The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised

Diary of Joel Palmer

1 Sept.
    This day we reached the Kenion where we overtook Lieut. Grover with the advance of Cpt. Nesmith's command who were out forward with ammunition. Lodged at S. B. Briggs.
2 Sept.
    This has been a rainy day found the Kenion and put up at Weylies 2½ miles from Kenion on Cow Creek. Here were several pack trains. This seems to be general rendezvous for rowdies.
3 Sept.
    Today we traveled to Derbins on Rogue River 45 miles where we had alarming reports of plunder and murder by the Indians but believe at best one half is done by the whites.
4 Sept.
    This day we arrived at Camp Alden near Table Rock. Gen. Lane had just had a talk with a portion of the R.R. Tribe and had agreed to meet them again on Thursday to make a treaty of peace. The chiefs were to collect their people.
5 Sept.
    This day was spent in appertaining the condition and feeling of the Indians. There is great excitement among the troops & miners and much opposition to the proposed treaty of peace. There are more rowdies assembled here than I have ever saw at one place.
6 Sept.
    Today was mostly spent in examining the tract of country proposed to be set aside as a reserve for the Indians. We found two Indians with whom we had a talk.
7 Sept.
    Today General Lane & myself & several others went out to visit the Indians but a few could be found. They affeared treachery on our part and are very shy. It is with the utmost difficulty that they can be approached. A few whites are carrying them news & trying to break up the treaty agreement.
8 Sept.
    This day the Indians assembled near the place agreed upon but as the whites & Indians were alike fearful of treachery a proper persuasion was [omission] on both sides. One however meet hind [had?] on the slope of the hill back of Table Rock 6 miles from Camp Alden. Cpt. Smith's company of dragoons is here ¼ mile distant.
9 Sept.
    This day we met the Indians again. Great alarm was manifested on account of some of their men having been taken prisoner. Cpt. Williams finally succeeded in having a talk and the Treaty of Peace agreed upon generally--signed. I then made a proposition to purchase their lands.
10 Sept.
    This day having been agreed upon to meet in council for the purchase of Indian country we assembled at a spring on Table Rock and agreed upon the conditions of a Treaty to purchase and a relinquishment, which we are to draw up and sign tomorrow.
11 Sept.
    Today we meet according to agreement when the treaty was explained and signed and all signed with the agent but nerchiefs [underchiefs?], candies [candles?], just this afternoon I went to Jacksonville to purchase goods as per agreement.
12 Sept.
    This day was spent in making purchases of goods for Indians & late at night we arrived in camp with them having broken down the wagon so that we're compelled to send for pack animals.
13 Sept.
    This day the Indians came to camp & received the goods promised them. 99 men & 23 women with several children were present. They belong to Jo, Sam and Jim's bands--5 of John's family were there.
14 Sept.
    Today General Lane & myself went to Jacksonville to make agreement to see the Applegate bands of Indians & to purchase a few articles omitted on Monday. Here we heared of the fight between Lt. Williams and John's family.
15 Sept.
    This day was spent in writing former agent Skinner and in making out synopsis of treaty with Indians for war commissioners and in gathering information relative to Tipsy's band of Indians.
16 Sept.
    This day we returned to Camp Alden where an additional number of Indians were waiting our arrival. After talking with them we directed Wm. [sic] Culver to make them a few presents and as our mission has been accomplished we started to the Willamette and reached Derbins in the evening.
17 Sept.
    This day we traveled to the south end of Kenion & put up at Mr. Elliff--no Indians to be seen, the lodges that were here on our way out according to our instruction had gone to mouth of Cow Creek.
18 Sept.
    This day we passed through the Kenion and went to Mr. Riddle's where we expect to meet the Cow Creek Indians. Runners have been sent out to collect them to have a talk tomorrow morning.
19 Sept.
    Today the Indians assembled at an early hour where we explained to them the importance of preserving peace with the whites and our desire to treat them kindly and finally after learning their great desire to sell their country made them a proposition which after a consultation among themselves they agreed to and a treaty was drawn up and signed in the evening at an ofference [sic] of 2 bushels potatoes. An Indian complained that [omission] company had taken gun. I gave him one.
20 Sept.
    This day one of the Cow Creek chiefs who had been absent yesterday came in and after the treaty had been explained to him desired to sign it he accordingly done so. We then started on our way to the Willamette, crossed at McHadley's [Sam Hadley's?] at night put up at General Lane's.
21 Sept.
    This day I appointed Cpt. Wm. Martin special agent for the Indian tribes on the waters of Umpqua to Coos River and around Coos Bay. We nooned at Winston [Winchester?] and put up for the night at Charles Applegate's. Here we found the horse left by Jacobs which had given out on our way to Rogue River.
22 Sept.
    Today we started early over the Calapooia, had some trouble in getting the broke-down horse along as he was partially packed. Took dinner at Doct. A. N. Folie north of Calapooia, reached Hethisly's where we put up for the night.
23 Sept.
    This morning started at daylight, traveled 13 miles for breakfast, dined at Hinton's, reached Norrises' where we put up for the night.
24 Sept.
    This morning the mare which had been packed yesterday was driven up with a colt by her side and as it was too sorry to travel we traded her off for a mule giving 40 dollars difference. At night reached Hawkins' 8 miles from Salem.
25 Sept.
    This day at dark we arrived at Dayton having been absent twenty-nine days from 28 August to 25 Sept. inclusive.
26 Sept.
    This day I remain at home.
27 Sept.

    Today I started to Meltnaukey . . .
Diary of Oregon Superintendent of Indian Affairs Joel Palmer, Oregon Historical Society Library Mss 114. Transcribed from badly transcribed typescript.

28 Feb.
    This day at 11 a.m. started for Portland to purchase goods suitable for Indians--to be used in negotiating treaty with the tribes in Port Orford district, and as no funds are on hand, we shall be compelled to purchase on credit. Arrived at Oregon City at 8 p.m.
1 Mar.
    This day left Oregon City on steamer Bell. Arrived at Portland 10 a.m. where I mailed the following letters--2 to Gen'l. Lane, 4 to Commissioner of Ind. Affairs, then proceeded to examine stocks of goods suitable for the Port Orford Indians. But few merchants could be found willing to sell on time, and no purchases were made.
2 Mar.
    This morning proceeded to examine stocks of goods. Made an arrangement with P. Raleigh for such articles as were deemed necessary, for which he is to await the transmission of funds from Washington City--Goods to be shipt to Port Orford on steamer Peytona on her next trip--to Joel Palmer, Supt. The care of F. M. Smith, sub-Indian Agent. Returned to Oregon City on steamer Bell.

Diary of Oregon Superintendent of Indian Affairs Joel Palmer, Oregon Historical Society Library Mss 114. Transcribed from badly transcribed typescript.

12 Apr. 1854
    Started and traveled to Myrtle Creek where I had promised to meet some Indians. We had our horses shod.
13 Apr.
    This morning a portion of the Indians came in and we gave them a few articles and made arrangements with Wm. Wright to plow them a piece of ground for [illegible] patch in his field. Went to see the Cow Creek band of Indians.
14 Apr.
    This morning one of the chiefs of Cow Creek band of Indians and 9 of his men met me in council, after which I gave them one can powder 2 bars lead one box caps. Traveled through Kenion.
15 Apr.
    This morning before leaving [illegible] Indian one squaw and 2 children came to our camp and complained that they had received none of the articles delivered last fall--and wanted something now--we traveled to Round Prairie met a few Indians at Grave Creek.

Persons supposed to be engaged in killing two Indians last winter:
Phillip Henry Wiley
Bill Cox
Inquire of Wright and Milligan at Myrtle Creek
Name of Indian Tribe on Applegate Creek Etch-ma-la-waw
Haw-quoe-hoo-took Illinois Creek Tribe

Persons engaged in killing Indians on Myrtle Creek last July or August 1
Willson shot the old man Badged
Inquire of Wright & Adams
The name of the boy that was killed was Jim

4 Apr.
Got a mare at Fungasou and gave my note on the month's time for 125 dollars. A little while started & paid for dinner at Beecham.
13 Apr.
    Reached Mrs. Riddle's at 3, collected the Indians in council at 4th. Made an arrangement with Riddle to plow them 2 acres of land fuse it, planting her acre $8 rails on fence for under $7. Authorized Mr. Nichols to furnish them with ammunition and Mr. Riddle and Bowen to repair guns, reached Kenion at dark, had a talk with a few Indians, agreed to meet with them in the morning
14 Apr.
    This morning the horses could not be found, Mr. Hrth and myself started in pursuit and followed a trail about 8 miles, returned at 11:00 & horses had been found and trail gone. Came to church at 4 p.m.
15 Apr.
    Joansient Jersous, claimed goods some as Rogue River Indian, others as Grave Creek and Cow Creek, as they seemed to equivocate as to where they belong. I declined giving them presents, stating that if they belonged to Rogue River they would receive their goods with them and if Cow Creek they would be paid with them, but if Grave Creek we were not prepared to purchase their country at present, but if they would [be] good people we had but few goods and they were for the Indians of the Rogue River.
18 Apr.
    We learned that Liza and his people had started a few days since for Studesem and had met Keunions who advised them not to go. They hesitated and cuchcavobt, 1½ mile from Jacksonville. We visited them and convinced them of the folly of their fear and they started to the reserve. A portion had fled to the mountains and a messenger was sent for them and directed to bring them on to the reserve. Went to Judge Thomas.
19 Apr.
    This day learned that the troop would not leave till tomorrow.
20 Apr.
    As to be unable to follow it commenced raining. We struck camp at 4 p.m. By this time it turned to snow and by sunset it was 4 inches deep. The animals appeared to suffer much as the wind blows hard. Orders were to raise camp and we passed over the mountains and descended below the snow line at 8. In the morning the snow was 8 inches deep on the mountain. Rained nearly all night, everything was wet--in the morning all bedding and clothes were froze stiff.
Diary of Oregon Superintendent of Indian Affairs Joel Palmer, Oregon Historical Society Library Mss 114. Transcribed from badly transcribed typescript

1 July 1854
    This morning, soon after daylight, upon getting up, we discovered 4 Indians near our camp, watching our movements. I sent my interpreter to invite them into camp, but they could not be induced to approach us. When we were about to leave, they ventured up. I gave them each a shirt and a fish hook and line. Country along the coast barren. About 20 or 30 Indians reside around Winchester Bay. We campt ten miles north of Umpqua on Moss Creek, one mile from beach.
2 July
    As on yesterday, sand hills extend from two to 4 miles from the shore. After traveling some ten miles, I sent Mr. Flett [illegible] from the beach towards the timber looking for the camp of Indians. He soon returned with the requisite information, when we left the beach and struck
[illegible] River, 3 miles above the mouth and followed up 2 miles and crossed.
4 Aug.
    The absence of an agent that could be assigned to duty in Middle Oregon, and the thieving propensities of the Indians residing about Klamath Lake, as well as a desire to obtain more accurate knowledge of the country between the Dalles of the Columbia and the Southern Oregon Road, previous to making my annual report, induced me to take a tour through that portion of the country. I accordingly made an arrangement with a Klamath chief, whom I found at Oregon City, to collect his people at Klamath Lake where I would meet them in council. With this object, I gave him a pipe and tobacco, and sent him to that point.
    The business which had accumulated in the office during my absence detained me longer than I had intended.
    The portion of the country to be explored being but seldom visited by whites and but little known as to the number of the Indians, I deemed it unsafe to travel with a party of less than 8 persons.
    This day we left Dayton. Three of the government animals were so reduced and lamed in the trip from Port Orford as to be unable to perform the required service, and as none others could be purchased at reasonable rates, I hired three horses. My own riding animal was stolen or strayed, and I was compelled to ride one of the hired animals. We reached Oregon City.
5 Aug.
    At Oregon City we completed our outfit, and late in the day we left and traveled eight miles to John Foster's, where we campt. As the grazing was poor, we purchased oats for our animals. Our party consists of Cris Taylor, John Flett, Wm. T. Cross, Martin H. McCain, Barney Buffin, Charles Charlton, Solomon Tise, and self.
6 Aug.
    Today we started at an early hour; 5 miles brought us to Philip Foster's, where we took the mountain road leading to the Dalles. We traveled about thirty miles; at the second crossing of the Sandy we met 5 or 6 emigrant wagons, and a drove of cattle, being the first arrival of teams from Illinois and Mo. this season. They report it generally healthy on the road; their teams look jaded, but appeared in good heart.
7 Aug.
    This day at 7 a.m. we started. Ascended the stream to the mountain and climbed Laurel Hill and traveled to the Summit Prairie, being about 13 or 14 miles. The party who we expected to meet at this point for the purpose of ascending Mount Hood had left the preceding day. The grass in this prairie is of poor quality, and there are numerous mire holes into which animals may tumble.
8 Aug.
    Today traveled to Barlow Gate, a distance of about 35 miles. The grass has been much burned, but a sufficient quantity is left to subsist our animals. Here we found a party of packers on their return from Grand Ronde, where they had taken supplies for use in a trading post for emigrants.
9 Aug.
    This morning I sent a messenger to the Tygh village, distance 10 or twelve miles, to procure an Indian who is acquainted with the trail to Klamath Lake. We turned to the right, intending to strike the trail at the base of a high ridge bounding the Hot Springs Valley on the north. After 3 miles' travel, further progress was cut off by a deep ravine, running from mountain to the Tygh. We were compelled to return and follow the road to Tygh, and then down below mouth
[illegible] and take the old trail.  We reached Tygh at 4½ p.m. & campt.
10 Aug.
    This morning our animals could not be found till a late hour, and we could only travel about 3 miles, as our next day's drive is a long one without water. We desired a guide on account of these long, dry reaches, but had some difficulty in procuring one, as they wished to drive a hard bargain. We finally obtained one--named Cup-up.
11 Aug.
    This morning at 5 o/c we were on the road; ascended the bluff and traveled over a high, stony plain in a southerly direction for 14 or 15 miles, which brought us to the foot of the ridge mentioned on the 9th. Here we found a little water in a pool. We then followed through the gap over a very stony trail four miles, which brought us to a small valley where we found springs of water. We halted 2½ hours, and then traveled over an undulating country for about 14 miles and descended to a deep ravine, where we campt at half past 5.
12 Aug.
    This day we started at 7 a.m. and traveled about 20 miles over a broken country, crossing three streams putting down from the mountain through deep ravines. The country is stony and broken in the extreme, though coated with bunchgrass. Occasionally there is a good-looking tract of land. We passed some hot springs, near the margin of a stream 20 yds. wide. This was in the Hot Springs Valley, the head of which presents some fertile country.
13 Aug.
    Today we started at 7. Ascended the bluff and traveled over a rolling plain for 6 or 8 miles, then down a stony bluff about one mile to one of the main branches of Deschutes River, then up about 3 miles and crossed. One trail crosses half a mile below. The upper is the better. This stream is 10 yds. in width, very rapid and cold. This undoubtedly comes from Mt. Jefferson.
14 Sept.
    Today we left camp at 6 a.m .and ascended the mountain for 1½ miles. Scattered timber with bunchgrass for 4 miles, which brought us to the top of a ridge at the summit of which, to the left of the road is a marsh or lake. 15 miles from there, we struck a branch of Schutes, where halted 2 hours, then crossed and traveled about 15 miles over a sage plain, through timber of yellow pine & scrubby cedar or juniper. Bunchgrass as usual.
15 Aug.
    Today we started at 7--course east of south through timber for 5 miles, when we struck a rapid branch of 12 or 15 yds. in width; there turned southeast for about 4 miles to Deschutes River, which is here over 100 yds. in width, and averaging about five feet in depth. Crossed up one mile, where we left the river. The banks are low and along the margin afford good soil and grass, but a little back, sandy and too poor to cultivate; here we struck the wagon road and traveled about 20 miles, when again struck the river and campt.
16 Aug.
    This day we followed up the river about 20 miles, and as our trail here left the river for some distance, we campt about 5 miles above last night's camp. The river forked; we followed up the eastern branch, which is the smaller of the two. The bottom along this stream at some points is several miles wide and is of rich soil.
17 Aug.
    This morning at 7½ a.m. we were on the trail and traveled over twenty miles, when we again struck the creek on which we were campt last night. An arm of the prairie which we followed near its margin extends some 8 or 10 miles, averaging about a half mile in width, coated with excellent grass. We then struck a sandy [illegible] country, and followed over undulating ground, to camp. No grass or water in the timber. 4 miles
[illegible] we found a little water. Saw an antelope.
18 Sept.
    The night has been cold and the morning frosty. We started 6½ o'clock. Left the creek and took a southerly direction over a timbered, sandy country for forty miles, which brought us to Klamath Lake bottom. At the distance of 20 miles, we found a little water in pools to the right of the road, with a little grass. 6 miles farther, we found good running water, but continued on to camp. The country over which we passed is rolling, and but for the timber, would be equal to the deserts of Arabia. Abundant signs of antelope.
19 Aug.
    This day we sent messengers to the different villages of Klamaths and the adjacent Modocs, informing them of my arrival, and desiring them to meet me in council on Monday. By one p.m. about thirty men and 8 women had arrived. We met here Willeptaleki, a [illegible] chief, who resides on the Taik, on his way home from
20 Aug.
    This day at 8½ a.m. I started with my interpreter, the head chief, and our Deschutes guide to make the circuit of Klamath Lake. We traveled in a southern direction for about 10 miles, then turned easterly. Crossed the lake, which here narrows down to about 200 yds. in width, being a small island in the center of which Indians formerly lived. The water swam our smallest horses.
21 Aug.
    Today the Indians assembled in council, and, after explaining to them the objects of my mission and our determination to punish those who committed acts of violence and theft against our people, and listening to their replies and promises of good conduct, I made them a few presents, and the council broke up with an apparent good feeling. A few men and women [stayed?] in camp to spend the night with us.
22 Aug.
    This morning is rainy; several showers through the night, with thunder and lightning. Our Indian friends, as well as those of our own party, have spent an uncomfortable night. The half [illegible] children stand shivering around the fire. At 10 o'clock it cleared off, and we made about 15 miles on our homeward journey; we campt on a small creek with very good grass.
23 Aug.
    This morning is rainy. We started at 8½ o'clock a.m. 6 miles from camp we left the Dalles trail and struck for the gap through which the new wagon road passes. Following an old trail 4 or 5 miles, we struck a spring branch which runs a short distance and then sinks. 7 miles brought us to a fork of Schutes River, heading in the Cascade Mountains. This [river?] does not, as has been supposed, take its waters from Klamath Lake--3 miles.
24 Aug.
    This morning was quite frosty. We started at 7 and took the wagon road over the mountain. 12 miles brought us to the summit, and 16 to an opening in the timber with a small branch, where we campt. A lake one mile from the road and three from the Schutes camp, I found about 6 miles long and 2½ wide, clear, but not very cold, surrounded with spruce timber, at the head of which stands a snow butte. The gap through which we pass is immediately south.
25 Aug.
    We left camp at 7. Traveled till one & halted to bait our animals on rushes. The road follows down the river, crossing and recrossing 9 times within the last 12 miles. We made about 18 miles, always through timber, the mountains either side much broken, the bottoms narrow, affording but little grass. In the afternoon, we traveled about 12 miles, passing three small prairies. Very good claims may be taken.
26 Aug.
    We left camp at 7½. On our way we passed 5 emigrant wagons from Iowa. Last night it rained nearly all night, with thunder and lightning. We traveled 30 miles--27 brought us to the settlement. For the last few miles the bottoms became wider. One body of several thousand acres of upland bottom, but covered with scattering timber, appears very rich and would produce well.
27 Aug.
    Today we traveled about 20 miles, reaching Spores ferry. On the way I halted during a heavy shower of rain, the party going on. On starting, we took the road to the ferry, and found the party had not crossed the river. We tarried for the night; they did not come up. It has rained all day. A few of the Cha--ers band of Calapooia Indians visited us. I gave Mr. Spores [illegible] to supply Indians when necessary.
28 Aug.
    This day it rained till 3 p.m , when we started and traveled 12 miles to Mr. Fountain's. Soon after starting it commenced raining, and continued till after dark. Our party did not come up. I noticed a large proportion of wheat standing in the shock that must be much injured by the continued heavy rains. Traveling bad.
29 Aug.
    The morning is clear. We traveled about 40 miles, reaching the Luckiamute at sunset. Put up at Mr. Davidson's--crossed the Willamette River at Albany.
30 Aug.
    This morning is foggy--we traveled 32 miles & reached home at 3 p.m.

5 Dec.
    Today, after perfecting arrangements and purchasing goods to send [illegible] to Rogue River Indians, as per agreement, and leaving Mr. Geary the loading and arrangement of teams with Cris Taylor, I started on my way to Salem. Reached Mr. Reed's and put up for the night.
7 Dec.
    This day is rainy. We reached Salem at 3 p.m. Made arrangements with Mr. Grover for publication of commissions, notice, &c.
8 Dec.

    Today at 5 p.m. reached home--and in the evening examined the correspondence which had accumulated in the office during my absence.
9 Dec.
    This day was spent in answering letters.
10 Dec.
    This day was spent in writing letters.
11 Dec.
    This day has been spent in examining accounts.
15 Dec.
    This morning at 11 a.m. started on steamer Hoosier for Portland, in order to get draft of six thousand dollars cashed, and to get notices assembling of the Board of Commissioners appointed to audit indemnity claims in Rogue River Valley printed.
22 Dec.
    This day I have written a letter [illegible] a report of the
[Culver] case, and giving reasons for my action thereon.
31 Dec.
    Total amount of
[illegible] salary, office and incidental expense for quarter ending 30 September, 1853--
Original 768.87
Deduct   116.59
Quarter ending December 31
Original 1040.19 ½
Deduct     67.75
Quarter ending March 31 964.85 ½
June 30 802.13
Horse hire for quarter ending 31 March is not included.
The Indian's name who killed Smith and 2 others on head of Schutes River is Calanukus.
Name of women belonging to Weptilike [?] residing in the [illegible]
[illegible] Sophia.
Sa-lo, henchman of Indian to whom I gave a horse in payment for acting as guide and messenger and interpreter for
[illegible] Logan-Quisht-do.
Indians on Mackenzie Fork:
Yelintamapho--name of Mackenzie Fork of Willamette.
Chafen is the name of country which they inhabit.

21  Men
19  Women
16  Children


Name of chief Chanipa
Diary of Oregon Superintendent of Indian Affairs Joel Palmer, Oregon Historical Society Library Mss 114. Transcribed from badly transcribed typescript.

Last revised May 8, 2023