The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised

Palmer Diaries

    Joel Palmer, whose son William still lives here in Dayton, was one of our earliest friends. He was tall, of medium build, had a heavy shock of gray hair, and was a fine-looking man.
Mary A. Robinson Gilkey, quoted by Fred Lockley, "Impressions and Observations of the Journal Man,"
Oregon Journal, Portland, February 21, 1922, page 8

Pocket Diary of Joel Palmer for the Year 1856.
Wednesday 30.
As no boats are going up the river, I returned to Portland. First cross to Linn City to pay transportation bill at Falls Company, and attend to shipment of goods. Pay for ferriage across and back at Oregon City, 25¢. In the evening return to Oregon City. Obtained [illegible] at Portland.

Thursday 1.
This morning at about 9 A.M. started up river on st. Franklin, with freight. Rained nearly all day.
Wednesday 7.
Paid Rinearson for advance to men under his charge 100.00.
Covered by receipt taken by Blanchard.

Thursday 8.
A. Eads drove a team from Cosper's to Dayton. He was employed to go to Dalles, but discharged, as that work was abandoned.
Sunday 11.
Anticipating the arrival of mail steamer today, and desiring to go to to Port Orford and intending to bring the 
[illegible] to a close, I started on horseback for Portland, which I reached at dark. Steamer did not arrive.
Monday 12.
Steamer arrived Monday. Today I remained in Portland. Purchased following articles for shipment to Fort Orford.
5150 lbs. flour of Lippincott at 4 ¼
1000 lbs. flour of Snow at 4
5850 lbs. flour of Snow at 4 ¼
6 riding saddles of [illegible] at $18
15 pack saddles of [illegible] at $10
Steamer arrived in the evening.
Tuesday 13.
Today I borrowed $1000 of L. Snow & Co. Sent to Abernethy & Co. by
[illegible] and received of Capt. Abbott $1000. Gave him an order on Abernethy & Co. for the amount to be applied on balance of draft. Wrote letters till one at night.
Wednesday 14.
This morning completed writing letters and started on steamer Columbia for Port Orford accompanied by Wm. Wright as messenger. 
[illegible] to Olney six tons of flour, 15 pack and six riding saddles.
Thursday 15.
This morning at 8 o/c A.M. we crossed the bar of the Columbia River.
Friday 16.
Today at 10½ A.M. we arrived at Port Orford. Took ashore the flour and saddles. Nothing has been heard from Col. Buchanan for several days. All persons have abandoned the country from this place to Smith's River. Found according to Olney's reports 365 Indians on reservation. Steamer remained but a few minutes.
Saturday 17.
Learned that John's band at the mouth of Rogue River did not wish to fight and were willing to come in. Find about 50 men & citizens at Port Orford. 25 or 30 regular troops. Today I held a council with the Indians at this place. The chief, Whiskers, says he did not suppose that he had to leave his country. That now when he knows it, it makes his heart sick.
Sunday 18.
The day is blustery and some rain. No tidings from Colonel Buchanan. The volunteers had all left mouth of Rogue River. It is not deemed safe by the citizens to go below. No troops can be spared from the quarters for an escort.
Monday 19.
Remained without obtaining any information relating to whereabouts of the regular troops--all persons join in pronouncing it unsafe to attempt finding them.
Tuesday 20.
This afternoon a pack train of 200 mules with an escort of about 50 troops arrived under command of Cpt. Ord, three days from Colonel Buchanan's camp on Illinois River. They report having seen George with 75 warriors. Prospects of all coming in and making peace appears 
[illegible]. Quite a number had done so.
Wednesday 21.
[illegible] does not return till Saturday. I think of going tomorrow. There is a heavy storm. A vessel has blown ashore and is a complete wreck. Here after lumber for San Francisco market.
Thursday 22.
Remained at Port Orford. Visited the 
[illegible] ranch.
Friday 23.
Today I deposited with Mr. R. Dunbar six hundred dollars for safekeeping till my return from Rogue River.
Saturday 24.
Today at 5 A.M. we started for Colonel Buchanan's camp on Illinois River. My party consisted of N. Olney, Wm. Wright, George L. McPherson and 5 Indians. We overtook the pack train at Humbug Mountain, and then went in advance. Rained nearly all day. We crossed and encamped one mile south of --qua Creek. A sergeant and one soldier got drunk, fell behind, and as one of my Indians was passing, leading our pack horse, these men started to shoot him. He left the pack horse in the brush and ran his horse till he overtook us, one mile in advance.
Sunday 25.
This morning we started at 8 A.M. in advance of the train. Reached Rogue River at 10 o/c, where we found 2 canoes and crossed. I sent 2 Indians down the coast with a message to Pistol River people to meet me at the Col. camp, & at 12 o/c we left the beach and took the trail to Illinois River Camp. The horse that I am riding gave out, and we camped on the mountain west side of main divide, at 4½ P.M. The trail is muddy, but very good for a mountain trail. I [illegible] Olney a little q----, as he said he would risk his head where I did, but if we got through safe, it would be surprising.
Monday 26.
This morning at 7 we started. Upon saddling up, my horse was unfit for duty. I put my saddle and blankets on him, and allowed him [omission?] drove by the Indians and walked ahead to the top of the mountain. This point of mountain is prominent from having numerous peaks of craggy rock looming up above the ridge, which is partially bald, quite rocky, and patches of grass. The trail is a curious one, rough and brushy. We reached Illinois River after dark. Camped one mile back but made no fire and went supperless to bed. No Indians or signs of such.
Tuesday 27.
This morning we started at 7. Went to the river. Found it too high to cross. Turned down and in three miles reached its mouth or junction with the Rogue River. On the north bank we found a camp of regulars. Buchanan had left the camp and formed an encampment on the mountain. 
[illegible] had gone to Big Bend to hold a talk with George and his people. The regulars put a canvas boat together to ferry us across the river. We swum our animals, and crossed at 10 o/c. The entire management to close the river had been well managed by Colonel Buchanan. All the bands, with the exception of Old John's, had agreed to come in. Various reports had been circulated of the intentions of hostile parties and great efforts made to stampede the entire camp.
Wednesday 28.
This morning orders were given for Cpt. Augur to proceed with his company and open a trail up the river to Big Bend. In a few minutes after they left, the messengers sent to Cpt. Smith returned and reported that his troops were and had been engaged with Indians all night and that morning. That they had been entirely surrounded, and that he was unable to get nigher than three hundred yards of the camp. Orders were immediately given for Augur's return and take rations for two days and proceed to rescue.
Thursday 29.
Early this morning the two squaws started for George's camp, which they said was ten miles up the river. I desired them to say to George, 
[illegible] and their people that if they wanted peace, they must come and see me. That I was told they wanted peace, and was willing to go and join Sam's party; if so, to come at once, and quit fighting. That I had been told they were not in this fight. I hoped this was true. That all hostile Indians were great fools to suppose they could conquer the whites. That as Colonel Buchanan had told them, it would be so.
Friday 30.
This morning two messengers were again sent out to repeat my message to George and his people, and say to them if they did not come in today, I should return and there would be no more talk with them. In the evening these messengers returned to camp and informed us that George and his people were coming in. I at once 
[illegible] and met them one mile from camp, and accompanied them in. They were then requested to give up their arms as an assurance of friendship. They cheerfully complied and brought forward 14 rifles and 6 revolvers.
Saturday 31.
This morning I sent out two messengers to Indians. They had proceeded but a short distance when they discovered a party of volunteers coming down the river, which alarmed them, and they returned. A detachment of troops was then sent with them to the point where one was to cross the river, and escort back several Indians said to be near that point wishing to come in. The messengers then left them and the troops returned to camp. The party of Indians could not be found, and the messenger to cow---- met the volunteers and again returned. These volunteers
Sunday 1.
This morning the volunteers returned. The same messengers were again sent out, and in the evening I went out, accompanied by an Indian, but soon came upon a party of volunteers hunting Indians. This 
[illegible] all hope of finding those wishing to come in, and we returned to camp. I then addressed a letter to Major Latshaw, requesting him to turn over to me the Indian women and children retained by them as prisoners, and assigning reasons for the same. The men from his camp returned at night, carrying this letter. Today I learned that the [illegible] Indians [illegible].
Monday 2.
This morning an Indian came opposite our camp and commenced haranguing the village inside the sentinels. It proved to be Regota, who desired to come in, with his people, but had been held back by the constant firing of volunteers. The Indian afterwards swam the river, approached a party of squaws hunting roots, and then returned for his people. Three men from the Cow Creek band came in this morning. Two of them were sent back after the chief and his people, promising to return tomorrow. Mr. Olney visited the volunteer camp and brought back a negative answer to my request asking the delivery of prisoners.
Tuesday 3.
This morning two messengers were sent by the volunteer company to Major Latshaw's command; but in about 2½ miles they saw a party of Indians appearing hostile, flanking out to cut off their passage, having guns. They hurried back, and the company was immediately   [illegible] and proceeded up the river. The Colonel ordered one of his company to follow and support this command, and at 11 A.M. they were on the march. Mr. Wright went out as messenger. In the afternoon, I took a man and followed 
[illegiblemiles, where I met the troops returning. The Indians had fled. I then returned on other trail, but saw no Indians.
Wednesday 4.
This morning I 
[illegible] to command of 20 men. Took 5 Indians and proceeded up the river. At 3 miles the troops halted & I went 2 miles further with the Indians, when one swam across the river in search of 2 canoes that were seen Saturday. They had been taken during the night. No trail could be found and no means for crossing the messengers. We then returned to camp. Learning the Galice [illegible] Applegates were encamped south of a mountain bordering the south bank of this river, and distant some ten or fifteen miles, I requested Colonel Buchanan to have his boat put up so as to cross.
Thursday 5.
Today one of the messengers sent out ten days since returned with a small boy, son of the Cow Creek chief. He reported the chief and one man and three women as coming in. At 10 A.M. they arrived in camp with three children. This closes the entire band of Cow Creeks, but there are 4 other Umpquas still out. There are now in camp 206 souls, 55% of whom are warriors. A command of 2 companies were ordered today with one company of volunteers to proceed down the river and disarm the lower bands. They left at 9 A.M.
Friday 6.
Early this morning two messengers arrived from Port Orford, bringing intelligence that the Pistol River Indians taken a few days since had made their escape, that Rinearson with horses had arrived. One of the Umpqua Indians appeared on the mountain and desired a talk. I took George Quintiusou and met him at the foot of the mountain. He was a messenger for four other Umpqua Indians, with their women, who desired to come in. He accompanied us to camp to procure food for himself, and a little to take to his people. He then returned and is expected in tomorrow. About noon Sambo and Charley
Saturday 7.
Still raining. Today 2 Cow Creeks came in, but left their women in the mountains. Messengers were sent for them. A company of volunteers under Genl. Lamerick came from the Meadows, arriving in camp at 4 P.M. With them was Mr. Metcalfe, Davidson and 2 Indians from the reservation. The women and children taken prisoners by them were also turned over to Metcalfe by order of Genl. Lamerick, and were brought along. There is no intelligence from the Indians expected from the south side of the river. Mr. Tichenor left for Port Orford.
Sunday 8.
Today 4 men, 12 women and 10 children of the Galice Creek band came in, bringing with them three guns. They report Old John as being about 10 or 12 miles from us with about 20 warriors. That 4 or 5 men will be in tomorrow. Colonel B. sent detachment of troops to the mouth of Illinois River, and with them went 20 Indians to bring up canoes to transport his wounded men.
Monday 9.
Today a number of Indians came in. Among the number, the chief of Taltushtuntudes, or Galice Creek Indians. Genl. Lamerick's command, which had been left at 
[illegible], arrived. Wounded men started down in canoes.
Tuesday 10.
Today the entire encampment took up its line of march. Accompanied with Indians I went to Capt. Augur's camp, where I found the lower tribes collecting. Col. B. camped 10 miles in our rear.
Wednesday 11.
Col. B. command came up. We learned that John's party were on the river near us. Sent a message to us for a talk. We sent Bill and a Galice Creek Indian. The Indians continued coming in. John's three sons came to our camp.
Thursday 12.
This morning John's sons returned to John's camp, 3 miles below, and then to 
[illegible] camp, up Illinois River. They will try and prevail upon the entire party to come in, but should the camp [illegible], they will come in. A census shows 431 Indians at Cpt. Augur's camp. The command was ordered to join Col. B.'s camp, which was done, and there had over 700 Indians, together.
Friday 13.
Today I took George, Sambo, and one of Io---- [John's?] people, and with my party returned to Port Orford, but the horses were too much reduced to reach that point. We camped at the ----- Brett ranch. On the way met a messenger with letters and papers from home.
Saturday 14.
This morning we reached Port Orford, where we found all things quiet, so far as Indians are concerned. There had been great excitement. Families had been in the habit of lodging in the citizens' fort, and guard kept round the town. But the circumstances were not such as to justify such wild excitement. It has been generally induced by a set of grog shop dealers and squaw men.
Sunday 15.
Today I returned and met Col. B.'s train, and at 4 P.M. all arrived in camp on the military reservation. Port Orford Indians all agreed to go quietly to the reservation, and with the exception of the Upper Coquilles, would go by steamer. Joshua 
[illegible] band of [illegible] would do the same. News came this evening that 200 Indians had arrived at the mouth of Rogue River, and were in the custody of Major Reynolds.
Monday 16.
Today I held a council with the Port Orford Indians. A good deal of dissatisfaction is expressed by the Indians just come in, on account of camp ground and attendance upon the sick and proper distribution of the rations. But as they are held as prisoners of war, I am unable to remedy it.
Tuesday 17.
Nothing occurring worthy of note.
Wednesday 18.
Today we received intelligence that an additional number of Indians had come in at the mouth of Rogue River.
Thursday 19.
The day has been spent in counciling with the Indians, in which many of them agreed to go by steamer. In the evening, a rumor gained circulation that a plan was on foot to murder all my men, then the soldiers, and then attack the town. This became so general that I deemed it best to take charge of the chiefs and keep them in custody till morning.
Friday 20.
The chiefs were liberated early this morning, and I went with them to their camp. Their whole deportment indicated that the reports were groundless. I spent the greater part of the day in their camps. Great excitement among the people. It appears the business of many persons to cause alarm in order to retain the people in town.
Saturday 21.
Last night the steamer Columbia arrived at about 12 or 1. I visited the Indian camps so as to have them in readiness, and by 9 A.M. about 600 were on board. A convoy of troops were sent down, which delayed us until eleven o/c. The Indians comprise portions of nearly all the tribes in South Oregon, but chiefly those friendly ones who have been, during the war, camped at Port Orford. Many were sick. They are very much crowded on the forward deck.
Sunday 22.
Today we crossed the bar at about 6 P.M. The passage has been rather rough. The Indians suffered on account of seasickness and being crowded up, and for want of proper covering and diet.
Monday 23.
This morning at about 9 A.M. we reached
[illegible], where we were detained 2 hours. Paid for transferring baggage at Portland 1.00. Paid Blanchard $200. He pays Chamberlin. Paid Blanchard 100.
Thursday 26.
Paid Sambo, an Indian, 5.00.
Monday 7.
This morning the arrangements being ready, the Indian camp took up the line of march to the 
[illegible]. Directions were given to take the road by Newby's mill, and a person sent ahead as guide. But by design of teamsters and conductors, or some other cause, the train got separated, twelve wagons taking the Comegys road, as also about one third of the Indians. The result was that most of the Indians were without blankets and cooking fixtures, nor could we obtain beef for supper, but used flour alone.
Tuesday 8.
This morning beef was slaughtered. 700 lbs. distributed to Indians. At 8 A.M. the train started on. The day was warm. We made crossing of Willamina.
Pd. Lady 3m 3 hrs. 2.75
Friday 11.
Paid ferriage over Yamhill .25
Paid ferriage over Tualatin .25
Paid dinner at Portland .50
Paid horse feed .50
Paid ferriage over Willamette at Portland .25
Paid toll at Clackamas .20
Tuesday 15.
Today goods designed for the coast band of Indians arrived, but not in time to do anything towards giving them out. We commenced separating them.
Wednesday 16.
Today we commenced the distribution of goods, but did not complete it. A desire to obtain an accurate enumeration of the different bands rendered it slow and tedious paying out the goods. One object was to ascertain the relative strength of the bands compared to the last census.
Transcribed from typescript at the Oregon Historical Society Research Library, MSS 114, folder 1/6

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    At 11 o'clock yesterday (Thursday, June 9, 1881), Gen. Joel Palmer died at his residence in Dayton, Yamhill County, aged 70 years.
    Gen. Palmer was an early pioneer of Oregon, and was among the best known of our old citizens. His parents were citizens of New York, but he was born in Canada during their temporary residence there. From New York he removed in early life to Indiana, where he lived a good many years, and where the enterprising spirit for which he was known through all his active life brought him into prominent notice. In 1844 he was a member of the Indiana legislature. While at Indianapolis attending to his duties, he chanced to fall upon a pamphlet which gave some account of Oregon. On his return home he told his family that he had made up his mind to go see Oregon; and accordingly in the spring of 1845 he started overland, arriving in the fall of that year.
    The country pleased him so much that next year he returned to Indiana (crossing the plains as before), resolved to bring out his family. Having completed his preparations he started back in the spring of 1847. A large emigration crossed the plains that year. Owing to his knowledge of the plains he was the recognized leader of the emigration. Among those who came in the company were the Geers and Judge Grim of Marion County, the Grahams, the Collards and Chris Taylor of Yamhill, and many others of our old and well-known citizens. "Palmer's Guide," a book for information of persons crossing the plains, was used for a number of years by emigrants and was of no little service and value.
    Arriving in Oregon, Gen. Palmer took up a land claim and laid off the town of Dayton. While he was at work on his cabin the Cayuse War broke out. Learning of the Whitman massacre, he at once started for Oregon City to offer his services. He was chosen quartermaster and commissary general, and set off with his fellow pioneers to punish and subdue the Indians. His services secured him honorable recognition. After the war closed he returned to his home. He was often elected to one branch or the other of the legislature, and held for a term the position of Superintendent of Indian Affairs for Oregon. It was under his administration that the Indians of Western Oregon were gathered on the reservation which they still hold, and which was selected by him. In 1870 he was the Republican candidate for governor of the state, but as the state was then Democratic he was defeated, but only by a narrow majority.
    In business enterprise he always bore a leading part, and for thirty years [he] was known as one of our most active and energetic citizens. He twice married. His second wife and seven children survive him, and his grandchildren are very numerous.
    Throughout his life he was known as a thoroughly honest man. His memory is a precious heritage to his family, and to the state of which he was one of the founders.
    In the annual address before the Pioneer Association of Oregon, at the meeting in 1875, Judge Deady said of him: "Few men have labored harder or more disinterestedly for the public good than Gen. Joel Palmer. A man of ardent temperament, strong friendships, and full of hope and confidence in his fellow men, he has unreservedly given the flower of his life for the best interests of Oregon--and of all the early pioneers it may be justly said of him, 'He deserves well of his country.'"
Oregonian, Portland, June 10, 1881, page 2

Last revised October 16, 2023