The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised

Alice Rockfellow Meacham Foster Ough



Alice Rockfellow Meacham Foster Ough
    In the year of 1853 a congregation of men and women were sitting around William Hurst [Rockfellow]'s farmhouse. They were setting up preliminary plans toward setting out on the long trek across the plains. William had been home from the gold mines of California (he was a '49er miner) about two years, but he had the fever still and the people were hearing much in regard to the gold mining of '49. Many debates had taken place with the result that we now see around this farm. It appears that William was the only one who had had this experience, so naturally everyone looked to him as a leader. Now they were getting their wagons and teams equipped for a long journey of six months and they knew it would be a hard trip, so they fixed their wagons as comfortably as possible.
    In those days it looked to the people like they were going to travel to the end of the world. William had been a leading spirit ever since his father had moved his family there from Ohio. Now those young people who had grown up together and had families were among the immigrants. They were all acquainted and expected to have lots of fun. There were about 50 wagons, some one-horse, some two and some oxen teams.
    It made a fine showing that bright May morning as we started out. Some were laughing and some were crying. It was harder for the women than the men to leave their loved ones. The yard was lined with people with good wishes, both young and old. Many of the men of the neighborhood rode with us to our first camp, and helped to strike the first camp fire. Henry Rockfellow and my father's father traveled two days with us as also did some others.
    We had plenty of fun in the evenings up to the time we had to look out for the Indians. We started in early spring and it took us six months on the road. Many of these immigrants were pretty old. They had given up homes that they had lived in all their lives for the sake of making more money, and the trial was great for them. Two years previous to our starting had been terrible times with the Indians massacring the whites. The following year there had been some depredations and we did not just know what our fate would be, so we were on guard all the time. It was proven later that the Mormons were mixed up with us. There was a tenor of fear all of the time; mothers were afraid to let their children out of their sight after leaving the settlement.
    We crept along slowly. William's wagons were a light two-horse wagon for his family and a big ox team for provisions, by name Duke and Brandy. We slept in that wagon and I never got up until we were traveling. We had some seamless sacks of soda crackers in this wagon. I remember making my breakfast out of these soda crackers, at the same time looking back at my mother and talking. I remember one morning we started very early; we had camped that night without water; the stocks were very dry. We had traveled several miles since starting that morning. All of a sudden an ox whirled out of the team and started to run. They ran quite a distance before they were stopped. Men said they smelled water and we soon came to water. Our teams were near the front of the train. Old Duke and Brandy just trailed along after the team; they did not need a driver. When night came on and our day's drive was finished, our teams circled around with their wagons placing the wagon's tongue up against the next wagon's and all around, making a circle or enclosure so we had a complete circle. Then every man would attend to his horses and guards would take turns watching; others got wood and water, placed tents, and the horses would eat their fill of the long grass; and then the men would tie each by his own wagon, but still the men would patrol the country near us. In order to get water some days the drive would be short, others longer but we always stopped when we reached water.
    When we made camp, it was like a little town. People just swarmed around, each woman making preparation for her own family comfort, plenty of laughing and singing going on. The pickets would sometimes pass the word around for quiet, [if] they heard something they did not understand and like. It was always over in a little time and everyone was happy again for the word came "Only a coyote."
    I remember my first thought would be to pick flowers; there were always plenty inside our little fort. There was one family, father, mother, and one son. They were English, Beeson by name, and my first thought was to get some flowers for "Auntie" Beeson.
    Dear white-haired mother, how much I loved her. I am sure her influence followed me through life. I always took my bouquet to her, sure of its being appreciated, even if it was nothing but weeds, because I thought them pretty. She always admired them. (I was only four years of age.) She always handed me her chair, said she did not need it as she had her work to do. I always left in a very ceremonious way. We were friends many many years after we were settled. So many pleasant memories come up as I write this; there are so many waymarks in a life so full as mine has been. This dear woman, father, and son have long since gone on their last journey. The son also was my very dear friend for many years.
    Up to this time nothing of moment had occurred, but now some of the horses were giving out, not being very well fed and strong when we started. Amongst the first was my mother's sister and family.
    They were not very well fixed for such a long trip, so they decided to take up a homestead in a new country where they farmed for a good many years. There were also others who stopped with them in different points in that state. We were not molested by Indians on the trip although they would often visit our camps and beg for muckamuck as they called food. One buck picked up a dish of soft soap, thought it was something good to eat. Mother took it away from him. They tried to buy my six-month-old sister. She was so black from suntan and had black eyes, they thought she was a papoose or Indian baby. They tried to steal her and we had to watch very close or they would have taken her. They followed us many miles to get her. I don't remember things very definitely because I was too young. A child of four does not take note of everything. One thing I do remember is crossing a big river. There was no ferry, so my father with some others contrived a way to cross. They swam over with the stock and took the wagon beds and caught them up and made boats, and families and everything crossed over that way. We crossed without accident and then it took a good many hours to put everything right again. From that place, I don't remember much in crossing the mountains. In some places the rocky ledges and rough places were so bad that the wagons would be let down with ropes.
    Our first stop was in Oregon, in Wagner Creek, in the Rogue Valley, a very beautiful one. There had been a big Indian outbreak here the year before we came. The old fort was still standing at Wagner Creek. This creek takes its name from a man who settled first in this place. Afterwards he married a younger sister of my mother's. At the time he had an abundance of green vegetables, potatoes, etc., in which we were in great need, as we had been without them in so many months. We also got plenty of fresh milk, butter, and fresh meat. We were nearly starved for some fresh food. My father and brothers settled on a farm close to Wagner's on the same creek. We could see each others' houses. I remember my mother went over the creek on a board. She went to Wagner's to grind her coffee. One morning we were going over and I fell into the water. It was so deep it washed me down to the road crossing before Mother could get to me. The water was shallow there. We were both very much frightened. Another time I ran ahead of her and opened wide the gate going out of the farmyard and then I ran to meet her and saw a big snake, probably three feet long, stretched out full length probably sunning itself. I got such a start but could not stop and jumped over it with a screech. Mother picked up a stick and killed it, but it proved to be a harmless snake.
    My favorite family, the Beesons, settled about two miles up this creek and many were the visits we had; and on farther still were the Stearns family, whose daughter and myself grew up together, great friends. We spent the winter of '53 very pleasantly there. In the winter the men built fences and put up barns, chicken houses, got the ground ready to plant, set out the trees and many necessary things were done. Also we stocked up with honey bees, about twelve stands. One of my duties after being old enough was to watch them swarm and then tell someone about it. The following summer, after arriving in Rogue Valley, the people were much exercised about the Indians. The previous year there had been an Indian outbreak and much depredation had been committed, so there was much talk and expectation of other outbreaks as there had been rumors of a war north of us. So the preparations were carried out for our protection. Fort Wagner was made strong and provisioned for the people around the country. The building ground was on an incline on one side so that at one point there was a root house built back under the hill and a house built over it. This gave us a tool house and a store room. The root house would provide a good protection from the bullets and for the women and children. One night the arrangement was carried out. We thought the Indians were coming. The fall of '54 two men had taken up a claim just across Bear Creek from us and were building up quite a nice farm but they were not good neighbors, always doing dirt to someone, so consequently not well liked. They were looked upon with suspicion by everyone. It seemed that through their talk, people were looking for trouble. The word had been passed around to be ready to fly at the first intimation of trouble. The valley is surrounded by high mountains so we were always watching for signals between the Indians, as it was said that that was their way of telephoning to each party. Now occasionally we had noticed one fire. This time in the night the guards awakened us and told us that there were fires at different places on the mountains and from the way they acted it was as though they were signals. It was thought best for us to go where it was safe for the women and children. The first intimation that I had of the move, an old friend took me in his arms with just a blanket wrapped around me. Mother had her baby in her arms. Others had bedding and we were soon deposited in the root house. The children fell asleep and the elders stood around and talked. The next morning since nothing happened that night, we all went to our homes. Nothing more happened that week, but in the meantime Father had reason to be suspicious of Bingham and Dailey. He did not like their actions and laid a trap to catch them. He and others went over one evening to chat with them for awhile. In talking they let fall a few words that were very, very suspicious and when they left that evening it was fully settled in their minds that these men were the cause of all the disturbances and signal fires. Well, father and the boys laid a trap for Bingham and Dailey. The next thing was to prove it. Nearly all the neighbors placed the blame on them. Everybody had seen something that made them think that it was they. Soon they felt so sure that they were going to punish them, so they did. Their plans were laid out; Father and some others dropped in to chat with them. Told all the blood-curdling Indian stories that they could think of. Pretty soon some more men dropped in, making a half dozen or so in the house. Soon a gun was fired near the cabin and then in the windows. Our men yelled "INDIANS--Run Boys." Father stayed by Bingham and another man watched the partner. They ran for Bear Creek, the supposed Indians letting out war whoops and firing all of the time. Father said again "Run boys, run" and started for the footlog, starting his man first. It was a very dark night. Just as they were barely started, with just a little help, Bingham fell into the water and Father pretended to be helping him to get out but when he would have him nearly safe his hand would slip and back he would go into the water; and all of the time Dailey was having the same kind of treatment. These men were so badly frightened they could hardly get their breath.
    Well, after their ducking, Father and the other men accused them and told them why they did what they did, and told them that there were no Indians in the country, that it was a concocted plan of the ranchers to punish them, for they had found out that it was their plans frightening the people. They finally owned up that they did it out of spite. They were the worst pair of whipped curs that you ever saw. They were not long in getting out of the county, and left after dark. After that everything settled in peace and quiet.
    The children started in school. A country school is usually far away from most everyone. This one was about two miles from our house. When I was little, Father took me on horseback. We had a big pair of roan horses for our team and they were also broken to the saddle. This morning I am thinking of, the hired man took me. Father lifted me up into the saddle. Tracy was the horse's name. The man looked around and saw Jack, a neighbor boy. He says, "Jump up behind, Jack." That was the last I remember for several hours. Tracy would not carry double, he threw us all. I think Jack and the man were not hurt but I was knocked senseless. When I came to my senses, the doctor and Mother were working over me. I was wrapped in a wet sheet, but I was soon myself. The school threw the young folks together often. "Auntie" Beeson and her son brought us together at her home many times, and such lovely times we did have. My particular chum was a year older than I. I remember I always looked up to her. I thought she knew so much more than I did. She always came to the parties. "Auntie" Beeson's flowers were my delight. The flowers were fenced in just a great big circle and they had all kinds of flowers. I could never find a weed, everything was so neat. I can close my eyes and make myself see it just as plain as if I were there and the dear white-haired lady with her gentle voice and ways. And her son was so tender with her in so many ways. He had a great deal to do with the formation of the character of those whom they invited in their home. She seemed never to tire in answering my questions. Minder and myself were the ones who were allowed to help her get the dinner on her table and it was our delight to do our best. She let me go to her milk room and bring everything. She would have it all ready just to bring in; cake, pie, cottage cheese, and many other things. We would want to help wait table, but no, it was our dinner and we must eat first. I think Wilbur and a friend who crossed the plains at the time they did and always lived with them and helped them with the farm work, I think he always helped Wilbur at the table. She seldom would let us wash dishes but we would help put things away. Them the rest of them wanted us to go and play. When they put up a new barn we had a big frolic. They put up two big swings and Wilbur had some big boys about his own age and they would swing us and the time came all too soon for us to go home. I always got the first ripe raspberries. Wilbur said he hid them so they would not be seen and that delighted me. He would say, "Come Allie, I have something to show you," and he would say, "Now stand there and shut your eyes," and he would tell me when to open, after he had a leaf in my hand, "Now Allie!" he would say and there were the most luscious big raspberries, the very first, and I would be just as delighted as he expected. Then he would go and divide them with his mother. Those days were long ago. Mother and son are both gone to their Saviour a long time ago.
    Father sold out his interests to his brothers. There were too many for one business. Father was naturally a roamer but mother wanted to settle down. He was dissatisfied so we moved on into California. Yreka was where he was headed. Mining had always been a fascination for him, and he stayed with it nearly all of his life. He would start in some business but eventually would get back to prospecting. There were many paying mines at the time about Yreka, many placers. But he went beyond this camp. We crossed some mountains to a camp called Hungry Creek. There he went to mining for awhile, and then sold out and bought or rented a band of cows and sold milk. He would deliver his milk on the back of a mule, would carry two cans on each side of the saddle. When he returned from his trips we would find the loveliest little balls of butter in the cans. The constant shaking churned all the cream. We got the butter, the customers got the milk. He kept at this work for quite awhile, and in the meantime we had built a house and Mother was keeping a boarding house. Our house had never been finished, no doors, and the front of the kitchen had not been boarded up yet, although we were occupying the house with curtains for doors. This was impressed on my mind by an incident that came nearly being serious. We were working in the kitchen on this morning and someone hollered "Look out for the cow." The butchers were driving a wild cow, and she was chasing everyone. She got a look at us in the kitchen and ran for us. Mother had presence of mind enough to run for the bedroom and chucked us children under the bed but she jumped on top. She was teased about this for a long time but the cow came no further than into the kitchen and dining room door but we were badly frightened. Dropping the curtains checked the cow. We kept a few boarders and Mother's table was always good, as she was a very fine cook.
    I recall a hydraulic mine just by us. There must have been about ten acres of ground that was being worked every day and it was very interesting to me. When our work was finished I would go down to an old oak tree that overlooked the work. I would climb up high and sit there for hours and watch them work. My parents decided not to spend another winter there, as times were growing dull, but they had made money during the time we were there so Father got a place for us to winter in at Coles' near the foot of the Siskiyous. The next act was a means to get us out of there. There had never been a wagon across those mountains. Everything was brought by pack train and there was also a train called express train which carried express and mail. That was the only means we had of getting out. Father, knowing the express man, sent me out ahead with him on horseback to stay with a friend in Yreka. I spent a few weeks there and then the rest came on riding mules. Then we rode the stage for thirty miles. They ran the Concord coaches. When loaded they were like riding in a rocking chair, but when not loaded you had to hold tight with hands and feet. Father owned a fine pair of big horses, he sold these to Coles' where we were going. They owned the hotel and when we got there they soon came to an understanding whereby we were to do the work for the place, Mother doing the cooking and housework, Father helping where he was needed as chore boy, and I also was Mother's helper. We spent a very happy winter. When spring came, Father and Mother wanted their own business. They had never worked for wages, having always worked for themselves, and there was too little money and too much restraint in this so Father began looking around for something else. There was a good station just twenty-four miles above Coles' and he was wanting to sell. An old bachelor owned it and wanted to sell out as he could not run it alone. So Father bought this place and we lived there a number of years. When Father informed Coles' of his intentions, they were very much shocked and tried to compel us to stay, and said we agreed to stay longer. They never did forgive Father. They would not let him hire the team he sold them to move his family. Their horses were not working so Father walked up to our new home and tried to get a team there but they only had one saddle horse so we started on that, Mother riding, and carrying her baby, a little girl several years of age, but the riding was so bad she had to walk part of the time.
    Then Father would ride and carry the child. Finally, Mother rode on in, and Father and I walked as long as I could stand it and then I lay down and wanted to go to sleep. About that time somebody brought the horse and we rode in.
    That was our home for a good many years. We built up a big trade, we built a new house and barn, had lots of cows and chickens and made butter and cheese for market and had a fine garden. We had a big grain field. The woods were full of wild animals, at that time, and the bears would kill our pigs. They came and hid in a big growth of willows about a half mile from us. I remember one day a teamster came in quite excited and said he saw a bear cross the road, just about a half mile ahead of him and go into the brush, so every man that could get a gun started and tried to surround the brush but Mr. Bruin was too smart for them. While the men were creeping up on him, as they supposed, a horseman came along and said he saw the bear just outside the field climbing a hill. So that ended the bear hunt that time, but it was not the last one. We had a lot of travelers at that time. The first year or two people traveled on horseback, the mail train carried passengers; both men and women traveled that way. Finally the stage line was started and our place was the station. Then our work was so much, we hired help. I remember washing dishes when I had to stand on a box. I waited table before my hands were hardly big enough to hold the cups. Mother had the name of setting such a fine table. This was in '58 and the stage was always supposed to stop at the best place. We were just halfway between Yreka and Jacksonville and travelers between these places made their plans to stay overnight as they knew they would get a good farm meal. We had everything to do with. Mother could have a chicken dinner in such a short time, and then we raised all sorts of vegetables. People came out to fish. There was a trout stream with plenty of little speckled trout.
    The years passed by and times were not so flush, so Father started a branch business that was a mining camp about thirty miles from our place, just across a range of mountains. He butchered beef and sold two days a week in addition to our home work. One occurrence is particularly worth relating. Two of Yreka's leading citizens came out to our place to fight a duel. There were ten or twelve men in the crowd. They sent us word several days previous to this so we had everything ready for them so they would have plenty to eat for several days. They came about ten in the morning. The seconds were trying to patch up the quarrel, but at noon they had not made much advance toward it. They ate a hearty dinner, the principals also. They also said dinner was fine. Then they made their preparations; went out to the ground they had selected but came back to the hotel good friends. The trouble had all been explained away and everybody was happy. The papers after that said if anyone had a grievance to settle "go to Rockfellow's" and get a good dinner. That would settle all quarrels.
    This was a good country for wild plums and they were fine. My sister and an old man and myself were out about two miles from home picking fruit. We were on a side hill looking across the ravine to the hills on the other side. The old man said he saw a bear, I also saw some kind of an animal looking down at us. He was badly frightened because he had us children with him. He put us in a tree and was ready to climb also if the creature came our way, but after awhile he turned around and went an opposite way. We scampered home with a double quick step. There was also a fine natural soda fountain two miles from our place. It is now called Coles' Springs, as later they bought the place.
    One summer we ate our Fourth of July dinner under the trees. In the surrounding country, and especially this place, which was a lovely little dell, the pines smelled so good and the moss and flowers made a regular dream place. We drank soda water until we hardly had room for air, but we just had to eat Mother's good dinner. We had two boards nailed up with a long white table cloth, the table decked with wild flowers and ferns. New potatoes and green peas, fried chicken, and all kept hot. That is one of the brightest spots in my memory.
    Our house was halfway between Yreka and Jacksonville and it was eighty [sic] miles from each place. We gave dances in the winter when the sleighing was good and people would come from far and near so we would have all we could take care of. Our tables were filled many times and our dining room was not very large. They would dance all night and sometimes go before breakfast. Our dance room was a big upstairs chamber which had not been divided off into bedrooms. We called it the corral, because when we had so much travel we would make up so many beds and so many slept there. When they gave dances, these beds would all have to be moved out, so it made us lots of extra work but this would give room for about ten couples to dance. Not much like dances nowadays. At that time, I was very fond of dancing and a good dancer also, so there was no trouble about partners. I would not more than finish one dance before I would hear "Come Allie," perhaps someone at the other end of the hall. I would start and probably we would meet halfway. I think they liked to dance with me because I enjoyed it so much. I was only a little fat girl, but I could get around as lightly as any of the girls and even at that age I was quite vain to think I had a partner all of the time and sometimes the grown girls were wallflowers. Human nature! This was all in the pioneer days and this was the only pleasures.
    Our place was now a night station for the stage. They carry a good many passengers. The summer previous we had run a big dairy. We made such lovely butter and cheese for market. Our milk house had a bare floor. They kept this damp; there were racks made for the milk pans. I remember taking a slice of bread and laying it down on a pan of cream and oh, wasn't it good. Father was churning in a great big box churn. It hung on a frame by the corner. He took the lid off and went to the wall to get some cold water to wash down the butter. I didn't know the lid was off so I thought I would surprise him and bring the butter while he was gone. Of course the first turn, out came a big batch of cream. Oh, but I was scared, Father just came in then and he looked at me and says "Well, Allie, what have you done?" He understood in a moment and did not punish me. He said I was so frightened I was sufficiently punished.
    About this time there was quite a little excitement about the Salmon River mines and Father was naturally a rover. He could not be content to settle down. He'd just recovered from typhoid fever, came near dying, and it left him in a collapsed condition, and so thought that if he would go out to these mines he would get his health again. And so he did. People were passing every day heading for this location. He went with the rest, much against Mother's wishes. He tried very hard but did not succeed in making anything. He came back to Walla Walla and liked it there. He wrote to Mother to dispose of their property as soon as possible and meet him there. But this took several months, as you cannot hurry a sale. Finally we started overland in [a] covered wagon and a big pair of strong black horses, and Mother had a driver, a friend who also wanted to go into that country. Of course he helped make our camps and other things as we needed them. The most I remember about it was the good times picking flowers and fruit on the roadside. There is so much to tell about this trip, there is not space for it. We traveled by easy stages, the middle of the day when it was very hot we would camp at the first water, and then travel in the evening when it was cool.
    We would camp close to a farm when we could, so we could get feed for the horses and also produce for ourselves. We traveled slowly until we reached Portland and then we took a boat up the Columbia as far as The Dalles, rested there a few days and then drove on slowly. This was a hot drive over the sagebrush plains. As long as we were on the Columbia it was hot sand but finally the road led back several miles towards the Blue Mountains and the country abounded in sagebrush nearly as high as your head, and lots of bunchgrass. The horses fattened on it. Now we traveled by night until quite late, arose early in the morning and traveled until ten and then we stopped to get breakfast and rested until the crook of the evening.
    When we arrived at the Deschutes River, a mountain stream, a very rapid, rugged, and beautiful one, emptying into the Columbia where we were expecting to meet Father, we concluded to rest there for a few days. Our team was tired and so were we and we had a fine camp. One morning quite early, we heard shouting on the other side of the river. Some of the children said it was Father. Yes, it was. He had traveled all night and had been looking up and down for a bridge but could not find one for it was several miles up the stream so he plunged his horse in the water and swam over. It was a very dangerous thing to do. We were a very, very happy family for it had been a long time since we had last seen him--a year. We were not expecting him but Mother kept him posted of our whereabouts, so was expecting him. He was feeling and looking fine. When he left home he was sick and discouraged, he just passed through a brain fever, and this trip was just the tonic he needed. He took us on to Walla Walla, quite a small place at that time but very lovely. It was winter quarters for the miners. Father camped a few miles from the town, he met an old time friend who had a nice farm and lots of good things to eat. They provided us with a house to live in while we stayed, or we rented it for an indefinite time. We had a splendid time. They had horses and buggy and the single brother (there were two) took me for nice rides. It was early fall when everything was at its best. We had been so long on the road and much of the time we could not get anything in or above The Dalles and we appreciated plenty, more than we ever did.
    We stayed there several months, perhaps three, then moved into Walla Walla. We opened a boarding house for private boarders, had about twenty. We did the work ourselves. Mother was a good cook and manager. Father started an express business, carried both mail and express. There was no Wells Fargo up there at that time. He went up into Idaho, Boise, and other places. He had relays of horses all along the road just the same as stage lines, as far as Boise City. There were only a few houses and several business houses. He had it all his own way for quite awhile and made lots of money. He would get $1.00 for a letter, but letters were not such common occurrences then as now. They were few and far between. He was acknowledged to be honest and trustworthy by the miners and business men. They would give him large amounts of bullion to carry to Walla Walla. That was the nearest shipping point, and he always got it through safe. There were lots of highway robbers that were killing and robbing all of the time. They had a regular organized force with their captain and his men.
    It seems that amongst these men who were in and out amongst the gamblers of the town so no one was positive who they were, Father had known several of them before they had followed the road. They did not want Father to suffer and were bound that it should be prevented. In those days people all went around armed, so he was on his guard all of the time. On this trip there was to be a lot of bullion sent to San Francisco to the Mint. One of his friends told him just about the place the robbery would take place. Father made quite a talk amongst them what day he would start and expressed some fear of the robbers. He seemed to speak most of his plans among the men whom he pretended were his particular friends, knowing all of the while people suspected them, and he knew also who they were through his friend but of course he could not give it away and get this man in trouble. He explained to the men "Well boys, I really feel that I will need guards on this trip," and he talked freely about the large amount of bullion that was being sent. But that evening before they had all gathered into this hotel, Father started a man out who looked like a dirty old tramp. He looked like a tired discouraged prospector. This was done so quietly, none noticed it. He took a different direction just opposite to the regular trail, and he followed the mountains until he felt safe, rounding back into the road many miles beyond where these men worked. He got to where he could get a horse and then he traveled like lightning, changing at every station, which were only a few miles apart. He arrived at Walla Walla in much less time than they usually took. Father followed after night so he was not molested. They supposed he had the bullion and was too smart for them, but he outwitted them. They expected he was going the next morning, but he arrived at Walla Walla ahead of time. He returned to Boise many times after that. He was on the lookout all of the time fearing they would want to get even with him although he was not supposed to know that he had been conversing with the very ones who were committing so many robberies. While he knew most of the band through this friend, they did not know it, or his life and his friend's would not be worth anything. One trip he ran into this company unwittingly. It was after dark and he had lost his way, and he saw a campfire, and so he called to them to know where he was. Someone answered and he knew who it was, so he thought he was caught. This man says "Hello, hello Rocky, what are you doing out here this time of night? Come on over here. You can't go farther. It's so dark, unsaddle and stake your horse." Well, that was the only thing he could do, so they gave him something to eat and he slept with one of the men. They said they were going prospecting. Father said he lay all night with his hand on his gun expecting to be killed any moment. But these men always kept posted when there was a cleanup and a lot of gold due to be sent out, so they knew that he had nothing to speak of this time; therefore, they let him go in the morning, just as an old comrade. Another time he had a heavy bullion shipment and was keeping a good outlook. This was rolling ground and sagebrush country in Powder River Valley. Some distance ahead he saw two horsemen who looked to him like they might mean mischief. To be on the safe side as he went down out of sight between the hills he took his sack of gold dust and threw it as far as he could send it in a clump of brush, marking the place with his eye. He did not leave the road at all so they could not see what he had done. Presently they met, they watched him closely and gave a surly good day, but passed on looking back at him and talking seemingly about him. Father went several miles, and just at dusk returned but found his gold dust all right. There had been so many such robberies committed these days that nearly everyone was looked upon with suspicion.
    The Rockfellow family and settled down to keeping a boarding house. We had about twelve men. We did all the work, Mother being a fine cook. We did a good business. We stayed there until we took typhoid fever. First I came down and then my sister. We were bedfast for several weeks. In the meantime, Mother closed her business so she could care for her children. Father returned just as we were getting well, but only stayed a few days as he still had the express to carry, but after a few more trips, sold out. As soon as we got up, Mother came down with this fever, so a friend of ours, who afterward became my husband, found a good location for us and they moved Mother on stretchers to this place. The doctor thought that there was something about the house that caused the sickness. It was very unsanitary. When we came to Walla Walla, there was not in my mind of being a woman. I had not the remotest idea of being grown up, but I was quite well developed, so I looked older than I was. However, there were very few girls there at this date and so it was not very long until some young ladies called upon "Miss Rockfellow." Mother said to them that they were mistaken "I only have a little girl. She is large, but she is very young." They said that made no difference. She would have to be considered a young lady, for there were so very few in that place. Mother thought differently, but after that I felt my young ladyhood, in fact, felt quite grown up. There was a young man who had boarded with us who became infatuated with me, and I was just at the silly age and thought he was very nice and I had read many love stories. When the man asked me to be his wife, all I knew to do was to say yes. That was the way the stories ended and I had not looked further. Matters kept happening so fast I did not know where I stood not even after I had promised to marry him. We never had much time and I thought more of the candy he brought than I did of him, at least when he was with me I was eating the candy. This all happened at meal time when we were waiting for everyone to come for their meals, otherwise Mother would have known. I had always been allowed to do just as I pleased so did not think of asking my mother about it. I was only thirteen years of age. This happened just before we took the typhoid. This man, just awhile before this, went to the mountains, he had contracted to get so many cords of wood. Well, he heard someway about our sickness and he came rushing home, came to our house and Father was there. He told him about our engagement. Father came and asked me if it was true, and I said yes, and he said "Do you want to see this man? Do you want to be engaged to him?" and I said no to both questions. I was too sick to even think, so he told the man that I did not want to see him and I was well out of it for I was too young to think of such a thing. This man seemed to be all broken up but he was young, although much older than I, but I hope he soon forgot about just a little girl not yet fourteen years. But I was very old in action for my age. John F. stayed around the town for a week or two and told some of my friends he did not want to leave until I was out of danger. He had the reputation of being a moral man and when we heard he had had a fight in a saloon we were astonished, but it happened this way: In those early days everyone frequented those places as that was the only place there was for men to sit, and while there, there was some discussion came up about me and John resented it and said they should not talk about me in such a place. One word brought on another, soon knives were used. They were separated with no particular harm to either. John had several flesh wounds about his forehead but it soon healed and he left town. He did not come back until the next winter, but he never came around me anymore that winter. I became acquainted with a man who, afterward, became my husband four years later. I was walking up the main street one day and he told me afterwards about it. He said "That girl will someday be my wife" and watched me as far as he could see me. He says to himself "I am going to get acquainted with her." I happened to notice him driving frequently past our place in a sleigh and he always looked, and would have spoken if I had given him the opportunities girls would give now, but I was timid and bashful. I do not think I would have gotten amongst people as I did if it had not been for an old friend of Mother's, J.M., an officer at the fort. When I was troubled about anything he would talk to me like a father. They had many social functions there and the few girls were always invited. He always either took me or told me who to go with and said "Now if someone invites you whom you don't want to go with, just say you are engaged to me, no difference if I have company, I can take two just as well" and they always sent the ambulance for anyone who wished it. This was a great protection for a girl of my age. That spring I met Mr. Meacham and it was not long until we were engaged. I expect he thought it would keep me from going with others. My parents were well pleased with him. He was one of the rising businessmen. On account of sickness, we moved to a better location. Mother was down with typhoid and the doctor was afraid it was something in the house that caused it. My father was still away from home. We had to send a man for him. In the meantime, an own son could not have been more toMother than Mr. M. He made all the arrangements, got the house, and helped move. Mother was carried on stretchers. He was just as tender as he would have been with his own mother. He helped me nurse her, and I have no doubt his nursing saved her. At that time there were not any nurses to get for love or money, however she recovered after awhile and then we moved again into the country about two miles out.
    Then the next step was sending me to school. My parents sent me to Portland, Oregon, for a year. I had much experience there and some fun. The teachers were old friends of Mr. M.'s so we were allowed to correspond, which was not very good for my studious habits. I tried to study but my mind wandered, and my schooling did not amount to very much. While I was in Portland, my parents moved east to the mountains. First Mr. M. had bought out the right of way for a toll road across the Blue Mountains, ever afterwards called the Meacham Road. They built at that time a big hotel and built forty miles of road and charged toll. They did lots of work and spent thousands of dollars on it. My parents stopped there a few days and then pushed on to Baker City. Father had bought a prospect from some men who showed him some specimens of quartz. Father knowing much about mining expected to find a good ledge and after a few days prospecting found the main ledge and it was for many years known as the Rockfellow Mine. He took out considerable money but he had only an arrastra to work with. He could not afford the expensive machinery needed, so he took in a partner. He finally sent him to San Francisco to get the machinery but he never heard of the man anymore. So running the arrastra was too slow for him. He had what he thought was a good offer, so he sold to Rude who sold to another company afterwards.
    It turned out to be a famous mine. There has been a mint of money taken out, but it has used up much capital. Father then sent us to Salem again so Mother would have a better chance to send her children to school. I think we remained there a couple of years and then went back to Eastern Oregon. At that time we lived at Union Town. Father ran a hotel. I was married that winter. The snow was five or six feet deep. I remember, as my husband was bringing me home in the stage called Fast Freight. That night was wild, snow falling fast and it was night travel, we had sixteen miles to make. The track was filled up with snow and it was very hard to keep the road. Finally they said something was wrong, so my husband got out and hunted for the road and said we had just been going around and around in the last hour so we got straightened out got over the next village which was La Grande.
    And there the document ends, thirty-six pages of handwritten notes written with great thought and many wonderful memories. Would that she had completed the story before passing on in her 86th year, after successfully raising a family of nine children and living a full and productive life.

Sequel to Mother's memoirs, as remembered by her
daughter, Fredrica Foster Lindsley.
    From La Grande they must have gone on to Meacham Station where they made their home. I am sure Mother was very happy with Papa Meacham.
    There were five children. Will, Frank, Grace, Rocky or Rox as he was called. How much time elapsed, I do not know, but before Harvie was born, Harvey Meacham and his brother A. B. Meacham were cutting down a tree. In some manner the tree swerved and fell on Harvey Meacham, killing him. Mother then went to Walla Walla where the baby Harvie was born.
    Grandfather and Grandmother Rockfellow had other children besides Alice, or "Allie" as she was called as a child. There was Dotia, who must have been the baby the Indians tried to steal. Then Henry, who died as a young man, as I remember Mother telling about him. Dora was next, who also died as a young girl, and their last child Nellie.
    My father, Frederick A. Foster, was bookkeeper for Meacham Toll Road. I was never told how long Mother and her small children stayed in Walla Walla. However, she married Frederick Foster and they lived at Meacham Station. I remember living in a big white house, which had a big fireplace. There were four girls, Angeline, Ruth, Fredrica and Edith.
    An old document, written by my father in 1897, told of a war with the Umatilla Indians. That was in 1878, before I was born. He states that because the Indians were on a rampage, he sent his family to Walla Walla until it was over.
    He fought it almost single-handed. Gen. O. O. Howard and his men were near but would not come back to help. One man was killed and the other one was wounded, and my father tied him to his saddle, took him and hid him in a deep ravine until it was over, then went after him.
    My father drove fast horses and one night when he and Mother were driving home from La Grande on an icy road the sleigh went down an embankment and overturned with Mother underneath. My father managed to crawl out and went for help. Mother had a slight injury to her spine which she carried all her life.
    We had a Chinese cook, and a governess for the children. Father always bought apples and potatoes by the barrel. I remember a big fruit cellar where big red apples were stored. My first taste of apricots was this winter bought from the same man who sold us the apples.
    The Meacham children and Foster children were never allowed to call each other "half-brother" or "half-sister" but we all grew as one big family.
    I do not know when we left Meacham Station and moved to La Grande. Later we moved to Cove, where my sister Edith was born. Father bought a big house and there was considerable ground where we raised the most gorgeous onions and potatoes. I also remember cabbage!
    I went to school in Cove, Oregon. My father also had a love for mining. He owned a gold mine in the Blue Mountains. I remember a big green wagon and drawn by two horses to take us to the mine.
    He would sack up potatoes and onions from the garden and what other vegetables he had raised and we would drive over 50 miles. Our mine was about nine or ten miles beyond Sanger. We had two log cabins, one for cooking and one for sleeping. For about three months we would stay in those glorious mountains. I can see it all in my mind's eye yet. There was a big water wheel, I suppose where the gold was washed out of the quartz. When it was not running, Angie, Harvie and I would sit in the wheel, it was so cool!
    The white sand would wash down the creek and I played in the sand, building houses. There was a big flume that carried the water to the arrastra. One day a big salmon was caught.
    We had a pet horse called "Old Major." One fall Papa took all the family back to Cove, but Angie and me. I don't know why we were left behind, but he came back for us later. One day we decided to go to Sanger to a dance. We rode double on Old Major. We were to stay all night with friends. It must have been late as we rode along, as we could hear cougars and other wild animals in the canyon beneath. It was scary!
    I guess Father sold the mine, and we moved back to La Grande, where I went to school. My father had apparently lost all his money. Mother said he lent it out without security or interest. The older children went to Portland, Oregon to find work. Then Grace and Harvie went to San Francisco. Harvie married George T. Murton while we still lived in Portland. Will was an engineer on the railroad.
    He married. Frank liked horses and settled in Fresno. Grace married a police officer by the name of Wade Clay and they lived in San Francisco. Rox lived in Piedmont, California.
    Father, Mother, Edith and I moved to Portland. Edith married Herb Lee, a naturalized Canadian. Fredrica married Carleton T. Lindsley, a Presbyterian minister's son.
    Father died about 1897 or '98. Mother passed away at the age of 86, eleven days before her 87th birthday. She was living with Angie in Alameda at the time of her death.
    So ends the story as much as I can remember.
Fredrica Foster Lindsley.

The following are additional notes written by Fredrica F. Lindsley:
    My childhood memory of "Stump Town” or "Perry" as it was later called, was a lovely place; big pine trees, and I remember a small lake.
    My father also had a love for mining. We had quite an acreage in the place we lived on in Cove. He raised the grandest potatoes and onions and cabbage. He had a big wagon and team of black horses, and every summer would take what vegetables he had raised, and we would drive over 50 miles to his mine up beyond Sanger, in the Blue Mountains. It was a gold mine. We had two log cabins, one for sleeping and one for cooking. There was a big water wheel in the building. I suppose that was where the gold was washed from the sand. We would live at the mine until fall, then Father would move his family back to Cove.
    My older brothers and sisters had scattered out. Father, Mother, Edith and I later moved to Portland. After we had lived there a number of years, and in a number of houses, Father got a yearning to go back to the mine. I do not remember how long he stayed there, but he wrote Mother he was coming on a certain train. I went down to meet him. He was not on that train or the next. We heard later that he was apparently ill and got off the train at Pendleton. But that was all we could learn. Mother never gave up searching, finally heard a body had been washed up from the Columbia River at Hood River. There Indians found his body and buried him. Father was a Mason, so the Lodge took over. The body was exhumed. Mother went to Hood River and identified him by his teeth. And there was some other identification. I believe he was buried by the Masons in Hood River.
    Mother lived to a ripe old age--86 when she died. She was living with Angie in Alameda when she died of pneumonia, after a short illness. Her mind was bright and clear up to the last. She was always active and interested in world events.
    Angie was later married to Bert Floyd.
    Grandfather and Grandmother had other children besides "Allie." Dotia must have been the baby the Indians tried to steal. Henry who died--I believe as a young man. Then Dora, who died in early childhood, and Nellie, who married Charlie Phillips. They settled in Walla Walla, and had a large family. Charlie Phillips did a nursery and flower business when I knew them.
    Mrs. Fredrica Lindsley was born in 1879 at Meacham Station, near La Grande, Oregon; later moved to La Grande, and lived there with her parents until about 12 years of age when the family moved to Portland, Oregon.
    When about 18 she joined the First Presbyterian Church in Portland where she met her future husband. She was married to Carleton T. Lindsley in 1902, and they made their home in Portland. A son and two daughters were born while they lived there. When their son was nearly three years of age he passed away with spinal meningitis. After this Mr. Lindsley's health broke and they bought a small farm in Gaston, Oregon. Two more daughters came to bless their home while in Gaston.
    Because of poor schools and other reasons they moved to California and lived in Los Angeles 25 years. The youngest daughter died while they lived in Los Angeles.
    Mrs. Lindsley was employed for 3½ years by Bradstreets in Los Angeles. In her late '50s she decided to take up oil painting to satisfy an urge she had had since girlhood. She studied for 2 years under a teacher in Los Angeles.
    In 1940 they moved to Pico [Rivera], California. She worked for an orange packing house during the second world war. While working she and her husband bought the small home where she still resides, her husband having passed away seven years ago [in 1952].
    Two years ago she decided to take up her painting again; registering for the art class in Whittier, she took two years of water colors and sketching. This year she is taking up oil painting. She has also done some textile painting and made baskets of pine needles and raffia.
    Her daughter, Mrs. Roger E. Davis of Pico, died in 1957. Her other two daughters are now living. They are Mrs. W. J. Van Oosting of Pico Rivera and Mrs. Norman E. Kenyon of Los Angeles.
    Mrs. Lindsley is now busier than ever with gardening, painting and keeping up her own home.
Southern Oregon Historical Society Research Library 921 O94

By Fred Lockley
    Mrs. Nellie Frances Meacham Redington, now living in Portland, was born August 6, 1858, at Suisun, Cal. She is a daughter of Alfred B. Meacham, for whom Meacham, in Eastern Oregon, is named, and Orpha Ferree Meacham. When she was a girl she had red hair and a hair-trigger temper, and her nickname was "Tornado." When I interviewed her recently she said:
    "One of the vivid recollections of my girlhood is of coming from San Francisco to Portland. My father's brother, Harvey, who had come to Oregon, wrote to Father to join him. Father came in 1862. In 1863 my mother, Orpha Caroline Ferree Meacham; my sister, Clara Bell, who was 8; my brother, George, who was 6, and myself came to Portland as passengers on the Brother Jonathan.
    "We went up the Columbia River by boat to Umatilla Landing, where we took a Concord stage drawn by six horses. It took us all night to go from Umatilla Landing to Cayuse Station. My father and his brother, Harvey, had settled at Lee's Encampment, in the Blue Mountains, between Pendleton and La Grande. I well remember the long pull up Emigrant Hill on the way to our new home, at Lee's Encampment. It consisted of a log house with a shake roof, stick-and-mortar chimneys, and fireplaces made of smooth, water-worn stones. The hearth also was made of smooth, round stones, and the mantel was a thick log smoothed with an adz. There was an iron crane over the fire, on which was an iron teakettle. There were two large rooms--a kitchen and a living room. In the living room there were double bunks in three of the corners. There was a loft, and back of the cabin was a shed. The men slept either in the shed or in the hay in the stage barn.
    "Father and Harvey kept the stage station. Mother was a famous cook and took great pride in her cream-of-tartar biscuits, fried chicken and pies and cakes. The table was always crowded, for the passenger traffic was heavy in the '60s between the Willamette Valley and Eastern Oregon. If Mother ever had any pies or cakes left over there was no trouble about disposing of them, for the freighters were always glad to buy home-cooked food. With the money Mother saved she bought linen tablecloths. and $200 worth of silverware engraved with the initials O.F.M. It was not long before the name of Lee's Encampment was changed to Meacham, a name it still bears. It was named for my father and his brother. Harvey was killed in 1872 by a falling tree. For a long time Father was inconsolable, for he and Harvey were like Damon and Pythias.
    "It was winter when we arrived at our new home. I remember yet the great, deep, stone fireplace, into which Father or Uncle Harvey would pile huge sugar pine logs. Shortly after our arrival Uncle Harvey went to Walla Walla for supplies. There he met Alice Rockfellow, 16 years old, whose father was mining near Baker City. Engagements in those days were short, so it was not long before he brought his bride to Lee's Encampment. Within the next 10 years they had five children--William R., Frank, Grace, Rockfellow, though we always called him 'Rockie,' and Harvey, who was born after the death of his father. Grace and Harvey live near San Francisco, as does Aunt Alice, who is 86 years old. Willie, Frank and Rockie live in the South.
    "In the spring of 1865 Father and Uncle Harvey started the foundations for a big log hotel and a barn. This hotel was 40 by 60 feet. In the front were the men's rooms, dining room and sitting room, and there was a porch 10 feet wide along its entire length. In back were the kitchen, storeroom and one bedroom. In the upper story were some sleeping rooms and a large bunk room for men. There was a huge fireplace at each end of the hotel. The dining room was in the middle of the building. The fireplaces were so large that it took two men to roll in the backlog, which often burned from Sunday to Sunday. I remember yet how the dancing flames would throw out the heat from the pitchy logs and heat the entire house.
    "In those days it was considered essential to maintain a bar in stage stations or roadhouses as well as in hotels, so there was a long bar in our hotel. The more Father thought of this bar the less he liked he idea, so one morning he said to the men who were employed in the hotel 'Roll out every one of those whiskey kegs as well as the wine and beer kegs." There was hundreds of dollars worth of bonded whiskey in the barrels. With an ax Father broke in the tops of the barrels and tipped them over. For some time thereafter the Blue Mountains had good cause to be termed blue, for the air was blue with profanity from passengers, miners, travelers and stage drivers who came to get a drink and found that the nearest liquor to be had was at La Grande or Walla Walls."
Oregon Journal, Portland, November 9, 1935, page 4

Last revised February 18, 2024