turn and call us "squaws."
The hill they were going up was much higher than the one on which we stood. On the other side of that hill was a little flat. Deep down from the hilltop stood their rancheria. One of the Indians went over and disappeared from sight. The other took his stand on a rock that capped the hill where he could look far above us up the flat toward Yreka. He had the stolen coat and a red blanket, there he put down on the rock and stood for a few moments watching what was going on our side. We had not looked on idly altogether. One had been sent up the flat to get a few white men with rifles. We were determined to go over and see if they would try to put their threat in force. Once the Indian stationed on the rock turned towards the
rancheria and made earnest gestures to those there, then turned and looked over to us and up the flat far above us. He turned toward the rancheria often and then to us again and in a few moments, after looking once more down toward his friends, he turned to us, said something which we could not hear distinctly, gave several tremendous yells and darted off the rock toward the rancheria.
Although we knew they would not fail to have a spy out to watch us and on seeing any party coming towards the river to cross would flee to the still higher mountains near where they lived, yet we determined to go over to see what was there.
The Chinese that work up above the mouth of the gulch had heard what had taken place below and sympathized with their countryman, had left their work, and were coming down the road with their shovels and poles ten feet long or more. Some two or three had guns. They kept up an incessant jabbering which the Devil himself could not understand, all talking together and all talking at once. We all crossed the river and divided into two parties, each party to go to the rancheria by a different path. There were six white men, three in each party, and 18 Chinamen, several of them with guns. They were equally divided also.
After crossing the river not a loud word was spoken. Silently we took our respective trails toward where the Indians lived. The party I was with took the trail that led directly over the steep hill, the same not an hour before that the Indians had trod. We did not expect to find the Indians there, unless indeed the whole tribe was there. Then we might expect to have to fall back and take a tree. The Chinese were clamorous for going over and wanted the white men to go with them. The Chinese were enraged, and we were afraid that if they found only women there they might kill them and burn their houses. Therefore we went with them. Upon arriving at the top of the hill, saw on the other side another about as high and between them a small valley with a few oak trees and a few rocks in it.
There in the valley was the rancheria. The valley runs northeast and southwest. At the northeast end of it there rises abruptly quite a high mountain, almost entirely bald with tremendous precipices of rock all along the side facing toward the Indian houses. It was also surrounded by very high rocks partly covered with snow. Of course, there was no outlet. All was still and quiet at the rancheria. Not a sign of life. We approached "quick step," knowing it was useless to use any caution. There was not a doubt that the Indians had their sentries out and knew the moment the party started. It was necessary that a few white men go with the Chinese. They know nothing of the Indians, thinking all deserved punishing, might kill the first they met. The whites that went were too well acquainted with the Indian character to suppose the Indian robbers would be in the rancheria on our arrival there.
As we drew near, part of the company stayed up on the hill with the intention of cutting off roads to those in an attempt to retreat and also to look out that there was no ambush near. No one knew who or what numbers were there, for it is in so secluded a spot, out of the way of all travelers and far from any road, that it is seldom if ever visited by white men.
I happened to be with the party that went immediately to the houses; a Chinese walked beside me with his gun cocked and ready to use on the instant. At 15 to 20 paces from the largest house, we heard voices from within, started again, and surrounded the main lodge. On arrival, we made enough noise for those inside to hear it. An older woman came out. The Chinese beside me raised his gun as if to fire. I told him to stop, not to kill women. The old woman saw that a party had surrounded the house, all armed. She knew of the robbery and she knew the Indian that was one of the two that committed it. She ran screaming into the lodge and commenced talking and crying. All inside broke into a kind of wailing cry.
I immediately told them that we should not kill them. I went inside and sat down beside the fire. They were but three old women and one young woman. They had been sick since the trouble they had at Shasta River last summer. The old woman set about clearing themselves of all blame in the affair saying that those who had taken the Chinaman's money had also taken much from them, beads, skins, blankets, and that they were no good. They lied about having lost much of their things to the two Indians. We knew this, for it was not less than an hour they had left these same lodgings.
Some of the party asked them a few questions, told them that the Indians must come back and give us the money or they would surely die. Some of the party went out to find the trail that the Indians fled on. The ground being frozen in many places with little or no grass, it was difficult to keep the trail, but it was found that they had gone towards the high mountains at the northwest end of the valley. They were in haste and had proceeded to keep out of sight and rifle shot. There was abundant proof, for we found several sacks of dried fruit, flour, nuts and deer skins. It seemed they had taken off all they could carry, thinking that the white men would destroy what they had left; then finding that they were too heavily loaded, had "thrown over cargo to lighten ship." It is possible that the white men would have persuaded the Chinese to return, as it was useless to follow the Indians on this trail. They had too much start and were too well acquainted with this country to be caught by a "stern chase."
The council then broke up by the report of a pistol which came from a high precipice near the summit of the mountain at the head of the valley. Every voice was hushed. Shot after shot was heard until a "round" had been discharged from a "pepperbox" pistol. We could perceive two Indians on the precipice waving their defiance to us. The Chinese immediately headed for the mountain on the run. The Indian women came out of the lodge and looked off. The younger one said nothing during the time we were in the lodge, and now she came out, sat down, and looked calmly off. I tried to call the party all back, for to chase those Indians I knew was useless, but this could not be done.
A few ran around the foot of it to the eastward. I went with one group around the other side, determined to get up there and see what course they took. After an hour traveling over low hills and through deep ravines we began to ascend a slope that ran off from the mountain ending in a little spur that stood alone near the river. We found that we had all out-traveled the Chinese and had gained so far on one Indian to nearly being within rifle shot.
It was a mother carrying her babe. She had been unwilling to drop her child. She could not travel up that steep mountain and she clung to it with a mother's love while all others were far ahead. It was touching to see her trudge on up the mountain, looking back at times to see how far off we were. She knew we gained on her fast and must eventually overtake her and probably thought we intended to kill her. We did not overtake her. We sat down on a rock for few minutes and she disappeared.
It appeared from the trail that this woman had taken a different course at the start from what the main group did. On arrival at the top of the mountain we found large quantities of snow in and among the large rocks and other places where the sun did not strike. Also found that there was a chain of mountains running nearly north and south connected by ridges nearly as high as these tops. The Indians had gone off in a northerly direction on the ridges. We also saw plainly that they had three horses with them. How they got them up there was to us a mystery, but after they were once up there was no trouble about traveling on them much faster than we could on foot. We knew very well that the ones that had done the robbing would be on the horses and be sure to escape. Saw the children's footprints in the snow. From the top of the mountain had a view of the whole valley, Shasta Valley.
I sat on a high rock which was a little laborious to mount after traveling so far and looked over the valley, traced the river with my eye until it disappeared from sight. Like a thread of silver it wound its way among the little buttes until it was lost. Everywhere else the whole country around were mountain after mountain as far as you could see, most of them entirely covered with snow. I found that my companion had gone and left me there alone. I followed the Indian trail back the way the lady had come up from the rancheria. As I passed their lodges I proposed to myself to give them a call and get something to eat. I had eaten nothing since morning.
On arrival there I found it deserted. Not a soul was there, save an old dog and five puppies. Everything in or about this main lodge denoted a hasty flight. Deer skin left about the floor, also a quantity of dried fish, several strings of beads, an old jackknife, a little buckskin bag with beads worked on it. It was lying on the floor as if thrown there in haste. Inside there was a large bundle of feathers, from the wings and tails of the bald eagle lying on the floor. Several strips of beaver skin lay there. I recognized them as the same I had seen the younger woman's hair tied up with when we were there in the morning. All kind of articles of clothing, also dried fruit, skins of the beavers and wildcat were tumbled about in the utmost confusion. I sat there and smoked my pipe. Could not go the fish without salt and bread.
The lodge was round, about 18 feet in diameter. The floor was about three feet below the surface of the ground and inside it was about seven feet from the floor to the roof. The roof was like the half of a globe, beginning from the ground and going over the tops of the ground on the opposite side. It was thatched and then covered with skin. A hole in the top was left for the smoke to escape. The door was about two feet wide and two and one half feet high. It was necessary to go in back first. There was yet a little fire left but it was near night and I had yet several miles to go. Therefore I did not stop to cook anything. I reached home at dark; the party had all returned. Poor John, Ling-Ling, had now realized his loss. He cried, rolled over on the ground, beat his forehead and pulled nearly all his ponytail out. Some of his countrymen offered anyone $100 that would bring the robbers to them.
26th day of December, 1853
One of the Indians that had robbed the Chinese was taken today. He had kept away for a few days, living at another rancheria near the Klamath. There were no Indians about here for some days. The women came back to their rancheria and posted sentries on the high hills that overlooked Yreka and the flats down this way. They kept them out during daylight. Seeing that all was quiet, several women came over to town. They could not find out that there was anyone on the lookout, and the two that had slipped away came back. Only one was taken. The other was not there at the time. The same one that was caught was whipped in Yreka last summer for stealing. He said there to those who took him [if they] would give him time to send over to the other rancheria, some ten miles, he would have the gold brought and give it up. They promised to do so and immediately a boy of about seven years was sent. He started about morn and was to return before noon the next day.
He denied having done the robbing. Said it was the other Indian who he says was a Klamath Indian. His mother came over with him when he was taken. He is perfectly calm, does not appear the least bit concerned about the results. A day or two before this I was across the river hunting and a neighbor of mine was with me.
During the day we passed through the little valley where the rancheria was and stopped there. I noticed there was someone on a high hill nearby that kept in sight nearly all the time. At first I thought it was a grizzly, but on nearing it saw it was a young Indian girl. At the time we went to the rancheria we were at the opposite side from where she was. She had lost sight of us as we came up on the north side while she was looking toward Yreka. She did not see us until we were nearer the rancheria than she was. Nevertheless she came towards it with all speed until about 60 yards off. Then she stopped, for we were already there. The Indians were rather startled at first. Several of the old women came out and gave a searching glance around to see if there were more coming. I told them there were no more. They asked me if the white men were close by. Just then the little sentry came up; they asked her several questions and then appeared satisfied that we came in peace.
We set our guns beside the door and went in. They all came in but one old woman. She threw the mat over the door that is hung there for that purpose and stayed outside. Although we had pistols and knives with us, we feared no attempt on our lives, yet the instant that the mat was thrown over the door we were surprised, that we were afraid that all was not right. My companion made for the door, saying, "I don't like to leave the guns out there." We put them where we could see them from the fire inside.
He got out just in time to save them, for the old woman had already started with them. Probably those inside gave her notice of our movements, for she was leaning them against the back side of the lodge when we got out there. He told me of it and advised that we should leave instantly. I could not agree with him then, for I was nearly frozen when I got there and wanted to "warm up." I could not prevail on him to come inside again and bring the guns. He would not. I don't know but I should have shot the old woman had I gone out and found her going off with the guns.
I don't like the practice some have of killing all the Indians they meet, and I certainly wouldn't kill a woman, unless she had weapons and intended to use them, or attempted to disarm me, as this one did. If anything depended on my getting the gun, I should shoot her. I told her that it would not be right to kill her, as we had no business there and knowing that they were Indians, we only were to blame. Had we lost the guns, there was but five women and two boys there. We could have bound them and burned their lodge had they refused to give the guns up.
28th day of December, 1853
The Indian prisoner escaped the night of the 26th. He was guarded but neither chained nor bound. Towards morn he requested to be allowed to go out. The guard went with him but had no arms. The Indian broke from him and made his escape. He threw them off their guard by sending for the money, leaving them to suppose that he would wait quietly until the boy returned and he be released according to promise.
This is the third time that I have known of Indian prisoners escaping from the hands of white men about here and at the Rogue River. Those that escaped from a house near the foot of Siskiyou Mountain on the Oregon side effected it at the cost of the lives of several whites.
31st day of December, 1853
Another year has gone, to be numbered with the past. The past has been replete with numerous events longing to be remembered. It has witnessed a fair share of all the sufferings, fortunes and misfortunes to which man is heir. Many anxious and sick hearts have mourned the loss of dear ones or the absence of those far away, whose fate is like a dark, uncertain dream. While one part of the world is mourning, another smiles and is rejoicing. Thousands have slipped away and pass with eternity as the grass falls before the sickle, while again others appear on the stage of life to take their places. Time stops not its wheels, nor does Death cease to throw his never-failing shaft. The grave is ever ready to receive its victims, hiding from our view alike, those are whom it could boast no victory, and all are hidden from us by the grave. A new year breaks on the world and as it rolls a few steps during this race of life, to think that the main rush on until swept out of the ranks of life. Are there not any that greet the coming new year with high hopes, and a future to their eyes unclouded that will have passed and gone ere another year. We can look back in life and see the trail we have tracked. We can count the hours of suffering and the anguish of heart. We have pastures [sic] and we can trace in the mind's eye our crooked course and see where we wandered far from the path of rectitude and duty. We can see the loved ones that were laid in the grave, hear their last sigh and parting farewell as they were swept behind the veil which mortal eyes cannot penetrate. All this is of the past, but the future we know not. Ahead we cannot look. We can but know our destination. We can review the past, alter our course and shape it in a line of duty. Thus from the past we can learn the course to pursue.
6th day of January, 1854
The new year brings no flattering prospects to the miners in these parts. They have had clear, cold weather, not the least prospect that it will ever snow again. These two days past it has been too cold for those that have water to mine. Cradles, toms and sluices are all frozen up. The ground is frozen too much to work it to advantage. A cold north wind has been blowing strong from there for two days. The ground freezes hard at night. Water freezes an inch thick during the night in our cabin. Several of us tried to prospect a gulch below here but it was too cold. A thin coat of ice formed all over the pan and it was impossible to do it properly.
Many miners that have laid in winter provisions have been waiting for water. Yreka is full of people and is well supplied with all kinds of provisions. The pack trains come in from the Springs, Crescent City and Oregon. A large portion of the population are gamblers and renegades from all parts. Hell could hardly produce a greater variety of villains than will be found about the hotels, saloons and gambling houses.
Gambling, drinking and all kinds of swindling games are constantly going on, and every inducement held out to attract the attention of those passing by and everything the Devil can invent to attract the unwary, "cleaning them out," then only tell them "they must pay for this learning." The most disgusting scenes of moral degradation are too often seen. Hardly a night passes when some new arrival is announced by the wild shouts of drunken men reeling along through the streets as they go from house to house. Frequent fights take place, for it is then that their honor is easily hurt and quickly vindicated. A host of friends, "bottles," are always ready to take side with them and often the row becomes general.
Sunday is a great day in Yreka, a day for all important things to be enacted. Preparations are made by all who expect to reap more or less of a rich harvest on that day. It is a day when all the miners from the neighboring Flax Creek and gulches are in town and is set apart as the day for all races, balls, raffles, etc. to come off. After one of the races, when the crowd returned from the track, bets had been high and there was much excitement. A constant call for "straights," cocktails and punches was heard as the stakes were handed over to the lucky ones. Not a little smashing of glasses and cursing the losing horse, luck and everything else by those who lost. Every moment a storm of voices and the general uproar became more and more tumultuous; several rounds of "something to drink" had been smilingly dealt out and drunk when the scene that presented itself is not to be described, surely nothing could.
Nearly all of the gamblers were there. There were merchants, tradesmen and miners, too. The first named had been the principal losers; many of them had staked their all and lost. Already were some so excited by their losses that they were better subjects for the "brick yard" at the bait than they were citizens in Yreka. One who had been a prosperous trader and miner who had acquired many thousands by reduction of the play and the bottle. One whose business had been completely wrecked, characters had been lost to many of the more respectable of his acquaintances and whose constitution is materially injured by being nearly all the time drunk. He had saved from the wreck of his property, this, the last, the only pint saved from the wreck, which if properly used might prove the lifeboat that if skillfully navigated would lead him to an honorable station in life, was fearlessly staked and quietly lost. He desponds not, thinks not, no time is given to sober reflection, to overhaul the "lay" of the past and shape a cause for the future. No, to be a man he must go to the bar. It is well named, for where there is one life lost at the numerous bars that are concealed by the dark blue sea in which the mariners find a water grave, there are ten wrecked on these bars on land that are fitted up with every taste, to invite the mariner to fear that course. If he does, if he strikes on that bar, on that he finds the drunkard's grave. He goes to the bar; there in the sweetened drink he finds relief; he gains courage to face those who were his friends, flushed and excited, he dares to double his bet, and still on the same horse, swears there was foul play and if he can only detect it, their lives shall pay for the forfeit. His voice is heard above all others, giving the challenge to anyone for $2,000 that he can produce a horse that will beat the stallion, next Sunday, as that is the same one he has just lost to. No one heeds the challenge; they know too well that his all was lost at the last race. All vessels that strike on bars are not lost, so it was on shore that all are not lost. Many ships strike, then if not steered in a different course are "hauled off." They are wrecked. They are warned by lights and the channel pointed out by buoys that they may safely sail through.
Here the course is the reverse. Many things are held out to tempt one to go to the bars. Everything that would indicate danger is carefully kept out of sight. No warning is heard from the keeper although it is covered with wrecks and others still striking in its deadly sands.
I have heard and read of many that were too all apparent wrecks that were got off and their shattered hulls so far reclaimed as to be able to go on this voyage and keep a sharp "lookout" for like shoals afterwards. I have heard of it but I never saw one get off. I always believed that once, as seamen term it, "hard and fast" they are lost for future use although this hull for many years may be seen as they gradually sink in the fatal sands. There may be those that strike on their bars, become alarmed and haul off before they see material injury. But few, if any, are able to stop the headway, are unable to get off. There is no shoal in life so dangerous as the bar, none that I know, although there are others that give man but few hopes and a more speedy destruction. If there be any place where there are more rocks and shoals on which a man may rest his fortune, character, life and all else, than here, then I do not know of it.
An old man keeps a barber shop at Yreka. He does a good business especially Sundays when the town is full of people. He is very quiet and goes out but seldom, never is seen in places where he would be likely to meet those who would get him into trouble or molest him. A person once asked him why he did not fix his shop up in better style, why not paint and paper it, put up a handsome sign, get a case of fancy articles such as are usually found in the shops below. The only answer he gave at first was, "Humph! I am content as I am." As he said this he gave a shake of his head and turned slowly away.
18th day of January, 1854
Our new year looked on us bright and pleasant, for some days it was clear and cold, most gloomy indeed for the hundreds and thousands of miners that are anxiously waiting for water. At an indication of rain, the cold weather moderated, the night of the 11th was squally and rained at times, also the night of the 12th and 13th rained at times during the squall. During the days it was pleasant with passing clouds. Eve of 14th, cold weather, heavy snow squall. 15th cold with passing clouds up to the 18th, terrible weather. Heavy squalls at times, then clear and cold. Ground froze, no mining done. In all probability there has been heavy falls of snow on the mountain trails, but as yet it has served no purpose to the miners, only to raise the price of flour and stop his work.
Up to Sunday the 22nd of January, the weather was clear and cold. It froze the ground 8 inches. Thursday the 19th was the coldest of the season. It blew stormy from the northwest with clear weather. Monday the 23rd it moderated and towards noon began to snow. It snowed during the night until morn when it rained. 24th, it rained at times, 6 inches of snow on the ground. 25th, squally at times with snow, 26th passing clouds, wind southwest. During the remainder of the month it was cold weather, no mining done. The snow eight inches deep, the ground frozen 10 to 12 inches down.
News has been received from Cottonwood of trouble with the Klamath Indians, they stole stock. The white men followed them. The settlers in that vicinity called on the people at Yreka for help. The Indians had taken to their stronghold in the mountains and as yet faced the "palefaces." These Indians take little thought of the sensible; it is possible they might be wiped out from the face of this earth and become extinct among its nations. This love of plunder and hatred of the intruders of this beautiful valley and mountain stream is hurting them, and almost daily their council fires are growing less. Formerly separated into distinct tribes, each with its own chief, they were bigger enemies to each other, and were almost constantly at war. Now, in many cases, they have become so reduced in numbers that they frequently combine against this common force, the white man.
24th day of January, 1854
Saw men at Yreka on Sunday from Cottonwood. They gave me some of the particulars of the troubles with the Indians on Klamath. I know nothing more than that they went in where the Indians had located themselves in a cave. There the Indians made a most desperate resistance and finally surrounded the white men, 30 in number. The person that related the tale to me was one of the actors in the scene and an acquaintance of mine since the Rogue River wars.
He stated they arrived at the Indian encampment before the middle of the day. They were seen long before they arrived, and on arrival they had taken their trees according to this mode of fighting. But finding that the whites were charging on them, they fired from their ambush. This caused the whites to take to the trees, for although they had abundant proof that the Indians were well armed, they could not see a soul of them. They did so, but the Indians had already taken their trees which were large pines, while the white men had to take small oak from 6 inches in diameter. The tree fighting lasted four or five hours, and with little loss sustained by the white men. The Indians did not prove themselves good marksmen, for they had decidedly the advantage in numbers and choice of ground, also large trees to get behind.
Several white men were wounded before it was decided that they must charge to get out. But during that time, an Indian could not show his arm or legs without receiving a shot from some white man's rifle. Five were known to fall before one rifle. It was just before they made this last desperate effort to get out of the net they were completely enclosed in, that the white men were jumping from tree to tree, each time getting nearer the Indians. They on the other hand saw that the whites were much exposed and kept a constant fire until they had got within some 30 to 50 yards, when they fell back. Then it was that many of them "bit the dust." The Indians lost some of their best men; it enraged them. They were obliged to leave their dead and wounded alike as they fell, for it was certain death to carry them off as they fell back before the advancing whites. Again they took a stand and with their dead and wounded between them and their trees they appeared to have taken their last stand. Night drew near when the white men resolved to charge out of that or die. It was during the charge that four white men lost their lives. The Indians maintained their position until the white men were within ten paces and in some cases did not retreat but crouched behind a tree until their faces were on them, then springing up with a wild yell they fired with almost deadly aim and then closed in with the whites. Their knives were no match for the Colts against them, and few that thus contested the ground escaped. During the charge, the whites lost part of their arms and horses and all their blankets and provisions. The Indians did not pursue them and, completely defeated, they returned to Cottonwood. An acquaintance of mine was killed during the charge to free themselves.
I asked the narrator to tell me how he behaved during the fighting, etc. He said, "J---- was foremost all the time, perfectly calm, he seldom missed his object. He pushed on right into the very ranks of the red men where he was exposed to a dozen of their rifles and the first that fell." A comrade that was near him when he fell told me that he can never forget the look J---- gave him when he received that fatal shot, yet he was compelled to go on and leave him to his fate, for had they stopped to take care of those that fell, not a soul would have escaped. A few days after, the Indians allowed them to return and get the bodies of the dead. Two of them were scalped while the other two were not. The two scalped were well known to the Indians, and the fact that it was so started the first doubts in my mind as to the white men being in the right in the whole affair.
That very fact led me to think that the Indians had particular objects of vengeance in the band that came out against them and that they mutilated only those that had been known to them. The celebrated Indian hunter [Ben Wright] that was actively employed against the Modoc Indians during the fall of '52, being in Yreka, he is a native of Boston, I asked him to give an opinion concerning the matter. He is well known by all the tribes within the 200 miles, north, east and west of here. I told what I thought was the real cause of the difficulty. He told me that it might all, all the troubles since that time might be traced to the affairs that took place last summer on the Shasta River, where an Indian woman was shot and most inhumanely scalped while yet alive. He said if the people would rise and 100 men would volunteer, he would undertake to quiet the Indians over on the Klamath, which he said were the Klamath and the Shastas combined. A small party of troops have gone over from Scott's Valley but as yet no volunteers have offered themselves. Captain [Goodall] has orders to raise a company. The reason is obvious to me.
25th day of January, 1854
Today walked to Yreka; it is dull, but little business done. It is owing to the impossibility to anything at mining that makes it this dull, for it is that alone which keeps Yreka from dropping. All trade and professions are dependent on the miners, who in turn depend somewhat on what the earth gives them.
The winter thus far has been cold and bleak, but little rain has fallen, and then it is almost certain to be followed by snow and then all is frozen up together. Mining cannot be done when it is cold enough to freeze water in the pans in 10 minutes, for it will freeze in the sluice boxes.
Learned today the troops went over to settle the difficulty with the Indians at Klamath. Also a small party of volunteers from Yreka headed by General Wright, the Indian hunter. The people did not turn out with their rifles to stop the red men in their course to protect the lives of their neighbors and save their property as they have done in former days. It is well known to the people about here that the Shasta Indians have never appeared about here since the affairs last summer on the river. It has not been known exactly where they have hidden themselves. It was supposed they were with Tipsy's band on Cottonwood and Klamath. A few of their women and children came back some time after the close of the troubles with the Rogue River Indians and built winter houses on the east side of the Shasta River, some five miles from Yreka. All efforts to get the others in were of no avail. They would not trust themselves within rifle shot from the white man.
Those who located themselves about here made all the preparations for the winter; they had a large stock of salmon, smoked and dried, and manzanita berries and different kinds of roots. They frequently visited town; they were in so secluded a place that it was seldom that a white man found his way to their homes and then it was only by accident while looking for cattle or hunting. One must be ignorant of the Indian character not to suppose they knew where the rest of the tribe was and that they were informed of their exploits, etc. Also that the other side were informed of what they knew was doing about here. Yet, as this was little cause of complaint from any quarter and none here about, but few troubled themselves with them or knew where they lived.
Sunday, the 22nd of January, a small party came from Cottonwood to Yreka, with orders to take prisoners of all Indians found about Yreka, and take them to where the troops and volunteers are now camped on Klamath. The object in doing so is to keep them from communicating to those on the Klamath the proceedings of the white men.
By this intercourse about here with the miners and traders, it would be in their power to find out much of what was going on and inform their friends who were actually in arms against the white men. The object was good enough, but the commission was not entrusted to the proper ones. They took up a line of march for the rancheria after night and surprised its inhabitants, who happened at the time to be two old women and two children. It was done at the most unfavorable time, for Sunday the Indians would always go out and visit the town and various trading posts about Yreka. That is why so few were found there.
I do not think they were afraid of the white men coming, but in that case no one would have been found there. As it was, they took those found there and then fired the house, thereby destroying all the clothes, possessions, etc. It was a cruel and heartless act, going further than they were authorized to, for the object was not to deprive these women and children of the house, clothing and possessions and all else they had, but to keep them prisoners until the difficulty was settled with those on Klamath. This set them at liberty, but wrong had they done. What harm could they do more than act as spies for their own fathers, brothers and husbands. A few unprincipled men did this. The men that stirred up the spirit of revenge in the breast of those savages until they fled to the mountain retreats and strongholds, determined to make an eternal war on the white race. Those very men were the ones that came over empowered to take the small remnants of the Shastas over to camp. Eager to show their real courage, they fought to add another feather to their cap by destroying all they could.
The people of Yreka and the neighboring miners are well informed as to the character of those about Cottonwood. They also know what the wrongs of the Indians have been and say regarding the late affair that "when the Indians come about here, and commit depredations they will punish them." But the people at Cottonwood do not treat them well and they feel not disposed to interfere in their quarrels.
It appears the Indians have fortified themselves in a cave on the Klamath River about 12 miles above the ferry on the road to Jacksonville, Oregon Territory. It is not known how many there are, but from the fact they attacked and kept at bay 30 armed white men almost the whole day, it is supposed there must be upwards of 100 warriors besides their women and children. They are represented as being well armed and the fact of there being one entrance to the cave will render it a desperate undertaking to dislodge them. The whites had surrounded them so that to all appearances there is no escape, and are bringing howitzers from Fort Lane with a view of throwing shells into the cave. In all probability they will have the offer of peace before the scene commences and of course will refuse it as it is "to death" with them. The shells, being thrown into the cave, will be apt to bring men to terms, being a new mode of warfare to them.
30th day of January, 1854
The claim is closed at present. By express from Klamath we learned that the attempt to bombard the cave where the Indians were did not succeed. They built a wall of stone around the entrance that so effectively protected it from the shells entering that nothing could be done with the howitzers. The entrance is some distance from the bottom of the ravine on the side of a mountain, so steep it was not possible to throw shot or shell into the cave. An attempt was made by the captain of a small party of volunteers. With a few of his men, they crawled up quite near the wall, which they were enabled to do by not exposing themselves to the fire of the Indians who were on the alert. They reached where the captain thought he could see the nature of the fortifications from behind a large rock, when after telling his men not to look over, but to keep close, he took off his hat and cautiously raised his head so as to be enabled to see over this wall. He was instantly killed by a rifle ball which pierced his brain.
As nothing was gained by this, a "talk" was held, during which the Indians told the whites that they were well fortified, had plenty of arms, etc., also food; their women and children were there and they intended to stay there until spring. They were only at war with the Cottonwood people whom they hated and would be revenged on, but of course would fight all that came there to molest them. They did not intend to molest anyone in or about Yreka. They were disposed to be assaulting to those they knew there and had cause to hate and absolutely refused to make any treaty with white men, telling them to go home and get a supply of food if they intended to starve them out. Also to come "armed" if they wished to fight. They were always prepared to meet them at the mouth of this cave "stone house" as they called it.
It was concluded by such of the government officers there, as were in command of the troops, after hearing the Indians relate their grievances, that the blame lay on the side of the white man, and there was nothing for them to do there. They, therefore, returned to their respective stations. The volunteers returned also; they were from Cottonwood. Those that went from Yreka, taking no part in the affair, and it was probably through them partly that it closed, for they represented the whole in its true light. It was thought by those that had an opportunity to see and hear from the Indians themselves, that although the whole could be traced to the Shasta River tragedy, yet there would have been no act of hostility committed by them had it not been for the people in Cottonwood.
The Indian hunter offered to take 100 men and go to the cave and dislodge them. This offer was made last night, the same was made before. One man offered to subscribe $25 towards paying expenses but no one else showed any spirit to subscribe or offer to go. Therefore it was dropped. Thus the affair closes for the present, but there is no doubt that there will be trouble again in the spring, if not before. Should the Indians remain quiet and peaceful until that time, they probably will not be molested, for it is sure to be attended with some considerable loss of life to attempt to dislodge them from this stronghold. Should they take advantage of there being no one there, waiting for this movement and sally out committing deprivations, killing the leaders and destroying property, can you expect much else from savages. Then with a will, the people of Yreka and others will rise and exterminate them, at a cost of ever so much blood.
As it is now, they do not feel there is just cause. No doubt, however, that the strong position they now hold has in a measure saved them, for it caused very many to pause and think, ere they undertook to go where 10 men can defend a place against a thousand; sure death awaits those that heard the charge and are first at the threshold of the cave of "death." This fact is one great reason why they are left at peace, for had they been where they could have been shot at, there is no doubt but that few would have escaped. I do not say this because I think people here are lacking courage, but only that it may be known as it is, for I think in a cause like this that men will often stop and consider who is right.
5th day of February, 1854
Last evening the Indians that were taken from this house in this neighborhood and carried to Cottonwood, returned. They escaped from their brutal captors, took to the mountains and came to a friend's house in Canal Gulch. This account of their treatment at the hands of those who took them is perfectly characteristic of the men. In fact they did not get the ones they came here for and were vexed that they were not to be found.
Those absent from the rancheria at the time it was destroyed could not be found. Two visits were made to the gulches where they frequented most, by those in search of them. It appears that they gained information that persons were about to take them to Cottonwood and they immediately fled to the neighboring hills and concealed themselves for two days and nights without shelter other than the trees and bushes. It was then the coldest weather we have had and nearly a foot of snow on the ground. It is well known that it is hard to scare an Indian at any time, yet to those accustomed to a comfortable house, warm clothing and an abundance of food, it would certainly be suffering to be thus exposed.
The Indians that are now wandering about here without house or home, hunted like wild beasts, are human. They see fact and know all this is wrong. Tell me where you will find a race of human beings that will quietly submit to be treated as I have seen and known the Indians have been. Where are they that will not take up arms and defend their wives and little ones, their homes and their hunting grounds. Not on Earth.
It is true that the Indians will steal. The good book says, "Thou shalt not steal," but he knows it not. His mind has never been cultivated. He is wild and was taught to steal and kill his enemies. Mothers never told him it was wrong to steal or kill; he is trained from infancy to excel if possible. As the twig is bent so is the tree inclined. I do not really believe that in any one instance has the Shasta Indians been proved guilty of a grave offense. Some petty stealing in town has been detected and punished. But a criminal act has never been proved against them.
Yet they cannot live in peace with civilized men. They cannot build their houses in a secluded place where seldom white has occasion to go and live without being arrested. It has proved to be the case here and in every other place where they are to be found. The first depredation committed, there is no occasion to investigate the matter and find out who done it, but charge on the nearest rancheria and make their beloved pay, be forfeit. It has often been done, has been done here. Of course, if any escape they will go farther off into the mountains where by keeping a constant lookout, with their knowledge of the country and their cunning, they can keep out of their enemy's hands. For enemies they surely are after one wrong is committed. Then retaliation follows, as is the consequence, who then is the one who first took up the hatchet.
6th day of February, 1854
I am about to leave here. There is no prospect of water.
1st day of March, 1854
Have recently returned from a short trip to the Klamath. I was over there on a mission which may appear rather queer. I shall be advised to keep some few things until I can explain more fully. I shall take you to the house where I was staying with a friend for a few days until opportunity offered to go into the southwest country. New diggings had been lately struck on the Klamath River some few days ago and we intend to test the truth of the reports going about on the mines there. The more immediate cause of our going was simply this:
Eve of 8th day of February, 1854
An Indian girl came abruptly into the house and without speaking or noticing anyone seated herself on the floor. No one spoke to her nor did she speak for 10 or 15 minutes. Some person in the house could have guessed where she came from, but no one knew the sudden cause of her appearance at this time. It is a custom of the Indians never to question anyone that comes in as she did. They always allow them to take their own time and tell their business. It is not often that they say anything until after they have eaten. Among themselves they can always get food and it appears to be common stock or rather they feel duty bound to give while they have it to give. An hour often passes before a word is spoken of the business that brings one of them from one part of the tribe to another.
In this case it was a few moments before the girl told her story. It appears that some few days after the rancheria had been burned near here on the Shasta River that a party of 5 or 6 young squaws that had no house or home agreed to be sent out to the Klamath where there are several rancherias. There are but few whites about there and Indians live rather more peaceably than here. Some one of them had relatives there.
One that went was sister to the wife of the friend I spoke of. She had been taken sick out there and was thought to be near death, when this girl had been sent over here to inform her friends of her condition. Her mission was one that few young women there would have been willing to undertake alone and unarmed. She came about 30 miles, which is 10 or more further than she should have traveled had it not been to avoid "civilized men." As it was she used the trails on which she would not meet them and was obliged to swim the Klamath River, which is about a hundred yards wide and very swift. She also started out one night but had nowhere to sleep. She started afterwards and camped without fire, and blankets soaked after crossing the rivers. The rivers she traveled I have not traveled. The mountain trails during the rainy season are hard to travel on, being always slippery.
My friend concluded to go over where the sick girl was and see how she was and assist her if possible. I accepted the invitation to go with him. Curiosity was enough to carry me over there.
Morning, 9th day of February, 1854
We started talking with the girl that had come over the evening before and a boy (Indian, about 10 years old). It was the same boy that was concerned in the stealing of the money from the Chinaman. The road we took was more direct than the one the girl came, passing through Humbug and crossing the Klamath opposite the rancheria. We stopped at the little mining town on the Humbug Creek, 8 claims, and got a supply of beef, as after leaving there we should leave all white settlements. I found a real live Yankee there keeping hotel, from my own native place [Boston, Massachusetts]. Time would not permit us to chat long, and called to mind scenes long past and old family faces.
The roughest and most difficult part of our journey was yet before us. The Indians had gone on before us with instructions to wait on the other side of the "divide" until we came up and heard us "whoot." The country we passed through was entirely mountainous and heavily timbered with pitch and sugar pine, cedar, white oak, fir, spruce with a thick undergrowth in places of wild plum, wild cherry and what is called in California greasewood. The trail is passable for pack trains but not traveled, as there are no white settlements after leaving Humbug Creek.
On reaching the top of the ridge between the Klamath and the lower ranges of mountains bordering the western part of the Shasta Valley in which Humbug Creek takes its rise, we had an extensive view to the westward, being like an immense canyon or "sluice" between two high ranges through which the river wound its way, smooth and silent, then rushing furiously around the base of the rocks. In many places small creeks run into this mighty river from large ravines on either range. These creeks have generally a small dock where they "put in." The rivers are thickly wooded with pine and oak where the deer find shelter when driven from the mountains by heavy falls of snow.
The first view we had of the Klamath from the "divide" is probably eight miles distant, looking like a large snake crawling between the mountains. On the western side the mountain descended gradually with the exception of one or two places of a few hundred yards. It was down, down until we reached the river, crossing two small creeks on the way.
I saw abundant signs of wild animals, mostly gray wolves, wildcat, panthers, etc. No bears and a few deer. We came up with the Indian boy about two miles from the top of the ridge; the girl had kept on going. She was tired and could not walk fast. We overtook her about two miles from where we crossed the river, which we reached after sunset, and were joined by a young Indian mounted on a horse. He had come from Shasta Valley but by what trail I know not. He dare not travel the one we came. The rancheria we were going to was on the west side of the river, about 300 yards from its banks. It stands on a bench of sloping ground with but a few trees in that area of about 50 acres and elevated about 200 feet above the river. The ascent to the bench is steep; after transversing about 200 yards of rock, thickly wooded, there is but three houses (ahead of my story).
On arrival at the river several whoots brought a young Indian down to the canoe and across. It was near dusk and I could not distinguish the features of him but navigated the canoe as the current swept it furiously down but the naked buck and brown flowing hair as he drew into the bank told me that he was one of the wild spirits that have so disturbed the peace of some of our good citizens about here. The canoe was small and could take but five at a time. I was left there on the bank while my companions went over first. The crossing was just at a foot of a rapid where there was a bend in the river and the management of the course required skill to get safely across and not go over a rapid just below. In due time I got over.
My companion had gone and I was alone with my guide as I landed and went up the bank to a level ground. He turned and asked me where I was going. I told him. He only replied, "Good," and went on. Arrived at the rancheria and there was no one about. All was quiet. No one crowded out to question or stare at us. Probably we were expected and a watch kept as long as daylight continued. My companion was well known to most of the Indians, while I was a stranger to all but three or four. We went into the chief's house and I took a seat on a mat that had been laid for us. Everyone was silent as we went in. No greeting was passed on either side (according to their custom). In a few moments there was the usual talking and bustle as the squaws prepared the evening meal. We sat there silent for some 15 to 20 minutes when a basket of food was passed around to us of which we partook lightly, then smoked.
The sick girl was in another house and after eating and smoking went out to see her. As usual we went in there and sat some time without speaking. A few questions were asked and answered in a low tone. She coughed much and quick and hard, had considerable fever, had eaten nothing for five days. It was easy to see that she suffered much pain, which she bore without a murmur. A mischievous young boy of three or four years was there who kept up a continual roar with someone, rolling about on the floor, tumbling in the fire, capsizing a basket of water, punching the dogs with sticks as they put their heads in at the door, and crying for Fitta [sic]. It would have been thought enough to kill one of our delicate young ladies with only a slight "headache." This same young savage soon became acquainted with me and wanted to see and handle everything about me. I had volunteered a small piece of money and then had to have a hole made in it so he could hang it about his neck. It is a fact that the Indians like silver better than gold coins.
The first house we went into was the "sweat house," and according to this custom, in cool weather, they build a large fire after supper and make preparations for taking their usual sweat. The house of which I speak is round, about 20 feet in diameter, timbered heavily, covered with pine boards and then earth nearly a foot thick. It is the only permanent one there. The entrance faces the river. It is low and not over 18 inches square. A hole was made in the top about three feet by 2½ feet for smoke to escape and to let in light. The fire is built in the center so that "all hands" have an equal chance to receive the benefit of this. It is not more than 7½ feet high inside and thus coming over to the ground about 10 feet from center. It is not possible to stand upright only within a short distance from the fire. As they live, the house will easily hold 25 grown persons. The other ones were built of pine bark and were quite small so as not to hold more than six persons in close quarters at that.
Before I describe to you how I passed the first night there, I must go further back from the river to a small bunch of willows. There was a beautiful clear stream with a small rill that loses itself after it reaches the flat at the bottom of the hill. Still further back and on each side is open ground rising gradually toward the foot of the high and rocky mountain. The open land I speak of is covered with a heavy crop of grass, the growth of last year, while the new grass is just showing itself. It is certainly a most beautiful spot and well selected by the Indians to guard against surprise.
I learned from my companion that it was their custom in winter and as long as cold weather continued to take a sweat every night, also occasionally during other seasons. About 8 o'clock the Indians sent us word (we were in the little house where the sick girl was) that they were about to commence their operations for a sweat, inviting us in if we wished to join proceedings. It would be a queer idea there with you to pass the fuel down the chimney. In this case they did. One stands on the house and passes the wood down to those inside while others are busy putting away cooking utensils, rolling up the mats and sweeping up the floors. They piled on the wood until I certainly thought they would fire the house. The blaze came high above the top of the house.
By this time all were collected there, men, women and children, as near naked as they well could be, only one garment being retained or left on. The fire was allowed to burn until there remained only coals. They were all reeking with sweat, the heat being intense. They then come out and go to the spring, each woman with a water basket and bathed in the cold water, bringing back water in their baskets for the night. The men after they bathe always smoke before they lay down. The women retire for the night as near as they can to the fire. The coals are covered with ashes, that they may gradually consume and throw out heat until morning.
The hole in the top of the house is covered tight and then sleeping hours commence. A mat was spread for us, and shortly after that the house was closed for the night. We went in. A young Indian was holding a light for us to see the way to the place allotted to us. I should suppose the heat was upwards of 100 degrees, much warmer than any place I ever slept before. I think I drank about two buckets of water that night and sweat it all out. We were obliged to clothe accordingly to climate. I experienced no ill effects from it, passed the night easy and comfortably.
By dawn of the day the Indians were up, opened the house and all went to the spring and bathed, the women as usual carrying their baskets and bringing water. I know this to be a regular custom with the Indians. There is no doubt but they derive great benefit from the sweat and baths. They also require less bedclothes after the warming up of the house. I doubt not that there are many of this culture and enlightened fellow beings who could regard them as mere wild and degraded savages that would not give them credit for being in some things equal to themselves. I think many would do well to take example from them.
Sometime after breakfast when all the men had lighted their pipes, they came and seated themselves around us and signified that they would talk. Up to that time, not a word had been said to us by them concerning our business there. They had received us into their house and treated us as if we belonged to the tribe. At the same time it was well known that there had very recently been war between the whites and the Indians. The time we had been there, the difficulty had not been settled. The whites had left the Indians at the cave, well satisfied that they could not dislodge them without great loss. Complaints were still made that the Indians were troublesome, stealing stock, etc., and should be killed off--men, women and children. Yet, they cornered a little band. No one cared to approach them within 300 yards. After a few moments the chief asked if the white men were going to make war on them. He told a short story that they had been driven from their old home and were obliged to live in out-of-the-way places and always on the alert as the white men had frequently attacked parties of them, killing all they could, and was it because they were Indians.
He stated that they wished to live in peace with whites. The country was large enough for them all. They were but a few compared to the white men and their members were growing less very fast. The old men and women died and no young ones were growing up to fill their places. There were many that had fallen by the white man's knife. When one of their numbers were killed they missed him. He was born of a few. But when a white man was killed, there appeared to be none the less. He was sensible in that they could not war with us for in a short time there would be no men to fight. He requested us to make it known to the people in and about Yreka that they did not wish to fight with them. They had done the white man no harm, they had stolen no stock. They lived there out of the white man's way and troubled no one. No one would want to live where they were, but it was a good place for them. They could get salmon from the river, deer from the mountain around them and berries and roots, all they needed. They hoped we would tell the white men what they had said.
While we stayed there we were welcome to such as they had to eat and should always be so. There the talk ended. The chief had said nothing to us direct but to a young man who then spoke to us. The others were all silent. Only at times when anything was said on our side, they signified our opposition by a slight grunt. It appeared that there were Indians there that had been at the cave and that they had communication with those there.
They told us they had but few guns, not a half enough to arm the men. I saw one that I know had been there, was there at the time the attempt was made to take it. I am a stranger to most of them at this place, yet they extended great hospitality.
I don't know that I have ever written to you anything about their mode of curing sickness or their religion. I have often witnessed their ceremony of taking the Devil out of a sick person. I never saw it here in the northern country until the trip to the Klamath region. I could never learn from them that they had any. I have often heard it said that there was no tribe or kindred but what had the same idea of a God, but what worship something. They have an idea of a bad spirit and fear it. They may think there is a good one but I do not know that they worship anything.
They do have medicine men and women with the California Indians. Here in the northern country the cures are all performed by women. The child is trained from infancy by a medicine woman until 12 or 14 years of age, when she is considered capable of performing a cure. I will say that I do not have much faith in their skill, yet they believe it and that very belief has a good tendency.
They are not ignorant of the use of many simple herbs which they apply outwardly and take in a form of tea, but it is not the medicine woman who prescribes these things. She gives no medicine. Hers is higher power. Her duty is to drive away the Evil Spirit and cure will certainly follow. They have no control over destiny; if trained to the profession they must follow it. They often pay the forfeit with their lives for not performing a cure. It is thought that they can cure and kill as they please. An instance of that kind took place 16 to 18 miles from here about the first of February, 1854. A chief was sick and doctored by the medicine woman. It proved his case was beyond her power to cure, for he died. It was decided by the other Indians that she was bad and either did not try to cure him or had killed him inadvertently. Accordingly, they went when she was asleep and killed her. This they not frequently do when they think the medicine woman does not try to cure the sick.
During the first day I spent with the Indians, they brought the sick girl into the sweat house for the purpose of having her doctored by the medicine woman there. Like the medicine women of old, they gather the sick together and cure all at once, so in this case, all that were sick were brought there at the appointed time when one performed answers for all. I cannot tell you how--the description will enlighten you on the subject, for I cannot conceive a scene more difficult to describe. First let me describe the principal actors in it. The medicine woman: she was rather above middle size with a face that spoke far more than her tongue did, a black sparkling eye, long flowing hair, also black. The only thing that you would possibly notice at first sight was the eye, black and piercing. She was about 18 years of age. Her dress I will not attempt to describe. It was in part deerskin. A strip of beaver skin was bound around her head much the same as the bands formerly worn there. There was no particular order kept. Everyone knew what was about to take place. The sick persons were brought in and laid before the medicine woman. She sat on a deerskin and commenced by humming a tune in a low voice which continued for some four or five minutes, when she broke out loud and was joined by all the females in the lodge. They kept very good time and the singing was not unpleasant to the ear. During that time a young man of about 20 had filled his pipe, lifted it and took a seat behind the medicine woman. Another, a girl or relative of the sick girl, brought two small water baskets, one full of water and the other empty, and placed them between the medicine woman and the sick. But the one carrying the water was covered over with one of their caps or the light baskets they wore on their heads. The singing continued for 10 or 15 minutes when it stopped suddenly, precisely at the same time. The medicine woman stood up and made an indescribable noise, being neither the long note nor a shriek but somewhere between. She then began singing again and this time it was again joined by all the females. At the same time she kept up a continual motion with her legs, somewhere between a dance and a shuffle. After a few minutes she commenced jumping bodily up and down much the same as one jumping rope. This continued a short time only probably as long as wind held out. She had not continued to sing while jumping. The rest had.
When she stopped and sat down, she commenced to sing again. Then in a few moments, to jump again and continued longer this time and when she ceased, she gave the signal and all was silent. Then she said something to the young man sitting behind her. He immediately said something in a loud quick voice as if hearing someone at a distance. This she repeated several times, each time saying something in the same tone of voice, speaking quick and loud. I was curious enough to count at one time while the medicine woman was jumping. She jumped 209 times without stopping. She then sat down and commenced talking. During this talking there was no singing, talking to the young man behind her. Then got up and the girl who brought water in the basket uncovered it. While she wet her hands with the water and putting it up, one each side of her head, made one of the indescribable noises and continued to sing, changing the tune again as before, all hands joined hers.
She then, she singing herself, commenced a kind of a shuffle advancing toward the sick girl and then back as if she saw something frightful. She kept this up for some time, frequently wetting her hands with the water from the basket. She then sat down and picked up small strips of bark on the floor or ground before her, which the girl that sat at the head of the sick took and bound around the medicine woman's wrist. She then got up and advanced toward the sick and began to feel of her side and breast as if to discover if there was any part particularly sore.
She kept her hands wet with the water from the basket, singing all the time, as did all the females in the lodge, then got up and danced some time, retreating and advancing nearly up to the girl's side, the back steps taken very quick and short. After going back a few steps she stood with her eyes fixed intently on the sick girl, dancing with short quick steps when, with a sudden bound, she sprang immediately beside her and sank on her knees, then took a mouthful of water from the basket and applied said mouth to the side of the sick girl where the pain was. She sucked with considerable force and made most irregular sounds in her throat for about 30 seconds, when raising herself up to a sitting posture she immediately put her hands to the place and appeared to take something therefrom which she put quickly into an empty basket, then looking up and extending her right hand toward heaven. She makes a noise as if gargling the water in her mouth and bringing her hand quickly down, strikes herself on the left breast with the palm and spits the water into the same basket that she had first put that which she took from the girl's side. She then gets up taking the water in her mouth and goes through the same performance each time, applying her mouth to a different place making the same noise in putting it from her mouth into the basket as before. It was surprising to me how she could keep up such singing with her mouth full of water. She continued this some six or eight times and then remaining in the sitting posture, looks up, raises her right hand, extending her arm as if pointing to heaven and makes a noise with her lips by forcing the air out so as to keep it steadily going for a minute without a stop, draws her breath and continues in this manner for a short time, probably five or six minutes when she suddenly stops. She is done. The evil spirit is expelled from the body of the sick person.
Her duty being thus performed, she immediately leaves the lodge for a few moments, taking the basket she had spit in during the last part of the performance. The whole ceremony lasted upward of two hours. Sometimes where a chief is dangerously ill, the scene will last for two days and nights without ceasing. In this case, it was thought that a cure would speedily follow. The ceremony was again performed during the evening of the same day over the sick girl and little boy of about two years who was held in his mother's arms. After the ceremony closed, the medicine woman was usually silent. She said but little at any time, did not appear to talk, laugh and play as the rest did. Her whole soul appeared bound in her profession; nothing could be heard from her lips; much however could be heard in her EYE.
We stayed three days at the rancheria, were well treated by those red men, a small party of whom had kept the white men, in their part, in a continual fear of them. They were not out of their lodge much while we were there. They ate, smoked and slept. The weather was cold with frequent snow squalls.
Morning of the 13th, we started for home. The weather was cold and cloudy, had the appearance of heavy rain. Had some difficulty in keeping the sick girl there. Said she wished to go with us. Promised to return in five days and get her when she would be able to ride a horse. After early breakfast, we crossed the river on our return. I should have stated before that four days before we arrived at the rancheria their chief died, and many were in mourning. Shortly after we crossed the river, it snowed very fast. We had to hurry on, lest the snow would hide the path so we could not follow it on the mountain.
Eve we reached the top of the divide, thus there was snow on the ground to depth of a foot. Start the trail over on the way up and twice more we reached Humbug Creek. We succeeded in finding the trail each time without much difficulty and in order to even be more sure, we put the Indian boy ahead. He lost it but once and it was crossing an open place on the mountain that was quite level and hard. The trail was hardly visible when there was no snow. Crossed Humbug Creek and we took an Indian trail entirely unknown to us which the boy told us was much easier. He knew the trail well, for he guided us without going a step out of his course, although in many places there was no sign that man had passed there.
By coming this route we reached home early in the evening. The traveling was very hard because of the snow. Thus ends my trip to the Klamath. I did not regret my going. I learned much, was interested by many little things and scenes that probably would not interest some others.
Morning, 18th day of February, 1854
Accompanied by my former companion who was mounted on horse, started for Klamath with intention of visiting the Indian rancheria and bringing the sick girl home should she be able to ride. The snow had nearly all disappeared in the rains, and [on] the eastern side of the mountains and on to the top and the northwest side there was yet six to eight inches on the ground. After reaching Humbug Creek found that the trail had been much traveled by miners who had been in search of new diggins that reports said had been struck on several small creeks that rise in the mountains on the southeast side of Klamath and empty into that noble river.
When the diggins were first struck on it in 1851, there was a great rush from about Yreka; most of them came back to their old claim calling the new digging Humbug, hence its name. Since that time the creek has been prospected by more energetic miners who have been well paid for their labors, as it proved very rich. It requires the real laborers to get the gold there. The bedrock lies deep, and enormous boulders have to be taken out. I saw some beautiful granite there, and a few pieces had been quarried out to make a quartz crushing machine. Three other creeks put into the Klamath a few miles below the mouth of the Humbug. The first is not named. The next is called "Bark House Creek," from the fact that the first cabin built on it was covered with bark from the cedars. About three miles below another creek puts in on the same side. It is about the same size and is called "Half Breed Creek." Where it derived its name, I do not know--but I have wandered long and far from my story.
We arrived opposite the rancheria an hour before the sun, where we unsaddled and staked out the horse on a little flat, there being no place we could forge without swimming. By the time the horse was revived the canoe was ready for us. We had been seen and recognized all before we reached the landing. We were welcomed to the rancheria, sat, drank and smoked with the men who had all formed a semicircle around us when we entered the lodge. They were anxious to hear the feeling of the white men toward them.
We found the sick girl had improved much during the time we had been gone. All fever had left her. A young man had been out and killed a deer. She ate freely of the meat. She was anxious to go home. We proposed to start early the following morning which pleased her much.
We learned from white men then that the creek before named prospected well. Many claims were being taken up. Several cabins were built. During evening the Indians gathered around us and had a talk as before. They expressed the wish to remain at peace with the whites. They wished to live near them so as to be protected from other, more numerous Indians with whom they were not on friendly terms. I noticed a long slim pole standing against the lodge with a small basket suspended by a rope from the end. It was a "mis;" it was about 2" in diameter and 18" to 20" long, tapering gradually to the top, an inclined or short angle of about 80 degrees. The branches and bark were nearly peeled off. I was curious to know why it stood there, but it was of no avail to ask the Indians. I knew that my companion could tell me nothing, only that a chief had died and it was put there. All else was a mystery. After dark, I looked at it to discover if possible how it was intended to lean. The mis was clear [sic]. I found it leaned directly toward the north stars, whether by accident or design I know not.
Early on the following morning we started for home, after being assured by the medicine woman that the sick girl would soon recover. There are those who think the Indians are cold, heartless and unfeeling. How insensible to the story "ties that bind man to man," as to be a little above the brute. It is true, they have but little artificial expression which civilized men often wear on their face while hatred fills their heart. They make much outward show of feeling but they do not feel as we do. I was a silent spectator of the scene that took place there as this sick girl parted from her friends and family. I think there was but one of her relatives present, one who had watched over her during her sickness with all a sister's care; but few words were spoken, and those in a low quick tone. Outward show there was none. Nothing could be heard to show the feelings their actions spoke.
In a short time we were on the home trail traveling slow and occasionally stopping. We reached our destination early in the eve. Our charge was somewhat fatigued, but complained not.
The evening of her arrival a medicine woman from close by doctored her. She was over on a visit and in consideration of a pair of blankets in hand paid, she performed the ceremony of dragging the evil out of the sick. The astonished miners in the neighboring cabins flocked to the house on hearing the singing. It was filled to overflowing and many could not get in. Some few had seen the performance before. The greater part had not, nor did they understand the meaning of it. Silence prevailed during the whole ceremony as much as I had ever seen in church. A few comments were made at the close of it, on the singing; words of course they knew nothing of, but the "time" they kept was excellent. My tale closes here. I will only state that the medicine woman prevailed, for the sick recovered.
On my third visit to the Klamath in March, I visited the Indians again. I found that their camp was strictly guarded to prevent being surprised by Indians from below. The cause of trouble with their neighbors was this. I think it started before that old chief had died during the early part of the winter. He had been wounded by a stone some months before in an encounter with their enemy.
The chief had been wounded by a stone-headed arrow; the head and part of the shaft still remained in him, they being unable to extract it. It kept working in until it reached his vitals. During his sickness, his medicine woman had not been able to make him better. The devil still remained. Her skill was exhausted to expel him. They then called on the Horse Creek Indians, about 12 miles below them, like as death being the issue, they readily obtained the services of their medicine woman. She came up and performed long and tedious ceremonies over the sick chief. Their utmost exertions did not prevail. All their chants for many long hours day after day could not alter the will of Him who orders all things. The old chief's time had run out, and he was buried with his father.
The Indians thought the two medicine women had combined to kill him and that all of their efforts were to that effect. They firmly believed these things; not a doubt as to the power of the medicine woman to kill or cure exists in their mind. In this case it was called unpardonable murder. There was no arrest, confinement or trial. It was determined, however, that they must die. No appointed time was set that they should pay the penalty of not altering the will of the Almighty. I know not if all the Indians--men, women and child--knew of the determination; probably the men did and many of the older women suspected, if not for certain, what might be the consequences of the chief's death.
Some one of the men told a miner at "Bark House Creek" the sentence that had been passed. He remonstrated with the Indian, but in his heart, the ignorant red man believed he was right and would not swerve from what he thought a duty. The miners went over and told the medicine woman that her tribe were determined to kill her; also the Horse Creek medicine woman who assisted her during the sickness of their chief. She believed it not.
A few days after she received this friendly warning, the Horse Creek medicine woman came up on a visit to the rancheria. Two of her tribe came up with her. The Indians took advantage of their being together, the Horse Creek being away from her people. They killed them both. The other two fled for their lives. They were suffered to escape unmolested. Hence the trouble between these Indians and the Horse Creek, although they would probably have done the same thing themselves, yet they saw sufficient cause in this act of their neighbors to take up their hatchets and make a descent on them which they did the morning before I arrived.
The Humbug Creek Indians were headed by a renegade Dutchman who enlisted in the army and deserted, breaking a solemn oath he had taken to the country of his adoption and should not be trusted by any. No days of mourning were had for the medicine women; they had forfeited their lives, they could not mourn.
An Indian came over to Humbug the morning I started for the Klamath and informed the people of the difficulty between them and their neighbors below. Many of the whites felt the trouble would [omission] as had affected some miners who were known to be about there prospecting on Bark House Creek and Half Breed Creek. Accordingly there was an armed party of 15 men started from Freetown about an hour before I arrived there. My companions declared they would go no further. I was obliged to start out alone; in a few moments one of them came up, deciding he would go where I went.
About a half mile further on we heard the others shouting for us to stop. We did until Pete came up, then resumed the march and arrived at Half Breed Creek after dark, being as we were about two miles from its mouth. After some little doubt as to when or where we should find the house of the miners, we came to the dam and race that took water to their surface digging. Followed it down more than a mile and came to the houses. We were received with that kind hospitality which one who has long been a wanderer in California, knows how to extend to another. After a warm supper we rolled ourselves in our blankets before a fire built of logs and bark. I slept the sleep of a wearied traveler.
In the morning we took a look at the diggings. There was there then 10 men, and the only party on that creek. They had prospected the surface at the mouth of the river and the lower side of Half Breed Creek. They got but a small prospect, but there had been too much expense, time and labor to build the dam, make the race five feet wide and four feet deep, nearly one and one half miles long. They had begun to reap their rewards for their perseverance. They had been a few days sluicing and had made $13 and $15 to the man. Their diggings had but just been proved and extended over many acres. They explained to us the difficulty there among the Indians. Told us they came to this camp every day and were in friendly terms with them. It appeared that their men had located there as if to spend their days at that beautiful spot. They had quite a garden spaded up. One had been over to Yreka and procured seed while the rest had prepared the ground. They also intended getting stock. They were a little community to themselves away from all the noise and bustle of the busy world. It appeared to me that they wanted but one thing more to make them all that God intended man should be on earth.
When they went to their daily labor, their houses were deserted. After breakfast we left our hospitable friends and visited the rancheria. The Indians crossed us in their canoes. The rancheria was a mile or two above the mouth of Half Breed Creek and on the northern banks of the river. We found the Indians were on their guard, but not in the least ashamed as to the results of an attack. One Half Breed woman had been killed when they were attacked the morning before.
They told us the woman had been killed by the white man that headed the Horse Creeks. The man that heads there, since the death of their old chief, is called "Laughing Joe" from the fact that he is very good natured and often laughs during his conversation with the whites. He is tall, slim and well named, probably 50 years of age but still as straight and active, eyes deeply set in his head, keen and restless. He told us of the attack, said that their spies had come in and reported. The Horse Creeks closed the house and with their arms in hand, silently awaited the attack.
It would be remembered that I stated that the chief lodge had a hole in the top some three feet by two and a half which answers as a chimney. This hole was left open. Laughing Joe had his rifle drawn upright for the first one who should make his appearance in the house. The first he saw was the renegade that hailed the attacking party. He lowered his rifle and told him he did not wish to kill him, told him to go away; let the Indians come, he was ready for them. I told him he should have killed him then and there. He said he wished to be at peace with the whites; therefore, he did not shoot him. The renegade fired twice into the house, one shot killing the woman before stated. There is not a shadow of doubt but this fellow was with the Indians, for not only did they tell me so but that of his name. Also there were others who came to look on and sat on the hillside all the while.
It is not my purpose to write a history of these Indians, I would note a few scenes that transpired here that come under my own observation. They will have passed away at the rate they have decreased in the three years past. In two more there will not be a soul of the Shasta tribe left if their white invaders, on the slightest pretense, are allowed to kill, burn and destroy all in their path of them, as theirs such must be the case. It is their law I should have you learn. It is how their lodges became deserted, I will tell you. I have felt an interest in this state, have learned their law of observation and state only what I know.
I have before told you of the murder committed on Shasta River within three miles or thereabouts of Yreka. I think I have also told how the Indians, after escaping death there, fled with this woman and children to a cave on the Klamath River. It was their story told. They were determined one and all. They could not meet the whites in open field. They were too few, but there they could defend themselves against a hundred times their number. In that stronghold they lived unmolested by anyone for some months. No doubt they felt their enemies and desired revenge, yet they did not take a life although they had many opportunities. They had been told that the whites as a body did not make war against women, that the squaw that was killed was thought to be a man when the shot was fired. But the brute that scalped her, for him there could be no excuse. He was denounced by all. They some few of his friends but did not say as they did not like to have their opinions known. The Indians did not revenge the death of the squaw by killing whites. They hunted, laid in stores and provisions for winter and they prepared for war. They kept scouts out all the time, so they might not be surprised.
Confined to a small place for hunting, obliged to keep always near to their retreat, [they] could not lay up their usual supply of food. Their women had always to be guarded while gathering roots and berries. The people about Yreka did not trouble them. Indeed many knew not where they were; they never ventured in sight of town. Not so with those of Cottonwood. They knew where the retreat was. Until the cave affair of last winter it was not well known about the site. After the whites were repulsed by the Indians and the regulars were sent off, they were not troubled. They got a supply of flour from the Cottonwood volunteers when they defeated them. This they took to their retreat.
Accustomed to the tricks of the whites, too often played on them, they were guarded by the remembrance of them and supposing the provisions might be poisoned, and rather than destroy them, they made bread and gave it to their dogs. Every sack of flour was tried, but it was good. Part of this same band of Indians had seen beef poisoned and left in camp when in the Modoc country fighting for the whites. Confined for months to the dark camp cave to which they had retreated, many had sickened and died. Used to roaming from place to place, these wild, restless spirits could not endure it. Although they had not been molested for some time, yet they dared not take their women and children and go out into the valley in search of food. They knew that if it was known that they were out of the stronghold they would be hunted to the death.
Occasionally one of the warriors would come over in the neighborhood of Yreka. This was the house of someone he knew and who was a friend to them and tried to get some information of the intentions of the whites. There is no doubt that they wished for peace. They were fully sensible that with this state of affairs their people would soon be gone from the earth. I doubt not but if they were as numerous as the whites, they would rise to a war and drive the invaders from the land.
The Shastas, Rogue River, Po-mat-a-war [To-mat-a-war?] and the Scott's Valley Indians are all the same blood and speak the same dialect. A small band headed by one Tipsu, which means "beard" in Shasta, has for some years been separated from those here. Although they are all related, they have made their home on the northwestern side of the Siskiyou Mountains and have manifested a hostile spirit toward the white man, having no intercourse with them.
On April 18, 1854 a party of Indians at the head of Shasta Valley were most inhumanly murdered. Some weeks before, a few Rogue River Indians came into the valley and drove off three head of horses. A party of 15 or 20 mounted men followed their trail out on Pit River. They did not overtake them until the Indians had crossed the river. Then they saw them but could not get across. They, therefore, came back on their trail, and upon arriving at the head of the Shasta Valley were told by someone that a runner had been sent to Pit River to warn them of the approach of the whites, and thus they got so much the start on the mountain men. This information had been given or sent to them by a party of Indians living at the head of the valley. There were 20 or more that had been there for a year or more. They were mostly women and children, there being but five men. This leader was bearded and a relative of one who has a band on the other side of Siskiyou. By going from the band at the cave to that of Tipsu and then to their affairs at the head of the valley, I will show how one outrage committed by lawless and brutal white men will bring a train of blood after it.
These men had gone out to finish the Pit Indians and recover their stock. They were unsuccessful. The men held council to consider whether or not they should punish them for doing so. The debate grew warm, the party divided. Thirteen of them decided to kill their friendly Indians. The rest went to their homes. The thirteen made arrangements to put their intentions through instantly. They surrounded the unsuspecting Indians, crawling to their very doors. Then they waited for the break of the day which witnessed the bloody scene, a stain not on the home of the thirteen men, for they can claim to have need, but a stain on the name of a people who claim to be civilized, the intelligent or the American name.
The party of thirteen, headed by a notorious gambler and renegade, killed 18 of the Indians, who threatened not a blow in self-defense, so completely were they off their guard. The old Tipsu, the first that came out of the house in the morn, was the first to fall. Alarmed by the report of the firearms, the others fled from their houses in all directions, only to be cut down by their merciless foes. One woman stood before the whites and told them that she had always lived in peace with them, were their friends, and she might have gone on with her speech much further had it not been cut short by the gambler, who with a fearful Colt blew her brains out. One little girl, 10 or 12 years of age, escaped, wounded by a rifle ball passing through the fleshy part of her leg just above the knee.
It was said the leader escaped, shot through and through. He fell and was left for dead but got up and ran, was shot at again and his arm broken, but did not stop. A few of the young children were taken prisoners by the men and the scene colored by burning their houses. They came into Yreka exulting over their victory. Most of them had some trophy of their deed: a scalp, a string of beads (some wore beads on their neck taken from those of the squaws). No notice has yet been taken of this cruel act by the authorities. So much for the security of those who are disposed to treat the whites well and be friendly to all who may chance to fall among them.
During all the long still that had succeeded the storm raised during the winter by the people of Cottonwood, respecting the Indians in the cave, I say during the spell of peace they have kept near their retreat, always on the alert, always watchful and guarded. They committed no depredations, although no doubt there were those who burned for revenge in that little band. There was a cessation of hostilities on both sides, yet no peace was declared, the Indians not caring to go far enough from the cave to be surprised and cut off, and the whites not disposed to follow them there.
About the same time that the affair at the head of the valley happened, a party of five came over from Cottonwood to take a boy that had come in from the cave and was living with his mother and two younger sisters on Corral Gulch. This boy is the same who robbed the Chinaman. He has been much with the whites and combined all he has learned from them with his wild savage nature. For all of this he is not less savage. He is about 17 years of age and of ordinary stature, active as a Cottonwood and more vengeful. He, not being aware that there was any search being made for him, was taken without resistance in a house on this gulch. He appeared very indifferent as to what his fate might be if taken to Cottonwood; went quietly with his captors to several houses as they called on acquaintances and before they left the gulch made good his escape.
They went through town swearing revenge on his head. He cared little for that but came back to the gulch within an hour after they left with a hollow limb of an oak on his arm. But the storm was yet to come. The men that came to take him had seen Indians before, were no strangers to the Indian character. They disguised themselves and came down to the gulch the following morning and came to my cabin before breakfast, having come up to the head of the gulch without having been seen by keeping in the thick bushes. They felt sure of their prey. There was but two came up. The others stayed in the bush at the mouth of the gulch.
The Indian boy had bought a horse off the man that was mining with me and that morning was coming for it with the intention of going to Scott's Valley. His two sisters came to the cabin early in the morning and were there when the men came for their brother. The younger one would have left, probably to warn her brother not to come, but they prevented this, bringing her into the house by force after she left it.
Just as they were about to start down the gulch, one said, "You stay here and take care the girls do not leave the house while I go down to take him."
It was agreed on and the one who was to go started for the door but did not go out. He came back a little, silent and motionless. He had seen the Indian boy coming up the hill toward the house. Presently the others saw him also and with an exclamation of surprise, the oldest sister took alarm and went toward the door. She saw her brother, gave one wild cry and attempted to rush out. She was thrust suddenly aside while the two men bounded for the door like bloodhounds.
The Indian boy [called "Dick," below] had seen and understood all. He was probably 80 yards from the house when the chase commenced when he started the race for life. He could have escaped early but he went into a house. His pursuers thought he would probably escape for they fired three shots at him, one of which passed about two inches over his head and hit the frame of the door in the cabin toward which he ran. He thought he had a friend there who would protect him. He was not there. They entered and bound him after some difficulty, during which one of them would have shot him, and a man that was in the house told him he must not do it then. He was led forth just as his alert sister came up to the door.
He turned his head and spoke to her. She ran up behind him and succeeded in getting the rope off his hands. There was a picture of a sister's love, as she, regardless of herself, endeavored to release her brother. She could not rely on her sex to protect her, for she knew it did not protect her from the white man. They both alike were in danger of the rifle and scalping knife. He was taken in spite of all her feeble efforts to release him. He was bound on a horse and carried to Cottonwood. But while this was transpiring, there were those who were also working.
A messenger went to town, complaint entered and an officer sent on their trail. He was taken from them after their arrival at Cottonwood and brought to Yreka. He asked about why they did not kill him here where his mother and sisters were. They could bury him.
Probably you would like to know more about what they took him for, what he was accused of. He was accused of being at the cave at the time the Indians defeated the whites and that by his rifle some one or more fell. That was what he was to die for. No doubt he was there. No doubt he fought to kill and who, under those circumstances, would not do so.
The whites went there, unknown to the Indians in the cave, killed several they saw. One had a deer on his back and came up to the white men. They killed him. Others were working and getting water at the spring nearby when they were fired on and several killed. One of the party at the spring, a woman, received a ball in her breast that came out through her back, yet she ran up to the mouth of the cave before she fell.
This was the beginning of hostilities at the cave. They had not been molested there before. Under what pretense did they go to the cave and do these foul murders? Why? They said the Indians had there a lot of stolen horses. Perhaps they did, but where are the 15 taken from them last summer on "Shasta's plains"? There was but four returned to them. They have repeatedly said they did not wish to fight with or against the white man. They knew there was not enough of them to stand any chance of success, but who is to take their part. Who is to see that they have their rights. Many sympathize with them but they can do little good. For while outrage upon outrage is committed by the whites, most shall avoid punishing them. They will retaliate and keep the whole country here in a continual war.
Within a few weeks a special agent has arrived here to call all the Indians together, and after a while a high authority will come from below to treat with them. Runners have gone out to call the Indians in. The party at the cave were headed by one called "Bill." He in his stronghold defied the forces sent against him, yet at the call he was willing to come and treat with the whites.
Accordingly, the fifth of May, Bill came in and camped near Yreka. He was too much accustomed to treachery to bring the whole of his band in until he had been and looked for himself. He had been about town all day and at night went out to his camp where the Scott's Valley Indians were with a small party of his own Indians.
Next day a party of 56 Indians all mounted and armed with rifles came in and camped near town. They are called Deschutes, from a river or stream of that name in Oregon. Some of them are from there but there are those with them of the Modoc Tribe, sworn enemies of all whites. Also from the Klamath Lake tribe who are enemies of the whites, as well as of the Shastas.
The Indians came to town and had a special interview with the special agent. He told them that he had sent out for the Shastas to come in and if they did come they must not trouble them, but if they refused to come, then when he was satisfied that such was the case, they should have powder and ball and go on the warpath.
At that time a man in the crowd stepped up to the agent and told him that Bill had come in and was ready to talk with him at any time. I know not what reply he made, but he did not talk with Bill that day. After the talk with the Deschutes was over they went out on the green to the eastward and had a war dance.
The Shastas took their rifles and went into the bushes near their camp. Most of the young women also took cover. The old women armed themselves and stayed in camp with the Scott's Valley Indians. After the dance, part of the Deschutes went back to town and out to the Scott's Valley and Shasta Camp.
I was already there, having left before the dance was over. They rode up and dismounted. Not a word was said on either side. They stood about the entrance to the camp, silent and sullen for some moments. Some of them went in and sat down while the others went around from one camp to another as if to learn the force there. Some of the women prepared game for them. I ate hare, which they silently ate. I watched this their every movement. They asked why the three of us were there. We told them we were friends to the Shastas. No more was said to us.
After they had been there about half an hour, Bill rode out of the bushes where he had watched them and went to his camp. There was 8 or 10 more Indians. He went in and sat down. The Deschutes had this great medicine man with them. He went from camp to camp as if in search of someone, and after a time came to Bill and found him standing beside the fire smoking. After looking at him, he went up and held out his hand as if for the pipe, wishing to smoke with him. Although Bill understood it all, he turned silently away and walked off, not caring to smoke with his enemies.
This medicine man was most hideously painted in a bluish green and had a headdress made of a skin of a grizzly bear, and bound around the forehead was the claws of the beast strung on a string, so arranged as to stand out from the forehead as if in the act of striking a deadly blow. He was tall. All of his tribe were painted more or less, some with faces bright red with streaks of white, others with black streaks on the cheeks. Some had one side painted red, the others black and white entirely, while they had the upper part of their face painted red, below its natural color.
The Modocs and the Klamath Lakes were not painted. The Deschutes wore bark-skinned hunting shirts beautifully beaded with small beads of various color. Their hair, long and flowing, was in some cases, painted white. They stayed but a short time in camp after they came out of the bush. No words passed between them and the Shastas. Silently they mounted and rode in their harum-scarum way in toward town.
Yet nothing had been said to Bill, that is, by the white "tyee." He saw that the white tyee had a talk with their enemy and smoked with them, which I did not mention before, and allowed them to dance their war dance before the very camp of those he had called from their retreat from which the white man had failed to drive them to come to a reasonable understanding of them. From all this, he feared treachery and during the following night left his camp again for the purpose of joining his people where they could defend themselves.
He sent out runners on different trails. I know the route one took and could guess his errand. For a few days it was talked of in and about Yreka how the Deschutes would "clean out" the Shastas. Many were ready to give the powder and ball and let them to their bloody work. When they rode through the streets, one of the citizens stepped forth and presented this chief with a large bowie knife telling him that he wanted the first Shasta scalp he took with it. He has one already, one he took himself.
It would appear that people about here would naturally sympathize with the Indians living in this neighborhood when a large and formidable body of their enemies came boldly into their country and asked the settlers to give them powder and ball to kill them with. So they did, many of them, but many were generally silent as to their feeling or expressed their feeling to each other while the other party were for furnishing their painted devils with powder and turn them onto the warpath at once.
About this time an outrage was committed near Shasta River along the Oregon side. It was one of Bill's men. It was said that three of them were present, but only one of them was in the act. It was no less [than] an attempt to surround a woman at a house on the Rogue. The attempt was enough, and there is no doubt that the attempt was made and the struggle severe. We can excuse no one for an act like this, yet it is well known that Indians always think they must take life from life until the blood of their enemies flowed unto death. Friends are not revenged forever. For years will this spirit of revenge stir up their heart's blood and serve them for the final blow.
It is also well known about here that it is now and has long been a common thing for Indian women to be ravished by certain unprincipled beings that claim a citizenship in the rank of Americans. Aye, men that would call themselves insulted were I to call them thieves, while I regard them worse than murderers, I say it is not uncommon for this to transpire even within a rifle shot of Yreka, but it has been done. Nor is it a secret to the dispensers of law in that place, that any reasonable man take the case in his mind and judge it as a man should judge between man and man. Let him ask in this light shall those Indian women be ravished any and everywhere they can be caught because they are women, because they are Indian women, unprotected and defenseless. Shall this thing be suffered? I know what the verdict of such a man would be; I know the minds of reasonable men in this respect. But here in this Siskiyou country such things have been and no secret made of it. Yet no effort has been made to stop it. Can you then wonder why they in their spirit of savage retaliate. I do wonder, but it is that they have not done it before, for I think the crime equal on both sides. I wouldn't nor do I think this Indian who is guilty of this thing should be punished so severely as a white man who committed a like act. He did it to revenge himself for a like act committed on his women by five of the citizens of Yreka, two within a year and two within a gunshot of the town. This is the same that was shot while at the spring getting water and ran to the entrance of the cave before she fell.
Her loss by the hands of treacherous white men, after the former act, so enraged him that he said, "All Indians that would treat with white men, have white hearts," and forthwith he took up the rifle, saying that he would die rather than be friends with such men. For no other purpose than revenge, he went forth and committed the act above mentioned as near Yreka as possible. He knew he could not go before the Great White Tyee and make his complaint. He knew that there would be no means then to satisfy justice for the outrage on him and her, for he had seen in those that these things were frequent occurrences toward his people. In his judging of the justice of the white men, he was right.
In learning of the outrage before mentioned, a cry of indignation was used and vengeance against the whole Shasta tribe. It was now time; it was time long before, for the special agent to raise his voice. He did, demanding the perpetrator of the crime as the whole vengeance of the whites and the bitter hatred of the Deschutes should be speedily poured out against them.
The chief still felt extremely annoyed at the situation he was placed in. After leaving so hastily when he saw the force his enemies had on hand ready to jump on him, he came in again and went to the houses of a few he knew to be friends, for friends he had among the whites to learn the result of his fears. He heard of the deed committed by one of his followers. He knew of the wrong that brought him to do it, yet he expressed anger at his having done so. He heard the demand for the criminal and sent word to the agent that he would give him up.
Accordingly, he went out to his men for the purpose of bringing him in. What transpired after he got there we can only tell from his words. He says that the Indian was not willing to be given up. He had been wronged by the white men and had taken revenge.
He then told his men what the consequences would be if he was not given up. He brought to their minds the fact the white men were numerous as the pines that grew on the mountainside. They had all the guns, powder, etc., they wanted and again there was their old enemies who awaited only the signal of the whites to track them from hill to hill until not one of the Shasta name existed.
All this and more he brought to the mind of his men. He looked around at the few that remained of the once fearful and numerous band, now reduced by sickness from being so long confined in the cave. By now there were about 50 souls of which less than 25 could bear arms, the remainder being women and children. All that speak the Shasta language are of the same stock and will generally fight together and for each other. Combined they number some 100 warriors. All were convinced their leader was right except the one who was out for an eye for an eye, but this chief told him he must come and give himself up and went about proceeding to force. Then his mother saw the justice of the act and told him he must go; then did his brother say it must be so and, in silence, gave way to their wishes. He needed not the chief nor shackles to bring him in, for once he consented to go and said he would go he made no attempt to escape.
It appears that things happen to prevent the Indians to come to terms with the white. No sooner is one obstacle surmounted than another presents itself, more formidable than the other. We learned late Wednesday night, the 17th of May, 1854, that at about noon, a pack train [apparently that of Gage and Clymer] had been taken on the Siskiyou and one of the two men with it was killed. The other was able to escape and arrived at Cottonwood. When a messenger came to Yreka, it was not known who or what tribe had done it, only that it was done by Indians. I did not doubt it when I heard the report, for I was in town when the messenger arrived. I saw him. He told me they were Tipsu's who had done it, but it would not be known until the trail was followed. Many were ready to accuse the Shastas. Some did, while others said they were all alike, all combined.
But I had reason to think and know differently. I did not think it was the Indians whose beautiful home we have overrun and drove them from until they hide in the mountains from where they steal out at night like wolves going forth to roam where they dare not in the open day. I did not think they lied when they said they wished for peace. They were few and would soon be gone from the earth. I had their words and more to assure me that they spoke from the heart.
At the time I heard of the taking of the train, I knew there were four of Bill's men not far from Yreka. They had come in according to the request of the agent to treat with the whites. They dared not come openly into town, for they might get shot like dogs in the street. They came to one they knew as a friend, long and tried. They were there when we returned from town. I told my companion that I did not think the Shastas had anything to do with this recent affair, that it must be a Tipsu on the Rogue River. When we arrived at the house my belief was confirmed. Did they look guilty of this act? Like the trooper's horse they were harnessed for the field, they slept with knife by side, horn and pouch on and knife and belt. Let the free enlightened think of it and say if the Tipsu Indians had been wronged.
He roused the sleepers by a word (this was not a deep sleep) and told them of the news that had arrived in town. They expressed no surprise, but silently they listened to the tale until it was told. Then when asked if they knew of it before, said no, nor did they know who had done it. They accused no one, no tribe. They had just learned it and could not tell who it was, but little was said by them in reference to it and that they would not have come in had they intended to do anything of that kind.
They would stay together in that cave. They said their actions should prove to the whites that they wish peace, for now they came about town as much as they dared. Their women went to and fro from town to their camps. Their band had separated; some went with the women who gathered food while they were here, and the other band when they knew the whites were hunting them, they kept together and did not come to town, men nor women. I thought he spoke the truth.
Early in the morn, they started for somewhere near the cave where their women gathered food. The people in Yreka, according to the request from the agent, let the matter rest until it was known who committed the murder on the mountains and if the Indian who was guilty of the outrage on the river was given up. Bill did come in and with him came the guilty Indian, and on the road they too alone stopped at the house where the man lived and spoke with him. The chief told him that this was the one that came to his house and then attempted to ravage his wife. The other spoke and said he did attempt to do it. That was all. He was willing to go to the white tyee and give himself up. He was not afraid to die. His heart was strong. The chief took out his pipe and smoked; they both smoked, then left and came into town and went out to where a few of their men were camped.
This man at whose house they stopped must be void of sense. He came to town and told people there that the Indians had threatened his life, had come to his house and "smoked the war pipe" and that he was afraid, which was probably the only part wherein he told the truth. He did not have sense enough to know or think that then and there they could have killed him without telling him of it, waiting this movement and sally out, committing depredations, killing the leaders and destroying properties. Can you expect much else from savages. Then with a will, the people of Yreka arrive and exterminate them dry, at a cost of ever so much blood.
As it is now, they do not feel that there is just cause. No doubt, however, that the strong position they now hold has in a measure saved them, for it caused very many to pause and think ere they undertook to go where ten men can defend against a thousand. They sure did await those that heard the charge and are the first at the threshold of death. This fact is one very great reason why they are left at peace, for had they been where they could have been shot at, there is no doubt that few would have escaped.
I do not say this because I think people are lacking courage, but only that it may be known as it is, for I think in a cause like this, men will often stop and consider who is right.
Again would they pass through the town and camp within one mile of it. Did they meditate such a thing after they had been told of it? They knew very little of the Indian character and human nature. I had still not seen the Indians until a few days later when they came to the house. Nevertheless a party went out then to bring one and all of their effects to town, even though the Indians had come in and showed every sign that they intended to fulfill their promise to the whites, yet there were those that could not let them rest.
Some white men carried off Bill's woman a day or two after she came in and while he was gone. When he came back and found her gone, he was enraged. She was a Modoc squaw that he had taken from them in a fight in their own country. The Modoc had stolen stock. The whites followed and punished them with the aid and real knowledge the Shastas had of the country. At that time he took this squaw, made her his wife and lived with her ever since--about 26 months.
It appears [that] by means of an old Modoc squaw living near Yreka this one belonging to Bill had been enticed away and then detained. He found out where she was concealed and determined to go get her. He lay in hiding all night near the house waiting for an opportunity to recover her. He was alerted in his watch by his only brother, a boy of about 15 years. He laid by the 3 horses that were concealed in the bushes, saddled and ready for flight. They patiently remained concealed by their posts.
About 9:00 a.m. two squaws came out in the bushes and went toward the foot of the mountain, probably to conceal themselves during the day in case a search should be made for them. Bill saw them and knew that one was his. After they had gone well into the bushes and far enough from the house, he followed them unnoticed. He kept them in view until four or five yards from where they stood, when he ordered them to halt, at the same time covering the old woman who acted as jailer with his rifle. They obeyed and followed him. He immediately mounted with his squaw and started for his camp, leaving the old woman to go where she liked.
It was generally thought by people at Yreka, Cottonwood and neighboring mines that Chief Bill had joined the Tipsu. I was advised by the Indians that they had been taught from their childhood to treat them as brutes and were for having them hunted down. An officer from Scott's Valley with a few troops came to Yreka armed with powder and ball and engaged the services of the Deschutes and proceeded to the Siskiyou with the intention of following the trail from there and by that means find out who did commit the depredation. No one volunteered from Yreka. The advance party stayed there, being Deschutes.
Saturday, the 20th of May, I was asleep under a large pine near the cabin when I was suddenly awakened by two young Indians. I had been up late the night before and had laid down about an hour before. These two Indians told me that they wished to talk and to be quick. Each of them bore in his hand a small willow stick, three or four feet in length, and suspended from the end of each hung a recently taken scalp. They were still fresh and bloody. I requested them to sit down and tell me what had taken place. I saw that the scalps had been taken from the heads of Indians.
The eldest acted as spokesman. He was probably 20 years of age, the other 16 or 17. They were two of the four that were in the gulch the night I came from town. The first told me that the scalp he held in his hand was that of Tipsu Tyee; the one his companion held was Tipsu Nin-ee (Tipsu'Sy [sic] or Son); that it was Tipsu and his band that killed and took the train; that after he had done it, they searched the train for ammunition and of course destroyed much of the cargo by cutting open bags and throwing the contents on the ground. They then took an Indian trail in a northerly direction on the western side of the mountain, driving only a part of the mule train along.
There they did not keep together but separated on the way, taking different trails. They arrived near the cave, came to the Shasta. I should have said that they had to cross the Siskiyou and come down on the eastern side to get where the Shastas were. This they easily did by their knowledge of all the Indian mountain trails. They left this ill-gotten bounty some distance off and came into the Shasta camp. Tipsu, his son, two of his men and a squaw came in. They told the Shastas what they had done, told them that they had got horses, mules and plenty to eat; told them that they wanted help, but they wanted them to join them and make eternal war against the whites.
The Shastas heard them through, then told them they did not wish to "fight the whites," that they were about to go in, all of them, and have a talk with the great white tyee, that this act of theirs would be likely to get them into trouble, for the trail would be followed and it came in the direction of the cave. They told him that he had caused them much trouble for he had been killing the whites and stealing their stock for a long time. The punishment had fallen on their heads, and this last act was likely to bring on their heads the punishment he should receive. They told him he must die, that they would kill him and tell the whites what they had done, and restore all that he had brought with him.
They killed him and his son, also the men with him. The squaw they did not kill. These two then started in haste for this place. They did not dare go into town, so they came here and told their story. They wished this to be immediately laid before the tyee and to assure him and the people that they took no part in capturing the train, that they wish to be at peace with the whites. They wanted someone to go immediately and identify Tipsu, that there might be no doubt but that they had told the truth.
They laid his body unburied with the trapper's clothes on. They gave another good reason why they wished to have the matter investigated immediately. They feared the Deschutes and troops who they knew were on the trail of the animals where they were drove off of the road on the Siskiyou and would follow it up and get to the Shasta camp before they could get back with white men to identify the body of Tipsu and clear them of any participation in the affair. They further said in the event these Deschutes did come up to the Shasta camp by following the trail and commence firing into the Shastas, they would not run, but fight and die like men and fight until they returned with some one or more whites from Yreka.
It was now afternoon. With that, two more miners on the gulch got acquainted with the Indians as we were, and proceeded with the two Indians to Yreka, went immediately to the agent and told him what brought the Indians there and what they wished. He authorized two white men to go immediately over with the Indians and see the body, examine and report if it be Tipsu or not. Also to bring in the Indians that committed the outrage near the river. They were to take as many others along as they liked.
Preparations were instantly made to go, but there was some delay getting horses. People were not willing to let their animals go on such an expedition. More got their animals and were ready to start by dark. I could get none, although I went to many different persons. Just before they started they were joined by 4 other Indians from the camp above town, making 6 Indians in all and 4 whites.
I saw here one of them, the one that had been cleared by the whites as guilty of rape. He had come in the day before and was up at the camp alone. He only waited for the call of his people to come in and go over to Scott's Valley when he was to accompany them and give himself up to the commander there. The chief "Bill" was still at the camp near town. He did not go out with the party, probably thinking that the white men would have more faith in what was said and done by his men if he stayed there.
Not so with Job-sey, the guilty one. He felt there might be trouble with the Deschutes and he wanted to have a hand in it. He said before they started that he was ready to give himself up when the others came in. His heart was strong.
They started from Canal Gulch just at dark, a little band of 10 men, armed to the teeth, and as one remarked in the little crowd of spectators that stood by, "hard to clean out." They traveled all night and arrived at the Indian camp early in the morning. There they examined the body of the Indian that the Shastas had killed, Tipsu. There was not a doubt in their minds but [that] the truth had been told them. The Shastas gave up 7 fine horses, all American, that they had taken from him.
About ½ hour after they had arrived there, the Deschutes scouts were discovered from the Shasta camp. Every man took his knife and rifle and crowded behind caves. The young women and children stowed themselves away where they would not be seen and would be in as little danger as possible. The older women, armed with the long sharp pointed sticks they dig the clams with and with knives, gathered stones of convenient size, putting them in the bushes, and awaited the attack.
The Shasta camp was difficult to get to and could be reached only by one very steep trail, too steep to ride. It was their stronghold in summer when they could sleep out. A strong wall, five feet high, was built on a breadth of land the size of which was in many places too steep to climb. It had been a retreat of this tribe for many years, being most naturally fortified.
The white men who were present did not wish that there should be any bloodshed. They were anxious that the Shastas should go in and treat with the whites, when and if they wished to "clean out" the Deschutes. But now they were anxious to prevent it. Accordingly they told them that two of them would go over to the Deschutes and talk with the white men that were with them. They supposed that the whites could not be far behind. The Shastas said it appeared they would be killed and then decided not to go but let the others come on. They would not throw a single shot away. They wanted to fight these Indians. They wanted to drive them off as they had no business here on this land. The whites explained to them why they did not wish for them to fight. They were satisfied, told them to go on. They would cover them with their rifles while within reach and revenge their deaths if killed.
The sight of white men had stopped the Indians of the opposite party. The two whites that left the Shasta camp went on down the steep ravine that separated them from the opposite ridge where they saw the Deschutes and commenced the descent. One of the men had the wish to go back. His companion said no, he would go on if it cost him his life. The others went on, too, but it was with fear.
They went on until they came to the officer in command. To him they explained the situation. He listened with attention and withdrew his men. He was willing to be corrected or rather to listen to reason, although he would have been justified had he brought up his whole command and attacked the Shastas, for he had followed the trail from Siskiyou Mountain direct to this camp. He understood that the Shastas were going into camp at Scott's Valley and treat with the whites. It had been shown to him that they were sincere, that they had killed the perpetrators of the murder and robbery on the Siskiyou because they were friendly to the whites and ready to punish their enemies. The officer was a gentlemen and a soldier. He believed these Indians and withdrew his men.
The whites, satisfied that the Shastas would not be troubled at the time by the command there, returned to their camp and told of this interview. They returned to Yreka in two days, bringing but one Indian with them. Why they returned in this manner I know not, nor could I learn [that] on their way back they met a small party from Cottonwood who informed them that they, the people of Cottonwood, were now ready to make war on the Shastas to the last soul of them. They were determined to hunt them down from hill to hill until the last one had been sacrificed to their revenge. They stated they now had allies that were ready and willing to go into their service and who could make short and sure work of them. They referred to a reinforcement of five or six more hideously painted Deschutes that had just arrived by way of Rogue River, bloodthirsty but cowardly devils, as will be shown.
They also demanded that the Indian with them should be given up to them, that he was the one that killed the captain of the Cottonwood volunteers at the cave last winter. It was true. He did kill him, although I would have done the same had I been situated as that Indian was. They refused to give him up, and unless taken by force they could not get him. I was told that, before they parted, they were informed by the people from Cottonwood that they did not intend to attack the Shastas while there were white men with them, but that they intended to hunt them until fully revenged for the blood of those slain near the cave last winter.
They had offered the Deschutes a reward for every Shasta scalp taken, man, woman or child. Among the party of Cottonwood people were the brothers, friends and partners of those that lost their lives in that foolish affair. Had it not been for the presence of mind of two or three of the party, not a soul would have escaped to tell the tale. Indeed, many of them thought there would be little else to do than plunder them of their trinkets, capture unresisting squaws and return in triumph to their homes.
The party on their way to Yreka were much alarmed, for the Shasta believed the Deschutes in Cottonwood would follow them and butcher them all. They might be somewhat surprised by an attack of the Deschutes and Cottonwood combined. They know that many of the whites are bitter enemies to them although the white tyee has said if they come over to Scott's Valley, people will feed them and protect them until the treaty is made.
As for the Indians that had come here and joined the whites against them, they always have been their enemies and are bound to drive them out of this valley or be themselves exterminated. In consideration of the things I have seen, I think they are pretty well on their guard. Upon arrival at Yreka, they reported to the agent, also expressed their fears repeatedly about the Deschutes in Cottonwood. He said he had no authority to protect them from any armed party unless they came into Scott's Valley. If the Deschutes kill them all, he could not interfere. The chief, Bill, now learning that his people were in danger, mounted, and the whole party returned that night to the Shasta camp. Not one Indian stayed at Yreka.
Three whites returned with the Indians. They were now convinced that the white men were sincere, that they were willing to make a treaty and would without being constantly at war. He knew many were against him and his people, but he thought what the tyee had done would be respected by all the whites. Therefore, he determined to take all his people with him and come over to Scott's Valley.
I have stated before that the band of Bill's did not number over 50 all told, but I was wrong, there must be more. It is hard to tell how many there are, for I never saw them all together, but one of the whites that was out there when they expected an attack from the troops told me that there were only 35 warriors besides women and children, and in that case there must be a hundred or more fellow Shastas.
On Wednesday morning, 24th of May, 1854, Chief Bill, with his whole band in company, with the three white men, started for Yreka. Not a soul did they leave behind. They came down the Klamath on the western bank intending to cross the river at Dewitt's ferry and proceed by the ordinary road. Having all his women and children along, some of them were not yet recovered from the effects of being so long confined in the cave. Living on little food, they traveled rather slow. (God grant that I may now state only the truth.)
Arriving within two or three yards of the ferry, they halted there behind as they came to a stop, while two of the white men who were at the head of the Indians as they traveled went on the ferry to make arrangements for them to cross. Several of the Indians went with them and among them was their Chief Bill. So completely were the red men thrown off their guard that they left their rifles at the place where they had first halted with the women and children when the party stopped. The other Indians were trailing along the road for more than a mile, and at the rear was the third white man.
No one was seen by them on the side of the river shore where they were. On the opposite side was a small party of four or five men. They came down to the boat on their side. One of them threw up a rifle and shot Bill through. The ball entered in the side below the rib. He instantly fell. This appeared to be the signal for a general attack, for from the bushes and behind the rocks came the rifle balls thick and fast. The ambushing foe now showed themselves on the same side where they were. The two white men told the Indians to take cover the best they could for they had all gathered around their fallen chief, fearless, although without arms.
After they had scattered in the bushes, a party of the Deschutes and white men came down to scalp Bill. I am sorry to say that one of the whites who was with Bill was afraid. They told him to leave or they would kill him. So he took them at their word and did leave the Indians in the lurch. The other they told to leave also, calling him the foulest names that the tongue can speak. At some time, five rifles were brought to bear on him at only a few steps' distance. They had now a man to deal with, one who cowards could not make swerve from duty.
He faced them and opening his shirt told them to fire, if they were not cowards, but as far as leaving he did not intend to. He also told them that he knew them all and that when he met one of them, no matter where it was, he would answer for the language used there to him. As for their rifles, he did not fear them. They were cowards and dared not use them.
They brought their rifles to rest and came up to scalp Bill. He was not dead. The wound was mortal, but he yet lived. The white man lifted Bill, stayed between him and his enemies, asking them if they would scalp a living man. They were bent on this purpose and two grappled with the man who would have protected him. They proceeded, with drawn knives, toward the dying man.
Bill saw the gleaming blade and gathered his remaining strength for a last struggle. Pulling up, he drew his knife, the only weapon he had, and between him and the white man there was a short and terse struggle. He wounded his enemy with two blows from his knife, but his strength was gone. His life sands were now out.
He fell again, the victim of cowards and treacherous murderers who dare not meet him in an open field. He received two more shots from a pistol when the fast-ebbing tide of life had rendered him unable to face his fate. He was gone, as noble and good a heart as ever beat in the breast of an Indian, brave to the last.
I will defy his enemies to prove that his word was ever broken when given to a white man. Of treachery he was never guilty. What can anyone say that he ever killed a white man unless sought out by them in fighting for his people and when he was right. Not a soul of the party of whites that came out there against him, would I weigh against his noble heart. Savage though he was, he had more of what makes a man noble in his heart than any one or all of them.
They held his friends while this scene was going on. They scalped him and threw his body in the river. Sins and Hell are a sample of what the majority of the citizens of Siskiyou country are. As the sound of the shots were heard far back on the trail and the Indians, always quick to suspect something wrong in a time like this, took to cover. The white man in the rear had orders of the chief to go hunting. They were without any meat. They had killed three deer when the rifles far ahead were heard. They instantly stopped hunting.
The white man told the young Indians to stay there, and if they heard his rifle to come on up. They saw a party of Deschutes coming on towards them; one took the trail direct for him, while the others took off the road and disappeared. Whir-whir came the balls past him from an ambush on one side. He took off his hat and made signs to the painted devil up the trail to come up no further, that he was a white man. But he came on with his rifle in hand. My friend then took a position where he had a rest with his rifle while the fellow advanced. He raised his rifle only when he glanced through the sights and with slight pull of the trigger, the Indian who had come 400 miles on the warpath against the Shastas rolled in the dirt. He did not have time left to fight it. My friend, I am not ashamed to call him such, immediately mounted the fallen Indian's horse and proceeded to the ferry to make an arrest.
Quietly writing, the sound of horses feet at the door of the cabin attracted my attention. I went to the door. There were two of the band (Bill's) that had been so foully treated of which I just now have been relating. In due time you shall know what brought them to the heart of the white men after such cruel and treacherous treatment.
I will now go on with what took place at the ferry, a place that should be pointed out to our children as the scene of one of the most unfeeling murders that ever stained the American name, for it does affect us all and is a disgrace to the American name. Until perchance the tightening cord in the earthly course of the murderers, then only can the dripping sword of the cause be shown to the world so it may be seen, that the remembrance of this act will always inspire the just with a feeling of horror.
My bloody tale is nearly told. Besides the chief, one more of the Shastas was killed there. He, too, was scalped, and they mutilated his body after taking his life in a manner too gruesome to relate. The most unrelenting cruelty exhibited by the most voracious savages on earth cannot surpass that shown by these white men. Their allies, the Deschutes, did not have all the valor in the field when treacherously brought against this few. As rather, when by an act of treachery, they were brought before their fellows, only one fought in number, and part unarmed at that.
I say they did not prove the valor they showed in the "war dance" before the people of Yreka, when they attacked the little band of two white men and five or six Indians that were at the ferry when they knew the latter had no rifles with them. They went boldly up. One of the Deschutes went up to a Shasta and tore some feathers from his cap. The Shasta (Job-sey) turned on him, and although unarmed, disengaged him from his horse, wrenched his rifle from him, shot him dead with it, sprung on his horse and galloped off with a ringing yell of triumph.
Charging at full speed toward where the rifles, women and children had been left, Job-sey found that a party of the Deschutes had been there and carried off the guns, taking all their camp equipment and four small children. They saw him approaching on one of their companions' horses and fled. The Deschutes outnumbered the whites more than five to one, took to the bush wherever they could. So scattered were the men along the road and so completely was their road on the right covered with their enemies, that all they could do at first was to take cover.
Burning with rage, they gradually crawled together, leaving their women and children to hide as they could. But when once this band of about 30 then was together, not in deed around a council fire, but crouched in ambush where they could hear their leader's voice, then while their white foes were still at the ferry gloating over the bodies of two of their band, one of them stepped forth and told them to "come on" and fight, that they were ready and wanted them to come. Do you think they would go, these men who had thus trapped and destroyed two of that little band when unarmed?
Do you think they would accept the challenge hurled in their teeth by those who they knew regarded their lives as nothing when face to face with them in deadly contest? No, my sisters, they did not go and meet them. As soon would they have gone to shake paws with a lioness after killing her mate. The affair ended.
The Shastas had two men severely wounded, lost 5 or 6 rifles and had much of their baggage stolen, besides the killed and stolen as before stated. Sorrowfully lost, they all looked as a child does to the parent. Enraged at the manner of the death, the Shastas slowly retraced their steps and hurried together their women and children.
Fully determined to be men, rather than take one backward step in the face of their foes, the two white men did not join the Shastas that night. They did not know exactly where they were, and then they weren't sure it would be prudent.
One of their whites rescued Bill's squaw from the Deschutes and hid her in the bush. At night he went and told her to come along and go with him, that he was going to Bill's people. She would not consent to it, and when he insisted, she told him that they would kill both him and her. She held him by force. It will be remembered that this squaw was taken from the Modocs two years before and was not of this blood. That probably is the reason why she feared they would kill her.
One of the Cottonwood men was killed. A ball sped through his heart from a rifle in the hands of a youth not 14 years of age, yet as steady and cool as the most fearless warriors, like the young lion when the parent is killed and the hunter still pursues, he turned and slew him. I have been told that this man that was killed was a good, worthy man. If so, he certainly was in bad company. Two more of that party were severely wounded.
The white man that was with the Shastas "drew out" after the Chief was killed, came at speed to Yreka and made a short halt there, then went to Scott's Valley. The following day the white men that were with the Shastas during the time this chief was murdered came to town to express their belief that they would turn out against the whites and fight as long as they could. The morn they left the Klamath, one of the Shasta band made his appearance opposite to them on the river and told them plainly that they would be revenged for the death of Bill, that for him they would have three scalps and for all others two apiece. He said they wanted no more to do with white men. The Indian that said this (Job-sey) has sufficient cause to be an enemy to our race and probably felt all the bitterness in his soul rise as he spoke.
In this council of the Indians, some of them must have thought the people of Yreka had nothing to do with attacking them on the road, probably one or more did think so and speak of it, while there is no doubt that others were for breaking all ties and revenge their chief until all of their band was swept from earth. It is certain that they did some of them know that there were those among the whites who would do justice toward them.
The two that came to my cabin in the eve of the 26th of May were two of the Shasta band. When I first saw them, they looked stern and sorrowful. As if to read my thoughts and feelings, they stared steadily at me as I came to the door, but neither spoke. At my request they both dismounted and came in. One was the same that a few days ago brought in Tipsu's scalp. The other was Bill's younger brother. He is the last of the three and the youngest. The others were both cruelly murdered by white men living at Cottonwood. They came in and asked if I knew where a man was. I told them where he was at Yreka. They said they wished to see him quick, that they were in haste. I told them to eat and I would find their friend. As I left the cabin, one of them requested me to stop by the cabin where lived a woman of their people and tell her to come up immediately, but to tell no white men they were there. They had come to my cabin by keeping along the foothills and thus avoided notice.
I met the man they wished to see and brought him to them. They wished to have an interview with the agent and learn from him if it were true or not that all the whites were in arms against them. My friend asked me if I would go with them to town and see the agent. I had no objection. I wished to see them better treated than they had been. Two of us started with them for town. Soon after dark my companion stopped at a little store to get a revolver while I went on with the Indians. He said he would overtake me. I saw no more of him until I came down to the cabin again. When he got to town the Indians thought it was best to go on and camp with the Scott's Valley band that night. They said they had rather see them first. I went and showed them where they had been camping a few days before, but they had gone. An old squaw in town told them she thought the Scott's Valleys had moved their camp, but where she knew not.
We stopped at several miners' cabins near the mouth of Greenhorn Creek. They all told us that the Indians had moved their camp every night for a few days for a night or two. We beat the bush near the mouth of the creek for a long time but could not find them. I wanted them to make "signal fires" but they would not. They only made a low whistling at times. We went to the old slaughterhouse. I roused the people and told them what I wished to find. They pointed out the direction their fires had been seen from the house during the eve. Also told me it was near the corner of a fence they had put up. We found the fence and followed it. Came to a corner turn, went along and came to another corner. All the time they made the usual signal, a low whistle.
Must have been midnight, patience was tried that we were still hoping, when I heard a noise ahead some distance, a mother crying. I called the boys. We all listened. They could not have their horses make too much noise. I told them I heard a child crying. Went on and came to a grove of pines. It was so confounded dark that I could not see anything and came near falling over a large basket. I was in this camp. They saw me and hailed, asked me what I wanted. I told them to get up and build a fire and talk to those that came with me. One got up and built a fire. During the time that was occupied making the fire, those that came with me stayed at some distance from camp, nor did they come in when I did. I had carried the rifle of the younger one most of the time, but he had taken it sometime before we arrived there. The elder one had lost his rifle in the affair that took place at the Klamath ferry and had with him a bow and quiver of arrows. I had noticed that they did not come in when I did, but supposed it was their custom, thus to delay themselves in such cases.
After the fire got well going, those who were there began to wake up. One of them got up and commenced talking in a loud voice as if addressing someone at a distance. While this was going on the two boys came near the fire. I must confess I was surprised to see they were both ready for immediate action. One had his bow in his hand and an arrow with its polished barbed head (iron) was fixed to the string while the quiver was brought around so as to require but a slight movement of the left hand to draw them forth.
The quiver was made of a wildcat dressed with the mouth part being sewn up to keep the arrows from going through. It is then slung over the shoulder by a strap of buckskin. The arrows are put in point first, the flat side of the skin "as quivers is always outside."
The little boy also had his rifle ready, and as I said they came up to the fire and stood by it. Not a word had been said by them, nor had anything been said to them. Their errand was probably guessed by the Scott's Valleys, but the caution they used going into the camp was a mystery to me yet, as far as being informed of their reasons for being so cautious, but I will tell you what I think is the reason.
Remember when the Deschutes first came to where part of the Scott's Valley and Shastas were camped, they did smoke with the former, while the losers absolutely refused to do so. Whether the painted devils were sincere in their pretend friendship to the Scott's Valleys, I cannot tell. Nor can I tell that those of the Scott's Valley were in good heart when they took the "pipe of peace." But it passed around then again there that the chiefs had assisted at the murders at the ferry and stole ammunition, rifles, etc. from the Shastas. They were sworn enemies, of course, and the Scott's Valley band had smoked with them a few days before. I came to the conclusion that the Shastas had not forgotten the smoking part on either side, hence the caution.
I suppose your patience will nearly run out with my going around the story so far, but I must tell it in my own way. I soon discovered that I had struck on the middle camp, that there was one on each side. They too had fires built after we arrived and "all hands" rounded up excepting the children. Some of them that were still in the arms were brought to the fire. The warriors came to the fire from the camp on either end and silently took their seat in the circle, in every case with weapons in hand and ready for war.
The two boys that came with me sat down, one on each side of me. There was but eight men of the Scott's Valley band present. The civil chief was here too (he does the talking when they make peace with their enemy and also has a voice in all councils). One of the Scott's Valleys lighted a pipe and after taking a few whiffs passed it silently to the eldest that came with me. He took it and smoked. After a few moments he began to talk in a low quick tone to one of their party. Speaking a short sentence, he stopped. The party addressed then repeated what the other had said in a rather loud and distinctive tone. The Shasta then spoke again, and as before, stopped at the length of an ordinary sentence. This was also repeated by the Scott's Valley in the same tone as before.
In this manner they talked for one and one half or two hours. They all sat still. Those listening were silent. There was not surprise. All appeared deeply interested in what was said. Further than that I could not read. The speakers sat perfectly still, made no sign or gesture with their hands. I concluded the Shasta was relating what had taken place at the Klamath ferry.
After the Shasta had done speaking, the Scott's Valley gave three grunts at intervals of about four or five seconds, then all was silent for a time. The women that had not been around heard the details of the butchery of the Chief. From the three campfires there was now a loud wail of the women who broke forth in unrestrained grief. Many of the Scott's Valley Indians are related to the Shasta band. They are indeed one large family living in different valleys. Council still sat at the fire. I also retained my seat, a close observer of all that passed around me.
The one of the Scott's Valley band that had repeated to his brother what had been told him by the Shasta now in turn spoke first. Stopped at the end of each sentence as did the other, his words were repeated by the Shasta and thus the council was held for a long time. When he had done, the others answered and so it continued for hours. There was a silence of a few moments after the "talk" had ceased. When again a voice was heard it was the Scott's Valley who spoke. He addressed himself to the Shasta. I could understand a word occasionally, but he spoke so fast that I could not put it together.
The Shasta was all attention while the other continued uninterrupted for a quarter of an hour, then suddenly stopped. The Shasta gave three loud grunts as usual and was silent for a moment or two. When he replied, a young Indian who is called by the people "Jim" (he cannot be more than 18 to 20 years of age, slight built but straight and active, an impetuous disposition, but confined toward those or to whom he feels friendly) spoke with much animation and feeling for a time. It was surprising to hear how fast he would talk and so distinctly too.
Day had now broke; not an eye had closed in those camps since we arrived, unless perchance some infant slept. After the Shastas had done speaking and the usual sign given, the civil chief spoke. He was a man past the middle of life. He spoke, and all were attentive. I would have given much could I have understood all that he said there. Matters of the utmost importance were discussed. The sun had been more than an hour on its upward course when the council broke up.
Women were all busy preparing the morning meal. The sentinels had come in from their posts; the camp presented a scene of busy life, and one preparing for a journey, as I thought, began to put new soles on her moccasins. I was right, a relative of hers had been dangerously wounded and she was going to see him.
They gave me ip-has [Oregon yampah] to eat. It is a small root which they dig in the low hills in the valley. In shape it is like our white bean and twice or three times as large. When you eat it green it has a slight taste like the parsnip with the white--like juice of the sweet potato when eaten raw. When dried they are white and generally easily cracked between the teeth and taste very like arrowroot. There is more of the parsnip twinge which is noticed when green. The Indians eat them green immediately after digging. They dry them for winter and eat them in the dry state. Also boil them to the consistency of starch, which occupies an hour or more, and eat it in that state. After eating of this food I expressed the wish to go to Yreka. The Shastas said they would go soon.
Soon after breakfast the Scott's Valley chief made his appearance, the war chief, where he came from or how I do not know. I saw his tall form within a circle of warriors who were listening to him while he appeared to be talking very earnestly. It was at another fire a little distance from where the former council had been held. After a short time they separated. The Shastas rounded their animals and signified by a motion of the head that they were ready to proceed to town.
On the way they told me that the day before a white man in Yreka had taken a gun from one of the Scott's Valleys while passing through the streets and wished to know if they would be troubled or their arms taken from them. I assured them they would not be molested. Even in the streets of Yreka these fearless young Indians would have submitted to no enemy, although resistance would have most likely insured their death. I was not without my fear that they might meet someone in the streets that knew they belonged to Bill's band, but we passed quietly along and went to the Agent's office. He immediately sent for the interpreter.
During the few moments that elapsed before he arrived, the elder of the two sat on a bench and lay his head on a cot and slept. He had traveled a long journey the day before, and far into the night he had delivered his message, occupying the remainder of the night in council with his red brothers, and now he came before the white tyee on behalf of his wronged and persecuted people. Upon the arrival of the interpreter he heard his companion's voice and sat up. He was told that the tyee listened. He said that his object in coming to him was to learn if all the whites had taken up arms against the Shastas or was it only the Cottonwoods that wanted to hunt them down. The tyee, he told them he wanted them to come in, to tell the truth, was his heart good towards them, or was he like those that had killed their chief.
The Agent explained it to Jim and told him that those who attacked him are outlaws and had the sanction of no good men, that they should be punished, that the children stolen from them should be returned, and all else that the Deschutes had taken. Their chief he could not restore to them.
Jim asked if he still wished them to come in and treat with him. He told them he did, that the people there did not want to kill them, but that they should come over to Scott's Valley and live near the fort. They should have beef and flour, he would furnish them with ammunition and they might drive the Deschutes from their valley. Jim said they wanted but little. Their number was but few and they would be swept away from the earth. He would go to tell his people about what the white tyee had said and they could come in if they wished, for there were two severely wounded of their 40 and they could not travel with them.
The lieutenant told him that he would send litters and bring in the wounded and a guard of soldiers to escort them. He replied that he must first consult his people. Several Scott's Valley Indians with their chief came, also the Indian that had his gun taken from him the day before. The matters were explained to the agent. He went out. The Scott's Valley chief then talked to Jim a few moments. He spoke in the same strain that those in the council did to each other during the latter part of it. After he had done, someone present asked the interpreter what he had said to Jim. He explained. The chief had advised him to go to his people, tell them that the people, the white men, did not want to war with them. They had no knowledge of the treachery toward them on the Klamath until it was too late to save the lives of the killed. The people of Yreka, Scott's Valley and Humbug were good towards them. The Cottonwood people only were their enemies.
"Tell them," said he, "to come to the Fort in Scott's Valley. Then we can leave our women and children in safety and then go after the Deschutes and get our children they have stolen even if we follow them to their own lodges and fight them on their own ground." He further said he would turn out all of his men. He would get help from the Rogue River, Applegate, Klamath and Salmon River to go with him and punish those who had carried their children away.
All the above-named Indians are, strictly speaking, the same people; they speak the same tongue and among themselves and the bordering tribes are called Shastas. From the whites they have taken the names of the valleys or the rivers they live in or on and are regarded as different tribes, but the Indians themselves have told me this. I have seen it in my travels about here.
Joeck, the Scott's Valley chief, stopped. Jim gave him the usual sign but said nothing in return. The agent returned with the gun and restored it to the owner, telling him that he had better in the future leave it in camp when coming to town, that there were some people in Yreka that were enemies to the Shastas and all other Indians and they might get themselves into trouble if they could. That while they behaved themselves, they should be protected from ill-disposed persons. The interview here closed.
Jim was to return the following morn to his band. Both the boys were supplied with a new suit of good clothes, also many other little things to carry to his people. They came down to Canal Gulch and stayed one night. They felt safe here. The next morn they started early to go out to their land.
I feel a strange interest in the Indians. There is no fiction in what I tell you of their wrongs, thousands here see and know it. They feel them deeply. They know in a short time they will be all gone; they have told me so. They are not cowards. They do not shrink from what they think duty, not even when they know death awaits them. With the unrestrained fervor of the savage, they combine the feelings of men.
They look on the white men as superior to themselves. Shall the whites then prove themselves the most cruel and savage of the two, as in more than one instance they have? Shall the last of this race look upon the graves of his people and say, "The white men trod them into the earth, drove them into the grave." Surely of the same dust we were all made, by the same hand. The sparrow in its fall is noticed. Justice then will call from the blood of the Indians.
Up to the fifth of June the Indians had not come in. Those of their women and children that had lived about Yreka camped with the Scott's Valley tribe, who had moved some three miles to the east of the town. Here they camped in a heavy pine forest away from the whites and off from the road. They can hold communication with the Indians at the cave who could come and go without being molested. Their camp was always guarded, for they were suspicious of the treachery of the whites and therefore had selected a place where they could least affect the retreat of their women and children should they be attacked.
Now, my sisters, I have done with this little history of the wrongs of these poor Indians whose country has been taken from them and their lives counted as the beasts of the field. What further transpired after leaving here, I will try to learn.
15th day of July, 1854
As I intend to mail this soon, I will write a few lines by way of closing this morn.
During my stay in Siskiyou country, I learned something of the manners and customs of the Indians. I also stated before this that I will try and find out their ideas of the future and God. By being with them in their rancherias we soon learned their ways, customs as regards their dress, mode of living, etc. But as to their religion, if so you would call it, and their ideas of a future state, it is not an easy matter to learn from them. For on these things they have not to do with the ungodly such as are not of their creed. I have doubted long of their having any outward forms of religion. I doubt it yet. They do have an idea of a future state and of a supreme being, but they will not converse on that subject with the whites. I have tried in vain to draw them into a conversation that would lead that way but it was always of no avail.
I was a long time acquainted with the Indians and Siskiyou country before I could bring myself to believe that they ever looked or thought further than the grave. As I said before, they do not, as far as I can observe or learn from those that have resided with them, have any form of religious ceremony, unless it feeds those when they are sick or dead. Places of meeting for public service, they have none. Idols they have none. If they pay adoration, it is in secret along with none but God before them. No doubt they are superstitious, and that is one great reason why they are so silent to the white men on this subject. I think they were very much like the people in old Bible times. They come, and notwithstanding, they [when] conversed with appeared to have many ways like these northern Indians and I think were but little more civilized.
I was not successful in learning from the Indians what their creed was. I once was asked in Yreka by a man regarding this same subject. He said he had tried in vain many times to learn from them their ideas of the future, etc. He was in that portion of the country several years and had been much with the Indians, yet he could never learn more than that they had a (God) unseen. He also stated that they were all Christians and that they prayed regularly every day. It appeared that he had noticed them closely. He wished me to find out if possible what they did believe in, etc. and inform him. He told me that they call their God "Ah-que-ho-yous." Probably had I stayed in that country long enough, I should have succeeded. I think I should.
I have often observed that they have many forms that they exercise to prevent sickness, etc. They go through with them and actually believe they will protect them, faith. I have seen them. A mother and son go out of the cabin and sit facing the moon where they held no conversation for a long time. It was in this manner, the mother began by speaking a short sentence. Then the son repeated it after her. She then spoke another, at times continued speaking for 30 seconds. When she stopped the boy (about 10 years of age) would repeat as before. In this manner they talked for a half an hour. I asked them what they did this for, but could get no answer. I learned from them afterwards that it was to the effect that their health might be preserved during that moon. I have seen other performances of the same Indians for the same purpose, and I have reason to think they have something of the kind which they perform nightly when they retire for the night.
I have before spoken of many or some of their customs such as bathing, etc., which they do religiously. The women pay considerable attention to their hair. They comb it with a long straight stick, part it before and behind and let it come down on each side just behind the ears, often covering it all together. For a hair string they use a strip of beaver skin about an inch wide, dressed with fur on and about a yard in length, which they wind around the hair with the fur out. This is often prettily adorned with beads and red paint, etc. Their native dress is often this fashion.
The women wear an apron. They have a garment made of beaver skin, they are about 15 inches wide and 18 inches long. The skin is dressed without the hair. It is cut with strips as strings slipping in about an inch or two of the upper part where it ties about the lady. Each of their strips is covered with a tough kind of grass, very neatly worked on and augmented with beads in such quantities that I have had them in my hands and I suppose they weighed five or six pounds. This garment is tied on before and reaches the knees.
Another garment is made from a large buckskin trimmed off so as to be even all around. The part intended for the lower part is cut square across and then cut into strips much like the other one, only the strips are not of such length, being only cut 8 or 10 inches long and not ornamented. This is intended to cover the body behind from about the middle or rather above, down below the knee or near the ground. It always comes lower down than the one worn before. It does not come far enough around in front to trouble them when they are walking, as it must if it did. This being, as I said, made from a whole skin except the trimmings off the edges. You would suppose it might reach up to the neck. So it would, but it is not worn above the breast. It is fastened on in the proper places and then what there is of it that reaches above the fastening is doubled down over the other so that the string is hidden from sight behind. The upper part that doubles down, is generally cut into strips and ornamented.
Now comes the outer garment which is also made from a whole skin and after the fashion of a shirt only that it has no opening in front. The entrance for the head will just admit it, nothing more, so that it is high and close fitting in the neck, around which behind and before it is beautifully ornamented for a space of six or eight inches wide and extending down each side that is behind and before. The sleeves reach just below the elbow where they are ornamented. The body sometimes reaches the knees, but generally it does not come down so low as that.
They wear on their feet moccasins, the upper part buckskin, while the sole is of a tough rawhide. They also make a basket very pretty and just to fit the head. There they wear it and also use them to drink out of and to put berries in when picking them, also taking them off as occasion requires. This basket is strong and woven tight when worn on the head to protect it from the sun. Also it is useful as I have mentioned, and when they carry heavy baskets on their back with a strap across their foreheads it keeps the strap from hurting them. You have now got the full dress of a woman.
A man wears a hunting shirt with a girdle about the waist, moccasins, and in winter the legs are covered with leggings. They are not ornamented so much as the women's dress. Tell me in what country they are. The men wear their hair long and tie it up behind when going on the warpath or hunting when it would be likely to fall over their foreheads and obstruct the sight.
When a relative dies, near or distant, the women cut off their hair, put the gum, as turpentine from the pine trees, on their cheeks and black it with charcoal. If the friend is near or distant, they black the entire face in this way. If distant, yet a relative, they only put it on their cheeks I think they do not always cut off their hair. Only for a near relative, husband or chief. They wear this on their faces until it comes off itself, which often takes months as the length of time it takes for their hair to grow out. The old women go still deeper into mourning than the young ones do. They not only cut their hair off and put gum on their faces, but they put it on their head and the short hair and in such quantities that it forms a solid cake. The coal that they put with it renders it black and keeps it from sticking to everything. This grows out with the hair and is then cut off. The miners are in the habit of calling the old women in mourning "tarheads." They change no part of their dress on these occasions but often break out in mournful cries at night and then keep up a mournful tone intermixed with tears and sobs. The men cut off their hair on the death of a great chief, but I don't know that they do for a relative. They show no outward signs of mourning, I think.
They bury their dead in the ground with all their belongings if they die a natural death or in any way but a bullet. Those killed in war are burned as near the place where they died and then their bones are carried (if circumstances will admit) to the place of their birth. If not, they are buried on the spot. Nothing belonging to the dead is reserved for their relatives. Horses and dogs are killed. Beads, clothing, arms, etc., are buried with the dead or placed on the grave. In that way there is no quarreling about the property among the relatives. "True." If one dies far from home, they carry the body to the place of birth and often pack it sixty miles. They pile stones over the grave, often three feet high. They never trouble a grave, of which they have a kind of a superstition, dread, reverence or fear which I cannot tell, although they highly value the deeds which they know are buried with the dead. There are many rites and customs concerning their dead which I could never learn and only can state what I have seen.
In the case of the death of Bill, the Shastas' chief, his body was found 30 or 40 miles below where it was thrown into the river. An unceasing search was made until it was found. A party of his tribe went over to the place as soon as they heard it was found. The body was burned and then such of his bones as were left were rolled in one of his blankets and brought to a place near Yreka where he was born, and there buried. The duty of burying the body and bones on the place where the person dies belongs to the wife or widow if there be one. If not, the mother or nearest relative, "female" of course.
In Bill's case, his widow brought his bones many long, weary miles. He was buried on Shasta River near three miles from Yreka at the same place where the body of the Indian girl was buried, that was so cruelly murdered and scalped in August of 1853.
A small pile of stones marks the grave of each. Many bitter and cruel remembrances were called to mind when they deposited in the earth the bones of this chief at the same place where nine months and 15 days or thereabouts before they were wantonly attacked and one of their members most cruelly murdered and mutilated whose body they searched for day and night and buried a short distance [from] where she was killed. There they performed the funeral rites by the women. They only show signs of sorrow as crying or singing the death song. The men are silent and solemn. They never speak of the dead. If anyone speaks of the dead to them, it offends them.
I have known the women, after being out all day gathering food, return at the evening, sit down and begin to cry and in a moment the whole camp would resound with the mourning of the bereaved mothers, wives or sisters. No consolation can be offered at such time; none is attempted. They are very strict in the observance of all their customs and [in] the performance of all their rites and ceremonies; nothing short of an impossibility to perform it would keep them from following the trail in such things that their forefathers handed down to them. No severe cold, extreme hot, wind or rain, time or distance, can hinder them.
When a man chooses a wife, he goes to the nearest male relative, father, if she has one living and, if he agrees to the terms of marriage laid down by the father, he buys her and takes her home. No young woman will live with a man nor do they ever consider they are wives until properly bought. Terms, cash, before the terms of purchase can be closed. In case there be no father living and there are brothers, the duty falls on the eldest of them. If there are no brothers, then the eldest and nearest male relative. If there are no male relatives, then the mothers, and so in line the duty falls from one to another as in the males being the nearest in blood and the eldest of such blood.
A term of courtship is frequently carried on, but not always, and the feelings of the girl are generally consulted by the relative about to dispose of her. When she is ill disposed of the man, and the relative wishes her to have him, he will remonstrate with her and also will her mother, but I don't know that that confusion ever happens. Both parties generally agree without difficulty.
They generally have a horse in the bargain, then blankets, skins, shells or beads. After the trade is made, the mother takes her clothes from her and gives them to her next eldest daughter or keeps them until there is one large enough to wear them if there be none then. He buys the hull, not hull and rigging, and must rig the hull to his own liking."
In war they often take females prisoner. Those they like, they keep for wives. If not, they run about with the others and generally have the hardest of the work to perform. As is customary, the women do all but the hunting and fishing, yet they are expert at either of these if they have to do so. They gather the roots and berries, dry them for winter, cure the fish's meat and dry it. They pack it in baskets to their rancherias and bury it.
Each family has a place separate from the others where they bury their food for winter. It is then safe from the fire, rats, animals or enemies. They dig on a side hill generally and go down five or six feet. The diameter of the hole depends on the quantity of stuff going into it. It is lined with long dry grass. Then after putting in the food, it is covered with dry grass, thick pine branches, dirt and stones and so carefully completely hid, that a stranger might search a long time and not be able to find it. It is customary for them to all have a quantity buried in this manner for winter use.
The packing of the berries and roots is often laborious as they sometimes pack them 20 to 30 miles in their conical shaped baskets on their backs over high mountains and often steep and rugged paths. The quantity they carry would actually kill one of you girls. They often carry wounded men in their baskets, also their sick are carried the same when required to move them.
To give you an idea what a healthy young woman will pack, I will tell you of an instance where one was bringing manzanita berries from Klamath to Yreka, about 25 miles. She was overtaken on the dividing ridge between Yreka and Humbug Creek by a party of four white men. Astonished at the quantities of berries she had in her basket and on top of all a large piece of beef, they watched her progress up the mountain, which she ascended without stopping. She could not stop and sit down, for should she do so she could not raise this load again without assistance. Descending the other side of this divide, she and her companion stopped twice. You see, she could carry it longer uphill than down, probably because it requires more strength in the knees to hold up under a heavy load going down than it does uphill. It is more tiresome. They could not agree on the weight of her load, so they took small bets (oyster shells) on it, and when she got to town, had it weighed before them. It was something more than 184 pounds. This is certainly a tough story to you there who can hardly carry such loads, but it is no way fishy. I have seen these Indian women carry these heavy loads and know that 100 pounds is an ordinary load with which they will scale the highest and most rugged paths if there is occasion for it.
They are submissive and obedient to their husbands and are taught to do these things when children and learn that it is their duty. They never complain nor do they expect the men to carry their packs. They look up to them for protection and safety. The men kill the game, the women dress it and prepare it to eat. The men catch the salmon, the women dress them, and while the women are gathering roots and berries, if they be far from home or if there is trouble with any of the neighboring tribes, the men will have a party out with them to protect them, and spies out to give notice of the approach of their foes.
They generally live in harmony. The wife goes with her husband, not to war certainly, but should they be attacked while traveling together and the husband falls, they have been known to take his arms and fight until they die beside him. They think but little of the life of a woman compared with a man, for every man they lose weakens their band of warriors. Otherwise, they value the life of the female as they do the male and will equally quick revenge the death of one.
The women carry their infants on their backs when they travel. Soon after birth, they lash them on a board and keep them in that position until large enough to crawl when they are released and go free. The boys they lash on in such a manner and so strong when young that it flattens the back of their heads, and the only part of them visible is the face below the forehead.
The board is something more than two feet in height and 10 or 12 inches wide at the widest part, which is about 8 or 10 inches from the end where the child's head comes. At the foot, it is not more than 5 or 6 inches wide as near as I can described it; it is after this fashion. The side of each board has a line of holes in it which are used to string the buckskin through. The strings are long enough to tie together over the child which is wrapped in skins more or less according to the weather. Near the top are two large holes with a strap in them to put around the forehead of the person that carries him.
When they nurse the child, they lay the board on their laps and it can suck without being unlashed. They are obliged to hold still, no reaching up of the little hands and searching, no bending of the back. When they wish to talk or play with the babe, they will stand up the board before them, supporting it with their hands. When they wish to leave it and attend to any duty about the lodge, they incline it against the side of the house or anything. If out from home, they hang the little babe on a tree and let it swing.
You probably have heard it said that "Indian children seldom cry." As far as my observation goes, it is true. They do not cry so much as some of the children there that are called very good ones. Unless hurt badly they do not cry. When sick they will cry sometimes, but it is generally a low moaning noise they make.
When they get so as to run about, they mingle with other children and in their rough play often get so hurt as to carry scars all their life. I have seen the boys, 6, 8 and 10 years old, take their little bows and arrows and stand off 20-25 yards and shoot at each other for hours; they always shoot when the other is looking so as to give him a chance to jump to one side and thus avoid it. There lays their skill in their making of warfare, and from the time they are four years old, they practice in this manner.
I have seen them at times take their slings and throw stones with them in the same way. Hours they will play and not a word spoken. Unless you saw them, you would not know there was anything of the kind going on. When one of the party got hit, then indeed you might hear the shrill yell of triumph from the opposite side. Serious accidents often happen while playing with their bows and arrows and slings as you can easily imagine. They do not play with the stone-headed arrows, as they would break them, but with arrows with a single shaft, that is, in one piece.
Those made for war are made so that on pulling the shaft to take it out of a wound, it separates a few inches from the head. It is so made that where the joint is, the head part extends several inches into the main shaft, tapering gradually to a point, thus the main shaft is as a sheath, the shaft completely hiding that part. Where it is joined there is only a little thin rawhide wound around the main shaft to prevent it splitting.
The boys become so expert that it is not often that one gets hit with the arrow. I have watched them play and noticed what perhaps others might not. When one sends the arrow, he sends it full force and to the best of his ability. The other is on the lookout and if he sees it after it leaves the hands of the one that shoots it, he remains perfectly still while the arrow passes aside. If sent with a true aim and force, it comes point on, and it is uncertain whether he will see it until he feels it. Therefore, if he does not see it immediately after it leaves the bow, he jumps quickly to one side and thus survives it.
I have gotten rather out of line with this. I intended to speak more of them in infancy.
I have told you before that the Indians bathe frequently and in all seasons. They acquire this when young--mothers bathe their infants even in the coldest weather, and it must induce to the strength of the frame to enable them to endure the more. They all swim. As they grow up they take to their different sport. The boys generally by themselves with their bows, etc., while the little girls will get their little baskets either made themselves or perhaps by their mothers, and with sticks in their hands like the women use, they go out in parties and load each other up with stones and sticks or something of the kind. Perhaps they will go out with the old ones, if not going far from the home, and then they will carry little packs in their baskets. I have seen their little baskets that would not hold more than four quarts made expressly for the children to learn the use of them and to carry them.
When the girls get to be 12 or 14 they are marked on the chin, sometimes marked on the cheeks and in many different ways. But the Shastas mark them only on the chin. I do not know what they are marked with but it is in colors like the India ink which the sailors sometimes use, and it is cut in with a sharp shell or a knife.
The first line starts about ⅜ of an inch or ½ inch from the corner of the mouth and goes down under the jaw bone. It does not go straight down, but sweeps a little back towards the ears. The other line begins at the corner of the mouth and goes down in a parallel line with the other. The space between these two lines has been colored entirely of the colors of ink used, by cutting it and rubbing it in. The other side of the mouth is done in the same way. A line as wide as those at the corner of the mouth also begins on the other side and goes down straight over the chin and under the jaw.
To see all the women thus marked looks very odd at first, but you would soon get used to it, so when you saw one that was not thus marked, it would appear that something was wanting. There are some that they do not mark, but the reasons I do not know. I once asked why a certain one was not marked but could not get an answer, only that she was bad. It is very seldom that one is seen that is not marked. I have seen but two. Those of the Klamath tribe are marked nearly the same. They extend the cut lines from the,mouth up with a slight bend or curve back. The others from the corner of the mouth run up and meet them at ¾ inch from it, thus forming a kind of a hornlike appearance. They also have holes in their ears and nose.
The men do not have holes in their ears, only in their nose. Neither are they marked in any way, only their heads are flattened in infancy. The females are not flattened. I understand it that by this they know those of their tribe wherever they see them, being able to determine both sexes at first sight.
They have roots and herbs that they apply outwardly and take in the form of tea. Poultices they use to stop blood with. Before whites came to their country, as I have been repeatedly told, they knew not what the fever and many other malaise were. Their food is the natural production of their native hills and valleys, the fish in the streams and the birds in the air. All cooked in the most simple manner. Their only drink is the water from the beautifully clear streams and springs, which are numerous.
Of their food, I will give you a short description of the larger kind of animals they eat--bears, deer, antelope and the mountain sheep. I never saw any elk in Siskiyou country and have been told that there never was any there. Also the beavers, hare and a long-legged rat which the miners call "wood rat;" different kinds of squirrels, all kinds of ducks, geese, quail, grouse, etc.
Of vegetables there are very many kinds; many I cannot name. The "ip-has" I spoke of before is much like the little round nuts there. They dig bushels of them and dry them for winter. There is a kind of berry which they gather in large quantities and dry and call "ip-su-nar" [possibly California spikenard]. I did not see them on the bushes, although I know it when I see it. It grows four to eight feet high and grows great numbers of their berries. There are whole peppers about the color of brown coffee covered with a thin oily skin and inside have a stone with a thin shell. The meat inside the shell is bitter, while the skin on the outside is full of oil, so much so that when they store them in a sack for several months it becomes completely covered with oil. They crack very easy, no difficulty in eating them as you would expect. The oily part I like very well, better than I do the bitter, which is the only objection I have to them, but like eating tomatoes, the more you eat, the better you like them.
The manzanita berries they grind by running it between two stones; they get it about as fine as cornmeal and eat it dry or mix with water. Many eat them instantly after grinding. I am fond of them anyway. The berry, I think, needs no description, for I have before described it. If not, Nelson can tell you. There are several other kinds of berries that they use during the summer that are gathered and dried, but I have told you of those they depend on most.
There is a vegetable that comes up early in spring they call "ick-e-nish" [cow parsnip] which they use a great deal in the season. I do not know what kind of plant it is, something of the celery kind. Those of the whites that have learned to eat it call it wild celery. It tastes very much like it. Indeed, I don't know that anyone would be able to tell the difference if they did not see it. It is the same to me in taste. The leaves of this plant are of a bluish green, very fragrant if broken off or pressed in the hand and resembles the leaf of the parsnip. It is a perennial plant. If an inch or two comes out of the ground, they will pull it off and it breaks off two or more inches under the ground. After it gets out, it turns red, but where the ground covers it, it is white and very tender. One season the prospectors at the hotel in Yreka had it gathered every day for their table.
There are several other plants which they use for greens in spring which are boiled before eating. Also several kinds that are eaten raw. I think they all belong to the same kind as the parsnips, having a single tap root, and seem exactly like them. The wild plum which I spoke of before as growing around the Shasta buttes are also eaten by the Indians. They not only grow around the mountain, but on the low hills all around Shasta Valley. Wild cherries are also to be found in the same locale.
One morning I went with a white man and an Indian as a guide to look at some small valleys in a more easterly direction from Yreka, a distance of about 30 or 40 miles. I then noticed very many of the plum and cherry bushes. I think I have never given you any of the connection with that trip, some of which I was relating. Our object in going was to see the valleys before they are spoken of and a curiosity. We did not look for gold, took no tools with us. It was at that time when the Indian Agent, Mr. Rosborough, was trying to get the Shastas in and to treat with them.
As we did not intend to go out of the Shasta country, we took only pistols and knives, no rifles. Our course was for the first ten miles on the canyon road west of north. Then we hauled off to the right, east of north. We left all white settlements and started for the chain of mountains. You have a sketch of one of the range, the one with the round top. You will perceive how the west or northwest part of it runs off on an inclined plane. It continues to run off in the same way for many miles. At several places there are peaks rising from the chain, all of which have distinct craters in them. Probably they had been subject at one time to violent volcanic action. Large quantities of huge rocks apparently thrown together loosely, as solid rock disjointed by convulsions of the earth with fissures forming large caverns. The absence of vegetation in places, are covered with a kind of alkali, all this goes to prove in my opinion that at not a very distant time back this whole country has been covered with active volcanoes.
After crossing the valley our course was then about north. All the foothills along the base of the mountains we passed over are beautiful country, well covered with a kind of "bunchgrass," said to be excellent land for stock. Also saw a few antelope and deer, many hare and grouse. The low mountains were, in places, thinly covered with oak and occasional cedar. Further on we came to high hills, some of them covered with a kind of low shrub called "greasewood." Where this grows there is seldom any other shrub or tree, and you'll often see an entire hill covered with it, growing five or six feet high, each bush detached from the other and resembling, somewhat at distance, the woolly pate of a Negro, but different in color, being of a bluish green, bearing in May a white and yellow flower, fragrant and not unpleasant to smell. There appears to be no soil on these hills, nothing but decomposed stone, and in places a shrub appears where it would be difficult to find earth enough to bury a rat and hard to dig his grave without a pick.
On the chain of mountains along which we traveled there was heavy timber, mostly pine, fir and oak. A remarkable-looking table mountain or rock attracted our attention and we altered our course more to the northwest to get close to it and on it if possible. These table rocks are not uncommon in the northern country, and you will recollect that I spoke of them in the Rogue River Valley last summer. There are several in Shasta Valley, one very large and singularly looking is called "Sheep Rock," being a favored resort of the mountain sheep. The one we were approaching was not very large but had a singular and pretty look.
As circumstances prevented the accomplishment of our design, which was to dine on it, I can only tell you how it appeared to us at two miles distance. It stood alone, beside or at the foot of a range of mountains and on a rolling hill which rose true to form on either side and was capped with this rock. The hill on which it stood was entirely destitute of trees and thickly covered with bunchgrass, rising gradually until it came to the rock, which rose perpendicular to the height of 100 or more feet and was to look at water level and I thought had a little vegetation on it. It might have been a mile long and 200 yards wide, but this is mere guess, for we were at some distance and "broadside" to it. It could not have been less than a half mile long. Our guide told us that there was on the other side a place where we could get on top of it. To us, it looked like a natural fortification that could not be scaled. The perpendicular walls of solid rock of a brown color were rugged and broken in many places as if small pieces had fallen out, yet at the base of the wall we could see numerous pieces.
In order to give you a good idea of this singular rock, I should have set down its description, but under the circumstances I could not. It may be much larger or smaller than I had stated, but it is an object that will attract the eye of the traveler at 10 or 20 miles distance. As I said, we intended to go on it and dine, but were not able to do so, for while looking for a place to cross a creek that ran between us and the rocks of a deep canyon, we noticed what appeared to be the end of the range of mountains we had been following. The gradual slope of the range here appeared to be no higher than a low mountain without snow, level across the top and well timbered until near the bluff that formed the end. On top of this high bluff there appeared to be little or no vegetation, but on the end, as it were, and down the sides of the high precipices there, there was a thick growth of alder and birch with other smaller shrubs intermixed so that at least when we first viewed it, it was a solid mass of beautiful green with the exception of one place where there appeared a white streak down the side of the precipice to our view much like a streak of chalk.
On showing this to our guide, a boy of about 10 or 12 years of age, he told us to our surprise that it was water. It must have been a distance of five miles, but after this discovery we changed our course for the bluff in order to see more clearly the nature of the waterfall. We crossed the stream before spoken of and passed through a most beautiful valley with probably five or six hundred acres of good ground on either side of the creek. There were large alders and cottonwoods on the banks of the creek and all along the old Indian mounds proved it had always been thickly populated by red men, making good the word of our little guide who told us there were many fish in the stream, which was a tributary of the Klamath.
We then struck an Indian trail which led directly towards the place we wished to arrive at. In this valley we could all hear the waterfall and presumed that there was another little stream coming from that direction which we crossed about one-half mile before the foot of the green bluff. The water in both the streams was clear, cold and about belly deep to our horses. They were from six to ten yards wide and very noisy.
On the opposite side we climbed a pretty steep hill on a rough, rocky trail when the whole scene burst at once into our sight. On the opposite side from which we had crossed a little before rose the high green bluff that had at a distance attracted our attention. It was indeed high piles of rock heaped up one on top of another, filled in with a loose, coarse stone of different color, weight and hardness and dripping with water, overgrown with moss, wet and slippery. In many places there were dark and gloomy holes in its sides, forming perhaps the mouth of some caverns that reach forth into the bowels of the mountain. From the side of the precipice from the first shelf down, there are several streams of water running from between the rocks and down its side. But the main body that we saw at a distance and rendered the scene beautiful issued forth some two or three feet from the base and, forming into a solid stream, rushed furiously down the precipice, a sheet of feathery foam. It does not fall as I had first thought it did, but runs down in a channel that has been worn in the rock. It must descend at an angle of 70° or more, not altogether in a straight line, but in two or three places dashing furiously over a place where the stone being somewhat harder has not worn so fast, leaving a hump or swell in the channel. It goes with such speed that it finds no time to turn to the right or left, but dashes on over all, raising a cloud of mist, which is seen to gather on the surrounding vegetation.
I was not satisfied with seeing the scene from the opposite side, to hear it roar, etc. I descended the ravine, crossed on foot the stream, and after some considerable trouble trying to find a passage through the thick undergrowth, got out on a little open space and climbed from there up, holding on by the trees and bushes. I got up and saw the bubbling stream coming from the side of the precipice and very many places and could see that still further up the rocks were dry, with but little vegetation on them. I got to the main source of the stream and drank, then went on still further up until I came to the places where loose stones had rolled down and landed up against larger ones. The small stones are broken into all shapes, were light and porous, many of them. Here was no water.
Trees and bushes got smaller and fewer. I went down and got a seat on a precipice where I was about midway from the top to the bottom of the stream and could have a good view of it. I found signs of the red men there where I sat. There I found stones piled one on the other in some conspicuous place. They had sat there and viewed this wonderful work of God. Probably they looked on it with a kind of reverence. At all events, their laying one stone on another is with them a mark to designate a place sacred as to be remembered, a monument. What else can it be? I have often found the same elsewhere and could not tell why they had done so unless children had done it in play. But no children had ever climbed to play where I then sat.
I passed a place where two men were murdered last fall by a party of Mexicans--one was a white, the other a Mexican. The Indians had in several places put one stone on another. I asked the reason, but could not find out. About opposite to where the streams came out, must some way have been connected with it, and they formed a descending ridge to the Klamath and on this side, a thick grove of alders down to the ravine close to the water and up the side are a few oaks, but further on out at the top there are no trees, but bunchgrass only.
The trail we followed led immediately over the hill or ridge and then, the dry side. It led to the "cave" where the Indians had located after the trouble with the whites during the first part of winter. It was larger than the cave they were in when attacked by the army troops and volunteers and some considerable distance further from the white settlements. I noticed also where this trail went over the bluff, on each side of it, and opposite to the water on the other side, there were stones piled up the same as I had found on the precipice behind the water. They were placed there by Indians. I could not learn that there had ever been but one white man there before. He was on his way to the cave, with an Indian girl for a guide. Now where does this water come from that it should run from the side of the mountainside in such quantity in all the year, as our guide told us? I could not perceive that at some season there was as much greater quantity running than when we were there.
I have already told you that this is the END as it were of a chain of mountains stretching away to the north from the buttes, high and covered with snow in places all the time. This chain is the highest, nearest to the buttes, and descends gradually to the place I speak of, 40 miles or more, and has several distinct craters in shape like a cup or bowl. I don't know that man has ever been into all of these, "white," and the one that you have a sketch of is the largest, although not the highest, I think.
We are told by the Indians that there is a lake of water in that one and that white men have never been there. One of my companions had been in one to the north of that in company with a party of Shastas. He told me that it was in shape like a bowl, but not deep and filled with a light, porous stone, broken rather fine, which made it difficult to walk in because of the feet sinking in it. Also that there was a living spring of excellent water there that rose from the center of the core and sunk again. The Indians camped there. It was one of their old mountain stopping places where they were always sure of good water.
From there it descends gradually to where the water comes out. I can account for it in no other way than by supposing it must run all the way through that range, finding its way through by means of such treacherous passages. I also suppose that the first stream we crossed going to that place which now rises in the same range, is formed in the same way. We followed it some two miles and found it so difficult to get along, that we gave it up.
I had a great desire to stay out there several days and explore the whole country about there as far as we could, but my companions would not consent to stay and hastened our departure, lest we might fall into the hands of some of the bands of Modoc or Klamath Lake Indians that are almost constantly about there. We did, indeed, come to one place where there had been Indians camping but a day or two before. We ourselves camped at a place where our fire could be seen but a short distance, close to a little stream and on the place where there had been a large rancheria of Indians. All that we could find of them there were graves where the lodges had been and under a tree about 60 yards from there we found two of the long wing feathers of a bald eagle notched on each side with a knife from end to end. One of the party brought them into the camp and spoke of their being found there as a sign that the Indians came occasionally to visit their old deserted places.
The little guide was surprised when he saw them and asked some questions, and when told where they were found, said that they should not have been touched, sacrilege, and was quite offended, although he knew not the person that placed them there, as to whom they were intended, yet he knew the signs and why they were there.
As soon as we learned that was the fact, we took them back and with a very pious face, I laid them where they were found. Nothing could tempt the guide to touch them. They were placed there by the medicine woman and to make with any of her charms was to incur her discipline which was equivalent to DEATH, so they think and believe. Therefore, as we had been the ones to take away these things, upon us must her vengeance fall, always provided she could find out those that had moved them and that we had done it.
It appeared to relieve the mind of the boy to see them taken back from where they were found, for although he had no hand in the moving of them, yet he might be punished for being in bad company. He was quite able to fill his stomach full of bread and beef, and from the time the fellow took to do it in, I began to think that it reached down to the soles of his moccasins. However, he was fast asleep by the time the last had disappeared, and then we brought in the horses and tied them close to our blankets.
Next morning we returned to our house, my companion deeming it not to be safe to be out there so far from white settlements. I wished very much to go out there again, but never had an opportunity. By that time the country was so much involved in the Indian war that people were afraid to expose themselves unnecessarily.
I am nearly done with this yarn. I trust it will interest you. I shall be then fully repaid for the trouble of writing it. I would write much more, only that I must close as soon as possible, for I shall probably leave here soon.
As I stated before, I could never learn that anyone had ever been to the place I have endeavored to describe to you, excepting one on a trip to the cave. I know not what his business there was but it was a perilous undertaking and would have cost him his life had it not been for the girl, his guide. [See Arthur Coffin story, below.]
The cave is on the other side of Klamath River, and when they arrived there on the banks the Indians, seeing the white man across, several jumped in and swam it with the intention of killing him, and so they would have had not the girl interposed her body and told them that they should kill her too. They would not be persuaded to let him live, but told her to get out of the way. She still stayed before him and told them that the white man was a friend to them as he would not have come there alone.
The chief "Bill" then swam the river to see what the trouble was, immediately recognized the man and told his men not to trouble him. This Bill is the same that was killed by the whites on the 24th of May, 1854, at Klamath ferry. He crossed the river, accomplished his mission, which I think was some communication from the whites, and with his brave little guide came back to safety. He told me of passing the waterfall after I had been there, but did not stop there. He had to go on, however much he might wish from motives of curiosity to stop and examine the place, for his guide would not stop until she reached the place of destination.
From the fact of there being such places as I visited, as well as caves, table rocks, etc., I think it must be an interesting country to travel through and explore. Most of the white men that have been through any of that section of the country have always hurried to reach their destinations without stopping to examine the country.
There is another larger valley about five miles further on, after passing said bluff, of about 5,000 acres. One of my companions had been there, passed through it on the same trip that he visited the old crates [sic], but then he was coming in toward Yreka and had gone out on a different trail, so that he did not know exactly where it was from where the places were.
No doubt we could have found it had we stayed out longer. He described the valley as being beautiful with a stream one half as large as Shasta River running through it, an abundance of game there and good land. The Indians told him that no whites had ever been there. After our return, they told us that had we gone on further, five miles, we should have come to it.
You could not, my dear sisters, but should be there and learn from the Indians their customs and habits, and from being with them, their dispositions, etc. I say, you could not blame them, taking all into consideration, for feeling as if the white men were their enemies. To be driven from this country and hunted like the wild beasts through the valleys and over the hills which they have so long undisputedly held as their own. To be shot at and subjected to all kinds of insults whenever they show themselves near the camp of the invaders of their countries. To be killed mercilessly whenever they attempt to vindicate their cause.
All this and much more is the measure of what they have met with from the hands of those who called themselves free and enlightened, and is more than the savage will bear. I don't know but such things are necessary in cases of human events, as civilization rolls on, but it is not evil to the minds of all men. I think I am right when I say that such has been the case with the natives of this continent, ever since Columbus discovered it.
First it began in the islands settled by the Spanish, where the natives were soon exterminated by killing them off and then by slavery. All this history will tell you, and as it began, so it appears likely to end. It appears that in the days of an enlightened age like this, there might be some other way to get possession of the disputed place, without doing as the Spaniards did in 1492.
These Indians are sensitive of their wrongs and will continue to revenge them while there is a warrior left. They wish to live in peace; they know they cannot war successfully against the whites. I have heard them say so. They are aware that they will soon be gone from the face of the Earth.
Read carefully what is said in a Mountain Herald of May 27, 1854, relative to a treaty and the Indians of two different tribes from those I have written about. After the Chief was killed in May, I heard one of the tribe say that her people would soon be all gone, and then she wished to die too. She did not know what to live for after they were all gone. The same woman who made that remark was once taken prisoner by the Modocs and carried into their country, where she was kept six or eight years. Afterwards, she was retaken by a party of her own people and thus reunited with her relatives. She has often spoke of it and says she wants to live now in her own country near where she was born so she can be buried there.
It would be exceedingly disagreeable to know or think that they might die away from home so as not to rest with their people. The boy, Dick, when the whites took him from near Yreka, and carried him to Cottonwood, May of 1854, as he knew would be the intention of carrying him, asked them why they did not kill him there where he had a mother and sisters to bury him and not carry him off where he had no relatives. However, through the humanity of some of the whites and the Agent, he escaped death that time and wished to come into the lower country with me, and by that, he would not leave while they were in trouble.
The morn I left Yreka, as I started out of the town, I met a number of Shastas coming in, three, an old man who is the one who makes their treaties, civil chief; the young and only brother of the chief killed a few days before; and the boy that was out with me as guide both on the Klamath during the winter and at the waterfall in the spring. They knew I was going away. I gave each a piece of money and bid them goodbye. Told the old man I should not see him again unless and I pointed up and pronounced this word "God." He said yes, and in pointing up, told me that we should meet again in "ah-que-ho-yar" um-mar, as in God's house. He then passed on. That was the first time I ever got one of them to acknowledge anything of the kind.
You probably remember that I came into Yreka by way of Oregon or on the trail through from Crescent City. I left it by the Trinity trail so that I had greater opportunity to see the country. Of the passage down from Yreka, I have but little to say, yet I must write a few lines.
We rode with Adams and Co. Express as far as Shasta, 25 miles over this trail. All the goods that had to go to Yreka by that route are transported on pack mules, passing over the Scott and Trinity Mountains. After leaving Yreka, we passed through Scott's Valley or the valley of Scott's River. It is a beautiful place. The valley is about six miles wide and 25 or 30 long. Good land and an abundance of timber. It is nearly, if not quite all, taken up and very much of it fenced. For miles we rode along one continuous line of fence enclosing large fields of grain. The valley is about 16 miles from Yreka, that is, where the trail comes into it.
Next we crossed the Scott Mountain, a rugged precipice trail indeed and almost frightful to go up on a mule, where deep yawning ravines on one hand come filled with huge rocks that have rolled down from the mountainside. There you hear the murmur of a little stream rushing down, the headwaters of some mighty river. On the other hand, and high above you, are tremendous precipices hanging over as if ready to "fall down on you" from the force of Earth. But that the good beast had his own way, nor attempt to guide or curb him with the bit, with about as much as you please, he will take you safe, up and over the frightful places. There was no snow on the trail when we crossed, although I saw large quantities of it on the other side of a deep ravine we traveled along, where the sun could not reach it.
After crossing the Scott River comes little valleys and low mountains between there and the Trinity Mountain. Occasionally a ranch on the trail, where a few acres of arable land could be found, and springs of water. Here also you will strike the headwaters of the Trinity River, and go by its course for many miles as you first behold the mighty river. The mountain trail on Trinity is not bad to cross. It is more gradual in descent than the Scott's trail, yet the mountain is higher.
We traveled, after getting on the backbone of the mountain, miles in, as it were, the clouds, a thick mist, cold and so fine it penetrated through the clothing very quick. Had to put on and button up my thick coat. On this trail there has been much trouble with the Indians. Whole trains of mules with their cargoes have been driven off by them and lives lost, too. But those days are past and now it is but seldom they molest anyone.
The Indians live most of the time back from the trail in the mountains, almost inaccessible to man. Nearly two days and a half we were going to Shasta over the wilderness of mountains, of all shapes, rises, and nearly all heights. Some fifty miles above Shasta we passed over a track of land quite fertile that someone had "taken up" and was about clearing it for cultivation. Here we saw acres of wild strawberries, them mostly ripe, 7th of June.
I took the stage from there for Marysville, distance some 140 more miles, started the morn at 3:00 and arrived in Marysville that evening at 10:00 p.m. I did not go through direct. I stopped one day at Major Bidwell's. I found that everyone there that was acquainted with our brother had a kind remembrance of him. Took stage and arrived here. I found some little difference in the arrangement of affairs from what I expected.
A school was being kept in my house, while he who leased the place lived above in another. I found among the little or few left here, a remnant of the rancheria of Indians that formerly lived here. They have gradually died off until there is none but about 15 left. Of one thing I am certain, that since I have known them, there has not been a child born who has lived to the age of 12 months. Thus you see there is no increase. The old chief "Olas" still lives and bids farewell to these and will be the last of his race. He tells me that they will soon all be gone. I asked him respecting the future and after some time got him to tell me something of what their ideas were. He says they do not leave this country although their bodies die and disappear. Yet their spirits stay about, not indeed in the rancheria, but out at the little lakes and hunting grounds where they love to hunt and fish. They also think that there are times when the living see the dead. On some particular occasions or times, or place, one may see in the water of a lake or river the forms of friends long departed, and it is the forewarning of death.
It is with reluctance they speak of those who are dead, yet the old chief talked long with me at this our first meeting. He told me of those who had died since I left here. Said that Le-lo-pa saw several of his departed friends five days before he died and then he knew he would die. Also that when one of their young women was sick and very low, the night before she died, a coyote came on the opposite bank and howled. They recognized it as the warning that death would still come. No hope is felt within their breasts after the warning is given. I could never get him to tell me this before, although I knew they had some ideas of a future state, that is one future state, as there is no good or bad Indians when it comes to death. All are the same there. All enjoy the same privileges thereafter.
I remember while I lived here in 1850, of one of the Indian women having a dreadfully bad turn one day, so that I thought she was about to die. She used to wash and sew and stay about the house most of the time. When she came from the river, she told me she had seen some of her friends that had been long dead, in the water. Also that she should die. But she missed it that time, for she lived and yet lives.
The old chief further told me that the Indians on the coast and about Sonoma went to a land far over the salt water when they died, but his people did not. They are ignorant and superstitious, all the Indians, and have no other guide than what is handed down from generation to generation, to the eternal world. What they thus are taught, they strictly adhere to and fulfill to the letter, never once doubting its truth or the certainty of their happiness hereafter.
As to who is right, I know not. I cannot see the justice of this. Why should one be punished forever for not observing certain laws laid down, which he, the only one of his nation, ever saw, heard, or was taught. I am told that all know their love as the birds of passage to another land which directs their flight as it were by instinct and that all are born with the knowledge of right and wrong. I doubt it very much. They may be born with this instinctive knowledge of right and wrong in a moral sense, but not spiritually. It can't be so, else these Indians would be the most committed Christians on Earth. For had they been taught the true "Christian religion" and had it handed down from father to son, it would have been still pure. After death, we know not what is. All is a mystery but I cannot in my mind think that those who have never seen one ray of light will be punished for not following that light. It does not agree with my ideas of a Being Great Almighty to whom we are but dust. A being of such might and power must be just or we have not the right idea of justice.
NicolausMartha Russell Blake
July 18, 1854
My dear sister,
These pages have been written at different times and places, and often [with] no more convenience for writing than sitting on my blankets and laying a board, not indeed sawed or planed, but split out and rough hewn, in my lap to lay the papers on.
Some have been written with a gold pen, some with steel, and the rest with a goose quill killed on the plains.
I have often wrote in a cabin where there have been several persons talking or children playing. Therefore, my sister, you must make all allowances for the many mistakes in this writing. Even now, I have bread baking and have to look at it every five minutes.
I wish you to take a pen and correct this as you read, point it off, etc. What is here written is all true and has come under my own observation or from those whose statements I had abundant proof of.
You will easily discover that most of it has been what I have observed myself. I always noticed what I saw in my travels anywhere and my object in writing this has been that you may know something of what a life in California is or has been, something of my adventures, and be generally benefited by what you read. This done, I am repaid for all trouble and etc. Cheerfully, I take my pen to write. But I intend it only for the eye of friends.
Your affectionate brother,Stephen Palmer Blake, in Elizabeth Hurst Ellwood, ed., The Life of Captain Stephen Palmer Blake from his Journals, Genealogy Publishing Service 1995, pages 193-292
Stephen P. Blake
July 4, 1867
My dear Abby,
All sorts of yarns will be found in this book; some of them must interest you. The one I am about to spin was called to mind by reading in Harper's Magazine a statement to the effect that the old story of Pocahontas saving the life of Captain Smith was not true. That she did not, as stated in our old schoolbooks, go forth and at risk of her own life save him by throwing herself forward and covering his head, imploring of her father his life be spared. This may not be true, and from what I have seen of Indians and Indian life, I should not suppose a young girl of her age would in any way interfere in a case like that. But I do know of a case something like it that took place in the northern part of California.
Now that the line is drawn between California and Oregon, it might have been in Oregon where it took place. I knew both parties, or rather three of the parties, concerned. I cannot give the Indians' names as they were hard to pronounce, and the whites generally gave them that most frequented the white settlements some name by which they were known. At the time these facts came to my knowledge, I was mining in Siskiyou Co., about three miles from Yreka (pronounced by the Indians Y-e-hr) in Shasta Valley. There was a small remnant of a tribe of Indians living about one and a half miles from where I lived. They were called "Shastas."
As the white men came in and increased in numbers, so the Indians decreased. Although they were peaceable as far as I ever saw, all the trouble that ever took place between the whites and Indians where I lived about there was caused by ill-treatment on the part of the whites.
A difficulty had occurred during the summer of 1853 between the Indians and whites. The Indians said their people had been shot down like the wild beasts and their women had been stolen and forcibly detained or ravished. The whites said the Indians were thieves and had stolen their horses; they must die. There may have been some horses stolen; there may have been some Indian horse thieves. But I am safe in saying that there were five white horse thieves to one Indian who stole horses. And as to the charge against the whites of shooting them, it was not true of all white men, but it was true of some. They would shoot an Indian just as they would a wolf.
There were also stories of their women being stolen and kept prisoners by the whites, of them being ravished. I heard of but one case while I was there, and that was the wife of an Indian named "Job-sey." He swore revenge and followed up the thought until the opportunity offered. "Shasta Bill," who will be mentioned here, had a little "Modoc" girl. She was stolen from him and kept prisoner in a cabin about half a mile from "Canal Gulch" where I was mining. Bill came to me and my mining partners and begged us to help him to get the girl back again. We did help him and he got her. She was afterwards killed by Bill, but that is a story of itself.
I state these things that you may know the charges were known to me as facts, that the Indians brought against the whites. But I never in "Siskiyou Co." knew a man that had his horse stolen by an Indian. The Indians had gone 60 miles from Yreka and taken up abode in a cave on the banks of the Klamath River. From there they made raids into different parts of the Shasta Valley. All attempts to dislodge them from the cave proved fruitless. No approach to it was unseen by them. There was no surprising them.
The entrance to the cave was small, less than a door, and was defended by 133 determined men, well armed with rifles, but I do not say as good shots as the whites, for a great part of the white men about there were from western states and Oregon and had been all their days accustomed to the use of their rifles. The Indians, many of them, had never used the rifle until recently and they had such a dread of it, when in the hands of white men, that when they came face to face with them, they got nervous and could not shoot as well with the rifle as with the bow and arrow.
After Gen. Lane made the treaty with the Rogue River Indians in August or September , at that time I was with his party. There was an Indian Agent, "Rosborough" was his name, came to Yreka, and it was determined to send someone to the Indians in the cave with a message from him, inviting the chieftain to come in to Yreka and treat with him. It was some time before anyone could be found that would go. There was no Indian men about there, none in the little Indian town but women and boys less than 12 years of age. Some of the white men in the mines had girls that they had bought and lived with them, but there were no men about.
At last a young man volunteered to go. He was a Canal Gulch miner named "Arthur Coffin" from Nantucket. He was small in stature, but fearless and a friend to the Indians. It was necessary that he should have a guide, for he did not know the way to the cave through an unbroken wilderness of 60 miles. It was more difficult to get the guide than the volunteer. Why it was so, I do not know. But there was a girl that lived in Canal Gulch with her sister who was married to a white man. She was called "Clara." She knew the way to the cave and was prevailed upon to be a guide for Coffin.
They started on foot with no weapon except knife and pistol and arrived on the banks of the Klamath opposite the cave, evening of the second day. A cry from the girl brought several Indians out of the cave. She made some signs to them and five Indians ran down to the river, plunged in and swam over holding the rifles out of the water with one hand. "Shasta Bill" was the chiefman of those in the cave and stood at the entrance while his men swam over to see who called to them. Bill was lame in the right foot having been employed in a fight with some Modoc Indians while recovering from them some horses stolen from the whites. He received a rifle ball in the right instep which lamed him for life.
When the Indians had crossed the river and found there a white man with an Indian woman, they asked no questions, but immediately expressed their determination to kill him. The girl told them that he came from Yreka with a message from the white chief to their chief "Bill" and that they should not kill him. But that did not alter their determination and seeing they were in earnest, she covered him with her body and told them only through her body should they reach him, that if he died, first she must die.
Sternly they told her that she must stand aside, that no white man should come there and live. She told them to fire and kill her, too, if he, who had been sent there with a friendly message, must die. All this had not transpired without being seen by watchful eyes on the other side. Bill had stood there all the time from the moment his men first plunged into the river to cross, and he saw there was need of his presence there very soon after they had landed.
While the scene I have described was passing, Bill had gone down and swam the river. The Indians had not dared to shoot the girl, nor could they frighten her away from before Coffin by presenting their rifles, which they did with the threat of instant death unless she moved. But there she stood until Bill arrived on the scene. Coffin was well known to him and known to be a friend to the Indians. Bill told his men that Coffin was his friend and to let him alone, then went up and shook hands with him. They then, under the direction of their chief, made a crude boat or raft of the tules growing on the river bank and took Coffin and the girl over the river. He delivered the message during the evening, was fed and lodged in the cave during the night, and with the girl started on the way back to Yreka the next morning unmolested. They arrived safe.
I knew Coffin long after this and heard the story from his own lips. He always said the Indians were fully determined to kill him and would have done it, had it not been for the girl in the first place and probably had not Bill been in the cave and coming over. Being there were several, they would have killed him and her both. But had she not shielded him with her body, they would have killed him before Bill got there. The girl "Clara" was Bill's cousin. [Refer to Blake's 1853 version of this story, above.]
Since about the first of 1856, I know nothing of the fate of the poor Shasta Indians. In a letter received about that time from a friend out there, he stated that there were "about 20 of the Shastas left." "Bill," the chief, was killed by white men while coming from the cave toward Yreka. I saw his scalp nailed up on a stable door in the town of Yreka the day I left there, June 1, 1854. Clara and her sister were living in 1856. The wrongs of these poor Indians that I witnessed there would make a long and bloody tale. In eternity we must meet them all.
Stephen Palmer Blake, in Elizabeth Hurst Ellwood, ed., The Life of Captain Stephen Palmer Blake from his Journals, Genealogy Publishing Service 1995, pages 403-407
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Stephen Palmer Blake, first son of Ellis Gray Blake, who was born March 21, 1796, and Ann (Wyman) Blake, who was born November 9, 1804, was born July 30, 1822, at West Cambridge, Massachusetts. His early education was obtained in West Cambridge schools. In 1835 his father moved to Lexington in order to give his children the benefit of study at the Lexington Academy where Stephen attended with his older half-brother, Oliver, and the three next youngest children. This academy closed in the fall of 1837 and they attended the North District school that winter. In the spring of 1838 the family returned to West Cambridge. Through acquaintance with Captain John F. Bowers, who attended the Baptist church in Lexington with the Blake family, Stephen was allowed in 1838 to sail with him as cabin boy, and a seafaring life began which continued till June, 1871. The first voyage in the brig Mars, from Boston, July 18, 1838, via Richmond, Virginia, to Antwerp, Liverpool, thence to Mobile and to New York, occupied eleven months. The second mate on this voyage, Samuel Sparks, is mentioned in Richard H. Dana's widely-read book Two Years Before the Mast. Stephen's ardor for the sea was not dampened by the experiences of this first long voyage, for it was followed by three more with Captain Bowers, who died at sea on the fourth of these voyages. Faithful and prompt attention to duty as it presented itself from day to day, and a close observance of the excellent principles taught by his family and by Captain Bowers, who was a God-fearing man and one who never failed to observe Sunday worship on board ship, caused Stephen to rapidly advance in his career. A letter which his father wrote late in the night before the day he sailed on his first voyage has been carried by him from that day to this. From ordinary seaman to second mate and first mate, progress was rapid, for he had no inclination to be content with the average sailor's life. Navigation was carefully studied under the guidance of friendly officers. It was with the instruments of Captain Reuben Hopkins, of West Cambridge, that he learned to take observations of the sun. Captain Gorham P. Low of Gloucester, Massachusetts, of the Moscow, on a voyage to Sumatra instructed him how to "work out time" at sea. In January, 1849, as mate of the brig Pauline, a small vessel of 149 tons, Captain Leonard French, master, a perilous and long voyage was taken via Cape Horn to San Francisco. The vessel was much too deeply loaded, in the desire of the owners to get profitable returns from a good-sized cargo on arrival at the land of gold, and it was almost miraculous that the voyage was made in safety, so many narrow escapes from foundering were experienced. The voyage was 204 days in length, to San Diego, California, and the boisterous weather drove the small craft many hundreds of miles out of her course. Upon his arrival at San Francisco in the summer of 1849, the gold fever and the love of adventure caused him to take a vacation from sea life, and he spent the next six years in California, largely in Sutter County, taking a voyage, however, to the Sandwich Islands, December, 1852, in the brig Zoe, returning in March, 1853. He was visited in California, among others, by his brother Nelson, by Cyrus Wood, who afterward married his sister Harriet, and by Frank Seth Frost of West Cambridge. He became well acquainted with General John Bidwell of Chico, and named his second son after him. Among other exciting occupations, that of capturing live grizzly bears for menagerie purposes was one of the most interesting, and he secured some uncommonly fine specimens which were sold at good figures. The sea was his chosen life, however, and he returned to New York in 1855 in the clipper ship Witchcraft, Captain Freeman. He soon advanced to be master of vessels, making his first voyage as captain in the bark Vernon from Boston to Trieste, thirty-two days, which was owned by Horatio Harris & Co., of Boston. Among other shipowners for whom he sailed were Thomas Curtis, Isaiah Goddard, Daniel Draper, and Alpheus Hardy. The latter controlled the bark Volunteer by charter, and Captain Blake made eighteen trips across the Atlantic in her, in the fruit traffic, and one voyage to New Orleans. His wife with his sons Ellis and Bidwell accompanied him on four of these Mediterranean voyages, and the New Orleans one.
Captain Blake was a stern disciplinarian at sea, and required the same prompt obedience from his men that he had practiced himself. His voyages caused him to double Cape Horn twice, Cape Good Hope twice, and to sail hundreds of thousands of miles in vessels of all sizes up to a steamer of 3,000 tons. He was master of one steamer, Andalusia, owned by Leary Brothers, New York, of 2,200 tons. His narrowest escape from being wrecked was when coming into Boston Harbor in the brig Montezuma, Captain Ben True, of Newburyport, from Matanzas, Cuba, February 5, 1843; "Northeast snow storm. We passed inside of the rock (Egg Rock) on which Minot's light house now stands. Cohasset light was in sight, and depth seventeen fathoms, perhaps one and one-half miles off shore, when the vessel passed inside of Minot's Ledge, between the large rock on which the lighthouse now stands, and the line of rocks off the Cohasset shore." A full account of all his sea experiences would make an interesting book.
During the Civil War he was in the government transport service for nearly the full period of the great struggle. After the Chicago fire of 1871 he permanently gave up the sea, and for seventeen years was occupied in the business of the Dake Bakery, of which his brother Nelson was one of the owners. During this period his home was in Lombard, Illinois, where he was prominent in the management of the affairs of the town, being for some years one of the town council. In 1888 he removed to Lake Helen, Florida, with his wife, his son Ellis, wife and child, and his daughter Elizabeth, leaving his son Bidwell in Chicago, who was employed in electrical work. There he engaged with his son in orange-growing, in which his brother Nelson, then of Chicago, and later of Arlington, was also interested for a number of years. Since the marriage of his daughter Elizabeth to Mr. Albert B. Hurst, he has made his home with them, and at the present time (1908) is living at Biscayne, Florida, where Mr. Hurst has recently gone into business. Captain Blake joined the Baptist Church in 1859. He was baptized by Rev. Samuel B. Swain, D.D., in Spy Pond at the foot of what is now Linwood Street. He has been deacon in the Baptist church at Lake Helen, Florida, for many years. Captain Blake has always been a great reader of good books, is an excellent Bible student, and is a man of positive convictions.
In personal appearance he is of medium stature, sinewy in build, long of stride, and his features, like those of his sister Sophia (Blake) Wood, who died February 1, 1905, resembled those of his father, while the other members of the family partook more of the Wyman features of their mother.
He married, October 29, 1856, Abby Thorning Wood, at West Cambridge, Rev. Dr. Swain officiating. She was born at Lexington, December 22, 1834, and died at Lake Helen September 6, 1896. Children: 1. Ellis Gray Blake, born at West Cambridge, August 16, 1857, married, September 25, 1883, Mary Ann Pierce, born at Truxton, New York, October 21, 1857, of Harvard, Illinois, daughter of Alpha Stone Pierce, who was born in Truxton, New York, June 4, 1818, and who died in Harvard, Illinois, December 23, 1882, and Diantha Elizabeth (Bliss) Pierce, born at Truxton, New York, June 27, 1822, and died at Harvard, Illinois, October 9, 1899, and who were married at Truxton, New York, January 6, 1846. Child: i. Stephen Pierce Blake, born at Lombard, Illinois, June 14, 1885. Ellis G. Blake is now growing oranges, grapefruit and peaches at Lake Helen, Florida, having seventy-five acres under cultivation. His son Stephen is a student in Stetson University at DeLand, Florida, and is also a teacher at this time (1908) in the junior department. 2. Stephen P. Blake, Jr., born at West Cambridge, January 15, 1862; died December 10, 1862. 3. John Bidwell Blake, born May 7, 1864; married, May 28, 1891, Martha Wadsworth Claflin of Lombard, Illinois. No children. John Bidwell Blake is now in the employ of Holabird & Roche, architects, Chicago, as electrical engineer. 4. Helen Blake, born at West Cambridge, August 7, 1866, died January 16, 1868. 5. H. Sophia Blake, born at West Cambridge, August 18, 1869; died October 25, 1869. 6. Elizabeth Adams Blake, born November 12, 1871; married July 11, 1896, at Lake Helen, Florida, Albert Baxter Hurst, who was born at Brownhelm, Ohio, March 4, 1871. Children, all born at Lake Helen, Florida: i. Helen Hurst, born January 13, 1897; ii. John Blake Hurst, born July 6, 1899; iii. May Elizabeth Hurst, born July 11, 1903.
William Richard Cutter, ed., Historic Homes and Places and Genealogical and Personal Memoirs ... of Middlesex County, Massachusetts, Volume 4, 1908, pages 1984-1985
Last revised February 18, 2018