The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised

Our Streets Are Paved with Gold

    John Orth picked a piece of gold weighing about a dollar out of one of the walls of his brick building, where it was doubtless inadvertently placed by the bricklayer, being mixed with the mortar. Who knows but what some of our brick buildings are built with gold!
"Local Brevities,"
Democratic Times, Jacksonville, November 30, 1876, page 3

    The Mail says that J. S. Howard and Sam Rosenthal each staked off a mining claim on C Street, Medford, pay dirt having been taken off the bedrock to which the new well on the corner was sunk. It is rumored the dirt was salted, however.
Democratic Times, Jacksonville, May 30, 1890, page 3

    Last July Ted Howard dug a well on his lot on North E Street. Nothing remarkable about this fact, but as last week when working about the gravel which was taken from this well he picked up a piece of metal which closely resembles gold, there is, indeed, something remarkable connected with it. The piece of metal which he found has been tested by acid and is to all appearances solid gold. Experts have also examined it and are of the opinion that it is nothing more or less than gold. Its value, if gold, is something over $29. Another question, as yet unsettled, is as to whether it is a nugget or a relic. There are dents in it as of hammer marks, but some are positive these were caused by its coming in contact with heavy rocks. In the gravel near this piece Mr. Howard found a small nugget containing about fifty cents of gold. Both of these it is thought were dug up about six or eight feet from the surface. This fact would seem to strengthen the theory advanced by several that many parts of this valley would prove rich placer fields. A later report says Mr. Howard has sold the above relic or nugget for $60. And still another report says that where it was found is the identical point where, several years ago, a counterfeiter was killed, and this metal was a part of his stock in trade. If this story spreads out very much more it will savor of fish quite aplenty.
"All the Local News," Medford Mail, October 6, 1893, page 3
What's known about the counterfeiter's death:
    Deputy U.S. Marshal Burns has brought down from Douglas County and lodged in the city jail Mrs. Mary E. Baker, charged with the manufacture of counterfeit coin.
"Home News," The New Northwest, Portland, April 6, 1877, page 3
Arrest of Counterfeiters.
    On last Tuesday evening Marshal Helms arrested two strangers, one for passing counterfeit coin and the other for being an accomplice. They were lodged in jail, and the next day Sheriff Manning was called upon by an immigrant whose name was Atkinson who gave him a lump of what he supposed to be spurious silver bullion. He said that the two comrades of one of the men in jail had given it to him to come to town and sell, and stated that he could take the officer to where he was again to meet them. So the sheriff, accompanied by F. Grob, got in the wagon and were driven to the place agreed upon for the meeting. They found their men and warned them to surrender, but instead of doing so they took to the brush before the officers had a chance of preventing them. Search was made for them all that day, but the officers only succeeded in getting their horses. They found a carpet sack the next day hid in a fence corner, which contained bogus trade dollars, half dollars and British Columbia coin, and three Indians were stationed to watch the sack that night, as it was thought the fellows would return to get it. Sure enough, towards morning they cautiously approached where the Indians were lying concealed, first throwing rocks ahead of them. Supposing the way was clear, the counterfeiters approached nearer, when the Indians arose and ordered them to give up, but instead of doing that they both fired at the Indians, who returned their fire and succeeded in shooting one of the men, the ball striking him above the eye and passing through his skull, killing him instantly. The other one managed to effect his escape, however. From an entry in a memorandum book found on the person of the man who was killed, his name was discovered to be Henry W. Moore, from either Whitefield or Lancaster, Coos County, New Hampshire. He had on his person at the time of his death considerable counterfeit coin, and a revolver was grasped in his hand. On Friday his body was brought to town and a coroner's inquest was held. After all evidence was taken the jury brought in a verdict that the deceased had come to his death from a wound inflicted by a gun in the hands of one of the sheriff's posse. It was evident that he was familiar with this portion of the country and had lived within the past few years on Puget Sound. It was then ascertained that one of the men confined in jail was guilty of no offense, but was an immigrant, who had fallen in with these counterfeiters, not knowing their character, and consequently he was released. The officers kept up watch for the only one of the gang then remaining at large, but had no definite knowledge of his whereabouts until Sunday. Saturday night he stole a fine horse and saddle from Capt. B. B. Griffin and rode down through the open valley. The farmers turned out in pursuit, U.S. Deputy Marshal J. H. Hyzer had out a squad of men after him, while Sheriff Manning and posse were hot on the track. The counterfeiter left his horse and took to the woods just the other side of McKenzie's mill. Watch was kept for him all day Sunday and also that night. Monday the officers were still vigilant in their efforts to arrest him, and on Monday evening at about five o'clock he was arrested by some citizens. He had gone into Orson Gilbert's barn to get some sleep and was discovered by some parties who were proceeding to arrest him, when he heard them coming and went out and gave himself up. He was brought to town Monday night and was quite communicative. This gang was a set of lawless, desperate fellows, and it is a matter of congratulation that it has been so effectually broken up.
Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, April 11, 1877, page 3
[Yreka Journal, April 11th.]
    Last week a gang of counterfeiters passed through this place on their way from below, but only made short stops in Siskiyou, no doubt owing to the suspicious manner in which they were watched. They proceeded to Oregon, and the day after they left here our Sheriff received word from below in reference to their being counterfeiters, which information he telegraphed to the Sheriff of Jackson County, Oregon, who immediately took steps to capture the bogus coin manufacturers. The Jacksonville Times of last Saturday tells the rest of the story as follows: On Wednesday last Sheriff Manning received information that some other members of the gang of counterfeiters now infesting this section were camped in Phipps' pasture, about five miles from town. These fellows had wrung in on an immigrant from California, who was coming to town from Ashland, and got him to haul down some of their chattels. When they arrived at the pasture of Matthew Phipps they took out their goods, but gave the immigrant some bullion to change in town, agreeing to meet him at a certain place on his return. The man had traveled with them from Cole's and informed Sheriff Manning of the facts, and that officer made arrangements with his informant to go back with him, and, in company with Fred. Grob, secreted himself in the bed of the wagon, ready for operations. On arriving at the place appointed for the meeting, the scoundrels were on hand as agreed, but, instead of surrendering when requested, they took to their heels. Manning and Grob each fired at them, but to no purpose, and they made good their escape in the brush. That night watch was kept near the place where their horses were staked, but they did not come in sight. Next day Sheriff Manning, J. P. McDaniel, the immigrant and others renewed the search with no success; however, they found a valise containing some of their spurious coin in a corner of a fence. In the night three Indians, armed with needle guns, were concealed near the place where the valise was discovered. Some time had elapsed, when the fellows were heard coming. They first threw rocks into the brush to see whether anyone was there, and then stealthily crawled to the place where they had left their metal. When in close proximity, the Indians suddenly jumped up and demanded their surrender, but were greeted with a volley of balls from the pistols of those fellows, who fired as they ran. The redskins returned the fire and succeeded in bringing one down, but the other made good his escape. Word was sent to town, and Sheriff Manning, accompanied by several others, repaired to the scene. Upon examination, it was found that the ball had entered a little above the eye, ranging upward and tearing the top of the head nearly off. Death must have been almost instantaneous. Such was the velocity with which he fell that he tore quite a hole in the ground. Two purses containing trade dollars and halves of the bogus metal were found on his person. Also three or four small pictures of himself and a memorandum book, from which it seems that his name was Henry W. Moore. The body was brought to town, and an inquest will be held tomorrow. Several other articles were also secured. They evidently made the coin themselves, as some in an unfinished state was found. A trunk belonging to them is at the express office, having come down from Ashland. At the time of going to press Sheriff Manning and a posse were out hunting the other man.
Sacramento Daily Union, April 14, 1877, page 8
    ALL CAPTURED.--The last member of the band of counterfeiters who came into this valley a couple of weeks ago has been captured. After a week's dodging about through the brush between Phoenix and Jacksonville, hunger and cold drove him into the barn of Orson Gilbert and he was captured by a party who were apprised of his hiding place. He gives his name as Chas. Tamer and is most likely the leader of the band. He is a man of about twenty-five years of age and rather good-looking were it not for the hangdog expression which is the sure result of crime. Thus have three young sharps, who came to Oregon to ply their vocation, come to grief. One is under the sod, and two are in irons awaiting trial, with a certainty that they will draw a long term in the state's prison. The people of Oregon have reason to congratulate themselves upon the capture of these public marauders.
Ashland Tidings, April 14, 1877, page 3
    DIDN'T LIKE THEIR LOOKS.--One day last week while Deputy Sheriff Seybert and Mr. Thos. Gianini were watching the road over the mountain, south of here, for the fugitive counterfeiters, an old gentleman came along, on foot, ahead of his wagons and was stopped by one of the watchers. The old gentleman related the adventure when he arrived at this place by saying that he was not much frightened at first, but when he came close to the men and got a good look at them, he was near giving all up for lost. "My dear sir," exclaimed he, "I thought they were the worst-looking fellows I ever saw, and I just expected to be required to give up my last dollar." Considering the fact that Tom and Seybert rather pride themselves upon their good looks, this is decidedly rough.
Ashland Tidings, April 14, 1877, page 3
    PORTLAND, April 17th--U.S. Deputy Marshal Burns arrived here yesterday from Southern Oregon, having in custody three men, W. H. Cooper, Wm. Hicks and Enoch Baker, charged with the manufacture and circulation of counterfeit coin. A trunk was found in their possession which contains a large quantity of spurious money, bogus metal and all necessary instruments for making coin. The parties under arrest came from Red Bluff, Cal., and have been carrying on their nefarious avocation in Jackson County for some time. Today the counterfeiters had a preliminary hearing before the U.S. Commissioner, and were held to await the action of the grand jury.
"Coast Dispatches: Oregon News," Daily Alta California, San Francisco, April 18, 1877, page 1
    THE COUNTERFEITERS.--The Oregonian, April 17th, says: Last Saturday afternoon Deputy United States Marshal Burns arrived here, having in custody three of the persons who have been arrested in Southern Oregon charged with the manufacture and circulation of counterfeit coin. The names of the parties under arrest are Wm. Hicks, Enoch Baker and W. H. Cooper. Hicks and Baker came from Jacksonville, and Cooper from Coos Bay. The parties belong to two gangs of counterfeiters. Baker was with the man Moore, who was killed in Jackson County a few days ago. He made his escape at the time, but was subsequently arrested. At the time Moore was killed a large trunk was obtained filled with a number of articles which furnish an abundance of the most convincing proof that the owners of the same were engaged in the manufacture of spurious coin. In the trunk was found a quantity of the base metals of which the counterfeit coin was made, some specimens of the coin partly finished, a small sack filled with the spurious coinage--trade dollars and 50-cent pieces--acids in bottles, chemicals, etc.--in short every necessary appliance for carrying on the mint business on a limited scale. A pair of iron knuckles and a false pair of whiskers were also found among the contents. These parties came, a few weeks since, from Red Bluff, California, and have been carrying on their unlawful avocation in Southern Oregon. Hicks and Baker are comparatively young men. Today the accused will have a preliminary hearing before United States Commissioner Wilcox.
Willamette Farmer, Salem, April 20, 1877, page 1
Jacksonville Cemetery records give Moore's details as: H. W. Moore, date of death April 6, 1877. A 24-year-old house painter named Henry W. Moore is listed in the 1870 Census for Concord, New Hampshire.
SENTENCED.--The counterfeiters, Hicks and Baker, who were arrested in this county a short time ago, pled guilty to the charge against them, and were sentenced to seven years each in the penitentiary.
Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, August 1, 1877, page 3
    The two counterfeiters, Hicks and Baker, [who] were arrested in this county in 1877 and convicted by the U.S. District Court, have escaped from the penitentiary. Warden Miller offers a reward of one hundred dollars each for their arrest. It is thought they will come here to recover the dies which were, no doubt, cached somewhere in this neighborhood.
"Local Items," Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, May 7, 1879, page 3
    A reward of $200 is offered for the arrest of Wm. Hicks and Enoch Baker, who escaped on the night of May 6th from the Oregon Penitentiary.
"News Items," The New Northwest, Portland, May 15, 1879, page 2

    Baker and Hicks, the escaped convicts, have been captured in Marion County and returned to the penitentiary..
Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, May 28, 1879, page 2
   We have seen many collections of curiosities in Oregon--many cabinets--but the last we looked upon is Wintjen & Helms' [saloon] in the town of Jacksonville. . . .  In it we found . . . a piece of the skull of the counterfeiter Moore who was strangely killed, a half inch in thickness. . . .
"Study for the Geologist," Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, June 25, 1879, page 4

How John Made a Fortune.
John Hardin is a barber, and a miner as well. It was related to us this week that John made a little fortune when engaged in barbering. He being a miner knew that there was gold in the whiskers of nearly every man he shaved, as all were miners, and by saving the lather and panning out the gold he made a snug little sum. But this sum was lost, the boys tell, in experimenting in trying to make a cow give gin by feeding her on juniper berries. John is said to be now at work on an invention by which he proposes to confine a hen in a machine of the milkshake order and make her lay scrambled eggs.
Medford Mail, April 6, 1894, page 3

The S.P. Company Using Gravel for Ballast
That Goes a Dollar to the Pan.

    It has been known for some time the Southern Pacific was using gravel for ballast from the gravel pit this side of Gold Hill that contained more or less gold, but it remained for W. J. King of Medford to demonstrate its true value. Thursday Mr. King secured a bucket full of gravel from the train as it passed through town and taking a common metal wash pan proceeded to pan out the gold; his efforts were rewarded by his securing $2.50 worth of gold dust. The gold is of a high value and demonstrates the fact that but few railroads ever can afford to ballast their track with gravel that is worth $100 a ton.
Medford Enquirer, July 19, 1902, page 3

Some of the Rock Used for Paving the Streets Contains Gold.
    Paving the streets with gold-bearing rock! Now, what do you know about that? But that is just what is being done in Medford right now.
    Of course it isn't $100 rock or anything like that, but there is gold in it, just the same.
    A few days ago some of the employees of the paving company "panned" some of the fine rock which is used for the pavement, and in every pan they found several colors--three or four to the pan.

Medford Mail,
November 27, 1908, page 3

Gold Is Being Used to Pave City's Streets
   "Do you know," said T. Cameron of Jacksonville, "that the newly paved streets of Medford will be partly of gold? It is a fact, though. The sand being used by the Clark-Henery Company comes from the cyanide plant of the Opp Mine and carries values amounting to an average of $1 to the ton. It is impossible to get the full percentage of gold by any process; 90 percent is the best that has ever been accomplished. Based on a $10 valuation per ton, the sand now being used in mixing the cement for street paving has gold to the amount of $1 in each ton. So that Medford will have golden streets, partially at least."
Medford Mail Tribune,
July 21, 1910, page 2

Make "Sidewalks of Gold."
    JACKSONVILLE, Ore., Aug. 8.--It is often said that the ground Jacksonville is built on is more valuable than the town itself. To bear out this seeming paradox, Jacksonville is laying golden sidewalks. Not so it can be noticed, of course, but the gold is there just the same. The sand used in mixing the cement is composed of tailings from the Opp mine and runs about $1 to the ton in free gold.
Tacoma Times, August 8, 1910, page 1

In Two Oregon Cities They Have Thirty Thousand Dollars' Worth
of Real Gold in Sand.
    Of course, nothing like this will ever happen in Quincy, but in two Oregon cities some of the streets are paved with gold. The reader who is inclined to disbelieve this statement must not jump at the conclusion that nothing but gold is used on the streets, but just the same there is $30,000 worth of pure gold buried in the sand used in the pavements of the city mentioned. The current issue of the Municipal Journal and Engineer, received in Quincy yesterday, is authority for the statement, which reads as follows:
    Oregon has two cities whose streets are paved with gold, and neither lays claim to being the New Jerusalem, either. Medford and Jacksonville are the towns with the expensive pavements. Sand used in the cement sidewalks of Jacksonville is taken from the tailings of the ore produce [sic], and not all the gold was extracted from them. The tailings were piled up before the construction of a cyanide plant, and not all the gold was extracted from it. The tailings will run $1 to the ton in free gold. The same material was used in paving the Medford streets. It is estimated that Medford pavements have more than $30,000 contained in them, exclusive of the cost of these improvements to the municipality.
The Quincy Daily Journal, Quincy, Illinois, September 3, 1910, page 9

Some Gold in the Material--Opp Plant Running Night and Day--
Stamp Mill Soon to Resume.
    The Opp mine, near Jacksonville, has been running its cyanide plant night and day for some time. It has worked over a lot of tailings, which will be shipped to Medford over the Barnum railway and used in lieu of crushed rock for street paving next spring. Last summer these tailings were brought hither and used in the paving, and as stated at the time they contain a certain amount of gold. Thus the paving material for next summer will still contain gold.
    The Opp's twenty-stamp mill has been shut down for a time but will start up again after the holidays.
Medford Sun, December 27, 1910, page 1

Tailings from Quarts at 50 Cents a Ton Has Been Considered a Worthless Waste
    Medford's streets are paved with gold. The words are not the title of a popular song, neither were they lisped in husky accents by one in a state of intoxication. It is a fact.
    Five cars of the ground quartz taken out of Opp Mine while it is in operation are hauled to Medford nearly every day in the week, and the fine sandy material is used by the Clark-Henry Construction Company in making the municipal thoroughfares. After the quicksilver and cyanide processes have been applied to the quartz there still remains enough substance in the tailings to pave the streets of Medford.
    This sand from the Opp Mine has been piling up ever since the mine has been in operation and had been considered a worthless waste until the paving company, investigating paving materials, happened upon this rock and immediately secured a contract for some of it. This portion of Medford's pavement is purchased for 50 cents a ton.
Medford Sun, June 27, 1911, page 6

Discovery Stirs Medford--Local Resident Pans Out Dirt and Gravel in Front Yard

    The mining fever is not confined to professional mining men by any means.
    Throughout the city individuals in all ways of life are responding to the mining talk which is in the air.
    Last night a well-known resident of Medford, who resides on Ross Court, became so imbued with the spirit of prospecting and the conviction that the yellow metal was in and about the dirt in his vicinity that he went out in the front yard, scooped up a pile of gravel and soil in a stew pan, and panned it out in the kitchen sink.
    Although there was no appreciable deposit of the precious metal to be discovered after the operation, the prominent citizen aforesaid declares that he believes that if there were more cellars dug in this city there would be less need of tramping out in the hills for gold.
    There is foundation for such a statement in the experience of Henry L. S. Kniffin, vice president of the Western Bonding and Investment Company of Ashland, who has struck a gold mine in the basement of his home and intends to have the property thoroughly prospected.
    This discovery, which is stirring our neighboring town, is thus described by the Ashland Tidings:
    Henry L. S. Kniffin, vice-president of the Western Bonding and Investment Company, has struck a gold mine in his cellar.
    The strike was made under unusual circumstances. Mr. Kniffin has in his employ as caretaker an old California miner. A few days ago the latter was digging a hole in the cellar of Mr. Kniffin's home, preparatory to putting in an additional pillar. After having gone down a couple of feet he looked closely at the soil, which is of decomposed granite, and detected strong traces of gold. He called Mr. Kniffin and announced that there was rich gold-bearing dirt in the cellar.
    Mr. Kniffin was at first inclined to doubt whether the dirt had much or any gold, but he was prevailed upon to take a pan of it down to the office, where there are facilities for panning dirt out. He was assisted by O. L. Young, an old mining man, and when the dirt was washed away a substantial quantity of gold remained.
    It was roughly estimated that the dirt will pan out $8 or more to the ton, which is declared to be exceptionally good. Mr. Kniffin owns twelve acres at the west end of Sheridan Street, and he is so encouraged by the way the sample panned out that he is having his property thoroughly prospected. He isn't sure yet that he has a fortune, because it is considered necessary to do hydraulic mining on a considerable scale to make a placer mine pay, even at $8 to the ton. However, Mr. Kniffin doesn't like the idea of having gold on his farm and not being able to convert it into double eagles. He thinks it's worth trying at any rate and is awaiting the results of further prospecting with intense interest.
Medford Sun, May 31, 1911, page 3

    MEDFORD, Ore., Dec. 2.--A gold bridge is being built over the Rogue River at Gold Hill. The pier foundations will rest on gold quartz. Every hole dug recently showed "color," and every workman on the job is carrying around a few grains of gold in his pocket. A big gold yield is expected from gravel and crushed rock taken from the riverbed for the concrete pouring.
The Bee, Danville, Virginia, December 3, 1926, page 10

Last revised June 20, 2021