Josiah L. Parrish
Intercourse with the Indians
By J. L. Parrish
Salem, Or. 1878
Rev. Josiah L. Parrish's Account
Time & Place: Room 18, Chemeketa Hotel, Salem, Oregon
Sat., June 15th 1878
Present: Parrish, Bancroft, A.B.
Personale: See at the end.
Mr. Parrish said: I was born January 14th, 1806, in Onondaga County, New York. What first directed my attention to Oregon was the call of the Missionary Board of the Methodist Episcopal Church for volunteers to go to Oregon as missionaries. The Rev. Jason Lee crossed the Rocky Mountains in 1834. There were three natives of the Nez Perce tribe I think it was, they were called Flathead Indians, through Clark the traveler or his associate Lewis they were brought East. They went from Oregon--Oregon was all there was west of the Rocky Mountains--to St. Louis where Clark lived and were inquiring for the white man's god. The fact of their arriving in that country for that purpose was spread broadcast over the land, and the Missionary Board of New York of the Methodist Episcopal Church directed their attention to that and resolved to establish a mission I think it happened about 1830 or '31 that the Indians visited Mr. Clark and made known their request. Lewis & Clark did not bring them with them; it was a volunteer affair. They were sent by the tribe. Clark was a great man among the Indians. The tribe held a great meeting and the men were sent as a committee to visit the white man's country and inquire about the white man's god. So I have said in this paper introducing the matter. (Mr. Parrish here referred to a scrap cut from the Pacific Church Advocate of Dec. 28, 1877) that practically gives a history of the establishment of the Methodist & Presbyterian missions in Oregon when they were established. Bishop Blanchet claims all the credit for missionary labor among the Indians from beginning to end. In fact the Methodist and Presbyterians had the entire ground before the Catholics trod the soil for 4 years. In the first place I gave a condensed sketch in one or two numbers of the paper showing the object and the places where the different posts were established. Then I take hold of Bishop Blanchet as arriving here in 1838. The Methodists arrived here in 1834. The Presbyterian missionaries east of the mountains left Missouri in 1835 and arrived here in 1836. Before I went after Bishop Blanchet I wrote to him and got a letter stating that he arrived and that his associate arrived in Oregon in November 1838. This shows that the Methodist and Presbyterians were here four years before the Catholics established a mission in Oregon.
Lee and his associates arrived at Vancouver in the fall of 1834, and established themselves at the Oregon mission station ten miles below Salem on the Willamette River. Then Lee saw the necessity--there was only himself and wife and one other individual that belonged to the mission--in the spring of 1838 he saw the necessity of an enlargement. However there had been two reinforcements before that, and he returned across the Rocky Mountains in the spring of 1838.
And this call then was sent for other missionaries to come to Oregon. We stayed awhile with the Rev. Jason Lee before starting around Cape Horn on the 9th of October 1839. There were no other missionaries west of the Rocky Mountains at the time Lee arrived. The Coeur d'Alene country was not thought of by the whites in those days. The Rev. Jason Lee and his nephew Daniel Lee were the first members that ever crossed the Rocky Mountains. I state that fact there.
I came out in the Lausanne.Left New York October 9th, 1839. The vessel was chartered in part by the missionary board to bring passengers to Oregon and the necessary supplies for the mission, and what room that did not take she was at liberty to fill with a general cargo. The vessel belonged to Fry Farnham & Co. of New York. They loaded the vessel for the Sandwich Islands. What was not required for missionary purposes was made up for the Sandwich Island and for Kamchatka. The cargo was general merchandise. Our portion of the cargo was groceries & tools mostly, but little wearing apparel. We arrived in Baker's Bay on the 20th of May 1840. The underwriters of New York required that we should have a pilot to come into the Columbia River. We endeavored to get a pilot at the Sandwich Islands. We got a Capt. Butler at the Sandwich Islands who had been to the Columbia River 27 years before that. That was the nearest we could attain by getting a pilot. We touched at Rio [de] Janeiro, Valparaiso & Honolulu. Then we required when we got into the Columbia River to have a pilot if any could be found. The Rev. Mr. Lee left the vessel and started for Vancouver for a pilot and we did not get a pilot just then. There was an old Indian came on board, and he said he was a pilot on the Columbia. Lee came up the river in a canoe. An Indian came on board who called himself King George, to pilot us. He got along very well, came up past Tongue Point and up the Columbia, and we met a pilot that Dr. McLoughlin sent down, a colored man by the name of George Washington. So we had King George and Geo. Washington on board at once. Geo. Washington took charge and run us aground in half an hour. King George said George Washington was a very good cook's mate, but he was no pilot.
We reached Vancouver on the 1st of June, so we were eleven days coming up the river--just feeling our way along. Our captain was a very careful man, Josiah Spaulding. The Indian was altogether the better pilot of the two; he understood the river and piloted afterwards as long as he lived.
We were the third reinforcement after the establishment of the mission that was sent out by the missionary board in which I came.
There is a fact connected with that [that] the government had a little hand in, I was told, but I knew nothing of it then, and I do not know positively about it now, but the company brought us out , the adults I think for 200 dollars each, and the children were graded down. The company I suppose could not bring us for that. I understood after I had been to Oregon seven years that the government paid Fry Farnham & Co. 50 dollars a head from the secret treasury. Mr. Lee on his return got missionaries proper and merchandise of all kinds to establish his work permanently in the country and make it if possible self-sustaining instead of drawing on the missionary fund constantly. The government discovered that the missionary family, as it was called in New York, was almost sufficient to establish a permanent colony, that is a small one. The government had an eye to the settlement of the boundary question, and I understood afterwards by a member of the missionary board that the government paid Fry Farnham & Co. 50 dollars on each one of our heads. I have no doubt that that reinforcement was the settlement of the question really.
We anchored at Vancouver June 1st 1840. We were invited in as soon as the vessel arrived. Dr. McLoughlin was the governor & chief factor of the Hudson Bay Company. We were all invited right to the fort to enjoy the hospitalities of the fort while we remained there, and we did so until we scattered to our various posts. Dr. McLoughlin manifested all the friendship possible. He and Mr. Lee were great friends before Mr. Lee arrived here. There was no minister in the country, and Dr. McLoughlin was a Catholic raised but he was a very liberal man, and he acknowledged the authenticity of the Protestant Church, the Methodist Church. Mr. Lee was invited to preach there and in fact his men were [also invited] after he returned. Dr. McLoughlin was one of God's noblemen. There is not one man in five thousand that could be placed at the head of a company like the Hudson Bay Company and seeing emigrants coming to that country, who had been as perfectly excluded from civilized people, that would have shown them the kindness he did. I remained there five days. A fleet of five Chinook canoes were started from the mission place here on the river and came down and took some three or four families. Our goods were left at Vancouver and brought up on Chinook canoes as occasion required. We were here 3 or 4 months before we had any convenience of living--there were so many of us and our cargoes were so very light in those canoes; it was a little for this family, a little for that, and a little for the other. The vessel remained then I should judge about two weeks; our goods were put in store in the company's warehouse and we drew them as we could get them by the canoeload. We did not fetch any furniture of any amount because we brought a man who was a cabinetmaker, a chair maker and such like. There was not a board or anything else in the country. Everything had to be taken out of the fir trees. I do not know but what small items of that furniture could be picked up. I think I have some fragments of the wreck of the Peacock which was wrecked at the mouth of the Columbia in 1842, Com. Wilkes' ship.
Our place was called the "mission place." It was right opposite to what is now called Wheatland. That was on the west side and the old "mission place" was on the east side. Our company was divided up at Vancouver; there was one missionary, and his family sent to Nisqually. There had been a mission established there before our arrival, in charge of Dr. Wilson. It was established in 1838. There was a mission station at the Dalles in 1836. That was in charge of the Rev. Danl. Lee, the nephew of Jason Lee. Dr. W. H. Wilson had charge of Nisqually until the arrival of our reinforcement, and then Dr. John Richmond took charge. Wilson was the one that established the mission at Nisqually. Wilson was a medical doctor. He was what is denominated in the Methodist clergy as a local preacher; he was not a missionary direct, that is, one who is sent out as a minister. He came out as a mechanic in 1836, but was a local preacher. He built a house there and made all preparation for enlarged missionary work. Wilson remained with Dr. Richmond a year, and then returned to this valley. Dr. Richmond remained at Nisqually until 1843. Then in consequence of the ill condition of his family he returned to the States.
We established a mission farm here shortly after our arrival and commenced operations for building a saw mill and a grist mill at what is North Salem. The first work was done in the winter of 1840 and '41. The Indians were all kind with whom we came in contact. When they had any trouble with the Indians it was nothing, only some little matters. They would steal small things. We never had any serious trouble. We never were afraid of them. At the mission there was a dwelling and a school house built of hewn logs. I exhibited a broadax to some of the pioneers yesterday. It came around the Horn in 1834. The missionary board got some supplies for Mr. Lee in New York, and they were sent around in a vessel belonging to Capt. Wyeth; [he] was on a fur expedition. Wyeth crossed the mountains in a large party and Lee came with him. His vessel came around the Horn in 1834 and arrived at Vancouver, and there was a broadax that came at that time. That is the broadax that hewed all the logs at "mission place." There was a school house and a dwelling house. There were two or three log cabins built after we arrived, but our attention was shortly afterward turned to this place from the fact that there were no advantages of water power down there. There was a mission school that had fifty children down there; that was moved up here.
In 1842 the attention of the mission was drawn to this place and a resolution passed to start operations here. It was then called Chemeketa. They moved up piecemeal. Some of the families were retained on the farm and some sent up here. I was sent to Clatsop in charge of the mission there. The Rev. David Leslie was from Massachusetts; he came out in 1837, and he had been about Salem, in Massachusetts. Having considerable influence, he thought it would be best to adopt old eastern names, and they finally concluded to call it Salem. There is a place below here about 25 miles called Champoeg; right across the river was Chehalis; here it was Chemawa; this is Chemeketa, and a place over across the hills is Chehelpen. Another Indian place was called Chiamhill [Yamhill]. I never could understand the meaning of that "che"; I am of the opinion that it has the same significance as our "ville" in the States. Everything at the "mission place" was abandoned when we came up here.
We had all the land there was when we came here, all we could occupy, and that was but little. We fenced in some portion, in trying to raise grain. In 1840 they commenced the building of a "mission school" for the natives here. They built a large building which was afterwards purchased by the trustees of what was called the Oregon Institute. That did not belong to the mission. It was a matter got up among ourselves. We resolved in the outset to have our children educated separated apart rather from the Indians, and we resolved to establish a literary institution. We called it the Oregon Institute. That was established three miles below here.
The Missionary Board of New York resolved in 1844 to close the mission school here, that is the native school, inasmuch as it was not productive, very much good. The children did wonderfully with a sort of typhoid fever and prospects were cut off very much in that respect, and then the trustees of the Oregon Institute purchased that building that was for the native children and called that the Oregon Institute. And the Willamette Institute has grown out of that. The building was of sawn boards, a regular frame building. We established a saw mill in 1843 and the timber was cut at that time. It was shingles; I think it must have been from 50 to 70 feet, three stories high. The old foundation is there yet. At the saw mill and grist mill there was a house built for the purpose of the mill and there was also a mechanics' house built there. In 1843 there was a house built near the Oregon Institute for the minister who was starting here at that time, Mr. Leslie. We called that the parsonage. All these houses were framed after establishing our saw mill here. The school building we established for the church at first, the only church we had for years. The daily routine was hard work, and each man attending to his business. I worked at blacksmithing three years and preaching too. Then I was taken from the blacksmith shop. Among the Clatsop Indians on the south side of the Columbia River the Rev. Joseph Frost and the Rev. William Cone were settled as missionaries. Cone did not stay more than about eighteen months. Frost stayed until 1843. Then they stationed me among those Indians and Frost went east. The fact was there was nearly half of the men who volunteered to come to Oregon, very nearly, ought to have stayed at home. They did not know anything about entering upon the hardships of a new country and especially a new country like Oregon 3000 miles from home where everything was in its primitive state. What there was had to be made. These men became discouraged and went home. The Rev. Mr. Cone and the Dr. Richmond from Nisqually and the Rev. Mr. Frost at Clatsop they became discouraged and went home. The hardships were such that they could not endure them. We lived on boiled wheat for the first year nearly, had but little meat and no vegetables. Wheat was raised right among us but we did not have the facilities for grinding. However there were two small sets of 20-inch burr tones brought out at the time I came out and one of them was set up in the mill down here, but our foolish mechanic did not know anything about it, and set up the stone running the wrong way, and it just threw out the wheat. I used to get as good flour out of a coffee mill as from it. I brought out a pretty large coffee mill with me. They did not know what was the matter with the mill for a long time. I found after being here awhile that the man who had been thrown upon his resources from the days of his boyhood, who had to fight and scramble his way up and would come up, that was the man for Oregon, because there was so many exigencies that did not belong to the civilized portions of the world that had to be encountered here. For instance our supplies were brought up in the canoes to Champoeg. And then we had to get them up by horses and wagons from there to the mission, which was about 20 miles. Well, you start one of those men down with a team to Champoeg and after loading the supplies, if a whiffletree broke or the holdback to the wagon, or anything of that kind, he had not the first idea of fixing it up and abandoned the whole thing upon the prairie and came home. And there some fellow who had fought his way up through life had to go and take charge and bring it in. There were two or three men who took as many to take charge of them. We had a carpenter, a joiner, a cabinetmaker, a farmer and a blacksmith. There was a blacksmith here when I came here, Mr. Beers. They were not preachers. I received from the mission, as the rest did, two hundred dollars a year and my living. Here was the policy of the board: They said to us when we left New York--we knew nothing about Oregon only from hearsay--when you get on the ground you choose a committee to make your estimate for the consumption of each family. Call it so many dollars, so many pounds of beef, so much salmon, flour, sugar, etc., & take your supplies in that way. But your salary is two hundred dollars. The mechanics had two hundred & fifty dollars. I came out as a blacksmith; I volunteered in that capacity. I was a minister at home. I worked hard for three years and went into the regular missionary work. Each man was salaried that came here.
There was a native school in which one of the missionaries was to act as a teacher, and in the reinforcement that came out with me there were four single ladies came out as teachers. One object in them coming out was to be the wives of these ministers that came out before them. The Rev. Danl. Lee came out as a single man. There was a lady who came out by the name of Ware for the purpose of being his wife. Jason Lee was a single man, and a lady by the name of Pitman came out and became his wife. Some of them had seen their future wives and some had not. We had our regular meetings on the sabbath and on sabbath evenings. After the school house was built here we used it for a church for years. We had preaching at 10 o'clock or half past 10 o'clock, and then again in the evening. We had our regular prayer meetings during the week, each man filling his department as he could. There were five missionaries proper that came out; one was sent to the Dalles, one to Nisqually, two to Clatsop and one here. Previous to that the Rev. David Leslie was here and had charge of the mission during the absence of Mr. Lee when he recrossed the mountains, and Danl. Lee had established the mission in 1836 at the Dalles, and he had an associate by the name of Perkins. We communicated by the means of the natives. They were settled around here. Sometimes there would be from fifteen to fifty families gathered around us. We instructed them as we could. We were all green in the language. We communicated with the Indians the best way we could and learned to talk the language as soon as we could, and then preached in their own language. When I went to Clatsop I was rather a poor linguist in the Indian language, and it was a great cross to me to talk to them in their language, but I just secluded myself from my family entirely and went right among the Indians so that I could hear nothing but Indian talk, and after I had been with them a fortnight I could learn Indian talk ten times faster than they could English. I used to preach to them in that language, and I am almost as ready in that language now as I am in English. It is a great drawback to a man to go to a country like Oregon where he is secluded from society and civilized life. He becomes a barbarian. It is a great deal easier to sink down than to rise up. When a man going among the Indians is resolved to do and to be something among the Indians he has got to go away back beyond A.B.C. to get if possible at the root of the idea of the Indians. He has got to go down to that and study as hard as a boy ever studied algebra in his life, to be and to think like an Indian. He has got to think his prayers and his sermons in such a way as to get hold of the idea the Indian has, so as to be able to instruct him! That is a great drawback on a man. He has got to forget everything civilized in order to become profitable to the Indians.
The women among the pioneers may not have been credited with all they should have been. Our women were noble, splendid women, and they stood right up as well as the men, and they were secluded from friends, house, home and everything else. They suffered more for want of society than everything else under the sun. We ate boiled wheat the first year, but that was nothing to the loss of civilization. But they had their little families and that took up their attention somewhat.
In 1844 the Missionary Board of New York resolved to close up the financial department of the mission here. They still supported their missionaries in the field, that is, the ministers. The mechanics were allowed to return home if they pleased or, if they preferred, to remain in the country, in which case they were given from 400 to 700 dollars in some kind of property (You see we had no money in those days.) as a foundation to begin on for themselves. Most of them resolved to remain in Oregon. The board offered to pay their passage back, and of course their wages went on according to agreement until they returned to their native places, or they would give them such an amount here. That wound up the financial part of the mission. The missionaries proper, the ministers, were continued in the field, and they operated among the Indians and among the whites. You see the first emigration was in 1842. In 1843 there was another emigration of whites, so that they had established themselves around in different parts of the country. Together with the few whites that were here before that they made little points, and the missionaries labored among them, and still labored among the Indians. The board sustained the missionaries there a year. There was a while they received six hundred dollars all told; that is the estimates for their salaries and their families. It depended upon the size of the man's family. If he was a single man he was allowed his two hundred dollars and a sufficient amount for his board. If he was a man of family there was an estimate for him and his wife and children. The estimates were limited to 500 to 700 dollars; I do not think any exceeded 700 dollars. At that time our communication to the civilized world was through the Hudson's Bay Company almost entirely. If we wrote a letter to New York for instance that letter was taken by the Hudson's Bay express on the first of March of that year. It went across land to York Factory or Hudson's Bay and from there to Montreal and from there to London and from there to New York. If we got a return in 18 months it was very short, in reply to any letter we wrote. Never until 1849 did I get a letter less than a year old. In 1849 I got a letter that came across land by the way of Panama from a sister of mine. I paid a dollar and a half for that letter as postage. The New York Christian Advocate I took when young from the first number up to the present day. It is now in its 53rd volume. That used to be sent in a box or something to the Sandwich Islands and might be lying there 3 months or 6 months, so that I would get a stack of papers filling a good-sized box. If I got time to read I would read them, and so with our New York letters and papers. That was our only source of information. We got no papers except by same via Sandwich Island. The letters we got once a year by the way of the Hudson Bay Company. Sometimes they would charge us postage, and sometimes they did not. They were very liberal to us. The postage was light. I do not remember now what it was. It was considered a great accommodation to us, and they were disposed to accommodate us. The other missions kept on at the Dalles until the Cayuse War occurred, and that broke up our mission there. Everything was in [a] precarious state in all that upper country so far as life or property was concerned, and the governor of our provisional government ordered all the missionaries from that field. However as soon as that was over, we took possession of the ground again. Dr. Whitman was murdered there in November 1847, and that threw that entire upper country in excitement for quite a length of time.
The American Board of Missions sent out the Rev. Samuel Parker, I think.
They had the same object nearly in sending him to Oregon that the Methodist Missionary Board had. They sent out this Rev. Mr. Parker to survey the country. Dr. Whitman came with Mr. Parker in 1836, and they established themselves at Waiilatpu, the Cayuse name of a place on the Umatilla. Next year the Rev. Mr. Spalding was sent out as a reinforcement. He was established among the Nez Perces at Clearwater about 125 miles from Dr. Whitman's. It is now known as the Nez Perce Reservation. Then there was another reinforcement sent to the Presbyterians to a station that was established on the Spokane River, which is a tributary of the Columbia. Messrs. Walker & Eels were the men sent out there. There is a little sketch of them in that paper. My object in writing that was to head off the Catholics and to bring out the truth that the whole country was occupied west of the Rocky Mountains by the Methodists and Presbyterians four years before the Catholics came. The Catholics came from Lower Canada. They arrived at Vancouver on the 24th November 1838. They were Jesuit priests. Bishop Blanchet and his brother arrived from Lower Canada in 1838. Bishop Blanchet came direct to this valley and established himself at what is now called St. Paul's between here & Champoeg. He being a Canadian had lived most of his life in Canada & understood the French language. The French settlers--there were a few in Willamette Valley--they had native women and were raising children, and Mr. Lee had all those children in his school before the arrival of the Catholic priest, and then it took one of the Catholic priests all the time to undo what Mr. Lee had been doing. He told them they were going to perdition, to a bad place, if they did not turn and become Catholics. The Methodists had a school established at Champoeg and are here at the old mission place, and he effected the breaking up of that school at Champoeg and started a school himself, and gathered the half-breed children there. There was no sociability between Catholics & Protestants at all religiously. There was no special quarrel. We had enough to do without quarreling. Between the Methodists and Presbyterians there was the kindest possible feeling. We stood side by side to the day of their death. They were our friends; we never had the least hardness of feeling or anything of the kind.
In 1844 the Rev. Jason Lee returned to New York. He went to visit his friends in Canada and died there. The missionary board in New York sent out the Rev. Geo. Geary, who arrived in 1844. He came out on the same vessel that brought us to Oregon, the Lausanne. He came out in charge of the Methodist mission. Our work was then thrown into itinerant work, almost the same as it was in the Eastern States. There were circuits throughout, and men put on the circuits--circuit riders, as they were called. In 1846 the Indian mission was closed at Clatsop. I then returned to this valley, and in the fall of that year built a small house down here. We call it Salem now. It is not right in the town of Salem. I was then employed as a traveling minister. My circuit extended from Portland to Corvallis on the west side of the Willamette River; it was called the Yamhill circuit. I made it once in 6 weeks the first year. It was hard, heavy work. I traveled horseback. There was no road. It was all horse trails. I preached to the Indians and to the whites. It was in 1847 I commenced my labors on that circuit. I traveled that circuit most of the time for four years. I furnished my own horse, and his keeping, which was at the end of a lasso rope. The horse was staked out on the plains as I went from place to place. The Indians were moving about hither and yon, as they always had done. The year that my party arrived I presume there were 500 Indians that died in this valley with chills and fever and typhoid fever. They were first attacked with chills, and then ran into a lower typhoid. They knew nothing about medicine or treating a sick person. Incidents of the usages of the Indians to their sick and dead could be related that would be interesting. I would ride up to an encampment and my horse would be staked out, and they would gather themselves together, and I would talk to them an hour or two, and then leave them. There was a white settlement on Tualatin Plains and at Chehalem, North Salem, and the Hembree settlement, etc. & so on until I arrived at the outskirts of civilization. That was above Corvallis. As a rule I would sleep in the house of a white man. They had put up log cabins. Every man put up a cabin as soon as he could. sometimes you would have a family to preach to and sometimes a dozen persons would gather in, and sometimes twenty-five, if the settlement was compact. At the same time each one lived on his section and owned as Dr. Newell used to say "as far as you could point that way and as far as you could look this way." We had encouragement from that day to the present. There has been an increase all the while. The people are getting more or less religious. I think I have seen as bright converts among the Indians as I have seen among the whites. I did at Clatsop while I was there. There was a number that professed religion and to all human appearance were good at heart. You know many of our people do not think there is a good Indian without he is dead. After the arrival of the Rev. Geo. Geary in 1844--he remained until 1847--the mission work was principally to the whites, the white settlements, as the emigration increased, and extended and joined with each other. The first emigration was in 1842-43-44. In 1845 there was a large emigration. In 1846, you heard Judge Thornton's history of that yesterday. That was a large emigration. They scattered all over the Willamette Valley. Here for instance was a point where a minister had settled; he was an itinerant. At this old mission place there was a settlement that began there, and there was another one out here in the Waldo Hills. There was another up here on the Santiam and the place there called Albany away up the valley. And these ministers were traveling and preaching to these people. Salem was the grand rallying point of the state at that time, at least in this upper country. Portland was not established until 1845. It was all woods there until 1845. Oregon City when I came to Oregon had not a house in it. Another missionary was sent here before Geary took his departure. That was the Rev. Mr. Roberts. By the by he was a missionary in California sent there by us from Oregon. He was superintendent here for 4 years. I do not recollect when there was a regular conference organized. Our chief business transactions were done at the yearly meetings up to 1853 I think. Then one of the bishops of the Methodist Episcopal Church was sent out to organize the Oregon conference regularly. The Rev. Bishop Ames was the first bishop sent out. The work however of the Methodist itineracy and the missionary work went on from the first arrival of the Rev. George Geary. The work there was thrown into itineracy more especially. That went on regularly. Men were appointed at two or three different places every year, as they are in the conference at home. It was done through the yearly meeting, and the Rev. Mr. Roberts after he superseded Geary was the superintendent, acting as the bishop really. Since that time we have published minutes of the Oregon conference, which you can obtain.
When Gen. Grant was made President we resolved to put all the Indians in charge of the different churches, that is, to locate them on reserves and put them in charge of religious denominations. That drew out Bishop Blanchet's letters. The Indian Department in Oregon had given nearly all the stations to the Methodists and Presbyterians in Oregon, for they were the first occupants of the country, and the first teachers of the Indians. There is that Coeur d'Alene country, and the Pend d'Oreille country and the real Flathead Indians living in it; the Methodists and Presbyterians never had anything [to] do with that; the Catholics settled there first. In fact, that was the only country they had any right to; in virtue of first occupancy that country was given to them. But they claimed the very ground where Whitman was murdered, on the ground that they had the first right there, and at the Dalles and at Vancouver, and in fact the whole country.
In 1851 Capt. Tichenor in coming up the coast from San Francisco in the old steamer Sea Gull discovered a place now called Port Orford--Point Orford some 15 or 20 miles south of Cape Blanco. There is a small bay on the south side of Point Orford that Capt. Tichenor was of the opinion was accessible, and it was really so, with vessels, and he resolved to raise a party and establish a settlement. He came to Portland, and on his return to California Capt. Tichenor raised at Portland some fifteen or twenty men to go down with him in the Sea Gull and establish themselves at Port Orford. They landed at Point Orford--they called it Port Orford--in July 1851. Capt. Tichenor left the party then. I am not positive but I think there were somewhere near twenty-five men all told. He proceeded to San Francisco with his vessel, promising these men he would return in such a length of time with a reinforcement. Previous to the return of Capt. Tichenor the whites discovered they were to be attacked by the Indians, who were quite numerous on that coast. The whites forted themselves on a place now distinctly known at Port Orford as "Battle Rock." Capt. Tichenor by accident or otherwise left an old cannon; I am not certain whether it was a three-pounder or six-pounder, with the boys at Port Orford. When they discovered that they were to be attacked by the Indians, they managed so as to get that cannon on Battle Rock, a rock about 200 or 250 feet long and probably 40 or 50 feet broad, almost egg-shaped. When they found they were really to be attacked they loaded up with powder and stone, gravel and sand and everything they supposed would take. The Indians attacked them with fury, with bows and arrows, and clubs. The rock is detached from the shore a little, notwithstanding which they got onto the rock. They came up in force to where the boys were forted. The boys fired and cut down thirty or forty of them. This rock is probably a hundred and fifty feet high. It runs sloping from the shore up, although it is detached from the shore really. They tumbled them off into the ocean and the Indians left. Capt. Tichenor had delayed his return somewhat and the party found that their supplies was nearly exhausted; they were surrounded by these hostile Indians, and resolved to leave. They made their way up the coast and finally struck the mouth of the Umpqua and got to the white settlements; I think all of them safely.
Capt. Tichenor on his return had a small party I think of Californians. He found that his boys had all left, but the others were left in their stead. Capt. Tichenor then made his way up to Portland in the same vessel, the Sea Gull. There he raised quite a party, I do not know how many, but there were some 40 or 50 men that accompanied him back to Port Orford. They conceived that to be a point where vessels could land, and that it would become a place of some importance. Among them was T'Vault, the editor of the first paper established here. He was a lawyer and a man of some distinction, but claimed a good deal more distinction than he was entitled to, because he was a man that did not know very much. On his return to Port Orford this party was landed there. They resolved to build a fort or stockade, and did so. They were of the opinion that in the interior was a mining region. They desired to communicate with the Rogue River country. Here was what we called the California trail reaching from the Willamette through to the Sacramento. The Rogue River Valley it was known had gold, and it was known that there was gold all the way between here and California more or less. T'Vault and nine men besides himself resolved to go from there to the California trail on Rogue River. Port Orford, however, I should say, was twenty-five miles north of the mouth of Rogue River, where is now Ellensburg. This party resolved to strike Rogue River and follow it up to the California trail. After taking a ridge that led along up by the side of Rogue River they found the country so rough that they could scarcely travel, and they supposed Rogue River went off too far to the south and that they could make a shorter cut by going further to the north. They proceeded on their journey until they struck the headwaters of the Coquille River. They failed entirely to reach the California trail; they did not get halfway, in fact. They had no idea there was a river to the north between Port Orford and there and the Umpqua. They supposed they had struck the headwaters of the Umpqua. Their supplies were nearly exhausted. They found some Indians on the Coquille who they supposed were Umpquas, and through signs, for the Indians had never seen white men before, the Indians replied that that water emptied into the ocean, but the distance they did not comprehend. T'Vault and his party paid the Indians to take them down to the ocean in canoes. After you follow up the Coquille about thirty miles it forks, & they struck the south fork. There the party became dissatisfied, one with the other, and they parted. A portion went on still farther, and those who remained with T'Vault hired a canoe to take them down the river. The other party went on until they struck the upper fork of the Coquille, and they found Indians there, and they hired a canoe to take them down to the salt water. After each proceeded a half a day or so they came together at the fork. There was T'Vault's party, there were ten of them. They were armed to their teeth with revolvers and Henry rifles, well equipped. They made up their minds that they would proceed down to the ocean, supposing still that they were in the Umpqua River Valley. The day previous to their getting to the ocean their provisions gave out entirely, & they got hungry. Well, that morning, the morning of the day they arrived at the mouth of the Coquille, they got a quarter of an elk from the Indians, so that they were middling well supplied for one meal. They proceeded on their journey down to the mouth of the Coquille. They discovered that there was a large Indian ranch on the north bank of the Coquille near its mouth, & it was suggested that they go there & get something to eat. Some of them said they would get something to eat if they killed every d----d Indian there was. They resolved to go ashore on the north bank. These Indians were in their primeval state. They never had seen any white men in their lives, & they were as much surprised as we would be to see men come right up out of the earth. Those that paddled the canoes were Indians that they had brought down the river with them. As they came down opposite the village the river shallowed, & they came pretty near ashore when their canoe stuck a sandbar. There were about 200 Indians, stalwart fellows, that came down to see what had come & they discovered that the white men wanted to come ashore, & some of them waded in & took hold of the canoes to bring them ashore. The Indians appeared so formidable, though they showed no signs of hostility, that the white men were afraid & resolved that they would not go ashore, but would go over on the other side, but the Indians still held on to their canoes. Finally they resolved that they would free themselves from the Indians & go across the river, which they ought to have done in the first place. One raised a paddle & struck an Indian that had hold of the canoe. The Indians struck back. They lay there, & five of T'Vault's men were killed right there. T'Vault was struck in his face & on his nose, terribly; & a man by the name of Brush was struck with an Indian knife of tremendous size, about two feet long, struck about here, & the top of his head taken clean off. T'Vault was stunned, & was still in the canoe. There was a little Indian jumped into the canoe. T'Vault came to himself & saw this man Brush in the water, with the blood streaming from his head. The little Indian got hold of him & pulled him in the canoe, & they then made for the south shore. T'Vault & Brush got away. The Indian paddled them about halfway across the Coquille, & then jumped overboard & went back & left them to paddle across. When they got across they stripped off their shoes or boots & started for the brush--so that they could run. The weather was warm. They had divested themselves beforehand of nearly all their clothes. They traveled in the woods down the coast towards Port Orford. They found by this time that they were not in the Umpqua.
In the skirmish they used cudgels. There were one or two of the Indians killed with revolvers. The men were sitting down in the canoe, so that they could not manage themselves.
This happened on Sunday, the 14th of August 1851. Capt. Tichenor had persuaded the governor at Vancouver to send down a detachment of 20 soldiers, & it was done through the Superintendent of Indian Affairs, Dr. Dart. I was special Indian agent of Oregon at that time, having received an appointment under Zachary Taylor through the influence of Thurston, our first representative in Congress. I was the first special Indian agent appointed for Oregon. The commanding officer of the soldiers was Lieutenant, now General, Kautz. Dr. Dart, myself & a military detachment went down & arrived at Port Orford the very day T'Vault's party was cut off on the Coquille. We arrived on Sunday. T'Vault & Brush that were so badly wounded were brought in by an Indian that they fell in with on Tuesday. T'Vault when he was brought in was one of the most distressed-looking objects, & so was Brush. They were both barefoot, & their feet were torn terribly. T'Vault reported that his men were all killed but him & Brush. I was taken sick on Monday, & I was very sick when T'Vault was brought in. The Superintendent was requested to send back to the Coquille to know whether they were all killed or not. T'Vault supposed they were all killed.
This Indian that brought in T'Vault & Brush dispatched two women to go to the Coquille & ascertain the particulars--whether they were all dead or not. The women went & found five of T'Vault's men murdered. They persuaded the Indians to bury them. The squaws did the burying, pretty much. They buried them there in the sand. They said they scooped out a place in the sand, & took the men & placed them side by side & covered them with a blanket & then covered sand over them.
They said there were two of the men that started out from there. Where they went to they did not know--to the north. They supposed one man had gone into the river & was drowned. The fact was that in the scuffle, being an expert swimmer, he dove right into the water & swam up under the bank of the river & got out.
Those fellows that went south--their names I have forgotten--they made their way to the Umpqua, & in about three weeks they got to the white settlements nearly famished. One had an arrow in his back. The two had killed an Indian that followed them. That was the report that the squaws brought back.
Dr. Dart was from Washington City & entirely unacquainted with the Indians. He wanted to open communication with the Coquille Indians. He wanted the Indians brought in to Port Orford & there put in charge of the military, & if possible he wanted to get the murderers. There was a kind of council held, I guess as late as Saturday. I got well, & the Doctor wanted to know whether I was willing to go to the Coquille, & if possible to have some communication. There were 50 white men at the fort. Dr. Dart said, "I will furnish you with all the men you want to take with you." I heard all the suggestions.
Finally I said, "Doctor, I will take upon myself a visit to the Coquille if you will allow me to be the commanding general."
"Well," said he, "I have no objections; you shall take your own course."
I said, "I do not want a white man with me, not one." I had taken, however, from Wahkiakum down here on the Columbia an Indian that said he was a Coquille. He had been stolen from that country some ten years before that & was a slave of old Skasnoquia, at Wahkiakum. I took him as interpreter & another interpreter belonging to the Tututni tribe. He had been brought 22 years before that from his country by a fur party of the Hudson's Bay Co. that traveled through that country from a little below Port Orford.
The Coquille & Tututni Indian I had [with me] to interpret what the Indians might say. The Tututni was taken when he was a boy about 16 years old. I found one of the party that brought this boy to Vancouver.
I said to the Doctor, "All I want is this Coquille Indian; I want a pony; I want about ten pounds of bread; I want three red blankets, fiery red blankets; I want about 30 yards, or a piece of calico, all brilliant colors; & some tobacco, & salmon enough to subsist on till I should return.
They rigged me out as I requested, & another Indian accompanied me.
The next Monday, eight days after we first landed, I was ready to start. The first night I stopped at the mouth of Sixes River, in an Indian camp. The Indian treated me as a chief. He said I was the first white chief he ever saw, expressed delight, & wanted his son to sleep with me. I agreed. The men were entirely nude, but the squaws had some cedar bark around their middle reaching down to their knees.
The next day as we proceeded towards the Coquille we fetched in with a Coquille Indian on the ocean beach, & I found my interpreter could talk with him readily. We proceeded in towards the Coquille. At nightfall we got within a mile & a half of the mouth of the Coquille. I found a little place for a camp & resolved to camp there, & to send my interpreter & the Coquille Indian we had met to the mouth of the river to communicate with the Coquille Indians, to tell them that I desired to talk with the chiefs. I had no arms except a 5-barrel Colt. That I kept in my pocket. They did not know that I had anything, & I did not let them know that I had.
I had learned from this Indian that we picked up that the Coquille Indians had gone up from the mouth of the river about three or four miles to their salmon fishery. I said, "You go up by canoe to the Indians & talk all night if you please. Tell them when the sun is at 9 o'clock I want the three chiefs to come & see me." I sent to these three chiefs the three red blankets, & I had torn off three squares of brilliant calico with some tobacco & sent them. My real object was to get a party to go with me to Port Orford. I said to my interpreter if they were hostile not to let an Indian come there before he did--if they felt unkind.
Next morning at dawn I took my breakfast & went on the hillside & looked anxiously toward the mouth of the Coquille. My idea was not to go there myself right into the hands of the Indians, because that would almost certainly have been death, but if I could get the Indians to condescend to come to me, the edge would be taken off & they would be disposed to communicate with me instead of murdering me.
Finally they delayed, & I went up the beach three quarters of a mile to a small creek. I kept my eye up towards the Coquille. By & by I saw two Indians coming down from the bank on the north side of the Coquille to the beach. Right opposite me--it was then ebb tide--was a rock probably 150 feet long & 50 feet high. I stepped rapidly right out behind that rock from those Indians, so that they could not see me & then I walked as fast as I could walk right down to my camp. Pretty soon I saw the Indians. I discovered it was not my interpreter. I beckoned them to come to me, & when they came gave them my hand, gave each of them a piece of tobacco & told them to sit down. They did so. In 20 minutes my interpreter came, with 25 big fellows. I had told my interpreter to persuade them not to bring any arms. They came with bows & arrows, however, & knives 2 feet to 2½ feet long & three inches wide at the hilt, running to a perfect point, with edges on both sides.
A few months before that a vessel that was at the mouth of the Columbia, the Hackstaff, had been sent down to California, & among the supplies she had on board was some band iron. She was wrecked between the mouth of the Coquille & the Umpqua. They had worked it into their big knives. They had made whalebone handles. You could take a man's head off with one of them.
However, I did not quiver; I never quiver when I am among the Indians. As they approached I beckoned them all to me, & shook hands, & gave them tobacco & told them to sit down. They sat down, every one of them. Among them was one of the chiefs with a red blanket on that I had sent. They formed half a circle. They were four or five deep. I went into the center of the circle with my interpreter, & I went to work talking to them. I gave them a short history of the white folks, that they had established themselves at Port Orford, that I had come up to see them & wanted some of them to go down to Port Orford with me. Three or four volunteered to go at the outset. After considerable of a talk their hearts failed them & there would not one of them go with me. I talked to them about the Americans, the advantages they would experience by the whites being among them, their getting clothes & shirts & pants & being comfortably clothed as my Indian was. They recognized him at once. I talked to them about three hours, & finally they resolved they would not go, any of them.
I had brought up salmon enough & bread enough to give them considerable of a meal to eat. I ordered the Indian that came with me beside my interpreter to cook the salmon, & we would have a meal there. He did so. After dinner was over I took my piece of brilliant calico & tore it into squares & gave them each of them a handkerchief. And the chief--then I addressed him. I told him I had known Indians since I was a child, that I understood the manners & customers of the Indians as I did the whites, that if this chief was disposed to receive my talk that I had given him, it was customary to exchange presents. I had a very brilliant silk belt, a military belt; I had that wrapped around me. I appeared in state. T'Vault told me they would kill me, or if you escape they will strip you of everything you have got. I said to the chief I am going to make a present; my heart is kind towards you, & I want your people to be kind towards me. I never said a word about this T'Vault trouble. I wrapped my belt around him, & tied it into a respectable double bow. Otherwise he was as naked as he was born. I said there is my heart; have you any token that you will give me that you will receive my talk, to show my people that you will be kind to me?
He had a son who had a sea otter skin tied over his shoulders. He took that off & gave it to me. "There," said he, "is my pledge that I will deal fairly by you."
I returned to Port Orford on the third day unscathed. However, the journey was very laborious & I was behindhand half a day. They were very much excited, & a party had resolved to come on to see what had become of me.
After remaining at Port Orford a fortnight Dr. Dart, Mr. Spalding & myself returned on the steamer that came up from California, back to Portland. That was in 1851.
I left my interpreter with Lieut. Kautz--the Tututni interpreter. He could not speak nor understand a solitary word. Chilliman we called him. After he had been there a couple of hours they were chatting, & said he, "Mr. Parrish, I understand their talk." "Why don't you talk to them?" I said. "Clunass," was his answer. [Klonas--"I don't know."] After awhile he brought down his foot & said, in Chinook, "His ear understands, but his tongue does not." In three days he began to talk, & in one week his mother tongue had come back to him. His aunt was alive, & some of the old men recollected all about him when he was taken from there by this company of trappers. I left him with Lieut. Kautz as interpreter for the government, & he remained there--this was in 1851--until 1855 when the Indians were brought up to the reservations.
In 1854 it was resolved to make a treaty with these Indians if possible. Gen. Palmer was made Superintendent of Indian Affairs after the return of Dr. Dart to Washington. I was reappointed to a full agency by President Pierce. Gen. Palmer in May 1854 communicated with me in regard to treating with these Indians. He agreed to go down on the east side of the Cascades & down to Crescent City, while I was to take a steamer & go down from Port Orford, & there meeting him early in May.
We met at Port Orford. It was arranged that I was to visit the Indian tribes & make presents from the mouth of the Coquille down to the California line. I spent there four months traveling among the Indians & making them presents. Near the close of the four months Gen. Palmer again returned, took a party of men he had previously left with me & went on in his Indian excursion.
I made a report on these Indians which was published in the Indian reports of 1854.
Afterwards a military force was landed there & the Indians at Coquille were punished. The commanders went without an interpreter to the Coquille village & just banged away with their cannon until they gratified themselves & then went to Port Orford & back to San Francisco, leaving Kautz & his party at Port Orford.
My object in visiting the Coquille Indians first was to get a number as hostages & so get the murderers delivered up.
Seventy-five miles south of Port Orford the whites killed many Indians & burnt 40-odd houses. The man who was the cause of the trouble was living on the Chetco River, keeping a public house. The Superintendent thought that man ought to be punished, & if possible I should arrest him & bring him to Port Orford. I started on my mission of the ranches about May 15th 1854. A German had been murdered & the miners resolved to go down & demand the murderers or punish the tribe. I persuaded the miners to desist while I visited that tribe of Indians. I visited six or seven tribes before I reached Chetco, which is about 2½ miles from the California line. I found the Indians at Chetco. They had no house, being burned out the February before. Spent six days in calling the Indians together. Had talks & made presents. I learned that two of the men engaged in the killing of the white man were there. I learned that the white man was killed the very day that the Indians were attacked by the whites at Chetco, when their houses were burnt, & some of them were shot, & about 30 of them were burnt in their houses. Three Indians had escaped from the slaughter & met this man & killed him. The third, from Shasta Costa, was sent for, & I was promised that the two Indians would be delivered to me before I left to go to Port Orford. I resolved also to arrest the man who was the cause of the murder of the Indians.
In 1853 the miners at Crescent City raised a party & came this way to Smith River & there they slaughtered I do not know how many Indians. The man at Chetco had communicated to the whites the fact that he was there alone surrounded by Indians, that the tribe was formidable, & that he desired to keep a tavern. He desired that a party should come from Crescent City & chastise these Indians, which had never done him the least harm at all. He had located himself there as ferryman. His name was Miller. A party came & stayed a fortnight, eating him nearly out of house & home. The Indians had a couple of guns but mostly bows & arrows. They had grumbled at Miller because he was taking the ferry from them. After a fortnight the whites cursed Miller & said he was worse than the Indians & they would return to Crescent City. But Miller insisted that the Indians should be killed. They made a plan that the next morning they would commence a hostile attack. Their houses were excavated in the ground, six feet deep, with puncheon walls thatched over for a roof. All the access to the house was through a hole in the gable just big enough for a man to creep in. They set the houses on fire & shot the Indians as they came out. They killed & burned to death no one knew how many. Miller was satisfied, & next day the miners started back to Crescent City. The government never knew of it except the notice I gave to the Superintendent. I arrested Miller but did not get the third Indian. I sent a party on to Port Orford with my prisoners & proceeded up to Shasta Costa, that is, to the chiefs. There I ordered the two chiefs & four or five men to put the wife & sister of the man I was looking for in a canoe. I did it by word of mouth. Then I told them I would take the two chiefs & the women to Wright's if they did not surrender the murderer. Of all the screams you ever heard--a perfect howl like coyotes took place, enough to make a man's hair stand right up. I told the two men to shove off. At night we got to Ben Wright's. I laid down by the door outside. About 9 o'clock in the morning a woman came from Shasta Costa. She wanted to know if I was going to take them all to Port Orford if the man I was after did not come along. When I assured her that such was my intention she started back screaming just as loud as she could holler. I stayed until 12 o'clock as I had agreed. About 15 minutes after 12 I saw about 200 Indians coming to Ben Wright's house & driving that poor fellow before them. The drops of sweat stood on him as big as your finger. He expected to be killed. I reached out & shook hands with him. Said I, "Where is your heart?" He said he did not know. Said I, "I want you to go with me to Port Orford like a man, not like a dog." Said he, "I will go with you as long as I live." Said I, "Can you go to Port Orford today?" It was 30 miles. I tied a string around his arm, mounted my horse & told him to go on. That fellow was just close to my horse all afternoon on a trot. We traveled 22 miles from 1 o'clock until dark, crossed the peninsula called Tichenor Humbug; it was flood tide. At dawn I got to Port Orford with my prisoner. I kept Miller 5 weeks there under guard & found that I could not establish a court. In fact there was no law on that coast then. I finally resolved to release Miller & also released two of the men of this party, because it was no use keeping them; it was only a case of killing for killing. One of the three was a boy about 18 years old. I cut his hair & dressed him up. A gentleman at Port Orford wanted him. The others were sent home.
Those Indians after the war of 1855[-56] were brought here on the Yamhill reservation, where I found these two men. It was astonishing to see the gratitude of these fellows. They lay down on the grass & took hold of my legs & just hugged me like a foundling pup.
Our Indian policy from Plymouth Rock up to the present day has been wrong in the main. My idea is that having a nation within our nation is wrong. If a policy had been established with the Indians in the outset that the whites had in the Providence of God become the inhabitants of the United States, the inhabitants of the same soil with the Indians, & that we had just as good a right to the soil as the Indians, because there was a time when they did not occupy it, & inasmuch as we were thrown together the land belonged to all of us, things would have worked better. I think as far as possible we should have ceased to acknowledge the power of the chiefs--which we have always kept up by treaty with them as a distinct nation. We should have tried to succeed in destroying the power of the chiefs to a great extent, & held out to the Indians a merciful practice as we came in contact with them & endeavored to instruct them in the arts of husbandry.
So far as I know on this coast the Indians that have had any inducement to work have become as laborious as the whites, as willing to work & as willing to give up their roaming disposition.
In my report to the Superintendent of Indian Affairs in 1854 I did not take exactly that view, but I was then talking for the Indians along the coast in the Port Orford region. I said remove them as soon as possible to some quiet place, locate them on a reservation & give them the advantages of civilized life & compel their offspring to establish schools of instruction in domestic arts & industries & to carry out the policy of the government recently inaugurated of building them mills & providing them with farms etc., giving them the advantages of civilized life, extending the laws of the United States over them & as soon as possible to adopt them as citizens of the United States.
The Indians are as susceptible of law today as three fourths of our white people. They learn it almost instantaneously. The great trouble with the Indians is the avarice of the agents. The agent on the Siletz Agency robbed them of $50,000, took it with him & went into the service as a colonel.
In Regard to theThere was a committee of 9 appointed to meet & determine upon the character of the provisional government. They boarded at my house. The first thing that called our attention to the necessity of it was the death of the wealthiest man in the Willamette Valley. His name was Ewing Young--& the importance of having his estate settled was acknowledged. That was the first thing that called us to form a compact. In order to settle the estate we must have a probate judge.
We met together & chose a judge for that purpose & called him a probate judge. He was to see to the settlement of that estate & two or three other matters of a judicial character. The choosing of that judge was before there was any provisional government formed.
After that we had a joint meeting of the settlers at Champoeg. The French through the influence of Dr. McLoughlin & the Catholic priest resolved that they would have nothing to do with us; they did not want any organization. The Hudson Bay Co. had an influence over them, & the idea that a government was to be set up here, an American government, the Hudson Bay Co. did not relish.
The Catholic priest forbid all & every man of the French settlers from participating, though they were all there. The Americans & those that were freemen participated. The French were nearly all under the influence of the Hudson Bay Co. & had been servants of the Co. They were in fact settlers here through the Company. If they misbehaved the Company could take a man & send him right off to Canada, because they were bound to the Canadian government to take them back there. They were men who were broken down & not fit really for the service.
The priest I have no doubt was instructed by Dr. McLoughlin to tell them not to participate in this matter. They were of another nation.
There was one man however by the name of Gervais Latourette; he declared that he was going to be an American. He went with the Americans.
A meeting was called & they resolved to form a government. A committee of 9 was chosen & a day was appointed when they were to meet, & they were to have 9 days for their deliberations. This was in the month of April, I think, or May; I am not certain which, & the people were to be called together on the 5th of July to adopt the provisions that were made by this legislative body. It would have been on the 4th of July, only the 4th was on Sunday. When the 5th of July came & the report was made to the people assembled, the provisions were adopted & the legislative body was dissolved. That was the end of their work.
We had not resolved to have a governor, but there was a committee chosen of three that were to act as governor until a certain time, when we resolved to have a governor, and Governor Abernethy, the secretary of the mission, was chosen.
The Cause of the Cayuse War was the murder of Dr. Whitman & about 30 persons in all. I have no doubt the man Bean poisoned that Indian. The Catholic priests were the moving cause of it. When the Catholics came they gave the Indians to understand that Dr. Whitman was a bad man & that his teaching was entirely wrong. They had a picture of a tree of magnificent proportions, the top of which went to heaven. Luther, Wesley & others were branches that fell off into the pit of ruin. Those bigots McBean & a half-breed by the name of Joe Lewis from east of the mountains & a Frenchman in the employ of Dr. Whitman just worked up this matter with the Indians to make them believe that the Doctor was destroying by his instructions not only them but their race forever, and that they had to get rid of the Doctor in some way.
I have no idea that the priest said, "You go & kill the Doctor," but that the teachings of the Doctor were entirely wrong, & that they would send them to the pit of hell & their children after them. They tried to buy him out, but he would not sell. He was resolved to stand by his post. These influences were finally brought to bear so severely upon the Indians that they resolved to murder Dr. Whitman.
Rev. J. L. Parrish continued.
Second interview: at Room 18 Chemeketa Hotel,
Salem, Oregon, Sat. June 15th 1878.
Present: Parrish, Mrs. Bancroft, Minto, Mrs. Minto, J. H. Brown & the writer A.B.
Personale: See at the end.
----Mr. Parrish said: In April 1854 before going to Bear River I was reappointed for 4 years. I had taken the ground from the commencement, and the Superintendent was going to force me back to Port Orford. Therefore on account of sickness in my family, in October of that year I resigned.
There was our war of 1855 called the Rogue River war. The first cause of that was the murder of an Indian agent by the name of Bolon in the Yakima country. He was a man unfit for an agent. I do not think there is one man in ten thousand fitted naturally for that work. He was murdered by a party of Indians, and the Indians got excited all the way down to Port Orford. An army was raised here and sent to the Cayuse country. It was war all along our frontier clear around to the ocean at the same time. There was some pretty heavy fighting at Port Orford. The Indian agent that was sent to Port Orford to take my place was murdered and cut all to pieces. He was a frontiersman of the roughest kind, and he mingled with the Indians in a way that I never did. His name was Benjamin Wright. He was killed about Christmas time in 1854. [He was killed in the morning of February 23, 1856.]
Mr. Minto: He first got into notoriety by a fight he had on the Klamath and they claimed it was partly in revenge for that he was murdered. Ben Wright had a fascination about him both for whites and Indians.
Mr. Parrish: He was very reckless, he used to drink a terrible amount of whisky, and it was stated to me that in one of his drunken freaks he made his wife strip herself entirely naked and whipped her all through the streets of Port Orford.
Mr. Minto: At the same time on one occasion he just stood against the whole of the settlers and defied them to touch an Indian he had with him. The whites wanted to kill him for his supposed participation in a transaction there. He was utterly reckless of danger.
Mr. Parrish: At the time of his death there was a dance at Rogue River. I have seen the very cabin. There was a gathering of a few miners and some of the leading Indians that were partly civilized and they had a great dance. They had native women and half-breeds, and during the dance they had been the cause [of] great dissatisfaction by the Indians as against the whites, and from that fact they took advantage while they were engaged in the party that night in their dance, and sthey surrounded the house. Just broke in and killed Wright and a number of others. They took Wright and chopped him all up. I think it was a Christmas dance in 1854, the beginning of the Rogue River war. [Parrish's memory is wildly inaccurate here.] Wright had been connected before that for years in matters among the Klamaths, the facts concerning which are in history and were discussed by the Oregon and California papers are the time of the Lava Beds war, Capt. Jack and his crew.
Mr. Minto: Wright was regarded as the incentive cause of Capt. Jack's war. Wright decoyed the Indians into positions where he literally massacred the whole lot.
Mr. Parrish: Wright was my guide when I had no other white man with me in the Port Orford district. He gave me a history of that--how he managed to slaughter these Klamaths. It was a terrible affair. He professed to be a friend of the Klamaths. There was a party of forty or fifty from California with him, and instead of making the impression upon the Indians that he was their enemy and had come to chastise them he gave them to understand that he was their friend. He slaughtered a number of bullocks and had a feast and got the Indians all together with the intention of slaughtering them. Wright stated to me that he had the plan all ready, his men all arranged waiting for a signal. He in the first place was to kill the chief. He got the chief down by the side of him and was telling him some fine stories and on a particular turn of matters he just drew his pistol and shot him, and that was the signal for the general slaughter, and his men just rushed right on the Indians. They were helpless, had no arms. Their bows and arrows and whatever they had were out of the way. They slaughtered in the neighborhood of 200 at that time. That was in the Klamath Lake country. That was the cause of the Lava Bed war where General Canby and Doctor Thomas were killed. The Port Orford and Rogue River war was before the slaughter perpetrated by Ben Wright. It was reported and truly I suppose that the Klamaths had cut off the party and Wright was sent out to chastise them and that is the way he took. He was looked upon as a mountebank and it finally culminated in his death. Bolon was murdered the same year in the Yakima country by a son of Owhi. That Indian war finally extended clear around our frontier to Rogue River. Our troops were called out and sent to the Walla Walla country. Capt. Bennet went from here with a company and was killed in the vicinity of Wallula. The son of Owhi had just ripened into manhood, and got to be brave that time they killed Bolon. If our government had done what they ought to have done they should have sought out and got the man who killed Bolon instead of going to war with the Indians. The army was raised and the Yakamas then united with other tribes. The names of the chiefs who united were Owhi, one of the distinguished chiefs, Tis was another. He was the great man of that country, the chief counselor, the elder brother of Owhi. Another chief was Kamiakin. Some of these names remind me of the man who wanted you to spell whistle. He had a brother by the name of Shawaway, another brother Skloom. They were the chiefs of the Yakama tribe. The distinguished head chief of the Walla Wallas, his name was Peu-peu-mox-mox--the yellow serpent. He was the most distinguished chief in all that country, and one of the best men. He never ought to have been killed by the whites. Owhi was killed during the war. Teias was killed. Skloom and Shawaway were killed. Kamiakin made his escape into the British possessions. I think he died last year. Peu-peu-mox-mox was killed; the circumstances of his death are disgrace to the American people. He and another chief, I have forgotten his name, I was not acquainted with him; they came in with a flag of truce to the American quarters. After making known his desire and so forth in regard to the soldiers and his people--that he did not desire to fight or have his people fight the Americans; he had always been friendly to the Americans. Instead of allowing him to go back to his people they held him and his associate as prisoners. Probably from that fact the Indians became more incensed than they were before and they commenced an attack upon our army. As soon as that attack was commenced our soldiers killed Peu-peu-mox-mox and his companion. You understand that was so, do you not, Mr. Minto?
Mr. Minto: Yes, I understand that was the fact. It is likely they were not ordered to be killed but that the boys did it.
Mr. Parrish: They skinned him from head to foot and made razor strops of his skin, and the army physician cut off his ears and exhibited them in this town. He carried them with him in a bottle of spirits. Previous to the armies being sent from here up there Peu-peu-mox-mox sent a messenger to me by a white man and wished me to go there forthwith. He said he had two hearts. He said that his people or a portion of them wanted to fight the whites but the larger portion did not desire to meddle with the whites at all, nor to injure them. As he had communication with the whites some would tell him that the whites were going to kill him and all his people; some would tell him that the whites wanted to make peace. His people were urging him on to make war against the whites and to rally his men and fight them when they came. He sent word to me to come there as soon as I could, and he stated to the messenger, said he, "If Parrish will come and tell me what I shall do I will do it, and I will do it without delay." He knew that I dealt in truth with the Indians and that what I would say in regard to the whites would be right. I took one of the head authorities of this valley and said to him if I can go first on this ground up there and see Peu-peu-mox-mox I can settle this entire affair in one week because Peu-peu-mox-mox was the king of the country and what he said was law, and he would have the most explicit confidence in me. I happened to become acquainted [with him] at an early day. He wanted his people Americanized and Christianized. He sent his son to the mission down here to be educated and he was educated here. He returned to his people and was murdered in California by a man named Knight. Just before Fremont commenced his raid in California Peu-peu-mox-mox was there and joined Fremont. This luckless fellow Knight, an outlaw and some of Elijah's people (Peu's son) got into a dispute about a mule which culminated in overt acts. Elijah saw one of the California vultures on a tree there and loaded his rifle to go and kill the vulture, and this Knight suspected he was going to injure him. He took advantage of Elijah and decoyed him into some house--whether it was Sutter's Fort or some other place I am not positive. Knight told him he was going to kill him. Elijah discovered he was in danger and said he, "I want you to let me pray first." He got down on his knees and began to pray, and while he was on his knees Knight shot him. That is a fact which California has to answer for. Fremont employed Peu-peu-mox-mox and his party of Indians to go to California for the purpose of buying horses, being worth only 3 or 4 or 5 dollars a head. So that they were there during the operations of the Americans connected with the American man.
Peu-peu-mox-mox saw his party through with that trouble and returned home to Walla Walla.
After the Indians had killed Dr. Whitman and his associates the Cayuse Indians found that there was a force to be sent against them from here. They went to Peu-peu-mox-mox, who was the head of a strong tribe of Indians, and tried to get him to join them against the whites. They had a long council over the matter. After they had stated all their grievances etc. in regard to the whites Peu said to them, "I have been to California; I have seen the operations of the whites there," said he. "We have seen the whites crossing the plains here with their cattle and wagons and their wives and children. Our people have imposed upon them; they have stolen their horses and their cattle and teams and caused them a great deal of trouble. And the fact that they did not fight us and fight you (that is, the Cayuses) was because their wives and children were with them, and not from the fact you have supposed, that they were women." That is an expression that goes very far with Indians--when a white man "becomes a woman," when he refuses to defend himself. "Now," said he, "I have been to California and I find that every American is a man, and you may consider yourselves dead from this day. I cannot join with you and my people shall not. If any of my people go with you to fight the whites I shall endeavor to punish them."
That was the character of Peu-peu-mox-mox, who was killed and skinned. I went to the governor of this state when they were getting up their campaign and told him what I have just said. He gave me to understand that he had no use for me; he did not want me to go. The fact is our authorities here wanted the war and I did not go, but I have grieved many a time that I did not start right out and get there before the army did and settled the question before they arrived.
That, together with many other outrages that have been committed on the Indians of this coast from the California line clear around at different times, I have thought of it hundreds of times and felt deeply afflicted that our people were so reckless.
Mr. Bancroft: Why did they want an Indian war?
Mr. Minto: As a means of making money.
Mr. Parrish: Money was at the foot and head of it.
Mr. Minto: When that outbreak of Joseph's band took place our people came down the Columbia here. I presume for a little while it was worth one thousand dollars a month to the O.S.W. Co. The settlers in this country did not depend upon the Indian war for a market, and the people up there were compelled to leave and come down here with their families. I saw lots of them driven down this way when I was in John Day Valley in June and the beginning of July. There were some who owned horses that they could sell for cavalry horses and others who had cattle that they could sell for beef. It was only a few. I could name some men in Portland who had a hand in the Indian war.
Mr. Parrish: I presume it will not be necessary to give my name in connection with this history, for I presume they will want to kill me, some of them, and treat me as they did Peu-peu-mox-mox. But he was a great man, and I was sorry from the bottom of my heart that he was killed. The fact was that as soon as the Methodist mission was established here on the Willamette this Peu who had become acquainted with Mr. Lee, the superintendent of the mission, as he came there on the way down. Mr. Lee stopped and conversed with them and held a meeting with the Indians the best way he could. He had found a mountaineer or two who could speak the language so that he could communicate and give them his ideas of the duties of life. As soon as this mission was established, Peu came right down here and negotiated for Elijah being educated before my arrival. After I was here Elijah was here in school for a long time and Peu used to come down and visit him. He was a magnificent man. It was the top desire of his heart to have an educated son that he was to leave as the chief of the Walla Walla tribe, educated in English, that knew all the manners and customs of the Americans.
In regard to Port Orford I stated to you that we went down in 1851, with a detachment of 50 men under Lieutenant Kautz. I took down two interpreters; one was named Chilliman and the other was Jack. I told you how Chilliman began to recall his own language. He had explained to the Indians here that a force of soldiers were sent there. Inasmuch as he was acquainted with the whites, their manners and customs, civil and military life, they questioned him a great deal in regard to the soldiers etc. He in his ready way said there was three kinds of white people; there was one kind that was called the Americans. He then had reference to the missionaries. He said they were men that feared God, they kept Sunday, they did not drink whisky and did not swear, and were truthful and kind to the Indians. They were good people. Then he said there were the Bostons, that they would drink whisky and swear, and did not keep Sunday and were bad men and abused the Indians. Said he, "The soldiers are the Bostons' dogs," said he, referring to Lieut. Kautz; "he is their chief, and when he say stuboy (to set on a dog, an old New York phrase) they would kill you. Now, sir, you must be very quiet or he will just set his dogs upon you."
About the provisional government, I stated to you that the death of Ewing Young was the prompting feature of our entering into a compact and appointing an officer to take care of his estate. I presume the Rev. Jason Lee first suggested the idea of holding a meeting; he was a leading practical man. There was a man by the name of Sidney Smith, I think, sometimes called Blubbermouth Smith. He lived with Ewing Young, the great cattle owner, who was considered a wealthy man. He was living with Young as a hired man at the time. On the death of Young he came right over to the mission, the center of operations in the valley, and stated the fact of his death and a party went immediately over and had a funeral and buried him. I think the Rev. Mr. Leslie officiated. Everybody went that could go, and there were settlers there from round about, Then immediately after the funeral it was suggested that they organize a compact to appoint an administrator. The Rev. David Leslie at a meeting that was then called by the missionaries and settlers, they were all together; I cannot tell you positively that it was called through Mr. Lee, but probably through him and Mr. Leslie the meeting was called. They resolved to appoint a man with probate powers. The Rev. David Leslie was the man chosen. We had a meeting after meeting them, to think and talk matters over. The whites were coming in one after another, and we found it was necessary to form some kind of compact recognized by the people. We did not acknowledge the authority of the Hudson Bay Co. at all; we were Americans.
Mr. Minto: One of the leading men among the mountaineers that were here was T. H. Hubbard, and Shortess was another. They defied the rule of the "salmon skin aristocracy." That is an extract from a speech delivered by Mr. Shortess in regard to the disposition of the Hudson Bay Co. to rule the Americans. He said he had not crossed the plains to be ruled by the salmon skin aristocracy who intermarried with the Indians and were supposed to live a good deal on salmon.
Mr. Parrish: We had some 3 or 4 meetings and concluded to call a general meeting of the Hudson Bay Co. English, French and American and Dutch if there was any--there were a few at Champoeg.
Mr. Minto: That was the wolf meeting.
Mr. Parrish: We had the wolf meeting before that.
Mr. Minto: Well, it was at the wolf meeting that the foundation was laid for the government, because it was at the organization of that when they resolved to defend themselves against the wild animals. Gray got up and said they had organized to defend themselves against wild animals, and now they had better take measures to defend their wives and families against men.
Mr. Parrish: The wolves were preying upon our young stock, pigs and colts and calves--and the panthers--what is called the California lions, the cougar, properly. We called a meeting to take measures to destroy these animals as best we could. I do not know that there was any bounty offered. A suggestion was made as to the propriety of forming a government. But the death of Ewing Young was the first exciting cause after that to put it into shape. I was at the wolf meeting. Gray was not here at that time.
Mr. Brown: He was at the second meeting.
Mr. Minto: When the vote was taken and the majority decided for law.
Mr. Parrish: It was in 1843 when the meeting was held at Champoeg, and for the interest of the Hudson Bay Co. and the Catholic priest. The French resolved, every one of them, to have nothing to do with us. None except Latourette, who said I am firm for the Americans. We just divided right off, and the French formed a line. Latourette was one of the worst Frenchmen so far as talking was concerned. If he wanted a piece of satin he would say "Me like some piece of cloth what you Americans call 'le satin,' all the same as devil." That was about the way he talked, but he had an American heart in him and he went with the Americans. They disenfranchised him at the fort. They never would allow him any accommodations at the fort. At heart he was a very good man. It was at that meeting the nine were chosen as representatives and they were required to sit as representatives nine days to make provisional laws for the settlers, which we adopted next 5th of July inasmuch as the 4th was on Sunday that year, at a general meeting held at Champoeg. The first Champoeg meeting was about six months after the wolf meeting in 1843. I was at Clatsop at the time.
I presume likely Gray made that remark as a private remark; Gray must have been there. Dr. Wilson was a sort of punner, and he made a beautiful rhyme on that meeting having reference to destroying the wolves and wild animals and to law and order principles being carried out to save the country from persons more fierce than wolves and wild animals. I recollect the close of it was "more fierce than they." He cannot have referred to the Hudson Bay Co. because were at peace with them. We never had any quarrel with them. The fact is that when the missionaries went with them to the Hudson Bay Co. they were received as of the Hudson Bay family always. I always went into the Hudson Bay fort just as readily as I did into my father's house, and when dinner was ready we were invited right in to eat with the gentlemen of the company.
Mr. Minto: They always had that bachelor's hall as they called it. The single men, clerks and others, made use of it as a common room for gossip and talk. When any stranger was there he was sent in there. I do not know but there were more rooms in that part of the building, but it was occupied by the employees.
Mr. Parrish: There was a general room like a bar room, and then there must have been 8 or 10 rooms besides. I know at one time we had as many as half a dozen families there and each family had a room by themselves. They came out into the parlor, and the wives of the gentlemen, though they were native women and some half-breeds, they used to come out and occupy the parlor with our ladies and were as sociable as any others. They used to prize our white women, those squaws did. My wife was considered almost a chief amongst them. Old Madame McLoughlin to the day of her death always delighted on having a call on Mrs. Parrish, and my wife always called on Mrs. McLoughlin after they left the fort and came to Oregon City. If the missionary friends happened to pass him and he found it out afterwards he would feel afflicted if we did not go to see him. His table was always free to them. It was not so to everybody; it could not have been so. He was a great talker, a very intelligent man, and enjoyed a visit as much as anyone could. But the idea of this country being taken by the Americans, he could not bear that. I recollect once he came to Oregon City before he established his residence there.
Here was the idea. The Hudson Bay Co. had not the least conception of a wagon crossing the Rocky Mountains and coming to the Willamette Valley. They had not only come across the mountains and entered into the Walla Walla Valley and gone down there to the Dalles, but they had come over the Cascades and come into this valley with their wagons. The Doctor said, "The devil is in the Americans; the devil is in you people," said he. "They will turn their oxen and wagons down to the mouth of the Columbia and go over into Japan next; the devil is in them," and he crossed himself like a devout Catholic. They conceived on the outset that it would be as impossible as that. The idea of going over the Cascades at the foot of Mount Hood and
Laurel Hill where it is quite as steep as the roof of a home, so that they had to cut down small fir trees and tie them onto their wagons behind to keep it from pitching over.
Mr. Minto: They did that there and also on the Applegate cutoff, the Southern Route.
Mr. Brown: We let our wagons down with ropes down that same hill. We had two sets of ropes and would hold onto one as far as it would go and then another would be fastened to another tree further down. It is what we called snaking down--letting the rope slip around a tree. It was called snaking the wagon down Laurel Hill.
Mr. Parrish: I recollect in 1846 Mr. Savage, my cousin, came out. He had lived in Ohio and I in New York, and I had not heard of him for a period of years. The very morning I was to start with my family to Oregon City to come here I received a letter from him that he was on the plains and would be in the Cascade Mountains about such a time and was getting short of provisions and that I must come if possible with supplies. I just pushed right through to Salem with my family, placed them in charge of Mr. Leslie, and the next day I took two horses, one to ride and another to pack, and I loaded my horse and met him at the foot of Laurel that night. I recollect when I got out to Foster's. After you leave Foster's there is a hill that is not quite perpendicular, but they all had to come down it--I saw a fellow on the hill and two yoke of oxen. He had just cut down a tree and was hitching it to his wagon. Says I, "Hallo, Mr., are you coming down here." Says he, "Yes, sir, I shall come down there. Pretty soon you had better get out of the way." It was 30 or 40 rods and terribly steep. If he had undertaken to come down without a balance he would have come down hind end foremost. He did not unhitch his team, but every limb of the fir tree held back. He hitched the top of the tree to the hind part of the wagon, which would bring the friction of every limb against the ground. That would prevent the wagon from turning somersault.
Bancroft Library P-A 59
Last revised September 20, 2017