Loren Lyman Williams
Early Reminiscences of South Western OregonGeorge Lount had shot at deer & elk several times but had only killed one deer. Another member of the party had fired 13 shots one evening at elk, and another had fired 11 times, and neither had obtained any game.
By L. L. Williams
Previous to the year 1851 there was no white settlers upon the coast of Ogn. south of the Umpqua River, consequently that part of the Territory was but little known.
Vancouver, the English navigator, sailed along the coast in 1792, discovered and named some of its most prominent capes, among which is Cape Blanco, the most western point of the United States.
The coast was known to navigators as a bold, rocky and mountainous shore without harbors, dangerous to approach, and inhabited by fierce and warlike tribes, very numerous, and almost, if not quite, cannibals in their nature.
In the spring of 1850 [sic], the pilot boat Hackstaff of New York, while cruising along this coast, entered the mouth of Rogue River in about Lat. 42°30' for the purpose of obtaining a supply of fresh water.
Soon after landing or casting anchor in the river, the vessel was attacked by the Indians, and it was soon found necessary to abandon the vessel and flee to the mountains.
By so doing the men escaped from the Indians and after undergoing many hardships, perils & privations, arrived at the Willamette settlements in an almost starved condition.
The vessel of course fell into the hands of the Indians and was plundered and burned.
Rogue River is said to have acquired its name from the roguish and thievish disposition of its inhabitants and was first called Rascal River by the early explorers and afterwards modified into Rogue River.
In the same year that the Hackstaff was lost the mineral regions of Southern Oregon and Northern California began to attract attention, and of course a vast amount of the mining population of California who had failed to become engaged in any very permanent or paying business drifted off in that direction, and later in the season
The expedition, well organized and well armed, sailed out of San Francisco in the brig Samuel Roberts, and turned her prow northerly for the southern coast of Oregon and soon found themselves [off] of the mouth of Rogue River.
Boats were manned and sent out to examine the bar and entrance to the river, and after losing two men in the breakers the vessel was safely taken into the river, where they ascended about 3 miles, when the expedition encountered rapids which effectually checked all further navigation.
The expedition met with Indians in great numbers while in the river, but consisting of a strong force and well prepared to resist an attack and at all times on their guard, no attempt to attack was made.
At this point the expedition had hoped to find the desired harbor and to locate their prospective town, but the unsafe condition of the bar and the iron-ribbed range of mountains back of them and the small quantity of agricultural land discouraged the expedition from locating at this place, so again dropping downriver they put out to sea, sailed northerly and entered the Umpqua River, where the expedition terminated and a portion of the company took an active part in the early settlement of the Umpqua Valley.
A year later, in 1851, a few adventurers of San Francisco, Cal., entered into an arrangement to form a settlement at Cape Orford, about 30 miles north of Rogue River and about 10 miles south of Cape Blanco, and in June of that year the steamer Sea Gull, running in the Oregon trade, landed a party of ten men in an open cove or roadstead on the south side of the cape with instructions to fortify themselves and commence laying off and building a town, to be called Port Orford.
The steamer returned to San Francisco with a view of bringing a reinforcement of men and further supplies upon its return trip.
The 10 men fortified themselves upon a small promontory, rising immediately from the beach and extending out into the sea about 75 yards, with nearly perpendicular walls of rock on the three sides facing the water, with a front towards the beach of a width sufficient for two or three persons to walk up abreast, and steep at an angle of about 25° to the top.
This rock is perhaps 50 or 60 feet high, flat on top, and was covered with a small growth of shrubbery, and two or three stunted black pine trees were growing upon it.
This rock formed a natural fortification against which ten men, or even a less number, might successfully resist most any force of Indians which might be brought against them.
Upon the beach a few steps in front of the immediate foot of the spur was a small spring branch of good water coming in through a ravine from the heavily timbered country back of the narrow strip of broken prairie & brush land bordering the beach.
This little party was well supplied with small arms, and also had one cannon, a six-pounder, which they heavily loaded with slugs and posted it upon the rock so as to rake the passage from their camp upon the flat top to the beach below.
The first day after the party landed the Indians appeared in considerable numbers from up and down the coast both by land and in canoes. The rock was surrounded by their canoes on three sides while a multitude of Indians advanced up the steep and narrow spur of the rock as if to enter camp. As this passageway reaches the top of the rock it gradually widens to about 20 feet in width. At this point the cannon had been posted and a temporary breastwork had been made extending across, except a narrow passageway, which was guarded by a sentinel to prevent the Indians from entering camp.
The Indians crowded up the spur in such numbers that it became necessary for the sentinel to peremptorily order them back.
Upon their advance being thus checked, the foremost of their number rushed upon [the] sentinel, seized hold of his musket and shouted to the Indians in his rear, which appeared to be a signal for a general attack, which was suddenly commenced by volleys of arrows being fired from all sides from the Indians on the rock, on the beach below and from the canoes, while at the same time a rush was made by those upon the spur to force their way into camp.
One shot from the cannon, heavily loaded with slugs as it was, would clear the spur of all the Indians from camp to the beach below.
The gunner was directed to fire in order to check the large force which was rushing up the rock into camp. The priming of the cannon flashed when Kirkpatrick, the capt., seized the priming wire, thrust it into the vent, primed it from a powder horn and touched it off with a firebrand.
The passageway on the rock was entirely cleared from the camp to the beach.
A few had passed the mouth of the cannon into camp, and were soon dispatched with rifles and revolvers and tumbled off the rock into the sea.
The rock once cleared, no attempt was again made to force their way into camp, but they soon gathered in large numbers in the broken ravines and gullies along the beach, a rapid and steady firing of arrows being kept up until nearly night, when the Indians withdrew to the timber and gave the defenders an opportunity to determine what damage had been inflicted upon the savage enemy.
It was found that the single discharge of the cannon had killed ten Indians, and probably wounded others, while a vast number had been killed by small arms.
About 40 in all were found dead, while many were known to have been taken out of the water and carried away in the canoes. Several who were near the mouth of the cannon when it was discharged were almost entirely cut in two.
Many personal encounters of an interesting nature were had upon the rock soon after the fight commenced
Cyrus Hedden, the sentinel, came near being overpowered by the first Indian who grabbed his gun, but in the scuffle he managed to bring the muzzle of his piece against the Indian's breast and suddenly firing the same killed him instantly.
Jacob Summers came near being overmatched and pitched off the rock into the sea, and was only saved by Capt. Kirkpatrick shooting the Indian through the head with a revolver. [John Egan's account calls him "John Somers."]
Joseph Hussey killed two Indians at one shot, a circumstance seldom ever occurring.
James Eagan killed an Indian with his gun and was immediately pounced upon by another, Eagan clubbing his gun and beat his brains out on the spot and also bent the barrel of his gun so that afterwards it became necessary to cut it off and make a kind of carbine or short gun out of it.
Three or four of the men were wounded with arrows, but none very severely, which was considered singular, for not less than 500 arrows were picked up in camp after the fight was over & burned.
The next day the Indians appeared in considerable numbers, being desirous of carrying off their dead.
A treaty was made by which it was agreed that they should not be molested while recovering the bodies of their dead warriors, and also that no more fighting should take place for a space of 14 days, at which time it was expected the steamer would return from San Francisco with more men and supplies.
On the 14th day, the steamer not arriving and the men still occupying the rock, the Indians in considerable numbers commenced another attack, but no further attempt was made by them to charge upon the camp.
They kept along the ravines and in the broken ground immediately bordering upon the ocean, and kept up a steady fire from the rocks & brush, being generally about 100 yds. off. No damage was done to the men on the rock, neither was it known that any Indians were killed. Yet the camp was continually harassed for a day or two, and the steamer not coming and nearly all the ammunition being expended, it was deemed advisable to abandon the place, and a favorable opportunity offering, the little party abandoned "Battle Rock" and struck off northerly along the coast for the Umpqua settlements about 70 miles distant, where after all the privations & exposures incident to such a trip without food or blankets & through a hostile Indian country, they arrived in a few days.
The next day after the little party started for the Umpqua the steamer arrived and found no one there, the camp deserted and plundered, a dead Indian in the surf & every evidence of a hard-fought battle, and very naturally concluded from the abundance of surrounding circumstances that the little party of adventurers had been massacred, or carried away prisoners to be tortured in true savage style.
The capt. and crew of the steamer Sea Gull, after viewing the battleground and finding evidence of a hard-fought battle and no traces of the ten men, or evidence to counteract the belief that all had perished at the hands of the barbarous savages, went on up to Portland, Oregon, and thence returned with the steamer to San Francisco and enlisted a company of 70 men for the purpose of making another attempt to settle Port Orford.
I was in San Francisco flat broke as usual and seeing the advertisement for men to go to Port Orford, and being desirous of going to Oregon, I went down to the wharf where the Sea Gull was lying and offered myself and was accepted upon the following terms.
That I was to be landed at Port Orford, and remain there 3 weeks to assist in defending the place, and build some log houses, after which time I was to be conveyed to Portland, Oregon, on the steamer free from charges of any kind.
We sailed out of San Francisco Bay on the 6th of July, 1851, and had an extremely boisterous passage of 8 days, when on the 14 we cast our anchor on the roadstead of Port Orford and very soon thereafter we were all hands safely landed and permanently encamped.
No Indians appeared for some days, although smokes and camp fires could be seen at any time in different directions up and down the coast.
Working parties were soon organized, and being a pretty good hunter and not much of a worker I was assigned to the latter.
The place soon began to assume a permanency, a strict guard being kept night and day, and the men at all times having their guns by their sides or within their immediate reach.
A small Whitehall boat had been brought up from San Francisco, to be used for hunting & fishing purposes.
The country along the coast was rough and rugged, abrupt headlands terminating at the beach at short intervals.
Immediately next to the ocean was generally a very narrow strip of prairie or brush land with heavy timber, fir, cedar & hemlock directly back of it, while the general character of the country was mountainous, with occasionally a small prairie or bald hills back from the ocean.
No place on the Pacific Coast produced game in greater abundance.
Elk, deer & bear was the principal animals, grouse and pheasants in the woods, ducks, gulls, pelicans & a variety of waterfowl all along the coast, while the roadstead swarmed with fishes of every size and variety from a whale to a sardine.
Elk were often seen in bands of several hundreds, although much more frequently seen in bands of from [a] half dozen to forty or fifty, and so tame as to not be easily frightened away by
The game soon being driven back from the immediate vicinity of camp, it became necessary to extend our hunting expeditions to a greater distance.
Our hunting party generally consisted of from four to six men which being a full crew for our little boat would proceed down the coast and land at a safe and suitable point, kill a boatload of game and return.
Generally we would consume two or three days on these expeditions, but sometimes would coast down nearly if not quite as far south as the California & Oregon line, examining the coast for harbors, favorable hunting grounds, for indications of minerals, and to determine as far as practicable the locality of the principal Indian villages and the probable number of Indians.
During these expeditions, although on a small scale, and as unimportant as they may appear, it was at all times necessary to observe the greatest caution to prevent us from falling into the hands of the Indians, who were to be seen in astonishing numbers at almost any point along the coast.
Our approach was always heralded from one rancheria to another by signal smokes, which appear to be universally used by all the Indian tribes of the Pacific Coast to convey intelligence.
These smokes are made by firing a small accumulation of combustible material in such a manner as to make a great smoke suddenly, then immediately die away.
By this means, when the signals are properly understood, intelligence of any kind can be conveyed from one part of the country to another in a telegraphic manner with great rapidity by having Indians posted as sentinels or lookouts on high points or other conspicuous places, and each firing alternately as the smokes of the others are observed and understood.
In this manner the advance of our boat expeditions were always telegraphed to the Indians down the coast, who would thus become well posted long enough before the boat could be seen.
Frequently large bands would appear along the shore bidding defiance to us in all kind of shapes and forms but would always flee to the mountains whenever an attempt was made to land where they would suddenly disappear in the heavy timber or among the cliffs and rocks.
We generally avoided the large rancherias and therefore no direct collision was had, but at one time below the mouth of Rogue River, while on shore in the evening we found ourselves confronted by the Indians in large numbers who gradually crowded upon our camp in such a manner as to leave no doubt of their intention to make an attack.
It was nearly sundown; a quantity of game had been killed, and preparations for camping had been made upon a narrow strip of sand about 75 yds. wide from the water's edge to the abrupt rocky bluffs back.
It was in a nice little cove beautifully sheltered, and by a series of large rocks several feet above the surface of the water was entirely and completely protected from the heavy surf generally beating furiously upon the beach at any unsheltered point.
Quite a large number had approached our camp & scores of them were seen dodging from rock to rock or from ravine to ravine among the rocks and ravines upon the bluffs immediately back of us and within easy reach of their arrows.
All hands were satisfied that a fight could be successfully maintained until dark, yet it appeared to be a very dangerous experiment to attempt to defend ourselves all night against the number of surrounding Indians, for bows & arrows are weapons more dangerous and much more to be dreaded in the night time than firearms.
The fact had developed itself that we must resist by force of arms at once or immediately embark in the boat and trust in Providence for protection.
Our consultation with ourselves, though hastily made, terminated in a unanimous opinion in favor of launching our boat and immediately putting out to sea, and after rowing outside a few miles, it becoming dark, it was resolved that we would lay to until morning.
A very light breeze prevailed all night, yet the ocean was calm & smooth. With the aid of our sail one man at a time could manage the boat, and by dividing the night into 5 parts and each one taking his turn, all hands managed to obtain a little sleep while Indian camp fires were seen along the coast for at least 20 miles both north & south. In the morning we landed at a favorable point above, killed a boatload of game and returned to Port Orford at night, where we arrived safely.
The Indians of this part of the coast proved to be the most expert and accomplished thieves and pickpockets upon the face of the globe.
The professional and scientific white thieves of London and New York are entirely eclipsed by the genius displayed by these miserable, degraded and wretched barbarians of the Pacific.
They live as nature made them, naked, with occasionally a half-dressed deer skin or something of that sort thrown loosely over their shoulders, or tied around their body, but much oftener than otherwise they wore nothing, not even a breechclout.
Young squaws were generally as destitute of wearing apparel as the bucks, but the grown squaws in nearly all cases wore a girdle around the waist, into which was woven a species of fine, soft and pliable tule (fine bulrush) which when completed hangs loose and in the form of a thick, heavy fringe from the waist, two-thirds to the knee. The tule is woven so thickly into the girdle of this arrangement so that when tied around the waist [it] forms a perfect and complete covering for that part of the person it is intended to protect.
These Coast Indians subsist upon game, berries, fish, clams &c.
It is not an easy matter for them to kill elk with their bows & arrows, yet it is occasionally done, but they are much more frequently taken in snares or in deep pits dug upon and near their trails. These pits are usually 6 or 8 feet deep, and just large enough for an elk to drop down into them. They are generally dug upon trails and slightly covered with brush and dirt, and frequently ring fences made of brush extending for several rods each way, to guide the animals in the direction of the pit.
Fish are taken in considerable quantities with rude wooden hooks at sea and by spears or willow bark nets in the streams.
Not unfrequently along this coast a whale becomes entangled in the breakers and being unable to again make his way out to sea falls an easy prey to Indians.
Upon a whale being stranded, the signal smokes conveys the welcome intelligence to the entire tribe or different bands in the vicinity, who immediately flock together and establish their headquarters around and near it, where they remain feasting and fattening until not a vestige of its flesh remains.
At one time our hunting party,
From a large opening in the whale's belly at least a dozen Indians of all sizes made their exit and run through the sand like frightened rabbits to gain a more secluded hiding place among the rocks and cliffs nearby.
After viewing the putrid mass of corruption before us for a time, one of the men approached with a view as he expressed it of seeing the inside of the whale, and with a stick he raised the thick hide, as it hung down loosely over the opening from which the Indians had escaped, and looking inside he discovered much to his astonishment three or four poor, old and helpless beings, who for safety had preferred to remain in that horrible place than to take the chances of escape by flight.
Upon being thus discovered, they crawled out and, probably expecting violence from our hands, very kindly offered us several large strips of stinking meat they had succeeded in tearing off from the sides of the whale. But upon their being assured that they were in no danger they sat down in the sand and commenced eating the filthy carrion in its raw and putrid state.
It is a noticeable fact that these Indians, although living in a country where game is always found in great abundance, and where large quantities of shellfish of nearly every variety can be had at almost all seasons of the year, when a whale becomes tangled up in the breakers they gather around the monster and think of no other source of supplies until the entire mass is consumed. It is eaten raw or roasted & is considered a greater delicacy after decomposition takes place.
Huckleberries, salal berries and salmonberries are abundant in their proper seasons. These berries mixed with grasshoppers and black crickets, pounded up finely in a species of mortar, is considered a choice dish.
A great deal of ingenuity is manifested in the construction of canoes for sea navigation. They are made quite flat, round at the bow, and somewhat resemble a whaleboat and will ride almost any sea.
During any calm time these canoes can be launched or landed safely at nearly any point along shore and particularly where deep water extends to near the beach.
Bows and arrows and long iron knives made from hoop iron are the principal weapons, although clubs tipped with points of deer's horns were also frequently seen.
Their bows are generally short, not over 3 feet in length, and covered on the back with the sinews of the elk or deer and are thus made very elastic.
Their arrows are pointed with flint or iron and sometimes with copper & frequently with glass points, these last materials being obtained from the wreck of the Hackstaff or from the remnants of other wrecks upon different parts of the coast.
Fire is obtained in the old primitive way of rubbing two sticks together. Two small and very dry sticks about a foot long are prepared. One is placed upon the ground and held firmly by one knee, while the end of the other stick standing upright is inserted into a small socket-shaped place in the first. The upright stick is then whirled between the two hands until the friction causes the small fibers of wood to ignite. This [is] a tedious method of obtaining fire, and the Indians could scarcely realize the value of
We had made two or three boat expeditions down the coas, and the inexperienced hunters of the party were always seeing deer & elk and frequently firing a dozen shots of an evening, but as yet I had not seen an elk and only one or two deer, and those very wild.
Any amount of deer were everywhere visible, and elk were seen in large bands by everybody but me.
I was becoming much disgusted at my poor luck at finding game, but my luck soon changed, and after camping all night on the beach a few miles below Port Orford all hands prepared for an early start back on to the hills in the morning where everyone but myself has seen game the evening before.
We soon reached the top of the bluffs immediately back from the ocean & found it to be quite foggy at intervals, the fog and clear sky alternating.
While deliberating in what direction each one should go, the snort of an elk was heard on the opposite side of a deep ravine from us, but the fog hanging over the mountain where he appeared to be, he could not be seen. For choice I proposed to go in the direction in which the elk had been heard and, the fog soon clearing away, I saw two elk on the open bald hill near the top on the opposite side of the ravine.
A lone fir tree was standing on the top of the hill not very far from where the elk were seen, and crawling up the side of the mountain I approached the tree unperceived by the elk just at a time when a flying scud from the ocean lodged upon the top of the mountain and completely hid the elk from my view.
In about 10 or 15 minutes the fog cleared away, and the two elk, unconscious of danger, were feeding not over 60 yds. away. I was not long in drawing a bead upon the largest and had the satisfaction of seeing him fall and commence rolling down the mountain in the direction of camp. I had a good gun, a U.S. yager, and could do excellent shooting with it. This was our first elk.
Hastily reloading and at the same [time] watching the elk as he rolled down towards the ravine below, and as he rolled into a thicket of thimbleberry brush he startled from their brushy retreat a band of 6 deer, all large bucks, round, plump & very fat. They came running up the mountain towards me and, dodging behind the tree, I watched their movements, and as they approached within reasonable gunshot they stopped and I opened upon them & killed three of the largest at as many shots, all of which rolled down the mountain & lodged in the ravine below, very near to the dead elk.
I was out of sight of my comrades. They had heard the sudden and what appeared to them very rapid firing, and believing that I had been attacked by Indians, they all beat a hasty retreat to the boat and jumped into it and immediately put out to sea.
After examining my game I called to the men and recd. no answer and at once went back to camp to find that they had taken the boat & put out. They were in sight, laying to not over a half mile away, and soon came on shore, and was more than astonished when informed of the amount of game killed, it being a dozen times more than had been killed by the whole expedition up to this time.
They excused themselves from running away by representing that they had frightened a band of Indians who had run off in the direction I had gone, and soon after hearing the rapid firing, which they could hardly be prevailed upon to believe was done by one person, they concluded I had been attacked and probably cut off.
From this time on I always found game in abundance & killed much more than all the balance of the Port Orford expedition.
Unfortunate ExpeditionWe saw many Indians as we passed down the coast who as a general thing fled to the timber at sight, but upon our arrival at the mouth of Rogue River they became much more bold and gathered together in the rear of the expedition in considerable numbers, estimated at 150 or more.
Having thoroughly explored the coast from the Coquille River 30 miles to the north of us to the California line about 90 miles to the southward, it was now determined upon to organize an expedition to explore the interior, and about the middle of August 1851 an expedition of 23 fine young men under the charge of William G. T'Vault set out from Port Orford to examine the Coast Range mountains and find a practicable route if one existed for a road from the coast eastward to the old California & Oregon Road at some point north of Shasta and near the boundary line between the State of California and the Territory of Oregon.
Capt. T'Vault was an old Oregonian [who] had been six or seven years in the country. His services had been secured
The most of the men were either emigrants of that year or the year previous, and had but very little knowledge of the geography of the country and the most of them unaccustomed to mountain life, yet all were anxious to be off, looking forward to the time when they might immortalize themselves in some hand-to-hand conflict with the Indians we expected to encounter on the way, or reach the rich gold fields of the Shasta country, which at this time were attracting the attention of the adventurous gold miners from all parts of the coast.
The Port Orford Company, being more directly interested in the success of this expedition, had prepared rations to last for eight days, confidently asserting that to be as long a time as would be necessarily required in passing over the mountains to the mining districts in the interior, where a trading post might be reached and any further supply of provisions be obtained.
Leaving Port Orford in good spirits, we passed down the coast as far as Rogue River, which was only reached at noon on the fourth day, as much of [the] time had been consumed in preparing packs & remodeling everything & mending & patching up the saddles & rigging of our three or four Cayuse horses.
Game as usual was found in considerable quantities, George Lount and myself being the principal hunters of the expedition.
We passed up Rogue River three or four miles & finding that the mountains were about to close in a short distance above, it was deemed more practicable to leave the river to our right and bear off more northerly into the region of bald and timbered hills to the left, which was accordingly done, the large body of Indians following only a short distance behind.
Entering a little level basin or valley in the afternoon, surrounded by quite high & brushy mountains on three sides, and a heavy timbered level on the other side, we concluded it to be a more favorable and safe camping ground than we were likely to find if we continued on. We struck camp in the center of it and turned our horses out to graze, the Indians appearing and taking position on all sides of this little prairie valley, as we thought preparing for a night attack upon us.
Upon a consultation being had, it was deemed best to burn the high grass upon the prairie, which would destroy the only favorite lurking place the Indians might have in case an attack was made.
The grass being dry, it burned off close to the ground and now no Indian could approach very near camp unless he came out openly with no object behind which he could hide himself.
A double guard was posted and a vigilant watch kept up all night, but no Indians were seen during the night. Yet some of the men through fear or excitement or nervousness fancied they often heard arrows whistle by us. In the morning the Indians were gone.
A small branch run through this little valley, and in the wide and heavy-timbered flat above a large band of elk kept up a continuous whistling all night. Their long, shrill whistles much resembling the whistling of a person when signalizing another was for a time thought by us to be Indians whistling to one another but became satisfied of our mistake long before morning.
Lount and myself set out in advance of the remainder of the party in search of the elk that had made so much noise during the entire night. We found the ground very much tramped up by them and well-beaten trails led off in every direction, but as their whistling had ceased at daylight we could not tell just where they were to be found.
Lount following on our proposed course easterly upon a newly made trail along the foot of quite a high ridge, while I followed a trail leading directly up a spur onto the summit of the main ridge leading off easterly. After following the ridge about a mile, the same being burnt off and entirely destitute of large timber, I came to a grove of firs, situated at a point on the ridge where the same widened out, forming about a half-acre of level ground, no brush & with the large firs standing at intervals of perhaps two rods apart.
The peculiarity of this handsome grove of timber attracted my attention, and halting a moment I had the pleasure of discovering a band of about 20 elk lying down among the trees.
From my past experience I had no fear of their jumping up and running away before I could secure a good shot. I brought my gun in readiness and approached the nearest tree, which was perhaps 40 yds. from where the elk were lying. As I reached the tree and took position beside it, the animals began to get up, and a beautiful sight I can assure you was that band of 20 elk, as large as small horses, some of them with antlers 6 or 8 feet above their heads. Without a very long delay or hesitation I fired at what I fancied to be the fattest buck and he fell after walking a few steps. The remainder of the band were terribly frightened and pitched down the mountain headlong, and I could hear them running through the brush and breaking the dry limbs for a half mile or more.
They run off in the direction Lount had gone and passed very near him, but they were so badly frightened that he failed to obtain a shot at them & soon came up where I was and in a short time the remainder of the company came up, and our elk was butchered and a good portion of it put in our packs, which added somewhat to the luxuries of camp life.
Keeping pretty well back from Rogue River, generally through a timbered country, following dividing ridges, and to maintain our course occasionally crossing deep canyons and gorges, in due course of time we reached a point on the river, again perhaps about 30 miles in a direct course from the ocean country, generally timbered, with occasionally a prairie or bald hills appearing.
From a high and prominent point nearby we had a fair view of the country to the eastward, and a magnificent sight it was to look at, yet not very encouraging to us as explorers.
A solid mass of mountains rising one above the other until they were hid in the dim distance was all that appeared visible.
Heavy timber appeared to cover the mountains nearly everywhere, but now and then the scenery varied a trifle from the general rule, and a high rocky pinnacle was to be seen shooting up tower-shaped towards the sky, or small sections of bald hills would occasionally appear in the distance, rendering this a most beautiful locality to study the wonders and mysteries of nature.
Capt. T'Vault, ever representing that he had a full and complete knowledge of the entire section of the country along the overland trail from the Columbia River to California, thereupon the men although somewhat doubting his judgment as a mountaineer yet had full confidence as to his ability to identify the country in the interior, but it was found that from the high & prospective point attained that he was unable to recognize any of the high mountains or prominent landmarks in view to the eastward.
This was discouraging to us, for our provisions were nearly consumed and game had become scarce and the men being very much dissatisfied proposed to return, having (as they said) been under the charge of T'Vault a sufficient length of time to satisfy all hands that his knowledge of the country and mountaineering generally was very limited.
As an inducement for the men [to] proceed, the sum of $50 per month was offered to all who would remain with the expedition and not abandon it and return.
Nine of the party, rather than abandon or desert the enterprise upon which they had enlisted, and under the promise of fair wages, consented to continue on, trusting in Providence, hoping that with good success in killing game the supplies might be made to last until we could reach the road in the interior.
The remainder of the party, 13 in number, returned to Port Orford, among them George Lount, the only one in the expedition except myself who was accustomed to hunting or whoever killed any game. I had concluded to go on with the Capt., and for a further inducement he offered me an additional sum of $150 to carry an express to Oregon City immediately upon our reaching the mining region in the interior.
It was a sorry parting of men. Lount was from Michigan, a good hunter & we had been together much since we had come to Port Orford, and I was sorry to have him leave us, but subsequent events proved that his judgment was much better than mine.
The Indians to all appearance had been left behind, so that now but little sign was to be seen. A little game appeared to inhabit the country, but to all appearance was becoming every day more scarce.
The company, now reduced to ten men in all, consisting of
The question of eating horseflesh was every night freely discussed around our camp fires and particularly after a hard and weary march with no game, or even fresh sign.
From the representations continually made by the Capt. it was believed that we could continue on our course and obtain relief much quicker by advancing than by returning.
In course of time our rations were entirely consumed, and yet no evidence presented itself that gave us any idea whatever of the distance yet to travel before relief could be obtained.
The mountains were rough, rugged, heavy-timbered, thick, brushy and very much cut up by canyons and gorges, making progress very slow and tedious.
The men were gradually becoming weaker, and unfortunately no one but myself had had any experience in hunting or made any pretensions toward killing game.
Occasionally a deer was killed, which would furnish but one scanty meal. At last the game entirely forsook the path of the expedition.
The men were so far reduced that they were desirous of killing a horse for food, but were obstinately refused that privilege.
At length, about the middle of the afternoon one pleasant day, two of the men who had remained faithful to the expedition entirely failed and lay down upon the ground, declaring it to be impossible for them in their weakness to travel any further without food, for which all so much stood in need.
Camp was necessarily made at once, and after resting for a time it was determined by the men that all who were able to hunt should make one more desperate effort to secure a supply of game sufficient to relieve their present wants, and if unsuccessful that upon our return to camp we would kill a horse regardless of opposition or what the consequences might be.
A few elk tracks had been seen just as we had struck camp, and aside from this no game, or indication of any, except now and then the footprint of a straggling deer or elk had been seen for several days.
Our prospects were not very flattering. Only two of the men, besides myself, were able to go, the remainder laying down on the ground to rest their weary limbs and to await further developments.
I was possessed of a strong physical constitution, had been much accustomed to a life upon the frontiers & perhaps better able to endure the privations and hardships and exposures than any other member of the company.
I went myself in what appeared to be the most favorable direction for game and pointing out to each of the others a different direction, each one taking special pains to admonish the others to take good aim and be sure to kill in case they should find game.
I suppose I wandered off about three-fourths of a mile from camp, moving slowly and cautiously, looking anxiously into every little thicket or ravine for game with hopes quite buoyant of success, for I had fell upon newly made elk tracks and felt certain that there was fine game nearby, when suddenly rapid firing was opened by one of the men and shortly after by the other in a different direction.
I halted to listen to the music, and it is impossible for another to conceive with what joy and pleasure I listened to the echo of those rifles as they reverberated through the mountains and canyons, each shot being a pleasant and I thought an almost certain reminder of game being secured & of the grand feast that would immediately follow.
Some ten or 15 shots were fired, which indicated that a band of elks had been met with, and that at least some of their number had been secured for the relief of the almost famishing party.
With full confidence in the result, and perfectly indifferent as to the future, I immediately set out for camp.
Some little time after the rapid firing had ceased, a single shot from near camp was heard, and I readily interpreted it into a signal for me to return.
I had not traveled far before I noticed quite a little patch of salals and, setting my gun by a tree, I commenced picking the few ripe berries that were hanging in little clusters from the low bushes.
Very soon thereafter I was startled by the sudden stamp and snort of elk nearby, and looking up from my position on my hands and knees, there stood two elk not over 15 steps away. They had apparently walked out from a thicket close by to where they were standing since I had stopped, and now my rifle was nearly as far from me as they were; however I crawled upon my hands and knees to where it was standing--picked it up and killed the finest of the two animals, the other trotting off into the thick timber.
Believing as I did that my comrades had secured all the game necessary for our present purposes, much more convenient to camp than this, I left the huge animal as he had fell, and in a few minutes was at camp.
The other two hunters had returned, and instead of bright & cheerful faces as I had expected, everything appeared gloomy
They had each met with a band of elk, had crippled a few animals, but all had succeeded in getting away. Afterwards one of the men as he neared camp had shot a wood rat, an animal a little larger than a chipmunk, which they had dressed and cut into ten pieces and had refused to eat until all were present.
Ryan and Holland, who had give out during the day, knowing that the others had failed, was somewhat hopeful upon hearing the report of my rifle, but upon my return to camp with no game they sunk back upon the ground with a groan of despair.
No questions were asked and each man roasted and devoured his morsel of wood rat in silence.
I soon informed the men that I had had the good luck to kill an elk and that he was lying dead not over a half mile away.
A more sudden transition from gloom and despair to merriment and enthusiasm was seldom ever witnessed by mortal man.
Three cheers were given in the solitude of those mountains, as heartily as half-famished men could give them, and all was commotion in camp, and even Holland & Ryan, who had actually given out & had fell down, declaring it impossible for them to travel further, actually move about much more lively than it was possible for me to have done, yet those very men, unaccustomed to the hardships of mountain life, would have probably died at that camp in despair had it not been for the almost superhuman efforts of others who in reality were as weak and emaciated as they were, although not as easily discouraged.
All hands were active and the dead elk was soon dressed, and with the aid of the horses every part of it packed to camp.
The camp of a set of hungry men upon securing a goodly supply of game often presents interesting developments, and our camp tonight was not an exception, but would no doubt have appeared somewhat novel to anyone not accustomed to frontier or mountain life.
The process of cutting up and roasting meat was commenced with great earnestness. Large slices were cut and held in the hand for a moment before the blazing fire and then greedily devoured, the men commenting freely upon the improvement they had made over the old, slow & tedious method of cooking fat steak. All wore a smiling countenance. Cheerful songs and laughable stories were the order of the evening.
For a few nights past only one sentinel had been kept on duty, and by this arrangement the men came on guard every third night. It was my place to take the middle watch tonight, therefore eating as heartily as I desired or as any prudent man would do, I laid down to obtain a little sleep, leaving my lively comrades around the fire enjoying the fat ribs of the elk. I was awakened at 11 o'clock to go on guard and was somewhat surprised to find all the men seated around the fire, roasting and eating and as gaily as men ever are.
I went on post and at the end of 3 hours was relieved.
I joined the jovial fellows around the camp fire, and enjoyed myself with them for a time.
I remonstrated with them somewhat against eating too much, intimating that they might suffer severely from indigestion afterwards, but was only answered by the inquiry how it was possible for such good meat to injure half-starved men.
At 3 o'clock in the morning I again rolled myself up in my blanket and laid down to sleep and did not awake until daylight,
It had been thought best to eat the bony meat and those parts unfit for drying, and that the remainder be jerked for future use; therefore to do this it became necessary to lay by one day at this camp and when ready to start out next morning. All the meat that remained from the elk, which would have weighed at least 600 pounds, might [have] been tied up in a single pocket handkerchief, while every bone had been picked and broken and even the marrow extracted and eaten.
The men were now in a splendid condition to lay in camp. They were filled to full satisfaction but not strengthened a bit. They were apparently as weak as ever. I know I felt so, and the others certainly appeared so.
We again set out, and in about one or two miles we intersected an old, but a well-beaten and very plain, Indian trail leading from Rogue River directly across our route in a course about N.N.W.
The Captain accounted for this by explaining to the men that the Hudson Bay Company had a fort or trading post on the Umpqua River some 40 or 50 miles from its mouth, that there was a good trail from that fort running south through the mountains to some point on Rogue River, that the Indians from Rogue River passed over this trail in considerable numbers upon their annual trading expedition to the fort.
Therefore upon this theory this must be the Rogue River & Fort Umpqua trail, and as we had made considerable northing since leaving the coast the distance to the fort was thought by him to not exceed 30 miles and [he] suggested that our course be changed and that the trail be followed over to the fort.
The Captain's theory appeared reasonable, and all hands readily consented and we set out upon the trail, which had been traveled but little for several years. In a couple of days, having made about 25 miles over a very rough and mountainous country, densely covered with large timber, fir, hemlock, cedar &c., we descended a long spur of the mountain to a narrow valley of prairie and timbered land alternating, through which a stream of about 50 feet wide flowed off northwesterly, which for a time was through by the Capt. to be the South Umpqua, but after following downstream a short distance all hands became satisfied that it was some unknown stream running into the ocean.
This stream was afterwards settled in 1853 and was called the south fork of the Coquille River.
Along this stream appeared an abundance of fresh Indian sign, and their hard-beaten trails and a deserted fishery nearby indicated that this was quite a favorite resort for hunting & fishing purposes.
The second day after falling upon this stream, being considerable in advance of the company looking for game, I had halted at the margin of a small prairie when I very soon discovered an Indian enter it and striking across in a course that would bring him within about 30 steps of me. I remained quiet by a tree, undecided whether to shoot him or not until he was immediately in front of me, when I made up my mind to step in sight & advance towards him, and if he run as I expected he would to kill him, but if he did not take affright and run away to see if any information in regard to Fort Umpqua could be obtained from him.
The fellow was frightened as I suddenly stepped from behind the tree where I was standing. He dropped his bow and arrows and his deer skin from off his shoulders and [he] concluded to accompany me back a short distance till we met the remainder of the company. And the Capt., taking an unusual interest in him, persuaded him to pilot us to the fort on the Umpqua River, although no communication could be had with him except by signs, yet it appeared as if he well understood our object.
We all felt as if the route to the Umpqua fort ought to be about north, while by following the Indian trails along this stream we were going west or northwest, but after traveling down a part of a day further we were pleased to find that the Indian guide was ready to leave the river and pursue a north course into the mountains, and at the distance of perhaps 12 miles through heavy timber and over ridges and across canyons following a very poor trail we found ourselves upon another stream of [the] same size running west, with well-beaten Indian trails and wide timber bottom along its banks.
This stream was afterwards more thoroughly explored in 1853 & named the middle fork of Coquille.
We followed down this stream for several miles, discovering now and then an Indian ranch, from which the inmates would flee in great haste at first sight, while occasionally an old blind Indian or squaw would be left behind to the awful fate which they no doubt thought awaited them.
These poor old Indians through fear
The process of cooking or boiling a salmon in a willow basket is about as follows. The basket in the first place is made tight so that it will hold water. It is then filled with water and the salmon placed therein, and hot rocks are then dropped into the [water] with the salmon, and as soon as they become cooled others are placed therein, and by this process salmon or anything else can be as nicely cooked or boiled as can be done in an iron kettle over a fire.
The boiled salmon which had been deserted so unceremoniously
A handkerchief was left to compensate them for the salmon, which they had cooked in their primitive way, and which we had so greedily devoured.
At about this time the Indian guide deserted us, and as is generally the case, stealing as many little articles as it was possible for him to do.
Although a small amount of food had been obtained, yet it was but little relief to us in our weak condition.
Elk appeared to be quite abundant in this vicinity, and myself and some others of the party were anxious to stop a day or two and make an effort to secure a small supply for the future, but after a full consideration of the circumstances which surrounded us it was by the majority decided best to abandon our horses, and with the aid of a pocket compass lay our course northerly for the Umpqua, which according to the best information we had could not be very far distant, and must certainly be very much the nearest point where relief could be obtained, and from the representations previously made by the Capt., if anywhere near the truth, the Umpqua settlements could not be more than a day or two to the north of us. The Captain's theory of a trail to Fort Umpqua had by this [time] been entirely abandoned by him.
It was strongly argued by myself, Hedden & Brush that it would be much better to stop and kill a quantity of game, and recruit and rest the men for a day or two at least, but this proposition was overruled by the mistaken argument that game could be as readily found and as easily killed while traveling as could be done from a stationary camp.
We laid our course due north with pocket compass and in about 4 miles came to a stream of about 20 yds. wide flowing southwest and which appeared to unite a short distance below with another of similar size, which is probably the stream upon which we had been traveling a few miles back.
This stream was in 1853 explored and called the north fork of Coquille, and this point has ever since been known as the "forks."
The stream we had intersected could not be easily crossed, for it appeared quite deep and had tide marks upon its banks.
We followed upstream a short distance to find a crossing when the Capt. gave out, declaring that he was unable to go any further.
Resting for a time we searched some little for game and I succeeded in killing a pheasant and Doherty a gray squirrel which were served up in our usual style. These small items of food, together with the daily tightening up of our belts, was great relief to us but did not strengthen us much.
Soon after roasting & devouring our pheasant and squirrel and while yet undecided what was best for us to do, we heard the sound of canoe paddles coming up from below, and very soon afterwards three or four canoes of Indians came up and were hailed by us and came on shore.
They had no meat, but one of them had the very identical gun that James Eagan had broken over an Indian's head on Battle Rock in June last. Hedden, being a blacksmith,
A consultation was again had. We were satisfied from the appearance of the tide marks that the stream was navigable for canoes from this point to the ocean.
The Indians were of course hostile and very much to be dreaded.
The most of the little party were in favor of continuing our north course, but as the Capt. was unable to travel and the remainder of the men nearly as weak as him, a different course was fixed upon, and that was to go down the river in canoes to the coast.
Several of us contending that as the Indians would probably be very numerous and hostile, that it would be much better & much more safe to buy canoes and have them completely under our own control and guidance, but as all hands were much too weak to paddle the canoes themselves it was decided upon that we would hire the Indians to take us to the mouth of the river, and they were paid at once much more for their services than it would [have] required to have purchased their canoes outright.
Our clothing had become pretty much worn out and in fact was nearly torn off from us. It therefore required a good portion of what remained to pay the miserable fellows for their services.
We embarked about noon on the 13th of Sept. and started downstream upon our journey for the sea, passing large Indian rancherias at short intervals along the river but, singular to relate, not much could be obtained to eat. A small salmon and a quantity of boiled whale or porpoise skin was all we was able to obtain during the day.
Although Indians were seen by hundreds, yet no hostile demonstration had been made, and had it not been for the entire absence of squaws & papooses, and the pretended scarcity of muckamuck, they might [have] been easily mistaken for Indians who were friendly disposed, but as the circumstances were, it was certain that their disposition was hostile and that we was liable to be attacked at any time & hence the necessity of observing the greatest possible caution.
The mouth of Coos River was known to be about 20 miles south of the Umpqua, and the mouth of the Coquille was known to be about 20 miles south from Coos and about 30 miles north from Port Orford.
All that was known of either the Coos or Coquille rivers were that they emptied into the ocean at given points, but as we had made much northing since we had left the coast at the mouth of Rogue River, we felt quite certain that we were upon the waters of Coos, and in that event it was our intention upon reaching the coast to proceed northward to the Umpqua settlements and on the other hand, if it should prove to be the Coquille, we would follow south to Port Orford.
The river traversed a handsome valley of wide, timbered bottom lands
As night set in the Indians manifested a desire to camp, and we therefore went ashore on the north bank and camped for the night under some large hemlocks at the point of a spur of the mountain which at this place reached to the riverbank.
We kept a strict watch as usual during the night, observing also that one of the Indians at least was awake at all times.
It was understood that this was to be our last night in the wilderness.
The surf or breakers could be plainly heard as they beat upon the beach below.
An early hour next day would bring us to the ocean where clams, mussels and other shellfish could be obtained.
All were rejoiced at our prospect and were perfectly indifferent as to whether we were on Coos or Coquille rivers, for in either case we would reach the settlements on the Umpqua River or at Port Orford in a day or two.
The night passed off quietly--next morning we set out early.
This was the 14th day of September 1851.
The day was a pleasant one.
We made good progress with a favorable tide downstream.
All hands were cheerful.
As we neared the mouth of the river ranches became more numerous and many fish weirs were in course of construction, several of them reaching across the river and nearly completed, indicating that the salmon season was at hand.
Arriving at a point three or four miles from the coast, so that the mouth of the river and the ocean could be seen over the low drifting sand hills, which are destitute of timber
We were near the end of our river navigation and, Providence permitting, would soon bid goodbye to our canoes and the beautiful Coquille River, and would be marching down the beach in the direction of Port Orford.
As many as four or five hundred Indians had been seen along the river, and they appeared much more numerous as we approached the mouth.
It was now known positively that these tribes were hostile to the whites, for a portion of them had taken an active path in the fight at Battle Rock in June, and had opposed Capt. Kirkpatrick and his little party who had passed along the beach on their way way to the Umpqua settlements a short time afterwards.
We had obtained some information of their general character in our hunting expeditions, and from Mr. Hedden's personal knowledge, he being one of Capt. Kirkpatrick's men, and was therefore fully aware now, if we had any doubt before, of the hostile disposition of the Indians
By exercising proper caution thus far we had managed to avoid an attack, and did not anticipate any very great danger in making our way to Port Orford.
Our little party were nearly naked. We had traded our clothing until not one of us possessed more than a shirt and pants, and those much tattered and torn, while some [of] us could scarcely boast of that much.
A wretched set of fellows we were surely, bareheaded--barefooted, with no clothing but ragged shirt and breeches, dirty hair uncombed, and of too great a length to be comfortable in passing through the brush. So far reduced in flesh that our voices sounded hollow & sepulchral. Yet as cheerful as possible for men to be. We were truly
Passing out of the heavy timber some three or 4 miles from the mouth of the river, and realizing the fact that greater caution than usual must be exercised, we began to discuss the question of our immediate future movements in regard to safety and in procuring something to eat from the Indians. A quite a difference of opinion appeared to exist, for the first time since we had been on the river, in regard to our best and safest course to pursue.
A large rancheria stood upon the right bank of the river a short distance ahead of us and perhaps about two miles from the ocean, with a strip of level prairie land of about one quarter of a mile in width between it and the timber.
Towards this ranch the Indians directed our two canoes with a view of landing. T'Vault, Doherty, Ryan, Holland, Murphy & Davenport were in favor of landing and trying to obtain something [to] eat, while Hedden, Brush, Pepper and myself entered our strong protest against it, for although we had been suffering long and severely for muckamuck, yet we deemed it very imprudent and unsafe to land for fear of being attacked by the Indians who, it appeared from the numbers already visible, would be able to overpower and completely annihilate us the moment we should step on shore.
The Indians in the canoes refused to go any further, and some of us desired to be landed upon the opposite or left side of the river where, to say the least, we would be in no immediate danger.
The Capt., so far overcome by fatigue and hunger, believing there was no danger, and representing that he understood a portion of their language, and from the inducements held out to us by a fine display of nice-looking salmon by the Indians on shore, it was decided by the majority to land and run all risk of an attack, asserting that there was no danger, or we would [have] been previously attacked by the Indians who it appeared had had favorable opportunities at different points along the river. This movement was strongly opposed by Hedden & myself
Although our expedition had been unfortunate from the first start, and much suffering had been endured in consequence thereof, yet this proved to be by far the most fatal and unfortunate decision for our little band of explorers, the first who had ever traversed the Coquille Valley, and who were entitled to all the honors of the first discovery of its three principal branches, its 50 miles of splendid navigation, and its extensive valleys of fine farming land.
Our canoes were landed at the large rancheria, broadside upon the beach.
A large force of Indians armed with bows and arrows, long knives and war clubs occupied the bank before us and at once surrounded the canoes on the land side, while a score or more of canoes also filled with Indians appeared in the river from the little sloughs and bayous upon each side and from above and below, yet the majority could not believe there was danger. Yet a few of us were in favor of shoving out and landing upon the opposite side where the main body of the Indians, for the immediate present at least, could [have] been avoided.
But all considerations and discussions on our part were suddenly closed by an irresistible attack being made upon us in full force from every side by the Indians, who numbered not less than 150, while we were standing in and near the canoes.
Their plans were so well laid, and the attack so sudden, that Ryan, Holland, Murphy and Pepper were struck down with clubs, while every other person in the company except myself were instantly disarmed. All this was done at the first onset and before anyone had time to fire a gun.
As near as I was able to determine from the suddenness of the attack, their programme was for three or four Indians to simultaneously seize upon each member of the party, disarm them and then kill them at pleasure.
When the attack was made it did not appear possible to me that anyone of the party could escape.
I rode in the bow of the leading canoe, and had stepped out onto the beach and was completely hemmed in and separated from the others when the rush was made upon us, and [I] hardly know how I prevented myself from being crowded into the river.
Two powerful Indians seized my rifle, one by the muzzle, and the other by the breech, while I had a firm hold of the middle. A severe struggle ensued for the possession of it. I had a good bowie knife, and the day previous an Indian had stole the scabbard and I had tied the knife into my belt with a stout leather string, and as the scuffle began with the Indian in front for the possession of the rifle, another seized the handle of the knife from behind and gave it several strong pulls or jerks, nearly pulling me down, and had it not been firmly fastened it is quite possible I might [have] been killed with my own knife on the spot.
At about this time the rifle for which we were scuffling was discharged with its muzzle downwards, and the sudden report gave the Indians a fright, and I at once unexpectedly succeeded in wrenching it from them.
The Indians had crowded in with such force that I was completely surrounded with scarce room to stand between the large body of Indians on three sides of me forming a semicircle and the deep river upon the other.
From the margin of the river to the top of the bank was about 20 steps, with a gradual and smooth ascent upon which the savages were massed nearly as thick as they could stand.
With my back to the river, my heels touching the water, it was impossible for me to see anything outside of the small space in which the unfortunate circumstances had placed me.
Not one of our little party could be seen, but the yells & howls of the infuriated savages, and the groans of the wounded and dying, told too plainly that the indiscretion of the majority has led us to a slaughter.
I had no thought whatever of escape, but believed it to be my duty to sell or dispose of my life as dearly as my weak condition would enable me to, so instantly after regaining possession of my rifle I drew the breech of it and commenced fighting with all the force I could command, striking to the right and left, knocking down an Indian at nearly every blow, clearing my way gradually before me until I found myself upon the level bank some few steps back from the river.
As I advanced, a portion of the Indians gave way in front and closed in behind so that as soon as I left the margin of the river where the fight began I was completely surrounded and not protected on either side, and consequently within a few seconds from the time I commenced fighting I found myself in the direct center of a small circle formed by a huge mass or jam of well-armed Indians.
I much regretted that I did not have the physical force and strength that I might [have] had under reasonable circumstances, not that I could hope to escape, but so that I could inflict more punishment upon the treacherous foe who, taking advantage of our half-starved condition, had lured us on to destruction under the pretext of friendship and fair promises of relief.
Fortunately I think for me the most of the Indians who were armed with bows and arrows appeared to be on the outer margin, while those nearest me and who formed the inner part, with few exceptions, appeared to be only armed with clubs and long knives.
Situated in the center of this living mass of savage humanity, in order to maintain my position a moment and save myself from being instantly crushed, it became necessary for me to strike almost simultaneously in every direction, for as the whole force would give way and fall back from before me when a blow was descending, yet at that very time I was in the greatest danger from the clubs, knives and arrows of those in the rear, therefore as soon as a blow fell upon their heads in front, the next without loss of a moment's time was required in the rear or to one side.
A few blows shattered the stock of my rifle, the splinters and broken pieces flying in every direction, leaving the barrel only in my hands.
It was a United States rifle or yager, and had been a favorite gun of mine, the barrel being about three feet in length, and with it situated as I happened just now to be, fearful blows could be dealt.
While thus contending, not exactly for life, but to inflict what little punishment I was able to upon this living mass of barbarism, while we were thus surging to and fro upon the riverbank, and while it required every possible effort of mine to keep the little space in which I was operating sufficiently large for me to handle myself in, I was not insensible of the fact that my strength was fast failing me.
I felt as if I could not last long and considered it to be but a minute or two and perhaps but as many seconds before I would accompany my poor unfortunate comrades to eternity.
The mass of Indians by whom I was so closely surrounded appeared at last to move slowly in one steady direction, and that from the river, without any change in our relative positions or any abatement of the fierce conflict, myself in the center surrounded in such a manner by the devils incarnate. It required apparently much more power & force
I was confident, in fact felt certain that I was killing some of the Indians. I knew that I was striking down at least one at every blow, for those forming the inside of the living wall nearest to me, being all the time pressed by those from behind, could not possibly avoid me.
During all this time no one would expect me to remain unharmed. I received many blows upon my arms and shoulders, and at last [received] a pretty heavy blow from a club upon my head and fell to the ground wondering in my own mind why I had escaped as long as I had.
Had the Indians closed upon me at this particular moment I might easily [have] been dispatched.
The whole force, whooping, howling and yelling as only Indians can do, was still moving along when with one desperate lunge I succeeded in breaking the living wall for the first time before me, and as it happened on the opposite side from the river.
This was the first time that daylight had been visible through the crowd since the fight commenced, and as I looked through the gap over the level prairie and saw the thick green forest about 300 yds. away, a flash of hope, although I assure you it was a faint one, for the first time since the attack passed over me, and sudden as thought I rushed through the opening thus made, and as I run I looked back over my left shoulder, speculating in my terribly confused and agitated mind as to what the result of this new movement would be, when I was suddenly struck with an arrow between the left hip and lower ribs, which penetrated the abdomen and passed about two-thirds [of] the way through the body.
Animals are sometimes shot in such a manner as to cause them to stop suddenly, even when running at full speed, and this arrow had the same effect upon me and, finding it impossible to move, I jerked it out, drawing off the barb and also the joint of the shaft to which the barb was fastened.
No pain was experienced when the arrow entered, but the suddenness by which the barbed point was drawn off inside the body was to say the least a painful moment to me, and I thought for perhaps a second of time that I must give way and fall down from the effects of it, but singular as it may appear the pain was but momentary & as far as I was able to judge I was as free from pain in a moment and had as good use of myself as I had before.
The fight now assumed altogether a different character and as I had begun to have faint hopes of making my escape I felt probably much more sensitive of danger than I had previously.
The main body of the Indians at this moment fell back to the river, where the fight began, to plunder or mutilate the dead, or to assist in torturing some poor fellow whose life had not quite passed away or to look after the dead and wounded of their own, while about twelve or fifteen armed with bows and arrows scattered out, completely surrounding me, taking positions on the prairie within from eight to ten feet of me, and from the positions thus assumed commenced a rapid fire from every side, all hands running in one direction at the same time, myself in the center.
What could a man do in such a fix as that. I made many efforts to bring myself in reach of some of them, near enough to strike, but whenever a movement was made in any direction whatever, the Indians before me would swiftly glide away me, keeping just out of my reach, and while my attention was thus attracted all the others were firing at me from the sides & rear.
Feeling much more disheartened than ever, I turned my face towards the timber and run for dear life, without any hope whatever of ever reaching it, feeling that I had already received a mortal wound but was yet alive, and to say the least I had a desire to escape if possible and die in quiet under some tree in the forest nearby.
I was chased furiously for some distance in this manner, a perfect string of arrows flying at me from every side, many of them sticking in me and others penetrating my clothes or glancing from off the different parts of the person, but as yet I did not feel that I had received but the one very severe wound.
I was soon very much surprised, and somewhat relieved too, to see all the Indians abandon me and fall back towards the river except two, each of which were well armed with bows & full quivers of arrows, while one of them also carried a rifle that had belonged to one of our men.
Just at this time I noticed Mr. Doherty a short distance off and nearly direct ahead of me. He was running, chased by a half-dozen Indians, and at least a dozen arrows sticking in him from every side. He very soon fell and the last time I looked in that direction he was prostrate upon the ground, the Indians filling him with arrows and striking at him with knives.
I made a turn to the left, thinking I might avoid those Indians who had killed poor Doherty, or that they might not join in the fight against me.
The two with whom I was now contending were swift of foot, and at once placed themselves on each side as we run, and within about three steps of me, firing their arrows with a speed not easily realized by a person who has had no personal knowledge of the manner in which those weapons are handled by an expert.
I soon concluded that under this condition of things it was utterly impossible for me to ever reach the timber alive, and desiring to change the programme somehow I rushed madly towards one, hoping that I might by accident or otherwise succeed in reaching him, but as before observed, he would easily and adroitly keep a few steps in advance while the other would approach within a few feet, firing the hateful arrows at me from behind. A sudden turn on my part and a hasty pursuit of the other would not change the condition of things in the least, and was all the time productive of the same result.
My only clothing to start in with was a ragged shirt and pair of pants, and as if to render my condition and chances of escape still more hopeless, just at this time the fastening gave way & my breeches dropped down under my feet, and as dangerous as the circumstances were I was obliged to withdraw my attention from Indians a moment and disentangle myself by kicking them off
I now had no clothing but a shirt, while the Indians had none at all.
After relieving myself of my pants I felt a little more sprightly for the time, but the Indians were in no greater danger than before. They were doing all the firing while I was receiving all the punishment, their cross firing while we were thus chasing each other back and forth rendered it almost impossible for me to dodge any of their arrows. Why I was not completely riddled in this long and running fight across that prairie is more than human tongue can tell.
My only weapon from the first was my faithful gun barrel, which had rendered me such good service at the start, and it alone was all that prevented the two Indians from closing upon me. They fully understood its value to me and were very careful to keep out of its reach.
I fancied this to be the most dangerous position since the fight began and, possessing the many advantages over me that they did, I would have gladly exchanged my present position for that earlier in the fight when I was contending hand to hand in the center of a body of 100 Indians as well armed as these.
I was covered all over with blood. I felt as if I was almost dead. I had abandoned all idea of escape. My mind was firm, but my nerves were in an indescribable state of agitation. The Indians still had several arrows left, and the timber was some distance away.
I hoped, apparently against all hope, that some accident would yet place one, if not both, in my power.
During all this time I was liable to be and expected to be struck down at every breath.
All emergencies have a culminating point, and this came in a manner the least expected by me. Reaching a point within about 25 steps of the timber, I turned my eyes from the Indians in that direction to notice whether it would be possible for me to enter the tangled mass of brush & briers along the margin in case I should be able to reach it when stepping in a hole or little hollow
The two Indians, determined not to lose this opportunity, rushed upon me, and the one who carried my comrade's
The gun was a good one. I knew it to be loaded. It was never known to misfire, and as I saw and felt the muzzle of it thrust against me I felt a sickening sensation pervade my whole system, but [that] was more suddenly dispelled when I realized the fact that the gun had failed to fire. I felt new life infused into my system, and I was on my feet in an instant, rifle barrel in hand as usual.
The Indian, instead of running, as had been the case at all times up to this moment when faced by me, met me face to face with the breech of his rifle drawn, the critical moment of the whole affair having arrived, and of course to me I knew it to be the last final struggle. I became if possible more desperate than ever. In the first blow I failed altogether, and received some bruises in consequence, but in the second I was more fortunate, for the heavy force of the iron gun barrel, in this case a real life preserver, fell upon the top of the Indian's head, killing him instantly.
During this short interval of time the dead Indian's companion (which by the way was the very one who had given me the
My first thought was to jump over the dead Indian, pick up his bow and arrows and defend myself with those weapons, but before I had time to do so I changed my mind and snatched up my comrade's rifle from the hand of the dead Indian where he fell, drew it to my face, directed it at my other tormentor, and was astonished although agreeably so to hear a quick, sharp report, and still more gratified to see my last remaining pursuer fall dead with a bullet hole through the lower part of his breast, and as he thus staggered back and fell, the last arrow fired from his nimble fingers glanced upon the side of my head.
This terminated the fight. I was really the victor, although [I] expected to die at any moment of my wounds.
I looked in the direction of the rancheria and saw the Indians in large bodies swaying back and forth, keeping up their infernal whooping, howling and yelling, anything like a description of which never can be written.
I now felt free for the immediate time being, but could not reasonably expect to remain so very long, yet it was a great relief to me to know that I was able to strike out into the thick forest unpursued, where I still hoped to find some place safe from the Indians, to die in peace and quiet by myself, supposing that every one of my comrades had been massacred.
As I reached the timber Mr. Hedden, who had succeeded in escaping, popped his head out of the brush about 100 yds. above me and called me towards him, and we hurried ourselves as fast as possible into the tangled forest together.
He had been disarmed and struck at the first onset but, dodging away, he fled back some distance, pursued closely by two Indians, who after firing several arrows at him turned back and joined in the general conflict, and he then made good his escape without further molestation and reached the timber and halted in an obscure place and watched
He informed me that Davenport had also escaped, that he had been disarmed and had run across the prairie and reached the timber unharmed far in advance of him and by this time must be a mile or more away in the timber.
Ryan, Holland, Doherty, Pepper and Murphy were certainly dead. The manner in which I had seen these poor unfortunate men overpowered and stricken down was such as to render it impossible to even hope that either of them were alive.
He knew nothing of T'Vault or Brush, and when they were last seen by me was at the time when I was fighting my way up from the river's edge to a point on the level bank above. I then saw Capt. T'Vault in a canoe some 15 or 20 steps out in the river unarmed and apparently powerless, surrounded by a number of Indians in other canoes, who were striking at him with paddles & clubs.
I also saw Brush at or about the same time in the water near him, the Indians also beating him in a similar manner. Therefore though not positively known to be killed, yet it did not appear to us likely that either of them could escape. We therefore counted them as among the killed yet maintained a faint hope that they might, one or both, by some accident or Providential interference
There now appeared no doubt in either of our minds that the attack was premeditated, that runners had been sent down from the head of the river to give the lower bands notice of our approach and, to use an expression of Hedden's, "a trap had been set for us, and we had walked deliberately into it," although to the credit of some of the party be it said under a strong protest.
We run back into the timber in a northwesterly course with a view of striking the coast a few miles to the northward, but had not traveled very far before I became suddenly faint, feeling a peculiar and deathlike sensation passing over me. I called Hedden's attention, and at the same time fell staggering to the ground. He came to my assistance, raised me up partially, and although insensible of that fact, yet I have an indistinct recollection of hearing him say "goodbye, old boy," as I appeared to pass away. In a few moments afterwards I revived, very much to his astonishment, and found him busily engaged in his hasty preparations to bury me up with dirt & brush.
Feeling somewhat better after my fainting spell, we now examined my wounds for the first time. The first one received near the river was the only one I dreaded. It had struck below the ribs, about
This detached portion could not be reached, yet Mr. Hedden probed it for some time with a knife he had, also with a
What appeared to us to be the most dangerous wound was about 3 inches above the first, which was examined and found that the arrow instead of penetrating the body had struck a rib bone with a force sufficient to split the bone and to bend the iron barb into a peculiar shape. This point was easily removed.
By far the most painful of my wounds was one upon the head. In dodging my head down to avoid an arrow fired from the front of me, it struck near the crown, I thought with a great deal of force, glancing off, cutting the scalp to the bone for a space of two or three inches. The force of the arrow stunned me somewhat and came very near knocking me down. It pained me severely, and bled very freely, running down on my side of me, all over my face and down my body and legs, and was still bleeding so that I might be quite easily tracked by the blood.
I had three other wounds, one in the hand and one in each arm, which were quite painful, and made ugly sores after the arrow points were removed by Hedden, but of course no danger to life or limb was to be feared from them, consequently [they] were considered but secondary upon this occasion. Aside from the wounds mentioned my hands, arms, head and parts of my body was badly cut, jagged and bruised in numerous places so that it was difficult for me to tell what part of me at this time was the most painful.
It had been our intention as we had came down the river to proceed down the coast to Port Orford about 30 minutes south, but the circumstances of the fight had left us upon the north or opposite side of the river, therefore our only alternative appeared to be to make northward to the Umpqua settlements about 40 miles distant.
Man can hardly be placed in a much more melancholy situation. We were without food, fire or blankets. Hedden had no clothing except his ragged breeches and shirt, while I only had a very ragged shirt and a short-tailed one at that. The gun which I had brought away from the fight without ammunition and a knife was our only weapons, and the country full of hostile Indians in any direction we might go.
After the fainting spell and the examination of my wounds & the removal of the arrow points we set out and traveled some three or four miles northward parallel to the coast, through the heavy timber, thickets and jungles alternating, when again becoming weak we
The day had been a pleasant one, but the night set in as usual this time of year upon this coast, cold, damp and chilly.
Sept. 15, 1851The night was cold and thick foggy. My wounds did not pain me much yesterday except that on the head, but during the night the wound in the body became sore and painful, so much so that I soon found my other wounds to attract no part of my attention.
The cold was sufficiently to prevent anyone from sleeping and that, added to my other discomforts, rendered this a most miserable night to me.
Hedden made no pretensions to sleep, done what he could do for me, and we were both rejoiced when morning came which in our misery we hoped might bring us some kind of relief from some source and we knew not what.
As soon as it was fairly light Mr. Hedden set me on my feet in a feeble condition and it was found that my efforts to walk were extremely painful. I was bent forward considerable and so sore that I could not straighten up, and as we moved along through the brush and timber it was soon found that two or three hundred yards was as far as I could walk without resting, and the only manner in which I could obtain any relief was by lying down. I was yet able to get up alone, but was becoming more sore all the time. Of course but slow progress was made.
The fog having cleared away about noon, and the afternoon was usual becoming pleasant and warm, we halted in an opening near the coast to rest and obtain a little sleep if possible. Hedden, being unhurt and considerably exhausted in his efforts in my behalf, was soon asleep. The rifle, although of no use to us, was lying by his side. I was obtaining some rest but was suffering too much pain to sleep. I was lying on the opposite side from which the sun was shining, and was very soon considerably frightened by a heavy shadow being cast over me caused by an Indian rising up off the ground from the opposite side of Hedden, having our gun in his hand.
I gave the alarm and Hedden was on his feet in an instant with his knife in his hand, excited & considerably agitated. The Indian run in the direction of the coast, which was about 100 yds. distant, Hedden in close pursuit with the knife, striking at him all the way, and while he was not at any time more than ten steps behind him, yet he found it impossible to reach him, and upon reaching the bluff the Indian jumped down a precipice of about twenty feet perpendicular, carrying the gun with him. It appeared that he had approached on his hands and knees, until he had
From this point we immediately struck out directly back into the heavy timber and finding it impossible for me to travel far & fearing that Indians were on our trail, we crawled into a treetop among some old logs and remained thus until dark, when we moved out and traveled perhaps a half or three-quarters of a mile, and was obliged to halt for the night.
Sept. 16th 1851As usual the night was cold and foggy. Of course no one could sleep. I thought my misery was almost unbearable the night before, but last night they were much more severe and I actually thought I would die of hard pain before morning. Hedden in his kindness done everything his power to comfort & cheer me, but of course could do nothing to alleviate my sufferings. My body had become swollen, so that the skin was perfectly tight, and a portion of the abdomen becoming slightly discolored.
I was unable to arise this morning without assistance, but after being placed upon my feet I found I could bear my weight and walk a little with the aid of a cane and Hedden's assistance.
The country was heavy timbered and very brushy with deep canyons at short intervals running directly across our route to the ocean.
I seriously considered the condition in which we were situated. Hedden was unhurt and was able to reach the settlements on the Umpqua River in two days provided he could dodge the Indians on the way.
With a mortal wound, as we supposed, my condition was such that it was not expected that I could live longer than a day or two. I therefore urged him to leave me and make his way to the settlements and save his own life while he was able to, for it appeared to me to be useless for him to risk himself and suffer of cold and hunger as he would be required to, in an effort which apparently could not prolong mine, but all my efforts for him to depart and leave me were in vain, for he was firm and positively declared his intentions to stay by me while I lived to see me decently buried when I died.
My body was much sorer this morning, and soon after daylight we set out, every step hurting me fearfully. We made slower progress than yesterday and my resting spells were necessarily more frequent. About 100 yards was as far as I could walk at any one time, and [I] could not rest except by lying down and was then unable to rise without being handled carefully and lifted up almost bodily. We managed to make probably about three miles during any [day], crossing several very rough canyons, and about the middle of the afternoon we went into camp completely exhausted, when Hedden obtained a little sleep before night, and a fern patch growing nearby he gathered a large quantity for a bed, hoping that by it we might protect ourselves somewhat from the cold, damp and foggy atmosphere during the night.
Sept. 17th 1851If possible I passed a more miserable night than previously. I was relieved when daylight was visible through the treetops. Hedden worked all night long bolstering me up in various ways and changing my position when desired in order to relieve me, whenever it was possible to do so in the least.
I was more exhausted than usual today. My wound was perhaps a little more sore and painful, yet I could navigate just about as well as yesterday.
Hunger seemed about to overcome me. A species of three-leafed sorrel was found and Hedden gathered the young leaves occasionally while resting and I ate of them quite freely.
Our route today was parallel to the coast and a mile or two from it. It was necessary for us to keep back to avoid the Indians. Hedden left me by myself awhile today and went out onto the beach. Saw no Indians, but plenty of fresh sign in all the trails leading up and down near the ocean. He brought me a small piece of dead fish which he had found in the sand and which I considered a delicate morsel. Good water, which I needed very much and often, was found at short intervals. In the afternoon as I was lying on the ground resting I discovered a large number of black pismires, and ate several of them, but found them of a quite disagreeable sour taste and soon after Hedden brought in some large snails, which I found to be of rather a delicate flavor, and ate of them quite heartily. Hedden tried them a time or two but his stomach revolted, and he was obliged to spit them out. Once afterwards I saw him try one, but was very careful about it, as if he wished to eat it without hurting it, but very soon gave it up, and this was his last effort as a snail-eating [person]. Their only objectionable feature was the fact that, being of such a complete slimy substance, that they adhere to the mouth so that
The character of the country [was] the same today as yesterday, and I presume we made about the same distance. We did not halt for good until about the middle of the afternoon & Mr. Hedden took his usual sleep and afterwards gathered a small lot of fine brush & moss for our bed.
Sept. 18th 1851Last night appeared to me much colder than usual, and although we were encamped in the heavy timber the fog appeared much more dense. It was not freezing weather, yet it appeared cold enough for a person to perish even under more favorable circumstances.
Hedden by his indomitable energy and perseverance in my behalf managed somehow to keep up a circulation of blood which I would certainly [have] been unable to have done myself.
All my wounds except the most dangerous one were discharging matter and appeared to be doing well, were very sore but not painful, while the condition of that one was apparently worse and more inflamed this morning. The pain and soreness had increased or I had become much less able to endure it. I was bent up considerably more than yesterday, and the severe sickening pain, together with the cold, hunger and the loss of sleep altogether was fast overcoming me. As I became worse Hedden became more imperative in his demands for me to keep up courage and to make all possible efforts to move on. This morning I soon observed that I could not walk as well as yesterday. My pain appeared more cutting at every step.
The trials of today were a mere repetition of those of yesterday. It required greater efforts and more careful handling on the part of Hedden to place me on the ground when stopping and in raising me up again when ready to start.
We dragged ourselves slowly along through the thick timber, brush and briers crossing two or three canyons and finally stopped for the day at about one o'clock p.m. in a small fern patch about one-half mile back from the ocean.
The snails of yesterday, still adhering to my mouth, did not prevent me from enjoying the same slimy diet today.
We saw several bands of elk, and their constant whistling was heard from daylight in the morning till long into the night.
My suffering was certainly unparalleled. This was the only time in my life that I actually wanted to die. Death at this time would [have] been a great relief to me, but the ways of Providence are wonderful and mysterious.
Hedden had his usual sleep for an hour or two in the afternoon, and it was an actual relief to me, in my agony, to know that one so well deserving as him was able to obtain that happy relief which was so painfully denied to me. The afternoon gradually wore away, and as the much-dreaded night set in, I could scarcely hope to live to see the light of another morning.
Sep. 19, 1851A large quantity of fern was placed under, around & over me, and every available means devised to keep me from chilling to death. Hedden, worn to a skeleton as he was, working like a beaver all the time, night & day, fearfully exposing himself, and suffering much more than any other living man probably would have done in his efforts to save my life, which he could not believe would last long.
Of course the night gradually wore away, and in the morning I found that I was still able to stand when placed on my feet but required a greater effort than yesterday. I was bent forward considerable more than previously, and my body much more inflamed and swollen, and badly discolored.
It was evident to both that a crisis would be reached very soon, and probably within a day or two at the longest while no one could have examined my body for a moment and believed I would be living, and as I tried to walk I found that every step however carefully made was like taking life. Yet in obedience to Hedden's command I was obliged to make the effort. For choice I would [have] preferred to have been left here alone,
On the low brushy flat between this slough and [the] main river he discovered an Indian camp, but only two or three old squaws were visible, while on the beach near him an Indian had just landed and hauled his canoe upon the sand and had gone in the direction up the slough.
Hedden immediately returned and reported his observations, and as we were uncertain as to the disposition of the Indians we concluded that it would be much safer for us to seize upon the canoe and cross directly over to the north shore and thus avoid the ranch altogether and so proceed in our course to the Umpqua.
We reached the canoe in a short time, and I was helped into it, and he took the paddle and shoved out. Judging from his awkwardness, I would think this was his first attempt at canoe navigation.
It was found that the ebbing tide was so swift that the crossing could not be made, and it was with much difficulty that he managed to land at the Indian camp, where we surrendered ourselves up to the hospitality of the two old squaws, whom we found very friendly indeed.
They could not talk English, and by signs we ascertained that the Coos Indians were friendly, while although not at war with the Coquilles and lower tribes, were not on very friendly terms [with them].
We also learned that all the Coos Indians except this family were up the river attending their salmon fisheries.
These squaws had a full knowledge of what had happened to our party at the Coquille, and rustled around and made every effort in their power to relieve us.
A fire was quickly kindled, a luxury we had not enjoyed since the night of the 13th, and soon became warmed up, which instead of relief appeared to add to my misery.
A large quantity of small fishes about the size of a sardine, already roasted, were laid before us, and we ate of them quite freely.
My stomach was much weaker than previously, and I was unable to eat very much, not near as much as a common person under ordinary circumstances.
Hedden's appetite was good; in fact, he was ravenous, and to use an expression of his, after he had finished, "that he had ate enough to last him to the Umpqua," conveys but a small idea of what an actual hungry man can eat.
The squaws appeared uneasy while we were there, were anxious for us to eat what we wished and proceed on our way at once, and we were equally as anxious fearing the Coquilles might be in pursuit or that some unruly member of the Coos tribe might consider it a meritorious act to put us out of our misery.
The old Indian soon appeared on the south beach, and Hedden proposed to go after him, but the squaws objected and one of them took the canoe and soon landed him at the camp.
He appeared excited and proposed to take us across the river immediately. I was placed in the canoe and laid down in the middle, and the old Indian taking his seat in the stern end of the canoe passed a paddle forward to Hedden, and we were soon moving up the main river, keeping close along shore on the right-hand side for about a mile, when they struck out for the opposite side about one mile distant.
The tide was running downstream swiftly and a heavy breeze blowing upstream furiously, consequently the water was rough for canoe navigation, and frequently slopped over into the canoe and when we landed on the opposite shore the other two were wet to the skin while I was lying doubled up in the bottom of the canoe, which was about one-fourth full of water. I was fully as comfortable as I had been anytime today and was perfectly indifferent whether I got out or not, but after some difficulty, and hurting me severely, they set me up on the beach and, complaining as usual, Hedden pronounced me "all right" as long as I could stand up.
The Indian quickly set out on his return, and we passed slowly over a low and narrow range of drifting sand hills to the ocean beach and turned our faces towards the Umpqua River twenty miles to the southward and apparently a smooth sand beach all the way, with drifting sand extending back from the beach for a distance of [at] least a half mile or more.
The wind blew so hard that without Hedden's assistance I am certain I could not have kept my feet.
Resting at shorter intervals, we found that it was necessary to camp early in the afternoon, so beating back into the sand hills about one quarter of a mile to a lone black pine tree, where exposed to wind, fog and cold, chilly dampness, we were destined to pass another miserable night.
Sept. 20th 1851Last night was perceptibly more severe than any previous night. Hedden improved all his time during the night, rubbing me all over carefully at times & almost
I had an inward fever or something or other of that sort which caused me to thirst much
The brush and briers we had been obliged to pass through had cut and scratched my feet and legs, so that they were completely raw, and Hedden was in equally as bad a condition.
I felt myself to be weaker every day, my wound sorer, my body weaker and my pains generally more severe, but was barely able to bear my weight, and by the time it was fairly light Hedden had me on the way, dragging me along over the sand, resting at every one hundred yds. or less. The forepart of the day was cold & thick, but became fair at 9 or 10 o'clock in [the] forenoon, and very soon after noon the light prevailing winds set in & continued during the day.
Although the beach was perfectly level and solid, yet it appeared as if our progress was slower than any previous day.
About noon we reached a stream of fresh water about 15 steps wide, breaking in through the sand hills. I was very much in need of drink, but this water was warm and tasted swampy. We rested for perhaps an hour and I drank too freely and became quite sick from the effects of it.
I did not feel able to go any further, but Hedden insisted upon a quick start and positively declined allowing me to remain longer. So we drifted along, a few rods at a time, and did not go into camp until nearly sundown, and as anxious as I had been up to this time to camp early, I dreaded it when Hedden announced his intention to turn off out of reach of the spray and camp in the sand. No tree, no shelter and no protection whatever but the mother earth for our bed and the canopy of Heaven for our covering.
Sept. 21st 1851If a man ever suffered in this world, it was my own self during the past night. I talked & cried and prayed for death in any form, I cared not how it might appear, to come to my relief at once & thus end the torture I was passing through, but all to no purpose, for after due time the light of another day appeared.
Hedden set me up on my feet this morning and it was found that I was unable to bear my weight, and he laid me down again and hesitated for a few moments what to do.
I was anxious and wanted to die. I begged of him to go on and leave me alone in the sand hills to my fate, but he was more determined than ever in his efforts & declared that I should not be left, but while life lasted I must move on. From this decision there was no appeal. He thereupon tore up his shirt, twisted it into a kind of a large rope of a concern, and fastened the ends together, forming a sort of loop of about two feet perhaps in diameter and threw this over his head and under his right arm, in the manner in which a hunter wears a shot pouch. He lifted me up and in a half-bent position he thrust my head and left arm through this loop under his right arm, and I thus could lean about one-half my weight upon him and in this manner he would walk me along about two hundred yards at a time, when it would become necessary to stop. This was considered very good progress.
This proved to be our last day's march. We was at the mouth of the Umpqua River about the middle of the afternoon, the day cold and very foggy could not see over fifty yards at any one time.
The dismantled remains of an old brig called the Caleb Curtis, wrecked some time previously, lay in the sand on the south side of the river, and under the lee of this I was placed and Hedden proceeded up the
We had not been at this ranch but a short time when we heard a rowboat coming which proved to be Capt. Gibbs and some of his men of the brig Almira, which happened to be in the river above. He had come down to obtain an iron strap from the old wreck, but seeing our necessity he took us in his boat and returned to a little place called Gardiner about
It might [have] been possible for a skillful artist to have made a pen sketch of us two unfortunates as we arrived at Gardiner, but it would not have been possible to have represented our feelings for our safe delivery from the trying scenes of the past. It was certainly great satisfaction to me, even if I had known that I must die next moment.
Hedden was pleased to be able to say that he had done his whole duty faithfully.
With his long and matted hair & thick beard and covered with dirt, no clothes but his breeches & those badly torn to pieces, his feet dreadfully lacerated, [he] was really a pitiable object to look at, but was soon washed, dressed, combed and looked like a quite a different person.
I was naked except a ragged shirt. I had made no pretensions to wash since two or three days before the fight. Dry blood and matter was all over my body & my hair was also knotted together with blood dried upon the head, and wallowing in the dirt night and day had not particularly improved my personal appearance. The bruises and smaller wounds were nearly well and those a little more severe were partially healed and closing well.
The severe wound which was giving me so much trouble had entirely closed up while the whole opposite side from where the arrow entered was a deep black and blue color.
The task of washing and dressing my wounds was no light one. I was held up by two persons and carefully washed & rubbed down by the third. My hair was closely trimmed and in due course of time my wounds were pronounced dressed and I was laid down on a mattress on the floor from which I never expected to rise. A little gruel was prepared and brought to me, but my appetite was gone.
I had Hedden to make his bed beside me, which he did so that I could lay my hand upon him
It was now after dark & all hands had gone to bed & Hedden was sound asleep.
I was suffering much more severely than any other time since I was hurt, and had no idea I would live to see daylight again.
Suddenly at about midnight I felt a peculiar sensation where the arrow had entered. I thrust my hand to the wound and found blood or matter flowing out of it. The severe pain suddenly ceased. I made a motion toward Hedden undecided whether I was dying or going to sleep and was conscious of nothing further until I was awakened from a sound sleep next morning.
This was the first sleep I had since the first night after I was wounded. It was about sunrise or later when I was awakened. Hedden and others were standing around me. I felt apparently too weak to move, but was perfectly easy [in] every way, and asked permission to remain as I was until I had slept until exhausted nature was satisfied. But of course it had become necessary to remove me from the bed and again dress my wounds.
The blankets were taken off and I was lifted up carefully from the bed in a horrible condition. The bed was full of bloody matter, and it had penetrated through the mattress and blankets under me and had run across the plank floor and formed a large puddle outside. Various estimates made by different persons fixed the amount at not less than twelve quarts.
The wound was still running freely, but was soon washed and comfortably dressed, and I was surprised as well as every other person present when it was found that I was able to get up alone out of a chair and walk across the house.
When Hedden saw that he expressed an opinion for the first time that I would get well, and now I had some hopes myself, which I had not had at any previous time.
I lay down and slept sound all day, yet found myself unable to stand up straight but on the contrary was bent forward very considerably.
It was evident that it would require the services of at least one person to take care of me for some time to come, and Hedden proposed to take charge of me for the present until he would be able to go to work.
Upon our arrival we had expected to find Davenport here, for it was known that he had escaped and had made his way in this direction, but no tidings had yet been received from him and we were fearful that he had been pursued, overtaken and killed. But upon the third day after our arrival he made his appearance, very much emaciated and used up, but was unharmed.
He had been bewildered and lost his way in the mountains and lost considerable time thereby.
My wound was discharging freely, the flow becoming gradually more white until after eight or ten days it became free from any bloody mixture whatever, although [I was] very weak and sore, yet while the free discharge was kept up I suffered but little pain.
The region of country around the mouth of the Umpqua possesses but few attractions. It is generally very heavy-timbered land, inclined to be mountainous, although the mountains are not very high.
Fir, spruce, hemlock, cedar &c. is the principal timber. The mouth of the river is situated in about Lat. 43°30', is a fair entrance, and by most sailors acquainted with the navigation of this coast it is pronounced a very safe bar for the passage of vessels. A vessel once inside has a splendid harbor; for a distance of about 15 miles the river is navigable for nearly all seagoing vessels,
By a recent act of Congress the Umpqua had been made a Port of Entry and the new Collector, Hon. Collins Wilson, had arrived but a few days before us, and he had his office in the same building where all hands stopped, which being the only house in Gardiner, was a kind of an accommodation house, hotel, store, boarding house, custom house, &c.
From information recd. I soon learned that the Umpqua Valley was small, hilly and well adapted for grazing purposes while it also contained much first-rate farming land. The first white settlers came into the valley from the Willamette in 1847 and settled on the north side of the valley. Their names were William J. J. Scott and John M. Scott. They were soon followed by Robert Cowan, who settled near them, and very soon after Jesse Applegate and his bro. Charles Applegate and Wm. H. Wilson, all of whom settled near each other in a charming little valley on the headwaters of Elk Creek, a tributary of the Umpqua emptying in from the right bank
The settlement made by the gentlemen above referred to was named "Yoncalla" and thus by 1850 the settlement of the valley was fairly commenced.
In said year Levi Scott Scott, father of the Scott bros. above referred to, explored the Umpqua River to its mouth with a view of locating a townsite at or near the head of navigation provided the river proved to be such as to admit seagoing vessels over the bar. He became satisfied of the navigability of the river for a distance of about 30 miles to the head of tide water and there he located a
William Sloan, another pioneer, came in the fall of the same year and located a town about two miles below, and for a time each appeared to be of considerable importance. But at this time Scottsburg proper appeared to possess advantages over the town located by Sloan.
In the same year (1850) the town of Gardiner City, as it was called, had been laid out, also Umpqua City about 6 miles lower down the river, but as yet no person resided at Umpqua City, although two or three sheet-iron houses had been brought up from San Francisco and put up there.
Gardiner City was considered the most available point for a town on this lower part of the river, yet it only contained two houses, and one of those unoccupied. It was named after Capt. Gardiner, an eastern seafaring man, and was located upon the right bank of the river just out of sight of the ocean & upon a narrow bottom of marsh and dry land combined with a rough, hilly and very thick-timbered country about 100 yds. back from it.
The only house occupied was owned by George L. Snelling, a young man from Boston, an adventurer who had come out in the pilot boat Bostonian the fall previous, which said vessel was stranded upon the Umpqua bar in trying to make the entrance.
Snelling had a small quantity of merchandise on board which was saved from the wreck, and with the aid of small boats he removed it to Scottsburg and put up a zinc house for a store, and thus was commenced the first mercantile establishment in Southern Oregon.
He done very much for me in my misfortune and for which he will ever be gratefully remembered. Umpqua County had been organized, embracing all Southern Oregon, and a mail route had recently been established, and the mail carried brought regular news from the settled portion of Oregon once a week, while we received communication from the States once in four weeks.
Davenport remained with us and recruited himself until he was able to work, and then struck out and commenced boating on the Umpqua and Smith's River, a northern tributary coming in a mile or two above Gardiner, while Hedden took care of me and assisted about the house in various ways.
After we had been here about three weeks we received newspapers from Portland bringing us intelligence that T'Vault and Brush had both succeeded in making their escape, neither of them being much hurt, and had made their way to Port Orford and T'Vault, availing himself of the first opportunity, had went up to Portland and had returned to his home on the Willamette River near Oregon City.
He published an account of his unfortunate expedition, of the escape of himself and Brush, and as he could not reasonably suppose that any others has escaped, he published a list of all the remainder of the party as among the killed.
T'Vault's published statement of their escape is as follows: "That soon after the fight began he was knocked out of the canoe into the water, and immediately beset by Indians in canoes. That while he was struggling in the river a young Indian guided his canoe into their midst, helped him into it, and then paddled to where Brush was also struggling, and helped him in, placed paddles in the hands of both, headed the canoe for the south side of the river and then jumped overboard & swam ashore. That they paddled over to the south side of the river and escaped without any further molestation & made their way to Port Orford."
Time passed away, my wound discharging at the rate of not less than a pint or more per day, without any particular change in its general character.
There was no doctor in Southern Oregon at this time & I was unable to be removed to where medical aid could be obtained. At the end of three months Dr. E. R. Fiske, one of the pioneers of the Umpqua, who had came in a year ago in the Samuel Roberts, arrived from San Francisco, where he had been to meet his wife as she was on her way out from Boston, and immediately came to my assistance. He examined my wound carefully, probed it five or six inches, but after entering the cavity of the body the probe would follow in any direction, therefore the arrow point could not be found or located.
He decided at once that it would be much more dangerous to life to attempt to cut the arrow out than to await and let nature pursue its common course.
His advice was to take good care of the wound and to submit to no surgical operation unless I became much worse, and when the wound assumed such a character as to be likely to prove fatal, then as a last resort he would recommend an operation.
In the meantime the wound was to be kept open and well poulticed and dressed often, and although as painful and tedious and uncomfortable as it might be, in due course of time the arrow would work itself out of the body.
He was undecided how long a time it might require, but thought possible it might work out in a year, or that it might take a longer time, yet was confident that it would not take a longer period than five years.
This information was not very encouraging to me, for a common-sense view of the case would tell anyone that I would never be much better until the point was removed.
I remained in Gardiner a few months, and in January 1852 I was removed to Scottsburg, 20 miles above.
The rainy season had set in about the middle of November, and we had had much rainy weather, but the day I was removed was fair.
A bed was made in the bottom of the boat and Capt. Spicer, who appeared to be one of the best boatmen on the river, had charge and three other persons in the boat with us set out and in the afternoon I was landed at Dr. Fiske's house about a mile & ½ below Scottsburg, where I was to remain for the present under his care.
The Dr. was an educated and scientific man, understood his profession and the human anatomy much better than the generality of doctors. His wife was an educated and accomplished lady, a daughter of rich, wealthy and influential parents of
No man under unfortunate circumstances ever fell into the hands of a people where the entire community become so deeply interested in his welfare and comfort. When I arrived at Gardiner, with the exception of my comrade Hedden there was not a person in the valley whom I had ever heard of before, yet, as far as good care and kind attention was concerned, I found myself much better off than I ever conceived a sick person could be among relatives, friends and lifelong acquaintances, and had my wound proved fatal the universal kindness by which I was all the time surrounded would have materially softened the pillow of death. It is impossible for a person to ever describe to another the general feeling of sympathy and interest manifested towards me by all strangers and newly made acquaintances alike, extending freely the same helping hand. Money and clothing was given until no more was needed. A subscription was drawn up by S. F. Chadwick, a young atty. from Conn., who had recently came on the river, and was circulated by Charles F. Bourne, and in a day or two over $300 was recd. [Chadwick's subscription document is bound into Williams' Journal No. 1 and is transcribed below.]
Many and lasting are the obligations which I am under to all.
----The long, wet and dreary winter of 1851 & 1852 at last passed away, and a bright, a lovely spring set in, without any material change in my wound for the better. The continual flow, much to the surprise of all, was as freely kept up as ever, the daily quantity was astonishing to all, except those who had become accustomed to it.
Occasionally for two or three days the flow would become slack, and severe and excruciating pains would follow, which after a time would again discharge more freely, and the wound would thus become more easy.
The Dr. would often resort to the probe, but although he could at any time probe through the wall of the abdomen, he could never locate the arrow point.
During the winter season I was able to sit up the most of the time when my wound was easy and was able to walk round in a half-bent position, but on account of the vast amount of rain and mud I was obliged the most of the time to keep within doors.
The Dr.'s house was situated on the north or right bank of the river about ½ mile above the townsite located by Sloan and about 1½ miles below the townsite located by Scott, and upon a narrow bottom, heavily timbered with myrtle and maple with the river about 25 steps in front and the high and abrupt heavy-timbered mountain about 100 yds. back of it.
From the house to the river was as far as I walked any time during the winter.
The mining region of Southern Oregon and Northern California were being supplied in part with goods from the Umpqua, and packers with their mule trains were often seen passing by. There were but three houses at Scott's place above two stores and a boarding house, while there were only two buildings below at Sloan's place, and one of those was a store.
During the winter Hedden was with me much of the time, and at other times he worked at job work wherever he could find work to do, wages at this time being about $3 per day.
As soon as the rainy season was over, and the ground had become dry, I went up to Scottsburg above to stop for a time with Charles Bourne, more commonly called "Old Charly," who had commenced keeping a boarding house in an old log house, and who kindly offered to take care of me for the present.
Hedden had acquaintances at Portland, Oregon, who were holding out inducements for him to go there and engage at his trade of blacksmith, and he had all the time contemplated going this spring in case I regained my health, but as spring arrived and there being no very flattering prospect of my recovery, and he being freely determined to stand by me, he concluded that the growing trade of Scottsburg, which appeared to be on the increase, would perhaps support a blacksmith shop, so early in the summer he put up a small building and went to work.
In addition to his shop he built a small zinc house and put it up nearby and commenced keeping "bach" and took me to his house and had me directly under his care and thus the summer wore away.
Sept. 1852 came at last. One long, dreamy, painful year had rolled round without any change for the better. I was feeble but was able to walk around a good deal of the time.
The wound, about half the time very painful, was open and still discharging as freely as ever. It required nearly half of Hedden's time to take care of me and keep my wounds properly dressed.
About the end of the month the lower part of the abdomen nearly opposite and below where the arrow entered, where the most severe and cutting pains had been generally felt, began to be unusually painful and soon became swelled and inflamed, so much so that developments of some kind were soon to be expected.
Dr. Fiske's theory of the arrow working through, although nearly forgotten, was now revived, and everyone expected it soon to appear on the surface. The pain and inflammation daily increased. The Dr. was in constant attendance upon me with his surgical instruments ready to operate at the proper time. I soon became confined to the bed and on account of the increasing pain and soreness could not move, and it was with much difficulty that I could be handled at all.
After about 2 weeks of prostration and misery there came an opening through the skin and all hands expected the arrow point would be removed at once. A vast amount of matter was discharged, which of course relieved my pains at once.
As weak as I was yet, as soon as the pains and soreness was removed, which was in a day or two, I found myself able to get up and walk about the house again.
After the new opening appeared, the Dr. made many attempts with his probe to find the arrow point, which was believed to be near there.
This new opening appearing several inches lower down than where the arrow entered the body, it was thought the old wound would soon heal, but such was not the case although the principal part of the matter discharge now made its escape through the new opening.
Instead of the old wound healing as was expected a new opening appeared, about 3 inches above it, and four others very soon afterwards broke out around and near where the first orifice had appeared on the lower part of the abdomen.
Each of those wounds were probed carefully and often in search of the mysterious arrow point, all of which appeared to lead through the wall of the abdomen into the cavity of the body, but the searches were productive of no satisfactory result.
I had hoped and all hands believed that the arrow was soon to be removed and that I would be a well man again without much longer delay, but I was doomed to disappointment.
The difference orifices, 7 in number, all kept open, two on one side (where the arrow entered) and 5 on the opposite side, and the amount and character of the discharge after a time appeared to be unchanged.
Just about the same flow was kept up, being checked at intervals, causing severe pains & afterwards being relieved by a free discharge again.
I soon reached about the condition of health I passed before the new openings. I had a good appetite & was able to walk about the most of the time, and thus the dreary winter of 1852-3 passed away, only varying from the preceding [one] by a heavy fall of snow in Dec. covering the ground in the valley for about two feet. It lay on the ground for about a week and went off, causing higher water in the streams than had been known before by the white settlers.
During this winter much suffering was experienced by the emigrants & others in Southern Oregon and Northern California. The emigration across the plains had been great, and hundreds of emigrants and miners were located in different sections without means or supplies to live on, while the heavy snows blocked the mountain trails in many places & entirely cut them off from communication of any kind.
In the mining region flour and salt commanded $1 per pound. In the Umpqua Valley, where the country was settled by a farming population, flour was worth a dollar per pound. Many people lived all winter without bread, lived on beef & venison, and in some instances in the mines along the south boundary of the state packers were obliged to slaughter their mules to prevent people from starving to death. Towards the close of the winter Capt. Bunker arrived at the Umpqua with the brig Fawn loaded with flour much to the relief of all, and in a few days flour was selling at ten cents per pound.
On the last day of May 1853 my mother died, and soon after I received the painful intelligence from my bro. Luman, and a day or two afterwards in a letter from my father and the next mail in a letter from bro. Emory.
It was a severe shock to me indeed, and from which I did not recover for some time, a shock which cannot be described or felt by a person differently situated.
A mother's last word and parting look can never be erased from memory.
How distinctly I remember my hasty departure from home as I set out for the Pacific Coast in March 1851.
The previous year I had been at work on the upper peninsula of Michigan, upon the shore of Lake Superior, for William Ives, a U.S. Surveyor, and when his contract was completed in the fall I had went across the country to the Mississippi River via Fond du Lac, the St. Louis River & Sandy Lake, from which point I had went down the Mississippi in a bark canoe to St. Anthony Falls and had wintered at St. Paul in Minnesota Territory, returning home about the first of March, and in a very few days afterwards I recd. a letter from Mr. Ives stating that he was going to Oregon on a surveying expedition and wished me to go with him if practicable. My parents were opposed to my going, as any other fond parents would be. But being young and thoughtless, I soon made up my mind to go regardless of paternal opposition, believing it to be a splendid opportunity for speculation and adventure.
When about one hundred steps from the house I looked back for the last time and saw my poor old mother, standing at the door weeping and watching my departing footsteps with a last lingering look which was ever afterwards fresh in my mind, and which death alone can remove.
Upon my arrival at the Umpqua settlements I had concluded to not write home until such time as I could give a favorable report of my condition with a view of saving my parents from that anxiety of mind which would necessarily follow, should they be informed just how I was situated. But in Feb. 1852 Hedden brought in a New York Herald containing a brief account of our fight made up from the reports that T'Vault & Brush had published, and in which my name appeared, with others, among the list of persons killed. Fearing that my parents would see the newspaper accounts and think me actually killed, I wrote home at once, and as I had feared they had received statements
The summer of 1853 found the Umpqua Valley fast settling up with emigrants, and the mining trade of Southern Oregon all coming this way, of course Scottsburg was beginning to assume considerable importance. Eight or ten stores were all doing a large business while the amount of shipping to the mouth of the river was correspondingly increased. Large trains of pack mules were arriving and departing daily.
But the most important event of this summer's development in this vicinity was the discovery of a very rich gold deposit on the ocean beach about three miles north of the mouth of the Coquille River.
A gold excitement must be seen and felt in order to be realized or properly understood.
In this particular case two or three small patches of loose drifting sand upon the beach was discovered to be so full of fine particles of gold that the lucky discoverers made many thousand dollars in a very few weeks, and upon the circulation of these reports the excitement through the country became very great, and thousands of men from all parts of Oregon and California, of all classes, nationalities and colors flocked at once in that direction to retrieve the large fortunes which all had so narrowly escaped making in other parts of the mines. Hundreds passed through Scottsburg on their way to this new "Eldorado" every week in search of the fabulous placers they had heard so much about, to find upon their arrival that the excitement was much less and gold not near as plenty as when hundreds of miles away.
The same natural result follows these mining excitements. The great majority soon find themselves out of employment and become strapped, and are ready to seek other adventures or follow up the next great excitement, which is never far off in the future.
While thousands of men are financially ruined by these annual and periodical stampedes, yet they are frequently productive of results of a great benefit to a country.
The one just mentioned bringing hundreds of fine, able-bodied men together into a comparatively unknown region, and the mines, with perhaps the exception of a half-dozen claims, failing altogether and the country preventing many advantages favorable to a settlement, a portion of the number built up a temporary mining town called "Randolph," while others explored and settled the Coquille River Valley at its most favorable points for 75 miles from its mouth and others started settlements on Coos River, where coal mines were soon discovered and opened up, which proved to be extensive.
The Indians on Coos always remained friendly, but the Coquilles were more hostile, and during the summer 2 men, Burton and Venable, were killed. The fractious miners, never merciful to Indians, became their deadly enemy, and many were killed, about 20 being killed one morning [January 28, 1854] at daylight at the very identical rancheria where our little party had been overpowered in 1851.
Port Orford was the nearest settled point to the Coquille country, and while the new gold mines attracted attention it became a place of considerable trade, while the Umpqua River, being much nearer to Coos, furnished that point with supplies until the next season it became an important shipping point of itself. The bar upon the Coquille preventing vessels of any size from entering that river, the settlements of the valley above are constrained to do all their trading at Coos, upon which two steam sawmills were soon built, and two townsites called respectively "Empire City" and "Marshfield" were laid out, and the Coos country in connection with the Coquille is becoming an important point in Southern Oregon.
The extensive gold mining regions of Northern California and Southern Oregon, drawing their supplies from Scottsburg, a distance of about 100 miles north and about 50 west, began to awaken capitalists and another attempt which proved successful was made during the present year (1853) to build up a town on the coast and open a road through the Coast Range of mountains.
A point, with about as good a harbor as Port Orford, was selected a little south of the line of Lat. 42°N., and was called Crescent City, and the parties who interested themselves therein soon opened a practicable wagon road eastward to the mining districts, and in consequence thereof Scottsburg and the Umpqua Valley lost the rich mining trade which has been its main support, and the town soon dwindled down to one store and a few other occupied buildings, while a vast number of good houses were left tenantless.
Lower Scottsburg, the townsite below, located by Wm. Sloan, was entirely deserted. A weekly newspaper called the Umpqua Gazette had been started, but was obliged to go where the business went, and was removed to Jacksonville, a flourishing town which had recently sprung up in Rogue River Valley. And the prospects of the town now appeared to be limited to the support of the Umpqua Valley alone.
The people who remained made every effort in their power to retain the trade, built a wagon road to the interior, and expended large sums of money, and the U.S. government appropriated some 60,000 dollars, which was laid out on the road between Scottsburg and Jacksonville under the superintendence of Lieut. Withers and Col. Hooker. A fair wagon road was made, but the mining trade was gone.
----The fall and winter of 1853-4 passed away without any perceptible changes in my case. I required one person's attention the most of the time. Every day and week appeared to be merely a repetition of the same thing, the discharge from my wound as free as ever, and the pains and sufferings equally as severe, yet I was able to be around a great portion of the time, and required the attention of the Dr. every few days.
In June 1854 the Whigs placed me on their ticket for Treasurer of Umpqua County, and although the Democrats had a large majority, people supported me through friendship and sympathy and I was elected. The office was worth about two or three hundred dollars per year, and of course no work attached to it but what I could readily do.
In September my old comrade Davenport was drowned in the Umpqua River between Scottsburg and Gardiner. He was coming upriver alone with a scow or flatboat loaded with hemlock bark for a tannery, and was fast on a snag near the south side when a small boat in coming up the river hailed him and a short conversation took place. As the boat had passed a little by Davenport sung out, "I am overboard; bear a hand." The boat returned and made diligent search but failed to find him. His body was found some days afterwards and taken to Scottsburg for burial.
Although Davenport was far differently situated in regard to me from Hedden, yet it seemed almost like the loss of a brother when I heard of his death.
The winter of 1854 & 5 passed away, and the spring found me in no better condition of health. We had a heavy snow storm during the winter, the snow falling nearly 12 inches deep & so cold that in many places ice froze across the Umpqua River so that a person could walk across it. Cold weather lasted about 10 days.
During the summer of 1855, my health became some better, my wounds paining me much less than at any season preceding. I was reelected Treasurer and this year the office was worth about $400--a considerable of an income for me.
I was able this summer to ride out on horseback considerable and visited much among the neighbors about Scottsburg and Elkton, the next precinct above. This was a luxury I had not enjoyed for years, and this kind of exercise and recreation I found to be of much benefit to me.
The donation law of Oregon, giving land to actual settlers upon condition that they would reside upon and cultivate the tract upon which they were disposed to settle for a term of 4 years, would expire on the first day of Dec. this year & at the suggestion of others I located a claim of 160 acres in Elkton precinct, a hilly claim, not much adapted for farming, but of considerable value for grazing purposes, which appeared to be the principal moneymaking business in which the masses engaged. I hired my claim improved, stayed on it a little occasionally sufficient to satisfy the requirements of the law, but generally boarded with the neighbors, where I always had the best of care.
This summer for the first time I regained the use of myself so far as to be able to dress my own wounds, which was a great satisfaction to me, for it relieved others of a very unpleasant duty, which everyone appeared willing to perform for me at any time that circumstances might require it.
In Sept. and October I stopped at Job Hatfield's about 4 miles above Scottsburg. "Old Job," as he is more familiarly known, is one of God's noblemen, found only among the pioneers of the Pacific Coast, and next to Cy Hedden the one I value the most highly. I was passing away the tedious time the best I could, hunting a little where it could be done easily, killing deer occasionally, also grouse, quail and ducks when one day, feeling unusually well, I took my rifle and was out along the spurs of the mountains about one mile back from the river, leisurely walking along in search of deer, when feeling somewhat tired I set down upon a log to rest, and observing a quite a peculiar tickling sensation at one of the orifices in the lower part of the abdomen, and thinking that perhaps a leaf or some other substance had found its way under the bandages, I set to work removing them, and at once discovered a small black speck in the opening, which proved to be the tip of the iron arrow point, working its way out in pursuance of Dr. Fiske's theory. I felt a thrill of joy, as if I was about to enter upon a new lease of life. Upon a careful examination I found the opening too small for the barb to be drawn out. I instantly seized my butcher knife, and in less than a minute I had made an incision sufficiently large to extract the point, and soon had the little tormentor in my fingers. It was a very rusty piece of iron one and one-quarter inches long and very nearly three-quarters of an inch wide, and as small as it may appear, it had certainly done a vast amount of mischief to me.
The cut bled considerably, but soon ceased, and I immediately returned to the house, rejoicing in my own mind that there was at last a favorable prospect of my recovery.
As previously stated, the barb and the joint of the arrow shaft had been pulled off inside the body together; the query now was what had become of the piece of wood. It had either decayed and passed off out of the wounds or the action of the body had separated it from the iron barb and it still remained inside.
The Dr.'s theory was that the wood would not decay, that if it was not drawn out with the main arrow shaft that it was still somewhere inside the body and capable of doing injury.
The removal of the iron barb was great relief. My severe and cutting pains pretty much disappeared; the flow of matter became much less. I was better every way, but my wounds did not exhibit any signs of healing.
On Nov. 13, 1855 my brother Luman died at Grand Blanc, Michigan, aged 40 years. He was the second son of the family, and I soon heard of the sad event by letters from home, and like the death of my mother it was a long time before I could reconcile myself to the fact that he had passed away from earth. He died leaving a wife and 4 children, 2 boys and 2 girls.
About this time the Indians of Oregon & California had formed a combination and commenced a fierce war upon the white settlements, and for 6 or 8 months the whole country was in complete commotion. Hundreds of citizens were killed and thousands of dollars worth of property destroyed. Volunteer companies were raised in all parts of the state and sent on to the frontiers to chastise the hostile foe and to protect the isolated settlements. Capt. W. W. Chapman, recruiting in our neighborhood, had authority to enlist a few men for home protection, and although it appeared to me like a burlesque, yet being anxious to make up his company, he enlisted me in his command.
Of course it was not expected that I was to be called upon to perform any duty or to ever report myself to headquarters. But soon after a military hospital was established at Roseburg in Douglas County, which included the upper part of Umpqua Valley, and at the request of the Surgeon General I was admitted therein as a sick soldier in December, and was taken in charge by the medical department.
I remained 6 months at the hospital under the care of some of the best surgeons on the coast, who apparently done everything in their power to relieve me, but no relief was obtained. My wounds were all open and discharging a small amount every day, accompanied by considerable pain, were very obstinate and would not heal.
The fighting during the winter was confined to the Rogue River Valley and the immediate vicinity north and south of it, and to the Walla Walla country in the N.E. part of Oregon and S.E. part of Washington Territory.
Had about 10 days cold weather with about a foot of snow, and cold freezing weather which came on about Christmas, but as soon as the snow went off we had fine weather for some weeks, but considerable rain again in the spring.
The Indian war was closed out in the spring, and the remnants of the different bands in the settled portions of Oregon were gathered up by the agents and govt. officials and placed on the reservations and the volunteers mustered out of services, and the settlers in the different parts of Southern Oregon returned to their homes and resumed their different branches of industry. In May 1856 I was discharged and returned to my home at Elkton, and although I had been well cared for for 6 months, and had had the best of medical treatment during that time, all free of charge, and had a volunteer's discharge for 6 months service, yet I returned not as well as I was in the fall before.
Daniel Test, a young man with a family, lived in Elkton precinct about 1½ miles west of my donation claim, and with him I made my headquarters for some little time, also stopping a portion of the time on my own claim. I was well cared for everywhere, generally was at home most any place I went.
A gold mining excitement at Fort Colville on the upper Columbia attracted considerable attention in the latter part of last summer and fall and this year is revived, and a vast number of the settlers from this vicinity struck out in that direction to replenish their empty purses from the golden sands of that distant region, but the most of them soon found their way back with less money in their pockets than when they set out.
Fort Colville is an old Hudson Bay Co.'s trading post, is situated in the northeastern part of Washington Territory and very near the British line upon the main branch of the Columbia River.
During this year (1856) I bought a few head of cattle and turned them out in the open range on my place, hoping that it might be the foundation for a living or support at least during my not very encouraging future.
Deer were plenty all about my place, and being quite an experienced hunter I had no trouble in procuring venison at any time, while grouse was also very abundant everywhere, also some quail.
The fall passed away & a wet winter followed, and in the spring of 1857 I found myself in no better condition of health than the fall before, my wounds all open, the discharge of pus or matter as free as ever, accompanied by a great deal of pain and soreness, yet fortunately for me I had sufficient use of myself to dress my own wounds.
Was elected County Clerk this year, and entered upon the duties of that office in July for the term of 2 years. This gave me fair wages, light employment and a good office to work in. The office was located at Scottsburg for a time but in the fall was removed to Elkton, the temporary county seat, where the courts were held.
The winter of 1857 & 8 was a peculiar one. No freezing winter, but one continual storm of heavy rain mixed with snow all winter long. The atmosphere was just about warm enough to melt the snow as it fell upon the ground, and consequently there was no time during the winter that the snow was over 2 inches deep.
Grass was short in the range and the cold storms continually rendered this a hard winter for stock. Cattle and horses became poor, and many died. I lost no cattle, but for a week at a time the snow covered their backs an inch thick while there was none whatever on the ground, the warmth of the animal's body not being sufficient to melt the snow off their backs.
The business of my office being light, I had no difficulty in performing all the labors pertaining thereto. My general health was not better than the year previous.
By a California paper during summer (1858) I learned the fate of my comrade Gilbert Brush, who came to Port Orford in the same expedition in which I did and who was with us at the Coquille fight and who made his escape to Port Orford with Capt. T'Vault.
He left Port Orford and returned to California and settled in Marin County & had just been killed by a pistol which was supposed to be unloaded.
Brush was a Texan, was all through the Mexican War, was a stranger to me when we enlisted in the Port Orford Company, and I never saw him after the Coquille fight, yet his death appeared to me like the loss of an old and well-tried friend of years' acquaintance.
At the election in 1857 delegates had been chosen to draft a state constitution and at the same election the people has voted an overwhelming majority in favor of a state govt., and in the fall of 1857 a constitution had been framed and accepted by the people and had been voted in as a free state, and in June  we had our first state election, the Democratic ticket being triumphantly elected.
Thus the summer of 1858 passed away and the wet and dreary winter of 1858 and 1859, very similar to that of the year previous, was upon us. My health perhaps not quite as good during the latter part of the summer & fall as previously. I was afflicted with more pain & less able to handle myself, and general condition more poorly. I passed the winter away at Mr. Test's and at my own ranch, being able nearly all the time to walk or ride on horseback between the two points. December & January I became worse, and was so sore that I could not dress my wounds without much difficulty. The parts of the surface around and near the openings became badly inflamed and swollen and often very painful. This was confined principally to the two openings on the side where the arrow entered.
I became gradually worse, and as Dr. Fiske had moved to Roseburg in the upper part of the Umpqua Valley, I put myself under the care of Dr. E. P. Vollum of Umpqua City at the mouth of the Umpqua River. A small fort had been established a year or two ago at the mouth of the Umpqua River and a few troops were stationed there, and Dr. Vollum had been assigned to duty at that point. He was a naturalist and was securing specimens geological, mineral and otherwise for the Smithsonian Institution at Washington. He had sent me some pamphlets of instructions how to catch, skin & prepare birds, animals, fishes and reptiles and deer; during my leisure I had forwarded to him many very nice specimens, among which was a large panther skin. The Dr., hearing of my old afflictions, very kindly offered his services in my behalf, and invited me to visit him at the fort, which accordingly done, and put myself under his care. He had been long in the U.S. service, had acted in the capacity of surgeon for many years, was through the Mexican War in that capacity, and had the reputation of being a splendid surgeon, and my spirits (although for several years drooping) were brightened when he said he thought my wounds might be healed. After a thorough examination he expressed the opinion that there was some foreign substance inside the body and that called to mind the point of the arrow shaft that people generally believed to have entirely decayed long before this time and to have passed out of the wound with the matter. Like Dr. Fiske, Dr. Vollum was of the opinion the stick inside the body would not decay but that it was somewhere inside and that it was capable of doing mischief. The probe was used freely for several days, and all the openings, 7 in number, were often followed until the cavity of the body was reached, but nothing could be found that gave any idea where the joint was located, and after two or three weeks I returned to my own place at Elkton, where I had my wounds carefully attended to at all times according to Dr. Vollum's directions preparatory to visiting him in the early spring and if necessary to remain there all summer. As before stated the winter was a cold and very rainy one, a great deal of the time snow being mixed with the rain.
The month of Feb. as is often the case in this country was very warm and pleasant; grass became green and spring flowers put out freely in all their beautiful colors & the grouse were hooting in nearly every fir tree in the woods, and to a person in the enjoyment of reasonable good health was a lovely weather indeed. Gradually growing worse, I found it necessary to keep [to] the bed much of the time. Finally on the morning of the 28th of February 1859 as I was dressing my wound by myself I found the sponge to catch upon something protruding from the opening above the orifice where the arrow entered. I was certain at once that the joint of the arrow shaft was there, and with the aid of a looking glass I soon saw a small sharp pointed substance in the opening. I found it to be the wooden part of the arrow shaft, and also found it to be firmly fixed, apparently solid. I could catch the sharp end with the tip of my thumb and finger but could not remove it, so bringing to my aid a butcher knife and pair of bullet molds, I soon made an incision so that I could nip the end, and after a few moments' painful pulling and twisting I succeeded in drawing
The prick or joint was made of vine maple wood, and from appearance it had been whittled down smooth and hardened by the fire. It was not decayed in the least, was as solid as ever, was between 2¾ & 3 inches long and in the thickest place nearly a quarter inch in diameter, and thus the theory advocated by Dr. Fiske in 1851 and adhered to by him to the last, although as much as it had been doubted by many, proved to be the correct one, and I am fully satisfied that had any other course been pursued that my life would [have] been cut short long before this.
The pain subsided, the swollen parts became less inflamed, and after a day or two the flow of matter become gradually less and by the 10 of March 1859 I threw off rags and bandages for the first time since I was dressed at Gardiner on the evening of Sept. 21, 1851.
Two or three days afterwards one of the orifices burst open with considerable pain and a free flow of matter followed but immediately closed up and I soon walked out upon the broad world a well man again, all the wounds having healed and the pain and soreness having entirely left my body, the numerous and frightful-looking scars remaining as a fearful and painful reminder of the gloomy and suffering past, upon which I can safely way without exaggeration I believe that no human being ever suffered more, and probably none other ever suffered as much and live.
The universal kindness and sympathy extended towards me by everybody since I have been on the Umpqua River never can be described.
A child under the paternal roof never could have had better care or attention in case of sickness or distress.
All appear nearer to me than brothers or sisters, and the obligations which I am under to the inhabitants of this part of the valley is lasting and never to be forgotten. People never can be paid for such attention, and while life lasts all will be [in] every way kindly and thankfully remembered by me, and I hope if any one of my numerous friends who have thus been providentially drawn towards me in my affliction shall ever be in need of friends, or ever meet with misfortune or distress, that they may ever find those who are as willing to contribute to their comfort, subsistence and support as were they upon my being thus thrown into their midst in the suffering and helpless condition which I was.
While I have never been able to find words to express my feelings and my thankfulness to a divine providence for carrying me through the pains and perils of the past, yet I am not unmindful of the fact that without providential aid from that Being who sees all things well that I never would have reached the white settlements on the Umpqua or been able to [have] endured the pain, misery and torture of the seven and a half years which followed.
I wrote to Dr. Vollum at once after the stick was removed and asked his advice as to what was best for me to do, and recd. a letter a few days afterwards in which he heartily congratulated me, and said he looked upon me already as a well man. "Dress the wound often, and wash it well and you will be a well man in two weeks" was his prescription, and I found it to be correct to the letter.
Fully recovered, I scarcely knew what to do. It seemed so good to be able to get up and go where I pleased with[out] making extensive preparations in the way of washing & dressing wounds &c.
My stock had increased somewhat, and my 4 years upon my claim was out so that I was not obliged to stay about there or go there at all unless I wished to.
I done nothing during the summer but enjoy that agreeable good health that had so long been denied me.
The summer & fall passed away and winter set in cold, wet and as rainy as usual.
Raising cattle & horses appearing to be the best and easiest business for an Oregonian to embark in, I began contemplating my situation with a view of doing something for the future.
The country in the Umpqua Valley being mountain hills & prairies alternating and the open land being pretty much all claimed up and pretty well stocked, I concluded to let out my cattle for a year on shares and make a tour of Eastern and Northeastern Oregon to see what advantages for stock raising might be found in that extensive grass-growing country.
L. L. WilliamsLoren L. Williams, Journal No. 1, Graff 4683, Newberry Library Apparently written in annual or periodic installments 1853-1859.
Re: The proposed beneficiary herein mentioned, Mr. Williams, was one of the unfortunate sufferers who was overpowered and defeated at Port Orford [sic] on the 21st September 1851. The wounds which he then received have wholly disabled him from the performance of duties and the requisite to obtain the comforts and necessaries of life. Therefore we the undersigned do most cheerfully extend the claims of Mr. Williams upon the sympathies of his fellows, and add opposite to our names our humble testimonial of that duty to others [of] which we may sooner or later stand in need.
Scottsburg Dec. 23, 1851.
WRITTEN FOR THE COAST MAIL.
Of Oregon's Southern Coast.
CAPT. L. L. WILLIAMS, AND THE EXPLORING EXPEDITION OF 1851.
We now enter upon the most important, as well as the most interesting, incident in the history of Coos and Curry counties, the ill-fated expedition of 1851. Of this expedition L. L. Williams, a man well known in Southern Oregon, now a resident of Waitsburg, W.T., and Mr. Hedden, of Scottsburg, are the sole survivors. The expedition was one of great hardship and peril from the commencement, and terminated in a deadly hand-to-hand fight near the mouth of the Coquille River, from which but five came out alive. The part borne by L. L. Williams in this expedition and the bloody conflict in which it terminated, as well as his career since, are of such a remarkable character, and so closely connected with the history of Southern Oregon, that we here introduce, by way of preface, a brief sketch of his life.
L. L. Williams was born in the state of Vermont, in 1831, moved with his parents to Michigan in 1833, his father settling sixty miles northwest of Detroit. Young Williams never attended school, and all the educational advantages ever enjoyed by him were those of his own creating. He was endowed by nature with a strong constitution, and at the age of fifteen was a man in size, broad-shouldered, well-developed, and possessing in its fullest degree the determined and self-reliant spirit that has since carried him through hardships that very few men could survive. It was at this age that he joined a company engaged in hunting and trapping for furs along the northern boundary, from the Lakes to the Rocky Mountains, and remained in this service for five years. He saw many hardships and many narrow escapes; they were surrounded by Indians more or less hostile, and were frequently attacked by small bands, which were repelled by the daring frontiersmen. The experience acquired in this business served him a good purpose in after life. In 1850 he came to California, and the following year came to Port Orford in the steamer Sea Gull, of which Wm. Tichenor was commander. He received a severe wound in the fight with the Indians near the mouth of the Coquille, in September, 1851, being then twenty years of age, arrived at the Umpqua some days later, and remained an invalid from his wound for some years. He was twice County Treasurer of Umpqua County, and twice County Clerk of the same county. Douglas and Umpqua counties were consolidated in 1863, and he filled the office of County Clerk of Douglas County three terms by election and two by appointment, and in the year 1863 Williams was enrolling officer for this district and became Captain of a co. of volunteers and spent the following two or three years with his command among the Indians of Southeastern Oregon.
He has been a Government Deputy Surveyor and chief clerk in the Roseburg Land Office. He also took an active part in the Snake Indian campaigns. In 1874 he visited the buffalo country on the Saskatchewan River in British America and thence to the Black Hills in 1876. In 1879 he made an extended tour of the Yellowstone country and wrote some interesting description of the remarkable scenery of the national park.
Williams is a bachelor of medium height, strongly built, and a man whose acquirements and general intelligence, considering his want of early training, are quite remarkable. He is one of the best clerks in Oregon, and his long experience in the clerk's office united with sound judgment [and] a habit of close observation have given him a better knowledge of the forms of law than is generally to be found outside of the legal profession. He is a good financier and has acquired a handsome competence. He never gambles, uses tobacco nor drinks tea, coffee nor whiskey; is always honest and straightforward in business, and enjoys the fullest confidence of all his acquaintances. He is a strange combination of a self-taught scholar, a lifelong backwoodsman, a first-class hunter, a good explorer and mountaineer, and a persistent Indian hater. For this last-named quality he has as good warrant as any man living, as will appear more fully from the following extracts from his journal, the facts and details for which were carefully noted by Williams and Hedden immediately alter the occurrences narrated, and while the incidents were fresh in the minds of the actors.
Having thoroughly explored the whole coast from the mouth of the Coquille River 80 miles north of Port Orford to the California line about 90 miles south, it was determined to organize a party to explore the interior, and about the middle of August 1851 an expedition of 23 fine young men under the charge of W. G. T'Vault left Port Orford, to examine the Coast Range mountains and find a practicable route, if one existed, for a road or pack trail from the coast eastward to a point on the Oregon and California trail near Shasta.
T'Vault was an old Oregonian, had been six or seven years in the country, and his services had been secured to explore this region of country in the interest of the Port Orford company. He was represented as being a good practical mountaineer and an experienced Indian fighter. The most of the party were emigrants of that year, or the year previous, and had but very little knowledge of the geography of the country, and but few of them had ever been accustomed to mountain life or the ways of hostile Indians, yet all were anxious to be off, looking forward to the time when they might immortalize themselves in some hand-to-hand conflict with the natives, or reach the rich gold fields of the Shasta country, which at this time was attracting the attention of the adventurous gold miners from all parts of the coast.
The parties in interest at Port Orford being more directly interested in the success of this expedition, had provided about eight days' rations, asserting confidentially that no longer time would be needed in passing over the mountains to the mining districts in the interior, where supplies could be obtained.
WRITTEN FOR THE COAST MAIL.
Of Oregon's Southern Coast.
JOURNAL OF L. L. WILLIAMS--CONTINUED FROM LAST WEEK.
Leaving Port Orford in good spirits, we followed southerly along the coast as far as the mouth of Rogue River, which was reached at noon on the fourth day, having lost considerable time in preparing our packs, patching up pack saddles, and rigging for our three or four Cayuse ponies. Game, as usual, was abundant, Geo. Lount and myself being the principal hunters of the expedition.
We saw many Indians as we passed down the coast, but on seeing us they generally fled immediately to the timber, but as we approached Rogue River they became much more numerous and bold, and gathered together in the rear of our party in numbers of 150 or more. Following up the north bank of the river a few miles, the mountains appeared to close in a few miles above us, and deeming it more practicable to leave the river, we bore off to the left over a range of bald hills, the large body of Indians following a short distance behind. In the afternoon we entered a deep little valley or basin of level land, surrounded by bushy timbered hills, where we concluded to camp for the night.
The Indians soon took position all around this little level, while we were comparatively safe in the middle of it; but fearing they might creep nearer under cover of the high grass, we burnt the same, and thus destroyed the only chance for them to approach the camp unperceived by our sentinels. No Indians were seen during the night, and none were visible in the morning.
A small stream ran through this little valley, and in a heavy timbered flat above a large band of elk kept up a continuous whistling all night. Early in the morning Lount and myself set out in advance of the party in search of game. We found the ground had been much trampled up by the elk during the night, and well-beaten paths led off in every direction, but as the animals had stopped whistling at daylight, we could not tell just where they were to be found. Lount followed a fresh trail leading off easterly along the foot of a mountain, while I followed a similar trail leading up to a high summit ridge. Following this ridge for about half an hour, and coming to a thick grove of large green timber, I had the satisfaction of discovering a band of about twenty elk lying down among the trees. From my past experience with these animals I had no fear of their jumping up suddenly and running away from me. I approached the nearest tree and took position about forty yards from the game; the plump and fat animals, as large as horses, some of them with antlers six or eight feet above their heads, was a sight pleasing to the eye of a hunter. The animals soon began to get up; I selected a large one, and with a single shot brought him to the ground. The remainder of the band went tearing away through the forest at a rapid rate in the direction that Lount had gone, and passed very near him, but they were so badly frightened that he failed to get a shot, and soon came up with me. Before the elk was cut up and ready for packing, we were joined by the remainder of the party with the horses, and soon set out with a good supply of fat elk meat, which added much to the luxuries of camp life.
Keeping pretty well back from Rogue River, generally through heavily timbered mountains, following dividing ridges and often crossing deep canyons, in due course of time we reached a point on the river again, perhaps about 30 miles in a direct line from the ocean. From a high and prominent point nearby we had a fair view of the country to the eastward, and a magnificent sight it was, but not very encouraging to us as explorers. A solid range of mountains rising one above the other till they were lost from sight in the dim distance was all that was visible to us. The mountains generally appeared to be heavily timbered, but occasionally a bald hill or a high rocky pinnacle might be seen shooting up tower-like toward the sky, rendering this a beautiful place to study the wonders and mysteries of nature, and anything but a pleasant place for explorers on short rations.
Capt. T'Vault always represented that he had a full and complete knowledge of the entire section of country along the overland trail from the Columbia River to California, therefore most of the men, although doubting his judgment as a mountaineer, had full confidence that he could identify the country to the eastward, but it was found that from a high and prospective point attained that he was unable to recognize any part of the high mountains or the many prominent landmarks in view ahead of us. This was very discouraging to us, for our provisions were nearly consumed and game was all the time getting scarcer, and the men becoming dissatisfied proposed to return, having, as they saw, been under the charge of T'Vault a sufficient length of time to satisfy all hands that his knowledge of the country and mountaineering generally had been greatly overrated.
As an inducement for the men to proceed, the sum of fifty dollars per month was offered to all who would remain with the expedition and not abandon it to return, and nine of the party, rather than desert the enterprise upon which they had embarked and under promise of the wages offered consented to continue on, trusting to Providence; hoping that with good success in killing game our supplies might be made to last until we could reach the road in the interior. The remainder of the party (13 in number) returned to Port Orford, and among them George Lount, the only man in the expedition besides myself who was accustomed to hunting or who ever killed any game. I had concluded to go on with the Captain, and for a further consideration he offered me the additional sum of $150 to carry an express to Oregon City immediately upon our reaching the mining district of the interior.
It was a sorry parting of men; Lount was from Michigan--my own state--was a good hunter, and we had been much together since we had been to Port Orford, and I was sorry to have him leave us.
The Indians, to all appearances, had been left behind, so that now but little sign was to be seen. A little game appeared to inhabit the country, but was becoming more and more scarce every day. The company was now reduced to ten men in all, consisting of W. G. T'Vault, captain; Cornelius Doherty, from Texas; John P. Pepper, from New York; John Holland, from New Hampshire; Cyrus Hedden, from New Jersey; T. J. Davenport, from Massachusetts; Jeremiah Ryan, from Maryland; Patrick Murphy, from New York; Gilbert Brush, from Texas; L. L. Williams, from Michigan; these continued on their weary march with rations considerably reduced and a poor prospect of game to supply their wants. The question of eating horseflesh was every night fully discussed around our campfires, and particularly after a hard and weary march with no game, or any fresh sign visible. From the representations continually made by Capt. T'Vault, it was believed that we could continue on our course and obtain relief quicker than by turning back. After a few days obtaining no game, our rations were all consumed and yet no evidence presented itself that gave us any idea whatever of the distance yet to travel before relief could be obtained.
WRITTEN FOR THE COAST MAIL.
Of Oregon's Southern Coast.
JOURNAL OF L. L. WILLIAMS--CONTINUED FROM LAST WEEK.
The mountains were rough, rugged, heavy timbered, thick, brushy, and much cut up by canyons and deep gorges, making progress very slow and tedious--the men gradually becoming weaker, and unfortunately no one but myself made any effort whatever at hunting. Occasionally a deer was killed, which would furnish but one scanty meal; and at last the game seemed to entirely forsake the path of the expedition. The men were so far reduced that they were desirous of killing a horse for food, but were obstinately refused that privilege. At length, about the middle of the afternoon one pleasant autumnal day, two of the men, Ryan and Murphy, who had remained faithful to the expedition, entirely failed and lay down upon the ground, declaring it to be impossible for them, in their weakness, to go any farther without food, which we all stood so much in need of.
Camp was necessarily made at once, and after resting for a time it was determined that all who were able to go out and hunt should make one more desperate effort to secure a supply of game, and if unsuccessful, upon our return to camp we would kill a horse for food, regardless of opposition or what the consequences might be. A few elk tracks had been seen just as we pitched camp, and besides this, no game nor indication of any had been seen for several days. Our prospects were not very flattering, only two of the men besides myself being able to go; the remainder lay down upon the ground to rest their weary limbs and await further developments. I was possessed of a strong physical constitution, had been much accustomed to frontier life and perhaps better able to endure the privations and hardships than any other member of the company. I set out myself in the direction which appeared the most favorable for game, pointing out to each of the others a different direction, each admonishing the other to take good aim in case game should be met with. I presume I remained off about three quarters of a mile from camp, moving slowly and cautiously, looking anxiously into every thicket and ravine for game, somewhat hopeful, for a few newly made elk tracks had been noticed, when suddenly rapid firing was opened by one of the men and shortly after by the other in a different direction. I halted to listen to the music; and it is impossible for another to conceive with what joy and pleasure I listened to the echo of those rifles as they reverberated through the mountains and canyons, each shot being a pleasant and, I thought, an almost certain reminder of game being secured, and of the grand feast that would immediately follow. Some twelve or fourteen shots were fired, which indicated that a quantity of game had been met with, and that at least temporary relief was at hand. With full confidence in the result and perfectly indifferent as to the future, I at once set out for camp. Some little time after the firing had ceased, a single shot from camp was heard, which I readily interpreted to be a signal for me to return. I had not walked far before I noticed a few sprigs of very fine salal berries, and placing my rifle by a tree, I commenced picking the little clusters from the low bushes. I was soon startled by the snort of an elk, and looking up, there stood, not fifteen steps away, two of those magnificent animals--and my rifle some distance off. I crawled along upon my hands and knees to where it was, picked it up and shot down the finest of the two animals, the other trotting off leisurely into the thick timber out of sight. Believing that my comrades had secured all the game necessary for present use, much nearer camp, I left the huge animal where he had fallen, and wended my way to join my companions at the camp fire.
The other two hunters had returned; and instead of bright and cheerful faces as I expected to see, everything appeared gloomy. Each one had found a band of elk, crippled a few, but all had got away. Afterward one of the men, as he neared camp, had shot a wood rat, an animal scarcely larger than a chipmunk, which they had neatly dressed and cut up into ten pieces, but had refused to eat until all were present. Ryan, Holland, and Murphy, who were exhausted when we made camp, after learning that the others had failed were somewhat hopeful when they heard the report of my rifle, but seeing me come in with no game they sank back upon the ground with a groan of despair. No questions were asked, and each man roasted and eagerly devoured his morsel of wood rat in silence, and when subsequently informed that I had been fortunate enough to kill an elk, a more sudden transition from gloom and sorrow to merriment and enthusiasm was seldom witnessed by mortal man. Three as hearty cheers as half-famished men could raise awoke the echoes of those mountains, and all was commotion in camp. Even Holland, Ryan, and Murphy, two of whom had actually given out during the day, really moved about livelier than I could possibly have done; yet those very men, unaccustomed to hardships and mountain life, would probably have died at that camp in despair had it not been for the superhuman efforts of others who were as weak and emaciated as they, but perhaps not quite as easily discouraged. All hands were active, and the dead elk was soon dressed, and with the aid of the horses every part of the meat was carried to camp. A lot of hungry men, upon suddenly receiving an abundant supply of game, often presents a very interesting spectacle, and our camp on this occasion was no exception to the rule, and might have been of interest to anyone who was not accustomed to wild life. The cutting up and roasting [of the] meat was commenced with great vigor, and large slices were held in the hand for a moment before the blazing fire and then greedily devoured, the men commenting freely upon the improved manner of cooking fat steak. All wore a smiling countenance, and cheerful songs and laughable stories were the order of the evening.
For a few nights past, only a single sentinel had been kept on duty during the night, and by this arrangement the men came on guard every third night. It was my place to take the middle watch this night, and therefore, eating as heartily as I desired, or as any prudent person would, I lay down to obtain a little sleep, leaving my lively companions around the fire, enjoying the marrow bones and fat ribs to their fullest satisfaction.
I was awakened at 11 o'clock to go on guard, and arose and found all the men seated around the fire roasting and eating, and as gaily as men ever are. I went on post and at the end of three hours was relieved, and joined the jovial fellows at the fire, frequently cautioning against eating too much, but was only answered that such good meat could never injure a half-starved man. At three o'clock in the morning I again rolled myself in my blanket and turned in and did not awake until after daylight, when I found over half of the men as jolly as ever, still occupying their places around the fire, roasting meat and eating at their leisure. It had been thought best to eat the bony meat and those parts unfit for drying, and that the remainder be jerked for future use. Tn order to do this, it became necessary to stay over one day at this camp; and when ready to set out next morning all the meat remaining from the elk (which would have weighed at least 600 pounds) could have been tied up in a single pocket handkerchief, while every bone had been picked and broken, and even the marrow extracted and eaten. The men were now in an excellent condition to lie in camp, and were no more fit to travel than before. They were filled to satiety, and were as weak as ever--I felt so and the others appeared the same.
WRITTEN FOR THE COAST MAIL.
Of Oregon's Southern Coast.
JOURNAL OF L. L. WILLIAMS--CONTINUED FROM LAST WEEK.
We set out and in one or two miles came upon [an] old and well-beaten Indian trail, leading from Rogue River on the right, directly across our route in a course about NNW. T'Vault accounted for this by explaining to the men "that the Hudson Bay Company had a fort or trading post on the Umpqua River, 40 or 50 miles back from the ocean; that there was a good trail leading from that fort south through the mountains to Rogue River, and that the Indians from the latter place passed over the trails in great numbers upon their annual trading expeditions to the fort; therefore this must be the Rogue River and Fort Umpqua trail." This theory sounded reasonable, and as we had traveled northward since leaving the coast, the distance was thought by him to not exceed thirty miles; and upon his suggestion we all agreed that relief could be obtained from the fort sooner than any other place. So we entered upon the trail and turned our faces northward. The trail was plain, yet did not appear to have been traveled for a year or two past. In a couple of days we had made about twenty-five miles, over a very rough country, when we descended a long spur of the mountain to a narrow valley of prairie and timbered land, alternating through which a stream of seventy-five or eighty feet in width was flowing northwesterly, which the captain at once pronounced to be the South Umpqua, but after following downstream for a short distance, we all became satisfied that it was some unknown river running into the ocean. (This stream was afterwards called the South Fork of the Coquille River.) Here we found an abundance of fresh Indian signs, and numerous hard-beaten trails and an old camp; a new fishery nearby indicated that this was a favorite resort for hunting and fishing purposes. The second day upon this stream, I struck out in advance after game. Halting by a tree at the margin of a wide bottom of prairie land, I discovered an Indian walking obliquely across my path. When about 40 yards in front I jumped out in sight, determined to kill him if he should run, as I expected he would; but the poor frightened fellow, upon seeing me, dropped his bow and arrows and surrendered unconditionally. He followed me until we met the company, and T'Vault conversed with him by signs and took an unusual interest in him and engaged him to pilot us over to Fort Umpqua, and it appeared to all as if he understood our object. We felt as if the route to the fort should be about north; while by following the Indian trails along the river we appeared to be going west or northwest. After traveling down a day further, we were pleased to find that the Indian guide was ready to leave the river and pursue a more northerly course into the burnt timbered mountains. At a distance of about twelve miles over a rough country, we found ourselves upon another stream, 65 or 70 feet in width, running west, with bottom lands, elk signs and well-beaten Indian trails along its banks. (This was afterward called the Middle Fork, and we must have struck at or near the lower end of Enchanted Prairie.) We followed down this stream several miles, passing a small prairie near where it united with a similar stream from the south, probably the one noted a few miles back. We passed several Indian ranches in this vicinity from which the inmates fled in great fright; sometimes leaving an old blind Indian or squaw to the awful fate which they no doubt thought awaited them. At one camp we obtained a small lot of roasted camas, and finally we came upon a large camp. The Indians were so intent upon cooking salmon by boiling in a willow basket that they did not perceive us until we were within a few feet of them. All at once the naked Indians, squaws and papooses fled in every direction, while one or two little ones, too small to walk, were left to our tender mercy. Their cries made daylight hideous, and which no doubt conveyed the welcome intelligence to their much-terrified mothers that they were still in the land of the living. The boiled salmon that had been so unceremoniously deserted was taken possession of by us and greedily eaten; the water in which it had been cooked was dealt out in rations to the weakest of the party, and was pronounced the most delicate kind of soup. At about this time our Indian guide deserted us, and as is usually the case stealing as many little articles as was possible.
Although a small amount of food had been obtained, yet it was but little relief to us in our weak condition. Elk signs appeared abundant in the vicinity of the river, and some of us were anxious to stop a day or two, and try to secure a supply for future use. But the majority decided that it was best to abandon our horses, and with the aid of a pocket compass, lay our course north for the Umpqua River; which according to T'Vault's theory could not be very far distant. This theory, however, of a trail leading to the fort was pretty much abandoned by him by this time. Hedden, Brush and myself desired to lay by a few days to recruit ourselves and get some game; but this proposition was, as it had been before, by the mistaken argument that game could be as readily found and as easily killed while traveling as could be done from a stationary camp.
The compass was given to me, and our course laid due north. After traveling about four miles, we came to a deep tidewater stream about twenty yards in width, running southwest, and which was found to unite with the main river a few yards below. (This was afterward called the North Fork, and we were now at the "Forks.") This stream could not be easily crossed, so we followed [it] up a short distance, when the Captain gave out, declaring that it was impossible for him to go any further. Resting awhile, I killed a pheasant, and Mr. Dougherty killed a grey squirrel, which were readily eaten raw, as usual. This kind of diet, together with the daily tightening up of our belts, was great relief but did not strengthen us much.
Soon afterwards, while yet undecided what was best for us to do, we heard the sound of canoe paddles below, and soon three canoeloads of Indians came up, were hailed by us, and came ashore. They had no meat; were armed with bows and arrows and on their way up the river on a hunting or fishing excursion.
A consultation was again had, and we were fully satisfied from the tide marks that the stream was navigable from this point to the ocean. The Indians were hostile, of course, and very much to be dreaded. The most of our party were in favor of continuing northward; but as T'Vault was unable to travel, and many others equally as weak, a different course was fixed upon. That was to go down the river in canoes to the coast, several of us contending that as the Indians were very numerous and hostile that we had better buy a canoe and have it under our own control and guidance; but as all hands were so weak and so far reduced, that it was finally decided that we would hire the Indians to take us to the mouth of the river. We gave them pretty much all the clothing we had left for their services, and much more than should have been required to purchase a canoe outright. We were not well dressed for a mountain trip when we left Port Orford, and all our clothing was pretty much worn out; in fact, was almost completely torn from us. After paying the Indians we had but little left.
WRITTEN FOR THE COAST MAIL.
Of Oregon's Southern Coast.
JOURNAL OF L. L. WILLIAMS--CONTINUED FROM LAST WEEK.
We embarked about noon on the 13th of September, and started on our trip toward the sea. We passed many Indians and large rancheries at intervals along the bank, but singular to relate, nothing could be obtained to eat except a small quantity of porpoise hide during the day. Although Indians were seen by the hundreds, no hostile demonstrations had been made, and had it not been for the entire absence of squaws and papooses, they might have been easily mistaken for friendly Indians. But as the circumstances were, it was certain that their disposition was hostile, and that we were liable to be attacked at any time; hence the necessity of observing the greatest possible caution.
The mouth of Coos River was known to be about 20 miles south of the Umpqua, and the mouth of the Coquille River was known to be about 20 miles south of Coos River and about 30 miles north of Port Orford. All that was known of either the Coquille or Coos River was that they emptied into the ocean. As we had traveled northward since leaving the coast at the mouth of Rogue River, we felt quite certain for the time being that we were upon the waters of the Coos, and in that event we intended to proceed northward to the Umpqua settlements. On the other hand, if this proved to be the Coquille, we would follow down the coast to Port Orford. The river traversed one of the handsomest valleys of rich timbered bottom lands to be found anywhere upon the Pacific Coast, with a fine growth of myrtle, maple, ash, etc., peculiar to the river bottoms of Oregon, and eventually will become an earthly paradise. As night set in, the Indians who were in charge of the canoes manifested a desire to camp, so we went on shore on the north bank and camped under some evergreens, where a spur of the mountain reached down to the river. We kept a strict guard as usual during the night, observing also that the Indians were equally vigilant. It was understood that this was to be our last night in the wilderness. The breakers could be plainly heard as they beat upon the beach below. An early hour next morning would bring us to the ocean, where clams, mussels and other shellfish could be obtained. We were happy in our imagination, and were rejoicing at the prospect, and were perfectly indifferent as to whether we were in the Coos or Coquille rivers, for in either case we would reach the settlements at the Umpqua or at Port Orford in two or three days. The night passed off quietly and next morning we set out early--this was the 14th day of September, 1851. The day was an unusually pleasant one. We made good progress with a favorable tide downstream, and all hands were happy. As we advanced, ranches became more numerous and many "fish weirs" were in the course of construction, some of them reaching across the river, indicating that the salmon season was at hand. Arriving at a point three or four miles from the coast, so that the mouth of the river and the ocean could be plainly seen over the low, drifting sand hills, we at once recognized it to be the Coquille River. We were near the end of our river navigation, and Providence permitting we would soon bid goodbye to our canoes, and the magnificent Coquille, whose torturous windings we had followed so far, and would be marching down the beach in the direction of Port Orford.
The Indians, numerous all along the river, increased in numbers as we neared the month. It was now positively known that they were hostile to the whites, for a portion of them had taken an active part in the fight at Port Orford in June last. We had obtained much information of their character and disposition while on our hunting expeditions prior to leaving Port Orford, and were now fully aware of the character of the Indians we had to deal with. We had thus [far] avoided an attack, and did not anticipate any great danger in making our way to Port Orford. We were nearly naked; no one possessed more clothing than a shirt and pants, those being much tattered and torn, while some of them could not boast of that much. A wretched set of miserable men we were indeed. Bareheaded, barefooted, hair long and uncombed, and so far reduced by starvation that our voices sounded hollow and sepulchral, yet cheerful as it was possible for men to be when in that condition. We firmly linked together by a bond of friendship, not easily to be broken. While much blame might be attached to the Captain, yet a band of brothers never appeared nearer to each other. We were all strangers when we set out, but the state of feeling cannot be described and can only be realized and known by men who have been similarly situated. We now realized the fact that much greater caution should be exercised, and the question of our immediate future action in regard to safety and the procurement of food was fully discussed. For the first time, quite a difference of opinion seemed to exist, when all should have been united.
A large rancherie stood upon the right bank of the river, a short distance ahead of us, and perhaps about two miles from the ocean, with a strip of level prairie or marshland about a half a mile wide between it and the timber north of it. (This is at the bend of the river above Hamblock's, and below Pershbaker's store.) Toward this ranch the Indians directed our canoes. T'Vault, Doherty, Ryan, Hall, Murphy and Davenport were in favor of landing and trying to obtain something to eat; while Hedden, Brush, Pepper and myself, more fully realizing the danger, entered a strong protest against it, deeming it very imprudent to land, for there were already Indians enough in sight to overpower and completely annihilate us the moment we should step on shore. The Indians in the two canoes refused to go past this point, and a few of us insisted upon landing upon the south side, where to say the least we would be in no immediate danger. The Captain, so far overcome with hunger and fatigue, thinking that there might be no danger, and representing that he understood a portion of their language, and from the inducements held out to us by a display of fine-looking salmon by the Indians on shore, prevailed upon all the men except four of us to agree to a landing and take the consequences of an attack; asserting that there was no danger or we would have been attacked long ago. Hedden and myself strongly opposed this movement, while several others gave their indifferent consent. Although the expedition had been unfortunate from its departure from Port Orford, and much suffering had been incurred in consequence thereof, yet this proved to be by far the most fatal and unfortunate decision for our little band of explorers; the first to ever traverse the Coquille Valley, and who were entitled to all the honors of the first discovery of its three principal branches, its fifty miles of splendid navigation and its extensive valleys of fine farming land.
Our canoes were landed at the large rancherie broadside upon the beach. A large force of Indians, painted all kinds of colors, and armed with bows and arrows, long knives and war clubs, occupied the bank before us, and at once surrounded the canoes (on the land side), while a score or more of canoes, also well filled with armed Indians, suddenly appeared in the river from the little slough and bayous, and from above and below. Yet the majority could not believe there was danger. Yet Hedden and myself insisted upon shoving out our canoes and landing upon the opposite shore, where the main body of Indians for the immediate present, at least, could have been avoided. But all our considerations and discussions were suddenly closed by an irresistible charge being made upon us from every side by the Indians who numbered not less than 150. Their plans were so well laid, and the attack so sudden, that Ryan, Holland, Murphy and Pepper were instantly struck down with clubs, while every other person in the company except myself were quickly disarmed. All this was done at the first onset, and before anyone had time to fire a gun.
WRITTEN FOR THE COAST MAIL.
Of Oregon's Southern Coast.
JOURNAL OF L. L. WILLIAMS--CONTINUED FROM LAST WEEK.
It appeared from the suddenness of the attack that their plan was for a number of Indians to simultaneously pounce upon each member of the party, disarm them, and then kill them at pleasure. It did not appear to me possible that anyone of the party could escape. I rode in the bow of the leading canoe and had stepped out on the beach and was completely hemmed in. I was separated from my comrades when the rush was made upon us, and I can hardly tell how it prevented myself from being crowded into the river. Two powerful Indians seized hold of my gun, one by the muzzle, and the other by the breech, while I maintained a firm hold upon the middle. A severe struggle ensued with a half a dozen other Indians, [who had] hold of every part of me. I had a good butcher knife, and the day previous an Indian had stolen the scabbard, and I had tied it to my belt with a piece of stout buckskin, and during the scuffle they were continually tugging and pulling at that butcher knife. And if it had not been tied firmly it is quite probable that I would have been killed with my own knife. At about this time the rifle for which we were scuffling was discharged with its muzzle downward. The sudden report giving the Indians fright, I at once unexpectedly succeeded in wrenching it from them. They had crowded me with such force, and in such numbers, that I now found myself surrounded by a large body of Indians on three sides, forming a semi-circle, with the deep river on the other side. From this position to the top of the bank was about twenty steps with a gradual ascent, with the Indians massed nearly as thick as they could stand. With my back to the river, and my heels almost touching the water, it was impossible for me to see anything outside of the small space in which the unfortunate circumstances had placed me. Not one of our little party could be seen, but the yelling and howling of the Indians and the groans of the wounded and dying told too plainly that the imprudence of the majority had led us to the slaughter.
I had not thought of escape but believed it to be my duty to dispose of my life as dearly as my weak condition would enable me. Instantly after gaining possession of my rifle, I drew the breech of it and commenced fighting with all the strength I could command. Striking to the right and left, knocking some of them down at every blow, gradually clearing the way before me until I found myself upon the level bank back from the river. As I advanced a portion of them gave way in front and closed in behind, so that as soon as I left the margin of the river where the fight began I was completely surrounded, with no protection on either side, thus forming the center of a circle, with an excited mass of armed barbarians on every side.
I much regretted that I did not possess the physical strength naturally belonging to me under more favorable circumstances. Not that I could hope to escape, but so that I could inflict more punishment upon the treacherous foe, who, taking advantage of our half-starved condition, had lured us on to destruction under the pretense of friendship and fair promises of relief. Fortunately (I think for me) the greater portion of those who are armed with bows and arrows had places on the outer rim of the circle, while those forming the inner part appeared to be principally armed with clubs and long knives. Situated as I was, encircled by this living mass of savage humanity, in order to maintain my position a moment and prevent myself from being instantly crushed, it became necessary to strike simultaneously in every direction; for as the whole force would fall back from a descending blow in front, at that very moment I was in the greatest danger from the clubs, knives and arrows from those in the rear, who, in the next second, had to be beaten back in the same manner A few blows shattered the stock of my rifle, the broken pieces and fragments flying in every direction, leaving the barrel in my hands. It had been a favorite gun of mine, the barrel being about three feet long. And with it in this situation, fearful blows could be dealt, while thus contending, not exactly for life, but to inflict all possible punishment on the barbarous foe. While we were thus surging to and fro upon the the river bank, and while it required every possible effort of mine to keep the little space in which I was operating sufficiently large for me to handle myself in, I was quite sensible of the fact that my strength was fast failing me. I felt as if I could not hold out long, and concluded that it could not be more than a minute or two, and perhaps but a few seconds before I would accompany my poor unfortunate comrades to eternity.
The thick mass of Indians whom I was combating, and by whom I was so closely surrounded, appeared at last to move slowly in one direction; and that back from the river, without any changes in our relative positions, or any abatement of the furious combat. Myself in the center, situated in such a manner that it required much more power and strength than I possessed to long maintain the unequal conflict. I knew for certain that I was killing some of the Indians, for the pressure from the outside was so great that those forming the inner wall of the circle could not avoid my well-directed blows. During all this time no one would expect me to remain unharmed. I received very many blows upon my body, arms and shoulders. I at last received a blow upon the head from a club which knocked me to the ground, wondering how I had escaped so long. Had they suddenly closed upon me at this particular moment, I might easily have been dispatched. I was not stunned, and no bones were broken. Instantly jumping to my feet, I found the space in which I was fighting smaller and so contracted that I had scarcely enough room to swing my weapon. Being nerved to desperation no doubt accomplished much more than could have been done under a less state of excitement. I soon made room in which to handle myself, and the fight went on as before. The whole force, whooping, howling and yelling as only Indians can, was still moving along, when with one desperate lunge I succeeded in breaking the living wall for the first time, and, as it happened, on the side opposite to the river. This was the first time that daylight had been visible through the crowd since the fight began. As I looked through the gap across the level prairie and saw the thick green timber, a flash of hope, although a faint one, for the first time passed over me. Sudden as thought I rushed through the opening thus made, and as I ran, I looked back over my left shoulder, speculating in my terribly agitated and confused mind as to what the result of this new movement would be, when I was suddenly struck by an arrow between the left hip and lower ribs, which penetrated the abdomen and passed about two-thirds of the way through my body. Animals are sometimes shot in such a manner as to cause them to stop suddenly, even when running at full speed; this arrow had the same effect upon me. Finding it impossible to move, I jerked it out, drawing off the barb, and also the point of the main shaft to which the barbed point was fastened. No pain was experienced when the arrow entered, but the suddenness with which the point was drawn off inside the body, was, to say the least, a painful moment to me. I thought for a second or two that I must give way and fall down from the effects of it, but singular as it may appear, the excitement overcame the pain, and in a moment I had as good use of myself as before.
The fight now assumed altogether a different character, and as I had thought a little about escaping, I was probably much more sensitive of danger than previously. The greater portion of the Indians at this time fell back toward the river where the fight began, to plunder or mutilate the dead or to assist in torturing some poor fellow whose life had not quite passed away, or to look after the dead and wounded of their own; while about fifteen or twenty, armed with bows and arrows, scattered out in Indian style, taking position on every side and only a few feet distant.
WRITTEN FOR THE COAST MAIL.
Of Oregon's Southern Coast.
JOURNAL OF L. L. WILLIAMS--CONTINUED FROM LAST WEEK.
From the positions thus assumed, they opened a rapid fire from all sides at once--all running in one direction, myself in the center; they ran as I ran and dodged as I dodged. What could a poor fellow do in such a fix as that? I made many efforts to bring myself in reach of some of them, or near enough to strike. But whenever a movement was made in any direction, the Indians before me would swiftly glide away, keeping just out of reach, while the others were firing their arrows from both sides and the rear. Feeling much more disheartened than ever, I turned my face towards the timber and ran for dear life without any hope of ever reaching it alive--feeling that I had already received a mortal wound, but was yet alive, and naturally had a desire to escape, if possible, and die in quiet under some tree in the forest near. I was chased furiously for some time in this manner, a perfect string of arrows flying at me from all sides at once; many of them sticking into me, and many others glancing from the different parts of the person. Although covered with blood I did not feel that I had received but the one very severe wound. I was soon very much surprised and somewhat relieved to see all the Indians except two abandon me and fall back toward the river; each of whom were armed with bows and full quivers of arrows, while one of them carried a rifle that had been taken from one of the men. Just at this time I noticed Mr. Doherty a short distance off and almost directly ahead of me, chased by a half dozen Indians, and a dozen arrows or more sticking in him from every side. He very soon fell, and the last time I looked in that direction he was prostrate upon the ground, the Indians filling his body with arrows and beating him with clubs.
I bore a little to the left, hoping to avoid those Indians who had killed poor Doherty, so that they might not join in the fight against me. Those two with whom I was now contending were swift of foot and at once placed themselves on each side of me, about ten feet off, firing their arrows with a speed not easily realized by anyone who has had no personal knowledge of the manner in which these weapons are handled by an expert. I soon concluded that under this condition of things it was utterly impossible for me to reach the timber; and desiring a change somehow, I made a furious rush toward one, but as before observed he cunningly kept a few steps in advance, while the other, never but a few feet away, would fire the hateful arrows at me from behind. A sudden turn on my part, and a hasty pursuit on theirs, would not change the condition of things in the least and all the time productive of the same result. My only clothing to start in with was a ragged shirt and pair of pants, and as if to render my chances of escape more hopeless, just at this time the fastenings gave way and my breeches fell down under my feet. It did not appear to be a time for a fellow to be very particular about his toilet. And as dangerous as the circumstances were, I was obliged to disentangle myself, and kick the old breeches off. I was now only dressed in a bobtailed shirt, and I felt a little more sprightly for a time, but the Indians were in no greater danger than before. They were doing all the firing, while I was receiving all the punishment.
Their constant cross firing while we were chasing each other back and forth rendered it almost impossible for me to dodge many of their arrows. Why I was not completely riddled in this long running fight across the prairie is more than human tongue can tell. My only weapon, the gun barrel, alone prevented them from closing in upon me; they could play all around me but were careful to keep out of its reach. I felt this to be the most dangerous position since the fight began, and possessing the many advantages over me that they did I would gladly have exchanged my position for that earlier in the fight, where I was contending hand to hand in the center of a body of a hundred Indians all as well armed as these. My face, eyes, mouth and person was covered with blood. I felt as if I was almost dead. I had abandoned all hope of escape. My mind was firm, but my nerves were in an indescribable state of agitation. The Indians still had several arrows left, and the timber was some distance off.
I hoped apparently against all hope that some lucky accident would place one if not both in my power. All emergencies have an end, and this one came in a manner the least expected by me. Upon arriving at a point about twenty-five yards from the timber, I turned my eyes from the Indians to see whether it would be possible for me to enter the tangled mass of brush and briers along the margin, in case I should be able to reach the timber, when, stepping in a little hollow, I stumbled, pitching forward headlong on the ground. The two Indians determined not to lose this opportunity, rushed upon me and the one who carried my comrade's rifle dropped his bow and arrows, cocked the gun, pushed the muzzle of it against my breast as I was in the act of rising, pulled the trigger and it snapped The gun was a good one, and I knew it to be loaded. It was never known to miss fire; and as I saw and felt the muzzle thrust against me I felt a sickening sensation pervade my whole system; but it was suddenly dispelled when I realized the fact that the gun had failed to fire. I felt new life infused into my system, and was on my feet in an instant, rifle barrel in hand as usual. The Indian, instead of running, as had invariably been the case before, met me face to face with the breech of his rifle drawn. The critical moment of the whole affair seemed to have arrived, and of course I knew it to be the last final struggle, and hence became, if possible, a little more desperate than ever. On the first pass I failed altogether, and received some blows in consequence. But in the second I was more fortunate, and brought the heavy iron gun barrel down upon his head, killing him almost instantly. During this short interval, the other Indian was at his post not over eight feet away firing his few remaining arrows with all possible swiftness.
My first impulse was to jump over the dead Indian, pick up his bow and arrows and defend myself with those weapons, but before I had time to do so I changed my mind, and snatched up my comrade's rifle, drew it to my face, directed it at my tormentor, and was agreeably surprised to hear a quick and sharp report, and still more gratified to see my last remaining pursuer stagger back and fall down a corpse, with a bullet hole through the center of the lower part of his breast; as he thus fell back the last remaining arrow fired from his nimble fingers glanced upon the side of my head. This terminated the fight. While I was really the victor, I expected to die at any moment from my wounds. I looked back toward the river, and saw the Indians in a large body, swaying back and forth and keeping up their infernal whooping, howling and yelling, and like a correct description of which never can be written. It was a satisfaction to feel that I was now able to strike out into the thick woods unpursued, where I still hoped to find some safe place from the Indians to die in peace and quiet; myself supposing that every one of my comrades had been massacred.
As I reached the timber, Mr. Hedden, who had escaped unhurt, popped his head out of the jungle about a hundred yards above me, and called me toward him. We hurried ourselves as fast as possible into the thick and tangled forest. He had been disarmed and badly pounded with clubs at the first onset, but dodging away, he fled back some distance, closely pursued by two or three Indians, who, after firing several arrows at him, turned back and joined in the general conflict. He thus made his escape across the prairie to the timber without further molestation, and halted in an obscure place and watched our movements; from which position he witnessed the death struggle of poor Doherty, and all the latter part of the conflict in which I had been engaged, without any power to render me assistance, when at last he saw it terminate in my favor.
WRITTEN FOR THE COAST MAIL.
Of Oregon's Southern Coast.
JOURNAL OF L. L. WILLIAMS--CONTINUED FROM LAST WEEK.
He informed me that Davenport had also escaped--that he had been disarmed, and had struck out across the prairie at a rapid rate, and had reached the timber unharmed, far in advance of him, and by this time must be a mile or two away in the woods.
Ryan, Holland, Doherty, Pepper and Murphy were certainly dead; the manner in which I had seen these poor unfortunate men, overpowered and stricken down, was such as to exclude all hope of any of them possibly to be alive.
Hedden knew nothing of T'Vault or Brush, and when they were last seen by me, when I was fighting my way up from the water's edge to the level bank above, T'Vault was in a canoe, some distance out in the river entirely powerless, and the river fall of canoes, with armed Indians all around him striking at him with paddles and clubs. I saw Brush at the same glance struggling near him in the water, the Indians also assailing him in a similar manner, and while they were not positively known to be killed, yet it did not appear to us that either of them could have escaped.
If we had any doubts before, we were now fully satisfied that the attack was premeditated, that runners had been sent down from the upper river to notify the lower bands that we were coming, and to use an expression of Hedden's, "a trap had been set for us and we had walked deliberately into it," although to the credit of some of the party, be it said [that it was] under a strong protest.
We fled back to the timber northwesterly, with the view of striking the coast a few miles to the northward, but had not traveled far before I became suddenly faint, feeling a deathlike sensation passing over me, and calling to Hedden, I fell staggering to the ground; he rushed to my assistance, raised me up partially and although insensible of that fact, yet I had an indistinct recollection of hearing him say, "Goodbye, old boy," as I appeared to be passing away. In a few moments, however, I recovered somewhat and found him busily engaged in his hasty preparations to cover me over with brush and dirt. Feeling some better after the fainting spell, he now examined my wounds. The first arrow received near the river, which passed into near the center of the abdomen, was the only one I dreaded, and the joint or detached portion of the arrow which had been drawn off inside could not be seen or reached, although a wooden probe had been prepared and inserted into the wound to try and find its exact position. Both considered this a mortal wound, but nothing could be done with it. Another wound about four inches above looked badly, but upon probing it was found that instead of penetrating the body, the arrow had struck a rib with such force as to shatter the bone and bend the iron barb into a peculiar shape, but it was easily removed. By far the most painful of any of the wounds was one upon the top of the head, received when dropping down to avoid an arrow from the front. It struck near the crown, as I thought, with a great deal of force, glancing off, cutting the scalp to the bone for the space of two or three inches. The force of this arrow stunned me somewhat, and came very near knocking me down. It pained me severely, the blood running down every side of me in little torrents, leaving blood upon the ground in nearly every footstep. Severe wounds were also noticed and the arrow points removed from the hand, each arm and shoulder; but these were but flesh wounds and gave me no trouble whatever although quite painful, and made ugly sores for some time afterwards. Aside from the wounds mentioned, my hands, arms, head, and nearly every part of my body was cut, jagged, bruised and pounded almost to a jelly, so that it was difficult for me to tell just what part was the most painful.
It had been our intention as we came down the river to proceed down the coast to Port Orford; but circumstances of the fight had left us on the north side, therefore our only alternative appeared to be to strike northward to the Umpqua River settlements about 40 miles distant. Man could hardly be placed in a much more melancholy situation. We were without food, fire or blankets--I had a shirt, and Hedden a shirt and pants. The gun which I had brought out of the fight, without ammunition, and a knife were our only weapons, and the country full of hostile Indians in any direction we might go. After the examination of my wounds, we set out and traveled three or four miles along the coast through the heavily timbered and dense thickets, when again becoming weak and faint, we came to a halt; and the afternoon being somewhat advanced, we rested ourselves until night, and traveling a mile or two after dark, we crawled into a thick bunch of brush to pass away a miserable night. The day had been pleasant, but the night set in cold, damp and chilly.
September 15, 1851.--Last night was cold and foggy. The wound upon the head was the only one that gave me much pain yesterday, but during the night the wound in the body became so sore and painful that all the others soon ceased to attract my attention. The cold was severe enough to chill a well person to death, and that added to my other discomforts rendered this a terrible night of suffering to me. Hedden worked over me all night and did everything he could; we were both rejoiced when morning came, hoping that it might bring us some kind of relief from some source, we [knew] not what. He lifted me to my feet in a feeble condition; I could stand up, was considerably bent forward, was in great pain, but with his assistance moved along through the brush and timber two or three hundred yards at a time without resting. Becoming more and more sore every moment, of course but slow progress was made.
The fog clearing up about noon, and the afternoon pleasant, we halted near the coast to obtain a little rest and sleep if possible. Hedden being unhurt was soon asleep, with the rifle (although of no practical use) by his side. He was resting some, but was in too great agony to sleep. I was lying down upon the opposite side from which the sun was shining, and was startled from this position by heavy shadow being suddenly cast over me, caused by an Indian rising from the ground from the opposite side of Hedden, having our gun in his hand. Hedden was on his feet in an instant, and rushed at the Indian in an agitated manner with the butcher knife, the Indian running to the coast which was about 100 yards distant, Hedden striking at him all the way. While he was at no time more than two steps behind him, yet he found it impossible to reach him, and upon coming to the bluff the Indian jumped down a perpendicular precipice about 20 feet, carrying the gun with him. He had approached on his hands and knees to where we were lying; he was naked and had his bow and arrows with him, and had both of us been asleep, our lives would have been at his disposal. We at once struck back directly into the heavy timber, and finding it impossible for me to travel far, and believing the Indians to be on our trail, we crawled into a thick jam of fallen timber, where we remained until dark, and then moved out and traveled a short distance when we were obliged to halt for the night.
Sept. 16, 1851.--As usual, the night was cold and foggy. Of course no one could sleep. I thought my misery was unbearable the night before, but last night my sufferings were more intense, and I actually thought I would die of hard pain before morning. Hedden in his kindness did everything in his power to make me comfortable, but of course could do nothing to alleviate pain. My body had become so swollen that the skin was perfectly tight, and the abdomen was becoming slightly discolored.
I was unable to get up without assistance, but after being set upon my feet I could bear my weight and walk a little with the aid of a cane on one side and Mr. Hedden's assistance on the other. The country was heavily timbered, thick brush and briers, with deep gorges at short intervals, which we were obliged to cross.
Hedden was unhurt and could reach the Umpqua settlements in a couple or three days, provided he could dodge the Indians on the way. It was not expected that I could live longer than a day or two, and I therefore urged him to leave me and make his way to the settlements and save his own life while he was able, for it appeared to me to be useless for him to risk his life and suffer so much exposure in an effort to save mine, which did not seem possible. But he was firm, and declared his intention to stick by me while I lived and see me decently buried when I died.
WRITTEN FOR THE COAST MAIL.
Of Oregon's Southern Coast.
JOURNAL OF L. L. WILLIAMS--CONTINUED FROM LAST WEEK.
My body was sorer and more painful this morning, and every step seemed to hurt me fearfully. We made slower progress than yesterday, and my resting spells were of course more frequent--about 100 yards was as far as I could possibly go at any one time and could only rest by lying down and could only lie down or get up by being handled carefully and lifted almost bodily. We managed to make about three miles during the day, crossing several very rough gorges, and in the afternoon went into camp completely exhausted. Hedden obtained a little sleep before night, and from a fern patch nearby he gathered a large quantity for a bed and covering which proved to be some protection from the damp, but no protection from the cold.
Sept. 17, 1851.--If possible I passed a more miserable night than ever, and felt a great relief when daylight was visible through the treetops. Hedden worked over me every moment of the time during the long and tedious night, bolstering me up in various ways, changing my position when desired in order to relieve me whenever it appeared possible to do so. Soon after daylight he straightened me out as much as possible, and set me on my feet, and it was found that I could still stand up; we moved along near the coast as usual, towards the northward. My wound was more sore and painful, but I could make about the same progress as yesterday. Hunger seemed about to overcome me--a species of three-leaved sorrel was found and I ate of it quite freely. Hedden left me awhile today a few yards back from the coast and went out on the beach; he saw no Indians but noticed plenty of fresh sign in all trails leading up and down near the beach; he brought back a small piece of dead fish which had washed ashore, which was eaten by me with a keen relish--good water which I needed every few moments was found everywhere at short intervals.
In the afternoon, while lying on the ground, I discovered some little black bugs. I picked up and commenced eating, and found them disagreeably sour to the taste; soon after Mr. Hedden brought me a couple of large snails, which I found to be of rather a delicate favor and cleaned them up readily. Hedden tried them a time or two, but his stomach revolted and he was obliged to spit them out. Once afterwards I saw him try one, but was very careful about it, as if he wished to eat it without hurting it, but very soon gave it up; that was his last effort at snail eating. Their only objectionable feature was the fact that being of such a very slimy nature that they adhere to the mouth so that no benefit could be realized from them until sometime afterwards when small particles could be released by the tongue and swallowed.
The character of the country is the same today as yesterday, and I presume we made about the same distance. We did not halt for good until about the middle of the afternoon, and Hedden took his usual sleep and afterwards gathered a small lot of fine brush for our bed.
Sept. 18, 1851.--Last night appeared to me to be much colder than usual; although we were encamped in the heavy timber about one fourth of a mile back from the ocean, the fog was so dense that we could see but a few yards at sundown, and it appeared cold enough for a well person to perish under more favorable circumstances. Hedden by his energy and perseverance in my behalf managed somehow to keep up a circulation of blood which I would have been unable to have done myself. All the wounds except the dangerous one in the body were raw, running sores, not very painful yet rendering my situation more unpleasant every day, considering our inability to wash and dress them, while the "bad one," as we called it, was getting worse every day, and I becoming less able to bear it--I was bent forward considerable more than yesterday, and the severe sickening pain, together with the cold, hunger and want of sleep, was fast overcoming me. As I became worse Hedden became more imperative in his demands for me to keep up courage and to make all effort possible to move along. I could not walk as well as yesterday, and my pains were cutting at every step. The trials of today were a mere repetition of those of yesterday, but required greater efforts and more careful handling on the part of Hedden in placing me on the ground when stopping and raising me up again when ready to start; dragged along making slow progress and terminated our day's travel at about 1 o'clock p.m. in a small fern prairie near the ocean. The snails of yesterday still sticking to my mouth did not prevent me from enjoying the same slimy diet today. We saw a large number of elk and the constant whistling was heard from daylight in the morning until long into the night. My suffering had become unparalleled; I wanted to die, death would have been a welcome relief now, but the ways of Providence are often wonderful and mysterious. Hedden enjoyed his usual asleep in the afternoon, and it was a great relief to me in my agony to know that one so well deserving was able to obtain that happy rest which was so painfully denied to me. The afternoon gradually wore away and as the much dreaded night set in, I did not expect, nor wish, to live to see the light of another morning--large quantities of fern was placed under, around and over me, and every available means devised to keep me from chilling to death.
Sept. 19, 1851.-- Hedden, worn to a skeleton, working like a beaver all the time night and day, fearfully exposing himself, was doing for me all that could be possibly done, kept me alive during the night, which gradually wore away, and in the morning I was still able to stand up, but a greater effort was required than formerly. I was bent forward much more this morning, and my body more inflamed, swollen and discolored--it was evident to both that a crisis would soon be reached, while no one could have believed I would live a moment from general appearances. Every step, however, carefully made seemed like taking life, yet in obedience to Hedden's command I was obliged to make an effort to proceed, for choice I would have preferred to be left here alone, and I urged Hedden to leave me and go on to the settlements and save his own life, but he peremptorily refused to allow me to even talk about it any further. Progress was slow and painful today, and about one quarter of a mile brought us to the mouth of Coos River. Approaching as near as we deemed safe, I was cached away in a secluded spot, and Hedden cut him a "shillelagh" which, with the butcher knife, as the only weapons we possessed, advanced forward cautiously to reconnoiter the river to determine if possible the number and character of the Indians, and ascertain the chances, if any, for us to cross the river; reaching the mouth he followed along to the right a short distance, and discovered that an arm of the river or slough of 100 yards in width or more put off southeasterly, and on the low brushy flat between the slough and the main river he discovered a single Indian camp, with only a couple of old squaws visible, while on the beach near him an Indian had just landed, and hauled his canoe up on the sand, and had gone up the slough. Hedden returned immediately and reported his observations, and as we were uncertain as to the disposition of the Indians, we concluded to seize upon the canoe and cross directly over to the north shore so as to avoid the ranch altogether, and proceed on our way to the Umpqua.
WRITTEN FOR THE COAST MAIL.
Of Oregon's Southern Coast.
JOURNAL OF L. L. WILLIAMS--CONTINUED FROM LAST WEEK.
We reached the canoe in a short time--I was helped into it, and Hedden took the paddle and shoved out; judging from his awkwardness I presumed this was his first attempt at canoe navigation. We found the ebbing tide so swift that the crossing could not be made, and it was with much difficulty that he managed to land at the Indian camp, where we surrendered ourselves to the hospitality of the two old squaws, whom we found to be friends indeed. We could only converse by signs, but found that they were friendly to the whites, and while not at war with the Coquilles and lower tribes, were not on very friendly terms. We also learned that all the Coos Indians except this family were up the river at the fisheries. These squaws had a full knowledge of what had happened to our party at the Coquille River, and made every effort in their power to help us. A fire was kindled, a luxury we had not enjoyed since the 13th, and I soon became warm, which instead of relief appeared to add to my misery; a large quantity of small fish, about the size of a sardine, were laid before us. I was unable to eat much, but Hedden's appetite was good, and in fact he was ravenous; and to use an expression of his "that he ate enough to last him to the Umpqua," conveys but a small idea of what a hungry man can eat.
The squaws appeared uneasy while we were there, but the old Indian soon appeared on the beach, and one of the squaws took the canoe and soon landed him at camp. He was excited and proposed to set us over the river at once. I was laid down in the bottom of the canoe, Hedden in the bow, and the Indian in the stern; we were soon moving up the main river, keeping close along the shore for some distance, when we struck out for the opposite side, about one mile distant. The tide was running down swiftly, and the wind blowing up furiously; it was rough for our little canoe, the water slopped all over me, and when we landed a little way above the ocean the canoe was half full of water. I was fully as comfortable as I had been any time today, and was perfectly indifferent whether I got out or not, but after some difficulty and hurting me considerable, Hedden and the Indian lifted me out of the canoe and set me upon the beach, and complaining as usual. Hedden pronounced me "all right as long as I could stand alone." The Indian set out for home and we passed slowly over the low drifting sand hills to the ocean and turned our faces towards the Umpqua, 20 miles to the north, and apparently a smooth sand beach all the way, with drifting sand hills on the right. The wind was northwest and blew so hard against us that without Hedden's assistance I know I could not have kept my feet a moment; resting at shorter intervals than usual, it became necessary for us to camp early in the afternoon, so reaching a lone black pine tree a few yards back in the sand hills, we camped, exposed to the wind, fog and cold, chilly dampness, where we were destined to pass another miserable night.
Sept. 20, 1851.--Last night was perceptibly more severe than any previous one--Hedden improved all his time rubbing me carefully, covering me up in the sand, bolstering me up in one place and easing me down in another in his efforts to relieve me, and after a tedious night we had the satisfaction of seeing morning appear. I had an inward fever, or something of that sort, which caused me to thirst much more than usual, but we had seen no fresh water since we left the Indian camp at Coos, and was now suffering for drink in addition to my other tortures.
The brush and briers we had been continually passing through had so cut my feet and legs that they were completely raw, and Hedden's was in equally as bad a condition. I felt weaker, wounds sorer, my body more discolored and my pains much more severe every day, yet was barely able to stand upon my feet, and by the time it was fairly light Hedden had me under way dragging and almost carrying me along over the sandy beach, resting at every few yards. The morning was cold and thick, but soon became fair; at nine or ten o'clock the high prevailing winds set in and continued all day. The beach was smooth, no obstruction in the way, yet progress was slow and painful as usual. About noon we reached a stream of fresh water about 20 feet wide breaking in through the sand hills--I was much in need of drink, but this water was warm and tasted disagreeably swampy and did not quench thirst a bit. I drank too freely and became sick in consequence of it. We rested an hour or two at this point and then moved on--I did not think I could go any further; but Hedden insisted upon a quick start, so we drifted along a few rods at a time and did not go into camp until nearly sundown, and as anxious as I had been to stop, I dreaded it when Hedden announced his intention to turn off out of reach of the spray and camp in the sand, with no tree, no shelter and no protection whatever but mother earth for a bed and the canopy of Heaven for a covering.
Sept. 21, 1851.--If mortal man ever suffered in this world, it was myself during the past night--I walked, cried and prayed for death, in any form; I cared not how it came, and end my torture at once, but all to no purpose; in due time the light of another day appeared.
Hedden set me upon my feet this morning, and I was unable to bear my weight and he laid me down again on the ground and hesitated for a few moments what to do.--I begged of him to go on and leave me alone in the sand hills to die, but he was more determined than ever and declared that while life lasted I must move on; from this decision there was no appeal. He therefore tore up his shirt, twisted it into a large rope, fastened the ends together forming a kind of loop of about 3 feet in diameter, threw this over his head and under his right arm, in the manner in which a hunter wears a shot pouch, then lifting me up and thrust my head and shoulders through the loop under his right arm, so that I could bear a portion of my weight upon him, and in this manner he walked me along at the rate of about 200 yards at a time; this he considered good progress. This proved to be our last day's march; we were at the mouth of the Umpqua River about the middle of the afternoon. Day was foggy and cold--We came upon the dismantled remains of an old brig, called the Caleb Curtis, wrecked at the Umpqua but a short time before, and which was driven ashore on the south side of the river, and under the lee of this I was placed and Hedden started up the river as fast as possible for assistance, not knowing how far he would go, or how long he would be gone. In about half an hour back he came with three or four Indians from a ranch above, and I was packed to their camp where water was obtained, and again placed by a fire, but before I was warmed up we heard the sound of a rowboat in the river, which proved to be Capt. Gibbs and some of his men from the brig Almira which happened to be in the river above, and these parties had come down to obtain an iron strap from the old wreck, but seeing our condition, he took us in his boat and returned with us to Gardiner, about eight miles above, which was the nearest point where anyone was living, which we reached a little before dark. We were received with that hearty and hospitable welcome only known to our early pioneers; I was soon washed all over and my wounds dressed for the first time.
WRITTEN FOR THE COAST MAIL.
Of Oregon's Southern Coast.
JOURNAL OF L. L. WILLIAMS--CONTINUED FROM LAST WEEK.
No one can possibly represent or appreciate our feelings upon our delivery from the trying scenes of the past. It was a pleasure to me even if I had known i should die the next moment. Hedden was pleased to be able to say that he had done his whole duty faithfully. With his long and matted hair, his thick beard, no clothing but his ragged breeches, his feet and legs dreadfully lacerated, his cheekbones breaking through the akin, he was really a pitiful object to look at, but he was soon washed, dressed, combed and looked like quite a different person. I was naked except a ragged shirt. I had made no pretensions to wash for more than two weeks. Dry blood and matter covered every part of my person. My hair long and matted together with blood and rendered worse by running wound; wallowing in the dirt night and day had not particularly improved my personal appearance. The most of the bruises and smaller wounds were nearly well. The "bad wound," as Hedden all the time called it, which was giving me so much trouble, had not bled any at all outside, and had been firmly closed for several days, and the whole lower part of the abdomen was of deep black and blue color, and swollen as tightly as it was possible for the skin to be drawn. The task of washing and dressing my wounds was no easy one. I was held up by two persons and carefully rubbed down by the third. My hair closely trimmed, and in due course of time the wounds were pronounced dressed and was put to bed on a mattress on the floor, from which I never expected to rise. A little gruel was prepared and brought to me, but my appetite was gone.
At my request Hedden made his bed near me so that I could lay my hand upon his face to instantly wake him if necessary for any purpose during the night. All hands about the house went to bed and Hedden was sound asleep in a few minutes.
I was suffering more severely than at any former time; suddenly about midnight, I felt a peculiar sensation where the arrow entered. I placed my hand to the wound and found blood or matter flowing freely therefrom. The severe pain suddenly ceased; I made a motion towards Hedden, not knowing whether I was dying or going to sleep, and was conscious of nothing further until I was awakened from sound sleep next morning. This was the first sleep I had had since I was wounded. It was about an hour past sunrise; Hedden and others were standing around me. I felt easy but was too weak to move, and asked permission to remain as I was and sleep more, but of course it was necessary to remove me from the bed and again dress my wounds. The wound in the body had opened and a large amount of bloody substance had escaped therefrom; the bed was full, blankets completely saturated, and a large stream had run across the floor and formed a good sized "puddle" outside; no one present estimated the amount to be less than 12 quarts. On being washed and dressed, I was surprised, as were all others present, to find myself able to get up out of a chair and walk across the house. I slept nearly all day and one man's care appeared necessary; Hedden was detailed to take care of me.
When we arrived here, we had expected to find Davenport, but he had not yet arrived; on the third day he came in and represented that he had been lost in the mountains, hence the delay. He was much emaciated, but being unhurt, he was soon able to go to work, which he did.
Remaining here under Hedden's kind care, no change in the wound, which required dressing three or four times a day, and at the end of 8 weeks we received papers from Portland, Oregon, bringing me the welcome intelligence that T'Vault and Brush had both escaped; neither of them being much hurt; they had succeeded in crossing the river in a canoe; and had made their way to Port Orford, and T'Vault availing himself of the first opportunity had proceeded to Portland and thence to his home at Oregon City. He published an account of his unfortunate expedition, of the escape of himself and Brush, and as was reasonable for him to suppose, published a list of all the remainder of the party as killed. His published statement of his escape was as follows: "That he was knocked into the river and immediately beset by Indians in canoes, that while he was struggling in the water a young Indian guided his canoe into their midst and helped him into it, then paddled to where Brush was struggling and helped him in also, gave each of them a paddle, headed the canoe for the south bank, and then jumped into the water himself and swam ashore. We paddled over to the south side of the river and escaped without any further molestation and made our way to Port Orford." This report appears strange indeed to us who participated in that sad affair, but never was disputed by Brush, who frequently wrote letters for publication.
Three months passed away and no perceptible change having taken place, Dr. E. R. Fiske came in from San Francisco, where he had been to meet his family; he offered his services and examined and probed the wound, but no arrow point could be found, although the probe would follow in any direction after passing through the abdomen. He decided it to be impracticable to attempt to extract the arrow, and advised that I wait and let nature pursue its common course. He claimed that it would work out itself in time, but could not tell whether it would be six months or ten years, but that if I could stand it, relief would be sure to come.
In January 1852 I was put into a boat under the charge of Capt. H. Spicer and moved to Dr. Fiske's hours at Scottsburg, 20 miles up the river, where I remained for many months, having the best of care possible for any one to bestow.
There was not much change noticeable until about Nov. 1852, when the opposite side from the arrow entered became sore and inflamed, and after many days of intense suffering it opened, and speedy relief followed, similar openings occasionally occurring until there were seven orifices in all, which could be probed through into the cavity. The care and attention required increased with this, and Mr. Hedden either attended to me in person or secured the services of someone to act in that capacity for him. Each of these new openings was painful and severe, and each revived Dr. Fiske's theory and all believed the arrow coming; but it was not until after more than 4 years of suffering and torture that the point made its appearance nearly opposite where it entered, having worked its way directly through the body.
The orifice where it first appeared was not of sufficient size for it to pass out, and with a knife I enlarged it so that it could be drawn out with the thumb and finger. The barb was one inch wide and about 1¼ inches long, made of iron. That came out, but where was the joint of the arrow shaft to which it was attached? Somewhere inside but could not be found with a probe. The action of the body had separated them, and the other part must be removed before I could get well. The openings appearing much lower on the body than where the arrow had entered, gave the matter or pus an opportunity to flow off as fast as formed, thus relieving me of much pain, for prior to this time, it would accumulate inside and great suffering followed; aside from that, I needed as much care and attention and was nearly as helpless as ever.
I possessed nothing in this world but friends, and they seemed to vie with each other to see who could do the most for me; I was at home everywhere, and always well cared for by all. I had become able to walk a mile or so in a day so that I could visit from one to another; this was a great pleasure to me.
WRITTEN FOR THE COAST MAIL.
Of Oregon's Southern Coast.
JOURNAL OF L. L. WILLIAMS--CONTINUED FROM LAST WEEK.
No further change was noticed until the winter of 1858 and 1859. During this winter I got much worse and suffered a great deal of pain. That portion of the body near where the arrow entered became much swollen and I was obliged to keep [to] the bed much of the time. Finally, on February 28, 1859, the end of the wooden joint of the arrow, to which the barbed point had been fastened, made its appearance on the surface at the most inflamed part near where the arrow entered, and with the aid of a pair of bullet molds I succeeded in drawing it out. It was a hard vine maple stick, about three inches long, solid as ever, and each end had been hardened by the fire. Thus Dr. Fiske's theory proved to be the correct one, and I am now fully satisfied that had any other course been pursued, my life would have ended long before this.
The pains soon subsided, the swollen parts become less inflamed, the flow of matter ceased, and in ten days I threw off rags and bandages for the first time since September 21, 1851 and stepped forth a well man.
It is impossible for a person to ever describe or portray the general feelings of friendship and sympathy manifested towards me by all, and particularly by the families with whom I became acquainted. A child under the paternal roof never could have received better care or attention than was extended to me by everyone; all appear nearer and dearer to me than brothers and sisters, and my obligations and sense of gratitude to those noble men and women, who were thus Providentially drawn towards me and so mercifully came to my assistance in those trying times, will never be erased from my mind.
A debt of gratitude of such magnitude can never be repaid. They have become so endeared to me that, if necessary, my life should be at their disposal.
This is the class of people, the pioneers of the Umpqua Valley, to whom I owe my existence, my life and my all.
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THE SILVIES RIVER EXPEDITION.--We have been furnished with a copy of the orders lately issued by Capt. Williams, commanding the Silvies River expedition against the Indians. If the gallant Umpqua company perform as they promise, we shall have no more trouble with the savages in the upper country. We trust those troops have ere this had an opportunity to show their mettle, but hope they do not have to "subsist" on the Indians they kill. The following are these celebrated orders:
HEADQUARTERS, SILVIES RIVER EXPEDITION, }General Orders. No. 7.
CAMP WRIGHT, OREGON, Oct. 6, 1865. }
First. Troops of this command will at all times have at least ten days' rations on hand, and in such condition that the available force may be promptly moved without any delay upon receiving information in regard to Indians.
Second. All Indians south of the Canyon City road are hostile. No friendly Indians exist within the jurisdiction of this command. They will, therefore, wherever found, be pursued and punished as such, regardless of any professions of friendship they may make or any certificate of good character they may hold from Indian agents or other persons.
Third. The Indians of Eastern Oregon have been treated far too leniently, and it has recently come to the knowledge of the whites that some of the most noted and warlike chiefs of Oregon have been waging an unmerciful war against men, women and children on our frontiers, and at the same time under a different name concluding treaties of peace and receiving liberal bounties from the government officials of California.
Fourth. The experience of the last four years has taught us that paper treaties are productive of no permanent good; they are only made to be broken by the Indians the first opportunity, and in consequence thereof, hundreds and perhaps thousands of our best citizens have lost their lives. The time has now arrived when a more permanent treaty than a paper one is required to be made for the better protection of our frontiers, and this expedition is expected to make the desired treaty within its jurisdiction. It is not to be made by agents, missionaries and Indian sympathizers on paper and parchment, with pen, ink and pencil, but is to be made by soldiers, and made on the mountains and plains and in the valleys of Harney Lake, Malheur and Silvies rivers, and with the musket and bayonet and carbine and saber.
Fifth. Officers, commissioned and non-commissioned, commanding expeditions and scouting parties, will not under any circumstances leave a trail of Indians or abandon pursuit after striking the trail, but will pursue them with the utmost vigor and energy. The manner in which the most damage can be inflicted upon the Indians is to be the first great consideration. Personal comfort and sympathy for poor horses are but secondary considerations while it is possible to strike an effectual blow at the savage enemy.
Sixth. Any officer (commissioned or non-commissioned) in charge of departments or scouting parties, who abandons a trail of Indians, without first exhausting every means in his power to overtake and punish them as they deserve, even subsisting themselves and their men upon wild game, horseflesh and dead Indians, if necessary, will be unfavorably mentioned in the official reports.
Seventh. No terms or parleys are to be had, but an indiscriminate slaughter of squaws and papooses will not be permitted, but when a descent or charge is to be made upon Indians in any opposition whatever, in fortified places, in deep canyons, in camps or rancheros (like the long-delayed judgment), let the "retribution be swift and terrible," and as irresistible and not less destructive than a crashing thunderbolt in their midst.
Eighth. Examples of brave and gallant conduct in line of danger will be honorably mentioned.
Ninth. The Captain commanding relies upon the activity and prompt cooperation of every officer and soldier the present campaign, and all the available force, when not otherwise employed, will be constantly engaged in scouting after Indians and punishing them in the manner they have so long deserved.
Tenth. The operations of this expedition must be made in such a manner as to thoroughly convince the savage barbarians that the "Great Spirit" whom they worship has, at last, become displeased at their indiscriminate slaughter of our miners, emigrants, innocent and helpless children, and that their depredations, and their cruelties must cease and treaties be respected, or the more permanent treaty will soon be closed by the extermination of their entire warlike tribes.
By order, L. L. WILLIAMS,Capt. 1st Ogn. Infantry, Commanding Silvies River Expedition.
Oregonian, Portland, November 17, 1865, page 1
FROM HARNEY LAKE VALLEY.--We have information from Harney Lake Valley that sometime in December the Indians drove off from Capt. Williams' camp twelve head of beef cattle (all he had), and eight horses. The snow is two feet deep in that section of country. There are some Indians hid away down the valley, and Capt. Williams has been out after them without success. Several of his men had their feet badly frosted while out on this scout. It is thought that if Capt. Small's cavalry command at Camp Watson can get over to Harney Lake this winter, through the mountain passes, something decisive may yet be done towards subjugating the Indians, notwithstanding the reduction of the forces in the field, and the lack of the proper distribution of the cavalry.
Daily Mountaineer, The Dalles, January 14, 1866, page 2
Capt. Williams' company of Oregon infantry arrived at the Dalles last Monday and will be immediately mustered out.
"State Items," Oregonian, Portland, June 13, 1866, page 2
Capt. Williams has been scouting around the most of the winter, but has not been able to get a fight out of the Indians.
"From the Harney Lake Country," Daily Mountaineer, The Dalles, March 21, 1866, page 2
MUSTERED OUT.--Company "I," 1st Oregon Infantry, was mustered out of the service of the United States on last Thursday, by Capt. Williams, U.S.A. This was the last company of volunteers in the service. The boys have always conducted themselves well, and have, during their short sojourn in Jacksonville, made a universally favorable impression upon the people of this community. They have again demonstrated the principle that Americans can be soldiers one day, spoiling for a fray, and the next, peaceable citizens.
Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, July 20, 1867, page 3
APPOINTMENT.--We learn that Capt. L. L. Williams has been appointed to fill the vacancy caused by the death of R. A. Cowles, late clerk of Douglas County. No better appointment could have been made, the appointee having discharged the duties of the office as deputy for nearly a year, and we understand that it gives general satisfaction.
Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, October 19, 1867, page 3
"Roseburg, Ogn., March 11, 1868," Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, March 14, 1868, page 3
Capt. L. L. Williams, County Clerk of Douglas County, has been confined to his bed by an attack of fever. He is able to be about again.
Fire at Hillsboro.Douglas Independent, Roseburg, November 16, 1878, page 3
A large warehouse belonging to Mr. L. L. Williams, at Hillsboro, was destroyed by fire last Sunday night. There were stored in the building between 7,000 to 8,000 bushels of grain belonging to the farmers living in the vicinity.
Captain Williams Returned.
Capt. L. L. Williams returned from the north Tuesday evening. Since he took his departure from this valley, the Captain has traveled over Grande Ronde, visited the Coeur d'Alene Mountains, and took in Spokane, Palouse and Walla Walla. His appearance is that of one who has performed a long journey and enjoyed his travels, and his welcome here is that of one who enjoys the unselfish friendship of many.
Douglas Independent, Roseburg, December 14, 1878, page 3
The Odd Fellows have been the first to appreciate the general want and provide for it; and Philitarian Lodge No. 8 has purchased a tract of ground, beautifully situated and in every way suitable for the purpose for which it is intended, on the south side of the Deer Creek road, about one quarter of a mile east of town. A survey of the tract has just been completed and a handsomely colored and comprehensive map made of it by L. L. Williams, surveyor, by order of the trustees.
"Odd Fellows' Cemetery," Douglas Independent, Roseburg, December 28, 1878, page 3
L. L. Williams has returned from Eastern Oregon, but will shortly take a trip to Yellowstone Park. He has the appearance of enjoying the best of health."Items in Brief," Douglas Independent, Roseburg, May 31, 1879, page 3
A CASE OF CRIM. CON.It will be remembered that L. L. Williams ran for the nomination for Secretary of State against Hon. R. P. Earhart in the Republican convention last year, and came very near beating him. Now we have it from the best authority that the same Williams has recently eloped with the wife and child of one of our recent Benton County citizens. It seems that the family to whom we refer about a year ago left here and went to Waitsburg, W.T., and this man Williams--this high-toned Radical leader--some months ago left his home at Roseburg and went to the "upper country," made his headquarters at Waitsburg, and, becoming acquainted with this lady, won her affections from her husband, and finally eloped with her and the child, and it is thought the guilty parties went to Idaho. The deserted husband and father has returned to this city.
Williams was for eight or ten consecutive years County Clerk of Douglas County, and was one of the most influential leaders of the Republican Party in Southern Oregon.
We give these facts as we received them from the wronged and deserted husband, and have no doubt of their truth. The abandoned husband and erring woman were both born and raised near Albany.
State Rights Democrat, Albany, Oregon, July 11, 1879, page 2
THEIR LEADER GONE.The Republicans of Douglas County, in this state, have concluded to abandon the hope of ever again carrying that county since they have heard of L. L. Williams' recent "skip" with another man's wife.
State Rights Democrat, Albany, Oregon, July 18, 1879, page 2
What with L. L. Williams running off with Tom Daniels' wife and Rev. H. K. Hines' true inwardness with another married woman, the last Radical state convention had truly a handsome mess of fish to choose candidates from! Next!
"Nest-Hiding," State Rights Democrat, Albany, Oregon, July 25, 1879, page 2
NOT GUILTY!All have heard of the scandal reported by the Albany Democrat, connecting the name of L. L. Williams, our former County Clerk, with an offense against good morals. As all are acquainted with the Democrat's story, it is not necessary to repeat it in these columns. As soon as the story appeared in the paper named, Judge Hursh wrote a letter to Mr. Williams, directing the same to Boise City. As Mr. Williams had already passed that place, the letter was forwarded to Virginia City, Montana, where it found its owner. Williams immediately wrote a letter to the Democrat, which letter should appear in that paper this week, and also one to Judge Hursh. In the latter letter Mr. Williams denies the charge in every particular. At the beginning he states he had never yet seen the woman he would run away with or the woman who would run away with him. He admits that he was acquainted with both Daniels and his wife, but this acquaintance grew out of the fact that the father and mother of Mrs. Daniels waited upon him when he was confined to his bed in Douglas County from a wound received from an Indian's arrow during the Indian wars in Southern Oregon, and a desire to help in return all those concerned in helping him when he was in need of aid. He never ran away or had anything to do with Mrs. Daniels otherwise than was proper, and instead of Daniels being an injured man, he is a scoundrel who would desert the wife and circulate a story detrimental to her good reputation in order to blackmail a friend who had helped him and his family with money whenever it was needed to purchase a livelihood.
L. L. Williams Heard From.
As to Mrs. Daniels or Daniels Mr. Williams says he knew nothing from the time he left Waitsburg for Virginia City until Judge Hursh’s letter reached him, and then he was completely surprised. Mr. Williams also states it was not his intention to return to Oregon before he made a trip through the Yellowstone country, but now he felt that it was due his many friends that the slander should at once be cleared up, and he will at once return to Oregon. Without saying further, we shall await the appearance of Mr. Williams’ article in the Democrat.
From the first we had doubts as to the truthfulness of the story and knowing Mr. Williams to be a wealthy man we thought there was a possibility of an attempt at blackmail on the part of Daniels, and consequently we published not a line upon the subject. Time has proven we were correct in our conclusions, and soon L. L. Williams will be here to meet his slanderers face to face, and prove how base they are. We are happy to hear he is innocent, and to know we were not mistaken in the man.
Douglas Independent, Roseburg, August 16, 1879, page 4
FROM L. L. WILLIAMS.
VIRGINIA CITY, M.T., }
August 1, 1879. }
I have just received (from your paper) an editorial article headed "A Case of Crim. Con.," and as I am made the subject of gossip thereby I deem it my duty to reply to the same.
I was a candidate before the last Republican state convention for Secretary of State, but did not come anywhere near beating Earhart.
I have been Clerk of Douglas County, several times, but was never an influential leader, nor any kind of a leader of the Republican Party.
I have been about Umatilla, Walla Walla, Waitsburg and Dayton considerable of the time during the last year.
The article in question goes on to state, on the authority of one Mr. Daniels, that I have "eloped" with his wife and child. What an absurdity! Nothing in the world could be further from the truth than that. I have not "eloped" with anyone, and never saw a man's wife I wished to "elope" with, nor one who wished to "elope" with me. I have no desire for another man's wife that he can't get along with himself.
Mrs. Daniels was born and raised in Douglas County, and afterwards removed to Linn, and I have been on good terms of friendship with her and her father's family ever since her earliest babyhood. During the past year she has been living with her husband, at her father's, near Waitsburg. I left there on the 29th of June last for the buffalo country, on the Yellowstone River, leaving Mrs. Daniels and her husband and parents all there together, as usual, and have made my way thus far--a distance of over 700 miles--on horseback, and was never quite so much astonished as I was upon reading the article referred to.
I infer that Mr. Daniels and his wife have separated, but have no idea what his object can be in so strangely misrepresenting this matter to you as a public journalist. If Mrs. Daniels has run away with anybody it is somebody else besides me.
Mrs. Daniels is called "an erring woman," which will cause her and her large circle of friends to feel sad indeed, for as to her reputation I never heard a word against her before.
For her sake, as well as that of her friends, and for my sake, as well as that of my friends, I respectfully ask that this communication be published in the Democrat, and that the people where each of us are known, and particularly in Linn and Douglas counties, be not too hasty in forming or expressing opinions injurious to others, upon the mere statement of Mr. Daniels, whom it appears is laboring under a very great mistake, or is actuated by sinister motives.
L. L. WILLIAMS.State Rights Democrat, Albany, Oregon, August 22, 1879, page 2
The Albany Democrat says Daniels, whose wife it was reported L. L. Williams had eloped with, is pushing his suit for divorce from the woman Daniels persists in declaring was literally at the bottom of the trouble, and that "his grounds of complaint are of such a nature that Williams had better leave the Yellowstone country and hurry down there if he wants to clear his skirts of the dirty transaction.Douglas Independent, Roseburg, September 13, 1879, page 2
L. L. Williams at Home.
Ex-county clerk Williams has returned home from the Yellowstone country. It was his intention to remain in the park until April at least, but the slander reported by Daniels and which found place in the columns of the Albany Democrat called him back sooner. Our conversation with Mr. Williams would lead us to believe that he is anxious for a vindication and an opportunity to prove that the slanderous story is false from beginning to end; then the lady, whose reputation is in question, Mr. Williams has known from childhood, he being confined to his bed by a dangerous wound in her father's home at the time of her birth and long afterward. He certainly could not do otherwise than return for her protection under [the] circumstances. The debt of gratitude he owes her father would compel him to do so when all other considerations were as nothing. The entire circumstances will soon be made public through the testimony taken in a court of justice, and Mr. Williams expects nothing more than vindication of Mrs. Daniels as a virtuous lady, and the conviction of Daniels, as he has commenced a suit not justified by truth or honesty. At Mr. Williams' request, we say nothing further upon the subject. Mrs. Daniels does not desire the case to be prejudiced by any newspaper comments, being satisfied that the testimony offered in her behalf will prove that Daniels has slandered the reputation of his own wife.
Douglas Independent, Roseburg, December 6, 1879, page 3
RETURNED.Douglas Independent, Roseburg, October 30, 1880, page 3
Capt. L. L. Williams, the old Rocky Mountain veteran, returned to Roseburg last Monday night, after an absence of about five months in the upper Columbia River country. He is looking more hale and hearty than ever. During his absence he has traveled over the Palouse, Spokane, Coeur d'Alene and Pend Oreille Lake countries. He gives a glowing account of the progress of settlements to the northward, reaching and including the Spokane River Valley, and the prospective future of the vast fields of uninhabited prairie and timber lands, along the line of the N.P.R.R. From the Spokane to the Missoula, a distance of several hundred miles, aside from the various other attractions, he reports game and fish in great abundance. All throughout the Pend Oreille and Clark's Fork country is interesting and exciting for the sportsman..
The Democrats have almost conceded that old Cap. is a political power in Southern Oregon, and while they hoped and prayed that he might not return until after the election, he drops in just in time to work and vote for Garfield. Not particularly from any patriotic motive of his, but from the regular habit he has fallen into of always getting around back just before election.
Death of Capt. L. L. Williams.ROSEBURG, Or., March 25.--A telegram just received announces the death of Capt. L. L. Williams at San Francisco. Deceased was an old and respected citizen of this country and for many years county clerk. Particulars of his death not known.
Oregonian, Portland, March 26, 1881, page 1
Capt. L. L. Williams, of Roseburg, died in San Francisco on the 25th instant.
"Local Epitome," New Northwest, Portland, March 31, 1881, page 5
REMAINS ARRIVED.--The body of Captain L. L. Williams, who died in San Francisco a few days ago, arrived here by the Oregon and were sent to Roseburg yesterday morning for burial. The funeral will take place today under auspices of Philatarian Lodge, I.O.O.F., of Roseburg.
Oregonian, Portland, March 31, 1881, page 3
A HEROIC PIONEER.
No man in Oregon has figured more conspicuously in the sphere in which he has acted for twenty-eight years than L. L. Williams, whose mortal remains were recently conveyed through this city, from San Francisco, on the way to Roseburg for interment. It was in 1851 that he first arrived in Southern Oregon. He came as a miner with the thousands of adventurous spirits who thronged to the coast during those early years. He was a leader of men by nature, and being possessed of a liberal education, he was qualified for the duties of any position, no matter how exalted. Brave, generous, temperate in all things, and possessing executive ability of high order, he never failed in any enterprise which he undertook during the many years of his residence in Oregon. He took an active part in repelling the Indian outbreak of early days in the southern portion of the state. [He was an invalid during the Rogue River Indian wars.] During the latter part of 1851, he went in company with Maj. T'Vault and three others, to prospect the waters of the Coquille for gold. They descended the river in a canoe, and when near the mouth of that stream they landed at an Indian village. Capt. Williams and another member of the party went ashore to reconnoiter when they were attacked by the savages. The Captain's companion was instantly killed. The remainder of the party escaped in the canoe, and he was left alone to contend with over fifty savages armed with guns and bows and arrows. [Every detail of this event is incorrect. See above.] Being a man in the prime of life and of almost herculean strength, he succeeded in making his escape after killing five Indians with his clubbed rifle. But he was desperately wounded. Twoflint [sic] arrow points had pierced into the cavity of his body from which they were not extracted for more than a year [sic] after his escape, which he effected by making his way to Gardiner, near the mouth of the Umpqua River. Captain Williams was frequently placed in positions of trust, in all of which he did his duty with integrity and efficiency. Modest and retiring in his manners, upright and generous in all his relations with his fellow men, he was loved and trusted by all. He has left a written history of his recollections and adventures during the pioneer days of Oregon, which is in the hands of H. H. Bancroft, the historian, and which will fill an interesting space in the forthcoming works of that author.
Oregonian, Portland, April 7, 1881, page 3
R. B. Breckenridge, of the Roseburg Marble Works, died last week after a short illness from the poisonous effects of gas inhaled from a coffin containing the remains of L. L. Williams. He was moving the coffin to a new vault.
"Brevities," Ashland Tidings, September 22, 1882, page 3
Williams was born in Vermont in 1830, began his roaming at the age of fifteen. having never attended a regular school in all his life. Yet he possessed a mind so intelligent and receptive that his career was one of great benefit to the new country. He was treasurer of Umpqua County, later and for many years county clerk for Douglas, being reelected term after term. He served as chief clerk for the United States Land Office at Roseburg. In the course of his duties he became better informed in law than many practicing attorneys. In the old record books in the court house in Roseburg are page after page written in the strong, clear and concise handwriting of this remarkable man. He was held in high esteem by all who knew him. He died in 1880 leaving a considerable estate.
Relating to his many bequests, I quote from his will: "To my friend, Cyrus Hedden of Scottsburg, Douglas County, Oregon (for kind care and attendance while suffering from wounds received from the Indians) I give and bequeath the sum of five thousand dollars.
"To my friend, Job Hatfield, of Scottsburg, Douglas County, Oregon, for the same reason, the sum of one thousand dollars."
Anne Kruse, "Survivors of Indian Battle at Port Orford Prominent," News-Review, Roseburg, January 7, 1952, page 3