Coast Mail Histories
Histories of the Southern Oregon coast printed in the Coast Mail of Marshfield (today's Coos Bay), Oregon--including the journal of L. L. Williams.Sketches of Our Southern Coast.
An edited version of the otherwise anonymous account of the 1855-56 war was printed in The Overland Monthly in September 1884, credited to "G. Webster." Webster was apparently Marshfield attorney and state senator Gaines Webster.
For L. L. Williams' account of the 1851 Port Orford expedition, refer also to the transcription made directly from his manuscript journal.
Something more than a quarter of a century has elapsed since the first white settlements were established on the southern coast of Oregon. The pioneers of that day were not attracted hither by broad and fertile prairie lands, nor by any temptations to agricultural pursuits, for better lands were to be found vacant in other localities; but men were then, more than now, in search of rapid wealth. They wanted gold--not that bearing the stamp of the mint and the impress of sovereignty, but those glittering articles which make the bleakest shore or rudest mountain gorge, more attractive than the refinements of civilization or the comforts of home and the fireside. The sands of the ocean beach, of what is known as Southern Oregon, were rich in gold; and the ever-sanguine miner expected old Neptune to replenish these deposits from the fabulous wealth of his lower depths as fast as they were impoverished by the hand of man.
Even the presence of the tribes of Indians, more or less numerous, to be found at each inhabitable point along the coast, and whose unfriendly purposes toward the pale-faced intruders were more than suspected, did not deter them. They came with wives and children, mothers and sisters--came to stay, hoping that a few short years of privation and dangers would secure them wealth, society, and comfort. With some few, this hope has been partially realized; many have gone to find its fulfillment in the world beyond, and some remain, patient, though disappointed, unsuccessful yet full of hope for the future.
The first decade of pioneer life was not without its thrilling adventures and blood-curdling tragedies. Wild and ferocious beasts have sought their prey among the settlers; the merciless savages have carved their victims along the ocean beach, and in the glades; and again, in turn, scores of the dusky barbarians have atoned with their lives for crimes against the whites. Few of these incidents have ever been written or printed; and though all are engraved upon the memory of those who participated in them, only to be effaced by death, these perishable tablets are one by one disappearing from among us, and in a few years, should these occurrences remain unwritten, the now-living historical facts would be shrouded in the doubt and certainty of tradition. These considerations shall be my excuse for putting in print a few sketches of well-authenticated facts and incidents of the early history of the coast of Southern Oregon.
THE FIRST TRAGEDY OF BATTLE ROCK.Foremost among the various objects of interest that attract the attention of the stranger visiting Port Orford is Battle Rock. The structure which bears this suggestive name is a rock of conglomerate formation, rising to the height of about fifty feet, and situated immediately in front of the village, and extending to low water mark in the harbor. At high water it is surrounded, while at low water it is accessible from the shore, and at one point can be ascended with some difficulty. On the summit of this rock is a comparative level area of a few rods, covered with undergrowth of a few stunted pines. Before the advent of the whites, the magnificent forests of white cedar which covered the bench lands adjoining this harbor were the favorite haunts of deer, elk, and other kinds of game, while the harbor and coast afforded various kinds of fish in abundance, making Port Orford a favorite resort for the Indians that inhabited the coast. Several villages of these people had made their home here for centuries, and the remains of their feasts on shellfish may still be seen on every hand. This locality has been the scene of two tragic incidents, the first of which is described in this sketch.
In the spring of A.D. 1851, Captain Wm. Tichenor, whose name is intimately connected with the history of the settlement of Curry County, visited Port Orford with a small vessel, and, being favorably impressed by the harbor and its surroundings, determined to form a settlement there. Having, as it was supposed, secured the good will of the Indians, who were quite numerous, nine intrepid and experienced frontiersmen were sent ashore to secure the site, while Tichenor proceeded north, expecting soon to return with reinforcements and supplies. [Tichenor steamed south, to San Francisco.] The possibility of forcible self-defense having taken into consideration, in addition to the arms by which a pioneer is always accompanied, the Captain furnished the colony with a ship's carronade, and with powder and some lead for slugs.
After the vessel passed out of the harbor, the little party set about the construction of a log house. [No other account mentions this construction.] The Indians, whose good will had been purchased by sundry presents, at first looked curiously on, but soon gave unmistakable signs of dissatisfaction with the proceedings, and before three days had passed it became evident that war was brewing. The warriors still gathered round, but the squaws and children had disappeared; and the increased number of weapons told the experienced Indian fighters that they must soon defend themselves, or die. A hasty consultation decided their course; the tide was favorable, and in a short time their ammunition and provisions were placed on the summit of the rock. With that strength and energy born only of imminent peril, by the means of ropes they also succeeded in pulling up the heavy carronade, and planting it in a hastily constructed breastwork on the rock. They loaded the piece with slugs, and waited the movements of the Indians. The ocean was unusually calm, and as night drew near, the Indians from Brush and Euchre creeks came up in canoes, and active preparations were made for an attack. By the light of the rising moon, the imperiled band could discern the savages on the beach, till they seemed as numerous as the trees beyond. At a signal from one of the chiefs, which was received with a yell of approval, a storming party rushed upon this rampart, while a shower of arrows went up from the canoes on the waterside. The brave men calmly waited the approach of their reckless and bloodthirsty assailants, till the narrow passage near the summit was thronged with Indians, when the match was applied to the carronade. A deafening report woke the echoes of forest and rock, and as it came wafted back to the ears of the besieged, it was mingled with the yells of the living and groans of the dying savages. And as the smoke slowly lifted, not a form could be seen, where a few moments before the Indians stood in appalling numbers. A bolt from the hand of "Manitou" could not have filled them with greater consternation. The dead and dying were left uncared for, and a hasty retreat was made to the woods. These warriors were accustomed to the scenes of savage warfare, but they knew nothing of the use of artillery, and their terror can be imagined. The number of the killed seen in the morning was eight, but the number of the wounded will never be known.
Very little was seen of the Indians for some days after this event, but they were watching till hunger should force the party from their stronghold, when it was expected they would fall easy victims. Once the cannon was again discharged at a party of Indians who had taken refuge behind a pile of driftwood, sending them again in haste to the forest. Day followed day, and no signs of relief came; the Indians were becoming bold, and ammunition and provisions scarce. Ten days had passed, when a vote was taken, and it was decided to attempt an escape. Kindling their fires as usual, under the cover of darkness they left their fort, and succeeded in making their way northward undiscovered. They traveled by night and lay concealed by day, till they were beyond the danger of pursuit. They crossed Coos Bay and proceeded to the settlements of the interior. Captain Tichenor returned by steamer soon after the escape of the party and found the place deserted; and the fate of the party was, for some time, involved in doubt.
Coast Mail, Marshfield, Oregon, January 3, 1880, page 1
WRITTEN FOR THE COAST MAIL.
Of Oregon's Southern Coast.
The Second Tragedy of Battle Rock--
The Fate of Indian Enos.
For some time prior to the Indian outbreak in 1855, which opened what is known as the Indian war of 1855-6, one of the most determined conflicts between the whites and savages which has occurred on the coast, there lived on Rogue River near its mouth an Indian named "Enos." He was a native of Canada, was educated in French and English, and was a Catholic in religion, always carrying a prayer book of that church printed in French. His superior intelligence placed him on terms of intimacy and confidence with the whites; and when the Indians of the interior took up arms in 1855, a volunteer company was formed at the mouth of Rogue River for the protection of the settlements, of which company Enos became a member. Early in the winter of 1855-6, no one suspecting Enos of entertaining sympathy for the hostiles, he became a guide for Enoch Huntley and John Clevenger on a journey up Rogue River to the Big Meadows. The party left their friends in full expectation of returning after a short absence, but Huntley and Clevenger were never afterwards seen alive--they were inhumanly murdered near the mouth of the Illinois River. Their skeletons were long afterwards discovered by the side of the remains of their camp fire where, it is supposed, they were murdered by Enos when asleep.
Enos returned to the white settlements, representing that the white men had been met and overpowered by the hostiles, who had killed his companions. Although his guilt was then suspected, there being no evidence against him, he was allowed to purchase more powder and go again up the river. A few weeks later, all the Indians of that vicinity were on the war path the bloody massacre of the 22nd of February was enacted, and for a considerable time all the surviving settlers of that region were forted up and besieged by hostile savages. During this season of carnage and terror it was known that Enos was cooperating with the hostiles, and when the war closed he was taken with other Indians by the military to a reservation at Fort Vancouver. A warrant for his arrest for the crime of murder was issued by a magistrate at Port Orford, and M. Riley, Sheriff, proceeded to Vancouver to make his arrest. The military authorities readily gave him up, whereupon he was placed on board a steamer to be transported in irons to the scene of his crimes, and to face the friends of his victims. Conscious of his treachery and guilt, and knowing the determined character of his accusers, he realized that his doom was sealed, and give up all hope. On the passage he begged for a clean shirt, that he might present a more respectable appearance in the drama in which he well knew he soon was to be a prominent actor. The desired garment was purchased and given him, and it is said be actually removed the soiled raiment and put on the new article while securely handcuffed, by drawing them both through his iron bracelets. Arriving at Port Orford, he was arraigned before the magistrate for examination, when it was ascertained that the prosecution was without a syllable of testimony to support the charge of murder. No one had seen him commit the crime, and the circumstances pointing to his guilt, although leaving no doubt in the minds of the public, were insufficient to rebut the presumption of innocence kindly thrown around over the most friendless prisoner. He was accordingly ordered discharged, and, being taken [by] Mr. Riley to a neighboring blacksmith's shop, his irons were unriveted and taken off, and he was told that he was free. But while these steps were in progress, another tribunal in which the technicalities of law have no force had sat upon the case of Mr. Enos, and he had been convicted beyond the hope of appeal or reprieve. The sentence of death had been passed by the people, and the hour of his execution was at hand. As he passed out of the blacksmith's shop, he passed between two lines of armed men, who escorted him silently toward Battle Rock; the tide was low, and a few minutes later, for the second time in its history, the summit of that mound was thronged with human beings. And as the sun sank in the western waves, it cast upon the shore the shadow of the lifeless form of the murderer Enos, dangling from the limb of a small pine that grew upon the summit of the rock.
Sheriff Riley having incurred considerable expense beyond the amount of his legal fees in bringing the prisoner from the place of his arrest, a liberal subscription was made by the citizens to reimburse him; and the development of the years that have passed mince the event, have only served to confirm the judgment thus silently pronounced and summarily executed. That justice which is tardy and uncertain when administered under the forms of law is sometimes swift and sure at the hands of the source of all civil power--the people.
WRITTEN FOR THE COAST MAIL.
Of Oregon's Southern Coast.
Opening of the Rogue River War on the Coast--
Murder of Ben Wright, Etc.
The winter of 1855-56 was a time to be remembered by the settlers of Southern Oregon. They had long been accustomed to the ordinary hardships of frontier life; they had learned to dispense with all the luxuries, and with some of the comforts of civilization, and to wrest from the situation such pleasures as are born of activity and hope. But this season brought to their doors the terrors of savage, warfare, and merged all minor considerations in the imminent peril which surrounded them.
The Indians of the upper Rogue River Valley had been on the warpath for some time, but those of the lower river and the coast professed friendship for the whites, and asked to be protected from the hostiles of the interior. Though hoping by a conciliatory course toward the savages to avert the calamity which had visited their friends up the river, the settlers resorted to such precautionary measures as ordinary prudence would suggest. They built a kind of fort at the mouth of Rogue River on the north side, upon an elevated point in the open prairie, just back of where Mr. McCormick now lives; and also organized a company of volunteers, of which John Poland was Captain, and Relf Bledsoe and E. H. Meservey were Lieutenants. But for the protection afforded by this fort, the massacre which was inaugurated on the 23rd of February, 1856, would probably have sealed the fate of every resident of what now constitutes Curry County. [The volunteers were being organized when the massacre occurred; Poland was killed and Meservey wounded.]
Ben Wright was the name of the agent in charge of the Indians in this region. He was a man whose natural shrewdness and intimate knowledge of Indian character well qualified him for the duties of that position. He kept an intelligent squaw who passed as his official interpreter, and for whom he drew a salary of $500 per annum. He had led the Indians to believe that he was endowed with supernatural powers of self-protection and that he could not be killed by being shot. But his squaw, although professing great affection for her white spouse, secretly told the Indians that they could kill Wright with a hatchet or knife; and with the treachery which is the leading characteristic of the race, she helped to betray him to his death and afterwards boasted that she ate a piece of his heart.
On the morning of February 23, he was near the Tututni ranch [i.e., village] on Rogue River when he was told by an Indian messenger that a sea otter had come ashore a short distance away, and that the Indians and white men were fighting over it; he went to the place indicated, and was surrounded and cut to pieces by the Indians.
A man named Seaman, who had inspired the Indians with awe by his superior marksmanship, was enticed into ambush by similar means and killed, and another named Smith in the vicinity made his way to the woods and escaped. He knew the danger of attempting to go to the coast, and wandered northward through the woods to Port Orford, where he arrived half famished some days afterwards. His only sustenance had been the snails which he had picked upon the way, some of which he had in his pocket on his arrival at Port Orford.
WRITTEN FOR THE COAST MAIL.
Of Oregon's Southern Coast.
A Nigh of Pleasure and a Morning of Horror.
On the night of the 22nd of February, 1856, the residents at the mouth of Rogue River and vicinity, filled with that patriotic sentiment which everywhere inspires true American hearts, assembled to celebrate, in suitable festivities,the anniversary of the birth of the "Father of His Country." The hotel kept by Warwick and Coburn was a scene of life and pleasure; the miners of the beach had laid aside their implements of labor, donned their holiday costumes, and with their wives and sweethearts had met the stock raisers and the members of their households in a social dance. Though the occasion was not distinguished by that elegance of style which wealth and refinement lent to similar assemblages which met in more favored localities that night, true womanly beauty and virtue were there, and manhood as honorable and brave as ever won the smiles of the fair.
Conscious of an impending outbreak by the savages, the men had taken their trusty rifles with them to the party, and so keen was the sense of surrounding danger that on the slightest noise outside they seized their weapons and only laid them aside after being satisfied that the time for action had not yet arrived There was present an Indian spectator, watching with more than ordinary interest every movement of the settlers, and he being no less closely observed by them. Shortly after midnight another Indian came and after an interview the two departed, making an excuse that one of the papooses was sick. It was afterwards ascertained that the spectator was a spy, and seeing that the settlers were fully armed and on the alert, the work of death which was intended to be commenced at midnight, by the Indians assembled near, was postponed till morning. The dance passed off without alarm and toward daylight those present dispersed for their homes. Among others, Mr. Riley, who had been at the party, and having taken his young wife and child to their home, he started about daylight up the river to serve a subpoena on a witness for a suit then pending before Esq. Seth Blake, Justice of the Peace. As they neared the place known as the Tutuni Ranch, a short distance up the river, the report of firearms and the yells of the exulting savages, as they progressed in the work of death, burst upon his ears. The Indians had attacked the volunteers stationed there, and their superior numbers assured them an easy conquest. He hastily turned the bow of his boat downstream and pulled rapidly homeward, expecting, when he turned the bend in the river, to be greeted by the sight of the burning houses of the settlers below. He was filled with forebodings as to the safety of his wife and child. But the stroke had not yet fallen; there was yet room for hope. The alarm was quietly given, but rapidly circulated, and in a short time all who a few hours before were whirling in the "dizzy mazes of the dance" were hurrying in terror to seek shelter in the fort, which had before been prepared on the north aide of the river. They reached the fort in safety, and took measures to place the structure on a footing of defense.
Many of the miners hurriedly buried their amalgam and the supply of quicksilver, which they had on hand, and abandoned everything of less value. Some of these men never returned to their claim, being killed during the siege to which the fort was subjected, and supplies there buried have occasionally been found by miners on the beach. It should be borne in mind that in those days it required about eighty pounds of quicksilver to properly charge a machine for beach mining, and supplies of this character were expensive. It is probable that gold dust was there buried by miners who never lived to uncover it, and like the fabulous deposits of Captain Kidd, it remains to this day undiscovered.
When Warwick and Coburn left their hotel to enter the fort they were compelled to leave a quantity of pies and other delicacies, the remains of the festival of the previous night. Knowing that the greedy savages would soon be feasting upon these provisions, they removed the crust of the pies and seasoned them with strychnine. The Indians came and eagerly devoured the "skookum muckamuck," but the quantity of poison taken into their stomachs was so great that it caused immediate vomiting, and thus avoided the deadly effect.
The siege of the fort and the massacre of part of its occupants will form the subject of another sketch.
WRITTEN FOR THE COAST MAIL.
Of Oregon's Southern Coast.
The Rogue River Indian War--
Murder of the Geisel Family.
The night and morning that witnessed the events narrated in our last--Feb. 22-23, 1856--were distinguished by a tragedy, the details of which will illustrate the treachery and cruelty of the Indian character, and furnish one of the saddest chapters in the history of that bloody season.
Some seven or eight miles north of Rogue River, a German, named Geisel, had located his donation claim on the prairie, and with his family had established a home, where, in the natural order of events, a few years would have found him surrounded with that comfortable affluence which is the reward of honest and well-directed industry. The family consisted of Mr. and Mrs. Geisel, three bright boys, aged respectively nine, seven, and five years, Mary, a comely girl of thirteen, and an infant daughter. An Indian had been working for Mr. Geisel a short time before, and that afternoon he went out, as was supposed, to hunt for some stray hogs; he did not return at evening, but the circumstance caused the family no uneasiness and they retired as usual. About midnight, a rap was heard at the door. A call at this unseasonable hour, at a time when reports from only [sic] across the coast line of mountains were rife with Indian murders, was calculated to awaken apprehensions in the coolest breast and the summons was answered with caution. The voice of the Indian who had left the house that day was recognized, and as the door was opened, three stalwart Indians entered unbidden. The hearts of the anxious husband and mother sunk, as they looked upon their sleeping treasures and then upon the dusky intruders, whose very presence was a shadow of evil; but before their fears could assume a definite form or suggest a hope of escape, a murderous assault was made upon Mr. Geisel by the Indians, who were armed with knives. The brave wife flew to the assistance of her husband, and received a wound which nearly severed one of her fingers; but a conflict so unequal could not last, and Mr. Geisel fell an easy victim to his assailants. The mother and daughter were taken out of the house and tied, while the Indians returned to complete their bloody mission. The boys were one after another killed by the incarnate fiends, and when the work of death was done, the house was set on fire. Who shall tell the anguish of that mother, as with weary and reluctant steps she was driven away by her captors? One hour before, she was a wife, the conscious idol and center of a happy household; now a widow and a captive, lighted by the flames of her dwelling, as they consumed the bodies of those who were dearer to her than life. Death would then have been welcome, for the present was the blackness of despair, and the future pointed only to a captivity worse than death.
The settlers who assembled in the fort that morning supposed that all the Geisel family were killed, but a short time afterward they learned from a squaw that the female portion of the family were alive, and were held as prisoners at the Tututni ranch, on Rogue River. On hearing this, a squaw who was a prisoner in the fort was sent out to propose an exchange. [She was the wife of Charley Brown, not a prisoner.] She faithfully performed her mission, and a day or two afterward the Indians came in sight in large numbers, bearing a flag of truce. Charley Brown, now residing at Crescent City, was sent out of the fort to negotiate the exchange; the Indians agreed that if the whites would surrender the squaws which they held, and give them a certain number of blankets and a certain number of coins, they would return Mrs. Geisel and her daughters. [No Indian women were held prisoner or exchanged.] The price was made up by subscription, and the next day Mrs.G. and the babe were brought to the fort, and the day following, Mary, the girl, was also surrendered.
The remains of the murdered Geisels were afterwards collected and buried where the house had stood, and a marble monument, with appropriate inscription, now marks the place of their rest. The infant daughter, who was the unconscious witness of her mother's suffering, is now a graceful woman; and the mother and elder daughter are esteemed members of society, but the horrors of that dreadful night are indelibly graven in their memory, only to be effaced when they shall be called to a reunion with the lost ones "on the other side."
WRITTEN FOR THE COAST MAIL.
Of Oregon's Southern Coast.
The Massacre--the Fort and the Siege.
The little band of volunteers who were surprised on the morning of the 23rd of February, at their camp a few miles above Ellensburg, consisted of ten or twelve men. The Indians came upon them unexpectedly, and the surprise was complete, and the victory of the savages speedy and overwhelming. The men had risen early and were at breakfast, when suddenly a volley of bullets was thrown among them, and the Indians fell upon them with shouts and yells calculated to appall the stoutest hearts. Charles Foster, now residing at Big Meadows, on Rogue River, was in the act of drinking his coffee when a bullet from the rifle of one of the assailants struck the cup from his hand. The citizen soldiers made a desperate resistance; but the struggle was of short duration, and when it ended, the lifeless bodies of several of their number were stretched upon the field, while others, wounded, were fleeing through the neighboring forests for safety. Among the dead were "Pat" McCulloch, whose body was cut into small pieces, and R. E. Tullis, whose house not far distant was burnt to the ground. Charles Foster was more fortunate, and made his escape to the woods, preferring even the chance of death from exposure and starvation to the terrible fate which he knew was the alternative. He pushed his way northward through the forest, keeping well back from the coast, and some days afterward arrived at Port Orford, bringing the first news that had been received from Rogue River since the attack commenced. He was nearly famished, having eaten nothing but snails, some of which unpalatable diet he still carried in his pocket.
Twelve o'clock, noon, of that memorable day found the surviving residents of the lower Rogue River in their rudely constructed fortress on the north side of the river. The site of this structure was so selected that no object could approach it from any direction without being brought within range of the rifles of the marksmen within. The first day or two in the fort was spent in perfecting arrangements for defense, and making the situation as endurable as circumstances would permit.
One morning, during the early part of the siege, the Indians were seen assembling in large numbers on a small hill just out of range. The leader was mounted on a white horse, and was seen riding back and forth making gestures and talking with great emphasis. This council lasted all day, while the women within the fort were running bullets and the men under arms, impatiently awaiting the expected attack. Toward evening, the Indians moved in a body down the hill in the direction of the fort. The occupants of the fort waited for them to come within musket range, but apparently becoming aware of the great advantage held by the whites, the Indians halted. A young warrior, called by the settlers "Tututni Jack," son of the chief, becoming impatient of the caution observed by his older and more experienced comrades, rode out from the crowd and dashed past the fort with his horse at a run, he leaning on the opposite side of his animal; as he passed the fort he discharged his rifle, the bullet striking the ridge of the house within, and scattering splinters among the terrified women and children. A short time afterward a daring savage advanced for the purpose of setting fire to a small building which the settlers had commenced to move to the fort, but which was still a few hundred yards away. As he was about to set fire to the building, Riley saluted him with a volley of buckshot, causing him to make a hasty retreat. He ascended a hill some distance away, and, supposing he was out of danger, halted, and went through various gestures expressive of defiance and contempt; but he paid dearly for his temerity, for J. C. McClure, an experienced marksman, "drew a bead" on him, and at the crack of the rifle the Indian fell dead.
Early one morning, as they were posting the usual sentinels, Louis Doucette went toward the bluff to take his post of duty; as he neared the edge of the bluff, suddenly a dozen Indians rose up before him and greeted him with such a volley of bullets that no one thought it possible for him to escape. But he ran to the fort in this incessant shower of leaden death, and made good his entrance into the fort without a scratch. This was the morn after the settlers had, for the first time after they entered the fort, undressed in the usual manner to retire. There was a lady in the fort, named Irwin; old, yet full of the fire of youth. She always insisted on protecting her brother-in-law, Mr. White; and on this occasion, when the alarm wan sounded and all rushed frantically for the narrow passage which led to the post of duty and danger she was among them en deshabille. Being less active than others, she stumbled and fell in the passage. It was a time when etiquette and wiles were at ruinous discount, and the crowd of half-naked men passed over her prostrate form. She soon, however, rose and proceeded to "the front," but the gallantry of those men, so lately merged in excitement, reasserted its sway, and she was sent back among those of her own sex.
WRITTEN FOR THE COAST MAIL.
Of Oregon's Southern Coast.
The close of our last sketch left the imperiled settlers of Rogue River securely entrenched in their rude fortification and surrounded by their bloodthirsty enemy. In this situation the price of life was unremitting vigilance and caution; for the prowling red men were prepared to take advantage of every opportunity that offered to reach their intended victims, who had thus far evaded their assault.
It became necessary to send out men occasionally to obtain provisions for the inmates of the fort, and though every precaution possible was observed, these expeditions were the occasions of many hairbreadth escapes, and of the loss of several lives. W. D. L. F. Smith (now a resident of Coos River), accompanied by "Marsh" Harmon, made a successful raid and brought in some cattle, narrowly escaping the savages who lay in ambush wherever shelter for concealment could be found.
One morning it was decided to send a strong party to a barn belonging to Jas. Hunt, about half a mile distant, to bring in a supply of potatoes which were stored there. Sixteen men were detailed for the expedition, and "Ned" (a negro) drove the ox team that was to haul in the provisions. They proceeded on the beach to a point where the wagon could go no further--not far from the barn--and eight of the party were sent forward to sack and bring down the potatoes, while the rest remained to guard the wagon. There was an ominous silence in the surroundings, and an unaccountable absence of Indian signs, and though every man felt the presence of danger, none realized the terrible nearness of death. Henry Boland was placed as a sentinel at an elevated point nearby, and all was going on well when suddenly, as by a bolt from heaven, the stillness was broken and Henry Boland fell, riddled with ballets. The Indians rose from ambush on every hand, and the doom of the entire party appeared to be sealed. The only hope for life was to be found in instantaneous flight; a portion of the party ran for the fort by a different route than that by which they came, and eight of them reached the fort in safety; the remaining eight were cut off. Some, seeing all hope of escape by flight vanish, ran frantically toward the beach, falling one by one as they ran. One, supposed to be Lewellen Oliver, ran to the surf, threw his trusty rifle ahead of him, and, plunging into the ocean, quenched the spark of life in its waves rather than fall into the hands of his merciless pursuers, M. B. Gregory, since County Judge of Curry County, was struck by two bullets, one taking off the point of his elbow, and the other hitting him between the shoulders. He at first supposed the latter to be a fatal shot, but on examination after arriving at the fort, it proved to be a spent ball that had penetrated the clothing and lodged against the skin, inflicting no more serious injury than a bruise. He alone of the eight who remained with the wagon reached the fort.
During the time when the settlers were thus besieged, the Indians were accustomed to go down to the beach at the mouth of the river to catch a small variety of eels that were to be found there in great numbers. The men in the fort watched them closely, hoping to get a chance to slay some of the murderous tribe. One morning very early, Isaac Warwick, as daring a fellow as ever lived, crept up within rifle range and brought down one or more of the Indians. It was a triumph! He hastened back to the fort, and finding Riley still in bed, raised the blankets under which he was sleeping and threw upon him the reeking scalp of his Indian victim, with the remark: "See what I have been doing while you have been sleeping." Thus do we see men of naturally generous, humane and tender feelings sometimes become tinctured with the barbarism with which they have been thrown in frequent contact.
The people of Port Orford, having had no message from their friends at Rogue River since the arrival of Chas. Foster with the news of the massacre of the volunteers, decided to send a small boat down by the ocean, the dangers of the treacherous deep being less dreaded than the barbarous foe that infested the route by land. A party of eight men was made up to undertake this perilous voyage, and a whaleboat was the best and only vessel at their command. The party consisted of Richard Gay, owner of the boat, Sylvester Long, H. De Fremery, H. C. Gerow, Capt. Davis, and three others whose names we have been unable to learn. They left Port Orford with the blessings of anxious friends, and many ardently expressed hopes for their safe return. They made the passage of thirty miles without difficulty, and arrived off the mouth of Rogue River. The occupants of the fort hailed the appearance of the boat as a harbinger of hope and joy, little thinking that this newborn hope was so soon to be shrouded in a darker and more terrible gloom. The little craft approaches the surf; the point for landing is selected, toward which the prow of the boat is pointed, while it is driven forward like an arrow by the stroke of the sturdy oarsmen. Suddenly the steering oar is unshipped by a breaker, the boat swings around into the trough of the sea, and the next breaker that comes combing over buries them from sight for a moment, and when it had passed eight noble men are seen struggling in the life-quenching element. They combat the waves for a while, but one by one they disappear to rise no more, till only two remain on the surface. Capt. Davin was an "old salt," and clung to the keel of the boat with the energy of despair. Each breaker would knock him loose, but he would immediately renew his hold, and by this means he was carried near the shore and rescued. Henry De Fremery clung to the sail of the boat for awhile, and after becoming exhausted he was so wrapped in it that he was prevented from sinking; and as he thus drifted near the shore, he was taken out of the water by friends, more dead than alive. He recovered, and now does business in San Francisco, but six of his companions are numbered among the dead of "The Rogue River War."
WRITTEN FOR THE COAST MAIL.
Of Oregon's Southern Coast.
PORT ORFORD--THE CLOSE OF THE
ROGUE RIVER WAR.
When the news of the outbreak at Rogue River was brought to Port Orford, the settlers, aware of the imminent danger which threatened them, hastened to construct fortifications, and to gather together their household goods in a place of safety. H. B. Tichenor & Co. had a large number of men employed in cutting and manufacturing cedar lumber, and these went into a stronghold of their own construction, not far from the mill, while the other citizens with their families occupied a fortress at the port. John Hamblock, who was then working at Port Orford, was engaged to marry Miss Long (the present Mrs. Hamblock), whose family resided a few miles south of the Coquille River. He lost no time in starting up the coast to make sure of the safety of his friends; he found A. H. Hinch at the mouth of Sixes River, where also lived Mr. Dodge with his family, and to these he communicated the news of which he was the bearer. "Uncle Tommy" Lowe was living on his donation claim, now owned by Geo. Bennett, Esq. and the family of Mr. Long some distance further south. All of these people except Mr. Lowe and Chris. Long hastened to the fort with Mr. Hamblock, while the two last-named men remained to watch their stock and premises. They spent the day near and about the farms, while at night they went away into the woods and concealed themselves and slept at the Three Sisters, south of Port Orford. Dan Haywood and Geo. Lount were engaged in catching otter and sea lions. On the night of the outbreak an Indian called "Whiskers" came to their cabin and told them that if they stayed there till morning they would certainly be killed, and as proof of his sincerity he laid down across the cabin doorway and kept watch there all night. Just at the break of day he, with the two white men, embarked in the whaleboat with which they were supplied and sailed to Cape Blanco, and thence went with the other settlers into the fort. But for this friendly warning, these men would almost certainly have fallen victims to the savages who scoured the coast in quest of blood, not forty-eight hours later.
There were several alarms given while the settlers were in the fort, some of which, as might be expected, were without good cause. One night, as ------ Jamison was on guard, a fine black cow belonging to one of the citizens ventured to cross the guard-line; he was hailed by the sentry, and, failing to "halt and give the countersign," the trusty rifle of the guard broke the stillness of the night, and when a force turned out to ascertain the cause of the alarm, they found the body of the cow. On another occasion, a sentinel stationed a little distance down the beach saw in the darkness some object moving stealthily along near the edge of the water; he hailed it, and it halted but did not respond; he fired, and saw the object leap into the air, fall, and then retreat down the beach. He went to the fort and reported what had transpired; some ridiculed him, thinking he had been alarmed at a shadow, but the following morning revealed the track of the prowling savage, and also a large knife which he had dropped when the shot of the sentry struck him. The Indians did not deem it prudent to attack the fort either at Port Orford or Rogue River, and relying on the hope of relief from abroad the settlers patiently watched and waited.
For thirty-one weary days the people of Rogue River were thus forted up and, to a certain extent, besieged by the Indians. They hoped for deliverance, but when it would come was beyond rational conjecture. The monotony of such a life of idleness and restraint it was scarcely possible for those daring active men to endure, and many a venture was made in search of even a limited allowance of that freedom to which they had always been accustomed, at the risk of losing their scalps. One day the welcome sight of au approaching column of soldiers greeted their vision, and two companies of "regulars" soon came to a halt nearby. The Indians knew better than to wait for an engagement with this force and hastily retreated up the river some ten or twelve miles, where they fortified themselves and waited for an attack. The location selected as their stronghold was easily defended from au enemy approaching by the front, but the rear was almost beneath the shadow of a hill or bluff. Suspecting an attack from the front, they failed to take any steps to protect the flank and rear of their fortress. They were not long kept in suspense; there was an organization of volunteers formed to cooperate with the regulars and preparations were made for the assault. The regulars commenced the attack from the front, and met a determined resistance; but the volunteers came upon them from the flank and rear, by way of the bluff, with fearful execution. The struggle was sanguinary, but the Indians soon saw that their cause was hopeless and surrendered. The whites lost but few men in this engagement, but the dead and wounded of the Indians were more numerous. One of the volunteers was missing after the fight and was never heard of afterward; whether he ran into the woods and was lost, or made his way safely out of the country, is not known, though persons acquainted with him seem to favor the former conclusion. This was the close of the Rogue River war on the coast.
After the surrender of the Indians they were taken to the Siletz Reservation, but a considerable number of the most guilty were still at large, and Capt. Tichenor was employed to gather these renegades and take them to the reservation. One of these was identified by Mr. Geisel as belonging to the party who massacred her family, and he was summarily hanged to a tree near the graves of the murdered Geisels, Some fifteen or twenty of these Indians, with a large number of squaws and papooses, were got together and started north from Rogue River. They had reached a point where the road passed the ruins of the home of the Geisels. The Indians showed signs of insubordination and one or two had broken away from the band, when Tichenor called upon the citizens to assist in keeping them under control. The citizens came in numbers, and aroused to frenzy by the near presence of those [whose] hands were so lately dyed in the blood of their kindred and neighbors, they fell upon the savages and a scene of carnage followed which I shall not attempt to describe. The squaws and papooses were taken to the reservation, but the soil of the prairie drank the blood of the warriors, and their spirits passed over to the happy "hunting grounds" which their untaught faith pictures for them beyond the setting sun.
WRITTEN FOR THE COAST MAIL.
Of Oregon's Southern Coast.
CAPT. L. L. WILLIAMS, AND THE EXPLORING EXPEDITION OF 1851.
We now enter upon the most important, as well as the most interesting, incident in the history of Coos and Curry counties, the ill-fated expedition of 1851. Of this expedition L. L. Williams, a man well known in Southern Oregon, now a resident of Waitsburg, W.T., and Mr. Hedden, of Scottsburg, are the sole survivors. The expedition was one of great hardship and peril from the commencement, and terminated in a deadly hand-to-hand fight near the mouth of the Coquille River, from which but five came out alive. The part borne by L. L. Williams in this expedition and the bloody conflict in which it terminated, as well as his career since, are of such a remarkable character, and so closely connected with the history of Southern Oregon, that we here introduce, by way of preface, a brief sketch of his life.
L. L. Williams was born in the state of Vermont, in 1831, moved with his parents to Michigan in 1833, his father settling sixty miles northwest of Detroit. Young Williams never attended school, and all the educational advantages ever enjoyed by him were those of his own creating. He was endowed by nature with a strong constitution, and at the age of fifteen was a man in size, broad-shouldered, well-developed, and possessing in its fullest degree the determined and self-reliant spirit that has since carried him through hardships that very few men could survive. It was at this age that he joined a company engaged in hunting and trapping for furs along the northern boundary, from the Lakes to the Rocky Mountains, and remained in this service for five years. He saw many hardships and many narrow escapes; they were surrounded by Indians more or less hostile, and were frequently attacked by small bands, which were repelled by the daring frontiersmen. The experience acquired in this business served him a good purpose in after life. In 1850 he came to California, and the following year came to Port Orford in the steamer Sea Gull, of which Wm. Tichenor was commander. He received a severe wound in the fight with the Indians near the mouth of the Coquille, in September, 1851, being then twenty years of age, arrived at the Umpqua some days later, and remained an invalid from his wound for some years. He was twice County Treasurer of Umpqua County, and twice County Clerk of the same county. Douglas and Umpqua counties were consolidated in 1863, and he filled the office of County Clerk of Douglas County three terms by election and two by appointment, and in the year 1863 Williams was enrolling officer for this district and became Captain of a co. of volunteers and spent the following two or three years with his command among the Indians of Southeastern Oregon.
He has been a Government Deputy Surveyor and chief clerk in the Roseburg Land Office. He also took an active part in the Snake Indian campaigns. In 1874 he visited the buffalo country on the Saskatchewan River in British America and thence to the Black Hills in 1876. In 1879 he made an extended tour of the Yellowstone country and wrote some interesting description of the remarkable scenery of the national park.
Williams is a bachelor of medium height, strongly built, and a man whose acquirements and general intelligence, considering his want of early training, are quite remarkable. He is one of the best clerks in Oregon, and his long experience in the clerk's office united with sound judgment [and] a habit of close observation have given him a better knowledge of the forms of law than is generally to be found outside of the legal profession. He is a good financier and has acquired a handsome competence. He never gambles, uses tobacco nor drinks tea, coffee nor whiskey; is always honest and straightforward in business, and enjoys the fullest confidence of all his acquaintances. He is a strange combination of a self-taught scholar, a lifelong backwoodsman, a first-class hunter, a good explorer and mountaineer, and a persistent Indian hater. For this last-named quality he has as good warrant as any man living, as will appear more fully from the following extracts from his journal, the facts and details for which were carefully noted by Williams and Hedden immediately alter the occurrences narrated, and while the incidents were fresh in the minds of the actors.
Having thoroughly explored the whole coast from the mouth of the Coquille River 80 miles north of Port Orford to the California line about 90 miles south, it was determined to organize a party to explore the interior, and about the middle of August 1851 an expedition of 23 fine young men under the charge of W. G. T'Vault left Port Orford, to examine the Coast Range mountains and find a practicable route, if one existed, for a road or pack trail from the coast eastward to a point on the Oregon and California trail near Shasta.
T'Vault was an old Oregonian, had been six or seven years in the country, and his services had been secured to explore this region of country in the interest of the Port Orford company. He was represented as being a good practical mountaineer and an experienced Indian fighter. The most of the party were emigrants of that year, or the year previous, and had but very little knowledge of the geography of the country, and but few of them had ever been accustomed to mountain life or the ways of hostile Indians, yet all were anxious to be off, looking forward to the time when they might immortalize themselves in some hand-to-hand conflict with the natives, or reach the rich gold fields of the Shasta country, which at this time was attracting the attention of the adventurous gold miners from all parts of the coast.
The parties in interest at Port Orford being more directly interested in the success of this expedition, had provided about eight days' rations, asserting confidentially that no longer time would be needed in passing over the mountains to the mining districts in the interior, where supplies could be obtained.
WRITTEN FOR THE COAST MAIL.
Of Oregon's Southern Coast.
JOURNAL OF L. L. WILLIAMS--CONTINUED FROM LAST WEEK.
Leaving Port Orford in good spirits, we followed southerly along the coast as far as the mouth of Rogue River, which was reached at noon on the fourth day, having lost considerable time in preparing our packs, patching up pack saddles, and rigging for our three or four Cayuse ponies. Game, as usual, was abundant, Geo. Lount and myself being the principal hunters of the expedition.
We saw many Indians as we passed down the coast, but on seeing us they generally fled immediately to the timber, but as we approached Rogue River they became much more numerous and bold, and gathered together in the rear of our party in numbers of 150 or more. Following up the north bank of the river a few miles, the mountains appeared to close in a few miles above us, and deeming it more practicable to leave the river, we bore off to the left over a range of bald hills, the large body of Indians following a short distance behind. In the afternoon we entered a deep little valley or basin of level land, surrounded by bushy timbered hills, where we concluded to camp for the night.
The Indians soon took position all around this little level, while we were comparatively safe in the middle of it; but fearing they might creep nearer under cover of the high grass, we burnt the same, and thus destroyed the only chance for them to approach the camp unperceived by our sentinels. No Indians were seen during the night, and none were visible in the morning.
A small stream ran through this little valley, and in a heavy timbered flat above a large band of elk kept up a continuous whistling all night. Early in the morning Lount and myself set out in advance of the party in search of game. We found the ground had been much trampled up by the elk during the night, and well-beaten paths led off in every direction, but as the animals had stopped whistling at daylight, we could not tell just where they were to be found. Lount followed a fresh trail leading off easterly along the foot of a mountain, while I followed a similar trail leading up to a high summit ridge. Following this ridge for about half an hour, and coming to a thick grove of large green timber, I had the satisfaction of discovering a band of about twenty elk lying down among the trees. From my past experience with these animals I had no fear of their jumping up suddenly and running away from me. I approached the nearest tree and took position about forty yards from the game; the plump and fat animals, as large as horses, some of them with antlers six or eight feet above their heads, was a sight pleasing to the eye of a hunter. The animals soon began to get up; I selected a large one, and with a single shot brought him to the ground. The remainder of the band went tearing away through the forest at a rapid rate in the direction that Lount had gone, and passed very near him, but they were so badly frightened that he failed to get a shot, and soon came up with me. Before the elk was cut up and ready for packing, we were joined by the remainder of the party with the horses, and soon set out with a good supply of fat elk meat, which added much to the luxuries of camp life.
Keeping pretty well back from Rogue River, generally through heavily timbered mountains, following dividing ridges and often crossing deep canyons, in due course of time we reached a point on the river again, perhaps about 30 miles in a direct line from the ocean. From a high and prominent point nearby we had a fair view of the country to the eastward, and a magnificent sight it was, but not very encouraging to us as explorers. A solid range of mountains rising one above the other till they were lost from sight in the dim distance was all that was visible to us. The mountains generally appeared to be heavily timbered, but occasionally a bald hill or a high rocky pinnacle might be seen shooting up tower-like toward the sky, rendering this a beautiful place to study the wonders and mysteries of nature, and anything but a pleasant place for explorers on short rations.
Capt. T'Vault always represented that he had a full and complete knowledge of the entire section of country along the overland trail from the Columbia River to California, therefore most of the men, although doubting his judgment as a mountaineer, had full confidence that he could identify the country to the eastward, but it was found that from a high and prospective point attained that he was unable to recognize any part of the high mountains or the many prominent landmarks in view ahead of us. This was very discouraging to us, for our provisions were nearly consumed and game was all the time getting scarcer, and the men becoming dissatisfied proposed to return, having, as they saw, been under the charge of T'Vault a sufficient length of time to satisfy all hands that his knowledge of the country and mountaineering generally had been greatly overrated.
As an inducement for the men to proceed, the sum of fifty dollars per month was offered to all who would remain with the expedition and not abandon it to return, and nine of the party, rather than desert the enterprise upon which they had embarked and under promise of the wages offered consented to continue on, trusting to Providence; hoping that with good success in killing game our supplies might be made to last until we could reach the road in the interior. The remainder of the party (13 in number) returned to Port Orford, and among them George Lount, the only man in the expedition besides myself who was accustomed to hunting or who ever killed any game. I had concluded to go on with the Captain, and for a further consideration he offered me the additional sum of $150 to carry an express to Oregon City immediately upon our reaching the mining district of the interior.
It was a sorry parting of men; Lount was from Michigan--my own state--was a good hunter, and we had been much together since we had been to Port Orford, and I was sorry to have him leave us.
The Indians, to all appearances, had been left behind, so that now but little sign was to be seen. A little game appeared to inhabit the country, but was becoming more and more scarce every day. The company was now reduced to ten men in all, consisting of W. G. T'Vault, captain; Cornelius Doherty, from Texas; John P. Pepper, from New York; John Holland, from New Hampshire; Cyrus Hedden, from New Jersey; T. J. Davenport, from Massachusetts; Jeremiah Ryan, from Maryland; Patrick Murphy, from New York; Gilbert Brush, from Texas; L. L. Williams, from Michigan; these continued on their weary march with rations considerably reduced and a poor prospect of game to supply their wants. The question of eating horseflesh was every night fully discussed around our campfires, and particularly after a hard and weary march with no game, or any fresh sign visible. From the representations continually made by Capt. T'Vault, it was believed that we could continue on our course and obtain relief quicker than by turning back. After a few days obtaining no game, our rations were all consumed and yet no evidence presented itself that gave us any idea whatever of the distance yet to travel before relief could be obtained.
WRITTEN FOR THE COAST MAIL.
Of Oregon's Southern Coast.
JOURNAL OF L. L. WILLIAMS--CONTINUED FROM LAST WEEK.
The mountains were rough, rugged, heavy timbered, thick, brushy, and much cut up by canyons and deep gorges, making progress very slow and tedious--the men gradually becoming weaker, and unfortunately no one but myself made any effort whatever at hunting. Occasionally a deer was killed, which would furnish but one scanty meal; and at last the game seemed to entirely forsake the path of the expedition. The men were so far reduced that they were desirous of killing a horse for food, but were obstinately refused that privilege. At length, about the middle of the afternoon one pleasant autumnal day, two of the men, Ryan and Murphy, who had remained faithful to the expedition, entirely failed and lay down upon the ground, declaring it to be impossible for them, in their weakness, to go any farther without food, which we all stood so much in need of.
Camp was necessarily made at once, and after resting for a time it was determined that all who were able to go out and hunt should make one more desperate effort to secure a supply of game, and if unsuccessful, upon our return to camp we would kill a horse for food, regardless of opposition or what the consequences might be. A few elk tracks had been seen just as we pitched camp, and besides this, no game nor indication of any had been seen for several days. Our prospects were not very flattering, only two of the men besides myself being able to go; the remainder lay down upon the ground to rest their weary limbs and await further developments. I was possessed of a strong physical constitution, had been much accustomed to frontier life and perhaps better able to endure the privations and hardships than any other member of the company. I set out myself in the direction which appeared the most favorable for game, pointing out to each of the others a different direction, each admonishing the other to take good aim in case game should be met with. I presume I remained off about three quarters of a mile from camp, moving slowly and cautiously, looking anxiously into every thicket and ravine for game, somewhat hopeful, for a few newly made elk tracks had been noticed, when suddenly rapid firing was opened by one of the men and shortly after by the other in a different direction. I halted to listen to the music; and it is impossible for another to conceive with what joy and pleasure I listened to the echo of those rifles as they reverberated through the mountains and canyons, each shot being a pleasant and, I thought, an almost certain reminder of game being secured, and of the grand feast that would immediately follow. Some twelve or fourteen shots were fired, which indicated that a quantity of game had been met with, and that at least temporary relief was at hand. With full confidence in the result and perfectly indifferent as to the future, I at once set out for camp. Some little time after the firing had ceased, a single shot from camp was heard, which I readily interpreted to be a signal for me to return. I had not walked far before I noticed a few sprigs of very fine salal berries, and placing my rifle by a tree, I commenced picking the little clusters from the low bushes. I was soon startled by the snort of an elk, and looking up, there stood, not fifteen steps away, two of those magnificent animals--and my rifle some distance off. I crawled along upon my hands and knees to where it was, picked it up and shot down the finest of the two animals, the other trotting off leisurely into the thick timber out of sight. Believing that my comrades had secured all the game necessary for present use, much nearer camp, I left the huge animal where he had fallen, and wended my way to join my companions at the camp fire.
The other two hunters had returned; and instead of bright and cheerful faces as I expected to see, everything appeared gloomy. Each one had found a band of elk, crippled a few, but all had got away. Afterward one of the men, as he neared camp, had shot a wood rat, an animal scarcely larger than a chipmunk, which they had neatly dressed and cut up into ten pieces, but had refused to eat until all were present. Ryan, Holland, and Murphy, who were exhausted when we made camp, after learning that the others had failed were somewhat hopeful when they heard the report of my rifle, but seeing me come in with no game they sank back upon the ground with a groan of despair. No questions were asked, and each man roasted and eagerly devoured his morsel of wood rat in silence, and when subsequently informed that I had been fortunate enough to kill an elk, a more sudden transition from gloom and sorrow to merriment and enthusiasm was seldom witnessed by mortal man. Three as hearty cheers as half-famished men could raise awoke the echoes of those mountains, and all was commotion in camp. Even Holland, Ryan, and Murphy, two of whom had actually given out during the day, really moved about livelier than I could possibly have done; yet those very men, unaccustomed to hardships and mountain life, would probably have died at that camp in despair had it not been for the superhuman efforts of others who were as weak and emaciated as they, but perhaps not quite as easily discouraged. All hands were active, and the dead elk was soon dressed, and with the aid of the horses every part of the meat was carried to camp. A lot of hungry men, upon suddenly receiving an abundant supply of game, often presents a very interesting spectacle, and our camp on this occasion was no exception to the rule, and might have been of interest to anyone who was not accustomed to wild life. The cutting up and roasting [of the] meat was commenced with great vigor, and large slices were held in the hand for a moment before the blazing fire and then greedily devoured, the men commenting freely upon the improved manner of cooking fat steak. All wore a smiling countenance, and cheerful songs and laughable stories were the order of the evening.
For a few nights past, only a single sentinel had been kept on duty during the night, and by this arrangement the men came on guard every third night. It was my place to take the middle watch this night, and therefore, eating as heartily as I desired, or as any prudent person would, I lay down to obtain a little sleep, leaving my lively companions around the fire, enjoying the marrow bones and fat ribs to their fullest satisfaction.
I was awakened at 11 o'clock to go on guard, and arose and found all the men seated around the fire roasting and eating, and as gaily as men ever are. I went on post and at the end of three hours was relieved, and joined the jovial fellows at the fire, frequently cautioning against eating too much, but was only answered that such good meat could never injure a half-starved man. At three o'clock in the morning I again rolled myself in my blanket and turned in and did not awake until after daylight, when I found over half of the men as jolly as ever, still occupying their places around the fire, roasting meat and eating at their leisure. It had been thought best to eat the bony meat and those parts unfit for drying, and that the remainder be jerked for future use. Tn order to do this, it became necessary to stay over one day at this camp; and when ready to set out next morning all the meat remaining from the elk (which would have weighed at least 600 pounds) could have been tied up in a single pocket handkerchief, while every bone had been picked and broken, and even the marrow extracted and eaten. The men were now in an excellent condition to lie in camp, and were no more fit to travel than before. They were filled to satiety, and were as weak as ever--I felt so and the others appeared the same.
WRITTEN FOR THE COAST MAIL.
Of Oregon's Southern Coast.
JOURNAL OF L. L. WILLIAMS--CONTINUED FROM LAST WEEK.
We set out and in one or two miles came upon [an] old and well-beaten Indian trail, leading from Rogue River on the right, directly across our route in a course about NNW. T'Vault accounted for this by explaining to the men "that the Hudson Bay Company had a fort or trading post on the Umpqua River, 40 or 50 miles back from the ocean; that there was a good trail leading from that fort south through the mountains to Rogue River, and that the Indians from the latter place passed over the trails in great numbers upon their annual trading expeditions to the fort; therefore this must be the Rogue River and Fort Umpqua trail." This theory sounded reasonable, and as we had traveled northward since leaving the coast, the distance was thought by him to not exceed thirty miles; and upon his suggestion we all agreed that relief could be obtained from the fort sooner than any other place. So we entered upon the trail and turned our faces northward. The trail was plain, yet did not appear to have been traveled for a year or two past. In a couple of days we had made about twenty-five miles, over a very rough country, when we descended a long spur of the mountain to a narrow valley of prairie and timbered land, alternating through which a stream of seventy-five or eighty feet in width was flowing northwesterly, which the captain at once pronounced to be the South Umpqua, but after following downstream for a short distance, we all became satisfied that it was some unknown river running into the ocean. (This stream was afterwards called the South Fork of the Coquille River.) Here we found an abundance of fresh Indian signs, and numerous hard-beaten trails and an old camp; a new fishery nearby indicated that this was a favorite resort for hunting and fishing purposes. The second day upon this stream, I struck out in advance after game. Halting by a tree at the margin of a wide bottom of prairie land, I discovered an Indian walking obliquely across my path. When about 40 yards in front I jumped out in sight, determined to kill him if he should run, as I expected he would; but the poor frightened fellow, upon seeing me, dropped his bow and arrows and surrendered unconditionally. He followed me until we met the company, and T'Vault conversed with him by signs and took an unusual interest in him and engaged him to pilot us over to Fort Umpqua, and it appeared to all as if he understood our object. We felt as if the route to the fort should be about north; while by following the Indian trails along the river we appeared to be going west or northwest. After traveling down a day further, we were pleased to find that the Indian guide was ready to leave the river and pursue a more northerly course into the burnt timbered mountains. At a distance of about twelve miles over a rough country, we found ourselves upon another stream, 65 or 70 feet in width, running west, with bottom lands, elk signs and well-beaten Indian trails along its banks. (This was afterward called the Middle Fork, and we must have struck at or near the lower end of Enchanted Prairie.) We followed down this stream several miles, passing a small prairie near where it united with a similar stream from the south, probably the one noted a few miles back. We passed several Indian ranches in this vicinity from which the inmates fled in great fright; sometimes leaving an old blind Indian or squaw to the awful fate which they no doubt thought awaited them. At one camp we obtained a small lot of roasted camas, and finally we came upon a large camp. The Indians were so intent upon cooking salmon by boiling in a willow basket that they did not perceive us until we were within a few feet of them. All at once the naked Indians, squaws and papooses fled in every direction, while one or two little ones, too small to walk, were left to our tender mercy. Their cries made daylight hideous, and which no doubt conveyed the welcome intelligence to their much-terrified mothers that they were still in the land of the living. The boiled salmon that had been so unceremoniously deserted was taken possession of by us and greedily eaten; the water in which it had been cooked was dealt out in rations to the weakest of the party, and was pronounced the most delicate kind of soup. At about this time our Indian guide deserted us, and as is usually the case stealing as many little articles as was possible.
Although a small amount of food had been obtained, yet it was but little relief to us in our weak condition. Elk signs appeared abundant in the vicinity of the river, and some of us were anxious to stop a day or two, and try to secure a supply for future use. But the majority decided that it was best to abandon our horses, and with the aid of a pocket compass, lay our course north for the Umpqua River; which according to T'Vault's theory could not be very far distant. This theory, however, of a trail leading to the fort was pretty much abandoned by him by this time. Hedden, Brush and myself desired to lay by a few days to recruit ourselves and get some game; but this proposition was, as it had been before, by the mistaken argument that game could be as readily found and as easily killed while traveling as could be done from a stationary camp.
The compass was given to me, and our course laid due north. After traveling about four miles, we came to a deep tidewater stream about twenty yards in width, running southwest, and which was found to unite with the main river a few yards below. (This was afterward called the North Fork, and we were now at the "Forks.") This stream could not be easily crossed, so we followed [it] up a short distance, when the Captain gave out, declaring that it was impossible for him to go any further. Resting awhile, I killed a pheasant, and Mr. Dougherty killed a grey squirrel, which were readily eaten raw, as usual. This kind of diet, together with the daily tightening up of our belts, was great relief but did not strengthen us much.
Soon afterwards, while yet undecided what was best for us to do, we heard the sound of canoe paddles below, and soon three canoeloads of Indians came up, were hailed by us, and came ashore. They had no meat; were armed with bows and arrows and on their way up the river on a hunting or fishing excursion.
A consultation was again had, and we were fully satisfied from the tide marks that the stream was navigable from this point to the ocean. The Indians were hostile, of course, and very much to be dreaded. The most of our party were in favor of continuing northward; but as T'Vault was unable to travel, and many others equally as weak, a different course was fixed upon. That was to go down the river in canoes to the coast, several of us contending that as the Indians were very numerous and hostile that we had better buy a canoe and have it under our own control and guidance; but as all hands were so weak and so far reduced, that it was finally decided that we would hire the Indians to take us to the mouth of the river. We gave them pretty much all the clothing we had left for their services, and much more than should have been required to purchase a canoe outright. We were not well dressed for a mountain trip when we left Port Orford, and all our clothing was pretty much worn out; in fact, was almost completely torn from us. After paying the Indians we had but little left.
WRITTEN FOR THE COAST MAIL.
Of Oregon's Southern Coast.
JOURNAL OF L. L. WILLIAMS--CONTINUED FROM LAST WEEK.
We embarked about noon on the 13th of September, and started on our trip toward the sea. We passed many Indians and large rancheries at intervals along the bank, but singular to relate, nothing could be obtained to eat except a small quantity of porpoise hide during the day. Although Indians were seen by the hundreds, no hostile demonstrations had been made, and had it not been for the entire absence of squaws and papooses, they might have been easily mistaken for friendly Indians. But as the circumstances were, it was certain that their disposition was hostile, and that we were liable to be attacked at any time; hence the necessity of observing the greatest possible caution.
The mouth of Coos River was known to be about 20 miles south of the Umpqua, and the mouth of the Coquille River was known to be about 20 miles south of Coos River and about 30 miles north of Port Orford. All that was known of either the Coquille or Coos River was that they emptied into the ocean. As we had traveled northward since leaving the coast at the mouth of Rogue River, we felt quite certain for the time being that we were upon the waters of the Coos, and in that event we intended to proceed northward to the Umpqua settlements. On the other hand, if this proved to be the Coquille, we would follow down the coast to Port Orford. The river traversed one of the handsomest valleys of rich timbered bottom lands to be found anywhere upon the Pacific Coast, with a fine growth of myrtle, maple, ash, etc., peculiar to the river bottoms of Oregon, and eventually will become an earthly paradise. As night set in, the Indians who were in charge of the canoes manifested a desire to camp, so we went on shore on the north bank and camped under some evergreens, where a spur of the mountain reached down to the river. We kept a strict guard as usual during the night, observing also that the Indians were equally vigilant. It was understood that this was to be our last night in the wilderness. The breakers could be plainly heard as they beat upon the beach below. An early hour next morning would bring us to the ocean, where clams, mussels and other shellfish could be obtained. We were happy in our imagination, and were rejoicing at the prospect, and were perfectly indifferent as to whether we were in the Coos or Coquille rivers, for in either case we would reach the settlements at the Umpqua or at Port Orford in two or three days. The night passed off quietly and next morning we set out early--this was the 14th day of September, 1851. The day was an unusually pleasant one. We made good progress with a favorable tide downstream, and all hands were happy. As we advanced, ranches became more numerous and many "fish weirs" were in the course of construction, some of them reaching across the river, indicating that the salmon season was at hand. Arriving at a point three or four miles from the coast, so that the mouth of the river and the ocean could be plainly seen over the low, drifting sand hills, we at once recognized it to be the Coquille River. We were near the end of our river navigation, and Providence permitting we would soon bid goodbye to our canoes, and the magnificent Coquille, whose torturous windings we had followed so far, and would be marching down the beach in the direction of Port Orford.
The Indians, numerous all along the river, increased in numbers as we neared the month. It was now positively known that they were hostile to the whites, for a portion of them had taken an active part in the fight at Port Orford in June last. We had obtained much information of their character and disposition while on our hunting expeditions prior to leaving Port Orford, and were now fully aware of the character of the Indians we had to deal with. We had thus [far] avoided an attack, and did not anticipate any great danger in making our way to Port Orford. We were nearly naked; no one possessed more clothing than a shirt and pants, those being much tattered and torn, while some of them could not boast of that much. A wretched set of miserable men we were indeed. Bareheaded, barefooted, hair long and uncombed, and so far reduced by starvation that our voices sounded hollow and sepulchral, yet cheerful as it was possible for men to be when in that condition. We firmly linked together by a bond of friendship, not easily to be broken. While much blame might be attached to the Captain, yet a band of brothers never appeared nearer to each other. We were all strangers when we set out, but the state of feeling cannot be described and can only be realized and known by men who have been similarly situated. We now realized the fact that much greater caution should be exercised, and the question of our immediate future action in regard to safety and the procurement of food was fully discussed. For the first time, quite a difference of opinion seemed to exist, when all should have been united.
A large rancherie stood upon the right bank of the river, a short distance ahead of us, and perhaps about two miles from the ocean, with a strip of level prairie or marshland about a half a mile wide between it and the timber north of it. (This is at the bend of the river above Hamblock's, and below Pershbaker's store.) Toward this ranch the Indians directed our canoes. T'Vault, Doherty, Ryan, Hall, Murphy and Davenport were in favor of landing and trying to obtain something to eat; while Hedden, Brush, Pepper and myself, more fully realizing the danger, entered a strong protest against it, deeming it very imprudent to land, for there were already Indians enough in sight to overpower and completely annihilate us the moment we should step on shore. The Indians in the two canoes refused to go past this point, and a few of us insisted upon landing upon the south side, where to say the least we would be in no immediate danger. The Captain, so far overcome with hunger and fatigue, thinking that there might be no danger, and representing that he understood a portion of their language, and from the inducements held out to us by a display of fine-looking salmon by the Indians on shore, prevailed upon all the men except four of us to agree to a landing and take the consequences of an attack; asserting that there was no danger or we would have been attacked long ago. Hedden and myself strongly opposed this movement, while several others gave their indifferent consent. Although the expedition had been unfortunate from its departure from Port Orford, and much suffering had been incurred in consequence thereof, yet this proved to be by far the most fatal and unfortunate decision for our little band of explorers; the first to ever traverse the Coquille Valley, and who were entitled to all the honors of the first discovery of its three principal branches, its fifty miles of splendid navigation and its extensive valleys of fine farming land.
Our canoes were landed at the large rancherie broadside upon the beach. A large force of Indians, painted all kinds of colors, and armed with bows and arrows, long knives and war clubs, occupied the bank before us, and at once surrounded the canoes (on the land side), while a score or more of canoes, also well filled with armed Indians, suddenly appeared in the river from the little slough and bayous, and from above and below. Yet the majority could not believe there was danger. Yet Hedden and myself insisted upon shoving out our canoes and landing upon the opposite shore, where the main body of Indians for the immediate present, at least, could have been avoided. But all our considerations and discussions were suddenly closed by an irresistible charge being made upon us from every side by the Indians who numbered not less than 150. Their plans were so well laid, and the attack so sudden, that Ryan, Holland, Murphy and Pepper were instantly struck down with clubs, while every other person in the company except myself were quickly disarmed. All this was done at the first onset, and before anyone had time to fire a gun.
WRITTEN FOR THE COAST MAIL.
Of Oregon's Southern Coast.
JOURNAL OF L. L. WILLIAMS--CONTINUED FROM LAST WEEK.
It appeared from the suddenness of the attack that their plan was for a number of Indians to simultaneously pounce upon each member of the party, disarm them, and then kill them at pleasure. It did not appear to me possible that anyone of the party could escape. I rode in the bow of the leading canoe and had stepped out on the beach and was completely hemmed in. I was separated from my comrades when the rush was made upon us, and I can hardly tell how it prevented myself from being crowded into the river. Two powerful Indians seized hold of my gun, one by the muzzle, and the other by the breech, while I maintained a firm hold upon the middle. A severe struggle ensued with a half a dozen other Indians, [who had] hold of every part of me. I had a good butcher knife, and the day previous an Indian had stolen the scabbard, and I had tied it to my belt with a piece of stout buckskin, and during the scuffle they were continually tugging and pulling at that butcher knife. And if it had not been tied firmly it is quite probable that I would have been killed with my own knife. At about this time the rifle for which we were scuffling was discharged with its muzzle downward. The sudden report giving the Indians fright, I at once unexpectedly succeeded in wrenching it from them. They had crowded me with such force, and in such numbers, that I now found myself surrounded by a large body of Indians on three sides, forming a semi-circle, with the deep river on the other side. From this position to the top of the bank was about twenty steps with a gradual ascent, with the Indians massed nearly as thick as they could stand. With my back to the river, and my heels almost touching the water, it was impossible for me to see anything outside of the small space in which the unfortunate circumstances had placed me. Not one of our little party could be seen, but the yelling and howling of the Indians and the groans of the wounded and dying told too plainly that the imprudence of the majority had led us to the slaughter.
I had not thought of escape but believed it to be my duty to dispose of my life as dearly as my weak condition would enable me. Instantly after gaining possession of my rifle, I drew the breech of it and commenced fighting with all the strength I could command. Striking to the right and left, knocking some of them down at every blow, gradually clearing the way before me until I found myself upon the level bank back from the river. As I advanced a portion of them gave way in front and closed in behind, so that as soon as I left the margin of the river where the fight began I was completely surrounded, with no protection on either side, thus forming the center of a circle, with an excited mass of armed barbarians on every side.
I much regretted that I did not possess the physical strength naturally belonging to me under more favorable circumstances. Not that I could hope to escape, but so that I could inflict more punishment upon the treacherous foe, who, taking advantage of our half-starved condition, had lured us on to destruction under the pretense of friendship and fair promises of relief. Fortunately (I think for me) the greater portion of those who are armed with bows and arrows had places on the outer rim of the circle, while those forming the inner part appeared to be principally armed with clubs and long knives. Situated as I was, encircled by this living mass of savage humanity, in order to maintain my position a moment and prevent myself from being instantly crushed, it became necessary to strike simultaneously in every direction; for as the whole force would fall back from a descending blow in front, at that very moment I was in the greatest danger from the clubs, knives and arrows from those in the rear, who, in the next second, had to be beaten back in the same manner A few blows shattered the stock of my rifle, the broken pieces and fragments flying in every direction, leaving the barrel in my hands. It had been a favorite gun of mine, the barrel being about three feet long. And with it in this situation, fearful blows could be dealt, while thus contending, not exactly for life, but to inflict all possible punishment on the barbarous foe. While we were thus surging to and fro upon the the river bank, and while it required every possible effort of mine to keep the little space in which I was operating sufficiently large for me to handle myself in, I was quite sensible of the fact that my strength was fast failing me. I felt as if I could not hold out long, and concluded that it could not be more than a minute or two, and perhaps but a few seconds before I would accompany my poor unfortunate comrades to eternity.
The thick mass of Indians whom I was combating, and by whom I was so closely surrounded, appeared at last to move slowly in one direction; and that back from the river, without any changes in our relative positions, or any abatement of the furious combat. Myself in the center, situated in such a manner that it required much more power and strength than I possessed to long maintain the unequal conflict. I knew for certain that I was killing some of the Indians, for the pressure from the outside was so great that those forming the inner wall of the circle could not avoid my well-directed blows. During all this time no one would expect me to remain unharmed. I received very many blows upon my body, arms and shoulders. I at last received a blow upon the head from a club which knocked me to the ground, wondering how I had escaped so long. Had they suddenly closed upon me at this particular moment, I might easily have been dispatched. I was not stunned, and no bones were broken. Instantly jumping to my feet, I found the space in which I was fighting smaller and so contracted that I had scarcely enough room to swing my weapon. Being nerved to desperation no doubt accomplished much more than could have been done under a less state of excitement. I soon made room in which to handle myself, and the fight went on as before. The whole force, whooping, howling and yelling as only Indians can, was still moving along, when with one desperate lunge I succeeded in breaking the living wall for the first time, and, as it happened, on the side opposite to the river. This was the first time that daylight had been visible through the crowd since the fight began. As I looked through the gap across the level prairie and saw the thick green timber, a flash of hope, although a faint one, for the first time passed over me. Sudden as thought I rushed through the opening thus made, and as I ran, I looked back over my left shoulder, speculating in my terribly agitated and confused mind as to what the result of this new movement would be, when I was suddenly struck by an arrow between the left hip and lower ribs, which penetrated the abdomen and passed about two-thirds of the way through my body. Animals are sometimes shot in such a manner as to cause them to stop suddenly, even when running at full speed; this arrow had the same effect upon me. Finding it impossible to move, I jerked it out, drawing off the barb, and also the point of the main shaft to which the barbed point was fastened. No pain was experienced when the arrow entered, but the suddenness with which the point was drawn off inside the body, was, to say the least, a painful moment to me. I thought for a second or two that I must give way and fall down from the effects of it, but singular as it may appear, the excitement overcame the pain, and in a moment I had as good use of myself as before.
The fight now assumed altogether a different character, and as I had thought a little about escaping, I was probably much more sensitive of danger than previously. The greater portion of the Indians at this time fell back toward the river where the fight began, to plunder or mutilate the dead or to assist in torturing some poor fellow whose life had not quite passed away, or to look after the dead and wounded of their own; while about fifteen or twenty, armed with bows and arrows, scattered out in Indian style, taking position on every side and only a few feet distant.
WRITTEN FOR THE COAST MAIL.
Of Oregon's Southern Coast.
JOURNAL OF L. L. WILLIAMS--CONTINUED FROM LAST WEEK.
From the positions thus assumed, they opened a rapid fire from all sides at once--all running in one direction, myself in the center; they ran as I ran and dodged as I dodged. What could a poor fellow do in such a fix as that? I made many efforts to bring myself in reach of some of them, or near enough to strike. But whenever a movement was made in any direction, the Indians before me would swiftly glide away, keeping just out of reach, while the others were firing their arrows from both sides and the rear. Feeling much more disheartened than ever, I turned my face towards the timber and ran for dear life without any hope of ever reaching it alive--feeling that I had already received a mortal wound, but was yet alive, and naturally had a desire to escape, if possible, and die in quiet under some tree in the forest near. I was chased furiously for some time in this manner, a perfect string of arrows flying at me from all sides at once; many of them sticking into me, and many others glancing from the different parts of the person. Although covered with blood I did not feel that I had received but the one very severe wound. I was soon very much surprised and somewhat relieved to see all the Indians except two abandon me and fall back toward the river; each of whom were armed with bows and full quivers of arrows, while one of them carried a rifle that had been taken from one of the men. Just at this time I noticed Mr. Doherty a short distance off and almost directly ahead of me, chased by a half dozen Indians, and a dozen arrows or more sticking in him from every side. He very soon fell, and the last time I looked in that direction he was prostrate upon the ground, the Indians filling his body with arrows and beating him with clubs.
I bore a little to the left, hoping to avoid those Indians who had killed poor Doherty, so that they might not join in the fight against me. Those two with whom I was now contending were swift of foot and at once placed themselves on each side of me, about ten feet off, firing their arrows with a speed not easily realized by anyone who has had no personal knowledge of the manner in which these weapons are handled by an expert. I soon concluded that under this condition of things it was utterly impossible for me to reach the timber; and desiring a change somehow, I made a furious rush toward one, but as before observed he cunningly kept a few steps in advance, while the other, never but a few feet away, would fire the hateful arrows at me from behind. A sudden turn on my part, and a hasty pursuit on theirs, would not change the condition of things in the least and all the time productive of the same result. My only clothing to start in with was a ragged shirt and pair of pants, and as if to render my chances of escape more hopeless, just at this time the fastenings gave way and my breeches fell down under my feet. It did not appear to be a time for a fellow to be very particular about his toilet. And as dangerous as the circumstances were, I was obliged to disentangle myself, and kick the old breeches off. I was now only dressed in a bobtailed shirt, and I felt a little more sprightly for a time, but the Indians were in no greater danger than before. They were doing all the firing, while I was receiving all the punishment.
Their constant cross firing while we were chasing each other back and forth rendered it almost impossible for me to dodge many of their arrows. Why I was not completely riddled in this long running fight across the prairie is more than human tongue can tell. My only weapon, the gun barrel, alone prevented them from closing in upon me; they could play all around me but were careful to keep out of its reach. I felt this to be the most dangerous position since the fight began, and possessing the many advantages over me that they did I would gladly have exchanged my position for that earlier in the fight, where I was contending hand to hand in the center of a body of a hundred Indians all as well armed as these. My face, eyes, mouth and person was covered with blood. I felt as if I was almost dead. I had abandoned all hope of escape. My mind was firm, but my nerves were in an indescribable state of agitation. The Indians still had several arrows left, and the timber was some distance off.
I hoped apparently against all hope that some lucky accident would place one if not both in my power. All emergencies have an end, and this one came in a manner the least expected by me. Upon arriving at a point about twenty-five yards from the timber, I turned my eyes from the Indians to see whether it would be possible for me to enter the tangled mass of brush and briers along the margin, in case I should be able to reach the timber, when, stepping in a little hollow, I stumbled, pitching forward headlong on the ground. The two Indians determined not to lose this opportunity, rushed upon me and the one who carried my comrade's rifle dropped his bow and arrows, cocked the gun, pushed the muzzle of it against my breast as I was in the act of rising, pulled the trigger and it snapped The gun was a good one, and I knew it to be loaded. It was never known to miss fire; and as I saw and felt the muzzle thrust against me I felt a sickening sensation pervade my whole system; but it was suddenly dispelled when I realized the fact that the gun had failed to fire. I felt new life infused into my system, and was on my feet in an instant, rifle barrel in hand as usual. The Indian, instead of running, as had invariably been the case before, met me face to face with the breech of his rifle drawn. The critical moment of the whole affair seemed to have arrived, and of course I knew it to be the last final struggle, and hence became, if possible, a little more desperate than ever. On the first pass I failed altogether, and received some blows in consequence. But in the second I was more fortunate, and brought the heavy iron gun barrel down upon his head, killing him almost instantly. During this short interval, the other Indian was at his post not over eight feet away firing his few remaining arrows with all possible swiftness.
My first impulse was to jump over the dead Indian, pick up his bow and arrows and defend myself with those weapons, but before I had time to do so I changed my mind, and snatched up my comrade's rifle, drew it to my face, directed it at my tormentor, and was agreeably surprised to hear a quick and sharp report, and still more gratified to see my last remaining pursuer stagger back and fall down a corpse, with a bullet hole through the center of the lower part of his breast; as he thus fell back the last remaining arrow fired from his nimble fingers glanced upon the side of my head. This terminated the fight. While I was really the victor, I expected to die at any moment from my wounds. I looked back toward the river, and saw the Indians in a large body, swaying back and forth and keeping up their infernal whooping, howling and yelling, and like a correct description of which never can be written. It was a satisfaction to feel that I was now able to strike out into the thick woods unpursued, where I still hoped to find some safe place from the Indians to die in peace and quiet; myself supposing that every one of my comrades had been massacred.
As I reached the timber, Mr. Hedden, who had escaped unhurt, popped his head out of the jungle about a hundred yards above me, and called me toward him. We hurried ourselves as fast as possible into the thick and tangled forest. He had been disarmed and badly pounded with clubs at the first onset, but dodging away, he fled back some distance, closely pursued by two or three Indians, who, after firing several arrows at him, turned back and joined in the general conflict. He thus made his escape across the prairie to the timber without further molestation, and halted in an obscure place and watched our movements; from which position he witnessed the death struggle of poor Doherty, and all the latter part of the conflict in which I had been engaged, without any power to render me assistance, when at last he saw it terminate in my favor.
WRITTEN FOR THE COAST MAIL.
Of Oregon's Southern Coast.
JOURNAL OF L. L. WILLIAMS--CONTINUED FROM LAST WEEK.
He informed me that Davenport had also escaped--that he had been disarmed, and had struck out across the prairie at a rapid rate, and had reached the timber unharmed, far in advance of him, and by this time must be a mile or two away in the woods.
Ryan, Holland, Doherty, Pepper and Murphy were certainly dead; the manner in which I had seen these poor unfortunate men, overpowered and stricken down, was such as to exclude all hope of any of them possibly to be alive.
Hedden knew nothing of T'Vault or Brush, and when they were last seen by me, when I was fighting my way up from the water's edge to the level bank above, T'Vault was in a canoe, some distance out in the river entirely powerless, and the river fall of canoes, with armed Indians all around him striking at him with paddles and clubs. I saw Brush at the same glance struggling near him in the water, the Indians also assailing him in a similar manner, and while they were not positively known to be killed, yet it did not appear to us that either of them could have escaped.
If we had any doubts before, we were now fully satisfied that the attack was premeditated, that runners had been sent down from the upper river to notify the lower bands that we were coming, and to use an expression of Hedden's, "a trap had been set for us and we had walked deliberately into it," although to the credit of some of the party, be it said [that it was] under a strong protest.
We fled back to the timber northwesterly, with the view of striking the coast a few miles to the northward, but had not traveled far before I became suddenly faint, feeling a deathlike sensation passing over me, and calling to Hedden, I fell staggering to the ground; he rushed to my assistance, raised me up partially and although insensible of that fact, yet I had an indistinct recollection of hearing him say, "Goodbye, old boy," as I appeared to be passing away. In a few moments, however, I recovered somewhat and found him busily engaged in his hasty preparations to cover me over with brush and dirt. Feeling some better after the fainting spell, he now examined my wounds. The first arrow received near the river, which passed into near the center of the abdomen, was the only one I dreaded, and the joint or detached portion of the arrow which had been drawn off inside could not be seen or reached, although a wooden probe had been prepared and inserted into the wound to try and find its exact position. Both considered this a mortal wound, but nothing could be done with it. Another wound about four inches above looked badly, but upon probing it was found that instead of penetrating the body, the arrow had struck a rib with such force as to shatter the bone and bend the iron barb into a peculiar shape, but it was easily removed. By far the most painful of any of the wounds was one upon the top of the head, received when dropping down to avoid an arrow from the front. It struck near the crown, as I thought, with a great deal of force, glancing off, cutting the scalp to the bone for the space of two or three inches. The force of this arrow stunned me somewhat, and came very near knocking me down. It pained me severely, the blood running down every side of me in little torrents, leaving blood upon the ground in nearly every footstep. Severe wounds were also noticed and the arrow points removed from the hand, each arm and shoulder; but these were but flesh wounds and gave me no trouble whatever although quite painful, and made ugly sores for some time afterwards. Aside from the wounds mentioned, my hands, arms, head, and nearly every part of my body was cut, jagged, bruised and pounded almost to a jelly, so that it was difficult for me to tell just what part was the most painful.
It had been our intention as we came down the river to proceed down the coast to Port Orford; but circumstances of the fight had left us on the north side, therefore our only alternative appeared to be to strike northward to the Umpqua River settlements about 40 miles distant. Man could hardly be placed in a much more melancholy situation. We were without food, fire or blankets--I had a shirt, and Hedden a shirt and pants. The gun which I had brought out of the fight, without ammunition, and a knife were our only weapons, and the country full of hostile Indians in any direction we might go. After the examination of my wounds, we set out and traveled three or four miles along the coast through the heavily timbered and dense thickets, when again becoming weak and faint, we came to a halt; and the afternoon being somewhat advanced, we rested ourselves until night, and traveling a mile or two after dark, we crawled into a thick bunch of brush to pass away a miserable night. The day had been pleasant, but the night set in cold, damp and chilly.
September 15, 1851.--Last night was cold and foggy. The wound upon the head was the only one that gave me much pain yesterday, but during the night the wound in the body became so sore and painful that all the others soon ceased to attract my attention. The cold was severe enough to chill a well person to death, and that added to my other discomforts rendered this a terrible night of suffering to me. Hedden worked over me all night and did everything he could; we were both rejoiced when morning came, hoping that it might bring us some kind of relief from some source, we [knew] not what. He lifted me to my feet in a feeble condition; I could stand up, was considerably bent forward, was in great pain, but with his assistance moved along through the brush and timber two or three hundred yards at a time without resting. Becoming more and more sore every moment, of course but slow progress was made.
The fog clearing up about noon, and the afternoon pleasant, we halted near the coast to obtain a little rest and sleep if possible. Hedden being unhurt was soon asleep, with the rifle (although of no practical use) by his side. He was resting some, but was in too great agony to sleep. I was lying down upon the opposite side from which the sun was shining, and was startled from this position by heavy shadow being suddenly cast over me, caused by an Indian rising from the ground from the opposite side of Hedden, having our gun in his hand. Hedden was on his feet in an instant, and rushed at the Indian in an agitated manner with the butcher knife, the Indian running to the coast which was about 100 yards distant, Hedden striking at him all the way. While he was at no time more than two steps behind him, yet he found it impossible to reach him, and upon coming to the bluff the Indian jumped down a perpendicular precipice about 20 feet, carrying the gun with him. He had approached on his hands and knees to where we were lying; he was naked and had his bow and arrows with him, and had both of us been asleep, our lives would have been at his disposal. We at once struck back directly into the heavy timber, and finding it impossible for me to travel far, and believing the Indians to be on our trail, we crawled into a thick jam of fallen timber, where we remained until dark, and then moved out and traveled a short distance when we were obliged to halt for the night.
Sept. 16, 1851.--As usual, the night was cold and foggy. Of course no one could sleep. I thought my misery was unbearable the night before, but last night my sufferings were more intense, and I actually thought I would die of hard pain before morning. Hedden in his kindness did everything in his power to make me comfortable, but of course could do nothing to alleviate pain. My body had become so swollen that the skin was perfectly tight, and the abdomen was becoming slightly discolored.
I was unable to get up without assistance, but after being set upon my feet I could bear my weight and walk a little with the aid of a cane on one side and Mr. Hedden's assistance on the other. The country was heavily timbered, thick brush and briers, with deep gorges at short intervals, which we were obliged to cross.
Hedden was unhurt and could reach the Umpqua settlements in a couple or three days, provided he could dodge the Indians on the way. It was not expected that I could live longer than a day or two, and I therefore urged him to leave me and make his way to the settlements and save his own life while he was able, for it appeared to me to be useless for him to risk his life and suffer so much exposure in an effort to save mine, which did not seem possible. But he was firm, and declared his intention to stick by me while I lived and see me decently buried when I died.
WRITTEN FOR THE COAST MAIL.
Of Oregon's Southern Coast.
JOURNAL OF L. L. WILLIAMS--CONTINUED FROM LAST WEEK.
My body was sorer and more painful this morning, and every step seemed to hurt me fearfully. We made slower progress than yesterday, and my resting spells were of course more frequent--about 100 yards was as far as I could possibly go at any one time and could only rest by lying down and could only lie down or get up by being handled carefully and lifted almost bodily. We managed to make about three miles during the day, crossing several very rough gorges, and in the afternoon went into camp completely exhausted. Hedden obtained a little sleep before night, and from a fern patch nearby he gathered a large quantity for a bed and covering which proved to be some protection from the damp, but no protection from the cold.
Sept. 17, 1851.--If possible I passed a more miserable night than ever, and felt a great relief when daylight was visible through the treetops. Hedden worked over me every moment of the time during the long and tedious night, bolstering me up in various ways, changing my position when desired in order to relieve me whenever it appeared possible to do so. Soon after daylight he straightened me out as much as possible, and set me on my feet, and it was found that I could still stand up; we moved along near the coast as usual, towards the northward. My wound was more sore and painful, but I could make about the same progress as yesterday. Hunger seemed about to overcome me--a species of three-leaved sorrel was found and I ate of it quite freely. Hedden left me awhile today a few yards back from the coast and went out on the beach; he saw no Indians but noticed plenty of fresh sign in all trails leading up and down near the beach; he brought back a small piece of dead fish which had washed ashore, which was eaten by me with a keen relish--good water which I needed every few moments was found everywhere at short intervals.
In the afternoon, while lying on the ground, I discovered some little black bugs. I picked up and commenced eating, and found them disagreeably sour to the taste; soon after Mr. Hedden brought me a couple of large snails, which I found to be of rather a delicate favor and cleaned them up readily. Hedden tried them a time or two, but his stomach revolted and he was obliged to spit them out. Once afterwards I saw him try one, but was very careful about it, as if he wished to eat it without hurting it, but very soon gave it up; that was his last effort at snail eating. Their only objectionable feature was the fact that being of such a very slimy nature that they adhere to the mouth so that no benefit could be realized from them until sometime afterwards when small particles could be released by the tongue and swallowed.
The character of the country is the same today as yesterday, and I presume we made about the same distance. We did not halt for good until about the middle of the afternoon, and Hedden took his usual sleep and afterwards gathered a small lot of fine brush for our bed.
Sept. 18, 1851.--Last night appeared to me to be much colder than usual; although we were encamped in the heavy timber about one fourth of a mile back from the ocean, the fog was so dense that we could see but a few yards at sundown, and it appeared cold enough for a well person to perish under more favorable circumstances. Hedden by his energy and perseverance in my behalf managed somehow to keep up a circulation of blood which I would have been unable to have done myself. All the wounds except the dangerous one in the body were raw, running sores, not very painful yet rendering my situation more unpleasant every day, considering our inability to wash and dress them, while the "bad one," as we called it, was getting worse every day, and I becoming less able to bear it--I was bent forward considerable more than yesterday, and the severe sickening pain, together with the cold, hunger and want of sleep, was fast overcoming me. As I became worse Hedden became more imperative in his demands for me to keep up courage and to make all effort possible to move along. I could not walk as well as yesterday, and my pains were cutting at every step. The trials of today were a mere repetition of those of yesterday, but required greater efforts and more careful handling on the part of Hedden in placing me on the ground when stopping and raising me up again when ready to start; dragged along making slow progress and terminated our day's travel at about 1 o'clock p.m. in a small fern prairie near the ocean. The snails of yesterday still sticking to my mouth did not prevent me from enjoying the same slimy diet today. We saw a large number of elk and the constant whistling was heard from daylight in the morning until long into the night. My suffering had become unparalleled; I wanted to die, death would have been a welcome relief now, but the ways of Providence are often wonderful and mysterious. Hedden enjoyed his usual asleep in the afternoon, and it was a great relief to me in my agony to know that one so well deserving was able to obtain that happy rest which was so painfully denied to me. The afternoon gradually wore away and as the much dreaded night set in, I did not expect, nor wish, to live to see the light of another morning--large quantities of fern was placed under, around and over me, and every available means devised to keep me from chilling to death.
Sept. 19, 1851.-- Hedden, worn to a skeleton, working like a beaver all the time night and day, fearfully exposing himself, was doing for me all that could be possibly done, kept me alive during the night, which gradually wore away, and in the morning I was still able to stand up, but a greater effort was required than formerly. I was bent forward much more this morning, and my body more inflamed, swollen and discolored--it was evident to both that a crisis would soon be reached, while no one could have believed I would live a moment from general appearances. Every step, however, carefully made seemed like taking life, yet in obedience to Hedden's command I was obliged to make an effort to proceed, for choice I would have preferred to be left here alone, and I urged Hedden to leave me and go on to the settlements and save his own life, but he peremptorily refused to allow me to even talk about it any further. Progress was slow and painful today, and about one quarter of a mile brought us to the mouth of Coos River. Approaching as near as we deemed safe, I was cached away in a secluded spot, and Hedden cut him a "shillelagh" which, with the butcher knife, as the only weapons we possessed, advanced forward cautiously to reconnoiter the river to determine if possible the number and character of the Indians, and ascertain the chances, if any, for us to cross the river; reaching the mouth he followed along to the right a short distance, and discovered that an arm of the river or slough of 100 yards in width or more put off southeasterly, and on the low brushy flat between the slough and the main river he discovered a single Indian camp, with only a couple of old squaws visible, while on the beach near him an Indian had just landed, and hauled his canoe up on the sand, and had gone up the slough. Hedden returned immediately and reported his observations, and as we were uncertain as to the disposition of the Indians, we concluded to seize upon the canoe and cross directly over to the north shore so as to avoid the ranch altogether, and proceed on our way to the Umpqua.
WRITTEN FOR THE COAST MAIL.
Of Oregon's Southern Coast.
JOURNAL OF L. L. WILLIAMS--CONTINUED FROM LAST WEEK.
We reached the canoe in a short time--I was helped into it, and Hedden took the paddle and shoved out; judging from his awkwardness I presumed this was his first attempt at canoe navigation. We found the ebbing tide so swift that the crossing could not be made, and it was with much difficulty that he managed to land at the Indian camp, where we surrendered ourselves to the hospitality of the two old squaws, whom we found to be friends indeed. We could only converse by signs, but found that they were friendly to the whites, and while not at war with the Coquilles and lower tribes, were not on very friendly terms. We also learned that all the Coos Indians except this family were up the river at the fisheries. These squaws had a full knowledge of what had happened to our party at the Coquille River, and made every effort in their power to help us. A fire was kindled, a luxury we had not enjoyed since the 13th, and I soon became warm, which instead of relief appeared to add to my misery; a large quantity of small fish, about the size of a sardine, were laid before us. I was unable to eat much, but Hedden's appetite was good, and in fact he was ravenous; and to use an expression of his "that he ate enough to last him to the Umpqua," conveys but a small idea of what a hungry man can eat.
The squaws appeared uneasy while we were there, but the old Indian soon appeared on the beach, and one of the squaws took the canoe and soon landed him at camp. He was excited and proposed to set us over the river at once. I was laid down in the bottom of the canoe, Hedden in the bow, and the Indian in the stern; we were soon moving up the main river, keeping close along the shore for some distance, when we struck out for the opposite side, about one mile distant. The tide was running down swiftly, and the wind blowing up furiously; it was rough for our little canoe, the water slopped all over me, and when we landed a little way above the ocean the canoe was half full of water. I was fully as comfortable as I had been any time today, and was perfectly indifferent whether I got out or not, but after some difficulty and hurting me considerable, Hedden and the Indian lifted me out of the canoe and set me upon the beach, and complaining as usual. Hedden pronounced me "all right as long as I could stand alone." The Indian set out for home and we passed slowly over the low drifting sand hills to the ocean and turned our faces towards the Umpqua, 20 miles to the north, and apparently a smooth sand beach all the way, with drifting sand hills on the right. The wind was northwest and blew so hard against us that without Hedden's assistance I know I could not have kept my feet a moment; resting at shorter intervals than usual, it became necessary for us to camp early in the afternoon, so reaching a lone black pine tree a few yards back in the sand hills, we camped, exposed to the wind, fog and cold, chilly dampness, where we were destined to pass another miserable night.
Sept. 20, 1851.--Last night was perceptibly more severe than any previous one--Hedden improved all his time rubbing me carefully, covering me up in the sand, bolstering me up in one place and easing me down in another in his efforts to relieve me, and after a tedious night we had the satisfaction of seeing morning appear. I had an inward fever, or something of that sort, which caused me to thirst much more than usual, but we had seen no fresh water since we left the Indian camp at Coos, and was now suffering for drink in addition to my other tortures.
The brush and briers we had been continually passing through had so cut my feet and legs that they were completely raw, and Hedden's was in equally as bad a condition. I felt weaker, wounds sorer, my body more discolored and my pains much more severe every day, yet was barely able to stand upon my feet, and by the time it was fairly light Hedden had me under way dragging and almost carrying me along over the sandy beach, resting at every few yards. The morning was cold and thick, but soon became fair; at nine or ten o'clock the high prevailing winds set in and continued all day. The beach was smooth, no obstruction in the way, yet progress was slow and painful as usual. About noon we reached a stream of fresh water about 20 feet wide breaking in through the sand hills--I was much in need of drink, but this water was warm and tasted disagreeably swampy and did not quench thirst a bit. I drank too freely and became sick in consequence of it. We rested an hour or two at this point and then moved on--I did not think I could go any further; but Hedden insisted upon a quick start, so we drifted along a few rods at a time and did not go into camp until nearly sundown, and as anxious as I had been to stop, I dreaded it when Hedden announced his intention to turn off out of reach of the spray and camp in the sand, with no tree, no shelter and no protection whatever but mother earth for a bed and the canopy of Heaven for a covering.
Sept. 21, 1851.--If mortal man ever suffered in this world, it was myself during the past night--I walked, cried and prayed for death, in any form; I cared not how it came, and end my torture at once, but all to no purpose; in due time the light of another day appeared.
Hedden set me upon my feet this morning, and I was unable to bear my weight and he laid me down again on the ground and hesitated for a few moments what to do.--I begged of him to go on and leave me alone in the sand hills to die, but he was more determined than ever and declared that while life lasted I must move on; from this decision there was no appeal. He therefore tore up his shirt, twisted it into a large rope, fastened the ends together forming a kind of loop of about 3 feet in diameter, threw this over his head and under his right arm, in the manner in which a hunter wears a shot pouch, then lifting me up and thrust my head and shoulders through the loop under his right arm, so that I could bear a portion of my weight upon him, and in this manner he walked me along at the rate of about 200 yards at a time; this he considered good progress. This proved to be our last day's march; we were at the mouth of the Umpqua River about the middle of the afternoon. Day was foggy and cold--We came upon the dismantled remains of an old brig, called the Caleb Curtis, wrecked at the Umpqua but a short time before, and which was driven ashore on the south side of the river, and under the lee of this I was placed and Hedden started up the river as fast as possible for assistance, not knowing how far he would go, or how long he would be gone. In about half an hour back he came with three or four Indians from a ranch above, and I was packed to their camp where water was obtained, and again placed by a fire, but before I was warmed up we heard the sound of a rowboat in the river, which proved to be Capt. Gibbs and some of his men from the brig Almira which happened to be in the river above, and these parties had come down to obtain an iron strap from the old wreck, but seeing our condition, he took us in his boat and returned with us to Gardiner, about eight miles above, which was the nearest point where anyone was living, which we reached a little before dark. We were received with that hearty and hospitable welcome only known to our early pioneers; I was soon washed all over and my wounds dressed for the first time.
WRITTEN FOR THE COAST MAIL.
Of Oregon's Southern Coast.
JOURNAL OF L. L. WILLIAMS--CONTINUED FROM LAST WEEK.
No one can possibly represent or appreciate our feelings upon our delivery from the trying scenes of the past. It was a pleasure to me even if I had known i should die the next moment. Hedden was pleased to be able to say that he had done his whole duty faithfully. With his long and matted hair, his thick beard, no clothing but his ragged breeches, his feet and legs dreadfully lacerated, his cheekbones breaking through the akin, he was really a pitiful object to look at, but he was soon washed, dressed, combed and looked like quite a different person. I was naked except a ragged shirt. I had made no pretensions to wash for more than two weeks. Dry blood and matter covered every part of my person. My hair long and matted together with blood and rendered worse by running wound; wallowing in the dirt night and day had not particularly improved my personal appearance. The most of the bruises and smaller wounds were nearly well. The "bad wound," as Hedden all the time called it, which was giving me so much trouble, had not bled any at all outside, and had been firmly closed for several days, and the whole lower part of the abdomen was of deep black and blue color, and swollen as tightly as it was possible for the skin to be drawn. The task of washing and dressing my wounds was no easy one. I was held up by two persons and carefully rubbed down by the third. My hair closely trimmed, and in due course of time the wounds were pronounced dressed and was put to bed on a mattress on the floor, from which I never expected to rise. A little gruel was prepared and brought to me, but my appetite was gone.
At my request Hedden made his bed near me so that I could lay my hand upon his face to instantly wake him if necessary for any purpose during the night. All hands about the house went to bed and Hedden was sound asleep in a few minutes.
I was suffering more severely than at any former time; suddenly about midnight, I felt a peculiar sensation where the arrow entered. I placed my hand to the wound and found blood or matter flowing freely therefrom. The severe pain suddenly ceased; I made a motion towards Hedden, not knowing whether I was dying or going to sleep, and was conscious of nothing further until I was awakened from sound sleep next morning. This was the first sleep I had had since I was wounded. It was about an hour past sunrise; Hedden and others were standing around me. I felt easy but was too weak to move, and asked permission to remain as I was and sleep more, but of course it was necessary to remove me from the bed and again dress my wounds. The wound in the body had opened and a large amount of bloody substance had escaped therefrom; the bed was full, blankets completely saturated, and a large stream had run across the floor and formed a good sized "puddle" outside; no one present estimated the amount to be less than 12 quarts. On being washed and dressed, I was surprised, as were all others present, to find myself able to get up out of a chair and walk across the house. I slept nearly all day and one man's care appeared necessary; Hedden was detailed to take care of me.
When we arrived here, we had expected to find Davenport, but he had not yet arrived; on the third day he came in and represented that he had been lost in the mountains, hence the delay. He was much emaciated, but being unhurt, he was soon able to go to work, which he did.
Remaining here under Hedden's kind care, no change in the wound, which required dressing three or four times a day, and at the end of 8 weeks we received papers from Portland, Oregon, bringing me the welcome intelligence that T'Vault and Brush had both escaped; neither of them being much hurt; they had succeeded in crossing the river in a canoe; and had made their way to Port Orford, and T'Vault availing himself of the first opportunity had proceeded to Portland and thence to his home at Oregon City. He published an account of his unfortunate expedition, of the escape of himself and Brush, and as was reasonable for him to suppose, published a list of all the remainder of the party as killed. His published statement of his escape was as follows: "That he was knocked into the river and immediately beset by Indians in canoes, that while he was struggling in the water a young Indian guided his canoe into their midst and helped him into it, then paddled to where Brush was struggling and helped him in also, gave each of them a paddle, headed the canoe for the south bank, and then jumped into the water himself and swam ashore. We paddled over to the south side of the river and escaped without any further molestation and made our way to Port Orford." This report appears strange indeed to us who participated in that sad affair, but never was disputed by Brush, who frequently wrote letters for publication.
Three months passed away and no perceptible change having taken place, Dr. E. R. Fiske came in from San Francisco, where he had been to meet his family; he offered his services and examined and probed the wound, but no arrow point could be found, although the probe would follow in any direction after passing through the abdomen. He decided it to be impracticable to attempt to extract the arrow, and advised that I wait and let nature pursue its common course. He claimed that it would work out itself in time, but could not tell whether it would be six months or ten years, but that if I could stand it, relief would be sure to come.
In January 1852 I was put into a boat under the charge of Capt. H. Spicer and moved to Dr. Fiske's hours at Scottsburg, 20 miles up the river, where I remained for many months, having the best of care possible for any one to bestow.
There was not much change noticeable until about Nov. 1852, when the opposite side from the arrow entered became sore and inflamed, and after many days of intense suffering it opened, and speedy relief followed, similar openings occasionally occurring until there were seven orifices in all, which could be probed through into the cavity. The care and attention required increased with this, and Mr. Hedden either attended to me in person or secured the services of someone to act in that capacity for him. Each of these new openings was painful and severe, and each revived Dr. Fiske's theory and all believed the arrow coming; but it was not until after more than 4 years of suffering and torture that the point made its appearance nearly opposite where it entered, having worked its way directly through the body.
The orifice where it first appeared was not of sufficient size for it to pass out, and with a knife I enlarged it so that it could be drawn out with the thumb and finger. The barb was one inch wide and about 1¼ inches long, made of iron. That came out, but where was the joint of the arrow shaft to which it was attached? Somewhere inside but could not be found with a probe. The action of the body had separated them, and the other part must be removed before I could get well. The openings appearing much lower on the body than where the arrow had entered, gave the matter or pus an opportunity to flow off as fast as formed, thus relieving me of much pain, for prior to this time, it would accumulate inside and great suffering followed; aside from that, I needed as much care and attention and was nearly as helpless as ever.
I possessed nothing in this world but friends, and they seemed to vie with each other to see who could do the most for me; I was at home everywhere, and always well cared for by all. I had become able to walk a mile or so in a day so that I could visit from one to another; this was a great pleasure to me.
WRITTEN FOR THE COAST MAIL.
Of Oregon's Southern Coast.
JOURNAL OF L. L. WILLIAMS--CONTINUED FROM LAST WEEK.
No further change was noticed until the winter of 1858 and 1859. During this winter I got much worse and suffered a great deal of pain. That portion of the body near where the arrow entered became much swollen and I was obliged to keep [to] the bed much of the time. Finally, on February 28, 1859, the end of the wooden joint of the arrow, to which the barbed point had been fastened, made its appearance on the surface at the most inflamed part near where the arrow entered, and with the aid of a pair of bullet molds I succeeded in drawing it out. It was a hard vine maple stick, about three inches long, solid as ever, and each end had been hardened by the fire. Thus Dr. Fiske's theory proved to be the correct one, and I am now fully satisfied that had any other course been pursued, my life would have ended long before this.
The pains soon subsided, the swollen parts become less inflamed, the flow of matter ceased, and in ten days I threw off rags and bandages for the first time since September 21, 1851 and stepped forth a well man.
It is impossible for a person to ever describe or portray the general feelings of friendship and sympathy manifested towards me by all, and particularly by the families with whom I became acquainted. A child under the paternal roof never could have received better care or attention than was extended to me by everyone; all appear nearer and dearer to me than brothers and sisters, and my obligations and sense of gratitude to those noble men and women, who were thus Providentially drawn towards me and so mercifully came to my assistance in those trying times, will never be erased from my mind.
A debt of gratitude of such magnitude can never be repaid. They have become so endeared to me that, if necessary, my life should be at their disposal.
This is the class of people, the pioneers of the Umpqua Valley, to whom I owe my existence, my life and my all.
WRITTEN FOR THE COAST MAIL.
Of Oregon's Southern Coast.
BY HENRY BALDWIN.
After the massacre at Randolph, of which Col. T'Vault and Capt. Williams were survivors, word was sent to Gen. Hitchcock, commander of the Pacific division of the U.S. Army, that a party of unoffending citizens had been brutally murdered and some of them scalped by the Indians on the Coquille, and calling for summary punishment. Orders were accordingly issued, and the steamer Sea Gull was chartered; military stores were placed on board, and three companies of the U.S. 1st Dragoons, and 20 of the 1st Artillery, were ordered to hold themselves ready for embarkation. The whole, about 170 men, were placed under the command of Col. Silas Casey, 2nd Infantry, late Brigadier General. Those three companies were the only available force here for years, from ever-memorable '49 till commencement of rebellion. Continually in the saddle, scouting through Idaho, Washington Territory, Montana, Nevada, California, and Arizona, from the British Possessions to the Colorado, and as a body were far above the general material of the army; many belonging to the learned professions, all young, full of life, vigor, and dashing romance. Since, many have held important offices in the administration of the state and public affairs, and one had the honor of filling a high position--a gift from the people of this state; another was delegated to sit in conclave to frame the constitution of Oregon. The brave and lamented Gen. Kearny, and the conqueror of Fort Donaldson, Gen. A. J. Smith, as well as many other gallant and efficient officers who smelled powder oft and oft again with them, were in the habit of remarking, "Those are the best men I ever had the honor to command."
Gentle reader, those were the men who over a quarter of a century ago trod your virgin soil, paving the way and laying the foundation for the many neat and comfortable homes that dot the banks and hillsides of [the] placid Coquille. Those bronzed and sans souci warriors little thought that so short a period would produce so mighty a change, that where there was nothing but quagmires, tussocks and fallen timber innumerable, would, in a few fleeting years, stand pretty cottages, orchards and gardens, ringing with the marry laughter of bright-eyed little children of their own fair race, and that the Indian chant, the panther scream, and raven croak would give place to the sweet tones of the violin, harp, accordion, and costly piano; the tread of many feet whirling in the mazes of the giddy dance would break the stillness of many a midnight air, that those almost impenetrable jungles would be converted into sylvan bowers, tacit listeners to oft-repeated tales of love and fidelity, and that school houses and churches would rear their heads with all the pride of civilized life.--But this is a digression.
At length the day of embarkation came; everything being in readiness, the good ship moved slowly down the bay, and under the guidance of her skillful commander, our old friend and fellow pioneer, Capt. Tichenor, after a short passage arrived safely at Port Orford. After landing stores and the mounted troop "C" (the other two, "A" and "E," being dismounted for the purpose), she steamed up the coast with the remainder of the command for Coquille, her daring chief determined to force an entrance into the ridiculously jabbered-about river. That he would have done it is certain.
All acquainted with him in his halcyon days are well aware of his skill, courage and energy, that nothing could daunt or turn him from his purpose; but, subservient to the will of higher authority, the military commander, Col. Casey, he was forced to desist, but with all the dash of his intrepid nature steamed in among the rocks at the entrance. Preparations were then made for landing troops. Boats were lowered, and the "boys in blue" took their places, all eager for the fray. Owing to the extreme roughness of the sea, and lubberly conduct of the crews, in those days composed mostly of tinkers, tailors and weavers (a real "old salt" being quite a novelty here), the boats were capsized, and our sons of Mars with the hybrid sons of Neptune went through a Bear Creek comedy or frolic. Some swam to the shore, and others, in the act of drowning, were saved by Captain Tichenor, who plunged in after them. With the exception of baptism, and baggage of a few guns to "Davy Jones locker," nothing more serious occurred. The crew, well satisfied with this dip, were not inclined to try it again, putting [the] captain to the painful necessity of ornamenting their wrists. Next morning the aspirants for Neptune's paternity returned to duty like penitent prodigals, and all were safely landed. In the meanwhile the mounted troop under Lt. Stanton was marching up the beach from Port Orford, with two six-mule teams containing whaleboats and howitzers, the former to be used in conveying supplies in ascending the river. To one of the wagons was attached a roadometer, and the distance measured from Port Orford to Sixes River, 9 miles; from thence to Coquille, 20 miles. Sixes chief and the sister of Thygonizia, chief of Elk River and Port Orford Indians, marched boldly at head of command; the chief, a huge, strapping fellow, a Mormon and blessed in the possession of six wives, being therefore known as "Old Six." Both parties met, and a camp was formed on the bluff by the graded road as you descend to the river a little west of Lewis' house. The first Indian killed was at the big rock west of the present road near the late Mr. Taylor's house, by a trooper of the advanced guard. At this period of the conquest a large Indian village stood on the big flat opposite Lewis'. For fear the enemy would take fright and decamp, the guns were placed in position, trained, and immediately commenced their work of destruction, pouring shot and shell on the doomed savages. Loudly barked the dogs of war, fiercely yelled the Indians in defiance and quickly flew the bolts of Jove. Soon the palaces of Nature's children disappeared from view, covering in their downfall the dead and dying bodies of a now almost extinct race--America's primitive lords and land owners. After a smart fusillade the Indians broke for their canoes, a small flotilla lying a little above the village, and moved upstream, the two dismounted companies thrown out on both sides of the river in hot pursuit, the whaleboats moving up the center manned by artillerymen and carrying supplies. About the same time "boots and saddles" sounded, calling "C" troop to horse, with orders to proceed via Floras Creek to the upper or South Fork, intercept the retreating enemy and turn him if possible. Day after day toiled on the wearied skirmishers, floundering through the mud and briers, turning somersaults in those horrible bog holes that dot the wild duck fens of the Lower Coquille, burning rancheries, destroying canoes, and driving the redskins still further into their mountain fastnesses. At length, after exhausting that long roll of profanity, and heaping anathemas on the natives, our placid river and beautiful vale which, in a few years, according to newspaper "wawa," with the aid of railroads and bothersome breakwaters is to send five millions of produce to the great markets of the world, the command reached what is now known as Hall's Prairie, at present the pretty and picturesque home of H. Schroeder, Esq. At that time a wide strip of myrtle lay between it and the river, screening the former completely from view; the whole command had passed on without noticing, and would have remained so were it not for the prying curiosity of a son of "Hiber." This man wandered into the opening and commenced battle instanter, attacking alone a village of 15 lodges. The advanced guard, hearing the firing, returned and found the fellow countryman of the great Wellington, who possessed the coolness, if not all the glorious traits of that illustrious soldier, sitting down and helping himself to a mess of nicely smoked salmon, and dandling a fine little papoose on his knee; the Indians broke for the woods on first fire. Here was found a large fish house containing about thirty tons of smoked salmon, which, together with the ranches, was consigned to the flames, the rich, oily salmon making a hot fire; the little dusky captive, having been comfortably rolled in a soldier's blanket, was left for its concealed parent. The Indian mother, unlike some of our own color, who sometimes for convenience' sake destroy their unfortunate offspring, will fight like she bears in defense of their children, and will never forsake them, therefore it was surmised that the little one was found. The Coquille Indians were expert fishermen, and put up annually great quantities of fish, in fact were fish merchants, trading off dried salmon to the neighboring tribes in exchange for skins, squaws, plunder and Indian money (little nicely shaped shells, highly prized by the Indians, and said to be found in great pits up north). The Rogue River Indians being great gamblers were regular winter visitors, and packed back loads of dried salmon, which like many other gamblers they won by superior trickery.
WRITTEN FOR THE COAST MAIL.
Of Oregon's Southern Coast.
BY HENRY BALDWIN.
In the little creek just above Hall's Prairie was found about a dozen canoes, which were demolished; the land from here becoming higher and dryer, traveling was much easier. At the mouth of the North Fork were a few deserted ranches, which shared the fate of the canoes, and at last the Middle and South forks were reached. Here, where now stands the comfortable home and fine farm of Mrs. Hoffman, were several ranches which were soon reduced to smoldering piles, and here the red man made his last stand. Several balls, from Indians in ambush, passed through the whaleboats, but no one was hurt. After a few hours of brisk firing, the enemy retreated to the mountains, carrying with them some few dead and wounded, and leaving many, whom they could not get at the time, on the riverbank. As the rains had now set in it was thought useless in pursuing any farther, so the jaded and almost naked soldiers retraced their steps, and without the least molestation arrived safe at Lewis'.
This, and the lesson taught by the defenders of Battle Rock, struck the Indians with terror, for no murders were committed by the Coquille tribes, with the exception of the two killed on Dead Man's Slough in 1853; this act was done by outcasts from the tribes, their own people informing and helping to bring them to punishment. Without these lessons I have no doubt more murders than the above mentioned would have been committed, owing to the lawlessness, cruelty, and bloodthirsty spirit of a few gold-seekers who roamed about seeking some pretext to imbue their hands with the blood of unfortunate Indians.
Whilst these scenes were enacting in this then theater of war, "C" troop was wending its way by Floras Creek, through the bald hills of Curry County, and hewing roads through the trackless woods till they arrived at what is known as Rowland's Prairie (this place was first settled on in Coos County by Wm. Rowland, I think in the year following). Here a raft was built, with the intention of descending the stream and driving the South Fork Indians from their fisheries. Rain fell unceasingly all that day and night, the river raised, and next morning the detail for raft operations found their craft gone, so this project was abandoned. After scouting around for some time and finding no tracks they returned to headquarters at the mouth of the Coquille. The road made by this company was the first in either Coos or Curry county, and is traveled yet.
In those early days and long before "crinoline" encircled or hid a spot of ground in either of these two counties, a preacher was in existence here, for what purpose--can't say. It may have been as a good Samaritan, to kneel beside the couch of the wounded and dying soldier, to soothe him in his last moments, to offer up prayers for his soul's salvation, and prepare him to meet his God; not finding any needing his services, he reversed his calling or profession as a man of peace and a preacher of peace and good will to all mankind, and became dragoon guide, leading the men to intended scenes of carnage--ten dollars per day and board may have possessed some charm.
On the assemblage of the whole command preparations were made for the erection of a strong post on the bluff a little to the rear of Lewis'; log houses we erected but never used, the order being countermanded and Port Orford selected as the best and most convenient site. In obedience to orders the command returned to Port Orford, "A" and "E" troops proceeding from thence to Sonoma, the then cavalry headquarters, the detachment of artillery being left under command of Lieut. Henry Stanton to garrison Port Orford. Winter was fast approaching and barracks were needed, so to work went all hands, and soon a good, comfortable quarters adorned the site lately occupied by a large Indian village.
Thus ends the pursuit of the Indians and "Battle of the Forks," so I must now bid you and your numerous readers good night and a short farewell until we meet again deus volens on the shoves of "Camp Castaway and banks of Coos River and Coos
Bay." I will give everything in rotation then; nothing, so far as my knowledge extends, will be omitted. It is no trouble for me to write, it is a pleasant pastime, an agreeable variety, a labor of love; the only fear I have is that my slender abilities will not enable me to make it as interesting to your numerous readers as I would wish. It is a vast source of pleasure to some to render happiness to others, though there may be portentous clouds looming up in the far distant horizon, throwing back their dark shadows on the heart. But the bright smiles, true indicators of internal pleasure, dancing over joyous faces, are often sufficient to dispel those shadows and light up the hidden rays with hope and confidence; others, on the contrary, take a delight, a fiendish pleasure, in endeavoring to produce discontent and unhappiness. Sired by Plato, cradled in brass, nourished at the pass of Hecate and Proserpine, baptized in the Styx, and guarded by Cerberus, nothing else can be expected. Good and great minds avoid all such, and either pity or despise. With ardent wishes for the extensive circulation of your excellent paper, and the future prosperity of this vast county and her energetic and industrious population.
EARLY SETTLERS OF COOS BAY.
(NO. I)The present condition and development of Coos Bay and county, with its varied resources of lumber, coal, and agricultural lands, its prospering people and numerous and important industries, bring to mind, in contrast, its settlement and early settlers.
Previous to 1853, no white man had a residence on the fertile shores of its bay or rivers. The aboriginal Indians alone enjoyed its wealth of wild game, fish, fruits, and berries, which were in such abundance as to make it an Indian paradise. It is true that previous to this time, this locality had been seen by only a few whites. A small schooner, bound to the Umpqua River, entered Coos Bay by mistake, in 1852, and remained for several weeks, hunting for the settlements, and terrified by the Indians, until P. Flanagan and Pilot Smith, learning of their condition from the Indians at Umpqua, piloted them out, and into their destination.
During the summer of 1853, P. B. Marple, a resident of Jackson County, made an exploration to the coast, coming down the Coquille River. Learning the general character of Coos Bay from the Indians, he deemed it a valuable location. Returning to Jackson County, he formed a company of about forty persons, who, proceeding to Coos Bay, became the pioneers and early settlers of our county.
Among these may be mentioned Marple, Harris, Jackson, Lockhart, Coffin, Tolman, Noble, and Boatman. The writer remembers visiting the present location of Empire City soon after the arrival of this company, and was vividly impressed with the picturesque and busy appearance of their encampment in the wild and uncleared forest. A house had not yet arisen. Around the campfires of the various little circles, the busy ax and saw were preparing new homes. At night, the lurid glitter of these temporary hearthstones reflected vivid shadows upon the Bay and into the dark recesses of the wilderness.
The discovery of the gold sand mines at Randolph, occurring soon after their advent, made a large addition to their number. Empire City became the depot of supplies for a large mining population. Vessels with merchandise and men with capital were attracted to it. In the end, the mines proved less rich than was anticipated, but the population and capital induced by the excitement remained, and was added to the permanence of the settlement. Among the later settlers may be remembered Northrup & Symonds, the originators of the Eastport coal mine; Rogers & Flanagan, the pioneers of the Newport coal mine; James Aiken, the principal discoverer of these veins; A. M. Simpson and H. H. Luse, pioneer sawmill owners; Dr. Foley, Yoakam, Winchester and others.
The first coal discovered was at North Bend, without any test or prospecting. It was considered so valuable that Mr. Lockhart was bound, under the penalty of a very large sum, to hold it for the Coos Bay Company. Soon after, coal was found on both Marple's and Foley's claims near Empire City, and a cargo was shipped from one of them. These discoveries were abandoned on further exploration, and have never been improved.
A. M. Simpson's mill was the pioneer sawmill, in which Alf Butler had an original interest. This may be considered the foundation of Mr. Simpson's wealth, who now counts his mills by the half dozen, and his vessels and steam tugs by the dozen. H. H. Luse soon followed Simpson, with a mill at Empire City, which has proved to him a source of large profit.
The town of Marshfield, which has now grown to the majority of an incorporated town, with a large sawmill, stores, hotels, saloons, etc., etc., presenting a thriving and bustling aspect, was for a series of years a mere hamlet, composed of one house and a small store. When John Pershbaker commenced to build a sawmill, and afterwards a steam tug and vessel, at Marshfield, it broke the shell of adolescence, and now feels the might and strength of maturity.
Isthmus Slough was abandoned by Noble, its earliest settler, who took a claim at what is now Coos City. Now it can show its settlers in scores and scores, and boasts of its Transit Railroad, its sawmill and coal mines. Coos River had its half dozen farmers settled on its banks. Now it counts them by the hundreds, scattered along its rich bottoms in many comfortable homes, looking out upon broad, cultivated acres, and the windings of a beautiful river. Catching Slough is the home of scores of busy loggers and farmers, and the little town of Sumner sits quietly at its head watching the steamer Bertha come and go, where then was silence unbroken by human voice. The valley of the Coquille was then settled by what was considered a few daring souls, and now they count by the thousand its many settlers, who fill its long and rich valleys with a busy population. A dozen inlets which were then incognita terra now afford homes for a happy population that dwell along their banks and nestle in their shady nooks.
Among the incidents of those early days may be recounted the Indian war of 1855-56. Although the Coos Indians always maintained a friendly relation to the whites, still great distrust and alarm prevailed. All the whites in the vicinity collected at Empire City, built a stockade fort, and organized a military company for protection. For several weeks all the people resorted to the stockade at night, but after being satisfied of the friendliness of the resident Indians, the people remained in their houses, yet always on the alert, ready for any hostile indication, or coming danger.
There were, among these early settlers, some peculiar and eccentric persons. Marple had been a preacher, but like many others who came to the Pacific Coast, abandoned old ties and beliefs for "filthy lucre." Without much knowledge of the law, he obtained admission to "the bar." Visionary, romantic, and no great stickler for the truth, gifted with a profusion of wordy description, he held forth interminably at meetings and in the courts. Judge Deady, at that time judge of this circuit, often, when Marple made his plea, would place the sheriff in his seat, and retire until Marple subsided. Marple had an attachment for one of the sable daughters of the forest, and lived crim. con. During this period he went to the house of a sick lady, and proffered to pray with her. She indignantly rejected his offer, and advised him to go home and labor with himself and friend.
Dr. Foley was probably never blessed with a diploma. He could manage to read slowly and laboriously, had the habit of talking in broad Pike County dialect, with his expressive "thar" and "whar." He had a few medical books, and would often say to an anxious patient, "Thar are the books, you can see for yourself." He made an entire new discovery in medical science. A bitter, turniplike root, found on Coos Bay, which he called "old man in the ground," was deemed by him to be a universal panacea, which he kept constantly on hand for all diseases. He had a wise, venerable look, and was elected to some responsible offices. As a probate judge he managed to get some estates into court, but like the man with the prayer, he never could "wind the derned thing up," or get the estate closed. Dr. Foley is now somewhere in the mountains of Oregon, presiding over a medicated spring, with a hospital attached. By the way, a son of the doctor's studied medicine with the old gentleman, and graduated, no doubt, to be [as] efficient as the old doctor.
T. D. Winchester, another, was impulsive, open, and generous. His genial wit and great fund of anecdote rendered his society attractive. He was upright and honest in all his dealings, and conscientious in his opinions. He "has passed over the river." Reminiscences too numerous for this article might be added, and can be reserved for another occasion.
Coast Mail, Marshfield, Oregon, August 23, 1879, page 3
EARLY SETTLERS OF COOS BAY.
In those early days, angel women, "uncertain, coy, and hard to please," were commentably few and scarce. Bachelor's halls were in the majority. The occupants were under the necessity of being their own cooks and housekeepers, as well as attending to outdoor avocations. They could cuddle the imaginative "girl I left behind me," to their hearts, and "nothing more." An occasional ball gathered the few beauties, young and old, from far and near, in some rough-boarded room, brilliantly lighted with tallow dips. The "fair" and few shone gorgeously in calico. The bachelors in scores, arrayed in their best, looked on in admiring hopelessness. "Biled shirts" were proscribed as too pretentious. Whoever should dare to appear in one would have been the subject of ridicule. Freed from the ceremonious forums of fashionable life, they "tripped the light fantastic toe" in joyous hilarity "till daylight doth appear." The advent of a marriageable young lady produced a lively sensation. All the bachelors rushed in hot haste to secure a chance in the matrimonial prize. The fair one was perplexed to choose among her many offers, and could select her own time to restore the "lost rib" to some happy swain. This terrible lack of female loveliness and companionship made men desperate. There were many native maidens camped about who could be purchased from their fond parents for a few pairs of blankets. Rather than live on hopelessly, languishing for fairer loves, many embraced the opportunity and provided themselves with companions from the wigwams of the "noble red man," and lived clandestinely without any marriage ceremony. Suddenly clouds arose, darkening the horizon of their domestic felicity. An order was issued from the Indian Department that all the Indians at Coos Bay should be removed to the Siletz Reservation. This order would ruthlessly include all those dusky companions to when these men had become attached, turning them adrift again to solitary, single life. These Indian maidens, strange as it may seem, had wound themselves deeply into their affections. They looked with horror upon separation. Lucky thought, happy discovery! Marriage would make them wives, and American citizens beyond the control of Indian agents. The danger was imminent. The emissaries of the Indian Department were gathering the Indians together for removal. There was a rush of these couples to the justices of the peace in the county, and about thirty couples in this vicinity were joined in the bonds of wedlock. Some of them proved faithful wives, and some of their liege lords are among us, respectable, honored, thriving citizens.
P. B. Marple, after his discovery and exploration of this locality, on his return to Jackson County gave a glowing description of the country, setting forth in exaggerated terms its resources and advantages. Having excited much enthusiasm, he offered to became their Moses and lead them to the promised land, with the considerate proviso that each person should pay him two hundred and fifty dollars. About forty shares were sold by him to different parties. Reserving ten shares to himself, the company was organized and known as the Coos Bay Company. They selected Empire City, a natural and beautiful location on the Bay, and divided its town lots among the shareholders. They went to work hopefully, and soon cleared the forest, and hewed out for themselves homes in the primitive wilderness. They built high hopes for the future, and felt rich in city lots and prospective fortunes. To them "there was millions in it." They often met in solemn conclave to discuss the great interests and projects that loomed up before them. Marple as chief, and others skilled in high debate, often prolonged the wordy contest into the "wee hours" of the night, and the heated controversies occasionally warmed up to an argument of blows. While there were among them many judicious and discreet persons, the visionary and garrulous served to keep up a perpetual irritation, which finally resulted in dissolution. The great castles of their imagination, which had been raised to dizzy heights, toppled over and became a ruin, and their owners were scattered far and wide. Some of the best portion of them still remain among us, who may he pointed out as citizens of character and intelligence, men of enterprise and thrift.
The coal mines of Newport and Eastport each had a store at Empire City, which were the depots of supply and headquarters of business. Here, on Saturday night, their employees congregated to make necessary purchases, and more especially to indulge in a Bacchanalian feast. There grew up a senseless rivalry between the Newporters and Eastporters that became so bitter and hostile as to often culminate in a skirmish of angry words, and even to terminate in blows. Northrup & Symonds occupied a two-story building, where now the peaceful duties of Uncle Samuel's postal affairs are transacted. Rogers & Flanagan were nearly opposite. The upper story of the Eastport store was utilized as lodgings, and there at late hours their laborers, when too tired to wrestle longer with alcoholic mixtures, retired and made night hideous with spasmodic howls and angry conflicts, which gradually subsided into a peaceful and welcome silence. Pitched battles were not infrequent among these rival bands of workmen. On one occasion a challenge was issued to select one from each gang, and match their prowess in a single contest. It was night, and a thick Oregon fog enveloped the town in murky darkness. The recent rains had moistened the unpaved streets, and left them ankle deep with pasty mud. Lighted tallow candles fastened to poles were held by the friends of the contestants in the middle of the street. The two heroes of the fight, athletic, powerful fellows, now appeared upon the scene, dimly visible in the lurid light. One stood erect and firm, the other could hardly stand, swaying to and fro with a whiskey pendulum. The fight began. At the first blow, the one, whiskey charged, went down into the soft mud. His bottle holders placed him on "his pins," and down he went again, until the monotony of the thing became tedious, and the drunken crowd declared the battle ended. The appearance of the defeated athlete, covered with mud and streaked with "the claret of his mug," was not only pitiable, but comically ridiculous. Whether Newporters or Eastporters claimed the champion is immaterial. They now live mingling together in friendly intercourse, and the folly of hostile rivalry has passed into oblivion.
Coast Mail, Marshfield, Oregon, August 30, 1879, page 3
EARLY SETTLERS OF COOS BAY.
SALOONS AND SALOON KEEPERS.In the early days, opportunities for liquid refreshments were not wanting. Each prominent corner had its array of decanters and mysterious bottles to induce the passing pedestrian, willingly tempted, to take "a little something," just because he was hot or cold, thirsty or weary, or for some potent reason, and by no means because he enjoyed the stimulant. "Walk into my parlor, says the spider to the fly," was the invisible legend, for polite reasons, not legibly written over their doors. Now the money changers modestly retire to some quiet room in the rear, where they make exchanges through the medium of "pictures" and "checks," and call in the cheering mixtures from the expert at the bar. Then they wrestled with poker without a "draw" with honest fearlessness in the broad glare of the open bar room, in convenient proximity to the sparkling temptations. Many of the staid and sober citizens of today might have been seen taking a hand in those free and easy enjoyments, whose pleasant dignified and careful deportment would repel any suspicion of "such foolishness." Tenas Rogers, Billy Buckhorn and Charley Haskell are remembered as general dispensers of "drinks."
TENAS ROGERSWas so named in contradistinction to hias Rogers, the one small and the other bulky, and both with a large capacity for fluids. Tenas, when in good running order with the proper number of inches of lightning whiskey, was remarkably jovial, and when well fired up the effects oozed out of his toes in a perpetual hornpipe. At times, Tenas, in company with his boon companion, Wing, amused the community in a prolonged "spree" of weeks. Witty and jolly, they kept the ball of fun rolling night and day, and people wondered when they slept.
BILLY BUCKHORNWas distinguished for the wonderful stories he related, rendered truthful by the fact that he was always a participant in the events described. Among the listeners, some were credulous, while others had the temerity to distrust his fidelity to truth. On one occasion Northrup was present when Billy spoke of the landing of the "Pilgrims" at Plymouth. In jest, Northrup asserted that the Pilgrims landed in Virginia; a warm controversy ensued upon this point, and Northrup proposed to submit the fact to Uncle Ben Bratton. Uncle Ben solemnly rendered the verdict, "You're wrong, Billy, I happened to be down in Virginia at the time, and saw the Pilgrims when they landed there." Billy suffered for the drinks.
NORTHRUP, SYMONDS AND ROGERS,Though prominent business men, could afford large quantities of stimulants. Northrup could consume glass after glass, and appear "as sober as a judge." The three often sat down together with their rations for the symposium. The result usually occurred that the two were floored, and Northrup walked out to bring in a few friends, and pointed then out as lamentable examples of intemperance.
Among the business men who were early settlers may be included Merchant, Hirst, Nasburg, Kenyon, Morse, the Cammann brothers, and others already noticed.
MERCHANT,Who was for many years bookkeeper and general manager of the large lumber and shipbuilding operations at North Bend, won for himself high reputation as a thorough, vigilant and active conductor of business. Temperate in habits, attentive to duties, exercising prudence and economy, he accumulated capital. We find him now, the local manager, associated in the partnership of E. B. Dean & Co. Their business at Marshfield, comprising the manufacture of lumber, shipbuilding, merchandising and shipping, gives employment to a large number of employees, and contributes largely to the wealth and prosperity of this community.
HIRST AND KENYONAre examples of what may be accomplished by persistent industry, accompanied with shrewdness, economy, and temperate habits. Both were coal miners for many years, working diligently at their occupation, and farming on the Coquille for a few intermediate years. Both are now engaged in mercantile pursuits, with capital and flattering prospects for the future. Kenyon is now one of the board of county commissioners.
NASBURG AND MORSE
Are examples of a similar character who have worked their way from comparative indigence to a position of honorable business and prosperity. Morse has been county clerk several terms, and is now county treasurer.
THE CAMMANN BROTHERS,Among the earliest of our citizens, were engaged in various branches of trade, and took the lead for many years in the importance and value of their transactions, and had accumulated large means. In later years the volume of their business has gradually lessened until they can hardly be included among the active operators of our locality.
THE PIONEERS OF COOS RIVER,Who encountered the difficulties and annoyances of a new settlement, have prospered, and see around them today the wealth of pleasant homes and cultivated acres. They deserve a personal notice, which may he improved in the future.
JO LANE.There was one of our peculiars whose characteristics claim a passing notice--Jo Lane, not Gen. Jo Lane, but our Jo., simple, clever, honest Jo. He was not particularly brilliant, nor highly educated or distinguished. He lacked confidence in himself, and ivy-like needed someone to lean upon, somebody to cling to; someone to own and direct him. He held a half share, and a half vote in the Coos Bay Company, but depended on Captain Harris for guidance. When a critical vote was taken, Jo would look anxiously puzzled, until the inquiry, "How did Capt. Harris vote," was answered, and then he voted ditto. He changed his masters from time to time, and was generally industrious but not thriving. His powers of description were limited, and his explanations far from lucid. For a time, he built boats, which he desired to sell in substitution of the Indian canoe. Explaining their superiority over the latter, he remarked: "Suppose in going up Coos River in a canoe, you run on a snag, where are you? But if you run onto one of them in one of my boats, there you are." We may guess what he designed to illustrate, although the exposition is a little muddy. Poor, honest, Jo! "Pity 'tis, pity 'tis, 'tis true," that villainous alcohol helped to ferry him over the dark river to his final bourne.
Coast Mail, Marshfield, Oregon, September 6, 1879, page 3
EARLY SETTLERS OF COOS BAY.
COAL AND COAL MINES.Alter the first discovery of coal at Empire City and North Bend, considerable time elapsed before operations were commenced. The first cargo of coal was mined from a drift in the Boatman donation claim. It was transported in wagons a mile and a half to Coal Bank Slough, and transferred in scows to Empire City. This cargo was shipped on the Chansey, and both vessel and cargo were lost on the bar in 1854. Another cargo was shipped shortly afterwards, procured from the same source, which arrived in San Francisco. At that time, the price of coal in San Francisco was forty dollars per ton, and freight from Coos Bay was paid at the rate of thirteen dollars per ton.
NEWPORT AND EASTPORT.During the summer of 1855, work was initiated at Newport and Eastport. These mines were so completed as to commence the shipment of coal early in 1856, and have continued, with occasional interruptions, their production up to the present time. Their early operation was expensive, on account of their crude and limited facilities, which have been gradually improved and perfected. The Newport mine was originally owned by Rogers and Flanagan, and is now the property of Flanagan & Mann. The Eastport mine was opened at the outset by Northrup and Symonds. Chas. and John Pershbaker were subsequent proprietors, who sold to J. L. Pool, the present chief owner.
A. J. DAVIS,An agent for San Francisco capitalists, located a mine near the mouth of Isthmus Slough, in 1856. A storehouse, railroad and wharf were completed, with all the necessary adjuncts, before the vein was properly tested. The enterprise resulted in a total failure and abandonment, and about seventy-five thousand dollars were lost to the projectors.
THE HARDY MINE,Opposite North Bend, was located in 1871, without any thorough prospecting. Over one hundred thousand dollars were expended in its development, and it is now deserted and comparatively worthless. There were several principal owners, some of whom were badly crippled by the failure of the mine.
THE UTTER MINE.In 1874, the Utter mine, on the Isthmus, was opened, and the Isthmus Transit Railroad built. The whole enterprise became so involved in debt that, after several months' shipments of coal, the mine was closed. Whether the property is of value as a mine is a question not fully determined. The railroad is still in operation, serving a public convenience by affording a much-needed means of communication.
THE HENRYVILLE MINEWas also opened during the year 1874. It is represented that over two hundred thousand dollars have been expended in the various improvements on the property. An outcrop of seven feet of coal, mixed with slate, was prospected in connection with costly constructions for mining facilities, and when finished it was found that the coal vein was broken, impure and worthless. The owners have attempted to repair the disaster by sinking a deep shaft to discover lower veins. It is reported that a workable vein of coal was struck at a depth of about four hundred feet, but no further exploration has been made, and the shaft has now remained for a year, filled with water. H. S. Crocker, a California railroad king, and Billy Carr, another California magnate, were among its proprietors, and cannot be materially injured by its failure.
THE SOUTHPORT MINEWas opened in 1875 by B. B. Jones, agent for P. B. Cornwall and others, after a thorough examination of the vein, by running upon it a drift of several hundred feet, until there was an assurance of its permanence and value. A large amount of money was expended upon it, in valuable and substantial improvements. The shipment of coal from this mine has been continued, and promises to be lasting.
WASTE OF CAPITAL.Five hundred thousand dollars is not too large an amount as an estimate of the money actually lost and squandered at Coos Bay in the development of coal mines that have proved thus far a total loss to their proprietors from the want of caution and experience, accompanied with a reckless expenditure of capital by rash and improvident agents. These mining failures have all exhibited some merit. They have been finely located for shipment, well improved and everything lovely except the small item--no good coal. A few of our citizens have reaped a personal benefit in the sale of lands to these unsuccessful adventurers, and many laborers have received wages and employment. Watson and Jordan pocketed fourteen thousand dollars from the sale of lands to the Hardy mine, and Watson and others received over thirty thousand dollars from the owners of Henryville.
THE COAL BUSINESSAt Com Bay has been continuous from 1856 to the present time, and has added materially to our prosperity, furnishing lumber, attracting population and adding to the wealth of this community. Coal now comprises a large share of the shipments from this port, amounting monthly to about five thousand tons.
THE STEAMER NEWPORTWas the first steam vessel to arrive on the waters of Coos Bay, and was employed early in 1856 in freighting coal from the Newport mine, as well as for passengers. Her engines were afterwards transferred to a small teakwood schooner, which was christened The Fearless, and was the first, and for many years the only, tugboat here. She was lost near Coos Head, and the present Fearless retains the name.
"THE FORTY THIEVES."Among the early trips of the steamer Newport, an order was sent to Gen. Estell, her owner, to forward a few laborers for the Newport mine. The Gen. had charge of the California state prison, and took interest in its occupants, so far, as it was said, as to let them "slip" occasionally and provide places for them when discharged. On the return of the Newport, in response to the order, a crowd of forty "hard cases" appeared upon her decks. A few only were required at Newport, and the remainder dropped ashore at Empire City. The unsuspecting and unsophisticated citizens scan them curiously, and retire with innocent confidence to their domiciles. But consternation soon pervades the community. Hen-roosts have suddenly become depopulated, the graceful limbs that have dangled from our clotheslines abruptly disappear; anything and everything valuable take mysterious departures, until the confiding people are aroused to anger. They begin to suspect--they "go for" these strangers, and emphatically advise their immediate emigration. The touching recollections connected with this interesting gang led the citizens to speak of them ever after as "The Forty Thieves." There were among them a few honest and industrious men, who are still among us, and whom it would be unjust and invidious to mention.
Coast Mail, Marshfield, Oregon, September 20, 1879, page 3
EARLY SETTLERS OF COOS BAY.
ECCENTRIC PERSONS.He who has no personal peculiarity or individual idiosyncrasy would be not only a singular type of manhood, but would indicate a want of character amounting to tameness and even weakness. Only a few exhibit peculiar characteristics so strange and paradoxical as to excite general notice for their eccentricity. Among the old residents of our locality, who have paid the debt of nature, are a few whose peculiarities deserve notice, and whom it cannot harm to describe.
CAPTAIN DRYDENIs a name familiar to all old settlers. He was a character! Social, witty, endowed with great powers of mimicry and an exact memory of events, he amused his auditors with an endless relation of ludicrous narratives and quaint remarks. In his presence the laugh was sure to go round, not in gentle ripples, but in a brawling stream. In a family who were all humorous, he was chief. The boy who whistled in school excused it by saying, "it whistled itself." So, from Capt. Dryden the flow of wit and humor bubbled out spontaneously, from a natural and irrepressible impulse. His polite and deferential gallantry modified the roughness of his narrations to the ladies, who were often startled with strange and queer jests that were a little dubious.
PHYSIQUE.His features were bronzed, large and irregular; with high cheekbones, and his whole physiognomy variegated with scars and wrinkles; he was homely, but not repulsive. His giant frame was gaunt and stalwart, and when his long arms were extended in awkward and rapid gesticulation, they added to the fun of his entertainments. Anyone who ever saw president Lincoln would be struck with the remarkable personal likeness between the men.
THE SAILOR.Having passed his life as a seaman, he was very "salt" in all his expressions. A partition was a "bulwark ," to sit down was "to come to anchor," and he hit a fellow on the "starboard or larboard bow," and thus on; he interlarded his whole conversation with a vocabulary of nautical terms. His ship was himself personated. A Chinaman had been suffocated by the fumes of charcoal, which had been employed to destroy rats in the hold of his vessel. The San Francisco coroner was mystified and astonished by his evidence: "I returned to port because I had rats in me; they gnawed holes in my bottom, and I was leaking. I was obliged to smoke myself, and the d----d fool of a Chinaman came on board in the night, and I found him a wreck in the morning." He was for several years captain of the old tug Fearless, and afterwards sailed the clipper brig Sheet Anchor, whose crab-like progression was proverbial. The captain of the slow bark Charles Devens once remarked that "he had never passed anything at sea, except the Sheet Anchor and the Farallones." On shipboard his stentorian tones of voice resounded afar, and it required but a slight emergency to excite him to a frenzy of imprecation.
ON SHORE.He attended all the parties and balls, and was the gayest of the gay; but too often in the late hours, having drunk too deeply of "the flowing bowl," he boiled with vengeance at some fancied slight or insult, and a row began. Blood flowed, ladies screamed, and the Terpsichorean revel closed suddenly in gloom. Few dared to meet his stalwart frame and dogged determination in single combat when his blood was up. They sometimes "doubled teams" on him, and now and then he came out with battered face, and even broken limbs. But again, he, singlehanded, put to ignominious flight their combined cohorts, driving them to cover in abject fear, their valor oozing from their trembling limbs. "The rackets" we hear about today are tame and spiritless compared with the stirring gales of excitement under the direction of Dryden.
THE FARMER.He erected a spacious and pleasant mansion near North Bend, and installed his aged mother, to whom he was ever kind, indulgent, and generous, as mistress. It was here that, with a nautical experience, he inaugurated an agricultural campaign. There was money in farming, and he would reap the golden rewards. He had no doubt of his ability to navigate the plow and spade; to sail the dairy and the crops into a harbor of dimes and rich results. The barren hills obstinately refused to deliver crops. His corn and vegetables put on a sickly hue of paleness, grew to a spiteful stumpedness of stature, and showed a mean disposition to scandalize his skill and efforts. Dryden was more than disappointed, he was angry--he was loud in scathing abuse of those San Francisco rascals who had swindled him. He believed that the poor seed they had sold him was the cause of all his misfortunes. After ineffectual efforts, and much time and money expended, he came to understand that a sailor might write in a small book "what he knew about farming," and that Coos Bay hilltops are not profitably productive. Though he did not succeed in farming, he made a pleasant home, and spent time in pursuits bucolic that might have been wasted in the alcoholic.
THE GRIM MESSENGER COMES.Imprudent exposures undermined his strong constitution. A fatal consumption was clutching at his vitals, his stout voice grew weak and piping, but still he maintained his activity and cheerfulness. He died on board the Sheet Anchor, on her way to Coos Bay, and was buried in the broad ocean, upon whose bosom so much of his life had been passed.
CAPTAIN CUSSANSWas another "queer fish." His lineaments were not impressively beautiful or intellectual. His capacious head indicated either a large brain or a thick skull. "The milk of human kindness" was but dimly shadowed forth in his expression. It may be that his features belied his noble heart, and his physiognomy was at fault. Except a little domestic tyranny, he left no record of violence or criminal act.
FINANCIAL POWERS.His great ambition was business. "Bizness is bizness," was his oft-repeated watchword. Trade for the sake of trade was his enjoyment. His capital was limited, his transactions were not ponderous and did not materially affect the commercial world, or receive extended notice in the great marts of trade. Exchanges from fifty cents up, or from five dollars down, were worthy of his financial attention. If he could shake a few dollars in his pocket, he was sure to do so, and felt happy in the display of coin.
CHEEK.He had infinite assurance and familiarity. "A word with you"--to call an unsuspecting victim aside, and "buttonhole" him for a half an hour about nothing, was his perpetual bore. It reminded the old settlers of the annoyance of Captain Harris, when an old fogy called him confidentially to the end of a long wharf at Empire City, and whispered in his ear, "What do you think, Rogers wouldn't lend me his bullet molds." He was never at a loss to make the acquaintance of a passing stranger, when it was so easy to introduce himself with a flourish--"I am Captain Cussans," and then followed with a free and careful inquisition into the victim's designs and business. He owed whiskey a terrible spite, and "punished" it on all occasions, so that he was saturated with its fumes "from early morn to dewy eve."
HOTEL DE CUSSANS.He kept a small hotel at Empire City. His table abounded with the productions of our waters--fish, clams and crabs--which were his chief staple, and cooked in all the varieties of the culinary art. His patrons were mainly of that high-toned class who, at late hours, were too fatigued to disrobe, and "turned in," boots and all. His supply of blankets was limited, especially when there was a rush of lodgers. Although the story is old, yet it is true, that he supplied the deficiency of blankets by pulling them off the sleeping "drunks" and passing them over to fresh arrivals.
DOMESTIC FELICITY.It is said he was more polite to his family in words than acts; that he hung, Betty-like, around the kitchen to dictate and scold. Now and then, addressing his wife with "my dear, don't do that," he hit her with the frying pan by way of emphasis.
He is now in "another sphere," and only left "to point a moral or adorn a tale."'
FORTNIGHT MILLERWas not a graduate of any university, or a member of the learned professions. His course of reading had not extended to classic lore--or any other lore; even the modern newspaper did not claim much of his attention. He received the appellation of Fortnight from a slight misapprehension. It is related that, being informed that someone had hauled a large number of rails in a fortnight, Miller, having never heard of that designation of time, conceived it to be some vehicle or machine, and expressed a strong desire to possess one.
ANOTHER MISTAKE.On another occasion, hearing some one speak of the World's Fair, he became impressed with the idea that it was the belle of womankind, selected from all the beauties of the world, and declared: "I would give fifty dollars to kiss her." When it is recollected that the fairest young ladies retail kisses all round at twenty-five cents each, at church fairs, that the poor Esquimaux may be provided with linen dusters, or benighted Africans with woolen mufflers, we can imagine what impression the loveliness of the World's Fair made upon Mr. Miller. These are but trifling errors committed by one who was not "posted," and which permit us to smile broadly, and not condemn.
Coast Mail, Marshfield, Oregon, September 27, 1879, page 3
EARLY SETTLERS OF COOS BAY.
GOLD MINES.The gold mines discovered in this vicinity at an early date may properly be included among the events claiming notice. The residents of Coos Bay contributed a large portion of those who were concerned in their development, and were more deeply interested in their results than any other locality. The miners and traders were largely from our citizens. Their supplies and their returns had an intimate connection with Coos Bay.
GOLD BEACH.As early as 1852, a year previous to the settlement of Coos Bay, a few half-breed Indians had discovered rich gold-bearing sand on the ocean beach at the mouth of Whiskey Run, a few miles north of the Coquille River. They worked their places quietly a portion of two summers, and must have saved a large amount of gold. During the summer of 1853, they sold their claim to the McNamara Brothers for twenty thousand dollars. Pans of black sand, taken from this claim without selection, yielded from eight to ten dollars. The McNamara Brothers, during the two seasons they owned and worked it, must have been remunerated with abundant returns. It has been estimated that gold to the amount of more than one hundred thousand dollars was taken from this one claim.
A GOLD EXCITEMENT.Soon after the first settlement of Coos Bay, the rumor of these rich deposits spread, and floated on to the interior valleys. Late in the fall of 1853, more than a thousand men were gathered there on the ocean beach, which was staked off for miles in numerous claims. The sparkling gold was found everywhere distributed in the form of the finest particles. Randolph, located near Whiskey Run, grew up like magic, extended in a lengthened line its tents and cabins, its restaurants and lodging houses, its stores and saloons, and put on the bustle and importance of a town. Winter had come and with it the rolling waves and angry surf that forbid any development by labor, or test by prospecting. All were content in the expected harvest that summer would bring, and made themselves merry in the enjoyments of a mining camp. Poker tables were adorned with cocked revolvers, and whiskey, straight and mixed, went gurgling down the joyous throats of those who sat around. Books were opened on "bedrock" credit, and all went "merry as a marriage bell."
DISAPPOINTMENT.Summer rolls round, and lo! "a change comes o'er the spirit of their dreams." All rush to the beach and hasten to turn up the rich, golden sands, but, unfortunate to relate, it refused to "pan out." Among the hundreds of claims, a few only were worth the trouble of working. Not only the miners wore a sad and lengthened face but the book-keepers looked mournfully over their long accounts, saw the "bedrock" had vanished, and themselves involved in loss and ruin. The people slowly and sadly departed, and the town was comparatively deserted. Not a house now remains to tell the tale of its sight, or the story of their disappointment. A few claims have been worked, more or less, for years, yielding a fair compensation.
INLAND BEACH.An ancient beach, about three miles inland, was discovered by Mr. Hinch, several years after, on which one claim has proved productive. This claim was sold by Hinch & Thrift to John Pershbaker and others, for ten thousand dollars, and by them to the present owners for thirty thousand dollars. Much capital has been expended on other points of this same lead, but have thus far proved of no value.
JOHNSON'S DIGGINGSWere found in 1856, on the upper Coquille. A few have been well compensated for their labor in that location, while a greater portion have revived very moderate payment. It is now almost entirely abandoned to a few Chinese miners.
SIXES MINES.In 1857 much excitement prevailed in this community at the general rumor of the discovery of rich placers on the upper Sixes River. As at Randolph, the miners arrived too late in the season to commence operations, but staked out their claims and waited for summer to bring mild weather and lower waters. A few only were rewarded with paying claims, and the unfortunate ones prospected in narrow canyons and its rough and rugged localities with a determined spirit that deserved a better reward. A few Chinamen are now found patiently delving among its boulders, and reaping a small return. Each year we hear of a few adventurous citizens of Coos Bay who go there determined to wrest fortunes from the rugged scenes of these mines, but generally return with a few small nuggets and a dilapidated wardrobe. This mine could serve a purpose as a school to train lazy men, where they might gambol over its precipitous mountains, slide down its steep canyons, enjoy the siesta of a rocky couch, and dine upon the historic flapjack, beans and bacon, but as a place of comfort and gay hilarity, a source of wealth and advancement, it cannot be recommended--it is better to tarry at home.
GENERAL RESULTS.All these mines have yielded, first and last, a large amount of gold, but if a balance of profit and loss was struck, taking it all in all, it is very certain that the balance would appear on the wrong aide of the ledger.
MR. COONWas known at the Randolph mines as a man of extraordinary talent in a special direction. His lean and cadaverous aspect, his meek and pleading countenance drew forth sympathy.
"There was an old woman and what do you think?Are the impressive words of a classic poet. So, Mr. Coon's bosom sighed constantly for a large portion of solid aliment.
She lived upon nothing but victuals and drink;
Victuals and drink were the chief of her diet;"
ASTONISHES THE NATIVES.One of the native Indians of that day related that Mr. Coon called at his cabin, hungry and tired; it being in the salmon season he set before him a quantity of this delectable fish, which rapidly disappeared, and finally, after many renewals Mr. Coon gave up the contest. Indians are, at times, enormous eaters, but this Indian expressed himself surprised at his powers, and declared him, "Salmonee Tyee," or champion salmon eater.
CLEANS OUT A RESTAURANT.He one day called at P. Flanagan's cabin at Randolph, who knew his weakness. His appealing face and hungry look stirred his sympathy, but threatened his larder of supplies. So he generously takes him to Pilot Smith's restaurant, orders his meal, and advises him to be ready to take an early seat at the table. The innocent host prepares his meal and invites our champion to be seated. Before his tardy boarders and guests appear, Mr. Coon clears the table from "stem to stern" and leaves the astonished landlord in the plight of cooking another meal. Smith thanked Flanagan at the next opportunity, "in thoughts that breathe and words that burn."
FINANCE.His seedy wardrobe, coupled with a meek and hungry look and a witty tongue, has helped him to travel extensively. He has crossed the continent several times, free, and travels everywhere on the strength of sympathy. He circulates subscription papers in aid of his family. It is known that he realized several hundred dollars in San Francisco on the plea that Coquille sharpers were trying to swindle him out of his little home that he never lived on, and holds for speculation. It is known that he has property in the "East," and good substantial bank accounts that are not heralded to the pitying world. A subscription was, to him, a common resort. If he set out upon a journey he made a deposit of his money and boldly depended on contribution and diplomacy for any necessary expense. While he strives to make an honest penny, we are impressed with the skill of his management, and are permitted to rejoice at his accumulations of glittering coin. It can hardly be wrong, but on the contrary, a pleasant duty to record his brilliant example of financial ability and success.
Coast Mail, Marshfield, Oregon, October 4, 1879, page 3
EARLY SETTLERS OF COOS BAY.
TRIBUTARIES OF COOS BAY.The many inlets, creeks and rivers that enter the waters of Coos Bay add materially to its facilities and resources. Its surrounding elevated hills, covered with fir, spruce and cedar, have yielded its millions of lumber. While its numerous estuaries extend their Briarean arms into the interior hills and mountains, opening their timber, coal, and agricultural lands to convenient access,
COOS RIVER,Flowing into the upper arm of the bay, reaches out its two forks deeply into the mountains of the Coast Range. Dividing into two branches a few miles from its mouth, they meander with a gentle current between its mossy banks. Now the mountains meet the river banks, and now a rich alluvial plain skirts its border, with the elevated hills in the rear. Now the mountains are precipitous, and now their rounded forms slope gently to their tops, covered with the dense foliage of the fragrant pine. Farmhouses dot its banks, cultivated fields and orchards bright in glittering green extend themselves to view; the lowing kine are sprinkled here and there, thick myrtle groves spread out their inviting shades, and the whole scene inspires admiration of its beauty. It is a stream whose picturesque and changing panorama impresses the lover of rural landscape, and invites to Arcadian quietness and peace. Its rich soil and soft climate reward the agricultural population with abundant harvests, and the various industries of the bay furnish a convenient market for its products.
FAMILY SETTLERS.Among its early settlers may be mentioned Davis, Landreth, Hodson, Collver, Amos and Anson Rogers, Bogue, McKnight, Yoakam, Jackson, W. D. L. F. (that's all of 'em) Smith, and others. These were the pioneers who began with a log cabin, toiled early and late, cleared away the tangled, woody bottoms, and gradually saw, by the force of persistent labor, their broad fields extending wider and wider, and their residences and storehouses rising around them, until the wilderness blossomed, and their rough homes became places of happy comfort and inviting beauty. Coos River is now settled in every nook and corner by a thriving people, who count their numbers by the hundreds.
W. H. JACKSON.Mr. Jackson was also an early settler on the Coquille. He served ten consecutive years as our county clerk, with much credit and popular approval. He is genial and social in manner, and a good citizen in the community.
MATRIMONY.At an early period, one of the Coos River bachelors had become weary of his secluded life, and long for some sweet Eve to direct his household, to prepare the savory meal, and share his lonely cot. In the neighborhood of his rich bottom dwelt a maiden of "sweet sixteen." They met, and Cupid's darts soon caused "their two hearts to beat as one." The marriage license was procured, the Co. Judge was summoned to his home to perform the ceremony, and rested there for the night. In the morning the expectant bridegroom hastened to the home of his lady love to arrange the necessary preliminaries. Lo! the maiden had changed her mind, and had fled to a place of concealment. While the Judge was conning over the marriage service, and thinking over his probable fee, the bachelor returned with fire in his eye, and with a blue streak of imprecation announced the event. The Judge went home, reflecting that "There's many a slip, 'twixt the cup and the lip."
INLETS.Many other inlets, like Willanche and Kentuck, North, and Haynes, South, and other sloughs already noticed, afford homes and valuable farms to their residents. These sloughs are less extensive than Coos River, and support a small population, but are equally fertile, and open to the logger and coal miners opportunities for the prosecution of their industries.
B. F. ROSSWas one of our earliest settlers. Activity, industry and enterprise have contributed to his success. The reclaiming of rich marsh lands, by dike and tidegate, received the first impulse here from his experiment. From an early date he has with small interruptions largely supplied the wants of this community in animal food. Generous to a fault, none but himself and intimate friends are aware of the financial assistance he has extended to his relatives to place them in possession of prosperous homes. A natural fund of good nature marks his daily life, and the record of a good citizen is written on all his paths.
H. P. WHITNEY.Quiet and unobtrusive, shrewd and far-seeing, upright and generous, his financial judgment has bridged him over all his transactions to a prosperous end. He spent money with a liberal hand to perfect all the facilities and conveniences required in his particular enterprise, to render competition difficult, and failure improbable. He has established an extensive business on a firm basis, ensured by his watchful tact. We concede him the honor, and rejoice in the deserved reward.
CURTIS NOBLEWas a member of the "Coos Bay Company," the original settlers of this bay. He was the oldest of its members, and exhibited the spirit of youth that led him in his old age to become a pioneer in a new settlement. Although the "company" had dissolved, and their exaggerated hopes had crumbled away, he gathered his property and energies and battled with manly hope. In those days the house of Mr. Noble at Empire City was reputed for its abundant and savory table, and its quiet accommodation for travelers. Mrs. Noble, buxom, "fair and thirty," was the active mistress, and they prospered in means and in the good will of their many guests and friends. Mr. Noble was an honest, quiet old gentleman, who has passed "the dark valley," and whose memory is embalmed in the respect of all who knew him.
DAVID HOLLANDCame to Coos Bay at an early date, and has been engaged in various employments. Temperate and industrious, possessing Scotch thrift and shrewdness, he has secured for himself and family an independent competence. Reticent as Grant, his "true inwardness" develops among his friends to a genial and social freedom. His daily life and deportment exhibit the example of a good neighbor and citizen.
I. HACKER,We have known, now endeavoring to "teach the young idea how to shoot," now laboring at his mechanical trade, now representing Coos County in the Legislature, and at present holding the position of collector of customs, whose arduous duties are largely included in the reception of its salary. The comfortable independence which he has acquired are the results of his personal skill and prudence.
INCIDENT.Mr. Hacker's brother, familiarly known as "Bill," was at times, unfortunately, half-demented. The volubility of his tongue was the gauge of his mental equilibrium, and when greatly disturbed his discourse was amusingly rapid and quaint. On one occasion, happening to see his brother's sign, "I. Hacker," he read it: audibly, "one Hacker." It enraged him. With oaths and curses, he asserted that there was more than one Hacker, and that it was impudent assurance for any Hacker to claim to be the only Hacker, while he was himself notoriously a Hacker.
P. FLANAGANWas the earliest of the early settlers. At Randolph, his pack train and store were the pioneers of trade. Then, at Johnson's, and on the Sixes, in a similar way, he pursued an active and lucrative business. Later, he became associated in the partnership of the Newport Coal Mine, where his skill and experience have added largely to its success. He may be regarded as one of the solid men of Coos Bay. At his spacious home his friends and neighbors are ever welcome with a hospitality genial, and characteristic of the liberality of its dispenser.
Coast Mail, Marshfield, Oregon, October 11, 1879, page 3
EARLY SETTLERS OF COOS BAY.
COQUILLE VALLEY.Many of the old settlers of the Coquille were originally citizens of Coos Bay, and all are so intimately connected with this locality, by business association and intercourse that this portion of our county seems, if not a part of Coos Bay, a blood relation. The Coquille Valley is quite extensive. For more than one hundred miles on its main river and branches it is skirted by a valley from one to three miles in width, which is generally rich and productive. Its population is distributed through its whole extent, and counts up by the thousand. They have labored steadily and patiently, notwithstanding the disadvantages of bad communication to, and distance from, ready markets. Good roads are gradually being completed in their midst, and the hope that the iron horse will soon pass through their valley to quicken and enrich all their enterprises is one that has solid foundation.
MOUNTAIN SCENERY.Beyond Enchanted Prairie the Coquille cuts deeply through the mountain range, and finds its source in the beautiful valley of Camas. Passing over the trail, the scenery increases in interest and wildness until at the summit its deep charm presents a view of grandeur that inspires admiration. The narrow pathway now and then approaches to the very edge of the deep gorge, where the reflection of a possible misstep excites an unpleasant tremor. Proceeding on, the gradual descent of the eastern slope brings the traveler to Camas Valley, the soft and placid loveliness of which is in strong contrast with the wild scenes from which he has just emerged. It seems a gem set in the rough bosom of nature, or like an oasis in the desert. Hungry and weary, the traveler hastens to Day's, where the mistress sets before him a bountiful and delicious repast, and the soft couch woos him to refreshing rest,
DR. HERMANNCame with a colony from Baltimore, and settled on the Coquille. As a physician, he had enjoyed a large practice, and was learned in his profession. He settled here with the desire to retire from the practice of medicine, and devote his time to the more congenial pursuits of agriculture. He was the first to introduce bee culture in this county, which proved profitable by the excellence and quantity of their productions. He was a gentleman of large and general culture, social in his habits, and interesting as a relater and companion. His integrity of character and suavity of demeanor are monuments to his memory in the hearts of his friends.
MR. PERRYIs a patriarch among the settlers of the Coquille. Coming at an early day, he has devoted his time and energies to make a home for himself and his children worthy of his industry and skill. He sits down in a pleasant home, looking out upon acres cultivated and reclaimed by his continuous efforts, and sees his sons and daughters settled about him, prosperous, thrifty and honored. His social manners, his unstained life and honorable record, will be a fitting inscription to the tablet that will mark his end.
OTHER SETTLERS.Lehnherr, Rowell, Dement, Harris, Schroeder, Gant, Hamblock and others, among its early settlers, claim a passing notice for the determined perseverance and courage which they have manifested in establishing homes of comfort and independence in the face of discouraging circumstances and surrounding difficulties; who have reared families of respectability and worth, and will leave them the legacy of a good name in a community they pioneered and helped to prosper.
FLOODS.In the winter of 1861, the residents of the Coquille River suffered severely by an extraordinary rise of its waters, which swept away houses, barns, cattle, fences and much of their property. Some were rescued from the tops of their houses by boats, and many made narrow escapes. Cattle and swine, lumber and furniture, rushed down the surging tide in mingled confusion. The festive rooster crowed from his perch as he went floating down, unsuspective of his fate. The disaster was a serious loss, but they learned, from this experience, the policy of building upon more elevated sites.
DESTRUCTIVE ANIMALS.These early settlers were much annoyed by the depredations of bears, panthers and wolves, who preyed upon their young cattle and swine. Dully had a claim at Enchanted Prairie, then an outpost of settlement, where he had numerous swine designed for market at Johnson's Diggings. Judge Deady, and accompanying lawyers, on one occasion made Dully's home a stopping place for the night. He took great pleasure in exhibiting his stock to the Judge, win was interested to learn how he would dispose of his prospective bacon. Dully very readily answered, "I shall have a home market." During the quiet of the evening, the pigs suddenly gave forth a shrill squeal; Dully rushes out, gun in hand, and shoots the bear, who was too affectionately hugging his porkers. A second, and a third time, Dully hurries out on a similar signal. "Ah," says the Judge, "now I understand what you mean by a home market,"
AN ADVENTURE.Our sheriff was, years ago, a resident of the Coquille; still lame from a serious cut, he takes his rifle and strolls out into the woods; espying a brown bear at a convenient distance, he discharges his rifle and wounds him severely. The enraged bear turns and pursues him growling with open mouth, while Glenn flies precipitately to the nearest tree. Around that tree a spirited race begins. The bear is anxious to overtake him, and Glenn is equally anxious to win "the battle." The bear means business, so does Glenn; if the bear puts in an extra "spurt," so does Glenn. The bear begins to lag from his wounds and Glenn gains and overtakes him in the rear. The bear "takes ship" and pursues in the opposite direction, and so the race goes on. No one was there to record their speed, or count the "caps." Glenn, in his excited interest in the contest, forgets his lameness, and is bound to do his "level best." At last the bear becomes discouraged, walks slowly away, and leaves the champion with the honors behind. Glenn picks up his rifle, decides not to follow the bear, concludes he is not in want of bear's meat, and returns with laurels of victory to his home.
N. B. Circumstances will prevent the writer from the continuance of these sketches for a few weeks.
Coast Mail, Marshfield, Oregon, October 18, 1879, page 3
EARLY SETTLERS OF COOS BAY.
THE WARWICK CLAIM AND THE TOWN OF MARSHFIELD.In the fall or winter of 1853, the existence of Coos Bay having become known among the venturous spirits who thronged the shores of the Pacific at that period, Mr. James C. Tolman, the present Surveyor General of this state, came here to seek a field for profitable investment. He noted the advantages of the different points on the bay, and selected the present town site of Marshfield as the point designated by nature as the future emporium of the bay. He took possession of the tract and built a double log house on the hill land; the same house was formerly occupied by Capt. George Hamilton, now owned by John Bear and occupied by Mr. Malarkey. In the spring of 1854, two men named Williams and Crosby entered the bay with a small vessel, and a contract was made between them and Tolman, by the terms of which Williams and Crosby agreed to put up a store and warehouse and to bring on a stock of goods and inaugurate the business of merchandising. They were to receive from Tolman two lots each as an inducement to this enterprise. About this time, the channel as far as this point was sounded, and the place was named Marshfield. It has ever since been popularly known as the town or site of Marshfield. Empire City had already been founded by the association known as the Coos Bay Company, and the local jealousy which has since existed with varying intensity then commenced. The store was immediately built near where Mr. Kerrigan''s hotel now stands, and a kind of wharf was constructed, but Williams and Crosby never returned, nor sent on the merchandise to establish business. Tolman carried on some trade with the Indians, but no regular trade was established till some two years later. In the summer of 1854, Mr. Tolman admitted one A. J. Davis to one half interest in the Marshfield claim, and on account of the declining health of his wife decided to remove to Jackson County. Davis was a man of some means and a speculator who could not afford to settle up on the claim and hold it in person; so he hired a young man named Wilkins Warwick to represent him upon the claim, and Tolman employed one Ad. Gaskill, and these men were placed in possession of the claim for Davis and Tolman. Gaskill afterwards left the place, but Warwick was furnished with employment by Davis and maintained an irregular residence upon the place, living in the old Tolman house and keeping a kind of hotel till 1856, when he turned it over to Davis and left Oregon for Iowa, where he now resides. During the time when he resided on this claim as agent as before mentioned, he was simply an agent and hired man of A. J. Davis, receiving $50 per month for his services.
Before leaving, at Davis' suggestion he made a "notification" upon the Marshfield claim under the donation law of Oregon, and after he left, Davis, in Warwick's name, deposited money in the Land Office sufficient to pay for the land at $1.25 per acre. This payment was authorized by the donation law to be made after the survey and one year's residence and cultivation, in lieu of one year's residence. Warwick's settlement was dated Aug. 4, 1854 but on the 17th of July, 1854, an Act of Congress had been duly passed and approved, which provided that "The donations hereafter to be surveyed in Oregon and Washington Territories, shall in no case include a town site or lands settled upon for the purposes of business or trade, and not for agriculture." The irregular and suspicious character of this entry stood in the way of the issuance of a patent for many years.
Soon after making payment on the Marshfield claim, Davis, having sunk a large amount of money in a coal mine near where Lobree's mill now stands, also turned his back on Oregon forever. One Capt. Hatch and Dr. Ferber were in possession of the Marshfield claim for a year or two after Davis' departure, as agents for Davis and Tolman, and in pursuance of a contract made some years before, early in 1857, a survey of a portion of the claim into blocks and lots was made and a plat of the town was prepared. The U.S. land survey was extended this township in the fall of 1857, and the Warwick claim (as since known) was designated to the officers of the Land Office by Capt. Hatch. A little trade in whiskey and general merchandise was carried on by various parties from that time till 1867, when John Pershbaker built the mill now owned by Dean & Co. This and the general increase of business on the bay gave an impetus to the growth of Marshfield, and the town soon had two or three hundred inhabitants.
The inhabitants then began to think about the necessity of taking steps to secure a title to the ground they occupied, and the fact that no patent had been issued to Warwick, and the well-known fraudulent character of his pretended claim, gave them hope that they could acquire the title from the government under the "town site law." They applied to have the Warwick claim canceled, which was recommended by the officers of the Roseburg Land Office and approved by the Commissioner of the General Land Office, but H. H. Luse, as the agent of A. J. Davis, appealed to the Secretary of the Interior. Geo. H. Williams, then United States Senator from Oregon, was retained by Mr. Luse to support the Warwick title, and after he became Attorney General, in 1874, the contest was decided in favor of the Warwick title and the patent was issued. The claim had heretofore embraced 185 18/100 acres, but it was then cut down to 160 acres, and the tract of 25 18/100 taken from the north end of the claim was entered by A. Nasburg.
(The remainder of this chapter to be continued in the pamphlet.)Coast Mail, Marshfield, Oregon, October 25, 1879, page 3
Last revised April 28, 2022