The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised

Jackson County 1844

    South of the valley of the Umpqua are the Umpqua Mountains, running nearly parallel with the Calapooia Mountains, and separating this valley from the valley of Rogue's River. The distance across them is fourteen miles. They are high, very steep, and somewhat broken; but not rocky, and covered with forests of fir, so dense that they entirely prevent the growth of grass.
    South of this range is the valley of Rogue's River, having the same course with the valley of the Umpqua, and being about twenty-five miles wide. Its general character is much like that of the Umpqua; but is more level, has a soil of a rather better quality, and is also covered with good grass. On the north side, where the California trail crosses the valley, it is principally wooded; on the south, prairie. Immediately above, the proportion of prairie and timber is very good. Here, as in the Umpqua Valley, the timber is on the streams, and the prairies are between them. There is, in the valley, quite a considerable quantity of granite; but basaltic is the most prevalent rock. The valley appears to widen above: its length is not known. It is traversed by Rogue's River; a stream somewhat larger than the Umpqua, and not so rapid but that it might probably be made useful for transportation. Salmon ascend the river in great numbers; and so do they indeed most of the streams throughout the whole territory of Oregon. Water power is not wanting in the valley of Rogue's River. A few miles below the California trail, the river appears to enter a canion, and the mountains along the coast are high and rugged, so as to prevent advantageous communication with the seaboard. The Indians who inhabit this valley are numerous, and almost in a state of nature. They are of small stature, but well proportioned--slender, active, and sensible. They have never had any intercourse, of consequence, with the whites, and have, therefore, but few of the articles manufactured by a civilized people. From their extreme hostility and treachery, and from the great amount of damage they have done to the white man, they have been almost universally called the Rascals. They seldom allow a company to pass, without molestation. They attack from ambuscades, made in defiles, chasms, and thickets. They have no firearms, their principal weapons being the bow and arrow. Their bows are made of the wood of the yew tree; short, and covered on the back with the sinews from the loins of the elk, which are fastened on with glue, and neatly and securely wrapped at the ends with the same material. Their arrows are feathered, and pointed with small, delicate, uniform and very sharp heads of flint. These arrows they shoot with great force and precision. They seldom have horses, and if they take or kill an animal in their attacks (which they endeavor to do as much as to take the lives of the men), they afterwards cook and eat it, making a great feast.
Overton Johnson and William H. Winter, Route Across the Rocky Mountains, Lafayette, Indiana, 1846, pages 47-48

Last revised January 28, 2021