The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised

The Gold Hill Mound
Native artifacts excavated in the Rogue Valley. Click here for more on Southern Oregon natives.

Good Indians Unearthed.
    C. H. Pickens, while engaged last week digging the Table Rock irrigating ditch, unearthed the remains of five Indians, three bucks and two squaws of the Rogue River tribe who belonged to the "royal family" in this country probably a hundred years ago, and undoubtedly died before the feet of white men trod the soil of  this section of Oregon. The Hudson Bay Co.'s traders did not make their appearance in this country until 1832 [sic], when they began trading to the natives beads and other articles so attractive and dear to their untutored minds that that they were always thereafter buried with them. The siwashes unearthed by Mr. Pickens the other day were not surrounded by a single item of beads or other ornaments made by civilized hands, but sea shells and other crude emblems surrounded them. They were all buried in a crouched-up position, and both the females were placed deeper in than the three males.
Valley Record, Ashland, June 18, 1891, page 3

Relic That Beats History.
    A curious and interesting Indian relic was plowed up on the Hoffman place, Jacksonville, Saturday. It is a peculiarly shaped implement, six inches long, nicely polished, with a two-inch inclined hook on a smaller end, and is made of what is called here iron stone, a hard, tough material of a brown color, and very heavy. It has a jag, or setoff, near the larger end from the hook, to which it would appear a pole or stick was intended to be fastened, the whole to form possibly a boat hook. It is covered with fine, delicate tracing, interwoven in a uniform and artistic manner, but of no special design. It is a fine piece of workmanship. It is almost too much to wonder if this link of a lost age could have been used to draw boats ashore when Rogue River Valley was a lake, as it evidently was at one time. Nothing like it was ever before discovered here.
Valley Record,
Ashland, June 6, 1895, page 3

    Plowmen of the Modoc Orchard, near Table Rock, recently disinterred an Indian skull and collarbone. An obsidian arrowhead was driven into the latter. The relic of the Rogue River tribesman is now on exhibit at the Quiz cigar store, in Medford.
Gold Hill News, February 27, 1915, page 2

    We sometimes laugh at the Indians because they put things on the graves of their dead. I used to sell large quantities of dishes to put on the graves of the dead. Each spring they would put new dishes on the graves just as we celebrate Memorial Day by putting flowers on the graves of our dead. Back in the eighties you could see clocks, sewing machines, dishes and other treasured articles of the Indians put on their graves. I remember two Indians dug a grave for a dead Indian on the upper farm at Siletz agency. They dug the grave on the Kitty Evans place at the bend in the river. They came upon an old Indian grave so old that none knew when it was made. The Indian digging the grave found a handful of very old gold coins in the grave. A white man would have kept them, but to an Indian that is the worst form of desecration to steal from the dead, so when the burial occurred Jack Williams, an old Indian, called on all to witness that he was returning to the dead that which belonged to him and he scattered the coins in the grave. They bury their dead with rare old ornaments, elk teeth, coins, abalone shells and silver thimbles. White men come and dig open the graves, take the Indian skulls and the arrowheads and beads and put them in museums. Old "Halo Grease" asked me one day, "What would the white man think if we dug up their dead and took the skulls and carried away their tombstones?"
    Near the head of tide on the Siletz there used to be a rock called Medicine Rock. No Indian would think of rowing past it without making an offering to the Great Mystery. There was a little pine tree on the rock that used to look like a Christmas tree. The Indians would tie silk handkerchiefs to the limbs and at the foot of the tree they would put pipes, tobacco, pocket knives, money and other articles. No Indian would think of taking anything put on the rock, but the whites were less reverent. We would change our viewpoint if we could see our actions through the eyes of an Indian. We would not feel so self-satisfied nor superior, either.
Clarinda Kiser Chambers Copeland, quoted by Fred Lockley, "Oregon: In Early Days," Oregon Journal, Portland, June 8, 1915, page 8

Indian Dead Sleep Near Sleepy Hollow
Workmen Delve in Forgotten Graves
Excavation for Sewer Discloses Hoard of Ancient Relics; Was it Scale Armor?

    How long is it since the last burial chant of the Rogues sounded near Gold Hill? If the memory of pioneers went back to the final entry in the old burial grounds of the Sleepy Hollow ranch, the question might be answered. More than sixty years have elapsed, that is certain.
    Workmen on the ranch, excavating a deep sewer trench, recently sank their implements into a veritable treasure trove of relics--and the bones of the vanished tribesmen. The find was uncovered at the point where Sardine Creek enters the Rogue, in the high creek bank. No attempt was made to ascertain the extent of the burial ground, and the excavation has been filled up.
    Three distinct skeletons were disclosed. One of these had been retired in the splendor of a uniform cap, the visor of which alone remained; over this was drawn a copper kettle. The bones reposed in a prodigal wealth of glass beads--all colors and sizes. Various brass buttons--one of the U.S. naval service, many of the army--were found. The oddest button of all, when polished, disclosed the symbolical phoenix surrounded by flame. It bore the inscription "Je Renais de Mes Cendres" and No. 1. Freely translated, the French motto reads, "I am reborn from my ashes." Soldier buttons were a favorite adornment of the tribes.
    A fine granite pestle was also disclosed, close to the surface and evidently buried as an afterthought. It was splendidly proportioned, 17 inches in length, with a knob and grip of 3-inch length. A spear point of dark red obsidian, 6 inches long, and of remarkable workmanship, was found. By each form rested the rusted length of an old fashioned rifle--the walnut stocks completely fallen to dust and decay. A single-shot horse pistol, such as Kidd might have flourished, was one conglomerate of red ruin. Perhaps the most interesting relics were peculiar three-lobed plates of brass, which fitted and overlapped to a nicety. Six or eight of them were found. Were they parts of ancient Spanish plate armor? [They were U.S. army shoulder scales.]
    The records run back better than sixty years without disclosing knowledge of this burial place. Tradition has it that long ago, when the Messners owned the land and the elder Messner was alive, there came to the ranch a wrinkled Indian crone of many years, She asked for permission to dig. It was denied her. For weeks she importuned the Messners--then departed, grumbling about buried dollars. From this somewhat uncertain incident has grown up a legend of hidden treasure.
    They sleep well, these folks who used to be the landlords of the valley. The sacrilege of their burial ground was unintentional, and will not be repeated while the Sleepy Hollow remains under its present management, now that the location of the cemetery is known.
Gold Hill News, June 19, 1915, page 1

Rogues Left Coin in Resting Places of Dear Departed
    The power of the press is mighty. At last the News has found the pioneer who remembers when the red men of the Rogue laid their dead to rest at the Sleepy Hollow burial ground. Judge C. C. Gall deserts the controversy anent "Sid" Montgomery's veracity, and furnishes some information of genuine interest and value to students of local history and ardent anthropologists, as, for instance, Dr. R. C. Kelsey. Here goes Judge Gall, in a letter mailed to the News from Ashland:
    "I see in the News about finding Indian bones at Sleepy Hollow. That used to be one of the Indian burial grounds and one of their winter camps. I saw them bury Chief George there in 1854.
    "He used to sit on his horse and watch us mine on the bar at Rock Point. He had the consumption, with a bad cough. We used to give him scraps after we eat our lunch, if any was left. He had a fine rifle with brass-mounted stock, and also a good horse.
    "When he was buried they put everything in the grave with him, then led his horse on the grave and shot it and cut off its forelegs.
    "Sometime in the '60s Jim Bruse and another white man and one Indian came from the Siletz and dug up two or three graves. John Neathammer said they got one big pocketbook full of money, and the Indian said there was one under the first old house, where the railroad track is, had hi you chick amen ["much money"] in it. They went above Doc Ray's dam, where the Indian said was about fifty $50 slugs, but could not locate it.
    "Old Jimmie Counts dug up one grave, on the now Eddington farm, and got $27 in Mexican and French five-franc silver, and gave it to my mother for a cow. Some years afterward, Cardwell's children was playing where the grave was. One of the children found a $5 gold piece."
Gold Hill News, July 17, 1915, page 1

    Geo. Crabtree, while working for W. S. Johnson the past week on the line in the orchard, dug up a portion of an Indian skull and a large Indian hunting knife. The relics are on display at the Johnson place.
Gold Hill News, April 22, 1916, page 1

By Asil Walker.
    GOLD HILL, Ore., Feb. 7.--(AP)--A number of exceptional specimens of Indian relics have been unearthed near Gold Hill on the ranch owned by W. W. Hittle.
    The relics were found while the land was being leveled. Among the things unearthed are old Indian pipes, several skeletons and a number of arrowheads and spear points.
    The pipes which were found are hewn out of solid stone. They are about 10 to 15 inches in length and about an inch in diameter. They are made straight with a large hole at each end and cut down in the center. About 10 or 12 of these pipes were unearthed.
    A number of skeletons were uncovered at the same spot where the pipes were found. They are still solid, although some of them [are] fairly well decayed. An exceptionally large number of arrowheads were also taken out, some of them perfect specimens. Found with the arrowheads were a number of spear points and pieces of flint and other rocks which were probably used to make the points and arrowheads. Most of the spear points are two to five or six inches in length and made out of dark red flint, pointed at both ends. Some of these are also as nearly perfect as the arrowheads.
    The relics that were taken out in the line of pipes and arrowheads and spear points display an excellent example of the ability of the former Rogue River Indians at making such implements. The pipes were especially good, being made out of solid stone and given a very fine finish.
    The center of the stones indicated that it must have taken plenty of time to make one of them. At the bit end of the pipes they were cut out, as the pipes are made nowadays and regular mouthpieces were made at the end of them. A number of large bowls cut out of solid rock have also been found near the place where the other articles were taken out. The age of the objects must date back over one hundred years, as the skeletons taken out plainly showed a long lapse of time since the articles were put there.
    The specimens also present an interesting study of the burial of the Indians. The spot at which the articles were taken out is stated by some of the earlier residents of this valley to be an old burial ground. One of the main traits of the Indians is to bury their belongings including beads, arrows, bows, gold and other articles in their possession with their chief when he dies. For this reason it is thought that one of the chiefs of the Rogue River tribe of Indians might have been buried near where their possessions were found. If this is true, possibly further investigation may reveal more articles placed with the arrowheads and other things taken from this cache.
    The articles were discovered about four or five feet in depth in light sandy loam soil near this city. The land forms a mound at the point where the relics were taken out and is about 100 yards from Rogue River.
    Previously there has been several arrowheads and spear points found in this vicinity, but there has never been found such a quantity of them until these were uncovered.
    Unfortunately a few of the pipes were broken when the articles were first uncovered by the scraper with which the land is being leveled, but several were taken out which are practically perfect. A number of the articles taken out are on display in the window of the Bowers Pharmacy in this city.
Medford Mail Tribune, February 7, 1929, page 12

(By Asil Walker)
    GOLD HILL, Ore, Feb. 19.--(Special.)--The article in this paper about two weeks ago about the discovery of ancient Indian relics upon the ranch owned by W. W. Hittle near Gold Hill has created a great deal of interest among the people of Southern Oregon. Mr. Hittle has now uncovered several ancient knives among his recent finds. Some of them are as long as 20 inches.
    They are made from rock formation that is purely black, and the edges of the knives are very keen.
    About 10 or 12 of these knives have been unearthed at the spot where the other articles were taken out. Mr. Hittle has had several offers to sell them at an excellent price, but they with be kept for relics. A number of more [sic] pipes have been also found. One pipe taken out the latter part of last week measures about 24 inches in length and is about two inches in thickness. It is bored down very smooth, and the stem is fitted with a bit for the mouth.
    The knives especially present excellent specimens of the craftsmanship of the early Rogue River Indians. The articles must be very old, as none of the early settlers of this county remember when Indians were buried upon this ground.
    About 100 or more people were at Mr. Hittle's ranch on Sunday to see the relics which he has taken out. He has made a display case for the knives, pipes, spear points and the arrowheads. The discovery of these articles has created wide interest throughout this part of the country.
    Last week Mr. Hittle received a letter from the northern part of Oregon, near Portland, in regard to the articles written in this paper.
Medford Mail Tribune, February 19, 1929, page 7

    The Indian skeletons and relics unearthed at the Hittle ranch at Gold  Hill last week are of high historical worth and probably date back for hundreds of years, in the opinion of H. W. Young, local archaeologist, who visited the ranch yesterday afternoon, accompanied by Mr. and Mrs. A. W. Shephard of this city.
    The mound is at least 150 years old and antedates the arrival of white men in this section by a century, and possibly, the Indians found by the whites here on their arrival. The burial grounds, which have been attracting so much attention the past week, are in the form of a mound, approximately 300 feet long and 160 feet wide. In the neighborhood of a dozen skeletons have been unearthed and any number of old obsidian knives, soapstone pipes, arrowheads. and skittles.
    The mound is similar to those found in the Mississippi Valley, both in construction and contents. It is located near the west bank of the river and has been the object of so many visitors that the owner of the property has posted "no trespassing" signs to keep all visitors off. Local residents planning to visit the ground are discouraged from making the trip, as admittance to the property will be refused.
    A portion of the mound has been leveled in preparation for sowing alfalfa on the soil, said to be exceptionally rich, and it is expected as further leveling of the mound takes place more relics and skeletons will be revealed. The burial ground is believed by Mr. Young to be the oldest ever unearthed in Oregon, and has more value for what it is than for farming purposes.
Medford Mail Tribune, February 22, 1929, page B1

    Orchard deals aggregating $22,000 have just been completed by the Wold & Wold agency. The pear, cherry and apple orchard and dairy, near Gold Hill, owned by William Hittle, were sold to C. L. Woodford, and Mr. Woodford in turn sold his l0-acre pear orchard which adjoins Don Clark's orchard to Mr. Clark. The Hittle ranch deal involved $12,000 and the other deal $10,000.
    The Hittle ranch is said to be one of the most beautiful places around Gold Hill. It also contains some historic old Indian mounds from which many arrowheads, beads, obsidian knives and other relics have been taken.
Medford Mail Tribune, July 26, 1929, page 7

    A glance into the famous Indian mound on Rogue River near Gold Hill, discovered just one year ago by Bill Hittle, farmer of that locality, will be allowed the public, Sunday, June 8th, when the first step will be taken in the preliminary program for establishing a museum in this city for housing the many relics buried for centuries in the Southern Oregon soil, Alex E. Woolverton of Wold and Wold, real estate firm, owners of the property, announced this afternoon.
    An admission charge will be collected for entrance into the grounds, where great men of the Indian or perhaps the Chinese race, scientists have as yet been unable to determine which, buried their treasures or allowed nature to do the same for them. The grounds will be open each day following Sunday and the money realized from admission collected from crowds expected, who have anxiously awaited the opening date, will be used to pay for the excavations and finance the museum.
    Letters have been received by Mr. Woolverton from various universities of the coast, who are interested in the project. Actual excavation work to unearth the many formations and relics, which have as yet been untouched, will start about June 10. Thursday and Friday of this week, preliminary excavating will be done, however, in order that interesting displays may be seen by the people who visit the grounds on the opening day, Sunday.
    Several scientists are expected to be here for the first excavating. The public will not be allowed within the grounds prior to Sunday; a committee will then be prepared to receive the people.
Medford Mail Tribune, June 2, 1930, page 6

Indian Mound Discovery Near Gold Hill to Yield Prehistorical Insight
(By Eva Nealon)
    From a mound at the foot of Echo Mountain on the outskirts of Gold Hill, where the Indian lover once wooed his dusky mate, where salmon leaped high in the clear waters of the Rogue, daring the sinewy warriors to snare them, where a rapidly disappearing race hundreds of years ago buried its dead, sitting up--the white man will this week excavate skeletons and their possessions to be placed in a museum for the use of scientists, whose followers may someday want to prove that such a people lived and loved and developed arts unfamiliar to civilization today.
    L. S. Cressman of the University of Oregon, representatives of the Oregon Historical Society, and other scientists will be in Southern Oregon when the major excavation project is started Saturday, June 10th, Alex Woolverton of the Wold and Wold real estate firm, owners of the property, stated yesterday.
    Preliminary excavations will be made earlier in the week at the mound discovered a year ago by Bill Hittle, rancher of the Gold Hill region, whose collection, brought from the burying ground, has aroused the interest of scientists from all sections of the Pacific Coast.
    The pottery, arrows and knives are so constructed as to convey characteristics of a more highly developed people than the Indian known by the Oregon pioneers. [The natives known by the pioneers had been decimated by disease and stressed by white occupation.] Just who these people were, who chose to bury their dead on the banks of the river, where the water seeks a more even flow and Echo Mountain, heavily wooded with evergreen trees, rises like a monument above their graves, will perhaps be known when scientists view the excavations this weekend.
    The public will be allowed entrance to the grounds, beginning Saturday and on each day following. A small admission charge will be collected and the funds realized used for financing excavation work and the proposed museum.
    People were allowed entrance to the grounds for a short time after Mr. Hittle made his discovery. Destruction of the relics, which resulted, necessitated closing the mound until scientists could be on hand to supervise the work.
    Long pipes of stone, perfectly molded as a Grecian vase, were the first things found by Mr. Hittle. "I thought they were some kind of musical instrument," he stated yesterday afternoon, "but I couldn't get a tune out of them. I then saw what l think is tobacco caked in the inside of this one." The pipe of which he spoke is the most beautifully constructed of them all with threads at the end of the stem and a thin band carved round the middle. It is smoothly hollowed out inside, as are all the others, but is covered at the end with a substance which is believed to be remains of the last pipeful smoked.
    Skeletons were found of men, buried sitting up, with their knees tucked under their chins. As many as five were located in one grave, placed in a circle, all facing in. With them were the arrows and knives, mallets and stone hatchets which they were taking with them to the happy hunting ground.
    A skeleton of a woman with two stone weapons crossed over her breast was also unearthed. No beads nor metal ornaments adorned her tomb. The absence of them in all the graves entered leads scientists to believe the burying was done years before gold was known to the American native, and before the white man's arrival on this coast.
    Broken bowls of stone, and mallets, obviously used for pounding and grinding corn, are similar to those left here by Indians, well known by the early settlers, as are the many arrowheads found in the mound.
    Local citizens as well as scientists are anticipating the continuance of the excavation work this week to see what forms will be unearthed to bring more knowledge of their romantic predecessors.
Medford Mail Tribune, June 3, 1930, page 6

New Indian Tombs Found Near Gold Hill as Work of Excavation Continues
    With all soil conditions indicating the entrance to two tombs, workmen at the Indian mound on Rogue River at Gold Hill will continue excavations until a late hour this evening, in order that the bones and relics of the former race, which are believed to be buried beneath the layer of small rocks removed yesterday, may be on exhibition when the public enters the grounds tomorrow, Alex Woolverton, of Wold and Wold real estate firm, stated this morning.
    A telegram will be sent this afternoon to Dr. Cressman at the University of Oregon informing him of the progress of the work and  inviting him to come to the mound to supervise operations at once.
    The formations which Bill Hittle, now managing the work, entered yesterday are the same us those entered a year ago when the Indian collection, now at his home, was unearthed.
    The excavating has been started over a very small area of the mound, covering a strip 100 by 15 feet. A depth of three feet through the topsoil had been reached yesterday. The greatest care is being taken to avoid damaging any ancient formations which may be entombed.
    A large number of broken stone utensils were found yesterday, including bowls and skillets, which were apparently used by the Indian for grinding corn and cooking. It is the white man's belief that these utensils were broken by the members of the Indian race in order that their people in having to make new ones would avoid losing knowledge of the art developed by their ancestors. Roots of a very old tree and some charcoal were also found buried in the soil.
    What are thought to be the entrances to the tombs are layers of soil covered first with very large flat rocks, then a layer of earth eight or 10 inches in depth. Beneath this layer of soil many small rocks have been arranged as if to cover and protect something below. These rocks were taken out yesterday, and Mr. Woolverton stated this morning the workmen expect to enter the tombs this afternoon through a shallow layer of dirt.
    Many people are expected to visit the grounds tomorrow, which will be opened to the public for the first time since the Indian mound was discovered by Mr. Hittle about a year ago. A small admission charge will be collected and the money realized contributed to the fund now being raised to finance construction of a museum to house the contents of the mound and other prehistoric relics found in this region.
Medford Mail Tribune, June 7, 1930, page 3

Sunday Excavation Work at Indian Mound Viewed; Three Skeletons Exposed
(By Eva Nealon)
    While crowds of curious-minded people without fears or superstitions regarding the dead of a former race, and one of a different color, gathered round the graves at the Indian mound on the banks of Rogue River at Gold Hill yesterday, Dr. L. S. Cressman of the sociology department of the University of Oregon, with trowel and whisk broom in hand, dug the skeletons of three Indians from the ground and dusted them off for the inspection of the inquisitive whites.
    Approximately 200 people entered the grounds to view the bones and relics of the former race, which were placed beneath the sandy loam, where digging was easy, long before Lewis and Clark made their expedition to the coast, according to Dr. Cressman and other scientists who have inspected the relics brought from the tombs, discovered a year ago by Bill Hittle.
    Excavations were resumed at the mound for the first time since the discovery of the Indian graves Friday of last week. The public was allowed entrance to the grounds at the foot of Echo Mountain for the first time Sunday.
    Dr. Cressman arrived from Eugene at noon to supervise the excavations. Mr. Hittle had shoveled the dirt to the entrance of a tomb when he arrived. A few insertions of the trowel into the loose dirt brought evidence of a skull.
    The skeleton removed from the mound in the morning was that of a male member of the tribe. No implements or weapons accompanied his bones, indicating that he was not especially revered by his people.
    In contrast to his simple burial the tomb entered when the mound was first discovered stands out as the probable resting place of a chieftain or medicine man. The smoothly polished stone pipes, knives of obsidian rock and perfectly carved arrows, scattered about the skeleton found there, were on exhibition at the grounds Sunday.
    Entering the second grave, the skull of a woman, too round to be normal, with teeth worn down to a thin row, was discovered with a few pelvic and leg bones, which have withstood the onslaught of time, resting beside it. The position of these bones in relation to the skull showed that in honor of an ancient belief, or perhaps to avoid further digging, the old woman was buried with her knees doubled up to her chin.
    The third skull found was judged as one which housed the brains of an Indian of higher standing in the tribe, which hunted and fished in peace several hundred years ago, where their crumbling bones are now brought out into the sunshine. Two beautiful knives, chipped from obsidian rock, one of sparkling black, the other streaked with red, were placed in close proximity to the head. An almost complete set of teeth fell from the skull as it was removed from the grave. An embedded wisdom tooth was found in the lower left jaw bone, a cavity in an incisor, and two worn-down teeth described by an onlooker as "those which mark the place where an old Indian carried his pipe."
    The mound in which the Indians were buried with their belongings was probably deposited by an eddy and chosen by the former race as a burial ground because of the ease with which the dirt could be removed and the beauty of the neighboring mountains and river, Dr. Cressman stated yesterday afternoon. The presence of obsidian knives in the tombs indicates that whatever the tribe, it was one which traded with the Klamath Indians, as the closest obsidian rock is found in the Klamath country.
    The same rock was used by Aztecs of Mexico to construct knives and razors. The absence of any metal in the graves Dr. Cressman cited as proof that the burying was done before any whites were contacted.
    A geological survey of the ground, he stated, will be needed to determine the exact period during which the Indians were placed under the soil.
    Dr. Cressman left Sunday evening to return to the university, and no excavating will be done before next Sunday, Alex Woolverton stated this afternoon, when it is believed someone else will be here from the university to supervise the work,
Medford Mail Tribune, June 9, 1930, page 2

To the Editor:
    Ho, hum! We see by the paper that some scientists are excavating Indian graves at Gold Hill. They call them scientists now. It wasn't so long ago that they were called grave robbers. And 300 years from now they will probably have some other special name for people that dig up people's graves and stir the bones around looking for some personal value that was treasured by the deceased.
    It's a good thing that the Indians have been subdued or else these so-called scientists would be trying to outrun a few arrows. I wonder if they haven't got a little pride, the same as we have.
    A while back there was an article in the paper threatening dire punishment on the boys who had pushed tombstones over up at the local cemetery. These boys probably didn't know the difference, or they wouldn't have done it. Still we have what are termed scientists, who are digging up and pawing over the bones of some folks' ancestors.
    Let me ask this question: What would be our reaction if we were to find some full-grown educated men robbing the graves of our
loved ones that have passed on?
"Communications," Medford Mail Tribune, May 23, 1931, page 4  I was unable to find the Mail Tribune article Singler refers to. It was apparently printed in the edition that was not microfilmed.

Regarding Indian Excavations
To the Editor:
    I saw in a recent article in the communications where Mr. Singler gave his views on the excavating of the historical Indian graves at Gold Hill. I think that his reference to the scientists as grave robbers is a very poor definition of a scientist. Those scientists are excavating those graves for the historical value and not for the material value. I wonder how he thinks we would ever have learned anything about the Egyptians or these prehistoric animals if we hadn't excavated their graves. I also wonder if he thinks those old savages have any living relatives that would be very much disturbed if they knew those people that were here some three hundred years ago were being dug up.
    Concerning those boys who pushed over the tombstones, they had no reason for doing that except for their own amusement and to annoy someone else.
    I am a student of junior high and am very interested in the excavating of ancient peoples.
    Medford, May 23.
"Communications," Medford Mail Tribune, May 25, 1931, page 4

NOTE. Read before Section H of the American Association for the Advancement of Science at Pasadena, June 16, 1931. The work was financed by a grant-in-aid from the Research Council of the University of Oregon.

    It seems wiser not to speak of this group of burials as in a burial mound, for that expression has a significance quite lacking in this case. A "mound," as used in this connection, should mean something made by man, an element of culture, whether heaped up by the direct efforts of men or a by-product of a manner of life, as the kitchen middens of our coast lines. In this case we have a deposit of soil laid down along ago by the Rogue River. To the east of Gold Hill within the triangle made by the twelve-hundred-foot contour, and south of the unnamed creek on the accompanying map, there is this river deposit. Kane Creek has cut its way through the terrace to a depth of about twenty feet, flowing in a westerly and then northerly direction. The eastern part of the field and the edge along the south, that is, along Kane Creek, has been under cultivation and is cut down to a considerable depth below the top of the first terrace. This results in the present site, where the skeletal remains and artifacts have been found, standing out above the surrounding fields as though it were in reality a mound heaped up by man instead of one left as the other soil has been removed. It is in this small area indicated on the map by the circle, lying between Kane Creek and the Rogue, that all the burials have been found. Artifacts of different kinds were picked up by various people in other places in the same area, but no other burials have been definitely established in the immediate vicinity.
    Excavations were made in May, June, September, and November, 1930, and again in May, 1931. The work in June, 1930, was done under the writer's direction, but he was not present.
    Systematic examination of the mound is carried on by the removal of the soil in terraces. First the ground is plowed and then the soil is removed with a fresno and pair of horses. (The preliminary work with the plow and scraper was made necessary because of the small sum available for the work. As soon as any sign of a burial was discovered small hand tools and brushes were used for further excavation.) As a general rule, a burial is marked by fire-broken stones, in some cases very obviously mortars and pestles, and between the stones and the skeleton an area of black soil varying in depth from one to two and a half feet, and about the length and breadth of a flexed body. This black soil shows the same composition as that around it, so it was not brought in from the outside. The evidence seems to indicate that the hole was dug, the body placed in it, and the sand which had been removed then replaced, and the broken stones thrown on top of the grave. None of these sections of black soil reaches the present surface, some of the deepest being as much as five to six feet below it. Some of the oldest inhabitants remember the river to have flooded this highest terrace at one time--in the '80's, I believe.
    We shall consider the results of the excavations in the following order: the skeletal remains, burials, stone implements, obsidian blades, shells and seeds, and identification of the culture represented.
    Approximately twenty-two skeletons were unearthed either whole or in part. As a matter of fact, practically all of them were in such an advanced stage of disintegration that it was impossible to do more than expose the best in situ and discover the nature of the burial. In only one case did we succeed in securing a practically complete skull (pl. 3). Even this one is not absolutely complete. The left zygomatic arch is broken and there are two holes in the skull vault, while the posterior part of the foramen magnum is lacking. It does lend itself to some measurement, but is practically useless for identifying the people to which it might belong, since we have no way of discovering where it belongs on a curve of distribution of such measurements. The cephalic index of this skull is 85.0. The upper facial index is 53.7. This burial was four feet below the present surface.
    The teeth of this specimen of which the skull was secured showed some interesting pathological conditions. The upper jaw has eighteen instead of sixteen teeth. On the right side the supernumerary tooth grows bucally and from between the second premolar and the first molar. This has resulted in the use of the roots of the first molar for chewing, since the first molar is pushed so far to the rear. The supernumerary tooth on the left has grown lingually between the first and second pre-molars. The teeth are well worn, and in one case the pulp was exposed. The lower mandible shows evidence of two abscesses, one with each of the third molars.
    The teeth, in all cases except in the complete skull, show the direction of wear to be outward and downward, while those of the skull are lingually and downward.
    The dental specimens show teeth excessively worn. A detailed study would probably reveal evidence of dental pathology quite similar to that of Leigh's study on aborigines of California.
    Burial shows a characteristic form. All undisturbed skeletons were lying on the left side with the head toward the south, facing west, legs flexed with knees against the chest, feet pulled in against the pelvis and arms folded across the chest. The shallowest burials were about three feet below the surface, while the deepest were between seven and eight. It is probable, however, that the deeper burials were made at an earlier time and resulting floods have deposited the silt to the present depth. Four skeletons, three of which were at the seven-foot level, were buried with two obsidian blades each, a red and a black, while one at the four-foot level was buried with the two smaller black blades. One grave contained three varieties of shells, and a collection of shells of "digger pine" seeds. There were no other artifacts found with the skeletons. Bits of worked flint, arrowheads, and some stone implements have been found scattered through the deposit, but no single unbroken stone implement except the blades have been recovered from the graves.
    The stone implements consist of a great many fragments of fire-broken pestles and mortars, a round thin stone, basalt, 87 mm in greatest diameter, and 15-17 mm in thickness, perhaps a whetstone; one cylindrical stone, granite, 170 mm in length and 60 mm in diameter, probably a maul; and another instrument, basalt, conical in shape, 182 mm in length, 79 mm across at the base, probably a pestle (pl. 3a). There is a large stone, almost kidney-shaped, 330 mm long and 115 mm across, which has probably been used for smoothing or polishing purposes. However, the bed of the Rogue at this point is full of boulders and rubble of every conceivable shape. Consequently, this stone may have been one brought from the river bed for some use by the occupants of this site. Another stone, perhaps a "charm stone," 59 mm in length and 20.5 mm in median diameter, and 8 mm at the ends, was found in the site, but not with any grave. The stone has neither a hole nor a depression for fastening to a string for suspension, a fact which would not necessarily preclude its use as a "charm stone." No evidence of the existence of the metate was found.
    Eight obsidian blades (pl. 3d) have been recovered. These were buried in pairs with four bodies. There are three red and five black ones. There were three burials with a red and a black blade each, and one with two black ones. One black blade, found with a red one, showed traces of red pigment as though the owner had tried to color it to give it the appearance of the more valuable type. This blade is the poorest type of workmanship of all eight. They range in length from 147 mm, the small black one with a blunt base, to 340 mm, a magnificent black one. There is an exquisite red one, 280 mm in length, with a maximum breadth of 57, and a minimum of 45 at the point for grasping, widening again to 47 mm at the base just before it is turned again to the point. The thickness of these blades is remarkably uniform, varying from 11 mm to 14 mm, but no single one shows this variation. The greatest variation in any single one is in the long black one which is 14 mm through at the grasping part, but 12 mm at each end. This symmetry and control of technique is striking evidence of the skill of these aboriginal craftsmen. The two smaller knives are an approximate "laurel leaf" type and do not lend themselves to the same measurements or comparisons as the others which show the maximum breadth at the forepart of the blade receding to the minimum breadth at the point where they are meant to be grasped, and then spreading to a slightly greater width just below toward the base. The knife which has been painted red flares to its maximum breadth at the center, and corresponds in shape to Blade #3 of Mexican origin in Plate XLI of Rust's paper. One of the two shorter knives, as may be seen from the photograph (the second knife from the left), is streaked with almost transparent gray shafts which run diagonally across the material. The measurements of these blades is given at the close of this article.
    Fragments of arrow points and some very small unbroken but curved points were recovered from the deposit. These fragments, as well as those of flint showing evidence of chipping, have been very numerous, and no effort is made here to classify them.
    One grave, that of a child about eight years old, provided a large collection of three different kinds of shells. This burial lay at a depth of about thirty inches from the present surface to the top of the skeleton. A large collection of shells, several hundred of the species Olivella biplicata, a few specimens of Glycymeris obsoleta Carpenter and four pieces of abalone shell, two cut into oblong-shaped pieces, and one triangular piece, 39 mm across the base and 46 mm long, unperforated, and one nearly square segment. The largest piece of abalone measures 30 mm across the base, 22 mm at the top, and 49 mm from top to bottom. There is one piece of abalone cut in an oblong shape 12 by 30 mm. This piece has evidently been perforated at each end, while the other two pieces were perforated only at the top or narrower end. The piece which is nearly square has the suspension hole in one corner or just off the exact point. The shape may have been determined by a prominence which prevents the oblong design, since such would be at variance with the form of the material. The range of the olivella and the glycymeris is from Puget Sound to San Diego, while the abalone is found as far north as the Oregon coast. The specimens are small, so that these large flat specimens could not have been cut from them.
    The olivella shells have had the apex rubbed off after the manner reported by Stearns for the California Indians. The method of stringing the shells was evidently the same (cf. Stearns, p. 324, fig. 16) from the position in which they lay, although there was not the slightest evidence of the material upon which they had been strung. The glycymeris shells were strung through a small hole in the base of the shell.
    With this same burial there was a large collection of shells of the seeds of the "digger pine," Pinus sabiniana douglas. The seeds have been strung along with the various shells for ornamental uses. They do not seem to have been on any garment such as that illustrated by Goddard for the Hupa, though such use is possible. They were mixed with the larger shells about the thorax of the skeleton and with the small Olivella shells and a small piece of abalone about the wrists, where the arrangement of the olivella shells was clearly evident. Most of the pine seed shells have one end rubbed and a hole punctured through one side just below. Some of them are not rubbed off at the end, but are perforated laterally with two holes. A good number show signs of carbonization, while others do not. A piece of partially charred fir about twenty inches long and three inches through was found lying over the wrists of the skeleton, but the shells against which it lay showed no sign of carbonization. Consequently, the wood must have been burned before being thrown into the grave, or placed there, for the shells under it were not crushed. The carbonized shells are in a good state of preservation, but those untouched by fire are very much deteriorated. The range of these shells, as given by Jepson, Sargent and Sudworth, is limited to the north by the southern Siskiyous or by a line conforming approximately to the 41st degree north latitude. This species has never been reported farther north than the southern slope of the Siskiyous, a full hundred miles as the crow flies from the nearest point on the line to the Rogue Valley where these burials occur.

    Artifacts recovered by persons other than the writer:
    Three or four blades, both black and red, were previously recovered by the owner of the ranch during his plowing. These are of the same type as those we have described and average about the median size of our series.
    Stone fragments, broken by fire in some cases, have also been previously recovered. Flint and obsidian arrow points have provided numerous articles.
    The most important find was the series of pipes made of serpentine and greenstone schist. Exact information as to the depth of burial is not available. It has been reported as seven feet, but the writer was told personally by the owner that it was after the third plowing, which would make it something over three feet in depth. The seven pipes (pl. 3c) were found in one grave and without other artifacts. No other pipes have been found. The longest pipe is 465 mm long and 35 mm at its greatest diameter. The smallest is 206 mm long and 26 mm in diameter. The smaller pipes are of serpentine, while the larger are made of a variety of greenstone. One has but a small shaft bored through, while the others are hollowed out until there is but a shell remaining.
    In a pocket of a gopher hole just across Kane Creek on the west side of the deposit, a bone ornament about one-half inch wide and six inches long, flat on one side and rounded on the other, was found. There was a perforation at one end and an indentation opposite the hole on the end showing that this was meant to be suspended. There was evidently a simple form of ornamentation used, made by incising lines so as to form triangles with the points toward the median line of the object. The points did not quite reach the center line. The triangles were grouped in units of threes and twos to make a series of fives. Some of the triangles were formed by five lines, while others were made by three. The triangles were incised along each edge, but on only the rounded side. There was a larger number of designs on one edge than the other. The ornament, insofar as the writer has been able to observe it, seems to correspond to the type worn by girls during adolescence, as reported by Goddard for the Hupa. This seems to have been a surface find.
    Southwestern Oregon, because of the accidents of history, is politically aligned with a state to which it does not naturally belong. Beginning with the Umpqua divide, the physiography and the flora change so that from there on south there is a greater similarity to northern California than to west central Oregon. The moist climate of the Puget Sound area gives way to the dry climate of the higher altitudes. That this was a natural line of division, for aboriginal culture in historic times has long been definitely established. The southwestern Oregon area has, however, been exposed to lines of influence from three main directions. On the north and west were the southern boundaries of the Puget Sound or Northwest Coast culture area, to the east was the southwestern tip of the Plateau and the Great Basin area, while to the south was the northwestern California area. The very scanty ethnographic data of southwestern Oregon, and particularly the Rogue Valley as reported by some excellent but meager studies and the reports of early travelers and explorers, indicated that the southwestern area was not only particularly open to California, but was in reality a part of that area even though the culture showed some variations. Our archaeological investigations show that the culture was essentially that of northwestern California and certainly differed from that of the aborigines at the time of their contacts with the whites. While there are these variations, for instance in the type of burial, the difference is such that the later burials with the body placed in a box might very easily have developed from the simple burial in the flexed position without the box, especially if the technique of wood-working had been a later development. One thing is conclusive, the area was even then more akin to the prehistoric culture of California than it was to that north of the Umpqua divide.
    Culturally we can say that all the burials so far unearthed are pre-Columbian. There has not been one single piece of evidence of any European culture. The complete absence of any beads or anything of the sort in the grave of the child in which the shells and pine nuts were found would indicate that this burial was antecedent to contact with the whites. This grave was at the shallowest depth below the surface. With white contacts established, beads and buttons very quickly began to displace the more attractive but technically more difficult material. Yet the carefully sifted soil from this grave failed to show any sign of traders' stores. This body, while interred at about thirty inches and with evidences of ornaments but nothing else, was buried in exactly the same position as those at all the lower levels, even those at seven feet with which were found the obsidian blades. We have called attention to the piece of partly burned fir with this child's body, but it must have been thrown in upon the body after it was burnt, for there was no evidence that the olivella shells or the pine seed shells, which adhered to the wood when it was removed, had been subjected to fire. The depth of this burial would correspond to that customary among the Hupa, and some of the ornaments are of the same type, but there are too many other variants in the details to identify the two, certainly at this juncture. The variation in depth of burial seems to indicate a considerable lapse of time between the burial of the child and of those graves at the greatest depth over which river silt has obviously been deposited. While the deposit in the main has been identified as Pleistocene by Professor Smith, it would not necessarily mean that the burials were those of Pleistocene man, unless there were evidence of no post-Pleistocene deposit, and the burials showed water-laid soil above them. As he points out, there is evidence of disturbance of the soil above the four-foot level, but none below that. This body at the thirty-inch level would be in that area, yet it offers no sign of European culture. The depth is such that it hardly seems plausible that there has been any soil deposited above it, although such might have been the case in view of the disturbance of the surface soil by agriculture. This manipulation of the soil tended to work the surface material down into the soil previously lacking it. In view of the geological nature of the deposit, the water-disturbed nature of the upper area, and the great depths of the lowest burials with every evidence of water-laid soil above them and between the top area, we are in all likelihood dealing with burials of a substantial period in the past.
    The persistence of the culture traits would not interfere with this supposition, as Kroeber has called attention to the remarkably static nature of the culture of the California area.
    Lewis says, in speaking of the Indians of southwestern Oregon, in particular at the headwaters of the Umpqua, "the dead . . . were doubled up and buried in the ground, the grave covered with stones, and the person's property piled around. The excavations of Schumacher show a similar method of burial. Smith says that the only burial he saw was that of a chief who was placed in a sitting posture in the ground."
    Schumacher reports for the mouth of the Rogue, "The corpses were found doubled up in the usual manner, lying on their backs, or sideways, and facing the rancheria in in a southeastward direction, although some were found just in an opposite way."
    His account is more explicit than that of Lewis on the Umpquas and on Schumacher's excavations. The significant thing about Schumacher's account is the lack of any uniformity in the method of burial at the same village, but he was dealing with post-Columbian burials, and the diversity in a trait so likely to be fixed as burial may be due to a gradual change from a type previously consistent and fixed, especially in view of contacts with whites.
    Kroeber reports the "sitting position" for southwestern Oregon.
    The burials in the present excavation were all consistent except where the bodies had been disturbed by action of the water or where disintegration had destroyed the skeleton. Especially was this the case where burials had been made in pumice formations, almost as compact as hardpan. The bodies were buried with the arms folded across the chest, the knees flexed and pulled up as near to the chest as possible, and the feet pressed back against the pelvis. The bodies all lay on the left side, head to the south and facing the west. Four of the bodies had buried with them obsidian blades in pairs, three of them having a red and a black one in the pair. These were at approximately the seven-foot level. The other at the four-foot level had the two smaller black knives with it. One blade, a red one, was broken into two pieces, but this was undoubtedly accidental, as none of the others was damaged.
    Kroeber states that the obsidian blades were not buried with their owners, but passed from generation to generation, or were used commercially, for example, in wife purchase. Here blades of an exquisite workmanship are buried, and buried according to definite pattern, in pairs, of red and black. We have here, then, in all probability, a firmly established pattern of burial with characteristics that mark it off definitely from that of the surrounding area.
    The pipes are undoubtedly a California type, probably prehistoric, and likely have religious significance, that is, comprise part of the paraphernalia of a shaman. The lack of the metate also indicates a prehistoric culture.
    The shells might have come up the Klamath, the Rogue, or less likely, the Umpqua. The pine seed shells, however, could have come from only one direction, south of the Siskiyous. Some of these shells are carbonized, while others are not. This lack of consistency would indicate that the burning was not a definite act which was performed upon all of them. The carbonized shells are far better preserved than the others, which are so fragile that they fall to pieces if more than touched. Sudworth states that it was customary for the Indians to burn the cones to secure the seeds more easily. This might well account for the presence of carbonization while there is no evidence of fire in the grave.
    In conclusion, there seem to be two, and probably three, strata represented by these burials. The first consists of those at approximately the seven-foot level, with which were buried obsidian blades in pairs; the second would be at the four-foot level at which artifacts were absent except in one case where there was a pair of rather inferior blades, more of the weapon type than ceremonial; the last would be at the two and a half-foot level. In this last would probably fall the burial containing the pipes and the one with the shells and nuts. These last, in view of the customary greater depth of burial, might be considered intrusive in the area, but the child burial followed the usual flexed position. We cannot speak for the other. The lack of dentalium among the other varieties of shells would tend to date this burial antecedent to the introduction of this variety among the Indians of the northwestern California area.
    Speculating briefly, one might visualize the earliest burials with these ceremonial obsidian blades of exquisite workmanship as antecedent to the period when property came to be so important that it served as a basis of social status, and these valuable knives were no longer interred with the corpse. The two small blades at the four-foot level are more of the weapon type (blunt base) than the ceremonial and might serve as evidence showing the development of the attitude which regarded these blades as valuable property to be preserved. The upper level would seem to indicate clearly established social differences as suggested by the abundance of ornamental objects from that burial. If we apply Kroeber's chronology to these periods we should date the first stratum between 2100-500 B.C. or earlier, the second in the late second or early third, about 500 A.D., while the last would come in the third period, 500-1200 A.D. Kroeber puts the beginning of the shell industry along the southern coast in the second period. The shells from this level are from the south. Allowing generously for diffusion, we could put this burial in the third period and it would still be prior to 1200 A.D. Granting that this speculation may miss the mark as to approximate chronology, it seems certain that we are dealing with different strata of culture which show significant, although not striking, differences from one another and from the culture of historic times. The culture in its main lines probably has its base in northwestern California on the lower Klamath, but has developed along slightly different lines for a variety of reasons, giving and taking from the groups at the focus of the culture.
American Anthropologist, 1933, pages 116-130.  Click here for map, photos and footnotes.
Last revised October 11, 2023