The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised

Jackson County 1865
Travelers' descriptions.

    There is in this valley a large proportion of comparatively level country, and also quite extensive sections of oak hills, the oak being the black and white, the same as in the Umpqua and at the head of the Willamette Valley. The level country on the waters of this river is divided in different directions by high and sharp ranges of mountains, hundreds, and in some instances thousands of feet high. The comparatively level portions will amount to about forty townships, the oak hills to about ten. The land is generally of a different character from that of the Willamette or Umpqua valleys; it is a "granite land."
    Farming in this valley has been carried on quite extensively, and with more science, skill and success than in any other portion of Oregon. Every variety of production succeeds here that can be produced in the Willamette and Umpqua valleys, and as this valley is still better protected from the summer sea breezes than the Umpqua, the nights are still warmer, and many vegetables grow and mature the better for it. All productions mature earlier here than in either of the other valleys.
    Many varieties of wild grapes and plums are indigenous to this country, and some very good varieties. All manner of fruit common to temperate climates succeeds well. The peach succeeds better here than in either the Willamette or Umpqua valleys. Considerable attention has been paid to the cultivation of the grape--enough indeed to demonstrate its success. Many of the most valuable varieties of the grape succeed well, producing quantities of wine per acre comparing favorably with the good wine countries of the world. There is an immense quantity of land in this valley suitable to the cultivation of the grape, and large amounts of it yet vacant. The land of this valley is open to private entry, preemption and homestead.
Report of the Commissioner of the General Lane Office1865, page 142

The Tour of Josephine County.
    On last Monday week, being aroused by the town marshal, we sprang from our bed, hurriedly put on our clothes, pushed out in the streets, and quietly took a seat in Jo. Landis' stage, for Kerbyville. The morning was one of the coldest we have had this winter, the ground being frozen hard. The stage bounded like a country jake in a hop waltz. By alternately running on foot and riding in the stage, half past six o'clock found us valiantly confronting hotcakes, coffee and other good cheer of our friend [Rial] Benedict.
    Breakfast being over and our bogus meerschaum under a full head of smoke, we were soon jolting and thumping along over the frozen ground, in the meantime "keeping an eye out" for an item or a subscriber. We soon overtook a footman, who proved to be our old friend S------, and being [line of type obscured by a fold] us. After the usual friendly salutation, we modestly informed our friend of our present occupation, and that we had room for a few more subscribers on the Sentinel books, and for old acquaintance' sake we would be very happy to enter his name among that favored few. Taking a hurried glance at our person, from head to foot, as if endeavoring to fathom our meaning, at the same time an expression of contempt took possession of his countenance, which caused us to rapidly retrace our sentences, in search of some untimely word which was about to bring down a shower of indignation on our devoted head. But, reader, you may judge our relief when he quietly remarked, "I am no black, and don't want to take any paper." We "weakened."
    Crossing a low divide, we entered Illinois Valley. This valley, with its alternate skirts of timber and prairie, its numerous little coves at the base of the rugged, heavy-timbered mountains which surround it, coupled with the history of Indian massacres and Indian depredations, would furnish an endless fund of fiction for the novelist. The land, as a general thing, does not seem to be so rich as that in Jackson County. We should judge, however, that the facilities for irrigation are much better.
    We arrived at Kerbyville at five o'clock. We were glad enough, too, to vacate our seat in the stage for one more comfortable in the bar room of the Sawyer Hotel. This place, although quite small, has, for the most part, very substantial and permanent buildings. It contains two or three stores, two hotels, two livery stables, and one large billiard saloon. There is also a large flouring mill hard by, in full sight of the town.
    On Tuesday morning we hired a horse and set out to visit these famous diggings. Falling in by the way with Mr. Wm. M. Evans, we placed ourself under his guidance to Browntown, the metropolis of Althouse diggings. Althouse Creek is a deep mountain gorge, with not enough room all along the banks for a road. This creek has been one of the richest creeks in the northern mines (O.S.) [Oregon state], but unless the hill diggings and quartz prove to be rich, which we have no doubt will be the case, Althouse will be turned over to the Chinamen.
    For the last five or six miles before arriving at Browntown, we traveled over a substantial wagon road, which has been cut around the sides of the mountains at great expense.
    On arriving at the brow of the mountain, looking almost under our feet, we got the first sight of Browntown, its site being the only location on the creek large enough to build a city on. It is built on a small bar, covering perhaps one or two acres of tolerably level land. Browntown, however, has fallen into decay, presenting at present a dilapidated and ancient appearance. It contains two stores and a hotel. During our stay in this place we partook of the hospitalities of Mr. Evans and lady, whose well-furnished apartments contrast greatly with the uncouth and ruined state of its surroundings.
    Browntown, it will be remembered, was the scene of the late homicide of O'Regan.
    On Wednesday morning, although extremely cold, Mr. Evans kindly agreed to accompany us to the various places of mining interest in the vicinity of Althouse. Our first visit was to the Democrat Tunnel, which affords a fine specimen of the enterprise and energy of our miners. This tunnel was commenced some two years ago by four experienced miners, who, by their own labor alone, have bored through the mountain some 1,200 feet, and have struck the bar on the opposite side, 35 feet below bedrock. The object of this tunnel is to drain a portion of Althouse Creek, which has hitherto not been worked for want of drainage, the valley being near 100 feet lower than the bed of the creek, and separated from it by a low ridge of mountains which run parallel with and between the valley and creek. This gives the company some 75 feet fall from the mouth of their tunnel down to the valley. These gentlemen have just completed their flume, turned the water through the tunnel, and commenced the operation of cutting across the flat in search of the channel. The creek thus drained is known to be rich, but all previous attempts to work it have proved unsuccessful.
    We next paid a visit to the mill and mine belonging to S. A. Heilner, Esquire, located near Democrat Gulch. This lode is situated on the mountain about one and a half miles from the mill, having an excellent wagon road constructed between the two points. Several tunnels have been run into this lode at different depths, finding the vein rich at every point struck. Mr. Heilner has lately run a new tunnel of 850 feet into the mountain, from the terminus of which he is raising a perpendicular shaft to connect with one which was sunk on the vein above. This shaft is already raised 70 feet, and yet lacks some 15 feet of being to the bottom of the one above. At the suggestion of Mr. Heilner, we, in company with our friend Evans, each bearing a candle in his hand, commenced the ascent of the shaft not knowing the magnitude of our undertaking, but supposing that a few feet would bring us to the top. Our ascent was by means of a ladder on the side of the shaft. Water came down like a torrent of rain; a strong draft of wind met us, which was caused by an air pipe that was constructed the entire length of the tunnel and up the side of the shaft. By means of water and wind our candles were extinguished before we had proceeded ten feet, and we were left in the most profound darkness, not knowing how far we had to go before reaching the top. Believing, however, that everything must have an end, we pushed on step by step, our grasp growing firmer as it caught each successive round of the ladder. Ominous thoughts passed through our minds for the safety of our friend Evans--whom we could hear just behind us--should the ladder give way and precipitate us on his head. But at length a light gleamed from above, and looking up, we saw Mr. Heilner holding a candle for us at the top. Right glad were we to put our feet on the little bench used by the workmen, on the side of the shaft, which was barely large enough to hold four of us, who were compelled to take lodging there. Taking a few breaths, we cast a longing glance down the frightful hole, which we were enabled to see by means of a candle set at the bottom. But the worst was yet to come--we must go down. By a desperate effort, we let ourselves over the side and commenced our exit, and were soon safely at the bottom, feeling satisfied with our adventure and fully determined not to try it again. Taking a seat in the tunnel car, Mr. Evans and myself were whirled out at breakneck speed to the mouth of the tunnel.
    From the tunnel from which they are at present taking quartz, a shaft has been sunk down on the lode sixty feet, finding the quartz rich all the way. From the various openings into this mine, a vast amount of rich ore is already in sight. Notwithstanding the great amount of money spent by Mr. Heilner on this mine, there is no doubt that he will soon realize a handsome profit. He intends next summer to erect machinery of the most improved style.
    A singular phenomenon appears in the tunnel from which they are taking quartz at the present time. It is a crack or fissure in the rock, crossing the vein at an almost perpendicular angle. It averages about ten inches in width. The surface of its sides being parallel show that the rock was originally connected, and by some means separated. From all appearances it is very extensive. The water in it rises and falls with the water in the shaft which has been sunk on the vein. No doubt this opening is one of those reservoirs which supply intermittent springs, by filling up in the winter and drying out in the early part of the summer.
    On Thursday morning, there was about three inches of snow on the ground, but our time being limited, we set out from the residence of Gov. Briggs, where we had very pleasantly spent the night, for Waldo, at which point we arrived about noon.
    Waldo is the largest town in Josephine County. Here, as elsewhere in the county, complaints of dull times are heard. Great hopes are entertained that the coming summer will prove a new era in the affairs of Josephine County, from the wonderful deposits of copper which have been discovered there. Waldo, especially, will be benefited by the copper mines, the Queen of Bronze vein being located in its immediate vicinity, on which extensive works will be constructed next summer.
    While at Waldo, a specimen of this genus introduced himself to us as Mr. ------, a county pauper of Josephine. He informed us that he was a Union Copperhead, and that his object in seeking an acquaintance with us was his great desire to converse with men of brains, etc. Being exceedingly fond of flattery, we drank in his oily words some fifteen minutes, when our modesty became excited and we skedaddled; but ever and anon those flowery words "man of brains" will pass through our memory. I was just preparing to mount my horse to start, in company with Mr. J. Weston, for Allen's Gulch, when my admiring friend, the Union Copperhead aforesaid, made his appearance before me again, and addressed me after the following style: "Mr. Editor, I have read your paper with a great deal of interest, and am satisfied from its contents that you are a liberal, high-minded gentleman. I have concluded to join the volunteers for the sake of my country. Won't you give me a quarter to help pay my stage fare to Kerby." On our intimating a noncompliance with his request, he commended a highly concentrated complimentary oration for our especial benefit, whereupon we "caved" and forked out the quarter, mounted our horse and have not been there since.
    Before leaving Sailor Diggings, we visited Mr. Weston's expensive hydraulic apparatus on Allen's Gulch. This is the most powerful hydraulic in Oregon, the water being forced through an inch and a quarter pipe under a pressure of 240 feet. The water is conducted down the mountain through an iron pipe, connected at the lower end with a pipe of three or four thicknesses of ducking, and this closely wrapped with half-inch rope. The power of such a pressure is truly inspiring. Two men easily doing the work of 20 by any other process.
    Although times appear dull at present, there is a bright future for its mining interest. During the coming summer there will be a large amount of capital expended on the Queen of Bronze copper mine. This, in connection with the money expended on the Heilner mine, will give a new impulse to all kinds of business.
    There are many rich gold-bearing lodes known in the county, which are awaiting the attention of capitalists.
Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, February 4, 1865, page 2

    QUEER PROCEEDINGS.--On last Tuesday evening, when the Yreka stage arrived at Phoenix, having on board Lisle Lester and a woman from Yreka, a suspicious-looking customer came forward, paid his fare to Jacksonville and entered the stage. Before they had gone far, however, the little eccentricities of the new passenger, in connection with the presence of an unknown traveler--who had taken possession of the after boot--excited the alarm of the ladies, and the same being made known to Mr. King, the driver, he invited the inside passenger to take a seat on the outside with him. The stage had not gone far until the villainous-looking "individ" had made several attempts to make the team run away, and had tried to obtain possession of the lines. Mr. King ordered him off the stage, but he refused to comply with the request until a cocked revolver in unhealthy proximity to his head reminded him that "distance lends enchantment to the view," and caused him to spring off the seat and retreat a a "double quick."--Jacksonville Sentinel.
Marysville Daily Appeal, Marysville, California, December 17, 1864, page 3

Tour Through Northern California and Oregon.


    It is indeed astonishing with what rapidity the Oregon roads become almost impassable and the bridges are swept away, while the valleys become inundated beyond all use or travel. In the fall, the gradual change in public conveyances, as the traveler pushes northward, is highly suggestive of this mist, and its baleful effects upon the highways. At Yreka or Jacksonville the transition is from the Concord coach to the little more convenient thoroughbrace, or "mud wagons," as they are termed, which everyone of the present day can picture as a covered wagon, a little lower behind than before; yellow wheels and red box, with a huge driver's boot made of stiff leather; inside there are three seats, cushioned with leather cushions, more solid in feeling than the boards beneath, while the floor of this stage has several good large cracks, suitable for the free circulation of cold air, and which are highly instrumental in making the feet very uncomfortable. The backs of these seats are strips of cushioned boards, which reach just to that place in one's back where a little support is ever so agreeable, and yet fails to reach it so universally that the spinal column weakens after a few miles' riding, and the inclination is to get into a variety of positions, more to be felt than enjoyed. The curtains of this vehicle, devoted to the "comfort of passengers," have several air holes, or rather ventilation places, through which the wind makes a very sad and deplorable squeak as it squeezes through and pinches the auricular attachments of one's aching head. This "stage" has capacities for carrying freight, mail and passengers, of enormous amplitude. After piling on twelve or fourteen large trunks, six or seven valises and as many blankets, baskets and bundles, the small effects of passengers usually, the mail is added, sometimes ten or more bags; then express boxes, made of pine wood, but mounted with an iron lock large enough to use on a London penitentiary; then a few boxes "going by express," at small stations along, a variety of loading is added, a Mexican saddle and a box of apples, for instance; then a ham for the man living on a ranch, thirty miles from Whiskey Creek, somewhere; then a box of candles, a few pounds of old cheese, a  pair of boots, to be mended at Bob Taylor's, down at the ferry; a small chicken coop and a new shovel for Smith, on the summit; a keg of mackerel, a bottle of old rye, a bag of corn and case of kerosene oil "for young Douglass, who married Mr. Wheeler's girl last week, and lives about four miles from the third station, in that new house, on Grave Creek, beyond the Canyon." The driver, whose name is "Bill," will please "see that it goes all right." Then if he can "take along a couple of letters, and drop into the office, all right." Bill cracks his whip, the leaders jump, plunge and dance, as if the blood of fiery war horses coursed in their veins, when "Hold on a minute, Bill," and an old citizen rushes out, pantingly, with "will you just stop at Wilson's when you come back tomorrow, and put aboard the blacksmith shop? The blacksmith comes down tomorrow to shoe the teams, and he told me to tell you to bring down his shoes and tools, and bring down his valise, he's going into town to the ball tomorrow night, and wants his traps; probably he'll ride down with ye." "All right," says Bill, and away goes the wild team until they turn the corner, then the coach gives a sigh of relief, and the hoofs of cattle are not more secure in their tread than the peaceable-going four-in-hand.
    The next change is to an open lumber wagon, called "in these parts" "dead exes." This is more safe, and being heavier, easier to ride in--the driver has a spring seat, and the travelers have a seat with the spring left out. Every joggle is an emphatic dead bump, jarring the equilibrium of a good square position, and extending the shock along the bones up into the head, and through the back very much as if one had been set down very heavily on a stone pavement. The beauty of this style of coach, of the "California Stage company running splendid Concord coaches through to Portland in seven days," is the easy access the passenger has of seeing the scenery and beauty of country lying around him. Nothing to obstruct the view now. About one hundred miles in this, and as the soil proves spongy and yielding, and the horses sink gradually lower into "bottomless road," we made yet another change. This is a two-wheeled coupee, balanced in the center with a box sometimes, and sometimes an airy, French-designed, open-worked enclosure, used primarily to bring china and earthenware safe to our shores. This being so light and tasteful in its braiding symmetry, the "stock" get over the road much faster, and the "mist" which in other stages might dampen the inside of the box, in this runs off, out of the convenient perforations, and so keeps the cage dry all the time. Passengers do not always appreciate the benefits arising from the use of these little phaetons, used by the stage company for the comfort of their patrons, and with which they are surer of making good times, but they are conveniences (?) of vast importance, both to the "stock" and the traveler.
    In describing the various means of making out a "line of stages," we have digressed from the "Webfoot" subject to one no less damp. Oregonians will always be known as "Webfooters," and the state will bear its now common name, "Webfoot," as long as there is one to remember the story of its origin and rise. Emigrants have been led to believe that the old settlers of Oregon were actually web-toed, and many still believe the foolish stories in circulation of children being born with their toes webbed, like ducks. An amusing incident is related of a man from Missouri who, in crossing the Plains, had heard these reports of the state he had set out for, to make his final home, and so exercised was he with these bugbear stories his more knowing companions delighted to bore him with, he altered his mind and left the route, taking up his line of march for California. A few months later, he was found by one of his old traveling friends, who remarked to him that "he should have kept with the train and located in Oregon." Whereupon the poor man replied, "If I had been a single man probably I should, but I could not endure the thought of my children becoming deformed, and growing up with 'web toes,' like geese; that's too wet a country for me!"
    Californians have been the instruments in the getting up of these ridiculous stories and phrases, and have spared no pains to give the state of Oregon a most decided slur, as regards its facilities and society. While they have been loud in their coarse jeers of this new state, they have been very earnest in their desire for a little more of its "mist," and have been gladdened by the rise of their muddy apologies for rivers, and been made to rejoice as the northern brooks swelled into cascades and inundated their dirty valleys, that they might have the wherewith to live and eat. Much as they may disparage the state of Oregon, they are, to an eminent degree, entirely dependent upon her for many actually necessaries.
To be continued.
California Farmer and Journal of Useful Sciences, San Francisco, March 10, 1865, page 61

From California to Oregon.
From Yreka to Portland--Fine Scenery--Agriculture on the Pacific Coast--
Gold in Oregon--Facts, Incidents, &c.

(Editorial Correspondence.)
PORTLAND, Oregon, July 20, 1865.
    Decidedly the most interesting portion of our long trip was from Marysville. California, to this place. The distance is six hundred miles, all by stage, except twenty-eight miles from Marysville to Oroville by rail, and fifty miles from Salem, the capital of Oregon, to Portland, by steamer. True, we saw west of Denver, and in crossing the Sierra Nevada mountains, a greater variety of sublime views. but they were surrounded by so much desolation that painful reflections would force themselves upon the mind in spite of the admiration we felt at the wonders by which we were surrounded. My last letter was written from Yreka, the most northerly town in California, and I commence this where I left off.
    The morning we started from Yreka was fine, and on reaching the valley of the Shasta River, a few miles north of the town, we had one of the grandest views of mountain scenery that can be found upon the American continent. In the southwest were the summits of Scott's Mountains, which we had crossed two nights before, covered with perpetual snow; perhaps twenty miles east was Sugar Loaf, not so high, but a beautiful cone, lying darkly against the horizon, while still to the eastward towers up in solemn majesty Mount Shasta, nearly three miles above the level of the sea. Far down from the summit, for at least five thousand feet, his white mantle of spotless purity hides all his rugged features, and never for one moment changing that snowy robe, there he stands, and there he has stood, looking down on a perfect wilderness of mountains and far out upon the Pacific, ever since God finished his work of creation, and pronounced it all "very good." For unknown ages, the tawny savage has looked upon Shasta with stupid awe as the home of the Great Spirit, and now Christian men come to wonder and to bow before the majesty and the glory of Him "who setteth fast the mountains, being girded with power."
    A few miles to the north, stretching across our pathway, is the Siskiyou Range of mountains, and directly in front is Pilot Rock, a bald crag shooting up through the summit line perhaps five hundred feet, and apparently not more than two or three hundred yards in diameter. We were told it was named and described by Fremont, who crossed the Sierra Mountains a few miles north of the Rock on his first journey to the mouth of the Columbia. It is an object of mark for a long distance in all directions. We saw it after we had crossed the range and were a long distance to the north in Bear Creek Valley, a branch of Rogue River.
    Before reaching the Siskiyou Range, we crossed the Klamath River, a large, rapid stream, which cuts its way directly west from Klamath Lake, on the plains, through the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the Coast Range to the Pacific Ocean. Near the south base of the Siskiyous, about thirty miles north of Yreka, we crossed the dividing line between California and Oregon. Before the survey it was supposed it ran along the summits of the range, but the commissioners have located it near the hotel and farm of a Mr. Cole, a thrifty New Yorker from Putnam County.
    Three or four miles of constant ascent, and not so gradual as it ought to be, bring us to the summit of the Siskiyou Range, when we descend into the most southerly valley of Oregon, and a very beautiful and productive one it is. Fine cultivated farms greet and delight the eyes; the cool, delicious tradewinds, finding their way from the ocean through the valley of Rogue River, fan our brows; and the contrast between the barren valleys and forbidding crags which we had just left, skirting the Klamath River, and the large fields waving with grain ripe for the harvest, the comfortable white frame houses and beautiful gardens, was most refreshing and delightful. It is scarcely possible to conceive how great is the change in a journey of twenty miles. Almost immediately on crossing the summit  of the Siskiyou Mountains, the character of the vegetation changes. The mountain laurel, a new plant to us, with its broad green leaves and smooth red bark, changing every year, attracts attention, and the white and the black oak, the ash and the maple, none of which we recollect to have seen since leaving the forests of the Missouri, remind us of our distant home in the goodly state of Illinois. The valley of Bear Creek is not very broad, but being some thirty miles long and very productive, the farmers are enabled to supply the miners in this vicinity.
    At the lower end of the valley, we reached the fine little mining town of Jacksonville, the most southerly county seat in Oregon. There we remained for the night, and greatly enjoyed the rest we were thus permitted to gain. Early in the morning we resumed our journey northward, and a ride of a dozen miles brought us to the banks of Rogue River, down which the road runs for several miles, after which we again take to the ridges that divide the valleys of the Rogue and Umpqua rivers. Near the summit, at the left of the road, is Grave Creek Rock, presenting nothing very special in its appearance, but which the Indians regard with superstitious awe. We could not learn precisely what calamities befel their ancestors, or what religious rites they perform here; but whether one or many Indians pass this rock, they always approach it with great reverence, and perform the most unusual and extravagant ceremonies. After the tribes in the vicinity a few years since had murdered a large number of Oregon settlers, and were at last flogged into peace and taken to their reservation, they could hardly be forced by this not very remarkable rock. A few miles further, and we reached Grave Creek station, where we were most hospitably entertained by Messrs. Harkness and Twogood. Mr. Twogood was formerly a resident of Chicago for many years, and is brother-in-law of one of our "solid" citizens. He and his excellent wife, an Iowa lady, by the way, gave Mr. Colfax and "his party" a most fcordial western welcome. The Chicago Tribune makes regular visits to this distant but intelligent and most hospitable home.
    Again we are off, and toward evening pass through Umpqua Canyon, through which a government road was made by Gen. Hooker. The canyon is ten miles long, and so difficult was it to get through at first that the first company of emigrants that passed by this route to the Umpqua Valley were two weeks in surmounting the obstacles before them. The sides of the mountains are almost perpendicular, the pine and fir trees grow to an immense height, and such a dark, dense tanglewood as this canyon presents we have not met anywhere in our journey. The remains of Gen. Hooker's road are still seen, but the line has been greatly improved by the company who now own it, and though they keep it in good order they tax all the travel north and south through this part of Oregon pretty smartly for their own special benefit.
    At evening of the first day from Jacksonville we had made seventy-five miles, and were then in the valley of the Umpqua River. Here we also found some very fine, productive farms, and riding all night reached Oakland early in the morning. Fifteen miles more brought us to the home of Hon. Jesse Applegate, one of the very earliest settlers of Oregon. Though a native of Kentucky, he does not believe in what we understand by "Kentucky politics," and is really one of the strongest possible Union men. And withal, there is not a more original thinker or patriotic citizen in the whole land. His farm, embracing the valley of [a] branch of the Umpqua River, is one of the largest and most productive in the state. After an excellent breakfast he rode with us to the next station, interesting us alike in his correct and profound observations on national affairs, and his valuable facts in relation to the early history and settlement of the Pacific Coast. Another weary ascent of half a dozen miles brought us to the summit of the Calapooya Range of mountains, descending from which we were on the streams which flow into the Willamette River. From the ridge overlooking the valley there is a most enchanting view of finely cultivated farms as far north as the eye can reach, while on the east the Cascade, and on the west the Coast, range of mountains, with their deep blue, and, in a few instances, snow-clad summits, together make a picture well nigh worth the crossing of the continent to see. The valley of the Willamette is about a hundred and fifty miles long, north and south, by twenty-five to fifty east and west, and is one of the largest and most productive districts on the Pacific Coast. The people of Oregon are proud of it, and well they may be, for it is worthy of all the enthusiasm with which they speak of it. Eugene, a beautiful, thriving little town, is the first considerable place we reached, and at 6 p.m. we were off for a night ride to the north. Reaching Corvallis, forty-five miles, at half-past ten, we were too early to escape the hospitality of the good people there, for they met us and literally overwhelmed us with kindness. Thirty-five miles more brought us early in the morning to the city of Salem, the capital of Oregon, where his Excellency Gov. Gibbs met us, and with other state officers gave us a most cordial greeting. Breakfast and the usual speech-making attended to by Mr. Colfax and "his party," we took a steamer on the beautiful Willamette River--a most grateful change from the jolting of the stagecoach. Some thirty miles upon a fine little steamer, between banks deeply fringed with the pine and the fir, brought us to Albany, where the river falls forty-five feet within a mile. A railway took us to the foot. After, of course, the people had claimed and received, as toll for passing down, speeches from the party, we took another steamer, and about 7 o'clock we were landed at the wharves of Portland. A most enthusiastic reception greeted Mr. Colfax and his companions in travel The speaker did himself more than justice in the hour's address which he delivered.
    These frequent mentions of receptions will serve to show the readers of the Tribune that there are more people and more towns upon the Pacific Coast than they supposed. Our journey from California, though long, has been most interesting and instructive. We find Portland to be a prosperous city of some six or eight thousand inhabitants. It is situated on the west branch of the Willamette, twelve miles above the Columbia. The ocean steamers from San Francisco to Victoria come up the river, one hundred and ten miles, to accommodate its trade, and it has a large and rapidly increasing commerce with the gold fields and silver mining districts of Idaho, on the headwaters of the Columbia. There are also large and rich mining districts in Oregon, but of all this my readers must wait to learn more till my next letter.
Chicago Tribune, August 29, 1865, page 2

    Jacksonville was the first conspicuous place in Oregon, and showed obvious first cousinship to Yreka and Shasta. But its neighboring gold diggings made better report; many of the 500 men engaged upon them in the county were very prosperous, and all were making good wages; promising quartz mines were also discovered, and ore found everywhere almost in these mountain counties of Northern California and Southern Oregon, gathering evidences of much gold yet uncrushed or undug that would still form the basis, with cheaper and more abundant labor and capital, of a large population and a new material growth in this region. The northern county of California (Siskiyou) counts no fewer than 2000 Chinese among its population, and of these 1100 are engaged in gold digging, from whom as foreigners the state gathers a tax of $4 per month each, or from $50,000 to $60,000 a year. That they pay this enormous tribute, and still keep at work, shows well enough that it pays them to wash and to rewash the golden sands of these famous valleys.
    The scenery of this region is full of various beauty. Of conspicuous single objects, Pilot Knob, a great chunk of bare rock standing on a mountaintop, ranks next to Mount Shasta; it must be 800 to 1000 feet high in itself, and seen from all quarters, it has become famous as a pilot to the early emigrants in their journey across the mountain.
    The hills are rich with pine forests, and these grow thicker and the trees larger and of greater variety as also the valleys widen and seem more fertile, as the roads progress into Oregon. Firs rival the pines and grow to similar size, 100 and 200 feet high and three to five feet in diameter. Further up in Oregon, about the Columbia River, the fir even dominates, and is the chief timber, and specimens of it are recorded that are 12 feet through and 300 feet high! The oak, too, has its victories in the valleys, and we ride through groves and parks of it that are indescribably beautiful. That fascination parasite--the mistletoe--appears, too, and shrouds the branches of the oak with its rich, tender green, and feeds on its rugged life. Many an oak had succumbed to the greedy bunch boughs of the mistletoe, that fastened themselves upon it, and despite its beauty and the sentimental reputation that brings to us from British poets, I can shrink from its touch and sight. More graceful and inviting and less absorbing of life--rather token of death--was the pendant Spanish moss hanging gray and sere and sad from the pine branches and trunks, along our way in Southern Oregon. The birch, the ash, the spruce, the arbor vitae, and the balsam all contribute to these forests. But they do not rob your Connecticut valley of its precious elms; to their individual beauty no tree here can offer successful rivalry. In aggregates, however, for forests of trees, for size and beauty of pines and spruces and firs, for amount and quality of timber as timber, and for groves of oaks, there can be no competition in the East to the Sierra Nevadas and the coast mountains and their intermediate valleys in California and Oregon. They form the perpetual wonder and admiration and enthusiasm of the traveler.
    The cross valleys of the Rogue and Umpqua rivers present many rich fields for culture. The soil is a gravelly loam, warm and fertile, more favorable for fruits--especially the grape and the peach--than the more northern valleys of Oregon. But the way to market is long and hard, and the products of agriculture here must mainly go out on the hoof or in wool, so that the temptation to the farmer is not yet very strong. Yet we found a few rich farms and prosperous gentleman farmers.
    "Joe" Lane, famous in Oregon politics, lives in one of these valleys; his occupation of public life is gone; he fell out with a portion of his own party, and was put out by the uprising volume of loyal and anti-slavery sentiment, wherein he has never shown any sympathy. He was an able but low, coarse and groveling politician.
    A man of another description and history is Mr. Jesse Applegate, whose fame as an old pioneer, an honest, intelligent gentleman, incorruptible in thought and act, and the maker of good cider, kept increasing as we neared his home in the Umpqua; and we made bold to stop and tell him we had come to see him and eat his breakfast. We did all to our supreme satisfaction, finding a vigorous old man, who had been here twenty-five years, participated largely in the growth and history of the country, and the conversion of its people to right political principles; clear and strong and original in thought and its expression, with views upon our public affairs worthy the heed of our wisest; every way, indeed, such a man as you wonder to find here in the woods, rejoice to find anywhere, and hunger to have in his rightful position, conspicuous in the government. Oregon ought surely to send Jesse Applegate to Washington, and the general testimony is that she would were he not so implacably hostile to all the helping arts of politician and place-seeker--which is, of course, only another reason why she should do what she yet does not. Mr. Applegate has sent his three sons to the war, and remains in their place to carry on his farm of two thousand acres. But farming here, he says, is but a cheap, careless process; labor is so dear, and grain grows so easily, and the market is so distant, that there is no incentive for real cultivation in the business. Grass grows naturally, abundantly; timothy seed thrown upon the unbroken soil gives the best of permanent mowing, and so abundant the feed upon hill and plain that even that is only improved as a precaution against exceptional snow. Though he feeds cattle by the hundreds and thousands, he has now 125 tons of hay that he cut two years ago, but for which he has had no use.
    Two days and a night of rough riding from Jacksonville over rather unmilitary roads, built some years ago by the since famous Gen. Hooker, brought us out of a sweet, June-like afternoon, upon the hill that overlooks the head of the Willamette (Wil-lam-ette) Valley.
"Across the Continent," Lamoille Newsdealer, Hyde Park, Vermont, September 20, 1865, page 1 When this account was printed by the Oregon Statesman they attributed it to Mr. S. Bowles, of the Colfax party.

Portland to Sacramento--By Stage.

SAN FRANCISCO, October 1, 1865.
    Had the tedious rain that was moistening the Willamette Valley two days ago been anything more than an Oregon institution, your correspondent would have hesitated to commence the long journey of 600 miles or more, by stage, from Portland to Sacramento. But the wires said there was sunshine to the south, whatever might be the state of the "webfoot" climate, and as there was also to the southward a long stretch of country reported by tourists to be well worth seeing, one more than usually rainy morning saw me a passenger booked "through."
The Willamette Valley.
    For full thirty miles the road lies over an uneven timbered country along or near the Willamette River. Six miles above Portland is Milwaukie, once pretending to some importance but now a weather-beaten village, famous for an excellent flouring mill, but otherwise thrown into the shade by its rival, 6 miles below, and left dilapidated and forlorn. Twelve miles above Portland are the falls of the Willamette, where the river makes a precipitous plunge of between 20 and 30 feet across its entire width, regularly curving in, and, when I saw it, sweeping around rocky islands that are covered at its higher stage, and furnishing an eternal mist that claims a rainbow whenever the Oregon clouds give a glimpse of sunshine to borrow it from. These falls are really romantic and beautiful, and in the narrow cañon that occasions them lies Oregon City, now becoming important from its manufacturing facilities, evidenced by the extensive woolen mill whose spindles are just set in motion. These falls are an inconvenient impediment to navigation, but one of the Oregon steamboat companies has commenced operations, intended to obviate the difficulty, and another year may see a canal completed and boats passing through it.
    Twenty-five miles above Oregon City we emerged from the fir forests that in many places were magnificently dense and tall, and were rolling over prairies, on which were spread fine farms, cultivated homes and ripening orchards, whose exuberance of fruit called out many expressions of wonder and delight from fellow passengers who were unused to that region.
    Fruit is a drug in the Willamette, and the burdened boughs seemed vainly to tempt the appetite. Some of us were fresh from Idaho, where the "land of red apples" was often the theme of satire; but the change from the deserts of the interior, whose few narrow valleys seem each an oasis, to such a land of abundance, was duly appreciated, especially as they saw the country children flocking to or from the school house so often nestled in some grove of oaks, the surest proof of civilization and success.
    For more than 100 miles our road lay through the broad and fertile valley of the Willamette, which stretches fully 150 miles from the Columbia River to the Calapooia Mountains, and extends from the Cascade Range to the Coast Mountains, an average of 50 miles in width. Sometimes in level prairie and at times in rolling hills, always beautiful and fertile, abundantly watered by mountain streams and well covered with fir, pine, oak, cottonwood, ash and maple, its pastures green and thriving from the September rains.
    We passed through Salem, the state capital, claiming some 2,000 inhabitants, and promising to be one of the most beautiful towns on this coast, and the seat of one of our most promising universities, through Albany, Corvallis and Eugene, all beautiful and thriving towns, surrounded by an extensive agricultural region each, whose wealth is proven by flocks and herds, by extensive fields and comfortable homesteads to be seen everywhere. This road was lately the scene of a terrible tragedy, as owing to the slippery surface of a hill a stage was thrown against an oak, one of its passengers killed, another probably made an idiot for life, and the remainder more or less injured. The stage driver--only just able to resume the whip--mounted the box at Salem as the sun went down and the autumnal equinox raged over the hill as if bent upon our destruction. There was a crash in the darkness just before us, and a huge oak lay across the road that would have crushed us all beneath it, had we been an instant in advance.
Umpqua and Rogue River.
    The Calapooia Mountain is the divide over which we crossed in 9 miles of not seriously bad road, to find ourselves among the hills and valleys of the Umpqua, which region is different in style but fully as beautiful as the Willamette country. It consists of hills that are almost mountains, through which are interspersed small but fertile valleys. Jo Lane lives on the Umpqua, as the passing traveler is sure to learn, but he has at present no prominence. Umpqua is famous for a long deep cañon, through which the stage passes, but a toll road threads the mountainside and obviates the terrors of the long ago.
    These are several ranges of very inconvenient hills to cross, covering in all some 30 miles, and offering no inducements for settlement, unless like the North Carolinian, someone would be content to live where "pine knots are amazing handy." Here we are fairly in Southern Oregon, where as a general thing the soil does not equal that of the Willamette, though the choice spots of its creek bottoms are even more fertile than the prairies of Northern Oregon. There are several pretty and thriving villages in the Umpqua, but none so prominent as Jacksonville, the principal mining town in the Rogue River Valley. Of late we have been passing through a cañon that has possessed rich gold fields that are still valuable if not so productive as of old. We rode up Rogue River in the night, and could see the dim outlines of ranches, as well as indications of extensive mining operations in the past, but now John Chinaman "gleans where others once reaped," and the operations of white labor are more circumscribed than of old. Jacksonville has passed the heyday of life, and of late is somewhat dull and discontented. Leaving Jacksonville at daybreak, after a two-hours' nap upon the floor of the United States Hotel--for the lack of someone to show the way to one of its beds--we rushed at top speed over a beautiful country, through a narrow valley, among hills which had been famous for their "diggings," past fields that showed unsurpassed fertility, and villages that had a bright and cheerful air. There are no finer farms or more substantial improvements in Oregon than I saw in its extreme south.
In California.
    The Siskiyou Mountain lies in Oregon, but we are scarce over it--I think a ride of 9 miles--when we cross the line and are in California. The last notable object in Oregon is an oil spring just across the line at this point, and the neighborhood is much interested in the discovery. To bore or not to bore, that is the question under discussion, and I believe the effort is being made to enlist capital in the enterprise, under the suspicion that it will prove a capital thing. Northern California is dreary, parched and desolate-looking enough, save in a few isolated spots where fields are made along the creek bottoms; and so it continues until we pass the Klamath, near Mount Shasta, at whose base lies a fine and extensive farming region. There is quite a contrast between the fruitful fields and fine orchards north of Siskiyou, and the bleak, burnt hills and plains south of there. We left Shasta Mountain to the left about 30 miles, and I only know by hearsay of the fine valley that lay between it and us; but I do know that of all the magnificent views I ever saw, not one lives in memory to compete with the impressions I received as the stage whirled at almost railroad speed along the western edge of Shasta plain for 10 or 15 miles.
View of Shasta Mountain.
    As we passed up the Willamette Valley we saw Mount Hood, not in all its glory, for that can only be seen and felt from more commanding positions; but we saw it grand and beautiful in its wintry majesty. During the course of 15 years I have either lived within view of it, or have had opportunities to see it from commanding points to the east and west. Once, from a high range of hills upon the west side of the Willamette, I saw the Cascade Range, from far into Washington Territory, spotted with snowy summits. There were seven peaks, of which Mount Hood was chief, and the scene deserved the enthusiasm of Fitzhugh Ludlow, who says that he "and Bierstadt" clasped hands as they gazed, and tearfully thanked God that they had lived to see that hour. Magnificent as this sight was--or it has remained with me for many a year and realized that "a thing of beauty is a joy forever"--still I consider that in near grandeur the sight of Mount Shasta from Shasta plain, with no intervening mountains to impede the view, is something to be as well remembered.
    Mt. Shasta is 14,440 feet high, which is considerably less than the altitude of Mt. Hood, but the whole mountain stands beside you, as it were, for looking past the plain and over the numberless buttes that rise mound-like in the foreground, we take in at one coup d'oeil the broad base that reaches for 20 miles and swells upward, black with fir forests, above which, rising to two unequal summits, stands one unsullied mass of snow. The late storm lent it a fresh covering, and now it stands in one universal robe of white.
Through Northern California.
    About 30 miles from the mountain, upon a little creek whose hillsides have yielded millions of treasure, stands Yreka, more prosperous now than of late years, as those who have tired of northern fields and uncertain excitements are returning again to its vicinity, and new developments have taken piece that promise well for its future.
    Yreka is quite changed from when I first knew it. Soon after the discovery of gold there, the premeditated desire to be for a while a miner took me thither, and my impressions were of a cluster of canvas houses in which much liquor was sold and consumed, and much money was bet and lost. These impressions were disrupted by a view of handsome structures forming solid brick blocks, with a first-class hotel which invited me to the first night's rest I had for a long time.
    On the hillside where once I located my "claim" and procured "pay dirt," John Chinaman was busy finishing his day's work; about where I drove down to the creek with my ox cart loaded from the claim was the handsomely graded Main Street, and just opposite where my "tom" stood ready to wash the aforesaid dirt now stands the Journal office. On the whole, I am inclined to think Yreka has improved some since my time.
    Scotts Valley is the garden spot of all of California we saw north of the Sacramento, and soon after leaving Yreka we entered it, and for 25 miles went gliding over a beautiful smooth road, which wound around among the hills following the meanderings of the river, along which the valley lay, ranging from half a mile to two miles wide, almost every acre of which was fenced and cultivated. Here I saw extensive farms and scores of huge stacks of grain and hay. Extensive mining operations are in progress in the hills and gulches upon the south of our road, and following Scotts River down to its intersection with the Klamath, some points of which have been among the richest gold placers upon the Pacific.
    The wagon road over Scott and Trinity mountains, made by the California Stage Company, shows splendid engineering. This company is said to have expended $60,000 in building roads in this part of the state, and its enterprise has greatly facilitated and cheapened traveling and freighting to the extreme north.
    Scott Mountain is rough and rocky. At a point on the south side, where for a mile or so the road winds among huge masses of rocks, it was only made at great expense. On the lower side we looked down steep ravines and precipices far more romantic than agreeable. Trinity Mountain is free from rock, and the road winds over it at an excellent grade. We dashed down the south side by brilliant moonlight, and there were circumstances attending the ride that make it one of the most striking incidents of a life not unused to travel. Of course the road followed the meanderings of the hillside, at times winding around points where the moon shone resplendent, then rushing into the dense shadow of the forest, as the road curved and swept within some wild ravine, whence the moonlight was excluded by the mountain and shadowing pines. All the way the road was cut upon the edge of steep ravines impossible in many places for man to climb unaided, and, as we went whirling down at top speed, it was fearful to look down the precipitous mountain into far depths where the moonlight seemed loath to penetrate. That moonlight ride down Trinity Mountain is as well worth a place in memory as views of ocean lashed to fury or of the snowy mountains to the north. The Trinity River is the scene of mining operations still, and its placers promise to produce for years to come.
    We passed through Shasta about midnight, and there left beside us the mountain ranges and went gliding over the valley of the Sacramento, past Red Bluff, Tehama and Chico, changing to the cars at Oroville, staging again from Marysville to Lincoln, and meeting the boat at Sacramento. Californians do not need any description of these home regions, but a stranger looked with wonder upon the luxuriant vegetation manifest in the oaks, cottonwoods and sycamores, as well as in the imported shade trees that in a few years have become so large as to embower the homesteads in California in foliage that elsewhere might have been the growth of a whole century.
    It is pleasant thing to have seen the homes to the north, and passed over the intermediate space that blends the orchards of Oregon with the vineyards of California; and the tedium of the hurrying journey is forgotten in remembering the scenes and places I have here briefly sketched.
San Francisco Bulletin, October 6, 1865, page 1

From the New York Tribune.
California to Oregon.
    Yreka (Wy-reka), the northern town of California, is 3,500 feet above the sea level. A ditch 100 miles long supplies village and miners with water. Crossing a little stream of the Siskiyou Mountains, 300 miles north of Sacramento, we were in Oregon. From the summit we saw Pilot Mountain, named by Fremont, and crowned by an enormous granite boulder, apparently a mile in diameter. Descending, we found a changed vegetation, new wildflowers, and abundance of oak, maple and mountain laurel. The latter is an evergreen of rarest beauty, sometimes 70 feet high, with vivid, shining leaves, and bark which deadens and drops off yearly, leaving smooth stem and branches of delicate, pale red.
    We enter valleys of tall timothy and golden wheat, white farm houses, with porches and verandas, shaded with locusts and willows, and flanked by immense barns; of young orchards, heavy with ripening plums and pears, apples and peaches; of clear rills, which pour down the hillsides to the farmer's door; of the district school houses, "where young Ambition climbs his little ladder, and boyish Genius plumes his half-fledged wings."
    At one dwelling an infant grizzly bear, aged 10 weeks and weighing 250 pounds, is tied to a stake. Checking him with a cart-whip when too playful, the owner frolics fearlessly with young Bruin. When Lola Montez resided in California she kept a grizzly bear as a household pet. At Jacksonville, Jackson County, we learn that a fortunate miner has taken out $208 within the last 24 hours. The placer diggings of this county yield $50,000 monthly. At Rock Point we cross Rogue River upon an excellent wooden toll bridge. A rival bridge owner, three miles below, made his structure free and for a time took all the travel. But this original Jacob bought the land on Evans Creek, six miles to the eastward and running parallel with the river, at its only fordable point and then bridged the creek, charging toll there for both streams. Discomfited by this shrewd maneuver, the rival retired from the contest.
Albert Deane Richardson, Gazette and Courier, Greenfield, Massachusetts, October 9, 1865, page 1  An edited version is in his 1866 book, Our New States and Territories

Oregon Correspondence
    Dear Sir:--I am here for the winter. I intend to visit Salem and Portland in the spring. This valley is about thirty miles long, by from one to fifteen miles broad; is fertile and well watered. The farms are well fenced with worm fence; rails are made out of spruce and fir. Some gold mining in many parts.    *    *    *
    Send me some numbers of your paper, that will help the cause in these wilds. Tell the farmers of California for me that theirs is God's own country and that they should be satisfied to work and develop her superior agricultural and horticultural resources. Tell them they ought to grow alfalfa--they can grow it in many places; and, indeed, I can grow it where there is a good depth of soil regardless of quality. I have had it in contemplation to offer my services to the people of the Pacific Coast to show them how to grow this much-needed grass. Cultivate thoroughly and deep; sow in February from fifteen to twenty pounds of good clean seed to the acre; brush in with a light brush, then roll down. Rich land should have twenty pounds per acre.
    Tell the young men of California that this is the country of adventure. A hunt took place on the 18th ult. on the headwaters of Rogue River. The first deer a young man from California ever saw, he shot dead a distance of 100 yards. He immediately reloaded his rifle (one of Bigelow's make, Marysville) when an unusually large cougar, in full chase after the deer, made his appearance, and the California boy shot him through the heart. I mention this to inform California boys that their wandering brother representatives will not disgrace them in the wilds or in the parlor.
    When I hear from you I will write again and more to the purpose.
    I am, dear sir, yours,
    We are glad to receive the above letter from an old pioneer and highly esteemed friend--a part only we give, for it was a private letter. Colonel John Brophy, of Marysville, is one of those generous-hearted men we seldom find. We send him our best wishes with a bundle of Farmers and will write him, and hope to hear from him often. The Col. was a good farmer, and his opinion on grass is valuable.
California Farmer and Journal of Useful Sciences, San Francisco, November 24, 1865, page 5

By Fred Lockley
    As far back as the early '60s the Springfield Republican had gained a reputation as one of the leading newspapers of the United States. It is not much to be wondered at when one remembers that among its editors and owners were J. G. Holland, Clark W. Bryan, Samuel Bowles and his brother Benjamin F. Bowles, W. M. Pomeroy and J. F. Tapley. In those days the Springfield Republican was established at 203 Main Street in Springfield, Mass., and no money was spared to keep their paper to the front in the way of journalistic enterprise.
    When Schuyler Colfax, the Speaker of the House, made his first trip to the West during the summer of 1865, Samuel Bowles, the editor of the Springfield Republican, accompanied him upon his trip. It is interesting to turn back to the old files of the Springfield Republican and read the description of the West of 50 years ago and of the prophecies made by Samuel Bowles as to the future of the West.
    Writing from Portland on July 20, 1865, he says: "Oregon is a revelation. Our point of departure for Oregon was Sacramento and the distance from there to Portland is 650 miles due north. Two short bits of railroad put us forward in the Sacramento Valley about 50 miles. At Oroville we began the stage ride proper. At Chico we took supper with General Bidwell, one of the pioneers of the Pacific Coast and one of the new members of Congress from California. Jilted by a young woman who chose a lover with more acres, he turned rover and came out west from Missouri in 1841 as one of a secret filibustering party that intended to get up a revolution against Mexico, as California was then called, and, taking California, annexing it to Texas, the Lone Star republic. He now has a farm of 20,000 acres. In 1863 his yield of wheat averaged 40 bushels to the acre. He has 1800 acres of wheat.
    "We passed through the prosperous little town of Red Bluffs, which is at the head of navigation on the Sacramento River and is a central point of commerce for all Northern California and Southern Oregon, and is the home of the widow and daughters of the immortal John Brown. They straggled in here, weary and worn from their overland journey, but found a most hospitable greeting from the citizens, and have made Red Bluffs their permanent home. Mrs. Brown earns both love and support as a successful nurse and doctor. Her two older daughters are teaching in the public schools.
    "Jacksonville was the first conspicuous town in Oregon and showed obvious first cousinship to Yreka and Shasta, but its gold diggings made better report. The men engaged upon them were prosperous and all were making good wages.
    "The valleys of the Rogue and Umpqua rivers present rich fields for culture. The soil is a gravelly loam, warm and fertile, and especially favorable for fruits, but the way to market is long and hard and the products of agriculture must go out to the world for the present on hoof or in the form of wool. We found a few rich farmers. Joe Lane, famous in Oregon politics, lives in one of these valleys. He fell out with a portion of his own party and his occupation of public life is gone. He was put out by the rise in volume of anti-slavery sentiment, wherein he has never shown any sympathy.
    "We stopped at Jesse Applegate's, whose fame is a pioneer, an honest and intelligent gentleman, incorruptible in thought and act, and a maker of good cider, kept increasing as we neared his home on the Umpqua. We made bold to tell him we had come to see him and to eat breakfast with him. We found a vigorous old man who had been here for 25 years and had participated largely in the growth and history of the country and the conversion of its people to the right political principles. He is clear and strong and original in thought and expression. He is such a man as you wonder to find here in the weeds and would rejoice to find anywhere and hunger to have in his rightful position. Oregon ought surely to send Jesse Applegate to Washington, and she would, were he not so implacably hostile to all the helping arts of a politician and place-seeker. Farming here in Oregon, he says, is a cheap and careless process. Labor is so dear and grain grows so easily and the market is so distant that there is no incentive for cultivation and care in the business of farming. So mild are the winters and so abundant the feed that, though he feeds cattle by the hundreds and thousands, he has now 125 tons of hay, cut two years ago, for which he has no use.
    "Two days and a night of rough riding from Jacksonville, over some rather unmilitary roads built some years ago by the now-famous General Hooker, brought us out on a sweet, June-like afternoon upon the hill that overlooks the head of the Willamette Valley, the garden of Oregon which led emigrants here years before the gold discoveries on the Pacific Coast; the holder of nearly two-thirds of the inhabitants of the state; the chief source of its prosperity and its sure security for the future; lifting it above the uncertainties of mining and giving Oregon a guaranty of stability, intelligence and comfort to its people."
Oregon Journal, Portland, December 24, 1914, page 4

Letter from E. C. Pelton, Pioneer of Valley,
Tells of Farm Conditions in 1865
    There was gold in the mountains neighboring Jacksonville, reaching in almost unbroken veins north to Alaska and south to Mexico. But not much in the laborer's pocket. For $30 a month was the accepted wage paid farm hands for plowing the corn, calling the hogs and teaming in the Rogue River Valley in 1865. And times were called "fast," according to the letter written by E. C. Pelton, one of Southern Oregon's best-known pioneers, June 30, 1865, to his brother and sister in Little Rock, Ark.
    An interesting picture of the new-found country is penned on the now worn and yellowed pages, mailed from Jacksonville to encourage his southern relatives to follow him westward. Mr. Pelton crossed the plains in the early '50s.
    The letter is now owned by one son, who survives him, James Pelton of Fort Klamath.
    Engaged in hog raising on the 400 acres in which now comprise the E. B. Day and H. Van Hoovenberg ranches in the Sams Valley district, Mr. Pelton found selling pork to the Chinese, who sweated in the gold diggings deserted by the whites, a profitable business.
    "My trade is mostly with the Chinese," he wrote. "There are many of them mining in this country. They work the mines that white men leave. Yet they are great 'Jews' to trade with. They never eat beef when they can get pork."
    The price of pork Mr. Pelton quoted as varying from 6 to 8 cents a pound in the valleys and 8 to 10 cents a pound at the mines.
    His principal market was Yreka, Cal., 70 miles across the mountains, and much fat was put on the hogs before they started on the long journey.
    The price of wheat used to accomplish the extra weight he also gave as fluctuating from 50 cents to $2 a bushel.
    Telling the story of farming and mining, he paused at the close of the letter to let his mind wander back homeward to ask after war news.
    "You must write me something about your own affairs," he concluded. "What has become of the negroes? Will you get anything for them? Make Old Jeff behave. I think you will get along better without them. They are ignorant and of course will be impudent."
    The price of farms in Southern Oregon he listed as $8 to $12 an acre. "Farms are nearly all under fence. The tillable land lies in the valleys of various sizes between low and high mountains. This valley is about 30 miles long," he wrote, returning to a description of the Sams Valley country in which he was located, "It is surrounded with mountains and portions of it are very rich. This valley produces wheat, about 30 bushels per acre; potatoes 40 to 50, barley 40 to 50, and corn 20 to 30. The Irish potato grows fine but not the sweet.
    "It requires very little labor to produce grain and vegetables compared with other states, there being no rain here in summer. The weeds do not grow, nor does the land require much cultivation. 1 seldom plow corn myself. I think that the new land does not require it."
    There were no county agents to tell the farmers how to grow corn in those days, and they farmed "each to his own peculiar notion," Mr. Pelton wrote.
    "The mines," he continued, "are almost a continuation from the Rocky Mountains and the Cascade Range to the headwaters of the Kamkatchen, running down in the Russian possessions. There have been in the last four or five years very rich mines struck in the waters of Fraser River, Columbia, Snake, Salmon and all their tributaries. I was in the Salmon River country in 1862. Some men made their fortunes in a few months. I saw one man who had taken out of his claim 350 pounds of gold dust, his probably being the richest in the country. It was a fast place for a short time but the mines did not prove to be generally rich. I sold some cargoes of goods for 75 cents to $1 a pound, but the thing was too good to last."
    All through the letter Mr. Pelton reminds his brother and sister that they must use their own judgment in coming to the "new" country, where "all the people seem to get along in harmony."
    A few months after he wrote the letter he died during the first outbreak of smallpox in this county, September 1865. He was then 35 years old, and stories of his participation in the agricultural progress of early Oregon are remembered by many pioneers of the Rogue River Valley.
    His name was for years associated with all Southern Oregon events, carried on by his three sons--Horace, who formerly owned the Sams Valley property; John and James, the only surviving members of the trio. The latter frequently visits relatives and friends in Medford.
Medford Mail Tribune, November 5, 1930, page C3

Last revised May 13, 2024