The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised

Jackson County 1863

    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 busily 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.   
    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.
Daily Appeal, Marysville, California, June 18, 1863, page 3

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

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

    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 10, 2021