The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised

Jackson County 1863

From Oregon.
    Prof. Jno. Tweed has shown us a letter, dated March 5, he recently received from his brother Henry in Oregon, from which we make the following extract: "I am getting the Spectator; it is like home to me. We have a very dry winter. There is great excitement about the northern mines--everybody is going, except myself, in this (Jackson) County. Wheat is worth 75 cents a bushel; potatoes 2½ to 3 per pound; onions 5 cents per pound; and everything in the vegetable line in the same proportion."
Oquawka Spectator, Oquawka, Illinois, April 16, 1863, page 2

    Prof. J. Tweed has permitted us to take the following extracts from a letter that he lately received from his brother Henry, who is residing in Phoenix, Oregon:
    "We have no other currency but gold and silver. We have the metal in the ground. If the government had demanded the gold, in this state, for the national tax, and kept the greenbacks at home, the gold would have come without a murmur. As for me, I have only taken one g.b., and that was a V.
    "I will give you a little history of Rogue River Valley:
    "It is 35 miles in length, with an average width of about six miles. Three-fourths of the valley is all that is fit for farming purposes--the balance is worth nothing. The population in 1860 was 3,736, and it does not consume more than half that is raised in the valley. There are but few that follow the plow, for it will break up any man here to raise wheat for market. Oregon is not a corn-growing country, the principal crops being vegetables and wheat.
    "If any of my friends want my opinion of Oregon, say to them that it is a rough country--there is really nothing that makes it a desirable place to live in but health. It is the healthiest state in the Union for men, but not for women--the reason of the latter is, they don't exercise enough to enjoy life! The fair sex is so scarce that they feel independent, for they think, if a man don't keep them in a bandbox, that they can leave and get another. It is a God's truth--there are more widows made here by divorce than by death.
    "The following are prices current at this date--June 17:
    "Wheat, 50 cents a bushel.
    "Oats, 40 cents a bushel.
    "Potatoes, 5 cents a pound.
    "Turnips, 4 cents a pound.
    "Butter, 37 cents a pound.
    "Bacon, 15 to 20 cents a pound.
    "Eggs, 25 cents a dozen.
    "Groceries are so high that I can't tell the price--as I don't deal in the article."
Oquawka Spectator, Oquawka, Illinois, August 6, 1863, page 1

    Those who have heard the accounts of travelers returning from Oregon and California can imagine the ideas I had of the personal character of the people with whom I would have to deal. They had been painted as rough, unrestrained and nomadic, generous while at the same time on the lookout for monetary gain. It was with these impressions that I went from Portland (a distance of 100 miles) to southern Oregon, the vast field of my future endeavors. I owe it to the truth, however, to point out that the facts far from corroborated my expectations. For ten years in Oregon and on the border of California, I have always found the people as civilized and sociable as the people of Canada; they equal or surpass them in activity and are at least as liberal. For example: the clergy and nuns travel on boats, railways and stages at half price, often for free. Everywhere they are the object of the courtesy and politeness of Americans, many of whom are not prejudiced. I am not speaking of religious bigots; they are always rude and intolerant. There are twice as many of them in Oregon as there are in California.
    It was November 23, 1863 that I took possession of the Jacksonville mission. The chapel was small, as was the assembly that came together for services. The
southern Oregon mission is 200 miles in length by 150 wide. As you see, it would make a vast diocese. You can see that the missionary must be a traveler, ordinarily covering one thousand miles in the space of a year, if he wants to visit his scattered sheep twice.
    Within a week, the missionary once traveled two hundred seventy-four miles
to minister to two dying patients.
     Here are some details on the Jacksonville mission: The main city of southern Oregon is incorporated; it is also the principal town of Jackson County; it is located on the edge of a beautiful valley and is the center of a district rich in mines, cattle and agricultural products. Its population is more than 1,000 souls; the rest the county has 6 or 7,000. There are two churches in Jacksonville, the Catholic church and the Protestant church, and in addition several schools, among them St. Mary's Academy for  girls, under the direction of four Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. Rich merchants, lawyers and even workers have beautiful  residences and shops. Two newspapers are published in Jacksonville, each following the colors of its political party.
     Sixteen years ago there was very little mention of the Catholic religion in these parts: no priest, no church, and only a small group of Catholics. Some priests from
Oregon and California visited while passing through the young village of Jacksonville and administered the sacraments to those who were there. In 1858 and 1860 Archbishop Blanchet also evangelized this colony as a simple missionary. In 1858, under the direction of His Grace, the Most Reverend Mr. Croke, now Vicar-General of San Francisco, built a small church under the patronage of St. Joseph. Although modest, it is well maintained. When decorated on holidays it is the glory of Catholics, and Protestants call it a pretty theater.
    Rev. Fierens, now Grand Vicar and Curé of Portland, administered St. Joseph parish for nearly two years, and all the old parishioners remember his zeal and piety.
François Xavier Blanchet, Dix Ans sur la Coté du Pacifique (Ten Years on the Pacific Coast), 1873, page 38

Letter from Father Waugh.
JACKSONVILLE, (Oregon) June 13.
    ED. APPEAL: Since leaving Marysville, I have kept busy moving and working in our Temperance cause among the youth, and doing all in my power at the same time for the old folks; and we are having some encouragement and success. The Sons of Temperance have recently been effecting much good among the citizens in many of these northern mining districts. In some of the towns a most happy change is witnessed and acknowledged by all. Yet it is true that the great and effectual change can only be brought about by the proper training of the youth. And this will be done when the attention and judgment of our citizens can be fully reached, and aroused to action. The cause is really the great cause of the age--for intemperance is everywhere effecting results lamentable in the extreme--as is witnessed and admitted by all who are sensible and sober.
    Many of our liquor dealers, I am happy to say, show a willingness to encourage my work among the youth; and it is a rare thing to find anyone willing openly to oppose the object. I am happy to say the people are treating me with kindness and respect, and some of them show a thoughtfulness in affording a mite of pecuniary encouragement to the cause.
    The natural scenery in the northern portion of California is truly varied, and much of it sublime and grand beyond description. In the way of mountains, Trinity and Scott and Siskiyou are well calculated to leave large impressions. There are a number of beautiful valleys, too, settled and cultivated--grain, vegetables, fruit, butter, cheese, fowls, fine horses, fat cattle, sheep, hogs, honey--everything needed--nice families, smart children, and general good health. Mr. Redding, in Little Shasta Valley, told me he was the last bachelor left there. They are as nearly independent of everybody else in these valleys as any people I have ever seen.
    When in Little Shasta Valley, you seem to be near the base of the world-renowned Shasta Peak, though it would require some 25 miles travel to get round and up the accessible side to the pinnacle; and they say the ascent cannot be made this early in the season. This peak is now a grand sight towering as it does, in its snowy grandeur, above every object in the land.
    The Table Rock in this valley is a remarkable formation, having the Soda Springs near its base. [This is a false assumption.]
    In passing over the Siskiyou, the noted Pilot Rock lies on your right, and is said to be seen from the ocean. Crossing over Siskiyou Mountain, the Rogue River Valley opens on the vision in the distance, with its celebrated Table Rock, and other striking objects. The valley itself is delightful, containing many neat houses, fine farms, and orchards already bending under their loads of fruit.
    The road all the way from Shasta to Jacksonville, Oregon, is in fine condition; and to the sober, contented traveler is rendered a perfect pleasure ride--seated, as we are, in the California Stage Company's easy coaches, with horses well trained and spirited, and fine as care and money can make them; and with drivers sober, careful and accommodating. Indeed, the intelligent public traveling over this line cannot fail to be impressed with the fact that many thanks are richly due the company for the energy and pains they have exhibited in rendering traveling so easy, safe and rapid over such a country and such a distance. The heaviest portion of the road, I am informed, was constructed by the company with an enormous outlay of money--that portion, for instance, over the Scott Mountain--which is the greatest triumph in the way of road making in the state.
    My calculation is to return from this place, visiting the different settlements on my way down.
L. WAUGH. [Lorenzo Waugh]
Marysville Daily Appeal, Marysville, California, June 18, 1863, page 3

The Trip to Klamath Lake.
    Colonel Drew, with an escort of thirty soldiers, members of Co. C, Oregon Cavalry, and Lieutenants White and Underwood, accompanied by a number of the residents of the valley, left on the 22nd day of June, for the purpose of visiting the Klamath Lake country, preparatory to the location of a post.
    Our first camp was at Tolman's place, above the soda springs; second at Long Prairie; third at the mouth of the creek entering Klamath River below the falls, and the fourth on the upper Klamath Lake.
    This lake is said to be about thirty miles long and eight or ten wide, and is fed, at the upper end, entirely by springs and streams, which have their source in the snow peaks. It is surrounded almost entirely by tule marsh, with little or no tillable land on the lower side. We were much disappointed in the appearance of country, having been led to suppose that we should find a rich valley, with good water and timber. The only land available for ranch purposes is said to be situated at the upper end of the lake. Being desirous of returning through Dead Indian Prairie, the Colonel decided leaving the examination of this portion of the country, and the final location of the post, for another trip.
    On the morning of the 27th we took the return trail as far as the bend in the river, striking to the right at this point, and following the ridge in a northwesterly direction, recamped at the head of a lake, which is the source of the stream entering the Klamath below the falls. The cold springs supplying the lake proved so great an attraction as to detain us over Tuesday. On the evening of the 29th we camped on Dead Indian Prairie, on the 30th on Grubs Prairie, reaching home the next day.
    The numerous little accidents and funny circumstances of frequent occurrence, the recital of pioneer experience and wonderful stories, only to be appreciated around a campfire, spiced with the novelty of mountain life, made our trip a pleasant one.
    Col. Drew and escort left on Tuesday the 7th, to explore the head of the lake and vicinity.
Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, July 8, 1863, page 2

Trip to Klamath Lake.
    Col. Drew, with an escort of thirty-three men, under command of Lieut. White, and a number of citizens of Jackson County, left Camp Baker on the 7th instant, for the purpose of exploring the country east and north of Mount McLoughlin, and for the purpose of finding a suitable situation for establishing a military post. Our first camp was on Butte Creek, fifteen miles from Camp Baker. Here Judge Prim came very near being bitten by a huge rattlesnake. This camp we named Rattle Snake.
    July 8th we camped on Rancheria Prairie, near the place where the Ledfords' party were murdered by the Indians in the spring of '59. The distance we came today was about twenty miles.
    July 9th we crossed the mountain on the trail taken by the Pathfinders in the spring of 1862, under command of Col. Ross, and soon come upon places where they had done considerable work, in the way of building bridges and sinking mining holes. Four miles from the summit, on the west side, we came to a beautiful lake, on the north side of which we camped. This is called Summit Lake, and is about four miles long. It reminded me somewhat of the description given of the "Lake of Como.'' The distance traveled today was about fifteen miles.
    July 10th we traveled down the west side of the lake and continued descending towards Klamath Lake Valley. From our camp at Summit Lake, to the foot of the mountain, it is about ten miles. We continued along the west side of the lake, traveling in a northerly direction, for about eight miles, and camped. The distance traveled today was about eighteen miles. In descending the mountain we occasionally caught a glimpse of the lake and valley below; the scenery was beautiful.
    July 11th traveled about twelve miles north and then changed our course to the east, across the head of the lake. Here we crossed a bridge over Martin's Creek, built by Col. Ross' party; eight miles further we came to Wood's River, where we camped.
    July 12th we had a fine mess of fish for breakfast; built a raft this morning and by eleven o'clock we were all on the east side of the river, safe and sound; four miles further and we came to the east side of the valley, where we camped on a beautiful stream of pure, cold water. Col. Drew crossed the stream and traveled down some four or five miles further, where they found La Lake's camp, but the old man was not at home. It appears from what we could learn from the Indians who were left in charge of the camp that they were holding a council of all the tribes in the valley east of where we were, making preparations for declaring war against the Pit River Indians. The Colonel continued his investigations down the east side of the valley until he struck the alkali soil, when he returned to camp.
    July 13th we have fish in "copious effusions." Mount Shasta could be seen very plainly from this point. It lay directly south of us. We traveled along the valley in a northerly direction, crossed several branches running into Wood River, the banks of which were high and dry, and camped in a fine grove of trees near the center of the valley. Here we left a number of men who had taken the mumps.
    July 14th crossed the head of the valley and struck an Indian trail running west over the mountain, and thinking that it might be a shorter cut through the mountains towards Rogue River Valley and that it might possibly connect with the wagon road, we ascended the mountain and camped about eight or ten miles from the valley. So far the trail has been very good.
    July 15th after following the trail a number of miles it gave out entirely and we traveled for some time on our own hook until we brought up all standing by a deep canon. We retraced our steps a few miles and camped.
    July 16th we continued our retreat in "good order." Our citizen friends, being anxious to return home, concluded today to take a shortcut and left us at the place we camped on the 14th. We have since learned that they had a hard time of it, and at last were compelled to beat a retreat and take the old road.
    July 17th we rested on our oars and caught fish.
    July 18th we turned our faces towards home and camped at the foot of the mountain.
    July 19th we crossed the mountain and camped on Lick Prairie.
    July 20th we reached Camp Baker.
    Klamath Lake Valley is one of the finest grass countries I have ever seen. The water is pure and cold; the fish are splendid. Game does not appear to be plenty at this season of the year. The soil is light and dry, and appears to be formed of pumice stone, of which the entire upper part of the valley is covered. The Indians are good looking, treacherous, bloodthirsty and thieving. They are a noble specimen of "Lo, the poor Indian!" Persons wishing to visit the valley should be very cautious and keep a close lookout for their "har."
W.M.H. [William H. Hand]
Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, July 22, 1863, page 2

Klamath Country.
JACKSONVILLE, October 10, 1863.
    Mr. Editor:--Hoping to be able to entertain your readers, I will furnish you a few notes, taken on a recent trip to Fort Klamath.
    I do not propose to argue the mooted points which have arisen on the establishment of the military post in the Klamath country, but merely give things as I saw them during a fortnight in that region.
    On the 22nd ult., I started, with a gentleman of this place, for the Klamath Basin. At noon, the second day out, we arrived at Rancheria Prairie, some forty miles distant from Jacksonville.
    The first object of interest that presented itself on arriving here is a beautiful little clump of pine timber, on the northeastern margin of the prairie. This grove will ever retain a historical interest to the people of Southern Oregon, it being one of those bloody landmarks which greet the eye in almost every mountain and valley of our land. It was in this spot that the unsuspecting Ledford party met their bloody fate at the hands of the treacherous savages. On a gentle slope, near by, are the graves of the unfortunate adventurers, marked with a rude board, upon which is inscribed that oft-repeated and melancholy epitaph, "Murdered by the Indians."
    Rancheria Prairie contain two or three hundred acres of fine, rich land. The south end, however, is marshy. Many fine mountain streams wend their way through it, half concealed by the high grass and willows on their margins. To the southeast we have a fine view of Mt. McLoughlin (Snowy Butte)--
Which bears aloft its frosty head;
From whence each crystal fountains feed,
That gushes forth like sparkling dew,
To slake the thirst, or deck the view.
    From this prairie the road passes through an open wood to Four-Bit Creek, which, like all other mountain streams, can only be describe by a profusion of poetical epithets; for instance,
A rippling, gurgling, murmuring, crystal stream,
In which the minnow-trout, and frogs are seen.
    From this creek the road continues through open timber, over an almost imperceptible grace, to the foot of the main divide, where is seen the last trace of oak timber. The ridge of mountains directly before us seems at some day to have been covered with a thick growth of timber which has been killed out by fire, and has grown over with a mass of buckbrush, manzanita and other dwarfish shrubbery, with here and there a thick group of the dead trunks of an ancient forest remaining.
.    Passing up over a somewhat stony road, we arrive at Summit Lakes. I can hope to give but a faint idea of the wild grandeur of this region. One is lost in a sort of poetical gloom as they ride along the winding road, that had been cut through a wilderness of fallen timber, and over masses of black basaltic rock, which had fallen from the mountain above and lodged around its base. Here a dense grove of tamarack, hemlock and spruce, through which the road passes, hides all else from view, and on the next turn of the road, the whole scene is changed, as if by magic. Naught is seen but the limbless, barkless and bleached trunks of a once-great forest, which, having undergone the purgatorial test of fire, divesting it of all its outside show, now stands a pure and spotless forest ghost. The road again turns; the scene changes. A beautiful crystal lake, whose mossy beach surrounded by fine shrubbery, displaying all the colors of the rainbow, calls forth bursts of admiration.
    Through dead timber standing and dead timber fallen, through dense groves and over miniature prairies, matted with a carpet of red huckleberry, mountain moss and diminutive vining oak, over rough and rocky road and velvet lawn, we passed to Lake Enchantment, from which point you will hear from me in my next.
Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, October 10, 1863, page 3

The Coquille Country.
COQUILLE RIVER, Oct. 2, 1863.
    Ed. Sentinel: Again, in the capacity of a correspondent, I indite you an epistle, from this fertile section of our unrivaled infant state.
    As much attention is now bestowed on this beautiful valley, by those who are in quest of a select and permanent homestead, and by those who are otherwise interested in the advancement of our flourishing settlement, to the former, if not to the latter, I trust the following observations may not be expressed in vain.
    The country which forms the subject of this letter is located upon the Coquille River, a beautiful tidewater stream, winding its circuitous course, in all the grandeur of Nature, in a westerly direction, through the ever-verdant and unsurpassed valley which bears its name, and flowing into the Pacific Ocean, north of Port Orford, in latitude 43° 84'.
    Prior to the year 1858 little was known of the vast and extensive resources which, in the valley and mountains of the Coquille, lie concealed from the world. In the year above named, an enterprising colony of Baltimoreans, in quest of homesteads on the Pacific's golden slope, upon the representations of those who had preceded them, directed their course and finally pitched their tents along the romantic and picturesque banks of this poetical stream. The unremitting and indefatigable toil of the past few years has fully convinced them of the wisdom of their first choice, and judicious selection of this valley as their future home.
    As the length of this article will admit of but few words, they must be "multum in parvo"; therefore, to begin and conclude:
    The principal advantages and inducements of this country, that first demand the attention of the inquiring emigrant, are, first: the proximity, by water, to the great
commercial metropolis of the Pacific Coast, San Francisco; secondly, its tidewater facilities, presenting a smooth and placid river navigable for vessels of large capacity for the distance of sixty miles, extending into the heart of the valley, especially of the present main settlement, thereby affording the benefits of an easy and convenient transit, the value of which those residing there can amply testify to; thirdly, the unparalleled fertility of the soil, the mammoth products of which, to be appreciated, must be seen; fourthly, the healthy and salubrious climate, made more agreeable by the gentle sea breezes, imparting vigor and animation truly delightful, and known only to those who daily enjoy it. As water is generally pure in all parts of Oregon, with few exceptions, it is preeminently so here, gushing in unrestrained violence in all its crystal purity as it leaps and tumbles from rock to rock, seeking the limpid and pearly-bed rivulet, to be conducted to larger channels.
    Fifthly: The lumber resources are here in all their variety, comprising, among the most prominent, in proper order of quantity and quality, the myrtle, maple, ash, red and white cedar, white, red and yellow fir, yew, manzanita, madrone, spruce, etc., etc. The country abounds in cedar in all its different phases, and at convenient distances from admirable water powers contiguous to the main river. Of the high order and value of the unrivaled myrtle, the public need not be reminded. On this department of our country's wealth, alone, an entire volume could be written.
    Coal of a superior quality has been discovered in different localities. Gold of a very coarse grain has for some years been successfully and profitably mined, at the mouth and on the source of this river. No country in the world can rival this as a berry-bearing land, the hillsides of which for miles are literally strewn with the most delicious of this enticing fruit--blackberries, whortleberries (red, black and blue), salmonberries, raspberries, salalberries, serviceberries, and strawberries comprising the most important varieties.
    Game abounds in the mountains and prairies in superabundance, among which the far-famed elk, in all their glory, rank foremost. With fish of numerous varieties in the streams to suit the palate of any epicure, and, in the spring and fall of the year, the immense hordes of wild geese, swans, ducks, etc., that congregate on the lower river, I might well exclaim, where is the country to excel this? or with equal justice ask, where is the land as favored with Nature's choicest blessings?
    As the communication with San Francisco by sea has been so convenient, little attention has been directed towards a wagon road communication with the Umpqua Valley. Recently, however, some efforts are being made to convince the public of all classes of the inestimable importance of this laudable enterprise. As but 30 miles of the proposed route require the construction of a road, acknowledged by all to be so valuable an acquisition to Southern Oregon, which the "Coquillians," with their limited wherewithal, or pecuniary aid, cannot adequately accomplish, amply would its construction and transit repay the investment of corporation capital.
    A further continuance of this letter may exclude the publication of other valuable matter. I am, therefore, constrained to add a concluding remark: To those who entertain the slightest distrust of the veracity of the preceding article, I would advise them in all candor and disinterestedness to visit this section and satisfy themselves, pro or con.
    Should there be any displeased with the great resources Providence has so lavishly bestowed, only a portion of which are so laconically enumerated in the foregoing, I would console myself with the droll reflection that there are many who, were they installed in Paradise, would, in a complaining voice, solicit a description of the Eternal Regions.
Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, October 31, 1863, page 4

Bygone Times.
    What strange feelings come over us as we look upon some of the many mining camps of the early days of gold hunting, located here and there over a vast expanse of country, which have for years gradually decreased in population, until in time they became entirely deserted, as the miners refused to yield their former prolific abundance of auriferous particles to the adventurous miner's sturdy stroke and unabated demands. Feelings of gloominess creep over us as we pass among the worked-out, deserted ravines, creeks and gulches, where the rocks lie heaped on the banks, removed from their ancient resting place and original deposit. The earth washed away to other parts exposes the now ghastly skeletons of once-beautiful, meandering streams that coursed their way down the mountainsides, through evergreen groves of towering furze and lofty pines--through the valleys to the larger streams below. As we pass along, we look in through the half-open doors of empty cabins, and sigh as we think of the many probably disappointed hopes indulged by those who here inhabited; hopes that at best are uncertain and, as miners well know, too often disappointed.
    In those crumbling, decaying cabins how many castles have been built in the air on the hopes of fortune, so soon to be wrecked in the billowy ocean of attending disappointment! Upon the earthen floor lie scattered about remaining fragments of the pioneer's scanty household and kitchen furniture. The door swings gently to and fro on its wooden hinges, in complaisant submission to the winds--creaks and moans as if singing to the loneliness of the scene a dirge to its long-gone occupant's departed hopes. By the wall, in the corner, stands the rough, cobwebbed bunk, whereon the miner often dreamed of home and friends far away in the old Atlantic States, or in some distant, foreign land, perchance, of one more dear--a fair one for whom he was then enduring the toils and privations of a miner's life.
    Surrounded by many trying hardships, the savage, warlike aborigines, fierce, wild beasts, that nightly roam at large in search of prey--tramping and hunting over high mountains to more easily worked placers--are feeble attempts at enumeration of the many dangers and difficulties of early days in the mines, encountered by the adventurous, noble spirits who forsook the society of endearing friends, and amid sad parting tears of loved ones, set their faces to the westward. Alas! how few has fortune allowed to return to console and make happy the anxious loved ones at home. Struggling against Fate, how many a noble son and brother, the pride and hope of a happy family far away, has succumbed to overtasked energies, the ravages of disease, or by accident or the hand of violence, been hurried to the "bourne from whence no traveler returns"! They now slumber in unknown and unmarked graves, in the forest, on the hillside, on the plain, or by the cabin, where soon shall rest your
Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, October 31, 1863, page 7

Klamath Lake.
JACKSONVILLE, November 7, 1863.
    Mr. Editor:--Klamath Lake Valley, a point which has occupied the attention of the people so much of late, is situated about eighty-five miles east of Jacksonville, and near the same distance from Yreka--computing the latter from the south end of the valley--and including the lake is some fifty or sixty miles in length, north and south, by an average width of some twenty miles. On the west and south it is bounded by a high, broken range of mountains, on whose summits several fine peaks pierce the clouds. Far in the distance to the north, just showing above the nearer mountains, is the cone-like summit of Union Peak, while on the adjacent range one sees many peaks of lesser magnitude. Among the latter, the most remarkable is Ross' Peak. This mountain is an extinct volcano, and contains a large crater, visible from the valley, which stands a legible page in the primeval history of our planet. The frigid head of Mt. Shasta is plainly seen in outline against the southern sky, forming a lively contrast with the low, misty mountains that seem sinking behind the lake.
    Fort Klamath is located about fifteen miles from the head of the valley, and ten miles above the head of the lake. The location is elevated about sixty feet above the level of the lake, and 4,156 above the main tide at Suisun Bay, Cal., making Fort Klamath 128 feet higher than Lost River, 1,209 feet higher than Fort Jones, 1,576 feet higher than Yreka, 2,954 feet higher than Fort lane, and 708 feet lower than upper Klamath Lake marsh.
    Now, Mr. Editor, having given you a very general sketch of this region, I shall attempt a more detailed account of the country, and incidents which occurred during my stay, in the order in which they appear in my journal.
    On the next morning after our arrival (Sept. 24th), the sound of the bugle, the commands of the orderlies, and the military step of the men on their way to roll call aroused us at an early hour, and I was soon afloat among the busy throng, to observe the novelties of the morning discipline. I might here remark that after a few days in camp, the sound of the bugle, the heavy tread of the men and the rattling of small arms entirely lose their potency. But there was one other means which never failed to shake off my slumber, to wit: "The small, still voice" of the cook behind my tent, uttering those magic words, "Breakfast is ready."
    After breakfast, we started out in company with Col. Drew and others, to look at the country above. About 150 yards back of the post runs Fort Creek, twenty-five yards wide and two feet deep on an average. It runs over a bed of white, sunken pumice stone, which gives the water a remarkable clear appearance. Owing to the light nature of the pumice stone, which is constantly being washed down the current, the bed of this stream, as is the case with all others in the valley, is almost a uniform grade, the water running with the regularity of an artificial ditch.
    Following this stream up about three-fourths of a mile, we came to the head. One cannot imagine a fairer sight than to see such a body of water rolling out from a mountain of broken basaltic rock. Imagine a mountain, steep and ragged, whose every stone shows the unmistakable effect of fire, and from under heaps of gigantic boulders, which had tumbled from summit to base, a river bursting out in a volume five feet deep, and you have a picture of this spring. From here we passed along the base of a range of basaltic cliffs, through a forest of pine timber, until we came to the head of Kelly's River. To describe this would only be a repetition, on an extended scale, of what has been said of the head of Fort Creek. Beyond this, a level prairie, rich land, tall grass, and fine springs are the characteristics of the country, through which runs White's and Underwood's rivers, each rising in a spring similar to the one already described. There seems to be no channels leading from the mountains into any of these streams. The banks of all the streams in the valley are low, seldom being more than two feet high. It is evident that these streams never rise above a few inches. Many trees are seen where they fell in the streams, decayed and grown over with grass, which a rise of six inches would evidently have washed away.
    We returned to camp along the banks of Kelly's River, passing through many beautiful groves of aspen, pine and tamarack.
    I noticed on the river, in places, large trees running across the channel of the river and into the bank on either side, which were evidently there before the river had cut its channel. It would be inferred from this that the whole valley at some period had been a forest, which from some cause had been killed and covered up beneath the soil, similar to the celebrated bogs of Ireland.
    On the way home we saw many notices printed, informing all whom it might concern that "I, the undersigned, do claim 160 acres of land for farming purposes," etc. We arrived at camp still retaining our health and appetites, of which latter the cook will be ever ready to bear us witness.
    Toward evening we had some indications of rain, and about eight o'clock that night we witnessed a rare phenomenon--a rainbow by moonlight, distinctly showing the colors seen by sunlight. On the 25th, quite a number of natives visited the camp with fish, feathers, buckskin, etc. for sale, and we had a good opportunity of studying Indian nature and Indian customs. They seem to have no traditions among them as to their origin or history beyond a few years. The most of them are interlopers from other tribes, and are of the most treacherous and ungovernable characters. Old George confesses to having been concerned in an affair some years ago, near Oregon City, and had to leave. Skookum John was concerned in the murder of the Ledford party, according to the statement of the other Indians. One Indian, by the name of Tsoba-lo-quin, who had quite a beard, on being asked why he did not pull it out, replied that God had a beard, and he wanted to be like God, so that when he died he would go up where the Bostons go, and get good muckamuck, and not go down below with the Siwashes and be eaten up by the snakes. This was the only specimen of Indian theology I was able to gather. This was a lucky day for Bill--almost everyone knows "Injun Bill," who sawed wood around town last winter. Well, Bill took it into his head to get him a wife. Among other Indians who came in that day was a certain Siwash doctor, who brought his own mother in for sale. Bill, it seems, had been watching the market for some time to get a wife within his means, and seeing the old lady, determined to try for the prize. After jockeying for some time, a bargain was struck, Bill giving his horse, blankets, and everything he possessed, and receiving to his arms in return the object of his affections. When I left the fort, Bill was in the midst of a joyous honeymoon, and his wife chopping wood, packing water, building fires and making herself useful generally, for the purpose of replenishing his wardrobe. The treatment of those Indians to their captives is most revolting. One of their captives, a young Pit River squaw of quite a prepossessing mien, whom they had lately captured, was really an object of pity. During the day she was compelled to do all the drudgery she was able to endure, and at night she was bound with thongs and never allowed to leave the presence of her captors farther than the length of a rope, which was fastened securely around her waist. This cruel treatment brought on spasms, which added greatly to her sufferings and the amusement of her captors. They also had another squaw whom they had lately captured from the Pit Rivers. She had a child some six months old. This woman was driven around, and her child beat over the face until the blood came, by a cruel old hag who delighted to exhibit a kinky-headed half-breed as a mark of her own civilization and refinement. In fact, the treatment of these captives is too revolting for the columns of public print. Old George is a stout, robust Indian, rather above the ordinary size. He speaks good English and seems to be well versed in Indian diplomacy. He affects an almost unapproachable dignity, scarcely deigning to speak to a citizen when in the presence of an officer. I frequently attempted to get into conversation with him, hoping to obtain some information regarding the traditions and customs of his people, but was as often repulsed by his haughty demeanor. As a diplomist, he undertook to gain the good graces of Col. Drew, hoping thereby to obtain the scepter over all the Indians in that vicinity. He commenced by informing the Colonel of the misdeeds committed at various times by his fellow aspirants; next, by returning property which the rascally subjects of his opponents had dishonestly and adroitly taken from his white friends. He returned one revolver, four stolen mules and one horse; the revolver and one mule being U.S. property. But Old George, like other mortals, must have his disappointments. Great was his indignation when he found that his disinterested honesty was not to be rewarded by "numerous" flour, beef and other ictas suitable to the dignity of an aspiring prince.
Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, November 7, 1863, page 7

    FORT KLAMATH.--Nine men arrived in town Wednesday evening from Fort Klamath. From one of the party we learn that the soldiers occupy their newly erected quarters. The party left the Fort on Saturday morning last, at which time there lay on the ground two feet of snow, and raining heavily. Seven feet of snow was found on the mountain road. An expressman had started from this place for the Fort on Saturday last, but was compelled by the snow blockade to return. In May, 1862, Col. Ross and his party of "Pathfinders," on the line of the military road, found snow fifteen to eighteen feet deep. The party, over two hundred men, were engaged a whole week, breaking and brushing a trail before they could pass over the mountain. There is no probability, however, that the snow will reach that depth this winter.
Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, December 19, 1863, page 5

Last revised May 15, 2024