The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised


    An Oregon correspondent of the Charlest
on Mercury relates an eccentric and almost incredible story of the movements of the abolitionists--some of them at least--in that quarter of old Abe's vineyard. The intention seems to be to send on secret emissaries to the Palmetto State, who will represent themselves as "returned Californians," or pass under some other convenient name as natives "to the manor born." As soon as things are cooled down after Lincoln's election, these lurkers, it is stated, think they can throw off the mask, get commissions under the federal government, and the Northern press will herald it to the world that such and such South Carolinians have accepted office under Lincoln!
    This writer says he knows persons in Oregon who "declare" it is their intention to act thus. He writes from Salem, September 5, and says: "It was arranged in secret caucus last night in this city that James Kilgore, of Jackson County; Gazzle [Gazley?] of Douglas County; James Fulton and W. C. Holman, of Wasco County, should proceed immediately to Charleston, S.C., and "wait for something to turn up." The writer further intimates that he is a native South Carolinian. The story sounds "fishy" to us; and is as we have said, almost unworthy of belief. Why they should hold "secret" caucuses and then "declare" their purposes is beyond our comprehension. Moreover, how could this wiseacre find out the next day the proceedings of one of these secret bodies, especially when their business was to send treacherous and traitorous plotters against society and government into his native state? We sincerely hope no one has been duping the Mercury.
Yorkville Enquirer,
Yorkville, South Carolina, November 1, 1860, page 2  W. C. Holman is listed in the 1860 Census as a merchant in The Dalles, Wasco County. A longer excerpt from this letter was printed in the New York Times.

    We have been requested to state in this connection that Mr. James Kilgore offers to furnish loads of flour to any person furnishing teams and two hands to each team, and take for his pay half the profit of the load after it arrives in the mines. This is certainly a liberal offer.
Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, January 28, 1863, page 1

    The Statesman says that James Kilgore has been appointed Colonel of the 1st Regiment, 1st Brigade of Oregon Militia.
Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, May 16, 1863, page 2

    RESIGNATION.--Mr. James Kilgore, lately appointed by the Governor of this state as Colonel of the first regiment in the first brigade of militia of this state, we are informed will resign his position. We regret very much that his arrangements are such that he cannot accept. He is well qualified for the position, and would have made a very efficient officer.
Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, May 20, 1863, page 2


    This paper has for several years been laboring and struggling under the incubus of a large indebtedness, which has very seriously embarrassed its circulation, diminished its influence, and threatened its continued existence. The undersigned take pleasure in announcing to the friends of the paper in Southern Oregon, and throughout the state, that arrangements have been made to entirely remove these obstructions to the usefulness of the paper as the Union organ of Southern Oregon.
    It is scarcely necessary to say that the Sentinel will be a Union advocate "of the strictest sect." It will advocate the complete and entire crushing out of the Southern Rebellion, its leaders and organized Confederacy, according to the mode, and with the means and measures adopted by the present Administration. It will advocate the reelection of ABRAHAM LINCOLN to the Presidency, as the most suitable person, at this crisis of our national affairs, for that high office. It will advocate the election to places of trust of only those who are well known to be faithful and unselfish members of the Union party. The "Democratic Party," so-called, but better known as "Copperheadism," will be opposed as a moral pestilence, a treasonable faction, and an infamous aid to the Southern conspirators.
    The latest telegraphic, and the general and local news of the country, will be faithfully reported. The local, material and educational interests of Southern Oregon, and of the state, and the development of our mineral and agricultural resources will receive constant attention.
    With this avowal of the objects and aims of the Sentinel, we appeal to the Union men of Southern Oregon to lend us their aid and influence in sending us subscribers and advertising patronage.
    The subscription price will continue to be four dollars per annum, in advance, otherwise five dollars, payable in coin or in legal tenders at current rates. The prices for advertising and job work will be as low as the times will permit.
Jacksonville, March 12, 1864.
Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, March 12, 1864, page 3

    THE HAY CONTRACT.--The large contract to supply Fort Klamath with 370 tons of hay is being rapidly filled. Henry Klippel, Col. Ross and J. N. T. Miller are each running a reaper. James Kilgore, who has a subcontract for baling, is busy with nine hands, and even with that force cannot keep up with the reapers. The above parties are all comfortably camped near Wood River, about three miles from the Post, and expect to complete the work in about three weeks.
Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, September 14, 1867, page 2

    HEAVY FROST.--We learn from Mr. Kilgore, just returned from Klamath Lake Valley, that during last week the frosts in that locality were exceedingly heavy. The ground was frozen on several mornings sufficiently hard to bear up wagons loaded with two tons of hay.
Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, November 2, 1867, page 2

    Mr. Nurse has some mechanics employed to build a bridge on Link River where his ferry now is. The builders, Messrs. Kilgore and Mecum, are getting out the timber up in the mountains bordering Klamath Lake intending to raft the material down to the head of Link River. They expect to get the bridge up in time for the procession to cross on the 4th of July, if they celebrate there, which is yet doubtful.
"Klamath and Ashland Items,"
Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, April 10, 1869, page 2

    HEAVY THUNDER STORM.--Last Sunday this valley was visited by one of the most heavy thunder storms that was ever known here. It had been warm and sultry during the forenoon, but at about two o'clock the sky became overcast with dense black clouds, which opened out in wind, rain, lightning and thunder. A tree near the residence of Mr. Drum was struck by lightning and badly splintered. The barn of Mr. Kilgore, about two miles north of this place, was struck, killing a large hog and damaging the building considerably. No further damage was done on Sunday, as far as we have heard, except the unceremonious breaking up of the camp meeting, and some of the men folks getting their shirts wet before they got home. On Monday afternoon it again clouded up and gave us another storm equally as hard, this time striking the dwelling house of Joseph Wetterer, entering the parlor, breaking a large mirror, and materially damaging the papering and some of the furniture.
Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, June 19, 1869, page 3

    DEATH OF AN OLD RESIDENT.--James Kilgore, one of the old residents of Ashland, breathed his last at his home in this place Wednesday afternoon, Dec. 28th, at 2 o'clock, aged 76 years and 13 days. His death resulted from paralysis, the first stroke of which came about eight days before. On Saturdays a second stroke rendered him helpless, and his physician saw that the end was near. His children were summoned from Klamath County, and reached his bedside a short time before his death. The funeral took place yesterday afternoon, services being held at [the] house, and the interment being held at the Hargadine graveyard. Mr. Kilgore was one of the well-known and highly respected early residents of the valley, and his death will be deplored by a wide circle of friends and acquaintances.--Tidings.
Oregon Sentinel,
Jacksonville, January 5, 1888, page 3

    The remains of Mrs. Mary Kilgore, relict of the late James Kilgore, were laid to rest Tuesday afternoon alongside the remains of her husband in Hargadine Cemetery. The funeral took place from the home on Factory Street. A choir composed of Miss Isa Duncan, Mrs. T. A. Hays, Mrs. C. F. Tilton, Elmer Patrick and Mr. Abbott sang several numbers including two favorite hymns of the deceased, "Rock of Ages" and "A Charge to Keep I Have." Rev. J. T. Abbott of the M.E. Church gave an account of the pioneer lady's history and life and preached a sermon on the theme.
    Miss Mary Dean was born and reared in Stark County, Ohio, near Massillon, and married to James Kilgore in 1838, and with husband and seven children came to Oregon in 1854. Of 11 children born to her eight survive--Mrs. M. W. Hargadine and Florence Kilgore of Ashland, Ed G. Kilgore, Mrs. Amanda Whitmore, Mrs. Mary Duncan and Silas W. Kilgore of Langell Valley, Klamath County, Mrs. Josephine Squires of Portland and David Kilgore of Rocklin, Placer County, Cal. Her husband died in Ashland in 1888. She was aged 82 years, 6 months and 5 days and departed this life Sunday morning.
Valley Record, Ashland,  April 17, 1902, page 3

By Fred Lockley
    (A pioneer whose life has been spent in Southern Oregon tells Mr. Lockley about the early history of Ashland and other towns of that section, and of his going to the Klamath country and what befell him there.)
    "Yes, I'm a Bunchgrasser" [Oregonian living east of the Cascades], said [Edward] G. Kilgore. "I was born a Buckeye and later became a Webfoot. I was born in Ohio, August 10, 1852, and I was one of 11 children. Mrs. Josie Squires, my sister, lives here in Portland. My people came across the plains when I was a baby, so I don't remember a thing about it.. When we got to Ashland the Rogue River war had started, and the people were 'forted up' in the grist mill. The first settlers to make permanent homes in Jackson County were the men who established ferries there--at Long's Ferry, Perkins' Ferry and Evans' Ferry. This was in 1851, the same year in which Judge A. A. Skinner, Indian agent of the Rogue River Indians, took up the first claim in the county, southeast of Table Rock. He built a log cabin on Bear Creek. The government interpreter, Chesley Gray, took a claim next to Judge Skinner's. Late in December 1851, Moses Hopwood took a claim on Bear Creek. Jackson County was organized by an act of the territorial legislature passed January 12, 1852. In 1854 two grist mills were built on Bear Creek--one the Eagle Mills, by Tom Brothers, the other the Ashland mills, by Helman, Emery and Morris on the present site of Ashland. The first sawmill was put up in 1852 by A. V. Gillett. In 1855 Jackson County had more population and more wealth than any other county in Oregon. Jacksonville was flourishing and was the metropolis of Southern Oregon. After living two years at Ashland our family moved to Central Point.
     "The first settlement at Ashland was made January 6, 1852 by R. B. Hargadine and a man named Pease. About a week later A. D. Helman, Dowd Farley, E. Emery, J. B. Emery, J. A. Cardwell and A. M. Rogers took up places there. The first log house was that of Hargadine. Then came the sawmill built by Eber and J. B. Emery, D. Hurley and J. A. Cardwell. It was begun in February and was ready to saw by June. It was named the Ashland sawmill in honor of the hometown of Ashland, Ohio, of A. D. Helman. The third building was A. D. Helman's house. Then came Eber Emery's. The building of the big grist mill, the Ashland mills, really determined the fact that the site of the mills would become a permanent city.     "Central Point, to which place we moved from Jacksonville, took its name from being in the center of the county. Later we bought the John T. Miller farm, and I went to school at Jacksonville. Ben Beekman, Robert A. Miller, Bill and Tom Kinney, Alvin and Dave Cardwell, Florence, May, Mike, Bill and Ed Hanley were schoolmates of mine. Ed Hanley lives in Alaska and at Seattle. Bill Hanley lives at Burns. Bob Miller lives in Portland and is a politician and lawyer. Ben Beekman also lives in Portland. The rest have scattered hither and yon.
    "In the early '70s I took a band of cattle over the Green Spring Trail to Klamath County, and we took up a place in Langells Valley, not far from Linkville. Linkville--now called Klamath Falls--at that time had but one store, and a hotel run by Uncle George Nurse. Matt Langell was a shoemaker at Jacksonville. His brother Arthur was a stockman. The valley was named for these brothers. My son, Ivan E. Kilgore, bought the 2800-acre ranch owned by Arthur Langell. Langell was killed in a dispute over a pasture boundary. I married Nettie Herron of Ashland. Her brother Dave lives here in Portland, and her brother Fred in Ashland. Her brother Will is the head of the legal department of the Southern Pacific and lives at San Francisco.
    "I was in the Modoc War. I made two trips to the mouth of Lost River. I drove the rig in which we brought out Meacham, the peace commissioner. He had been knocked on the head and partially scalped. Later he, with an associate, got up an Indian show and took it east. Some of his Indians couldn't stand the East, so they got away and made their way back to Klamath County. The promoters had all sorts of evil luck, so the show broke up.
    "In the early days packers got 9 cents a pound for bringing in freight on the pack horses from Ashland to Linkville. Lots of the freight was wet goods, and it flowed pretty freely. As a consequence there used to be occasional killings in the saloons. I happened to be in one of the saloons when a man named White was shot and killed over a difference of opinion in a poker game. One of the men who worked for me, Frank Trimble, was killed in the Lava Beds. It was foggy. He thought he saw an Indian, and so he raised up to get a better view and fell back dead. It was an Indian he had seen, and the Indian got him--through the head."
Edward G. Kilgore, interviewed by Fred Lockley, "Observations and Impressions of the Journal Man," Oregon Journal, Portland, December 14, 1921, page 10; reprinted in "Pioneer Recounts Early Experience in Southern Oregon," Ashland Tidings, December 21, 1921, page 2

Last revised August 28, 2022