C. B. Watson, April 5, 1916 Medford Mail Tribune
A WONDERFUL HISTORY
Many of the readers of The Tidings have followed C. B. Watson's Reminiscences throughout the period they have been publishing in this newspaper, and the unanimous opinion of those pioneers who were fortunate enough to have lived in the exciting and constructive periods about which Mr. Watson has written is that his Reminiscences are accurate and a vivid story of the early days in Southern Oregon.
Mr. Watson has now undertaken the most comprehensive and instructive writing he has ever given the public. This starts today in The Tidings and will accurately reproduce in words the history of this section in the pioneer days when, as one pioneer stated, "things surely did happen fast sometimes."
This history will comprise one of the most valuable reference books of Southern Oregon history and will mean that many incidents which might otherwise be forgotten will be preserved and form an inspiration for future generations. The early upbuilding of a community is really the most difficult, just as the early period of development in a business is usually the most trying.
Read this history and you will realize the true worth of those who cleared and assisted in making this region the paradise which it is today.
Ashland Daily Tidings, September 22, 1924, page 2
Pioneering in Southern Oregon
By C. B. Watson
Troubles with the Indians of Southern Oregon in times prior to any effort at settlement there.--Jedediah Smith in 1828.--Kelly and Ewing Young in 1834.--The Turner party attacked at Foots Creek in 1835.--Ewing Young and party attacked at Foots Creek in 1837.--Fremont attacked at Klamath Lake in 1846.
Many books have been written about the early settlement of Oregon, all of which have merit, but none of which in my judgment are entitled without qualifications to be called a History of Oregon. An immense area of country lying south of the Calapooia Mountains has an entirely different history from that covered by the Willamette Valley and a narrow strip along the south side of the Columbia.
The early history as chronicled by nearly all of the writers is confined to the operations of trappers and hunters connected with some of the many adventurous organizations organized for that purpose of Christianizing Indians.
Until 1846 all entry into Oregon was overland to the headwaters of the tributaries of the Columbia, thence along that stream to the Willamette Valley where the missions were established, or by water to the mouth of the Columbia, thence up that stream to the universal destination as indicated by the various missions. The old missionaries are entitled to all the glory with which they have been crowned. From their efforts a wonderful civilization has been built up. In the very nature of things there arose various institutions of learning, some of which have ripened into colleges and universities, and the Willamette has become the alma mater of a great state.
It is not my purpose to rewrite the early history of that section, nor to rehearse the adventures and hardships of the earlier pioneers into that section. For those who have not read it and desire to do so reference is made to the many books to be found in our public libraries and on the bookshelves of nearly every home. The very early settlers in the Columbia Basin early learned that there was an Indian trail running southerly over the mountains into California, and some of the Hudson Bay trappers had traversed it. The pioneers who had encountered the hardships of the overland journey from the Missouri River were only too glad to rest in the beautiful valley of the Willamette and had no desire for exploitation of other uninhabited regions. It is true that history recounts the adventures of Jedediah S. Smith, who in an effort to further his trapping enterprise endured heartbreaking adventure in trying to reach San Diego in Southern California in 1826, and from thence traveled up the coast into Oregon in 1828. He reached the mouth of the Umpqua River, where all but himself and three of his men were killed by the Indians, and his horses and furs and supplies were taken. After untold hardships they reached Fort Vancouver, where they were succored by Dr. McLoughlin, factor of the Hudson Bay Company. The employees of this company were known by the Indians everywhere in the Northwest, and the name of Dr. McLoughlin was held in reverence by them. He undertook to recover the property of Smith and to chastise the Indians for this act of barbarism. He accomplished this and returned the property recovered. This seems to be the first act showing the ferocity of Southern Oregon Indians. About the year 1834 the Rev. H. K. Hines reports a trip made by him to the Umpqua River in search of a suitable place to establish a mission. He found a trader in the employ of the Hudson Bay Company established on that stream opposite the mouth of what we now know as Elk Creek. He was warned that the Indians were unreliable and not to be trusted. He spent a few days there and in the neighborhood and returned to the Willamette missions without establishing a post and reported the Indians to be the most unmitigated rascals he had seen in Oregon. This is the first reliable word I have found at that date of the appearance of any early settlers appearing south of the Calapooia Mountains.
Ashland Daily Tidings, September 22, 1924, page 2
It appears that about this time the Hudson's Bay Company extended a more active exploitation of this Southern Oregon country and operated as far south as the waters of the Sacramento River. In passing back and forth the Indians came to know more about white men and to learn something of the difference between the great company and independent trappers that occasionally appeared. It is said that in June, 1825, a party of white men on a trapping excursion entered Rogue River Valley and were attacked at the mouth of Foots Creek. There were eight of them including a squaw, the wife of one of the trappers. Four of these men were killed and the remainder badly wounded. In the transactions of the Oregon Pioneers in 1882, as narrated by J. W. Nesmith, the circumstances were as follows:
"Two years later, or in 1837, a party of Oregonians proceeded to California to buy cattle to drive to the Willamette. They secured a drove and returning, passed through Rogue River and Umpqua valleys. The party was composed in part of Ewing Young, the leader; P. L. Edwards, who kept a diary of the trip; Hawchurst, Carmichael, Bailey, Erequette, DesPau, B. Williams, Tibbetts, Gay, Wood, Camp, and about eight others, all frontiersmen of experience. While encamped at the Klamath, on the fourteenth of September, 1837, Gay and Bailey shot an Indian who had come peaceably into camp. This act was in revenge for the affair at Foots Creek, but that locality had not by any means been reached, and the Indians' crime of 1835 was revenged on an individual who, perhaps, had not heard of the event. The act was deeply resented by the Indians throughout the whole section, and the party met with the greatest difficulty in continuing their course. On the seventeenth of the same month they encamped at Foots Creek, and on the next morning sustained a serious attack of the savages, narrated thus in the diary of Edwards:
"'September 18.--Moved about sunrise. Indians were soon observed running along the mountain on our right. There could be no doubt but that they were intending to attack us at some difficult pass. Our braves occasionally fired on them when there was a mere possibility of doing any execution. About twelve o'clock, while we were in a stony and brushy pass between the river (Rogue River) on our right, and a mountain covered with wood on our left, firing and yelling in front announced an attack. Mr. Young, apprehensive of an attack at this pass, had gone in advance to examine the brush and ravine, and returned without seeing Indians. In making further search he found them posted on each side of the road. After firing of four guns, the forward cattle having halted, and myself having arrived with the rear, I started forward, but orders met me from Mr. Young that no one should leave the cattle, he feeling able, with the two or three men already with him, to rout the Indians. In the struggle Gay was wounded in the back by an arrow. Two arrows were shot into the riding horse of Mr. Young, while he was snapping his gun at an Indian not more than ten yards off. To save his horse, he had dismounted and beat him on the head, but he refused to go off, and received two arrows, probably shot at his master. Having another brushy place to pass, four or five of us went in advance, but were not molested. Camped at the spot where Turner and party were attacked two years ago. Soon after the men on day guard said they had seen three Indians in a small grove about three hundred yards from camp. About half of the party went, surrounded the grove, some of them fired into it, others passed through it, but could find no Indians. At night all the horses nearly famished as they were tied up. Night set in dark, cloudy and threatening rain, so that the guard could hardly have seen an Indian ten paces off, until the moon rose, about ten o'clock. I was on watch the first half of the night.'"
Here Mr. Edwards' diary breaks off, but from such information as could be obtained, the party had a very serious time in passing this hotbed of savages. So it will be seen that, many years before any attempted settlement of Rogue River Valley, the whites knew of the warlike character of these Indians. When we cross the Cascade Mountains among the Klamaths and Modocs we find the same spirit exhibited toward the Hudson Bay Company. The Indians seemed to realize that people who were coming in to make homes and to engage in agriculture; who were appropriating the soil were preparing to become fixtures. They were not furnishing to the Indian a market for their game and furs, nor living the easy social life of savages as many of the trappers did. They resented the attitude of superiority and were warned by the history of the tribes that had been subjected by white people in far distant regions and were not wholly ignorant of that history that found its way to them in many devious ways.
In 1846 J. C. Fremont, pursuing his search for the "Great Klamath Lakes," which he had failed to find in 1843, traveled north through California, toiled laboriously up the Sacramento, reached Pit River, which he crossed, following its tributary, the McCloud, northeasterly to its source in springs and noted the great snow-capped peak to his left, knew that he was outside of any beaten path, but did not know the name of the towering peak that persisted in view for many, many weary days. Mount Shasta seemed to look down on him with compassion. He turned to the left where he saw a notch in the mountains that promised him an entry in the direction of his search. In this pass he noted lava beds of forbidding aspect and the rugged volcanic character of the country, but did not know that these fastnesses were the abiding place of the most ferocious savages in all the land. He was passing the lava beds where twenty-seven years later the Modoc War was fought and where treachery lured General Canby and Commissioner Thomas to their deaths. He rounded Tule Lake and called it Rhett Lake. From there he saw that the country opened into plains of sage and bunchgrass and that the mountains receded as he pursued his course toward the Northwest, believing that in his great basin he would at last see the Klamath lakes that he had searched for [for] so long. He finally reached the foot of "Big Klamath" Lake, and on its banks an Indian village. This spot is now within the corporate limits of the city of Klamath Falls. The Indians were not friendly but with the offer of valuable presents they assisted him to cross the lake and directed him to a trail that ran northerly along its western shore. He traveled a few miles and camped. From his higher ground he could see large numbers of canoes filled with warriors following along parallel with his course. He suspected hostile intent but with Kit Carson as guide and advisor he finally reached the north end of the lake, where he made camp on the 20th day of May 1846. On that evening he was surprised to see two men whom he had, at their request, discharged at Sutter's Fort in California many weeks before. These men were riding horses much jaded and lathering with sweat. They hurriedly told him that they had come with some army officers who were hurrying to him with urgent dispatches and orders from the War Department; that these men were many miles behind them and had hurried them on to overtake his command and urge that he send a detail to meet them. Their horses were badly jaded, and they thought that the Indians intended to attack them.
Ashland Daily Tidings, September 26, 1924, page 2
Fremont and Carson with fifteen men at once left their camp and rode rapidly down the lake to meet these messengers. About sundown they met them and made camp. Lieutenant Gillespie delivered his messages, and Fremont, knowing all his men were very much fatigued, told them to go to bed without a guard, as he would have to be up reading his messages and mail until late and that he would call a guard before he retired. He finished his messages after midnight, and everything appearing quiet, he stretched himself by the fire without calling a guard. Just as he was dozing to sleep the Indians attacked. A lively fight ensued and the Indians were repulsed, but not until they had killed two of his men; one an Iroquois and the other a Delaware Indian. They had taken toll from the treacherous Indians and among others had killed a chief. Their departure from this tragic camp was a sad one. They attempted to carry the dead bodies with them, but the forest was heavy and the brush thick, which made it impossible without too great a delay. So they buried their comrades under a big log and piled logs and brush about them, having no tools to dig a grave. He had quite a number of Iroquois and Delaware Indians in his company, and when they had heard the story of how their comrades had been killed they swore vengeance against the savages who had murdered their brethren. Fremont was notified in the dispatches that the Mexican War was on. This was the first notice to him. He had been away for many months and had had no information. He was ordered to return at once to California and protect U.S. citizens and their property.
He had traversed the west side of Klamath Lake on his journey to its head and now concluded to pass round the upper end of the lake and return along the eastern shore. Walling says in his history that the tragedy just narrated was on Hot Creek in Siskiyou County, California. This is a mistake. Hot Creek is at the south of the lower Klamath Lake and is entirely out of the line of Fremont's journey north, and the messenger and his companions had followed Fremont's trail all of the way. The place of this tragedy is well known by Capt. O. C. Applegate and others. Such a trip would have involved crossing the Klamath River and would have been noted in his memoirs if such had been the case. Besides, Fremont in his memoirs expressly describes the crossing of the lake at the head of Link River, which is the beginning of the Klamath. Walling is again wrong in saying that Fremont "traveled by way of Goose, Clear and Tule lakes to the southwest shore, where he camped for a few days." He was not nearer to Goose Lake than fifty miles and was, when rounding Tule Lake, at least ten miles west of Clear Lake. The writer is familiar with all that country and has read and checked up on Fremont's official memoirs.
Ashland Daily Tidings, September 29, 1924, page 2
Link River. Postmarked November 1910
Fremont after returning to his camp at the northern end of the lake occupied a day in preparing for his return, determined that if opportunity were offered he would punish these treacherous Modocs, for such they were. As they formed [the] column of march Kit Carson was in the lead and the cavalcade was stretched to a considerable length. Carson was directed that if he came upon the Indians not to attack until the rear should be brought up. But the Indians had no intention to wait for an attack. They were in wait at the mouth of what we now know as Williamson River, where it enters the lake from the east. There was marshy ground, willows and tule in which they were hidden, and so soon as Carson came in reach they attacked furiously. It required a very brief time to bring up the rear; in the meantime Carson with those at his command was in his glory. No mercy was shown the savages, nor any effort to catalogue the slaughter. Hid among the willows was quite a village. It seemed to be a favorite fishing camp and contained canoes and all the savage paraphernalia for fishing. All this was destroyed and the Indians driven helter skelter into the swamps or killed.
Link River, circa 1915.
Fremont and Carson then hurriedly pursued their journey into California, there to perform their part in protecting citizens and adding the great state of California as another star in Uncle Sam's diadem. So we see what appears to have been an inborn hatred by these savages against the whites. In this same year, 1846, the Applegate party made its historic journey through Southern Oregon on an errand of mercy in the interest of pioneers still coming. This I will give in my next chapter.
We have chronicled the earliest entries of white men into the Southern Oregon country dating from Jedediah S. Smith in 1828, followed by others up to Fremont's exploration of the Klamath Lake country in 1846. From these we have seen that the attitude of the Indians has from the beginning been antagonistic.
From the establishment of the Hudson Bay Company a policy was adopted by them toward the Indians [which], while it was firm and dominant, resulted in amity between them. The factors of that great organization early realized that to gain their confidence they must, to a certain extent, assimilate with the tribes among whom they mingled. This could be best accomplished by having the trappers take native wives and to a great extent adopt their customs and live among them. The trappers were of that class not averse to the establishment of such relations, and the result [was] a general acceptance of the head factor as the dominant power, recognized by the natives through the trappers, who themselves came to be recognized as the representatives of this powerful organization. They were treated with consideration and their wants and rights were respected, but [they were] gradually trained to the purposes of the company, to which they looked for a market for their furs and such other articles as they might produce that found a place among the needs or conveniences of commercial trade. They were early taught that the Hudson Bay Company was a great benefactor and readily conceded its domination. This company was wholly a commercial concern, and in their treatment of the Indians they were simply cherishing the goose that laid the golden eggs. Recognizing the fact that in the course of time the country would be settled by whites who would not be subservient to them, and that education and Christianization of the Indians would be the least objectionable method of approaching the inevitable, they encouraged the coming of missionaries and the establishment of missions. Under the circumstances it was inevitable that the Indians should make a distinction between the missionaries and their followers, and the roaming adventurers who were not subject to the the great company, nor in accord with the missionary sentiment.
Ashland Daily Tidings, September 30, 1924, page 2
The importance of the fur trade was early recognized, and the fortunes that were being built up by it aroused the cupidity of others. Moneyed men were at all times ready to invest where the harvest promised such great returns, and plenty of reckless adventurers were ready to brave the dangers of the wilderness for the "fun" and thrill of it under circumstances which promised them uncontrolled liberty and freedom of action. Other organizations were formed, and these adventurers were enrolled for action in the wilderness. Great activity between competing companies soon arrayed the followers of each in antagonisms. Independent trappers not in the employ of the Hudson Bay Company were soon in feuds with the great organization's trappers, and in the conflicts resulting the Hudson Bay trappers had the advantage of Indian support. The Indians soon learned that these independent adventurers were to be discouraged from pursuing their chosen vocation because it antagonized the powers that dominated them and to which they were pledged to fidelity.
It was only the exercise of natural human instincts, uneducated, uncivilized and practically uncontrolled, that prompted the attitude of these savages toward all comers not in harmony with the great organization with whom they were related in trade. The trappers who had taken wives among them and had adopted tribal relations conferred among themselves in the interests of the company and, even though the higher-ups of that organization were, perhaps, not directly instigating the savages and often punished them for inhuman acts against the whites, yet their trappers scattered through the wilderness were under no present direction from their employers, and naturally only half-civilized themselves, filled their savage comrades with antipathy against all who were in competition with them. It is not at all strange that these Indians should have been made familiar to a certain extent with white encroachments for many generations back and covering a large part of the American continent. The Indians were also kept informed from the same sources of the coming of those who were to be discouraged because not allied with the Hudson Bay Company. They were also kept informed of the attitude of the United States and Great Britain toward each other on the all-important subject of ownership of the Great Northwest. So we see that from the beginning the Indians were made to understand that it was the wish and aim of the great nation to which the Hudson Bay Company belonged that the American government's claim to the Oregon Territory should be defeated, and they adopted the only methods known to them to aid their great ally. Some people have expressed surprise that Indian tribes at great distances from each other should be kept informed on current events of importance to them. It must be understood that these savage tribes had their own methods of communication, some of which were ingenious and others daring. When white men first came into the country they found a well-traveled trail from the Columbia River to the Sacramento Valley, over which communication was kept up, and from various sources the doings of the outside world were learned. They learned of the war between the United States and Mexico even before Fremont had received his orders to return to California, while he was yet at the head of Klamath Lake in Oregon.
The kindness of Dr. McLoughlin, factor of the Hudson Bay Company, toward the early settlers and his encouragement of the establishment of missions in the Willamette and along the Columbia, while recognized as an act of generosity and mercy, was no less an act of statesmanship, but not understood by those above him. The missions established in the Willamette and along the Columbia were clustered about directly under his eye where the inevitable might best be shaped and directed. There were no efforts to establish missions in Southern Oregon, and the first move in that direction by Dr. H. K. Hines in 1834 was discouraged by the Hudson Bay Company's representative stationed on the Umpqua River south of the Calapooia Mountains, and he reported the Indians there to be dangerous and unreliable. Even at the time of Jedediah S. Smith's adventure with the Indians at the mouth of the Umpqua River in 1828, they were not ignorant of the power and importance of the Hudson Bay Company, for Dr. McLoughlin at once took the responsibility to punish them and recover the property they had taken from Smith. These Indians knew about the great power on the Columbia to which they had to bow, and doubtless they had also learned that prowling white adventurers not of that company should be discouraged. The leading chiefs in the subsequent Rogue River Indian Wars were also informed of the feuds among white men that were coming into their country.
Ashland Daily Tidings, October 2, 1924, page 2
The first great impetus in the settlement of Oregon was given by the immigration of 1843, which came by the way of Fort Hall, Boise and the Columbia River. Walling's history says: "This great train of hardy pioneers who came to Americanize Oregon contained 875 persons, 295 of whom were men over sixteen years of age." On May 2, 1843, the first American government on the Pacific coast was organized at Champoeg, on the Willamette River a few miles below where the capital of the state now stands. At that meeting there were 102 votes cast, and the advocates who favored the stars and stripes carried the day by a majority of two. That fall the "Great Immigration" cited above added nearly one thousand people to the population of Oregon. From this time on, the population increased very rapidly and spread out over the Willamette Valley toward the south until the Calapooia Mountains that separated it from the Umpqua country was reached. Each succeeding year added increasing numbers until in 1846 a party of fifteen men from the Willamette Valley explored the Umpqua country. Among them was Philip Peters, who settled on Deer Creek in 1851. Prior to this, however, in the spring of 1848, Levi Scott with his two sons, William and John, settled in the Umpqua country, Levi Scott at Elk Creek and his sons in the Yoncalla Valley nearby. The next year Jesse Applegate, J. T. Cooper, John Long and _____ Jeffrey settled in the same neighborhood. Prior to all these settlements was that of Warren N. Goodell, who located a claim where the present town of Drain now stands in 1847. Thus was commenced the first settlement in the country south of the Calapooia mountains by common consent belonging to that great expanse of mountains and valleys designated as Southern Oregon. From this beginning the country filled up very rapidly, largely for a time by overflow from the Willamette.
The Umpqua Valley circa 1910.
Returning now to the year 1846 we must give narrative to an event that has had a wonderfully stimulating effect upon the growth of the country south of the Umpqua.
The immigrant train of 1843 was the first to bring their wagons through to the Columbia River, and they found the trip so hard that the Applegates, who were with that train, concluded that a better route ought to be found further south. Their determination to try for such a route was an act shorn of all selfishness and undertaken with the motive and urgent desire to save the flood of coming immigrants from the horrors they had suffered. Especially had the trip down the Columbia impressed them with the desire to save others from its terrors. In the spring of 1846 a company of fifteen men was organized for the purpose of exploring for a more southerly route from Fort Hall into Oregon. This company consisted of Lindsay Applegate, Jesse Applegate, Levi Scott, John Scott, Henry Bogus, Benjamin Burch, John Owens, John Jones, Robert Smith, Samuel Goodhue, Moses Harris, David Goff, Bennett Osborne, William Sportsman and William Parker. This company was organized in the upper Willamette Valley and after gathering all the information they could they started south through a country notoriously hostile to the white man. The following extract is taken from the diary of Lindsay Applegate, and is quoted so far as to meet the requirements of our present purpose. Quotation follows:
"From what information we could gather from old pioneers and the Hudson Bay Company, the Cascade Mountains to the south became very low, or terminated where the Klamath cut the chain; and knowing that the Blue Mountains lay (in a direction) east and west, we concluded that there must be a belt of country extending east toward the South Pass of the Rocky Mountains where there might be no vast, lofty ranges to cross. So in 1846 we organized a company to undertake its exploration, composed of the following persons: (The names are given above.) Each man was provided with a saddle horse and a pack horse, making thirty animals.
"A portion of the country we proposed to traverse was at that time marked on the map 'unexplored region.' All the information we could get relative to it was from the Hudson Bay Company. Peter Skene Ogden, an officer of the company, who had led a party of trappers through that region, represented that portions of it were desert-like, and that at one time his company was so pressed for the want of water that they went to the top of the mountain, filled sacks with snow, and were thus able to cross the desert. He also stated that portions of the country through which we would have to travel were infested by fierce and warlike savages, who would attack every party entering their country, steal their traps, waylay and murder the men, and that Rogue River had taken its name from the character of the Indians inhabiting its valleys. The idea of opening a wagon road through such a country at that time was scouted as preposterous. These statements, though based on facts, we thought might be exaggerated by the Hudson Bay Company in their own interest, since they had a line of forts on the Snake River route, reaching from Fort Hall to Vancouver, and were prepared to profit by the immigration. One thing which had much influence with us was the question as to which power, Great Britain or the United States, would eventually secure a title to the country, [which question] was not settled, and in case war should occur and Britain prove successful, it was important to have a way by which we could leave the country without having to run the gantlet of the Hudson's Bay Company forts and falling a prey to Indian tribes which were under British influence."
Ashland Daily Tidings, October 4, 1924, page 2
"June twentieth, 1846, we gathered on the La Creole, near where Dallas now stands, moved up the valley and encamped for the night on Mary's River, near where the town of Corvallis has since been built.
"On June twenty-third, we moved on through the grassy oak hills and narrow valleys to the North Umpqua River. The crossing was a rough and dangerous one, as the riverbed was a mass of loose rocks, and as we were crossing our horses occasionally fell, giving the riders an occasional ducking.
"On the morning of the 24th, we left camp early and moved on about five miles to the south branch of the Umpqua, a considerable stream probably sixty yards wide, coming from the eastward. Traveling up that stream almost to the place where the old trail crosses the Umpqua Mountains, we encamped for the night opposite the historic Umpqua Canyon.
"The next morning, June 25th, we entered the canyon, followed up the little stream that runs through the defile for four or five miles, crossing the creek a great many times, but the canyon becoming more obstructed with brush and fallen timber, the little trail we were following turned up the side of the ridge where the woods were more open, and wound its way to the top of the mountain. It then bore south along a narrow backbone of the mountain, the dense thickets and the rocks on either side affording splendid opportunities for ambush. A short time before this, a party coming from California had been attacked on this summit ridge by the Indians, and one of them had been severely wounded. Several of the horses had also been shot with arrows. Along this trail we picked up a number of broken and shattered arrows. We could see that a large party of Indians had passed over the trail traveling southward only a few days before. At dark we reached a small opening on a little stream at the foot of the mountain on the south, and encamped for the night.
"On the morning of the 26th, we divided our forces, part going back to explore the canyon, while the remainder stayed to guard the camp and horses. The exploring party went back to where we left the canyon on the little trail the day before, and returning through the canyon, came into camp after night, reporting that wagons could be taken through.
"Making an early start we moved on very cautiously. Whenever the trail passed through thickets we dismounted and led our horses, having our guns in hand, ready any moment to use them in self-defense, for we had adopted this rule, never to be the aggressors. Towards evening we saw a great many Indians posted along the mountainside, and now and then running ahead of us. As we advanced toward the river (Rogue River), the Indians in large numbers occupied the riverbank near where the trail crossed. Having understood that this crossing was a favorite place of attack, we decided, as it was growing late, to pass the night in the prairie.
"In selecting our camp on Rogue River, we observed the greatest caution. Cutting stakes from the limb of an old oak that stood in the open ground, we picketed our horses with double stakes as firmly as possible. The horses were picketed in the form of a hollow square, outside of which we took up our positions. We kept vigilant guard during the night, and the next morning could see the Indians occupying the same position as at dark. There had been a very heavy dew and fearing the effect of dampness on our firearms, which were muzzle-loaders, of course, and some of them with flintlocks, we fired them off and reloaded. In moving forward we formed two divisions with the pack horses behind. On reaching the riverbank the front division fell behind the pack horses and drove them over, while the rear division faced the brush, with guns in hand, until the front division was safely over, then they turned about, and the rear division passed under the protection of their rifles. The Indians watched the performance from their places of concealment, but there was no chance for them to make an attack without exposing themselves to our fire. The river was deep and rapid, and for a short distance some of the smaller animals had to swim. Had we rushed pell-mell into the stream, as parties sometimes do under such circumstances, our expedition would probably have come to end there."
(This crossing was a short distance above where Grants Pass now is.) "After crossing we turned up the river, and the Indians in large numbers came out of the thickets on the opposite side and tried in every way to provoke us. There appeared to be a great commotion among them. A party had left the French settlement in the Willamette some three or four weeks before us, consisting of French half-breeds, Columbia Indians and a few Americans; probably about eighty in all. Passing one of their encampments we could see by the sign they were only a short distance ahead of us. We afterwards learned that the Rogue Rivers had stolen some of their horses and that an effort to recover them had caused the delay. From our camp we could see numerous signal fires on the mountains to the eastward."
Ashland Daily Tidings, October 6, 1924, page 2
"Spending most of the day in examining the hills about the stream now called Keene Creek, near the summit of the Siskiyou ridge, we moved on down through the heavy forest of pine, fir and cedar, and camped early in the evening in a little valley now known as Round Prairie. On the morning of July first, being anxious to know what we were to find ahead, we made an early start. This morning we observed the track of a lone horse leading eastward. Thinking it had been made by some Indian horseman, we undertook to follow it. This we had no trouble in doing, as it had been made in the spring, while the ground was damp, and was very distinct, until we came to a very rough, rocky ridge, where we lost it.
"On July third, we appeared to have found a practical pass and camped in a small, rich, grassy valley through which ran a small stream. This valley is now known as Long Prairie. After crossing the summit of the Cascade ridge, the descent was in places very rapid. At noon we came out into a glade where there was water and grass and from which we could see the Klamath River. After noon we moved down through an immense forest, principally of yellow pine, to the river; thence up along the north bank of the river, through this splendid forest for several miles when we crossed the stream at some rapids, just below where the present village of Keno stands. From higher ground here, the party had a splendid view of the Lower Klamath lakes, swamps and country." The narrator says: "It was an exciting moment, after the many days spent in the dense forests and among mountains, and the whole party broke forth in cheer after cheer."
We will have occasion to travel more with these adventurers in their effort to find a more suitable route into Oregon, and will see them leading the first wagon train that ever invaded Southern Oregon. From their crossing of Klamath River they turned south along the west side of the "Lower Klamath Lakes" to its southern extremity, thence easterly around its southern shore to Lost River and the Tule Lake country, where long years afterward were to be enacted that heartbreaking series of tragedies leading up to and terminating with the Modoc War in 1872-3.
CHAPTER THREEThe Applegate party continued their exploration of the southern trail eastwardly to Fort Hall, where they found a large number of emigrants, which is reported numbered two thousand people, with 470 teams and 1050 cattle. About half of these people took the Humboldt route to California in separate trains. Among them was the ill-fated "Donner party," of whom so many perished from starvation and exposure on the mountains. The greater part of the remainder of those gathered at Fort Hall followed the old trail down the Snake and Columbia rivers, suffering the usual hardships of the trip. The remainder, consisting of forty-two wagons and one hundred and fifty people, took the new route with the Applegate pilots. They could not have dreamed that through that gap across [omission] northern Nevada for want of water and pasturage until they reached Goose Lake, after passing which they entered forests interspersed with glades and here and there grassy valleys and an abundance of water. From Goose Lake to Tule Lake they had much rough, rocky country to cross but were not interfered with by the Indians, though, as subsequent events showed they were passing through a land infested by the most ferocious savages on the coast. They passed through the "Lower Klamath Lake country," dodging marshes, passing around lakes and crossing streams and sloughs in their approach to the Cascade Mountains, where they entered the great forest that lies between the Klamath country and Rogue River Valley, after crossing the Klamath River. They now had about forty miles of this great forest that had never before been entered with wagons or white families. The immigrants had become skilled to such problems as they encountered and were guided by men of courage, humanity and spirit, and at last stood at the last summit, now known as Green Spring Mountain, and looked into the beautiful valley of Rogue River.
Ashland Daily Tidings, October 13, 1924, page 2
As they stood on this summit, ragged, weary, perhaps begrimed and travel-stained, what varied emotions must have possessed them. Doubtless they were told that much of the terrors and dangers they had encountered was over. No longer would they be the sufferers from thirst and lack of provender for their stock. Doubtless they were told that the beautiful country spread out below them was infested by bands of thieving and pitiless savages against whom constant vigilance would have to be practiced. Before them was spread a beautiful picture, more inspiring than any they had seen, though all their troubles were not over. It was the first immigrant train that had ever stood on the border of Rogue River Valley and they recorded its charms, a wonderful picture of valley and mountain. Waving grass, groves of oak and madrone with wonderful coloring invited their attention. Before them towered the great Siskiyou Range with its dense forests and to the left a gap through which passed a centuries-old trail, where the moccasin tracks and pony route of Indians had made indelible the historic traffic of savages between the Columbia and the great Mexican province of California, for the possession of which, their own beloved United States, at that moment war was being waged. They had no means of knowing how this great conflict was faring. Could the veil of the future have been torn away, they would have visioned a spectacle that would have seemed a translation to another realm. They could not have realized that the time would come when the forest and mountain through and over which they had just passed would be provided with such a road as they had never dreamed of, a road costing more than a million of dollars, and that their guides were to be the recorded pathfinders and their company was at that moment breaking the spell in the interest of future greatness. They could not have dreamed that through that gap across the Siskiyous would be a great railroad, in plain view from where they stood, engaged in carrying an undreamable traffic for thousands of miles up and down this new, savage coast. They could not have dreamed that winding its sinuous course parallel with the railroad would be a paved highway from British Columbia to Mexico, over which would speed horseless carriages, with unnumbered hosts of human freight at great speed. They could not know that within five years from their advent gold would be discovered in those mountains to the west, and that thousands of miners would flock thither and the rapid settlement of this beautiful valley would quickly follow; nor realize that they were the pioneers of all this greatness. They were looking upon a picture grander than the pencil of the most skilled artist could paint. They could have no conception of the changes that were rapidly to transform this beautiful landscape, nor the human suffering, savage wars and final extermination of the wild bands that then dominated this wonderful region. The natural resources hidden away in the panorama before them were undreamed of, which their coming and that of others to follow would stimulate into discovery. Theirs were to be the first wagon tracks to be made through Rogue River Valley, soon to be followed by development that would startle the world. Their route hence was to be that which the Pacific Highway would follow, that was destined to become historic the conception of following generations.
Ashland Daily Tidings, October 18, 1924, page 2
To reach the floor of the valley they had to descend a very steep and rocky ravine now known as Emigrant Creek in memory of their coming. One familiar with this mountain trail cannot well avoid a feeling of astonishment that it was accomplished without serious accident. The writer traveled this trail fifty-two years ago and saw the marks of their enterprise not yet effaced after twenty-six years. He also at that time traversed the great forest along the route traveled by them and marveled at their accomplishment, compassed after many days of strenuous effort. He also made the trip from Klamath Falls to Ashland, over the million-dollar highway, a few months ago by automobile in two hours and fifteen minutes. It is noted with satisfaction that a granite monument has been erected on the line of this trail [in Phoenix], to the memory of these pathfinders, many of whom afterwards sought homes in this valley.
This party was piloted through to the Willamette Valley by these intrepid men, but not without serious adventures of various kinds. At what is known as the Umpqua Canyon, through which the Pacific Highway now passes, their troubles were greatest. Some of the teams had to be rested up there, and great difficulty and hardship was suffered. This canyon was afterwards selected for the stage road from Sacramento to Portland; those of us who traveled by stage over this route twenty-five or thirty years after the passage of this emigrant train took off our hats to their courage and enterprise.
I have devoted considerable space to this event, because I consider it to have been of the greatest moment in the settlement of Southern Oregon. It must be remembered that at the time this southern route was sought the question as to whether the United States or Great Britain should hold supremacy over the Oregon Territory was not yet settled, though then in the throes of arbitrament. The Hudson Bay Company had a line of forts, or posts, between Fort Hall and the Columbia River and derived quite a revenue from the immigrants, whose wants they supplied at their own prices. The route was excessively hard, making for the frequency of wants to be supplied. There was much prejudice among the settlers against the company; though Dr. McLoughlin was their benefactor and friend, other officers of the company were not in sympathy with his sentiments of generosity and mercy. These officers and men, stationed at great distances from the headquarters at Vancouver and responding to the opposite feeling of the higher-ups, and in an effort to discourage settlement from the United States in order to further the plans of Great Britain, were charged with making the hardships of the immigrant greater, even to incitement of hostility by the natives. Be this as it may, these feelings prompted them to engage in counter moves.
As I have before said, it is not my intention to rewrite the intensely interesting accounts of the early immigrants to the Columbia and Willamette valleys, because that has been eloquently and at great labor and expense given in the excellent publications and histories already extensively distributed. My excuse for this writing is that the settlement of all that country south of the Willamette Valley was made under circumstances entirely different from that further north. It was not done by missionaries nor trappers and hunters, and being at a distance from the great communities of the Willamette, [it] has not, it seems to me, received the attention that the magnitude and importance of this great area is entitled to. It is not my intention to criticize, or to complain, but rather to complement and extend to the world information of that portion of Oregon south of the Calapooia Mountains. From what has already been said, it will be understood that the Hudson Bay Company operated among the Indians in a manner not to arouse their suspicions. They did not want the Indian lands, nor did they assume to build up exclusive communities which required the land for tillage and home-building, the very fact of which necessarily encroached upon what Indians claimed to be their inalienable rights. The trappers assimilated with the Indians, married Indian women and lived the same kind of life they did. But it was not so with the white settler who came accompanied by his own family, settled on a piece of land, called it his own and refused association with the red men. These native sons were proud and, in their way, intelligent. They were informed of how the countries east of the Rocky Mountains had been appropriated and the Indians gradually driven out, or onto reservations. Of all this they were not ignorant and naturally reasoned that the wedge was being driven by the home builder that must, inevitably, result as it had elsewhere.
The missionaries came declaring their purpose to Christianize the Indians; to teach him how to live, how to build homes and how to enjoy life according to the precepts of the Holy Master. That sounded good, but when they found that their methods of life were to be changed and that instead of enjoying a free and untrammeled existence, they were required to work, till the ground and imitate the whites in building homes, and further when they found that white men with their families were coming into the wake of the missionary, assuming superiority over them, they naturally became restless, drew aloof and finally began war upon them. These missions and attended settlements were in the Willamette Valley and along the banks of the Columbia. Most of the histories deal chiefly with these communities and conditions; south of the Calapooia Mountains no missions were established, and with the exception of mining industries, the settlements of Southern Oregon were exclusively of the home-building type, a fact sufficient to arouse the full determination of the savages to drive them hence.
Ashland Daily Tidings, October 27, 1924, page 2
This fact being fully understood, we will address ourselves in this volume first to the Indian wars and then to the civil and political growth of the country. This plan, I take it, will be less confusing and give continuity to our story as we proceed. The only serious thought of establishing a mission south of the Calapooia Mountains was by Rev. Jason Lee, who in company with Gustavus Hines visited the Umpqua River in 1840. The party consisted of Rev. Jason Lee, Rev. Gustavus Hines, Dr. Elijah White and an Indian guide, whom they called "Captain." They started from the mission a few miles below where Salem now stands and proceeded up the Willamette River, camping where night overtook them and meeting with no mishap, and on the third day passed over the Calapooia Mountains at the pass where the railroad now crosses and came down the south side to Elk Creek where the California trail crossed it. This is where Drain now stands. At this point they left the California trail and turned west along Elk Creek. They described the way as exceedingly rough and mountainous. One acquainted with Elk Creek Canyon is not surprised at this. That afternoon, being August 22nd, they reached the Umpqua River at the mouth of Elk Creek. On the opposite side of the river stood the Hudson Bay Company's fort, or trading station. They crossed over in a canoe and were kindly received by an old Frenchman having charge of the post. The name of this man was Goniea. [Jean Baptiste Gagnier operated Fort Umpqua.] Of him, Rev. Hines says:
"The Frenchman in charge, it is said, belongs to a wealthy and honorable family in Montreal, and though frequent efforts have been made to reclaim him from his wanderings and induce him to return to his family and friends, yet all have been unavailing. Such is the power of habit with him that he now prefers a life but little in advance of the wretched savages that surround him, to all the elegances and refinement of a most civilized society. He lives with an Indian woman whom he calls wife, and who belongs to the tribe that resides on the coast, near the mouth of the Umpqua River."
Dr. White and the Indian guide returned to the Willamette and Rev. Hines and Lee prepared to make the trip to the mouth of the river. The Frenchman tried to dissuade them from going alone, telling them that they would be in great danger in going among them alone and himself appeared to be in utmost fear of them. Hines says: "Of their hostility to the whites, and especially to the Americans, we were ourselves aware." He then narrates the Jedediah Smith affair in which eleven men were massacred at the mouth of the river some years before, to which reference has heretofore been made. A small party from down the river arrived in the evening, among whom was a brother of the Frenchman's squaw. After talking with them, Rev. Hines and Lee proposed to the Frenchman that his squaw, her and her brother accompany them in their contemplated trip to the coast. To this the Frenchman consented, saying, "Now the danger is small, before it was great." The next morning they accompanied the Indians in canoes and camped one night before reaching their destination. They were lulled into a sense of security by the meek and lowly appearance of the Indians, who were represented as disgustingly filthy and degraded. They held divine services, to which they fancied the Indians responded with a sincere desire for instruction. They remained two nights, during which they noticed that the Frenchman's squaw and her brother remained up all night and kept a bright fire burning between the camp of the missionaries and that of the Indians, which had been established some little distance apart. They did not, at the time, know why this fire had been kept burning, but after returning to the Frenchman's post up the river they were informed that the plan of the Indians the evening before was to murder them that night, and doubtless would have done so had not these two proved true to their duty. While still at the post their apprehensions were further aroused and they concluded to return to the Willamette and abandon further effort. They felt themselves in great danger from treachery and suffered much from exposure and indignity of the Indians before they reached the California trail. Of the character of these Indians we will let Rev. Hines tell us. He says:
"Notwithstanding the seeming favor with which we were received by them, the Indians along this river, and especially those along the coast, have often proved to be among the most treacherous of savages, and none have ever been among them but have learned that they are capable of practicing the most consummate duplicity. A story told by the gentlemen of the Hudson Bay Company, concerning what transpired on this river, clearly illustrates the treachery and cruelty of these savages, as well as the perilous adventures of the Oregon mountaineers." The narrator then proceeds to give the story of the massacre of Jedediah Smith's company at the mouth of the river in 1828, a portion of which narrative is as follows:
"The country was in its wildest state, but few white men ever having passed over it. But nothing daunted, Smith and his company marched through California and thence along the coast, north as far as the Umpqua River, collecting in their progress all the valuable furs they could procure, until they had loaded several pack animals with the precious burden. On arriving here they camped on the border of the river, near the place where they intended to cross, but on examination found that it would be dangerous, if not impossible, to effect the passage of the river at that place. Accordingly Smith took one of his men and proceeded up the river on foot, for the purpose of finding a better place to cross. In his absence the Indians, instigated by one of the savage-looking chiefs whom we saw at the mouth of the river, rushed upon the party with their muskets, bows and arrows, tomahawks and scalping knives, and commenced the work of death. From the apparent kindness of the Indians previously, the party had been thrown entirely off their guard, and consequently were immediately overpowered by their ferocious enemies, and but one of the twelve in camp escaped the cruel massacre.
"Scarcely knowing what to do he fled and fell in with Smith, who was on his return to the camp, and who received from the survivor the shocking account of the murder of eleven of his comrades. Smith, seeing that all was lost, resolved to attempt nothing further than securing his own personal safety and that of his two comrades, the Indians having secured all the fur, horses, mules, baggage and everything the company had. The three immediately crossed the river and made the best of their way through a savage and inhospitable country towards Vancouver, where after traveling between two and three hundred miles, and suffering the greatest deprivation, they finally arrived in safety."
"After learning the details of the massacre of the Smith party and observing the degraded and treacherous character of these Indians, no further effort to establish a mission south of the Calapooia Mountains was attempted. These stories were known throughout the Willamette Valley and for the time discouraged thoughts of settlements in the Umpqua country. Doubtless the returning Applegate party with the first train over the southern route were also made familiar with the dangerous character of the natives of this region and could feel no assurance of safety until they had passed this hostile and treacherous tribe.
Ashland Daily Tidings, November 3, 1924, page 7
The uncertainties involved in the ultimate settlement of the Oregon question bring the southern trail into more general consideration
The year of 1846 was in many ways a year presenting many serious questions. The settlement of the "Oregon question" was the most pressing of all subjects for public and private discussion. In the case of war between the United States and Great Britain, it was seen that there must be some route to and from the "Oregon country" other than that which followed the Hudson's Bay line of trading posts and forts, over which up to this time the immigrants found their only route to travel. The United States would not be likely to select a line already occupied and fortified by its enemies in the event that military forces were to be sent out. Hence, this southern route was anxiously looked upon as the most available for the future needs of the country.
The new route was not in every respect as good as it was hoped to find, but it was believed that with more intimate acquaintance it would be found to present less of hardships than the Snake and Columbia rivers route. Besides, Oregon would be reached earlier in its southern valleys, that were in some respects more inviting to the weary immigrant. When these first pioneers had seen Rogue River and Umpqua valleys, they ceased not to discuss their desirability when they had reached the settlements of the Willamette, and many of them in subsequent years returned to make their homes there.
Jealousies between the various missions and the various denominations that fostered them produced dissensions that were carried into politics in the early efforts to establish a provisional government, which added to their other embarrassments and discredited them in the eyes of the Indians, who soon were made aware of the situation. The missionaries soon became discouraged in their efforts to "Christianize" the Indians and lost morale when they discovered the difficulties that confronted them.
It is not strange that under the circumstances stimulus was added to the efforts of those who championed the Applegate route. Bancroft says: "In May 1847, Levi Scott led a party of twenty men destined for the States over the southern route, and also guided a portion of the immigration of the following autumn into the Willamette Valley by this road, arriving in good season and good condition, while the main immigration, by the Dalles route, partly on account of its number, suffered severely. This established the reputation of the Klamath Lake road, and the legislature this year passed an act for its improvement, making Levi Scott commissioner, and allowing him to collect a small toll as his compensation for his services. The troubles with the Cayuses which broke out in the winter of 1847 and which, but for the Oregon volunteers, would have closed the Snake route, demonstrated the wisdom of its explorers in providing the mountain-walled valleys of western Oregon with another means of ingress or egress than the Columbia River, their road today being incorporated in some way with some of the most important highways of the country.
"In June 1847, a company headed by Cornelius Gilliam set out with the intention of exploring the Rogue River and Klamath valleys, which from this time forward continued to be mentioned favorably on account of their climate, soil and other advantages.
"In 1849 Jesse Applegate removed to the Umpqua Valley, at the foot of a grassy butte called by the Indians 'Yone-calla, or eagle-bird,' which use has shortened to 'Yoncalla,' near Elk Creek, close to which the railroad now passes. His brother Charles settled nearby him, and Lindsay Applegate somewhat later made himself a home on Ashland Creek, where the town of Ashland now stands, and directly on the line of the road he helped to establish."
"Uncle" Lindsay Applegate told the writer fifty years ago that after he had received his first view of Rogue River Valley on that memorable trip of 1846, he had declared a vow that he would sometime make a home here, and up to the date of his death he considered Rogue River Valley the gem of the Pacific coast.
The year 1846 was a memorable one in the annals of the Pacific coast; the treaty with Great Britain was ratified, fixing the boundary line at the 49th parallel north. This gave the U.S. all that territory known as Old Oregon, extending from the Pacific Ocean to the summit of the Rocky Mountains, and from the 42nd to the 49th parallel of north latitude. This removed the menace of war that had so long hung over this region, and gave the anxious settlements promise of speedy protection under the stars and stripes. The same year saw California a possession of the United States, an unbroken coast line from Mexico, at the head of the Gulf of California to the 49th degree of north latitude. The immigration was increasing each year at a rapid rate, and an added impetus was given by this new assurance of protection.
From this time on exploration of this immense empire of territory went on rapidly, and the country south of the Calapooia Mountains commenced to receive homeseekers. In 1847 Warren N. Goodall located a donation claim on the present site of Drain, at a point where the present S.P. railroad crosses Elk Creek. In 1848 Levi Scott settled in Scott Valley near the mouth of Elk Creek, and his two sons, William and John, settled nearby in Yoncalla Valley. In 1848 Jesse Applegate, J. T. Cooper and _____ Jeffrey settled in the same vicinity. The discovery of gold in California in 1848 had attracted great attention in all parts of California and Oregon, and induced an increase in the travel over the California trail in great numbers, of which we will speak more particularly presently, and new settlements were begun in the Umpqua Valley.
Bancroft says: "The immigration to the Pacific coast in 1850, by the overland route alone, amounted to between thirty and forty thousand persons, chiefly men. Through the exertions of the Oregon delegate in Congress about eight thousand were induced to settle in Oregon." With the yearly increase since the large immigration of 1843, with eight thousand added in 1850, Oregon was securing a population able to cope with emergencies as they arose and were no longer uncertain as to their national status, having been given a territorial government in 1849.
The discovery of gold in California in 1848 produced a remarkable situation wherever the news spread. Perhaps nowhere else in the world was there wrought a greater spectacle than in Oregon. These pioneers who had just arrived and yet had hardly settled on the lands chosen by them were violently taken with the lust for gold. So soon as the news was fully confirmed and verified that the reported discovery was not a hoax, the greatest excitement prevailed. We will let Bancroft paint the picture for us. He says:
"No one doubted longer; covetous desire quickly increased to a delirium of hope. The late Indian disturbances were forgotten, and from the ripening harvests the reapers without compunctions turned away. Even their beloved land claims were deserted; if a man did not go to California it was because he could not leave his family or business. Some prudent persons, at first seeing that provisions and lumber must rapidly increase in price, concluded to stay at home and reap the advantage without incurring the risk; but these were a small proportion of the able-bodied men of the colony. Far more went to the gold mines than had volunteered to fight the Cayuses; farmers, mechanics, professional men, printers--every class. Tools were dropped and work left unfinished in the shops. The farms were abandoned to women and boys. The two newspapers, the Oregon Spectator and Free Press, held out, the one till December, the other till the spring of 1849, when they were left without compositors and suspended. No one thought of the outcome. It was not then known in Oregon that a treaty had been signed by the United States and Mexico, but it was believed that such would be the result of the war; hence the gold fields of California were already regarded as the property of Americans. Men of family expected to return; single men thought little about it. To go and go at once was the chief idea. Many who had not the means were fitted out by others who took a share in the venture; and quite different from those who took like risks in the East, the trusts reposed in men in Oregon were as a rule faithfully carried out."
Ashland Daily Tidings, November 4, 1924, page 2
"Pack trains were [at] first employed by the gold seekers; then in September a wagon company was organized. A hundred and fifty robust, sober and energetic men were soon ready for the enterprise. The train consisted of fifty wagons loaded with mining implements and provisions for the winter; even planks for the construction of gold rockers were carried in the bottom of some of the wagons. The teams were strong oxen; the riding horses of the hardy Cayuse stock, late worth but ten dollars, now bringing thirty, and the men were armed. Burnett was elected captain and Thomas McKay pilot. They went to Klamath Lake by the Applegate route, and then turned southeast, intending to get into the California emigrant road before it crossed the Sierra.
"The exodus thus begun continued as long as weather permitted, and until thousands had left Oregon by land and sea. The second wagon company of twenty ox teams and twenty-five men from Puget Sound followed but a few days behind the first, while the fur-hunters' trail west of the Sierra swarmed with pack trains all the autumn. Their first resort was Yuba River, but in the spring of 1849 the forks of the American became the principal field of operations, the town of Placerville, first called Hangtown, being founded by them. They were not confined to any localities, however, and made many discoveries, being for the first winter only more numerous in certain places than other miners, and as they were accustomed to camp life, Indian fighting and self-defense generally, they obtained the reputation of being clannish and aggressive. If one of them was killed or robbed, the others felt bound to avenge the injury, and the rifle, or the rope, soon settled the account. Looking upon them as interlopers, the Californians naturally resented these decided measures. But as the Oregonians were honest, sober and industrious, and could be accused of nothing worse than being ill-dressed and unkempt and of knowing how to protect themselves, the Californians manifested their prejudice by applying to them the title of 'lop ears,' which led to the retaliatory appellation of 'tar heads,' which elegant terms long remained in use.
"It was a huge joke, gold mining and all, including even life and death. But as to rivalries they signified nothing. Most of the Oregon and Washington adventurers who did not lose their lives were successful; opportunity was greater there in the Sierra foothills than in the Willamette Valley. Still they were not hard to satisfy, and they began to return early in the spring of 1849, when every vessel entering the Columbia River was crowded with home-loving Oregonians. A few went into business in California. The success of those that returned stimulated others to go who at first had not been able."
A complete revolution in business, hope, ambition and all of the sentiments and aspirations that these new settlers had almost lost in discouragement from their overland trip and the wild surroundings of their new home, now returned to them increased manifold, and progress that they had not before dreamed of forged to the forefront. Immigration to this new Eldorado increased to an amazing extent. The statesmen in the East lost tongue longer to disparage the future of the great Northwest, and a territorial government was at once forthcoming. The Columbia River was the scene of great activity, and ships from all parts of the world swarmed its waters. Cities and towns sprang up everywhere, supported by an intelligent growth of agriculturists. Great farming communities were soon bidding for the markets of the world, and the salubrity of their climate and fertility of their soil demonstrated the wisdom of their choice and enhanced the world's opinion of the coming greatness of the United States.
The miners of California at once became the most important bidders for the produce of Oregon, and the ships sailed for the Columbia to bear it to them. The General Lane sailed from Oregon City with lumber and provisions, and had on board several tons of eggs which had been purchased at the market price and sold to a passenger at thirty cents a dozen, who sold them at Sacramento for a dollar apiece. The large increase of home productions with the influx of gold by the returning miners soon enabled the farmers to pay off their debts and improve their places, a labor upon which they entered with ardor in anticipation of the donation law. In the spring of 1849 many more went to the mines and many more who had been there returned, and the California trail through Southern Oregon became well known. Those who went overland to California returned to their homes in the Willamette to sound the praises of the beautiful Umpqua and Rogue River valleys. It is not at all strange that such large numbers of white people passing back and forth through this region, where only two or three years before a white man was rarely ever seen, should cause excitement and apprehension among the natives. The Indians also soon learned that the United States, and not Great Britain, had been awarded the great Northwest, and that their friends, the Hudson Bay Company, were no longer supreme authority. The discovery of gold also both hurt and helped the Hudson Bay people. Many of the trappers abandoned their fur-hunting haunts and rushed to the mines. In fact, the gold hunting delirium tended for the time being to unsettle everybody and everything. Returning miners were often waylaid by the savages as they passed through Rogue River Valley and the Umpqua and robbed of their treasures, sometimes killed.
This gold excitement in California spread like a plague, and within a year prospectors had followed up the Sacramento River looking for gold and often finding it. The Oregon miners returned from California, scanned the mountains and gulches, and prospected as they went along. They noticed that the formations and general structure of the country about Trinity Mountains, Scotts Mountains and the Siskiyou Mountains seemed much the same as that in the Sierras where they had worked the rich deposits. Bancroft says that: "In June 1850, two hundred miners were at work in the Umpqua Valley. But little gold was found at that time, and the movement [was] southward, to Rogue River and Klamath. According to the best authorities, the first discovery of any of the tributaries of the Klamath was in the spring of 1850, at Salmon Creek. In July discoveries were made on the main Klamath, ten miles above the mouth of the Trinity River, and in September on the Scott River. In the spring of 1851, gold was found at various places, notably on Greenhorn Creek, Yreka and Humbug."
It was not long until these discoveries had attracted many miners, and the mountains in that region were swarming with prospectors and miners. At that time the region was isolated, with hundreds of miles between these camps and San Francisco and Sacramento, their base of supplies, and speculators were being attracted toward the possibilities opening up for methods of transportation to the mines. A vague, indefinite notion existed as to the mouth of the Klamath River as a possible place for vessels to discharge cargo to be conveyed overland to the mines on the Klamath.
Ashland Daily Tidings, November 5, 1924, page 2
The mouth of the Klamath River, circa 1910.
Again we will have recourse to Bancroft's works; speaking of this period he says: Under the excitement of gold-seeking and the spirit of adventure awakened by it, all the great northwestern seaboard was opened to settlement with marvelous rapidity. A rage for discovery and prospecting possessed the people, and produced in a short time marked results. From the Klamath River to Puget Sound, and from the upper Columbia to the sea, men were spying out mineral wealth or laying plans to profit by the operations of those who preferred the risks of the gold fields to other and more settled pursuits. In the spring of 1850 an association of seventy persons was formed in San Francisco to discover the mouth of the Klamath River, believed at that time * * * to be in Oregon. The object was wholly speculative, and included besides hunting for gold the opening of a road to the mines of northern California, the founding of towns at the most favorable sites on the route, with other enterprises. In May thirty-five of the shareholders and some others set out in the schooner Samuel Roberts to explore the coast near the Oregon boundary."
But only three of the outfit had any knowledge of seamanship, while the rest were mere adventurers without the experience of such a life as they were embarking on. They were a roistering, jolly lot of fellows bent on having a good time at all hazards. They had an abundance of provisions, and two surveyors with their instruments were on board, with several who boasted as college graduates and men of parts. They missed the mouth of the Klamath and finally sighted the mouth of Rogue River. A boat with six men was sent to explore the entrance but was overturned in the surf and two were drowned; the rest were rescued by the Indians, who pulled them ashore and stripped them of their clothing. Those on board the schooner, seeing the plight of their comrades, ventured the entrance and succeeded in passing in. It was high tide and they noticed that the shore was swarming with Indians. The shout of relief as they entered the river was answered by yells from the Indians, who at the earliest moment boarded the ship. The men feigned indifference and proposed to trade for furs. After they had secured all the peltries possessed by the Indians, who had nothing else to barter, they began their filching of whatever they could find loose. In the meantime the tide had gone out and left the ship high and dry. They had to await high water to get away, and in the meantime were kept busy trying to protect their property from the thieving natives. They maintained good humor, however, and did not provoke hostilities and when the tide arose finally made their escape to sea.
The mouth of Rogue River, circa 1930s.
The pursued their course up the coast, passing Coos Bay, which on account of failure of the wind they could not enter, and while becalmed they were approached by a canoe containing Umpqua Indians who offered to pilot them to their river, the Umpqua. Their offer was accepted and they reached the entrance on the 5th of August. On the 6th the schooner crossed the bar, being the first vessel known to have entered the river in safety. They rounded into a cove, since known as Winchester Bay, and were surprised to meet a party of Oregonians, consisting of Levi Scott, Jesse Applegate and Joseph Sloan, who were themselves exploiting [exploring?] the valley of the Umpqua for a purpose similar to their own. A boat was sent ashore and a joyful meeting took place in which each party promised mutual assistance to the other. It was found that Scott had already taken a claim about twenty-six miles up the river at a place which is now known as Scottsburg and which was destined to have quite a history in the early development of the country. Scott, Applegate and Sloan had come down to the mouth of the river in expectation of meeting the U.S. surveying schooner Ewing in the hope of obtaining a good report of the harbor. But on learning the designs of the California company, a hearty cooperation was offered upon the one part and accepted by the other. It seemed that the Indians of the Umpqua had become peaceable and was no longer a menace to the contemplated settlement of the country, which had already begun as shown in prior pages of this history. On the morning of the 7th the schooner proceeded upstream and the bluffs on either hand echoed the joy of the happy party. They ran aground on a sandbar and had to await the tide, but finally reached Scottsburg, the head of tide navigation. The schooner was later brought up.
In consideration of their services in opening up the river to navigation and commerce Scott presented the company with one hundred and sixty acres of his land claim, lying below the rapids, for a town site. Affairs now seemed to call for a more regular organization, and a joint stock company was formed and christened the "Umpqua Town Site and Colonization Land Company," the property to be divided into shares and drawn by lot among the original members. They divided their forces and aided by Applegate and Scott proceeded to survey and explore to and through the Umpqua Valley. The company was divided into three parts. One set out for the ferry on the north branch of the Umpqua, the point where the California trail crossed it. Another party accompanied Applegate to Yoncalla, where he had located as hereinbefore told, and the third party left with the schooner. They selected four town sites; one at the mouth of the river was named Umpqua City and contained 1280 acres, being situated on both sides of the entrance. The second location was Scottsburg; the third, called Elkton, was situated on Elk Creek, at its junction with the Umpqua. The fourth at the ferry above mentioned was named Winchester, was purchased from the original locator, John Aiken. This was considered a valuable property. After the organization of Douglas County it became for a time the county seat. At the time of this writing the S.P.R.R. company's road crosses the river at this point, and the Pacific Highway also crosses here on a magnificent concrete bridge recently dedicated with lavish ceremony.
The entry of this vessel into the Umpqua, the organization following and the advertising which resulted gave a great impetus to the settlement of the Umpqua Valley, and settlers began to crowd over from the Willamette Valley, and the settlement of Southern Oregon was fairly begun. That the Umpqua could be navigated to Scottsburg was heralded over the country and was selected as the point from which supplies could most easily be shipped into the mines of northern California, which were proving very rich and were more easily reached by the gold seekers of the Willamette Valley.
By this time more attention was given by prospectors to the country on the north side of the Siskiyou Mountains. In the spring of 1851, the discovery of gold was proclaimed at Big Bar on Rogue River and at Josephine Creek. Both of these localities are within the present boundaries of Josephine County.
Packers were now engaged in transporting supplies into northern California by pack trains over the old California trail, and resting their stock in the beautiful, grassy and well-watered Rogue River Valley, through the center of which their pack trains were driven. It was a splendid place to rest and recruit after the arduous work of negotiating about 300 miles of rough mountain trail, through a country infested by thieving tribes of hostile Indians. Many small companies were waylaid and robbed, and sometimes slain, of which we will have more to say during these narratives.
Ashland Daily Tidings, November 6, 1924, page 2
In the fall of 1851, James Clugage and J. R. Pool, who were running a pack train from Scottsburg to Yreka, stopped at an inviting cove in the western part of Rogue River Valley to rest up for a few days and while giving their animals needed rest in the splendid natural meadows where the town of Jacksonville now stands, varied the monotony by prospecting the stream that ran through the meadow. As a result they discovered rich placer deposits in what was afterwards called Rich Gulch. They were joined by James Skinner and ______ Wilson and proceeded to open up their claims, which proved to be very rich. This discovery precipitated another mining rush, and it was only a short time until the mountains surrounding Rogue River Valley were filled with miners and prospectors.
CHAPTER FIVEThe discovery of rich placer deposits in the Siskiyou Mountains bordering upon Rogue River Valley, and on the Klamath River and its tributaries just across the line in northern California, produced a reenactment in this region of the exciting inrush of gold-seekers of two years before in the Sierras of California. In an incredibly short time hundreds of men with pick, shovel and pan were gathering at the new discovery on Rich Gulch and Jackson Creek, while hundreds more were seeking out every stream in the Siskiyous in their mad search for the yellow metal. The Applegate and its branches, Sucker Creek and its tributaries, the Illinois River and valley and nearly every bar on Rogue River were soon occupied. The startled Indians looked on in amazement at what appeared to them a crazy rush for something that had no appeal to them.
The climate, fertility and beauty of the Rogue River Valley that had so strongly appealed to those who had passed through it now became doubly enticing as a land for home-building, farming and fruit-raising, and men with families began to select their lands in the valley and to commence improvements of permanent character. The mines promised them markets for their produce, and the magnificent bunchgrass ranges invited to stock-raising. Perhaps no valley on the coast filled more rapidly than did Rogue River Valley. This was very disconcerting to the natives who, from time immemorial, had wandered over this beautiful country in enjoyment and savage luxury. Frequent councils were held among them in an effort to devise methods to save their country and homes, which they plainly saw slipping away from them.
So rapid was this influx of people, embracing all kinds and classes, that they soon felt the necessity of organization under the law for protection against the aggressions of that lawless element that in the very nature of the case make for disturbance among a mining population. Gold was discovered in the fall of 1851, and when the territorial legislature met in 1852 the machinery was set on foot for the organization of Jackson County.
In the preceding chapter I have recorded the entrance into the Umpqua River of the schooner Samuel Roberts, and the exploiting and settlement begun in the Umpqua Valley; the laying out of towns and the coming in of settlers. Due to the activity of Jesse Applegate and Levi Scott, the Territorial Legislature had passed an act [in] January 1851, organizing Umpqua County, and embracing therein a large part of the Umpqua country including the mouth of the river. Douglas County was created by an act of the legislature January 7th, 1852, and Jackson County was created by an act of the legislature January 12th, 1852.
It will be seen from this that settlement had begun with force in the country south of the Calapooia Mountains, which is properly designated "Southern Oregon." The settlement of the Umpqua country was greatly stimulated by the entry of the schooner Samuel Roberts and the temporary organization of the "Umpqua Colonization and Land Company," while at the same time hundreds of prospectors were seeking for gold among its hills and along its streams. The access of such a population prompted the organization of Umpqua County in 1851, which in turn still further stimulated the rush, not only of gold-seekers, but of home-seekers as well, and eligible lands were sought out and located. In the fall of the same year, 1851, the discovery of rich placers at Rich Gulch (now Jacksonville) and elsewhere in the Siskiyou Mountains, with the consequent rush thereto, prompted the legislature to still further extend the organization of counties, and on the 7th day of January, 1852, it organized Douglas County and five days thereafter, to wit: January 12th, 1852, Jackson County was organized, or rather its organization was provided for by legislative enactment.
Prior to the organization of these counties, all of the country lying south of the Calapooia Mountains to the California line and east to the summit of the Cascade Mountains was embraced in the county of Lane. The legislative act creating Umpqua and Douglas counties fixed the southern boundaries thereof, and the act creating Jackson County embraced therein all of the residue to the state extending to the California line and from the shore of the Pacific Ocean east to the Cascade Mountains. The eastern boundary of Jackson County as given in the act of 1852 is very indefinite, but was corrected and extended by an act of the legislature at a special session, held in 1865. By this act the boundary of Jackson County was extended eastward to embrace what is now Lake and Klamath counties. This territory was taken from Wasco County, that by the act of 1856 embraced all of the territory eastwardly from the summit of the Cascade Mountains to the summit of the Rocky Mountains, and southerly from the Columbia River to parallel 42 of north latitude, being the north boundary line of California and Nevada.
By the act of 1852 the north boundary of Jackson [County] was the south boundary of Umpqua and Douglas counties; its southern boundary was the north line of California; its western boundary was the Pacific Ocean and its eastern boundary the Cascade Mountains, embracing practically all the territory now constituting Coos, Curry, Josephine and Jackson. By the act of 1865 the territory of Jackson was greatly extended east of the Cascades, but prior to that time its territory had been greatly curtailed by the organization of other counties, to wit: by the act of December 22nd, 1853, Coos County was organized; by act of the legislature December 18th, 1855, Curry County was created, and by the act of June 22nd, 1856, Josephine County was provided for. For more specific description of the boundaries of these various counties reference is made to the session laws of the territorial legislature that created them. It will be seen that for so large an area matters must have moved in a very lively manner. The earliest settlement south of the Calapooia Mountains was [omission?] one, in 1847, perhaps a dozen in 1848-9 with a rush in 1850. The discovery of gold at Jacksonville in the fall of 1851 preceded any settlements south of the Umpqua County, yet during the following year the influx was so great that a cry went up to the legislature, "Give us a government," and the act creating Jackson County followed within five days after the act creating Douglas County.
The territorial legislature names James Clugage, Nathaniel C. Dean and Abel George commissioners to organize Jackson County. They met at Jacksonville on the 7th day of March, 1853, and proceeded to discharge their duties. By following them briefly for a time the reader will be the better able to appreciate the rapidity of the settlement in this, so recently a country occupied by savages only.
As I have said the commissioners met at Jacksonville on the 7th day of March, 1853, and were sworn in by the postmaster, David M. Kenny, there being no other person qualified to administer an oath. James Clugage was elected to act as president of the board of commissioners. Dr. C. E. Alexander was appointed clerk. Dr. John W. McCully was appointed a justice of the peace. The exigencies of the situation seemed to require more than one justice, so Hiram Abbott was appointed a justice of the peace. They at once gave bond for faithful performance of their duties. They then appointed Morgan W. David and M. C. Kennedy constables, who at once filed their bonds and entered upon the discharge of their duties for Jacksonville precinct. These appointees were so appointed to serve until their successors were duly elected and qualified. They now adjourned until the 4th day of April, when they convened to further proceed with the county organization.
The first business at this meeting was to receive and accept the resignation of Dr. C. E. Alexander, clerk, and the filling of the vacancy by the appointment of C. S. Drew (who had been acting as deputy clerk) to the position of clerk. They then appointed E. H. Blanchard elisor, who should act until a successor (a sheriff) should be elected and qualified. They then proceeded to the creation of election precincts, the very naming of which will indicate how rapidly the country was being settled over extended areas. It was necessary that they should name the places for holding elections and the judges of election. I will copy from the journal kept by this board which I have before me, as follows, to wit:
"One (precinct) at Emery and Co.'s sawmill and to be known as Ashland precinct. Elections to be held at the house of Eber Emery, and that Eber Emery, John Gibbs and Patrick Dunn be and they are hereby appointed judges therefor. One (precinct) at Dardanelles, to be known as Dardanelles precinct. Elections to be held at the house of William Lawless, and that the said William Lawless, J. W. Patrick and Isaac Woolen be and are hereby appointed judges of elections therefor. One (precinct) at Perkins' old ferry on Rogue River to be known as Perkinsville precinct; elections to be held at the house of Benjamin Holstead, and that the said Benjamin Holstead, William Rose and ______ Brown be and are hereby appointed judges of elections therefor. One (precinct) at Grave Creek to be known as Grave Creek precinct. Elections to be held at the house of Bates & Twogood, and that A. S. Bates, ______ Rice and Thos. Raymond be and are hereby appointed judges of elections therefor. One (precinct) at Cow Creek to be known as Cow Creek precinct, elections to be held at the house of Hardy Elliff and that said Elliff, ______ Wiley and John Fortune be and are hereby appointed judges of elections therefor. One (precinct) on Applegate Creek to be known as Applegate precinct; elections to be held at the house of Dr. Edward Sheil and that John Gunn, William Thompson and ______ Hart be and are hereby appointed as judges of elections therefor. One (precinct) on Illinois River to be known as Canyon Creek precinct; elections to be held at the house of Miller & Co., and that Samuel Mooney, _____ Miller and ______ Rhoda be and are hereby appointed judges of elections therefor. One (precinct) on Althouse Creek, to be known as Althouse precinct; elections to be held at the house of J. C. Anderson & Co., and that said Anderson, Williamson and Robert McGruder be and are hereby appointed judges of elections therefor. One (precinct) at Jacksonville, to be known as Jacksonville precinct; elections to be held at the Robinson house and that L. A. Rice, H. A. Overbeck and Hiram Abbott be and are hereby appointed judges of elections therefor. One (precinct) at Port Orford, to be known as the Port Orford precinct; elections to be held at the house of Gambel and Tichenor, and that said Gambel, ______ Lount and ______ Hall be and are hereby appointed judges of elections therefor."
Ashland Daily Tidings, November 8, 1924, page 2
Then follows the following order, to wit: "That each precinct within this county shall be entitled to one justice of the peace and one constable; PROVIDED, however, that the precincts of Jacksonville and Althouse be and are entitled to two justices of the peace and two constables each."
Then follows the appointment of Thos. McF. Patton to be prosecuting attorney until his successor is elected and qualified. Richard Dugan was appointed county treasurer. The clerk was authorized to procure such seals, with such devices as he might think best, to be used in county business and records. It was then ordered that all peddlers be required to pay $12.50 per year license fee.
Then came an application to establish a ferry on Rogue River, which was granted, and the tolls were fixed to be charged for ferriage. Then follows the first action in Southern Oregon toward the establishment of roads, and inasmuch as we are now in the midst of road building, this initiatory move will be interesting and should be perpetuated in the county's history. I will copy from the record:
"Whereas, it is the opinion of this board that it is absolutely necessary for the public good and the citizens of this county generally, that 'public roads' should be laid out and located throughout this entire valley; it is therefore ORDERED:
"The trail as now traveled from its intersection with the northerly end of Oregon Street, in the precinct of Jacksonville, to its junction with the 'Old Oregon Trail' (so-called), near the residence of Nathaniel C. Dean at what is known as 'Willow Springs,' be and the same is hereby declared a public highway.
"AND FURTHERMORE, that all that portion of the said Oregon Trail from its junction aforesaid, to the boundary line of Douglas County in said Territory be and the same is hereby declared a 'public highway,' and also that portion of the said 'Oregon Trail' from the junction aforesaid, to the northern boundary line of California as now traveled."
The first term of the U.S. Court was held at Jacksonville in 1854, and the first grand and trial jury was drawn consisting of the following named gentlemen, whose names appear in subsequent proceedings of the Pioneer Association:
I. Kennedy, J. C. Kerr, Aaron Chambers, M. B. Morris, A. Tenbrook, T. Pyle, A. Welton. W. Ballard, J. C. Anderson, I. H. Davis, George Dart, Wm. Hughes, Jesse Walker, ______ Fisher, W. W. Brown, I. McDonough, O. D. Hoxie, Col. Wells, J. E. Ross, B. Armstrong, J. Russell, J. M. McCall, J. W. Morris.
The foregoing are named as grand jurors, and the following as trial jurors:
James Hamilton, Samuel Lowe, George T. Vining, I. B. Waggoner, D. T. Kersey, Frederick Furbay, Peter Miller, E. McCarty, Samuel Hall, J. J. Holman, Robert Hargadine, W. Spencer, Robert Heber, J. J. Cook, George Ross, ______ Hoffman, ______ Pinkham, Morris Howell, I. K. Davis, ______ Wright, ______ Lake, N. B. Evans.
On the 6th day of March, 1854, the Board of County Commissioners again met; the new commissioners resulting from the first election were: Martin Angel, B. B. Griffin and Patrick Dunn. Their business seems to have been chiefly in considering applications for roads, ferries, bridges and "groceries."
The first record we find of the issuance of county warrants is contained in the following order, to wit:
"Ordered that county warrants be issued to the following individuals for the amounts annexed to their names respectively, to wit:
"David Linn, $132.00; S. H. Taylor, $22.00; Angus Brown, $12.00; George C. Pearson, $782.00; C. Siras, prosecuting attorney, $127.00; A. Little & Co., $350.00; Brennan & Prim, for defending Indians, $100.00; T'Vault & Kenny, prosecuting Indians, $75.00; S. H. Culver, $20.00; T. McF. Patton, $44.00; H. Abbott, $11.00; M. G. Kennedy, $37.00; E. H. Cleaveland, $225.00."
Ashland Daily Tidings, November 10, 1924, page 2
During this April session of 1854 several other precincts were established, to wit: One on Cow Creek, one on Butte Creek, one at Galice Creek, and one at Gold Beach.
We see from this record that within one year after its organization, Jackson County had so acquired a population that every part of its extensive territory, covering all of what is now Jackson, Josephine Curry and Coos counties, had received the attention of this newly established machinery, indicating that in all parts of its extended domain were active American citizens demanding not only the protection of law, but also the extension of facilities for its many and widely scattered communities. We see that in 1854 only one year after the organization was completed a Territorial United States Court was duly convened at Jacksonville with all its machinery in motion. Thus, within four years the country south of the Calapooia Mountains, to the California line, and from the Pacific to the Cascade Mountains had gained a population reaching into the thousands. Every stream had its prospectors, and most of its valleys had their home builders. The miners furnished a market for the farmers' produce. Seeds of all kinds were packed in from the Willamette and the Sacramento valleys by pack horses. The outside world carried supplies by water to the Umpqua River, and pack trains delivered the freight to the miner and the home-builder.
In the meantime the Indians were not idle, though their depredations had not yet reached the proportions of war, yet much petty stealing and an occasional killing was reported. The treaty between the United States and Great Britain was demoralizing to the Hudson Bay Company, and the Indians soon learned that those to whom they looked as benefactors and friends had lost out. By the same token the American settlers were strengthened and emboldened. The acquisition of California by the United States tended to strengthen the sentiment of proprietorship among the settlers all along the coast, and, being made known to the Indians still further excited them. Hence it is not strange that a period of devastating war should result. At this distance of time we are better able to pass judgment than were the pioneers themselves. During the stirring years that followed, notwithstanding the existence of bloody wars with the natives, the settlement and improvement of the country continued, to which we will return in a later part of this history. Before taking up the civil and political history of this very interesting and important region, we will devote as much of the ensuing pages as may be necessary to an account of the Indian troubles, including the Indian wars of 1855 and 1856, after which time the country rapidly filled and grew to what we now see. [Watson apparently never extended his history past 1853.]
When we have read the details of this brutal and savage war we will not be surprised that so strong a feeling of wrath should have taken possession of the pioneers against the savage tribes they were displacing. Their methods of war were not civilized methods because they were not civilized. They were operating under the best lights they had, and their situation was a most desperate one. They were not ignorant of the results of the appearance of the whites elsewhere and realized that they were fighting for the right to exist. The whites desired to teach the Indians a better mode of living, but this in the very nature of things could not be done, yet many of the old missionaries were enthusiastic in their zeal to accomplish this and were loath to surrender their faith in its accomplishment. The Indians at first listened to the religious teachings with interest and appreciated the kindness and consideration of the missionaries, but when they discovered that there were sects and diverse opinions among them though they all taught from the same Bible, they were confused. When they discovered that there were jealousies among the various teachers, they were surprised and further confused. When they discovered that there were bad white men who were treacherous and cruel, they could not understand why this should be so. Many of the Indians and their chiefs were desirous to live in peace and amity with the whites, but they, too, had many bad Indians whom they could not control. These bad men, on both sides, were the great disturbing elements, and they were not long in discovering that human nature is much the same among whites and Indians; bad white men were wronging Indian women, and when they complained they received little satisfaction. Promises made by white men were broken, and this gave bad Indians an excuse for revenge. As we read about the Indian raids, and the murder and torture they perpetrated, we are not expected to condone, nor to withhold just punishment, but may modify our sentiments of condemnation. In the following pages it will be seen that the Indian was not at all times to blame, and we sometimes blush at the dastardly acts of white people and cannot wonder at the horrible acts of retribution. It will be well to think of what we would do, if this, our beautiful country, were invaded by hostile foes stronger than we; [if] our lands and homes were to be taken away and we and our families driven into the mountains or forcibly placed on reservations. We have had recent evidence of the savagery of war among so-called civilized people, during which the very refinement of cruelty was practiced that lays the acts of the savages in the shade. We see that so-called education and refinement does not eliminate what seems to be an inherent sentiment that makes for savagery and brutality. I am not trying to defend the Indian nor condone his acts of brutality, but rather to point out the fact of natural likeness in both. For more than fifty years I have been more or less among the Indians and have found among them many of real noble character and great natural intelligence. I have talked with them on these subjects and found their discussions to be reasonable and intelligent.
As we review these "Rogue River Wars," I will to a large extent follow the accounts as they are given in Walling's history of Southern Oregon and the accounts recorded in Bancroft's Works, with such differences as I think to be just acquired by me at first hand from many of the old actors of pioneer days. When I first came to Oregon most of the earliest pioneers were still here, and I got to know nearly all of them personally, and received the accounts from their own lips. Walling's history of Southern Oregon was published in 1884, just forty years ago. It was prepared with evident care, with personal interviews with the early actors and from records, many of which are not now available. I rate Walling's as the best detailed history of his region that has been written. Bancroft's Works were published in 1886 and has many footnotes of personal interviews and documentary evidence of value. I feel that in this effort to make further record and to bring it down to the present time, I cannot do better than avail myself of these excellent works, now long out of print.
Ashland Daily Tidings, November 11, 1924, page 2
Before dealing directly with the incidents it will be our business presently to record, it will be well to learn something about the various tribes involved, and the sections of country occupied by them. It will be observed that we can pay little attention to the line separating California and Oregon, for this line had no significance to the Indians, and that on both sides certain relations were recognized between these neighboring tribes. In fact no regular line had been established except that parallel forty-two of north latitude was the recognized boundary of Northern California, inherited from Mexico.
The principal tribes with which we will have to deal were known as the Rogue Rivers, Klamaths and Modocs, Shastas and Umpquas. Among the first four are found strong race affinities, and they speak dialects of the same language. Their localities adjoined, their intercommunication was frequent, and in time of war they often fought side by side. For settled description Mr. Bancroft's work on Native Races of the Pacific Coast is recommended. The four tribes mentioned lived and roamed over the contiguous valleys of the Rogue, Klamath, Shasta and Umpqua rivers and their tributaries, and in the neighborhood of Klamath, Tule, Clear and Goose lakes. The country about the three latter-named lakes belonged to the Modocs, whose habitats were chiefly in California and on Lost River. The Rogue River Valley was occupied prior to the advent of the whites by the powerful and important tribe known by the name of Rogue Rivers. Branches of the tribe, more or less corrupted by intermixture with the neighboring Umpquas and others, lived on the Illinois, Applegate, Big Butte and other tributary streams, always paying to the head chief of the tribe the allegiance customary to the aboriginal headship. Along the Klamath River and about Klamath lakes dwelt a strong tribe, generally known as the Klamaths. The Shastas had their home about the base of the great mountain of that name. These four tribes, apparently equally numerous and powerful, formed with others what Bancroft has styled the Klamath family and says: "This family is in every way superior to the more southern tribes. In physique and character they approach more nearly the Indians of eastern Oregon than to the degraded and weak tribes of Central California. The Rogue River Indians were an exception to the general rule of deterioration on approaching the coast, for in their case the tendency to improve toward the north held good; so that they were in many respects superior to those in the interior.
"The Klamaths formerly were tall, well made and muscular, with complexions varying from black to light brown, according to their proximity to large bodies of water. Their faces were large, oval and heavily molded, with slightly prominent cheekbones; nose well set and eyes keen and bright. The women were short and sometimes quite handsome, even in a Caucasian sense." Powers, in the Overland Monthly, wrote of the Klamaths: "Their stature is a trifle less than Americans; they have well-sized bodies, strong and well knit." We might continue to quote from other writers, some of whom it seems to me greatly exaggerate their physical qualities.
Walling says: "As for clothing, the men of the Klamath family anciently wore only a belt, sometimes a breechclout, and the women an apron or skirt of deerskin or braided grass. In colder weather they threw over their shoulders a cloak or robe of marten or rabbit skins sewn together, deerskin, or among the coast tribes sea otter or sealskin. They tattooed themselves, the men on the chest and arms, the women on the faces in three blue lines extending perpendicularly from the center and corners of the mouth to the chin. In some few localities, more especially near the lakes, the men painted themselves in various colors and grotesque patterns.
"Their houses were of designs common to many tribes. Their winter dwellings, varying with the locality, were principally of forms conical and square. Those of the former shape prevailed most widely and were thus built. A circular hole, from two to five feet deep and of variable width, was dug. Round this pit or cellar stout poles were driven into the ground, which, being drawn together at the top, formed the rafters of the building. A covering of earth several inches deep was placed over the rafters, a hole was left at the top to serve [as] both door and chimney, to which rude ladders composed of notched poles gave access. Some houses were built of heavy timbers forming a beehive-shaped structure. The temporary summer houses of these tribes were square, conical or conoidal in shape, by driving light poles perpendicularly into the ground and laying others across them, or by drawing the upper ends together at the top. Huts having the shape of an inverted bowl were built by driving both ends of the poles into the ground. These frames, however shaped, were covered with neatly woven tule matting, or with bushes and ferns. The ground beneath was sometimes scooped out and thrown up in a low embankment.
"The men of the tribes were usually practical hunters. A portion of their food during a great part of the year was the wild game of the forest, and this they approached and caught with considerable adroitness. The elk, too large and powerful to be taken by bows and arrows, was sometimes snared, and the same fate befell the deer and antelope. The bear was beyond the power of the natives until they became possessed of the white man's guns, when they became good bear hunters, particularly black bear. The grizzly and the cinnamon bear were generally given a wide berth by the Indian."
About the lakes and along the streams, where salmon made their annual appearance, the Indians found their most profitable and congenial sport. This was particularly true among the Umpqua, Rogue and Klamath rivers where the salmon and steelheads entered on their annual run to their spawning grounds. At such season their fishing was a regular revel. The writer has seen hundreds of Modocs and Klamath camped along the banks of Lost River catching and smoke-drying the tons and tons of mullet with which that river swarmed. Many of these fish were two feet long and wonderfully fine and palatable. They are of the species of sucker, and the banks of the river being of sediment, chiefly clay, these fish burrow into the bank sometimes until they are completely hidden. Looking over the squarely washed bank into the perfectly clear water you may sometimes see the tail of a big fish protruding from the hole he is burrowing. The Indians were always watching for such a chance. On such occasions you would see the Indian go over the bank head first, and in the next moment you'd see a huge mullet hurtling through the air and landing safely on the bank. Then the squaw would come running and laughing and soon had the game properly prepared and hung on the poles rigged for it. They had several methods for taking salmon and other large fish. Sometimes they would build a dam of twigs, grass and brush so contrived in rapids as to intercept the salmon in their annual run to the spawning grounds. They contrived pockets into which the fish would work their way in order to continue their journey, where they were speared in large numbers. On Rogue River and the other salmon streams the fish were speared by torchlight, in the manner common on the Columbia and other large streams. Bancroft says: "When preserved for winter use, the fish were split open on the back, the bones taken out, and then tried for winter use, or smoked. Both meat and fish when eaten fresh are either broiled on hot stones or boiled in watertight baskets into which hot stones are dropped to make the water boil. Bread is made of acorns ground to flour in a stone mortar with a heavy stone pestle, and baked in ashes." The writer has seen them grinding up various seeds and dried crickets and grasshoppers, making a batter of about the consistency of that for flapjacks. This they says is hyas skookum muckamuck. I have had them laugh at me when I declined to eat their cakes. They had flat stones on which when hot they placed this batter and placed another flat, specially prepared stone above the batter. It looked good, but I was not hungry.
Ashland Daily Tidings, November 12, 1924, page 2
The Indians gathered large quantities of roots, berries, seeds of various weeds and grasses which were used for food. One of the principal roots is camas, which is collected in large quantities, or was so collected, but the few Indians remaining have to a large extent adopted the foods used by the whites. The camas root is much like an onion and is familiar to the whites. Its seeds are also collected for food.
There were other roots and a variety of berries, to wit: the huckleberry, blackberry, salmonberry, manzanita berry; wild plums were gathered in abundance. Among the Klamath lakes grows a species of pond lily known as wocus among the Indians. This plant is prolific of seed resembling flaxseed in appearance, though larger. One of these plants will cover many square feet, even yards, their broad leaves spreading out over the water. In the center rises a stalk two or three feet high, sometimes higher, which bears at its top a large yellow flower, in the center of which is a pod in which the seed grows in a pulp. Many of these pods will produce a pint of seed or more. The pods are gathered when ripe, then spread out on the ground to dry. When dried they are pounded with sticks which break up the dried pulp and then winnowed out, leaving the clean seeds, which are ground up in mortars and mixed with other seeds, or roots, or even with grasshoppers and crickets are made into bread and pronounced "hyas."
Like nearly all savage tribes, the women were the drudges and gathered and prepared the food. In fact these savages required the women to do all the hard or tedious work while they hunted, fished or went to war. Along the coast all kinds of seafood was used. Dead whales and sea lions, being washed ashore, were salvaged by them. Sea crabs, oysters, clams and mussels constituted the larger part of their food, supplemented by a great variety of berries. These coast savages were an inferior class compared with the interior tribes. Their mentality was low and they were indescribably filthy. As has been shown by their murder of the Jedediah Smith people, they seemed wholly devoid of any sentiment other than the vicious.
Walling says, speaking of the Southern Oregon Indians generally: "The men were not in any degree an exception to the general rule of laziness and worthlessness. Their only active days were when in pursuit of game or their enemies. Wars among these Indians were of frequent occurrence, but were hardly ever long or bloody. The causus belli was usually lovely women. Wicked sorceries inflicted by one people on another were also causes of war. If one tribe obstructed a stream so as to prevent their neighbors above obtaining a supply of food, the act often provoked war. No scalps were taken, but the dead foeman was decapitated--a fate meted out to all male prisoners, while the women and children were spared and became the property of the conquerors.
"Their bows were usually about three feet long, made or yew or some other tough wood; the back was an inch and a half in width and was covered with the sinews of the deer. The arrows were generally about two feet long and occasionally thirty inches. They were made of reeds, were feathered and had a tip of obsidian, glass or iron. They often made their arrows in two sections, the front one containing the tip, being short and fastened by a socket so contrived as to leave the tip in a wounded animal, while the longer and more valuable feathered section dropped to the ground and could be found in the fleeing animal's trail. Poisoned arrows seem to have been in use, principally among the Modocs, who used the venom of the rattlesnake for that purpose. They macerated the serpent's head in a deer's liver, which, putrefying, absorbed the poison and assumed the virulent character itself."
Ashland Daily Tidings, November 13, 1924, page 2
"The Indian women ingeniously plaited grass, tule or fine willow roots into mats, baskets, etc. The baskets constructed for cooking purposes would retain water and were even used as kettles for boiling in. Stones, heated very hot, were thrown into the vessel, bringing the water to a boiling heat. Canoes were made from the trunk of a tree, hollowed out and shaped by means of fire. Pine, fir and cottonwood were favorite species for that purpose. The ends of the canoe were usually blunt, and that of the Rogue River Indians were flat-bottomed. The tree having been felled by burning, or being found as a windfall, was burned off to the required length and hollowed out by the same agency. Pitch was spread on the portion to be burned away, and a piece of fresh bark served to prevent the flames from spreading too far. These canoes were propelled by paddles. Such constructions of course lacked the requisite lightness and grace of the birch bark canoes of the far eastern Indians.
Canoes, women, weapons of war and the chase, and the skins of animals formed the most valuable property of these savages, and were articles of barter and trade. In the interior Indian ponies also formed an important property. Wealth was estimated in strings of shell money like the wampum of eastern aborigines. This money was known as alli-as-chick and chick-a-mun. This circulating medium was a small white shell, hollow and valued at from five to twenty dollars. White deerskins and the scalps of the redheaded woodpecker seem to have been articles of high value, possessing fictitious worth depending on the dictates of fashion. These articles were the insignia of wealth and were sought after by the Indians, as sealskin garments and diamonds are affected by the higher classes of white society. "Wives, also, as they had to be purchased, were a sign of wealth, and the owner of many was thereby distinguished above his fellows." To be a chief among the Rogue Rivers or Klamath presupposed the possession of wealth. Power was not hereditary, and the chief that became too old to govern was summarily disposed of. La Lake, the peaceable old chief of the Klamaths, was compelled in his later years to give place to a younger man. Each village [had a] head man who might be styled chief, who held his power in some way subordinate to the main tribal chiefs, but whose actions in most of ways were not regulated by the head chief. It will appear that these savage tribes had their political tribulations, as their rivals and conquerors had. Frequently from a multiplicity of candidates for the chiefship two were chosen, who together administered the affairs of the tribe, the divided authority appearing to be consistent with peace and friendliness. One of the two was usually styled peace chief and the other war chief. Such division of authority is illustrated in the Rogue River chiefs Sam and Joe. They were brothers; Sam was designated as "peace chief" and Joe "war chief." We find that consistent with this divided authority Joe assumed the conduct of the war of 1853and perhaps other war campaigns. There seemed no jealousy between these brothers, and they were recognized among the whites as very able men.
The Indians with which we are dealing were, upon the whole, filthy in their persons and associations, viewing from a Caucasian viewpoint, but not perhaps so compared with other races of the Pacific Coast. The Umpqua region and the coast between the Siuslaw and Coos Bay were inhabited by the Umpquas and minor tribes connected with them, but ultimately were thinned down by the manner of living and diseases induced thereby until they ceased as important tribes and were amalgamated into the tribes living inland. Anciently the Umpquas were a tribe of considerable strength but inferior to the Klamath family in physique and mental qualities. The men seldom exceeded five and a half feet and the women five feet in height. They were rather stockily built though loosely made up and were deformed by their habitual squatting positions when at rest and when first visited were evidently in the process of degeneration.
The Umpquas were not peculiar for their dress. In fact the men were not clothed at all except in cold, stormy weather, when they wrapped themselves in skins of such animals as their energy enabled them to capture. The women wore a kind of skirt made from the fiber of cedar and other bark that answered their purpose, which they supported with a thong around the waist, allowing it to hang about the hips and down to the knees. Sometimes in cold weather they wore the skin of the sea otter or other animals. They lived chiefly on fish and other seafood that chance threw in their way and such animals as they were able to snare. The Siuslaw, Umpqua and Coos rivers were at seasons of the year frequented by great swarms of salmon which they contrived by various methods to capture. These were prepared by drying and smoking and were eaten raw, or mixed with berries and dried roots and ground into flour, from which a kind of bread was baked. Sometimes salmon and salmon trout were boiled on hot coals hereinbefore described, or held before the fire on sharp sticks until cooked. In the case of broiling the fish were filled with sharp slivers of wood to make the flesh hold together while being cooked.
Before the coming of the whites, war was made on the Umpquas by the Shasta Indians and other tribes from the interior, and what little power or strength they had began to wane. In 1850 the Klickitats, a strong roving tribe from beyond the Columbia, passed through the Willamette Valley, conquering other tribes on the way, and entered the Umpqua and subjected the tribes to defeat. They occupied a portion of the Umpqua country and became the dominant tribe north of the Rogue River Valley. The Klickitats were recognized as skillful both in trade and war, and tendered their assistance to the whites in the wars that ensued. Sometimes the whites availed themselves of such assistance, and at other times it was declined. In 1851 sixty Klickitat warriors, well mounted and armed, offered their assistance to the whites in the war against the Rogue Rivers, but their presence was not desired. Similar to these were the Des Chutes, a small but active tribe who, under their chief Sem-tes-tis, made expeditions from their homes east of the Cascades, trading and fighting other Indians as far south as Yreka, where in 1854 they joined the whites in a war against the Shastas. Descendants of the Klickitats are said to be found occasionally in the Umpqua country, where they became quiet, law-abiding people.
Walling says: "As regards the origin of these tribes, only conjecture is at hand. Not enough is known on that topic to form the foundation of a respectable hypothesis, although the common origin of all North American tribes has been taken for granted. From facts that have come under his notice, Judge Rosborough, formerly Indian agent for Northern California, is of the opinion that there have been three lines of aboriginal migration southward through Southern Oregon and Northern California; namely, one by the coast, dispersing toward the interior; secondly, that along the Willamette Valley, crossing the Calapooia Mountains and the Umpqua and Rogue rivers, Shasta and Scotts valleys; the other wave coming up the Des Chutes River and peopling the vicinity of the lakes. As an evidence of the second movement it is known that all the tribes inhabiting the region referred to spoke the same language and confederated against their neighbors, particularly the Pit River Indians, who arrested their course in the south. The traditions of the Shastas show they had driven a tribe out of their habitations and occupied them themselves." The Klamaths have been known among themselves and neighboring tribes by various names, all apparently derived from the same name but pronounced and spelled differently. To repeat these various names would be confusing and serve no purpose of understanding; this is also true of the Rogue River Indians. We will, therefore, be content to designate them by their well-known appellation of Klamaths and Rogue Rivers.
Ashland Daily Tidings, November 15, 1924, page 2
In preceding pages we have given narrative to the chief incidents between the Indians and whites prior to the discovery of gold in Southern Oregon, and the beginning of actual settlement south of the Calapooia Mountains. There were other depredations of minor character, isolated parties were attacked and fatalities resulting. Many parties started out from their rendezvous and were not again heard from. To enter into all the details and minor incidents, many of which could not be strictly verified, would result in tiring out the reader without adding value to the history of the region. It will, however, aid those readers who are not familiar with the geography and topography of the country to give in a very brief way some of these facts, to be followed in a subsequent volume with a fuller exposition of the geography, topography and geology of Southern Oregon, which is wonderfully rich in all these natural characteristics, including mineral resources, scenic attractions and wonderful forests.
Inasmuch as our narratives have taken us across the Cascade Mountains into what is now known as Eastern Oregon, and will necessitate further journeys across this great barrier, we would become better acquainted with it and its significance to the early settlement of the country. When we come to geological exploitations we will learn still further the importance of this range. Suffice it for the moment to say that the Cascade Mountains constitute a continuous barrier of magnificent proportions extending from California to and into British Columbia. To the early pioneers who crossed the plains with ox teams this great barrier constituted a nightmare until the terrors of it had been placed behind them. Rising as it does from five thousand feet to almost fifteen thousand feet above the sea level, it measures up as one of the great mountain ranges of the world, and contains much of the grandest mountain scenery of the continent. This range presents an impassable barrier to all rivers except the Columbia and Klamath. The Columbia rises in the Rocky Mountains and finds its way to the ocean through this great barrier; the Klamath River rises in Eastern Oregon and has forced its way through the Cascade Range to the ocean. The Rogue and Umpqua rivers rise in the Cascade Mountains and flow thence westerly to the ocean. At right angles to the direction of all great mountain ranges are "spurs" reaching out from the summit and declining as they depart from the summit. We see this exemplified in the "spurs" reaching out toward the west from the Cascades, each "spur" having an axis of its own and from its axis will be other, smaller ridges. Between these ridges are rivulets and small streams that gather at the main drainage, such as Rogue and Klamath rivers. Along these numerous streams are small valleys all converging toward the main stream. Along these streams, large and small, the Indians had their lodges, and between the streams they had their hunting grounds in the magnificent forests that clothed the mountain heights. In the main valleys, such as the Rogue, Applegate, Illinois and others, they hunted deer, antelope and jackrabbits and pastured their ponies in the splendid meadows that spread out in floral beauty everywhere. The Indians possessed their own sense of appreciation of the scenic attractions with which they were surrounded, their own sentiment of proprietorship, their happy-go-lucky manner of living and freedom of action. What ruthless awakening awaited and surprised them. When we realize their situation and then ponder upon what would be our recourse in such circumstances, we will better realize the stormy times that followed and which we will now attempt to narrate with impartiality.
Ashland Daily Tidings, November 29, 1924, page 2
CHAPTER SEVENIn that very excellent work of Professor John B. Horner entitled "A Short History of Oregon," with which I find no fault except for its brevity, I find the following sketch of General Joseph Lane: "Upon receiving his appointment as Governor of Oregon, General Joseph Lane proceeded with Joe Meek and a number of others via Santa Fe to California. At San Francisco the two officers took ship for the Columbia River, arriving in Oregon City, the capital of the territory, March 2, 1849. General Lane assumed the duties of his office as governor on the 3rd, which was but one day before the expiration of the term of President Polk.
"Upon assuming the duties of his office, Governor Lane had a census of the new territory taken, which showed a population of 8,785 Americans and 298 foreigners. On June 18, 1850, he resigned the governorship under the wrong impression that the new President, Zachary Taylor, had appointed a successor. General Lane became a candidate for delegate to Congress in 1851 and was elected. He was again appointed governor on May 16, 1853, but three days after qualifying for the position again resigned and became a candidate for Congress. He was elected, and successively elected to that position, until the territory was admitted as a state in 1859. From the general government he accepted a commission of brigadier general in command of the volunteers, and was actively engaged in suppressing Indian hostilities in Southern Oregon in 1853. General Lane was elected one of the first United States Senators, upon Oregon's admission into the Union, and served for a period of two years. He was a candidate for Vice-President of the United States in 1860. He died at his residence at Roseburg, Oregon in April 1881, aged 80 years."
Oregon became a territory of the United States by an act of Congress, August 13, 1848, and General Joe Lane was at once appointed governor and from that date until the opening of the Civil War was active in the affairs of the territory and the state. We will find that in the settlement of Southern Oregon and the management of Indian affairs in this part of Oregon, he was one of the leading factors. One who is familiar with the stormy times in Oregon, from the date of forming the provisional government in 1843 until the close of the Indian wars of 1855-56, will realize that to carry all that history in detail would enlarge our present work beyond reasonable limit at this time. Let it suffice to say that there were elements entering into the political campaigns covering the period above suggested involving jealousies between the missionaries and the Hudson Bay Company, and a division of sentiment between those who were not in active accord with either. These political quarrels were carried to the limit of bitterness and many unjust things were said and done which held the country on the verge of war and uncertainty, with the Indian menace always present in which all were equally interested. These things, however, were largely confined to that portion of the state adjacent to the Columbia River and in the Willamette Valley and into Southern Oregon, where neither the missionaries nor the Hudson Bay Company had found a footing and where common interest was found in defending themselves from the Indians, unmixed with other evils from which they were fleeing.
In a former chapter I have narrated the event of the entrance of the schooner Samuel Roberts into the Umpqua River and the impetus which was given to the settlement of the Umpqua country. This event also met present requirements of supplies to the miners of Northern California in 1850. Men were constantly passing between the mines and San Francisco, keeping the mining craze at fever heat. Merchants were interested in finding a way by which they could transport their wares to the mines where exorbitant prices could be collected of necessary supplies, and at once shipping concerns were on the qui vive in search for the most eligible seaports that would answer their purpose.
The government surveying schooner Ewing, after having been engaged with surveying about the mouth of the Columbia, was directed to coast southward along the shore of Oregon, with the purpose of locating some eligible inlet suited for entry of vessels. These investigations were superficially done and the report a discouraging one. The Columbia was too far to the north and besides had acquired a bad reputation. The Umpqua, which at first was thought to solve the problem, proved to be dangerous for sailing vessels, many of which were wrecked at its entrance. Coos Bay was mentioned, but the Ewing did not enter it; the Coquille was observed but reported to be unavailable for lack of water, and Rogue River was reported to be suitable only for the navigation of canoes. A cove was discovered about halfway between Rogue River and the Coquille and a few miles south of Cape Blanco, which was called Port Orford. Here a headland projected into the ocean and pointing toward the south formed a cove of considerable extent and good depth of water, protected from the north and northwest gales but open to those from the southwest. However, it seemed to offer the safest harbor and was recommended. (It will be remembered that after the organization of Jackson County, an election precinct was created here, as it belonged to the territory embraced within said county.)
Orders were issued to Captain William Tichenor of the Seagull, which was running to Portland, to put in at this point, which had already been visited by him, and leave a small colony of settlers who were to examine the country for a road to the interior. Bancroft says: "Accordingly in June 1851 the Seagull stopped at Port Orford, as it was named, and left there nine men, commanded by J. M. Kirkpatrick, with the necessary stores and arms. A four-pounder was placed in position on top of a high rock with one side sloping to the sea, and which at high tide became an island."
Ashland Daily Tidings, December 2, 1924, page 2
"While the schooner vessel remained in port, the Indians, of whom there were many in the neighborhood, appeared friendly. But on the second day after her departure, about forty of them held a war dance, during which their numbers were constantly augmented from the heavily wooded and hilly country back from the shore. When a considerable force was gathered the chief ordered an advance on the fortified rock ["Battle Rock"] held by the settlers, who motioned them to keep back, or receive their fire. But the savages, ignorant perhaps of the use of cannon, continued to come nearer until it became evident that a hand-to-hand conflict would ensue. When one of them seized a musket in the hands of a settler, Kirkpatrick touched a firebrand to the cannon and discharged it into the midst of the advancing multitude, bringing several to the ground. The men then took aim and brought six of them to the ground at the first round. Turning upon those nearest with their guns clubbed, they were able to knock down several, and the battle was won. In fifteen minutes the Indians had twenty killed and fifteen wounded; of the white men four were wounded with arrows from the savage ranks that fell in showers upon them. The Indians were permitted to carry off their dead, and a lull followed."
This left the settlers in a desperate situation. They feared to leave their fortified camp to explore for a road to the interior, which was their purpose, and concluded to await the return of the Seagull, which was to bring more men in a few days from San Francisco. At the end of five days the savages appeared in a greater force, and seeing the white men still in possession of their stronghold and ready to give battle, they retired down the coast to hold a war dance and to work up their courage. The beleaguered party being scantily supplied with ammunition, and not willing to take the chances of defeat, they took advantage of the temporary absence of the savages and took to the forest, carrying nothing but their arms and ammunition. It was a desperate move, but they succeeded in reaching the friendly cover of the timber, which is almost as difficult to traverse as a tropical jungle, and by moving as rapidly as possible and keeping under cover for five or six miles they came out on the beach north of Cape Blanco and encamped there overnight. The next day they reached the Coquille River and discovered a village of about 200 Indians on the opposite shore. To avoid this village they traveled up the bank of the river several miles and, constructing a raft, crossed over. That they might not encounter another band they kept to the woods for two days, living on berries and such forage as they could procure. At one point they came onto a small band of savages, which by charging them they frightened away. Again they came upon the beach and lived upon mussels and other seafood which they succeeded in salvaging for four days. The only assistance they received was from natives living on Coos River, which empties into Coos Bay. Strangely enough, these Indians were friendly and fed and helped them. On the eighth day they reached the Umpqua River, where they were received and provided for by the settlers they found there.
Captain Tichenor had promised to be back with reinforcements by the twenty-third. The Seagull being detained at San Francisco, he obtained passage with his companions on the Columbia, which was bound for the north, and reached Port Orford on the day on which he was due but found his settlers gone. He had recruits to the number of forty. He was surprised at not finding his people. He landed with a man by the name of Leroy and eight others and found tools, supplies and other plunder scattered about and evidence showing that a struggle had ensued. Among the trumpery he found a diary that had been kept by one of the men, which narrated the trouble of the first day but was not continued beyond that. It was thought that all had been killed, and the first account published was that they had all been massacred. This, however, was corrected about a week later in a letter received from Kirkpatrick, who gave an account of their adventures. He also spoke of the friendly Indians on Coos River, which he called "Coean" River, and gave a favorable account of the country and announced that they had discovered a fine bay (Coos Bay).
But little attention was paid to the account of a fine bay having been discovered. The founders of Port Orford were so thoroughly convinced that Port Orford was destined to be the port for the mines of Southern Oregon and Northern California that they set about their establishment with vigor. Captain Tichenor left his party there well armed and fortified, and himself went to Portland, where he advertised to land passengers within thirty-five miles of the Rogue River mines. Returning from Portland the Columbia again touched at Port Orford and left a party of Oregonians, so that by August there were about seventy men at the port. They were well armed and kept guard with military regularity. Hunters were employed to supply game, and elk being abundant in the forest just at hand, and clams, crabs and other seafood being abundant, there was no suffering on that score. A whitehall boat was left with the company to be used in fishing and exploring the coast. By this means they explored the shore from the mouth of the Coquille River to the California line. The hunting excursions were also exploring trips for the purpose of finding a feasible road into Rogue River Valley.
Ashland Daily Tidings, December 4, 1924, page 2
On August 24th, 1851 a party of twenty-three men headed by W. G. T'Vault set out on an exploring expedition toward the mines recently discovered in Rogue River Valley, which Captain Tichenor had reported was not more than thirty-five miles. T'Vault was one of the earlier settlers in Oregon. He established and edited the Oregon Spectator, the first newspaper published west of the Mississippi River. This paper was first published early in 1848. T'Vault was himself a character in the early, stormy political periods of Oregon. A man of very strong character. He was not an educated man but made himself felt in the discussions of all public questions. He was a fearless adventurer and was, at the time he undertook to lead this exploring expedition, familiar with the California trail and had already felt the mettle of the savage tribes of Rogue River Valley, and the thrills of gold hunting under serious handicaps. He was afterwards a resident of Rogue River Valley and had a donation land claim on Rogue River, just across that stream from the present town of Gold Hill. This was later, however, than the expedition which we will now recount. He was an Indian fighter and was supposed to be well fitted to lead such an expedition. The company was made up of recent immigrants who were as yet "tenderfeet." They were intended to depend on hunting for subsistence and had but two real hunters among them.
Nothing daunted, these twenty-three adventurers set out on horses following the coastline from Port Orford southerly to the mouth of Rogue River. The natives along their line of march were shy, but numerous, who on being approached fled into the woods. At Rogue River, however, they assumed a different attitude, threatening the travelers with their bows, but retreating when guns were pointed at them. During the march they hovered about the rear of the little army, who on camping at night selected an open space, and after feeding their horses burned the grass to destroy the chance of the Indians approaching them by crawling through it and hiding in it. They kept double guard at night. Proceeding with care they avoided a clash with the savages.
They proceeded thus until they had reached about fifty miles from the ocean. On the north bank of the river when they lost their way and provision running low, some determined to turn back. T'Vault, being unwilling to abandon their effort, increased pay to such as would continue with him. Accordingly nine went with him toward the valley, though but one of them could be depended upon to bring in game. The separation took place on the 1st of September; the advancing party proceeded up the river, by which course they felt assured of reaching the California trail at its crossing of the stream. On the evening of the ninth they came upon the headwaters of a stream some distance north as well as east of Port Orford, the nature of the country and the direction of the ridges having forced them off their course. Finding the country open along this stream they followed it down for some distance, and meeting an Indian boy engaged him to guide them. Their guide brought them to the southern branch of a river, down which they traveled with difficulty. Here they abandoned their horses, as they no longer had anything to carry and could only advance with difficulty. They then procured the services of some Indians with canoes to take them to the mouth of the river, which they found to course through a beautiful valley of rich land. The river below the forks was about eighty yards wide, and in it the tide was ebbing and flowing from two to three feet. On the 14th, about ten o'clock in the morning, having descended to within a few miles of the ocean, a member of the party by the name of Hedden, being one of the party who was formerly driven out of Port Orford and who had escaped up the coast to the Umpqua in June, recognized the river as the Coquille, which his party had crossed on a raft. In their famished and exhausted condition they engaged some natives to take them down the river, instead of which they were carried to a large rancheria situated about two miles from the ocean.
Ashland Daily Tidings, December 6, 1924, page B3
Savages thronged the shore armed with bows and arrows, long knives and war clubs, and were upon them the moment they stepped ashore. T'Vault afterwards declared that the first thing he was conscious of was being in the river fifteen yards from shore and swimming. He glanced toward the shore and saw only a horrible confusion. He heard yells of savage triumph mingled with the sounds of blows and the shrieks of his unfortunate companions. At the same time he saw Brush in the water not too far from him and an Indian standing in a canoe striking him on the head with a paddle, while the water was stained with blood.
At this juncture occurred an incident such as is used to embellish romances, when a woman or a child in the midst of savagery displays those feelings of humanity common to all men. While the two men were struggling for their lives in the midst of the stream a canoe shot from the opposite bank. In it, standing erect, was an Indian lad, who on reaching the spot assisted them into the canoe, handed them a paddle, then springing into the water swam back to the shore. They succeeded in getting to the land, and stripping themselves crawled up the bank and into the thicket without once standing upright. Striking southward through the jungle they struggled on as rapidly as their terrible plight permitted and at night emerged on the beach, reaching Blanco the following morning, where Indians received them kindly, and after taking care of them for a day conveyed them to Port Orford. T'Vault was not severely wounded, but Brush had part of his scalp taken off by one of the long knives. Both were suffering from famine and bruises and believed themselves the only survivors. But in about two weeks it was ascertained that others of the party were living, namely: Williams, Davenport and Hedden, the other five having been murdered, their companions hardly knowing how.
Bancroft says: "With this signal disaster terminated the first attempt to reach Rogue River Valley from Port Orford, and thus fiercely did the red inhabitants of this region welcome their white brethren." The difficulties which grew out of this and similar encounters will appear in narratives of the wars of 1851-3. The personal narratives of many of the adventurers of this period of attempted settlement and exploration of Southern Oregon are among the most thrilling stories of adventure to be found in all literature, but it is impossible to embody them all in narratives of this kind. I find as footnotes in Bancroft's works many of these thrilling tales, and am indebted largely to Bancroft for a very large part of the experiences along the coast of Southern Oregon. We must not forget that practically all of the coastline from the north shore of Coos Bay to the California line was by the act of January 12th, 1852 made a part of Jackson County.
Notwithstanding these tragical efforts under the direction of Capt. Tichenor to find a road from Port Orford to the interior, the efforts were not abandoned. Port Orford received much advertising and was declared by many to be the best and most practical site of a great port between the Columbia and San Francisco. Many schemes have been inaugurated and many surveys have been made by the United States looking to the accomplishment of this great object. Nor has the enthusiasm of interested parties waned up to this time. It was in these early explorations discovered that a wonderfully fertile country of large extent in the immediate neighborhood, along the Sixes River, New River and the Coquille River, beckoned the settler, the farmer, dairyman and stock raiser. When made aware of its desirability [they] were strongly tempted to run all risks in hope of the ultimate reward. Captain Tichenor saw it, was seduced by it and took up his home alongside of Battle Rock, where his little four-pounder played such havoc among the savages on that memorable occasion. Tichenor was quite a wonderful man and was for many years a leading member of the Oregon legislature. He was a man to attract attention around the capital or at Portland, always well clad, dignified and covered with a silk high-topped hat. I knew him well.
Several other efforts were made by these exponents of a road between Port Orford and Rogue River Valley, and as I am now writing a plan is on foot to build a road down Rogue River and up to Port Orford, with a good prospect that not many more years will pass without the accomplishment of this desirable feat.
The efforts which I have just narrated, stimulated by the discovery of gold in the Siskiyous, were more potent in attracting the settlement of home builders than in building highways into the mines. It was not long until gold was discovered at the mouth of Rogue River, and the famous Gold Beach mines attracted many, through whose infatuation for digging the yellow metal established there a market for the farmer and dairyman, and the country became rapidly settled. The home-makers have remained and prospered long after the gold-hunting mania ceased.
Arising from the effort to establish communication between Port Orford and Rogue River Valley, the country between the Umpqua River and Port Orford became known and explored. In these various excursions the value of Coos Bay as a future port of entry impressed itself on the explorers, and the character of the country was favorably advertised. The fertility of the various valleys, such as the Coos River Valley, the Coquille River Valley, Bear Slough, New River and the river called the Sixes, attracted many settlers. The Indians were whimsical, as will appear from some of the narratives already given, sometimes kind, considerate and helpful, while at others times exhibiting great barbarity. Like all the other Indians of Southern Oregon they were thieves and in their promises were not to be relied upon. During the years of 1851-2-3, the country became thoroughly explored, adding to other attractive features extensive beds of coal around the head of the bay; extensive tracts of what has been named Port Orford cedar created astonishment at the magnificence of the trees. This timber, like the sequoia, seems to be approaching extinction as a species, and is not known to exist elsewhere than in the Coast Range and along the coast between the Umpqua and a point not far below the California line. The value of this timber has since the early days been fully verified and has furnished to this region one of its most valuable assets. The main bodies of forest consisted of yellow fir and spruce, which has been an enriching source of revenue. In the valleys and along the streams grew in magnificent form a timber known as myrtle. It is an evergreen with great spreading branches and grows to large girth, though not to a great height. Its leaves and young twigs are very aromatic and yield an essential oil that is said to have great medicinal value. The wood is hard and is a splendid material for ornamental work and has been found of great value in the manufacture of furniture. The soil where the myrtle grows is very rich and productive, hence much of this splendid timber has been destroyed in the course of clearing up the land, and as the quality [quantity?] diminishes its commercial value is enhanced. The development of the coal mines situated on the immediate shorelines of Coos Bay was early a source of great value and soon occupied many miners and vessels to carry the output to market. Many sloughs where the tide rose and fell furnished extensive pasturage and invited operations in dairying. About the bay and these inlets geese and ducks, with other fowl, were in great abundance, inviting the hunter to easy [omission] and abundance of such articles of food as they furnished, while the streams swarmed with great quantities of fish, including the salmon and salmon trout. The headlands along the coast yielded great quantities of mussels, rock oysters and edible barnacles, while at low tide an abundance of clams were easily procured, and sea crabs were easily caught with a garden rake along the shores of the bay. The growths of brush and shrubs was very dense and traveling through it was equal to tropical jungles. Rhododendron, azaleas and other flowers produced a gay effect to these jungles. All of these things attracted the attention of pioneers into these regions and in many cases changed the search for gold to that of a longing for "a cottage by the sea." Even gold was found on the beach among the "black sands," and on the river Sixes and other streams which produced a rush, and with some renewed the gold fever.
All of these things tended to modify the emotions and purposes with which these early invaders first entered these parts and braved the hardships and dangers that met them on all sides until they had learned to deal with them. Many clashes were had with the savages before the country was really subdued, but from what I have related it will be seen that there was not lacking a stimulant justifying the venture. In other parts of this work I will have something more to say about the dangers and hardships of those who flocked here; the growth of cities and towns; the building of great sawmilling plants and shipyards; the developing of a harbor second to none between the Columbia and San Francisco, which tended to throw Port Orford into the shade. The building of roads into the interior was to occupy the energy, enterprise and capital of these settlers to the limit but was destined to succeed, until now we find splendid paved highways and railroads inviting not only commercial relations with the interior, but beckoning pleasure seekers to the splendid beaches and resorts built upon the shore of the "sundown sea."
CHAPTER EIGHTMy readers have now been brought, by as continuous a narrative as I have been able to make, from the date of the Jedediah Smith tragedy at the mouth of the Umpqua River in 1828, down to the discovery of gold at Rich Gulch (Jacksonville) and the organization of Jackson County in 1853. We have observed many tragical episodes, related many adventures and witnessed the most startling settlement of this wild and extensive region. We have seen the attitude of the natives and commented upon the reasons therefor. We have noticed the effect of this rapid settlement upon the increased jealous activities of the natives, and have discovered the aggressions of inhuman white men as one of the serious sources of trouble for the less vicious who desired to live in peace with the native tribes. We have also seen the trend of this increased restlessness among the Indians as the invaders grew more and more numerous and exacting. That serious wars were close at hand all believed, and we now have arrived at the point when we must enter upon the startling events beginning in 1851 and culminating in the "wars of 1853-1855 and 1856."
There have been a number of histories of Oregon written, and many newspaper accounts put out, but the histories have all embraced the whole Oregon country, beginning with the overland exploration of Lewis and Clark, 1803-6, which go entirely beyond the scope of this work. Walling's history was written to cover Southern Oregon, especially, and is the only work that has been written in which continuity has been observed in giving the details of the Indian wars of this section. This work as I have before stated was published in 1884, just forty years ago, and is now out of print. It also covered much of Oregon history not directly connected with this section. The population forty years ago hardly justified so elaborate a volume. One will occasionally meet with copies of this work among the families of the "old settlers" and perhaps in many of the libraries. There are, however, many people grown up since then, or newly arrived, who desire to possess a reliable history of the events which he has so carefully given, but to whom his work is not available, nor even known. Bancroft's work is a valuable compendium dealing with all of the Indian tribes of the Pacific Coast, and the settlement of its various sections, all of which differed one from the other according to the condition of things pertaining in each area dealt with. That work was published in , thirty-six years ago, and is out of print. Besides, Bancroft's work embraces so great a number of volumes as to be beyond the reach of most people. A few sets of this work are scattered here and there but are not attainable to the large number of readers who might desire it. It, too, has separated the various episodes of Southern Oregon history, by inserting between them other historical matters which pertain to sections of the country far removed from the region we are interested in learning about. It therefore lacks the very desirable quality of continuity. I find this true, also, of the Centennial History of Oregon by Joseph Gaston, which was put out in 1912. All of these works and others I have not mentioned cover an immense reach of time and country which, for the purpose of a comprehensive history of the great Northwest, made it out of the question to give separate attention to Southern Oregon, which at the time was considered of secondary importance to the more populous and rapidly growing sections farther north. Times, however, have changed all this, and the extended area lying between the earlier growths, both north and south, now demands more attention from the historian.
Again, time is required to give perspective and a better and more comprehensive viewpoint, eliminating temporary jealousies and the aggravating differences that are inevitably sources of prejudiced judgment if obtained immediately after the cause of differences have arisen. With a better knowledge of the country, we are able to see how early mistakes might have been avoided, and better able to do justice to all parties concerned. The immediate coastline of the interior valleys are separated from each other by mountains and jungles that required long, patient and dangerous exploration before the two regions were brought into reasonable relations with each other. We have seen the efforts made to secure better facilities to supply miners and settlers in the interior and the tedious undertakings to reach Rogue River Valley from points on the coast where supplies might be landed, hence we have discovered that Indian troubles were incurred on the coast at the same time when the most serious complications were arising in the interior, without the possibility of cooperation by the forces in the separated districts.
In the fall of 1851 after the discovery of gold at Rich Gulch the rush of settlers and miners precipitated matters in the regions being settled and also along the coast at points from which it was sought to supply the miners and settlers. The [people at the] mouth of Rogue River, Port Orford and the Coquille River were seriously engaged with the savages simultaneously with the campaigns going on in Rogue River Valley, and the forces employed could not cooperate. We have therefore to deal with each separately. In the interior there seemed, at first, no regular concert of action among the Indian tribes, and the depredations were widely separated and consisted in attacks of single individuals, or small parties. We find that there was apparently an understanding and concert between the Indians of Rogue River and those in Northern California, and a disturbance in one of these regions had its immediate effect in the other.
About the middle of May 1851, and before the rush into Rogue River Valley, three white men conducting a pack train were camped near where Phoenix now is in this valley. They were accompanied by two Indians that were supposed to be friendly. There was but one gun in the crowd, owned by a man by the name of Dilley. During the night the Indians arose, killed Dilley with his own gun and escaped, taking the mules and packs with them. The remaining two white men got away and spread the news. A company of thirty miners was raised at "Shasta Butte City" (now Yreka) by Captain Long of Portland, bent on punishing the savages. These packers were packing for the miners of Northern California, therefore their avengers were properly from that section. This company moved north, and at some place not stated encountered a band of Indians which they attacked, killing two and capturing four, two of whom were daughters of the chief, who were held as hostages. It is not stated what was done with the two male prisoners. Presumably they were killed, for that seems to have been the custom adopted in the way of reprisal, regardless of proof that the parties being disciplined had anything to do with the crime for which they were made to suffer. Casual mention is made of other hostile occurrences in Rogue River Valley and near the place of the Dilley affair. On June 1st, 1851, a band of Indians attacked a party of twenty-six miners but were driven off without casualties to the whites. On the following day four men were attacked and robbed while on their way to the mines, their mules and packs being taken away from them. On the same day and near the same place, Nichols' pack train was robbed of a number of animals and packs and one man was wounded in the heel by a bullet. Other depredations followed near the same place immediately, and it is reported that a pack train lost four men.
Ashland Daily Tidings, December 27, 1924, page 2
On June 3rd, a party of thirty-two Oregonians under Dr. James McBride returning from the California mines were attacked at Willow Springs, about six miles north of where Jacksonville now is. They were attacked by a party of Rogue River Indians under Chief "Chucklehead," as he was called by the whites. The whites had seventeen guns and the Indians about as many; though most of the Indians were armed with bows and arrows. After a nearly five hours' fight the chief was killed and his followers retreated. The chief was in the act of shooting an arrow at James Barlow when A. M. Richardson shot him. Six or seven Indians were killed, but the whites suffered no casualties except Barlow, who was wounded in the thigh with an arrow. The Indians got away with four saddle and pack animals, on one of which was a packet containing about fifteen hundred dollars in gold dust.
These episodes following one another in such rapid succession confirmed the general impression of the dangerous and warlike character of these savages and determined the whites to muster a strong force for the purpose of suppressing and punishing them. Fortunately it happened just at this time that Major P. Kearny of the regular army (later a general in the Union army, killed during the Civil War), with a detachment of two companies of regular troops, was on his way from Fort Vancouver to Benicia, California, guided by W. G. T'Vault, whose name has appeared in former recitals of this history. The major was at once solicited to aid in the suppression of these hostilities. About the same time Gov. Gaines, being greatly disturbed by the daily reports reaching him of the activity of these hostile tribes along the California trail, particularly through the Rogue River Valley, set out for Southern Oregon with the purpose of securing treaties of peace; or at least to attempt such a culmination. Fortunately the presence of Major Kearny and General Joe Lane, with quite a number of civilian adventurers, made the accomplishment of his purpose more profitable. Besides, his arrival followed the conclusion of a spirited campaign just concluded by these officers and men, [which] tended very materially to the same end. In fact all hands were agreed that without these fortunate circumstances the Governor must in the very nature of things have failed, and probably would have lost his life.
Major Kearny, with his two companies, when being solicited to aid in a demonstration against these militant hostiles, entered wholeheartedly into the affair, and engaged them in battle about the 26th of June at a point on Rogue River several miles above the mouth of Little Butte Creek, and about ten or twelve miles above Table Rock. The two companies consisted of one company of dragoons commanded by Captain Stuart and a company of rifles commanded by Captain Walker. The latter, with his company, crossed the river for the purpose of intercepting a retreat of the savages if such should be attempted by them. Captain Stuart dismounted his men and charged upon the Indians who were gathered at a rancheria. The Indians fled almost at once. Captain Stuart approached a wounded Indian, who was upon the ground, with his revolver in his hand, intending to dispatch him. The Indian with great quickness of action fired and shot an arrow into the Captain's stomach, transfixing one of his kidneys, inflicting a mortal wound. The fight and pursuit soon ended and the troops returned to their encampment, which was subsequently known as Camp Stuart. The Captain lived a day and retained consciousness until death. Before dying he said, "It is too bad to have fought through half the battles of the Mexican War to be killed here by an Indian." He was buried with military honors near where the town of Phoenix now stands, and was subsequently disinterred and being conveyed to Washington, D.C., was buried beside the body of his mother. Gen. Lane said, "We have lost Captain Stuart, one of the bravest of the brave. A more gentlemanly man never lived; a more daring soldier never fell in battle."
It happened that at the time of this battle that Major Alvord with Jesse Applegate as guide was viewing out a route for a military road from Scottsburg on the Umpqua River to Rogue River Valley, in the interest of carrying supplies to the mines of Northern California. This was in furtherance of the project of the promoters of employing navigation from the mouth of the Umpqua in the interest of settlers and miners in the interior, stimulated by the successful entry of the Samuel Roberts and the enterprise of Scott and Applegate. They were at the moment advanced in their work as far as Cow Creek and were accompanied by a small military escort, when news of the Indian troubles came to them. At the same time General Joe Lane with a party of hardy frontiersmen, on their way to the mines in Northern California, were camped at the "canyon," and were told of this new Indian outbreak, the fight on Rogue River, and that the Indians were gathering from every quarter with the evident intention of exterminating the small forces with which they just had engaged in battle. This was all that was needed to put the "fighting general" on his mettle and with his small band of Spartans he pushed on with all possible speed for the scene of hostilities. This quick determination and movement was characteristic of General Lane, and consequently he appeared on the Rogue River in the quickest possible time, ready to plunge into the fray, though he was only a volunteer without any official authority, civil or military. Quoting his own words, "On Sunday night, while picketing out animals, an express rider came, who informed us that Major P. Kearny had set out with his command that evening to make a forced march through the night and attack the enemy at daylight. In the morning I set out with the hope of falling in with him, or, with the Indians retreating from him. We made a hard day's ride, but found no one. On Tuesday I proceeded to Camp Stuart, but no tidings had been received from the Major. Late in the evening Captain Scott and T'Vault came in with a small party for supplies and reinforcements. They reported that the military had fought two skirmishes with the Indians, one early Monday morning and the other late in the afternoon; the Indians after wounding Stuart posted themselves in a dense hummock where they defended themselves for four hours, escaping in the darkness. The Indians had suffered severely and several whites had been injured.
"By nine o'clock at night we were on our way, and at two o'clock the next morning we were in the Major's camp. Here I had the pleasure of meeting my friends, Jesse Applegate and Colonel Freaner and others. Early in the morning we set out (soldiers and civilians together), proceeded down the river, and on Thursday morning crossed about seven miles from the ferry. We soon found an Indian trail leading up a large creek (probably Trail Creek) and in a short time overtook and charged upon a party of Indians, killing one. The rest made their escape in the dense chaparral. We again pushed rapidly forward and late in the evening attacked another party of Indians, taking twelve women and children and wounding several males, who escaped. Here we camped and the next day scoured the country to Rogue River, crossing it at Table Mountain (Table Rock), and reaching camp at dark."
Ashland Daily Tidings, December 29, 1924, page 2
"The Indians have been completely whipped in every fight. Some fifty of them have been killed, many wounded and thirty taken prisoners. Major Kearny has been in the saddle for more than ten days, scouring the country and pouncing on the enemy wherever he found him. Never has an Indian country been invaded with better success nor at a better time. The establishment of a garrison in this district will be necessary for the preservation of peace. That alone and a good agent here, and we shall have no more trouble in this quarter. As for our prisoners, the Major is anxious to have them turned over to the people of Oregon, to be delivered to the Superintendent of Indian Affairs, but no citizen could be found who was willing to take charge of them. Consequently he concluded to take them to San Francisco with him and send them from there to Oregon."
General Lane and Major Kearny's command kept company until they reached the mines at Yreka, when the General himself concluded to return to Oregon, took charge of the prisoners, and by chance meeting Governor Gaines at the crossing of Rogue River, he delivered them to that officer. At that time the offices of Governor and Superintendent of Indian Affairs were combined in the one person, so that the Governor was the proper person to have charge of them, and the General was glad to be rid of them. The Governor at once proceeded to call the Indians in for the purpose of trying to accomplish treaty relations. Having in his charge a large number of Indian prisoners, including a number of women and children, rendered the task of getting the Indians together easier. Some of the tribes about Cow Creek and the "Sisco Mountain" refused to come in, and the convention was chiefly with the Rogue Rivers, who had suffered severely in the campaign just closed and were ready to promise anything to the Governor in order to recover those held as prisoners. At the date of this occurrence quite a number of miners that had been mining on Josephine Creek and Big Bar had taken part in the campaign. Rich Gulch had not yet been discovered, and the big rush had not yet taken place. This occurred later in the fall, though the fortunate meeting with Major Kearny, the entry of Major Alvord and his party of road viewers and General Lane on his way to the mines, gave a very respectable force to prosecute the campaign, all of which was a very fortunate circumstance in aid of the Governor's effort to settle matters by treaty.
The Indians promised to be good and to cease annoying travelers over the California trail; they promised to commit no more depredations against the whites and to remain on the north side of Rogue River. In return the Governor informally set apart a large area north of the river, including the Table Rocks region, and promised that the whites should not encroach upon their territory. Many details were worked out and a treaty was signed which it was hoped would give peace to this disturbed territory. There were a great many small tribes situated elsewhere, on the Applegate and among the Siskiyous, on Cow Creek and in the Illinois Valley, who were not parties to this treaty and who refused to take any responsibility in these promises. Among these there were daily acts of aggression and annoyance by small parties of Indians who could not at all times be identified. Besides all this there were bad Indians among the Rogue Rivers who secretly connived with the outside parties.
Ashland Daily Tidings, December 30, 1924, page 2
However great a value the Governor placed on his treaty accomplishments, those who had had large experience with the Indians were agreed that the result would be only a temporary lull, and at best would only affect those who had actually signed the treaty. Soon after this affair the office of Governor and Superintendent of Indian Affairs were separated and a superintendent in the person of Dr. Anson Dart was appointed. Judge. A. A. Skinner was appointed Indian agent for the southern part of the Territory of Oregon, and at once entered upon the discharge of his duties as such. Judge Skinner had occupied the position of federal judge and was a man of ability and probity. He was honest and conscientious and was successful in ingratiating himself in the confidence and friendship with the Indians. Soon after Skinner had entered on his duties and while the Governor's treaty was in force, a number of white settlers entered upon the territory set apart for the Indians and located donation claim thereon. This, of course, was a violation of the treaty with the Indians, and they were not slow to resent it. Judge Skinner interposed in behalf of the treaty rights of the Indians and did all he could to prevent these settlements and tried to prevail on the settlers to abandon their claims and choose other locations, of which there were many valuable ones available. By this time the discovery at Rich Gulch had been made and the rush of settlers and miners was on. Skinner was faithful to the Indians, but the whites disregarded all of his protestations and, seeing that he could accomplish nothing to avoid the trouble which seemed inevitable, he resigned and left. The Indians had formed a real affection for their agent and strongly lamented his going. The Governor's treaty, as was prophesied by many, proved an utter failure.
Those who had seen and formed a great liking for Rogue River Valley, and others who were told about it as a most desirable place for settlement and home building, came in increasing numbers after the gold rush commenced. Of course many of these settlers were anxious to observe the Governor's treaty stipulations with the Indians, and to adopt a course that would avoid open rupture, but a few reckless men who looked upon the Indian as a creature having no rights they were bound to respect conducted themselves in such a manner as to provoke reprisals by that element among the tribes that could not be controlled by the chiefs who counseled a course that would promote peace. Lawless acts were perpetrated by the reckless elements on both sides until soon a reign of terror prevailed. It was claimed that there were several white desperadoes who had joined the Indians and were leading small parties on forays, and when it was sought to catch them they went into the mountain fastnesses with which they were familiar and the whites were not. When we look about us now and witness the acts of lawlessness in the very midst of what we call civilization we need not be surprised if the stories of white desperadoes leading red desperadoes was true.
Soon after the treaty was made, complaints commenced to be circulated that the Cow Creek Indians were committing depredations. These Indians had not signed the treaty, and miners and small parties along the California trail were in constant danger. Lieutenant Irvin of the regular army was kidnapped by two Indians and a Frenchman, taken into the forest, tied to a tree, tortured and outraged. He escaped and the story created great excitement. This occurred in July. In consequence of this and other outrages, General Hitchcock, commanding the Pacific Department, dispatched a small force of twenty regulars from Fort Vancouver and Astoria to Port Orford. We have already learned something about Port Orford, and the mistaken notion that it was but thirty-five miles from Rogue River Valley, which could be reached from that point, and remember the effort of W. G. T'Vault and others to penetrate the forest lying along Rogue River. These troops might as well have been left at Astoria so far as their availability by this route was concerned. The readers of the prior pages of this history will recall the tragedy at "Battle Rock," June tenth, 1851, and later along the Coquille River. These troubles along the coast were practically coincident with the campaign about Table Rock and along Rogue River. The brutal acts of the savages about Port Orford and the Coquille River were of such a character that they could not be overlooked, hence a detachment under Lieutenant Colonel Casey was sent to punish them. Dividing his small force into two bodies, the commander proceeded to the forks of the Coquille, and near the locality now called Myrtle Point he attacked a band of natives, who, retreating from the one detachment, ran into the other and were severely punished. This was in the fall of 1851. The very difficulties encountered at Port Orford, Coquille and Coos Bay resulted in a rapid acquisition of information in regard to the country directly on the coast. The parties in escaping from Port Orford passed up the coast to the Umpqua River and informed the settlers of the character of country they had traversed and the important discovery of Coos Bay, which in their judgment offered the very facilities that explorers along the coast desired. They told also of the splendid forests and rich valleys, and within a short time explorations commenced from the Umpqua toward the south. The direct communication between Port Orford and the outside world was by water to San Francisco and Portland, and most of the earlier arrivals were from those points. All efforts to establish direct communication between Port Orford and the interior failed until many years afterward when the Coos Bay and Roseburg road was built. This road did not reach Port Orford but did reach Coos Bay, from which a road crossed the isthmus to the Coquille River, thence down that stream by navigation to its mouth and wagon road thence along the beach for a number of miles, in the neighborhood of Floras Creek where it leaves the beach entering the forest, and through it for a number of miles to Port Orford. As yet there has been no direct road from Port Orford to the interior. Therefore the history of the coastline and the interior will have to be pursued each in its own separate place.
Ashland Daily Tidings, January 3, 1925, page 2
CHAPTER NINEThe chief troubles with the Indians in 1852, including the murder of Calvin Woodman in Scotts Valley. Steele's raid into Rogue River Valley in search of the murderers. Trouble with Sam's and Joe's band on Rogue River. Ben Wright's search for the murderers, capture and execution. Uprising against immigrants at Bloody Point. Ben Wright punishes savages at Bloody Point; Modocs and Piutes.
The episodes related in the preceding chapter, embracing a short but spirited campaign against the Rogue River Indians, led by Major Kearny and General Joe Lane, followed by a treaty with Governor Gaines, constituted the main events of 1851, the year of discovery of gold at Rich Gulch, but antedating that event. Later in that year a great rush followed that discovery and threw the Indians into a panic of apprehension, which was greatly aggravated by the lawless acts of bad men who always swarm to the front on such occasions. It will be out of the question that we should attempt to record all of the lawless acts of both whites and Indians. There were certain bad Indians who kept themselves in the shelter of the mountains ready to take advantage of any party of whites that came within their reach. One such band was led by a chief called "Tipsu Tyee," that occupied the deeps of the Siskiyou Mountains, between the Klamath River and the Rogue River Valley, who constantly and stubbornly refused to treat with the whites, and many acts of barbarity were laid at his door. It was this band that infested the California trail across the Siskiyous, and in the mountains between Bear Creek and the Applegate and the mines in the neighborhood of Yreka. This band seemed to operate independently of the other tribes, while at the same time attempting to stir up trouble between the other tribes and the whites.
As the year 1852 brought a constant increase of miners and settlers, there also occurred more frequent opportunity to cut off small parties, who, in the excitement of the times, wandered into the mountains or about the valley, without adequate care or protection. The unrest among the Indians increased, and emissaries were constantly passing between the Rogue Rivers on the north and the Shastas, Scotts River and Klamath River Indians, south of the Siskiyous in California. Tipsu Tyee of the Siskiyous scoured the mountains and trails between the Rogue Rivers and the mining camps on both sides of the mountain and by his acts of brigandage drove the whites to desperation. The more warlike of the Indians belonging to each of these savage bands were constantly engaged in efforts to organize all of them into a war of extermination against the whites. This, however, seemed to be opposed by Sam and Joe, the chiefs of the Rogue Rivers.
Their efforts seem to have been responsible for the horrible massacres of immigrants at Bloody Point and about Tule Lake and the mouth of Lost River, which occurred in 1852. Though these points were just south of the Oregon line, in California, they necessarily became a part of our story. In fact a larger part of the tragedies of that year were initiated in Northern California, but crossed the line by posses in search of the desperadoes engaged in stirring up trouble with the bands of Joe and Sam at Table Rock. The immediate cause of the trouble of this year of 1852 was the killing of Calvin Woodman in Scotts Valley by two Indians near Indian creek. This occurred in May or June and caused great excitement among the miners of that region. Two Indians were known to have been guilty of this act. The whites hurriedly gathered at Johnson's ranch and fired at all Indians coming within their reach, thus making the friendly Indians of Scotts Valley to suffer for the acts of renegade Indians of some other tribe, supposedly Rogue Rivers. These friendly Indians, who had always demeanored themselves with moderation and friendliness, were driven to retaliation and wounded S. G. Whipple, a deputy sheriff, who later became a captain in the regular army. Old Tolo, Tyee John of Scotts Valley and Tyee Jim offered themselves as hostages against the Shastas and accompanied Elijah Steele to Yreka, where the real culprits were supposed to be. All were satisfied that the Shastas had nothing to do with the murder, and that in all probability it was committed by Rogue River Indians, who it was claimed had been seen in the vicinity and who had fled north to join Tipsu Tyee, or the bands on Rogue River near Table Rock. There was much excitement about Yreka, and the court then being in session authorized Steele to apprehend the suspected men, which it was thought could be easily accomplished.
The undertaking proved to be [a] rather bigger job than had been anticipated, and an expensive one for Steele, which he asserted cost him $2,000, and he could find no one to pay. However that may be, Steele with eleven men, one Klickitat Indian and the hostages for the Shastas, proceeded to Rogue River in his search, taking two Indian prisoners on his way. The first of these prisoners attempt to escape and was killed by the Klickitat who was sent in pursuit of him. It was later learned that the dead man had been sent out from the Rogue Rivers to persuade the Shastas to join in a general uprising against the whites. The other prisoner was well mounted and was proved to be a son of Tipsu Tyee, the savage chief that dwelt in the Siskiyous. They took him with them and learning that there was a prospect of finding their quarry at the general encampment of the Rogue Rivers, they continued on to that stream. Before reaching the river they met Judge Skinner, the Indian agent for Southern Oregon, by whom Steele was requested to camp at [Big Bar], where he had arranged for a conference of whites and Indians the next day.
Ashland Daily Tidings, January 6, 1925, page 2
Certain grievances had arisen between the whites and Indians that was causing excitement among the settlers. So near as can be determined it was over some trivial matter, but being complicated with other reports[, it was] stirred up by bad spirits on both sides and promised to develop seriously. So much bad blood was being agitated by troublemakers on both sides every day [that] in isolated spots it looked as though war would soon break out. The settlers in the neighborhood of Table Rock appealed to the people of Jacksonville for protection. A company of about 30 young men was organized in response to this appeal and under the command of J. K. Lamerick, who subsequently became celebrated, proceeded at once to their assistance, reaching [Big Bar], opposite the rancheria, just before the arrival of Steele with his detail of Yrekans, in search of the murderers of Woodman. Besides the forces of Lamerick and Steele a large number of settlers had gathered and these being armed were attached to Lamerick's company to assist in the expected engagement. The whole of Sam's and Joe's Indians were at the rancheria, and considerable effort was required to bring them to talk with the whites. Some crossed over and the others to the number of about a hundred, relying on the promises of Judge Skinner, finally came over. The Judge was always in favor of peace and treated the Indians with consideration and had their confidence and tried to bring about a reconciliation, and for this purpose proposed that both parties should move to a log cabin situated at a little distance away. Suspecting treachery the Indians refused to go, although Joe, their peace chief, tried to prevail with them to do so. Sam, the war chief, had returned to the rancheria for safety. At this moment, John Galvin, one of Steele's Yrekans, pushed the muzzle of his rifle against an Indian's naked back in an effort to force him to move toward the cabin. The savage made a movement of resentment, when Galvin instantly shot and killed him and the fighting promptly began. The dismayed and overmatched Indians got behind trees and some plunged into the river to escape. Those savages on the north bank of the river began firing but to no effect against the whites. Old Joe, the peace chief, clasped his arms around Martin Angel and clung in desperation to him for protection. He was saved by Angel and others from the enraged white men, who seemed determined to take his life. Fighting now ceased and preparations were begun for the next day's operations. Steele with his Yrekans agreed to move up the river to a certain point and cross over at Hailey's ferry and come down the north bank to the vicinity of the rancheria. A detachment of Lamerick's company, consisting of the settlers who had proffered their services to him, was directed to go down the river, cross over and gain the top of Upper Table Rock, where they could command the vicinity. The main body under Lamerick rendezvoused at the Ambrose ranch and at night returned to the scene of the fighting and crossed over in the darkness at a very dangerous and difficult ford near the rancheria. When across they halted until it became light and then moved toward the Indian stronghold, which was surrounded by thick shrubbery so interlaced with brush and vines as to be almost impenetrable. When within shooting distance the Indians opened fire on them, which was returned with vigor, and the settlers not yet having arrived as expected with their reinforcements, the troops had to wait for them. Sometime in the forenoon the settlers arrived and the Indians at once applied for a "close wawa." This did not please the reinforcements, as they greatly outnumbered the Indians and were well armed and cocked and primed for a fight. A council of war was held and it was decided that in view of the fact that the Indians had already suffered heavily, and further that the cause of the trouble did not warrant a war of extermination at that time, it would be advisable to talk. An understanding was soon reached, the hatchet was buried and the volunteers returned home. Steele and his party did not reach the place of conference until the walk was ended and the settlement reached. The Yrekans then turned their faces homeward. Not wishing to meet with Tipsu Tyee on the Siskiyous they made a long detour over very rough country and suffered hardships from the lengthened trip and the scarcity of provisions. They had not succeeded in securing the murderers of Woodman, and in addition failed to find anybody ready to bear the expenses of their campaign, which was reported at $2,000.00, which Steele complained that he had to pay.
About the time of Steele's departure for Rogue River as just narrated, Ben Wright, an Indian fighter of renown all through the country, and greatly feared by the Indians, set out from Yreka in search for the murderers of Woodman; he was accompanied by several Indians, among whom was one known as Scarface, himself an Indian of bad repute, and greatly suspected by many of the miners about Yreka. Proceeding toward the Klamath River, the party divided and Scarface, approaching the vicinity of Yreka, was seen and at once pursued. He was on foot and his pursuers on horseback, notwithstanding which he led them a desperate race for about eighteen miles before they captured him. He was at once hanged without ceremony in a gulch known as Indian Creek, or "Scarface Gulch." Wright was more fortunate than Steele and brought in two Indians to Scotts Valley, who were at once tried by a citizens' court in the presence of a large concourse of armed miners. One of the prisoners was promptly convicted and at once hanged, the other prisoner was discharged and spent no time visiting with his captors. The miners wanted a victim, and Captain Wright satisfied them. The Woodman tragedy was closed.
Ashland Daily Tidings, January 10, 1925, page 2
The people of Jacksonville and Yreka became greatly exercised in the summer of 1852 in regard to the dangers menacing the immigrants who were on their way over the southern route by the way of Clear and Tule lakes, in considerable numbers, from Fort Hall. The Modocs and Piutes, over whose country they had to pass, had always been hostile, and the advance caravans of immigrants that year were reporting them as very annoying and threatening. During the previous year the settlers had lost many horses by the thefts of the Indians, some of which had been recovered by Ben Wright with a small company of miners who had pursued them. Wright, who came to be known as Captain Wright, was a very notable figure and took a very large part in the Indian troubles in Northern California and Southern Oregon. As an Indian fighter he divided honors with Kit Carson and other celebrated men in that line. Very much has been said and written about him; much of praise and much of criticism have been bestowed upon him because of his success and his methods as a great Indian fighter. It is said that he was the son of Quaker parents, but the peaceful tenets of that sect were wholly disregarded by him. He possessed a superabundance of the spirit of adventure, and as reckless and foolhardy [a] disposition as ever endowed any man. After having lived with and fought Indians for many years we see him returning from his Indian campaigns with horses that had been stolen from the miners while his person and saddle were decorated with Indian scalps in true savage fashion. In fact he looked and lived the part of a savage; had a squaw for a wife; wore his hair long, black and glossy falling to his belt, dressed in buckskin and ornamented to look the part of an Indian as closely as possible. He assumed the Indian manners and methods of warfare; practicing treachery and strategy, and scalped and mutilated his victims in true Indian style. With his own people, white people, he was always true and honorable, though he sought and associated with the lowest to be found around the mining camps. The Indians feared him, and those of them who came into blood contact with him rated him the greatest warrior living. Considering the occasions and the character of the savage, bloodthirsty tribes surrounding these new settlements, he seems to have been just the man for the emergency. He never feared anything and always held that the only way to fight Indians was to adopt their own warfare and make them fear you. His motto was "No Indian is good while he is alive."
Early in the summer of 1852 a letter was received from immigrants then on the way by the southern route asking the people of Yreka to send supplies to meet them, or great suffering would ensue. Responding to this appeal a company was organized with Captain Charles McDermott in charge with supplies bountifully supplied by the people of Yreka, with which they promptly set out for Lost River,which they crossed, and after passing Tule Lake they met a party traveling with a pack train crossing the plains. McDermott continued eastwardly while the pack train party continued their journey toward Yreka. When this pack train party reached "Bloody Point" near the east shore of Tule Lake they were attacked by a party of savages that were lying in wait among the ryegrass and tule that grew rankly along the marshy margin of the lake. The attack was at short range, and all of the party except one man was killed. This man, whose name is given as Coffin, cut a pack from a horse and, mounting it, escaped, and reaching Yreka gave the alarm. Bloody Point is at the end of a basaltic ridge that descends from the high rocky plain toward the lake near its eastern shore, over which the immigrants had to come. Lost River enters Tule Lake several miles further west, coming from the northwest. The road toward Yreka continues westerly around the southern shore of the Lower Klamath Lake, thence westerly across Butte Valley that is separated from Shasta Valley by a mountain range, which having crossed the road continues westerly about fifteen miles more to Yreka.
When Coffin arrived with his information of the massacre of his party, the excitement about Yreka was intense. Ben Wright was sent for and with a company of twenty-seven men hurriedly enlisted to serve under him. They were equipped by the people and hurriedly started forth on their double errand, to protect the approaching immigrant trains and to punish the bloody fiends that lay in wait for them. The savages, having succeeded so easily with the pack train company, planned to massacre the approaching trains and do their bloody work before the avengers should arrive, or warning be given. McDermott, being ignorant of the tragedy behind him, had continued on, meeting two trains near Black Rock, for whose guidance he detailed three men, John Ousley, Thomas H. Coats and James Long. At about the last of August the trains camped at Clear Lake, only a few miles east of Bloody Point, and the next day the three guides rode on in advance to select a good nooning place. One of the trains had been delayed to make some repairs while the others proceeded on their journey. The leading part of the train contained thirty men, one woman and a boy. As they came over the divide they saw the Indians about Bloody Point, while the guides, not being notified, were riding into danger. As they disappeared around the point they were butchered without notice by the Indians hidden in the ryegrass and tules. The men with the train, having discovered the Indians and divined their purpose, divided themselves into a front and rear guard and kept the savages at bay until they reached the flat. Here they made a barricade of their wagons and retired into the shelter and managed to keep the savages off until noon the next day, when the Modocs drew off to attack the other train which was coming up. The party with this last train, being more judicious, drove over the hill and thus avoided the ambush and succeeded in joining the others within their barricade of wagons.
That afternoon Ben Wright and his company arrived on the scene, taking the Indians completely by surprise and, without stopping to confer with the beleaguered immigrants, he charged the terrified Modocs furiously, driving them into the swamp among the tules and into the lake, and plunging after them attempted to cut them off from their boats. The savages were panic-stricken and scarcely made any effort to defend themselves and were mingled among Wright's men in confusion and were killed almost without resistance. The flight and fight raged along the lakeshore in the greatest confusion. The volunteers shot and cut with as great a ferocity as the demoniacal devils would have done if attacking a shelterless train of victims themselves. Whatever might be said against such ferocity was not applicable in this case, for the victims massacred in the pack train such a short time ago were scattered about where the savages had left them mutilated beyond recognition, and here they were caught red-handed in the business of massacre of the trains they had just attacked. The Indians sought to reach their boats and gain the island from which they were prepared to make a foray upon every unprotected train that came in sight. Only a few succeeded in reaching the island, and it is reported that from twenty to forty were killed outright, and it is thought that many were lost in the tule swamp, where perhaps they died of their wounds. Wright's men suffered no casualties. The timely arrival of Captain Wright saved this caravan from massacre and mutilation, which was inevitable otherwise.
The news of the massacre of the pack train soon reached Jacksonville, and with the information that a large immigrant train was on its way over the same route great excitement prevailed. A company under Captain Ross was fitted out with the greatest expedition and started for Lost River. Wright got in ahead of them with the result above set forth. The consternation of the bloodthirsty Modocs and Piutes may well be imagined. On Ross' arrival, he and Wright conferred, and in the assumption that other outrages had been committed and not reported, they began their search with the result that within a few days they found the bodies of thirty-six; Wright found and buried twenty-two and Ross found and buried fourteen. They were all horribly mutilated and disfigured beyond recognition. Among them were several women and children. The evidence was that a whole train had been exterminated. Portions of wagons were found, camp utensils, firearms, clothing, money and other articles. The vicinity was properly designated "Bloody Point" and is so called to this day.
Ashland Daily Tidings, January 13, 1925, page 2
Jeff Riddle, the half-breed son of Toby Riddle, who was the wife of Frank Riddle, an interpreter for General Canby during the Modoc War, has written a book which he has entitled "The Indian's History of the Modoc War," in which he recounts the Indian's version of the affair of Bloody Point. He claims that the Piutes and not the Modocs were the leaders in these bloody incidents of 1852. Of this I will have more to say when we come to recount the atrocities of the Modoc War. Be that as it may, there is no doubt that Toby Riddle, who was a Modoc woman known as "Winema," was as true as steel to the whites and doubtless saved many lives. She was a woman of ability and is entitled to a monument in her memory.
After meeting and protecting other trains, Captain Ross with his company returned to Jacksonville, escorting on his way the "Snelling train" to Yreka. This was one of the largest trains of the season. Captain Wright conducted an active campaign for three months, frequently skirmishing with bands of these Indians and adding other trophies to his collection, besides protecting other trains and furnishing escorts until his company was reduced to eighteen men. With this small company he determined to make a vigorous campaign against these savages whose principal force was securely entrenched on an island in the lake. As a method of securely watching this band he caused a boat to be built and shipped by wagons from Yreka. He manned this boat with six men and kept a constant patrol of the lake, the better to keep track of the Indians. A company of U.S. dragoons under the command of Major Fitzgerald was sent out to scout along the lakeshores and force the Indians to remain on their island while Wright and his men, assisted by five Shasta Indians and "Swill," a stray Umatilla, nosed out their caches of provisions that were hidden in the lava bed nearby, and destroyed them. They seemed to have laid in a large supply of seeds, wocus, camas, fish and other provisions as bases of supplies to support the savages that were employed in destroying immigrant trains. Winter was coming on, and the Indians were being reduced to a distressing condition for the approach of winter and indicated a disposition for "a klose wawa" (friendly talk). A stray squaw called "Old Mary" was sent out to the island and after a day or two forty Indians came out and began to spar for peace. Wright, however, was not in a mood to make peace, but was enough Indian to use savage strategy to accomplish his purpose, which was to kill Indians and not to make friends with the fiends who had done the deeds that he and his men had proved. After the evidence of diabolism that possessed these fiends he would find plenty of excuse for his methods.
There have been several stories differing in character about what Wright did in the premises. One was that a lot of strychnine had been sent out to him and that inviting the Indians to a feast he killed and caused an ox to be cooked; spreading a goodly quantity of strychnine over the feast he succeeded in killing about forty of the Indians. Another is that he killed about half a dozen in this way and made the others very sick. Wright and his men all declare that they did not use strychnine, because it was "more fun" to kill them in fight. The following story was printed at Yreka in 1881 in a history of Siskiyou County, and is said to have been prepared by men who had the facts available for such purpose. This was within thirty years after the occurrence and seems more likely than either of the other stories. I will, therefore, give it as it appears in that publication, as follows:
"Negotiations being in progress, notice was sent out to the Indians to come in and feast. The camp was on Lost River, and the Indians speedily came in and camped nearby on the bank of the river, both of the camps being about a fourth of a mile above the Natural Bridge, and not far from the spot where Captain Jack and the troops first fought, ushering in the Modoc War of 1873. Some half a hundred of the braves with their squaws made their home in the camp and lived off the provisions of the whites. Old Schonchin, head chief, foreseeing trouble left the camp, as did others. It appears to have been Wright's intention from the first to get the Indians to return the valuables they were thought to have stolen from the immigrants, and then bring on a fight and kill all of the Indians they could. The time was November; the river was very low and had two banks, forming a high and low terrace. On the higher one the whites slept while they cooked and ate on the lower. The Indians camped but a few yards away, mingling with the whites during the eating time, both parties having their arms in the camp. Wright, it is said, discovered a plot on the part of the Indians to surprise and massacre his force, but be that as it may, he was too quick for them and put in effect his own plan without delay. Sending six men across the river to where they would be opposite the Indian camp and thus able to cut off their passage across the river, Wright himself went down among the Indians, who were scattered about the campfire, and shot dead at a preconsidered signal a young buck. The other whites, being ready, continued the work of destruction, and soon no men were left alive except John Schonchin and Curly-Headed Doctor. These two had escaped and were heard from twenty years later at the murder of General Canby and Commissioner Thomas. Forty-seven Indians and several squaws were killed. Wright's men numbered nineteen, including two Indians. Their casualties consisted of several wounds to Isaac Sandbank, Poland and Brown; the rest were uninjured and returned to Yreka, where they were greatly feted by the people. They rode into town escorted by a guard of honor, their forty scalps and sundry other mementos dangling from their rifles and bridles. The enthusiastic crowd bore them from their horses into the saloons, and there was nothing too good for them. Whiskey was free to all, and a grand dinner was given in honor to the returned avengers. For a week high carnival reigned."
It is not strange that accounts should differ in the narrative of these tragic events. With hundreds of men scattered over large areas of country, menaced on every turn by savages of the most ferocious character, where eternal vigilance was the price of a chance to live, these various parties meeting after the campaign lost nothing of the excitement and interest in the telling, and many different tales were told by the separated adventurers. The facts, however, of the massacre of many immigrants in the most barbarous manner in the shambles about Bloody Point could not be denied and could not result otherwise than in the most intense excitement and bitterness. It may seem that Wright and his men acted themselves like consummate savages, yet they were fighting a foe that had no knowledge of methods tinctured in the least with mercy. There is no doubt that extermination seemed to these early settlers the only course to pursue with these relentless and barbarous foes. With two thousand miles between these settlers and civilization, the dangers and hardships separating them, [they] were forced to kill or be killed. The success of Wright's campaigns as compared with others who allowed some sentiment to influence them seemed to justify his methods. The Indians knew that with him there was no quarter asked nor given. This they could understand, and their own methods justified the treatment he meted to them.
The last warlike incident of the year 1852 I will relate refers to the disappearance of seven miners at the mouth of Galice Creek on Rogue River. These men disappeared mysteriously, and not having been seen for several weeks were supposed to have been killed by Chief Taylor's band from Grave Creek. Enquiry elicited no information. Some weeks after the disappearance, a party of Chief Taylor's savages headed by the chief himself appeared at Vannoy's ferry and in the purchase of some articles at the store exhibited quite a quantity of gold dust. The Indians were not in the habit of having any but a small quantity of gold dust in their possession at any time, and suspicion was at once aroused and they were questioned. Their answers were not satisfactory. They were then questioned about the lost men. They claimed that the men had been washed from their claims and drowned by the high water. The Indians were arrested and charged with having murdered them. After seeing that they were not believed and that the miners were going to hang them on suspicion and that their fate was sealed, they finally boastfully admitted that they had killed them and narrated how they had tortured them. They were hanged without more ado. There was no court, nor any regulative law to guide or direct the excited men. It might have been that these men had gone away without leaving any word, and some of the whites doubted the justness of their action, but inasmuch as these men were never after heard from, and these Indians were known to be among the worst in the country, and there being no way by which the truth could be learned, it was treated as a closed incident, and closer watch was kept on the Grave Creek band.
The hamlet of Galice, Oregon, circa 1930
Ashland Daily Tidings, January 14, 1925, page 2
CHAPTER TENOn the threshold of this year, A.D. 1925, it is hard to realize that seventy-five years ago these valleys and mountains were peopled only by savages, ruthless and barbarous beyond description, with only primitive implements of warfare; depending wholly on nature's productions for subsistence; living happily and as they seemed to think, bountifully and carefree. These forests were filled with an abundance of game and the streams [were] stocked with fish. The valleys were veritable parks clothed in nature's vestments of wild fruits and flowers, spreading their fragrance abroad to the delight and enjoyment of these native people. No country was more beautiful to look upon. Each valley was an object of delight to an artist, with great mountains robed in forest and towering skyward; majestic frames surrounding beautiful pictures. These savages were not without esthetic tastes and sentiments. Some of them were real poets and often astounded educated men and women with their poetically framed sentiments and expressions. Among them were many with lofty ideals and philosophical minds. They were highly appreciative when treated with generosity and kindness. They were quick to reciprocate, so long as they were not driven to suspect the motives of those who came among them. One could not deceive them to their damage and hold their confidence, nor having lost it because of fraud, gain it again. They were not all of this kind, but probably in percentage of numbers were equal to the white people. Chiefs Sam and Joe of the Rogue Rivers were of this quality to a high degree. Testimony of this fact is given by many of the most honorable and responsible people who came to know them by dealings with them. There is no doubt that they exerted themselves to the utmost of their ability to control their younger, more impulsive warriors, in the interests of peace. These men and others of their stamp were dignified and so far as they understood, were men of manners. They often expressed genuine grief when their young men committed acts of treachery and aggression against the whites, and when their attention was called to it they pointed out brutal acts of white men against them, and logically said, "You cannot expect anything different when you permit your own men to mistreat our women and take the lands that the agent and the governor promised that we should be protected in the possession of. When they take our women by force and keep them against their will and against our protest, and kill our people when they attempt to protect our rights." They were told by these chiefs that these bad white men were simply giving the bad Indians an excuse for their acts, and that because they, the chiefs, tried to prevent the Indians from acts of retaliation they could no longer control them and were losing the respect of their followers.
There were many chiefs who were not of this character but were at all times ready for an uprising, and to them the lawless element flocked. They were men who reasoned differently and reached different conclusions. To them all white men were interlopers. They were here to take away the Indians' homes and to drive them from the country, or to kill them. Tipsu Tyee was of this class and refused to treat with the whites at all, and refused to join with Sam and Joe because, he said, they were chicken-hearted and would believe the lies the white men told them; therefore he would not join with them in their efforts toward peace. This had caused the different sub-tribes, that originally belonged to the Rogue Rivers, to break away from the main body which was headed by Sam and Joe and go off into little clans of their own. They reasoned differently, and in this respect were not unlike white men, but had never learned the lessons of law and strong government. Tipsu Tyee could always depend on the lawless element, and they could always depend on finding a leader to their purpose. It had reached a point where Joe and Sam must yield, or be without any following. This would mean abandonment of their own people and persecution by the whites. With them it was already war, and while their reprisals were not in the manner and form conducted along the lines of "civilized" people, in effect and purpose they were the same. Perusal of our daily papers today show that education and "civilization" are by no means a guarantee against dishonesty and injustice, and even the laws and courts with all their powers, privileges and jurisdiction are not able to fully control people with corkscrew minds.
As we proceed with our story we are ourselves surprised with the rapidity with which the country was being occupied by an alien people, in every way different from the natives. The invasion was by people carrying natural instincts advancing like a mob, beyond the controlling influence of courts or laws. Good, bad and indifferent, all mixed into a heterogeneous mass with no controlling or regulating influence. The better class of the whites understood the situation but were powerless to remedy it. The lawless among them were ready to join in a war against the Indians but were not willing to cooperate in anything else. They were coming to outnumber the Indians many times over, but as to methods of lawfulness they were about as helpless as the Indians themselves, and all began to realize that extermination was the only available remedy. It had reached the point that the whites' "self-preservation" was their only hope, and in the absence of law and organized government they had no choice of methods.
Sam and Joe were fully awake to the situation and as the smaller tribes came to their quarters at Table Rock they thought of the expedient of carrying their people into the mountains away from the whites. The war party of the Indians had a very different plan and purpose. They were mobilizing for war, and as they increased their numbers mob psychology had its effect and the numbers increased and runners were seeking out recruits wherever they could be found. The whites understood the situation, too, and realized the necessity for seeking assistance with such speed as was in their power.
We hear much about "universal peace," the "abolishment of war," etc. Yet in this age of the highest development of "civilization and education," and exploitation of Christianity, the world was so recently plunged into the most barbarous and brutal war within the scope of historical records. This, too, between nations boasting the highest "civilization" and employing as a refinement of barbarism and cruelty that lays the savagery and barbarity of these Indians in the shade. The settlement and growth of this great American nation has been built upon aggression, from the landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock who, fleeing from persecution in the Old Country, came into the wilderness, where within a short time a conflagration was started which has swept the country from sea to sea, with the result that a whole continent has been swept clean of its native inhabitants. We are almost forced to the conclusion that there was a mysterious impulse operating in and about these great movements that emanated from a higher power and for a definite purpose, the secret of which was not divulged to the instruments chosen to accomplish it. The history of the world is a history of barbarism and war. That quality in nature that stimulates to growth and progress involves that which we call barbarism in primitive races. It would seem that there is a higher power directing these events, and man has not yet been able to adjust himself. Nature is ruthless, and that which has served its purpose in that autonomy is set aside and dispensed with to make room for that which is coming on. We as individuals and as masses are moved by that mysterious impulse that throbs in and about us. The oft-used expression that "self-defense is the first law of nature" is as properly applied to one people as to another. Home, country and established rights are inherent possessions of all men, and have been during all ages. Even the lower animals fight for them in their own way. The impulse to kill, slay and usurp that which belong to the weaker seems inherent in all, and through such warfare humanity seems to be reaching higher ideals. It is the irresistible growth, the eternal principle of evolution, that are everywhere being carried forward and vouched for. A new world is being developed out of the materials of the old, "the survival of the fittest."
By the spring of 1853, where Southern Oregon and Northern California now are was a vast region throbbing with manifestations of that mysterious impulse to accomplish the higher purposes that are being developed as times move on. The natives were not suitable instruments and had to stand aside. The great hidden resources of a new world that were here in abundance were required to be developed, and the fittest for that purpose were rushed forward and the weaker were required to step aside. What strange things are being done in the name of "civilization"!
After the very stirring events of 1852, among the Rogue Rivers and at Bloody Point, and the hanging of Chief Taylor and his party at Vannoy's on Rogue River, no other very serious depredations were committed until early in the summer of 1853. This event was the killing of two miners, one a white man and the other a Mexican, at their cabin on Cow Creek and the robbery of their effects. Of course, this robbery and murder was laid to the Indians, though there were no white witnesses, yet it is quite probable they did it, for there was a small band of renegade Indians, originally of the Umpqua tribe, that maintained their haunt in the vicinity, whose reputation was bad. Yet it is shown that there were also renegade whites none too good for such a job and who could have done the act and raised the hue and cry against the Indians to divert attention from themselves. The Grave Creek Indians nearby were a rather quiet and inoffensive bunch and few in number. It was not difficult to make these people suffer. The renegade Indians had burned houses, barns and grain fields in the neighborhood and kept the few settlers in constant terror. In consequence, a party of whites made a raid on the camp of the Grave Creek Indians in retaliation, and without notice fired into their camp, killing one and wounding another. This, with the killing of Chief Taylor and nine of his men at Vannoy's the fall before, was a hard blow to these Grave Creek Indians, falling without any evidence of guilt except suspicion that Taylor and his men had killed the miners.
Ashland Daily Tidings, February 10, 1925, page 2
In August 1853, Indians belonging to the various tribes of the Rogue Rivers combined and began a series of depredations throughout the valley and wherever they found a safe opportunity. These acts were of such character as to convince the people that real war was practically at hand. The hostilities had defied the authority of Joe and Sam. Acts of bloody atrocity alarmed the settlers, who began to seek safety in fortified places or in constructing fortifications of their own. Sam and Joe, realizing that the situation was getting beyond them, and that the malcontents had so worked on scattered bands about the mountains as to produce a general determination to go to war, Sam and Joe, gathering other bands that had begun to flock to them, prepared to leave their rancheria at Table Rock and move back into the mountains for protection against the gathering vengeance of the settlers. They seemed to realize that the pending outbreak meant a fight to the finish and that they were unable to prevent it.
On August fourth, a few Indians visited the cabin of Edward Edwards, about two and a half miles below Phoenix on Bear Creek. Not finding him at home they secreted themselves and awaited his return, when they killed him with his own gun and, robbing his cabin, fled to the hills. There were but few Indians in this affair, and investigation finally fixed the blame on an Indian called "Indian Thompson," who was surrendered by the Indians of Table Rock, tried in the United States court in February 1854, convicted and two days later was hanged. According to the accounts given out leading up to the murder of Edwards, the event was in revenge for an act of injustice committed against another Indian by a Mexican named Debusha [DeBouchey?], who enticed, or abducted, a squaw from Jim's village, and when the chief and woman's husband went to reclaim her they were driven away and threats made to shoot them. Naturally aroused by the affair, the outraged buck started on a scout for revenge against the white race, killing Edwards and perpetrating other crimes. Edwards had nothing to do with the affair, but lost his life in consequence of the outrage committed by the Mexican. Colonel John Ross, who was a prominent actor in the events following, identified the murderer as "Pe-oos-e-cut," a nephew of Chief John of the Applegate tribe, and represents the facts substantially as follows: Debusha had bought a squaw, of whom the Indian had been in love. She ran away to a camp on Bear Creek, and the Mexican and Charles Harris went to the camp and took her from "Pe-oos-e-cut," much to his anger and grief. The disappointed lover the next day began venting his spleen against the whites in general, by killing cattle and committing other depredations, and killed Edwards, against whom he had no personal grievance whatever. So soon as the murder became known, other savages were taken with a wish to kill white people, and during the next two weeks several murders were committed, chiefly through treachery. On the 5th of August, Thomas Wills, a merchant of Jacksonville, was killed just outside of the town. The report of the gun was heard on the streets of Jacksonville, and in a few minutes afterward his mule came running in with an empty saddle spattered with blood. The cry of the victim was also heard, and citizens hurried to the spot but saw no Indians. The man's back was shattered with a bullet, and he died within a few days.
Ashland Daily Tidings, March 19, 1925, page 2
Great excitement prevailed, and every man in the crowded town armed himself and joined a committee of safety. The excitement was increased when Rhodes Nolan, a miner, was killed the next day in the door of his cabin as he was returning about sunrise from his mining claim, where he had been through the night on guard duty.
Somewhat later a very serious happening occurred in the upper part of Bear Creek Valley above where Ashland now stands, resulting in the murder of several white people and the wounding of several others. Tipsu Tyee became affected by the warlike atmosphere that continued to thicken in all directions. Tipsu Tyee was not present at the happening of the event, and there seems to be no evidence to show to what extent he participated. A detached party of his band under sub-chief Sambo, being temporarily camped on Neil Creek at the time of the murders above related, excited the suspicion of the white settlers recently locating in that direction. These people were notified of the depredations down the valley by a messenger sent up to notify them of a meeting of settlers called to meet at agent Colver's place at Phoenix to take protective steps against what they believed to be an uprising then threatened. [Samuel Colver, of Phoenix, was not Indian agent; the agent was Samuel H. Culver.] The information carried to them was extremely alarming. It was suggested that the Indians seemed to be gathering with the intention of sweeping the valley from the head of Bear Creek arm down. About a dozen men collected and, arming themselves, went over to visit this Indian camp. As they came in sight they saw considerable agitation among the Indians and a scurrying into the brush and behind trees, and some shots were fired into the posse, who returned it. Andrew Carter was wounded in the arm and Patrick Dunn in the shoulder. One Indian was killed and a few wounded. The whites returned to their camp and the next day attended the meeting at Phoenix. It was determined to arrest these natives and hold them under guard. The sub-chief Sambo and John Gibbs were acquainted, this chief some time before having done an act of kindness which saved Gibbs' life, over in the neighborhood of Pilot Rock. He risked a visit to talk with Gibbs and made great protestations of friendship, and Gibbs believed him to be sincere. The people had already succeeded in securing a few of the Indians, including some squaws, and had them under guard at the stockade a short distance away. Sambo proposed to Gibbs that they allow the others to come to the stockade, where they would submit to arrest for their own protection. This was accepted, and the others were brought in, where they remained under guard for three or four days. This was at the house of Alberding and Dunn on the farm now owned by Fred Homes. On the morning of August 13th or 14th just at break of day the Indians made their break on the little garrison. However, I must say that the women and children of the settlers had been sent to Fort Wagner, where the town of Talent now stands, on the advice of the more prudent members of this little party of settlers. In the meantime other settlers with their families arrived and were mixed up in the melee. The break made on the little garrison was led by the sub-chief Sambo, who having used John Gibbs to his purpose treacherously killed him at the very outset. Several families including Samuel Grubb, Fred Heber, Asa Fordyce, Isaac Hill and Robert Wright were at this stockade, including several single men. In this affair Hugh Smith was killed outright; John Gibbs, William Hodgings, Brice Whitmore, [and] Morris Howell were wounded. Gibbs died a few days later at Fort Wagner; Hodgins died while being moved to Jacksonville, and Whitmore died a few days later. The others who were wounded including Dunn and Carter recovered later. The outcome showed that these Indians were there in the belief that they would be able to massacre all who were in that vicinity before their suspicions were aroused, and the act of sub-chief Sambo, in using the supposed friendship of Gibbs, was in keeping with the methods of treachery practiced by these savages. That this was intended to be a part of the general uprising planned, there is no doubt. The visit of the whites on the morning of that first skirmish disarranged their plans and stimulated the activity all over the valley in mobilizing forces and hurrying families to places of safety. Already a large number of settlers had spread out over the valley, selecting farms and commencing to build homes. Mines on Applegate and Rogue rivers, together with these homeseekers scattered over the valley, as a rule left their homes and mining claims and sought places of safety, or busied themselves in constructing such protection as they were able. Sometimes a community joined for mutual safety. These independent places were chiefly at T'Vault's place (the Dardanelles, just across the river from where Gold Hill now is), at Willow Springs, six miles north of Jacksonville, and at Martin Angel's, and at Wagner's on Wagner Creek.
Ashland Daily Tidings, March 20, 1925, page 2
Attention was now directed to the organization of armed companies, fully officered and equipped. The first company was at Jacksonville, which had Ben Armstrong for captain; John F. Miller, B. B. Griffin and Abel George for lieutenants and Chas. F. Drew for quartermaster. In a few days this company was superseded by others, a company of home guards taking most of them. This company was commanded by W. W. Fowler. Most of the houses outside of Jacksonville were abandoned by the owners and promptly burned by the Indians that for a short time were scattered all over the valley. The business of the people generally was now to seek assistance from every available source. Every day people were informed that Indians from all over the country were being mobilized at the Rogue Rivers' rancheria at Table Rock, and the numbers' being exaggerated tended to augment the excitement. A messenger was dispatched to Fort Jones near Yreka, the newly established military post of U.S. troops. In response to the call, Captain Alden, commanding the 4th U.S. Infantry, set out for the distressed region with a small force of infantry of not more than twenty men all told, but with forty or fifty muskets and a supply of cartridges. At the same time a large force of volunteers presented themselves at Yreka and offered to serve under Captain J. P. Goodall and Jacob Rhodes, both experienced Indian fighters. Goodall's company numbered about ninety men, and Rhodes had sixty.
The volunteers raised in Southern Oregon were six companies whose captains were: R. L. Williams, J. K. Lamerick, John F. Miller, Elias A. Owens and W. W. Fowler. They were ordered to rendezvous at Camp Stuart, except Fowler's company, which was assigned to the protection of Jacksonville. Each volunteer furnished his own saddle horse and equipment. The organization was effected and constituted the most formidable body of fighting men so far seen in Southern Oregon, presenting quite the appearance of an army. A quartermaster department was established, and B. F. Dowell was made quartermaster and director of transportation. Captain Alden by choice of the volunteers was placed on command of the whole force, which numbered perhaps three hundred men. Without uniforms or standardized equipment they looked a motley crew. They were dressed in their ordinary clothes, carrying such arms as they might happen to possess or were able to secure for the occasion. Some were mounted on horses and some on mules, some large and some small. However irregular and motley, it would be difficult to find a body of men better qualified for the business at hand. The spur of necessity, and many with their families behind them, the seriousness of the occasion put every man on his mettle. The campaign was not a lengthy one but demonstrated that, properly officered and directed, they were capable of intelligent and heroic service. The energy and vigor with which their leaders moved on the hostiles and fought them wherever they found them demonstrated that they were of a quality to assure success.
Meanwhile the Indians, who for several days had been scattered over the valley, burning houses and barns and fences and killing stock, fled to the rancheria at Table Rock, where chiefs Joe and Sam, together with other sub-chiefs, had gathered to prepare as well as they could against the threatened attack of the whites. They select the best position they could find and did what they could in fortifying it, by digging ditches, building obstructions of brush, logs and rocks with considerable skill. They were said to number three hundred or more. This, however, probably was an exaggeration, though they had been reinforced from Jim's and Jake's bands, from the Applegates and Grave Creek Indians and other scattered bands. Doubtless all the tribes that had been induced to make a general uprising had gathered here and were influencing the others against the advice and wish of Sam and Joe and a few others who were inclined to follow their counsel. Tipsu Tyee was a puzzle to the whites, who at all times expected him to be bitterly aggressive, but he seemed to take no open part in the uprising, though the affair in upper Bear Creek Valley was headed by his sub-chief Sambo. It was thought that he was holding back for an occasion to supersede Joe and Sam in leadership, with whom it was known he was in bitter opposition. He was a crafty old rogue and seemed wedded to his own methods.
Ashland Daily Tidings, March 21, 1925, page 2
It appears that when the Indians discovered that the whites were massing in greater numbers and a more warlike attitude than ever before, Joe and Sam with the forces near Table Rock advised that they should find more secluded places in the mountains, and secretly abandoned their fortifications, so that when the little white army sought to close in on them they found their birds had flown. They had sought to obliterate their trail by setting fire to the brush and timber behind them. It was found that their course was to the northwest. The trail showed them to be in large force and practically all together. They had out many scouts and kept fully informed of the movements of the white army. They expressed their purpose to leave the result to bitter war, and declared they would fight until all the whites were driven from the valley and from the mines in the mountains. This bold war talk impressed the whites with the seriousness of the situation, and knowing the fighting quality of their foes and the relentless cruelty with which they carried out their purposes excited great anxiety for the safety of the many families that now depended on the courage and activity of the volunteers in the field. The situation was extremely critical. They had started on a campaign which portended extermination of one or the other of the belligerent parties, and there could be no turning back.
The excitement was augmented by the report of a fight between a party of whites under Lieutenant B. B. Griffin and a party of Indians under the famous "Old John," near the mouth of Williams Creek, on the Applegate River. (Some of these streams and places were not so named at the time.) The lieutenant with about 20 men reached the main Applegate at the mouth of the Little Applegate (later an important mining camp called Uniontown, some twelve miles south of Jacksonville). At this place Griffin and his men attacked an Indian village; there was some resistance, and a private named George Anderson was wounded in the hip. They moved down to Williams Creek the next day and followed a party of Indians several miles up that stream, when they were ambushed by the savages and defeated with a casualty of two men. Lieutenant Griffin was wounded in the right leg, and a private named Francis Garnett was killed. The fight was short but was fiercely and skillfully fought on both sides. The Indians were better sheltered than the whites, but met with heavier loss, as they admitted five killed and wounded. The Indians in all of these isolated encounters had the advantage of a better knowledge of the country and had their scouts by which they kept perfectly acquainted with the movements of the whites. In this engagement the whites had to retreat and leave the field to the enemy. Old John led his forces and was a skillful strategist and very courageous and active. His followers seemed equally bold and skillful. Indian "Bill" was wounded in this fight at Williams Creek, and of him General Lane once said, "I never met a braver man in peace or war." It is probable that the Indians outnumbered Griffin's party at least two to one.
Ashland Daily Tidings, March 24, 1925, page 2
John R. Harding and William Rose of Lamerick's company were killed near Willow Springs on August 10th. They, with others, were on detailed service, on their way to Jacksonville, when, having reached a point about a mile north of Willow Springs they were waylaid by the Indians. Rose was killed on the spot, and Harding was so severely wounded that he died some hours later. Rose's body fell by the side of the road; he was stripped and horribly mutilated; his throat was cut and one eye gouged out and six hundred dollars taken from his body, and his horse and saddle taken. Other incidents occurred preceding General Lane's campaign of August 21st to the 26th, to wit: the shooting of a suspected Indian by August Brown; the hanging of an Indian child in Jacksonville by the populace, a disgraceful affair in which only a few were engaged. It is not, however, so very strange that this black cloud of war, with cruel and relentless foes, should have worked up the people to a point when temporary aberration blinded them to all thoughts but extermination of their foes. It is reported that five Indians were hanged in one day to a tree near the home of David Linn in the town of Jacksonville.
About the middle of August a Mr. Etlinger was dispatched to the Governor as a messenger, and to others representing the seriousness of the situation and calling for help. General Lane at his home on Deer Creek near Roseburg got the word earlier than the others and at once set to work enlisting volunteers. Fifty men joined him, and he set out at once for Rogue River Valley. At Camp Stuart he found the principal forces of the volunteer organizations, with Captain Alden and his regulars and volunteers from Northern California. As elsewhere stated the command had been handed over to Captain Alden, but on the arrival of General Lane the Captain tendered the full command to the General, who accepted it. Preparations had already been made to move on to the enemy, and a vigorous campaign was determined upon.
CHAPTER ELEVENGeneral Lane Arranges His Campaign; Begins the Campaign. The Indians Abandon their Rancheria at Table Rock and Try to Obliterate the Trail. A Lively Fight Takes Place in Which the Indians Are Overtaken Beyond Evans Creek and Surprised. With Agreement to Meet at Table Rock in Seven Days to Arrange Terms of Peace. Meeting at Table Rock and Plans for Peace Consummated. A Tragic Occasion.
At the outset preceding the forward movement General Lane sent a detachment under Hardy Elliff to the enemy's position beyond Table Rock in order to provoke an engagement, but discovered the enemy had decamped with all his forces, squaws and equipment. On the 16th of August a detachment of Goodall's company was sent out, consisting of twenty-two picked men under Lieutenant E. Ely, for the purpose of locating the enemy. On arrival at Little Meadows at Evans Creek, called Battle Creek, about 12 or 14 miles north of Table Rock, they suddenly came upon the savages and lost several men in one of the liveliest skirmishes ever occurring in Southern Oregon. It was on the 17th day of August; the men had picketed their horses in a grassy flat and sat down to their lunch; sentries were stationed but soon left their places and joined the others at table. Just at this moment came a volley of bullets from a cluster of bushes nearby that killed and wounded ten of their number. In the excitement and surprise of the moment they rushed to cover two or three hundred yards away, leaving their horses where they had picketed them. Gaining a strong position, they kept the savages at bay. They pursued Indian tactics, fighting from the shelter of trees and rocks, and probably inflicted considerable damage on the redskins. Help was imperative and two privates, Terrill and McGonigal, were sent for help. They got away before the savages had completely surrounded them and made all speed for Camp Stuart, where Goodall's company was stationed, and reported the situation. The place where the Lieutenant and the remnant of his party were fighting for their lives was twelve or fourteen miles away. Goodall and his men lost no time in reaching the beleaguered men. J. D. Carly and five others were in the advance, and when the Indians saw them coming they fled, taking with them 18 horses and blankets, and such other accoutrements as could hastily be gathered up. It was found that six men had been killed outright--Sergeant Frank Perry and privates P. Keith, A. Douglas, A. C. Colburn, L. Stukting and William Neff. Lieutenant Ely and privates Zebulon Sheets, John Alban and James Carroll were wounded. It was said that Carl Vogt, a German, was killed, but his name was not found on any of the muster rolls as killed during the war. The Indians had slipped away, and the main force under Captain Alden, coming up in the night, camped on the flat. The first thing the following morning was to bury the dead with the honors of war. Scouts sent out reported that the Indians had fled a long distance into the mountains, setting fire to the forest as they went, almost obliterating the trail. Upon counsel being held it was determined to return to Camp Stuart and prepare for a more extended campaign. Their hurried departure had prevented such preparations as the case now required. These preparations having been made, and General Lane, most fortunately arriving just at this time, received the command of the army and gave better cheer to the situation.
Under the direction of General Lane as commander in chief the forces were disposed of as follows: the companies of Miller and Lamerick composed of [a] battalion under Colonel John Ross, were ordered to proceed down Rogue River to the mouth of Evans Creek, where the town of Rogue River now is, thence up that stream to the vicinity of where it was thought the enemy had retired to, or to a junction with Captain Alden's command, which consisted of his regulars and the two California companies of captains Goodall and Rhodes. This division was to proceed up Trail Creek to the battle ground where Ely and his detachment had been attacked by the Indians. The orders were to find the enemy's trail and to follow it regardless of the whereabouts of the other battalion. General Lane with his followers proceeded with Captain Alden's division. The scouts reported the first evening that the enemy had fled to the northwest beyond Evans Creek. Here the General ordered a halt the first night. Early on the next morning, August 23rd, [a] line of march was formed and followed with great difficulty over a very rough, rugged, rocky and brushy country. The Indians had fired the timber, which was large and heavy, and almost succeeded in destroying the trail. Late in the afternoon, having crossed a high mountain, the command reached a branch of Evans Creek and made camp for the night. There was little but marsh grass growing along the bank of the stream for the horses, and they fared scantily. Some Indian sign had been found, indicating that they were not far away. On the morning of the 24th of August a shot was heard which was believed to be from the Indian camp and indicated that they were not discovered, for the Indians would not thus be giving their whereabouts away. It seemed strange, too, that their scouts had not been keeping them under observation, but doubtless they thought they had sufficiently destroyed their trail and taken a route over which the army would not make good time. Scouts came in and reported that the Indians were encamped in a very difficult place to approach, among a tangle of brush and fallen timber, rocky and hard to approach with the horses. The General decided to make an immediate attack. Captain Alden insisted on leading the attack with his regulars, and the whole command precipitated itself on the enemy's position, except a detail of ten men under Lieutenant Blair, who was sent to turn the enemy's flank. The Indians were taken by complete surprise, but were not stampeded but rushed into the affray with great vigor, while the women and children were hurriedly sent out of the way. A small force was sent down the ridge to prevent the enemy from escaping in that direction, while the rest of the force was put into action on the enemy's front; each man, selecting a tree, got behind it and fought Indian fashion, while the enemy did likewise. Under these circumstances the casualties were not very heavy. Captain Alden was wounded early in the fight, and his regulars had difficulty in preventing the Indians from getting him; they attempted his capture while he lay on the ground. The soldiers kept the Indians at bay until they succeeded in carrying him to a place of safety. Pleasant Armstrong of Yamhill County, a man held in high repute, who had volunteered with General Lane, his friend, was mortally wounded by a bullet in the breast, and who, it is said, as he fell, exclaimed, "a dead center shot." The fight was hotly contested and had lasted about an hour when the pack train came up with its guard. Leaving fifteen men to take charge of the animals, the General took charge of the others, not more than ten in number, and ordered a charge to drive the Indians from their cover. Being in advance he approached within thirty yards of the nearest Indians, when he received a severe bullet wound through his right arm. Still exposing himself, he was forcibly dragged back behind a tree, from whence he continued to direct the fight. He ordered an extension of line to prevent the enemy from flanking his force, and feeling faint from loss of blood, retired to have attention to his wound. The savages still held their strong position, and some feared they could not be driven out of it. At this juncture, the Indians in some way learned that General Lane was in command, and began calling to him and the soldiers, proposing to treat for peace. Robert Metcalfe, sub-agent for the Indians, went to their camp and negotiations were commenced, General Lane having returned to the front. Not wishing to let them know that he was wounded, he threw a large coat over his shoulders to conceal his arm. In spite of pain and inconvenience, he engaged in an interminable talk, and ultimately agreed on terms for cessation of hostilities long enough to hold a counsel to determine and consummate ultimate and permanent terms. To do this an armistice of seven days were agreed upon, and the place to be at Table Rock, where all the hostiles should assemble and after which the natives were to surrender up their arms to General Lane and go upon the reservation at Table Rock, until a permanent treaty should be agreed upon and await the approval of the powers at Washington. During the following night both sides were reinforced; Colonel Ross came in with his division, and War Chief Sam with about half of the war force of the natives. He had been sent away to look up a suitable place for a permanent rancheria, where they would not be in such easy touch with the whites. A messenger had been sent for him to return post haste when the battle opened, but he had reached too great a distance to make it before the battle had closed and close wa-wa held. Chief Joe had command at the battle, and the braves of Chief Sam seemed greatly chagrined that they had had no chance to exhibit their prowess. It is probable that the arrival of Colonel Ross with his division was a very fortunate happening in deterring Sam and his warriors from stirring up the trouble anew. The arrival of both parties evened the thing up, and as the agreement had already been made between Joe and General Lane, there was no likelihood to be any balking now, especially while General Lane was present, as they held him in awe. Many of the volunteers believed that the proposition for a peace talk was only a feint to get more time for Sam to arrive, when they meant to take the soldiers at a disadvantage. This would have been in accord with Indian tactics. The Indians were great at dissembling, and now that they were not actually fighting they were very profuse in their protestations of friendship and offered all manner of assistance.
The Indians owned to the loss of 12 men killed and wounded, which is considered probable, as the whites were the better marksmen. John Scarborough of the Yreka volunteers and P. Armstrong, General Lane's aide, were killed; Captain Alden, Private Hayes (Humbug volunteer) and Henry Fletcher and Charles Abbee of Yreka volunteers were wounded, the latter mortally. Captain Alden died two years later from the effects of his wound, and the General never completely recovered from his. As soon as the terms of the armistice were settled, the troops took up their march homeward and went into camp at Hailey's Ferry, now known as Bybee's Ferry. This camp was given the name of Camp Alden in honor of the valiant major.
In an earlier statement of this account, I have mentioned that a messenger was sent to the Governor and to others calling for assistance, and the arrival of General Lane and his volunteers in time to take part in the battle. The others whose aid was expected did not arrive until the agreement of the armistice and the establishment of camp at Camp Alden, where it was proposed to remain until the assembling at Table Rock to arrange a treaty. In answer to this call there arrived at Camp Alden Colonel James W. Nesmith with 75 volunteers, raised in Polk, Marion and Yamhill counties; Captain A. J. Smith with Company C, of the U.S. Dragoons; Captain August V. Kautz, afterwards a major general in the Union army, brought up the rear with a twelve-pound howitzer and fixed ammunition. These forces reached Fort Lane on Rogue River in September, before the treaty was completed, which when added to the volunteers and Captain Alden's division made quite a respectable little army. I find in the Centennial History of Oregon an account, written by Colonel J. W. Nesmith, in considerable detail, of this peace treaty meeting. The time had been extended to September 10th, and all the forces of both sides were gathered near the foot of Lower Table Rock as agreed upon. The scene and the exciting events resulting were sufficiently spectacular to justify giving it, and them, in the stirring words of Colonel Nesmith himself, as follows:
Ashland Daily Tidings, March 25, 1925, page 2
"The encampment on the Indians was on the side of the mountain of which Table Rock forms the summit, and at night we could plainly see their campfires, while they could look directly down upon us. The whole command was anxious and willing to fight, but General Lane had pledged the Indians that an effort would be made to treat for peace. Superintendent Palmer and Agent Culver were upon the ground, the armistice had not yet expired, and General Lane sent for me, and desired me to go with him to the council ground inside the Indian encampment to act as interpreter, as I was master of Chinook jargon. I asked the General upon what terms we were to meet the Indians. He replied that the agreement was that the meeting should take place within the encampment of the enemy, and that he would be accompanied with ten men of his own selection, unarmed.
"Against those terms I protested, and told the General that I had traversed that country five years before, and fought those same Indians; that they were treacherous, and in early times had earned the designation of 'Rogues' by never allowing a white man escape with his scalp whence once in their power; that I knew them better than he did, and that it was criminal folly for eleven unarmed men to place themselves voluntarily within the power of seven hundred well-armed hostile Indians in their own secure encampment. I reminded him that I was a soldier in command of a company of cavalry and was ready to lead them on his order into action, or to discharge any soldierly duty, no part of which was to go into the enemy's camp as an unarmed interpreter. The General listened to my protest and replied that he had fixed upon the terms of meeting the Indians and should keep his word, and if I was afraid to go I could remain behind. When he put it upon that ground, I responded that I thought I was as little acquainted with fear as he was, and I would accompany him to what I believed would be our slaughter.
"Early on the morning of the 10th of September, 1853, we mounted our horses and rode out in the direction of the Indian encampment. Our party consisted of the following named persons: General Joseph Lane; Joel Palmer, superintendent of Indian affairs; Samuel Culver, Indian agent; Captain A. J. Smith, 1st Dragoons; Captain L. F. Mosher, adjutant; Colonel John E. Ross, Captain J. W. Nesmith, Lieutenant A. V. Kautz, R. B. Metcalfe, J. D. Mason, T. T. Tierney.
"After riding a couple of miles across the level valley, we came to the foot of the mountain, where it was too steep for the horses to ascend. We dismounted and hitched our horses and scrambled up for half a mile over huge rocks and through brush, and then found ourselves in the Indian stronghold, just under the perpendicular cliff of the Table Rock and surrounded by seven hundred fierce and well-armed savages, in all their gorgeous war paint and feathers. Captain Smith had drawn out his company of dragoons and left them in line in the plain below. It was a bright, beautiful morning, and the Rogue River Valley lay like a panorama at our feet; the exact line of dragoons sitting statute-like on their horses, with their white belts and burnished scabbards and carbines, looked like they were engraven on a picture, while a few paces in our rear the huge perpendicular wall of the Table Rock towered frowningly many hundred feet above us. The business of the treaty commenced at once. Long speeches were made by General Lane and Superintendent Palmer; they had to be translated twice. When an Indian spoke in the Indian tongue, it was translated by an Indian interpreter into Chinook, or jargon, to me, when I translated it into English; when Lane or Palmer spoke, the process was reversed, I giving the speech to the Indian interpreter in Chinook, and he translating it to the Indians in their own language. This double translation of long speeches made the labor tedious, and it was not till late in the afternoon that the treaty was completed and signed. In the meantime an episode occurred which came near terminating the treaty, as well as the representation of one of the 'high contracting parties' in a sudden manner. About the middle of the afternoon a young Indian came running into camp, stark naked, with perspiration streaming from every pore. He made a brief harangue, and threw himself on the ground apparently completely exhausted. His speech had created a great tumult among his tribe. General Lane told me to inquire of the Indian interpreter the cause of the commotion; the Indian responded that a company of white men down on Applegate Creek, under the command of Captain Owens, had that morning captured an Indian known as Jim Taylor, and had tied him to a tree and shot him to death. The hubbub and confusion among the Indians at once became intense, and murder glared from each savage visage. The Indian interpreter told me that the Indians were threatening to tie us up to trees and serve us as Owens' men had served Jim Taylor. I saw some Indians gathering up lass-ropes [lash ropes] while others drew skin covers from their guns and the wiping sticks from their muzzles.
"There appeared a strong probability of our party being subjected to a sudden volley. I explained as briefly as I could what the interpreter had communicated to me. In order to keep our people from huddling together and thus making a better target for the savages, I used a few English words not likely to be understood by the Indian interpreter, such as 'disperse' and 'segregate.' In fact, we kept so close to the savages and separated from one another that any general firing must have been nearly as fatal to the Indians as to the whites.
"While I admit that I thought my time had come, and hurriedly thought of wife and children, I noticed nothing but coolness among my companions. General Lane sat upon a log with his bandaged arm in a sling; the lines about his face were rigid, compressing his lips, while his eyes flashed fire. He asked brief questions, and gave me sententious answers to what little the Indians said to us. Captain A. J. Smith, who was prematurely gray-haired, and was afflicted with a nervous snapping of the eyes, leaned upon his cavalry saber, and looked anxiously down upon his well-formed line of dragoons in the valley below. His eyes snapped more vigorously than usual, and muttered words escaped from under the old dragoon's mustache that did not sound like prayers. His squadron looked beautiful, but alas, they could render us no assistance. I sat down on a log close to Chief Joe, and having a sharp hunting knife under my hunting shirt, kept one hand near its handle, determined that there would be one Indian made 'good' about the time the firing commenced.
"In a few moments General Lane stood up and commenced to speak slowly, but very distinctly. He said: 'Owens, who has violated the armistice and killed Jim Taylor, is a bad man. He is not one of my soldiers. When I catch him he shall be punished. I promised in good faith to come up into your camp with ten unarmed men to secure peace. Myself and men are placed in your power; I do not believe you are such cowardly dogs as to take advantage of our unarmed condition. I know that you have the power to murder us, and you can do so as quickly as you please, but what good will our blood do you? Our murder will exasperate our friends, and your tribes will be hunted from the face of the earth. Let us proceed with the treaty and in place of war have lasting peace.' Much more was said by the General in this strain, all rather defiant, and nothing of a bragging character. The excitement gradually subsided, after Lane promised to give a fair compensation for the defunct Jim Taylor, in blankets and shirts.
"The treaty of the 10th day of September, 1853, was completed and signed, and peace was restored for the next two years. Our party wended their way among the rocks down to where our horses were tied and mounted. Old A. J. Smith galloped up to his squadron and gave a brief order. The bugle sounded a note or two, and the squadron wheeled and trotted off to camp. As General Lane and party rode back across the valley, we looked up and saw the rays of the setting sun gilding the summit of Table Rock. I drew a long breath and remarked to the old General that the next time he wanted to go unarmed into a hostile camp he must hunt up some other one besides myself to act as interpreter. With a benignant smile he responded, 'God bless you; luck is better than science.' I never hear the fate of General Canby at the Modoc camp referred to that I do not think of our narrow escape of a similar fate at Table Rock."
"(Signed at) Rickreall, April 20th, 1879."
Ashland Daily Tidings, March 26, 1925, page 2
The above statement was sent to General Lane near his home at Roseburg for his approval before being published, and was examined by him and the following answer thereto made by the General:
"Roseburg, Monday, April 28th, 1879.Ashland Daily Tidings, March 28, 1925, page 2
"My Dear Sir: Your note of the 23rd instant, enclosing a copy of an article giving account of our council or treaty with the Rogue River Indians on September 10th, 1853, was received two or three days ago and would have been answered on receipt, had I not been too feeble to write. I am feeling quite well this morning, though my hand trembles. You will get this in a day or two, and the article will be published in the Star on Friday and will reach you on Saturday. Dates and incidents in the article are in the main correct. You could, however, very truly have said that neither you nor myself had a single particle of fear of any treachery on the part of the Indians toward us, and the proof was that they did not harm us.
"We had at all times been ready to fight them, and to faithfully keep and maintain our good faith with them. We never once, on any occasion, lied to them, and as you know, when the great Indian war of 1855-6 broke out, and you were again on the field fighting them, poor old Joe was dead, and you, or some other commander, at old Sam's request, sent him and his people to Grand Ronde Reservation.
"Old John and Adam, and all others except Joe's and Sam's people, fought you hard, but the Rogues proper never forgot the impression we made upon them in the great council of September 10, 1853. It was a grand and successful council; the Rogue Rivers proper fought us no more; they did not forget their promises to us.
"Very truly, your friend and obedient servant,
Here we have written and subscribed by them, 26 years after the episode, an account by General Lane and Colonel Nesmith, principal actors in this great event. Others were present and gave account of it, who have since then held high and honorable positions, but have now passed on. Their accounts all agree that the overpowering bravery of these men carried the day. There has, perhaps, been but one other incident enacted on the Pacific Coast among the troublous Indian difficulties that is at all like this; and that was the act of Peter Skene Ogden in recovering the remnant left after the Whitman massacre. He won in the face of a danger seldom encountered, and won by force of moral courage. These two occasions of Lane and Ogden, separated by long distance and many years of time, are such events as immortalize men. Both of these men cowed savage forces by a moral power that all men do not possess. They were impressed with the consciousness of right and justice and that the savage horde confronting them felt that they were confronting something that towered above the ordinary of their own conceptions. Lane had always performed his promises with them and had their complete confidence. They had discovered that justice was his creed toward the savage as well as the civilized, and the first contact with him on the occasion of his first treaty two years before convinced them that they were dealing with an invincible foe and a just man. Had it been possible, and if all the whites had been like Lane, the horrors of these Indian wars would not have been experienced. Joe and Sam had been converted to the fact of Lane's truthfulness and justice on that first tragic occasion and never lost his confidence nor forgot his friendship. Though there was to be some more years of war with the Indians in Southern Oregon, with many brutal details, Sam and Joe in their attitude were material aids to the cause of peace and had many followers who were indirectly aided in the final consummation.
The scattered savages, inhabiting secluded spots all over a large and extremely difficult mountainous country, were separated from each other and refused to allow themselves to come within the scope of the operations of men like Lane and failed to learn the advantages of just treatment. With them extermination by treachery and by acts that could be met only by treatment of like kind, while among the whites there were men of the same lack of moral character who from choice adopted the same tactics and made extermination of the one or the other inevitable. Isolated cases of depredation continued during the year of 1854 and kept the country terrorized. We must not forget that during all of these troublous times whites were pouring into the country and taking up donation land claims, building homes, clearing up farms, establishing schools and advancing all of the aspects of civilization and progress. Roads were being built, towns growing up, and progress generally was going forward. Already the country was presenting many aspects of permanent establishment and growth, which in another part of this work it will be our purpose to take up and carry on.
CHAPTER TWELVEAfter the treaty was signed, September 10th, 1853, most of the settlers were satisfied with its terms and had strong hopes that their troubles and dangers were at least greatly mitigated. There were some, however, who could find no words of confidence and who prophesied greater troubles to come. It is the nature of some people to be constitutionally fault finders, and such people are generally quite ready to help bring their prophesies true. Therefore it can be depended on that they will not help carry forward plans and purposes to accomplish that against which they have prophesied, hence when troubles again arose, they were ready to exclaim, "I told you so."
Not all the Indians had, by any means, signed the treaty, and scattered bands all about the country denied any binding effect upon them; among the whites there were many who also denied any responsibility for the terms of the treaty. We cannot recite all of the acts of aggression. They were generally committed by small parties in isolated places scattered all over the country. These lawless acts appeared to be of the nature of reprisals.
I do not wish to have it understood that I believe any great number of the white people voluntarily were guilty of acts of provocation against the Indians, thus further antagonizing them; though there were but a few who did so. It is known that the Indians were indiscriminate in their acts of revenge, regardless whether they were attacking the one who had been guilty of injustice to them, or whether they wreaked their revenge on some other white man. "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth" fulfilled their notion of justice hence the aggressive acts of reckless white men justly rated them as at war with the whites. Doubtless there was only a comparatively few such men, but any was as bad as many, for they were provoking the horrors of Indian war against the peace-loving and painstaking, who were not at fault at all, and kept the whole settlements in excitement and sore distress.
Much of the troubles of the time came from other sources than Indian aggression. To understand this it will be necessary to go back beyond the inception of the Indian troubles of Southern Oregon. It will be remembered that at Champoeg on the bank of the Willamette River on May 2nd, 1843, the foundation of a provisional government was laid and in 1844 formed. At that time, aside from the mission settlements, the controlling force in the country was the Hudson Bay Company. The dominant religious sentiment among them was Catholic. The missions were Protestant. Between the two was bitter hatred, and each missed no opportunity to discredit the other among the Indians, who were not slow to discover that there was a bitter war between the whites on the subject of religion. The Indians were living in harmonious trade with the Hudson's Bay Company and naturally inclined toward Catholicism. The great company was wholly commercial, and whatever they had of religious tenets were so managed as to advance and not interfere with their business interests. They adjusted their relations with the Indians so as not to disturb the habits of the savages. The Catholic methods of worship were of a more showy and formal kind and tended more to the Indians' spectacular fancies.
Ashland Daily Tidings, April 1, 1925, page 2
The Protestants were dogmatical. In the very nature of things the missionaries were fanatical, and believed that they were instruments directly delegated by God to civilize and Christianize the Indians. This they proposed to do by changing their whole course of life. They must establish homes, till the ground and implicitly follow the teachings of the missionaries. In a little time they grew restless under such [a] changed life. The habits of countless generations they were expected to throw aside, surrender their carefree and easy methods of living and surrender their life of freedom and indolence. This was not to their liking. The missionaries sought to control all lay matters as well as spiritual, and assumed a dominant attitude politically. Therefore when the provisional government was formed it was dominated by the church, and elections were controlled by them and property rights determined by them. The French Canadians were Catholics, and it will be remembered that the Americans had a majority of only two votes at the Champoeg election.
Dr. McLoughlin was a Catholic, but the greatest benefactor that the early settlers ever had, a thoroughly just man. The creditor of nearly every man in the settlements, and made no distinction on account of religion, or nationality, notwithstanding the question of ownership of the Oregon Territory, which was claimed by Great Britain, whose citizen he was. Yet he was subjected to gross injustice and was robbed of his property by those who had often called on him for assistance when in dire necessity and had never been refused. Their persecution of this man was by some of those who dominated and who claimed authority in the name of God. Thus, when the closest ties should have been maintained in the common defense against savages, bitter relations were being fostered, and issues created in the interest of selfishness and greed.
In the fall of 1843, after the election at Champoeg, there came in what has been called "the great immigration," bringing in early a thousand patriotic citizens from other states who were ready to aid in the organization of a helpful provisional government. These were homeseekers coming to settle the land and build homes; not many of them became connected with the missions, whose business now largely turned to politics. These immigrants came from many states, and as the years rolled on more came. The organization of the territorial government brought with it many more questions. The Civil War was coming to show above the horizon, and many of the newcomers were anxious to see the new state--when it should reach that status--free from the many troubled conditions that come from political entanglements. They had little interest in the business of "Christianizing or civilizing" the savages. To most of them the only civilizing process was by education, and that they believed would require generations, with the stronger probability that the Indians would cease to exist before this desirable result should be accomplished. There soon came a time when a multiplicity of issues divided the people into factions, the followers of the missions largely constituting one of the political parties; the slavery question divided some, then came squabbles over the location of a capital and quarrels over land questions. The usual scramble for office and for a hand in the public crib furnished a new incentive to get into politics. Some of the missionaries left the country and others went into politics, for which they displayed great proficiency. All of these things brought about great activity in many lines, and the Indian wars in Southern Oregon had to wait.
Gold was first discovered in California, then in Oregon, and with it came the rush for gold and for home-making. Southern Oregon and Northern California up to that time were less known than any other desirable region in the Territory of Oregon, and the Indians knew very little about white people. No missions had been established here, but Indians had been informed of the danger to be anticipated from the coming of the whites, and the rush from the Willamette Valley to the mines in California rendered the California trail the most dangerous place on the Pacific Coast. At Washington the authorities were so ignorant of the country that troops sent to assist were stationed at Astoria, Vancouver and other places near the Columbia, where they could be of no assistance whatever in Southern Oregon. The few troops that were sent in were small details so few in number and meagerly supplied that they amounted to little. When an urgent call was sent to the commanding officer at Fort Vancouver, he hurriedly ordered a small company sent to Port Orford to assist the people in Rogue River Valley. They might as well have been left on the Columbia River, as Rogue River Valley was not accessible from Port Orford. It was not until the opening of 1855 that government authorities became sufficiently well acquainted with Southern Oregon to know how to get in here.
Ashland Daily Tidings, April 2, 1925, page 2