The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised

Correspondence of the Oregon Superintendency
Southern Oregon-related correspondence with the Oregon Superintendency for Indian Affairs.

Washington City
    August 31 1854
Hon. James Guthrie
    Secretary of the Treasury
            Herewith I propose to furnish you such facts as came within my own knowledge in relation to the services of Genl. Joel Palmer of Oregon in the war with the Cayuse Indians in the years 1847 and 1848. I met with the Genl.in San Francisco in Jany. 1849, and took passage with him on the same ship with him. On our way to Oregon I learned much from him, and other Oregonians, returning home from San Francisco about the Cayuse War. From the Genl. I learned that the war had terminated in the summer of '48, that he had served a quartermaster and commissary, and at the close of the war he found himself encumbered with a large amt. of public property, books and unadjusted accounts, that he had a strong desire to convert the property into the largest sum possible for the payment as far as it would go of the expenses of the war. Consequently when he left home he found it necessary to employ other persons to take charge of the property, books and accounts--to arrange and close them up. This I found to be on my arrival at Oregon City to be the case. From my personal knowledge therefore I am able to state that he had two persons employed a portion of the time, & one, Mr. Clouse [Cloisse?], the entire time of the absence as clerk, & the other to take charge of and dispose of property, and I further know that he paid them for their services out of his own money. And further I can say that I consider
Palmer an honest, conscientious, good man and efficient officer [and] the award allowed to Palmer by Commissioner Wait just and only but a reasonable compensation for his services as quartermaster, and in my judgment ought to be paid without further delay.
[Joseph Lane]
Oregon Historical Society MSS 1146, Lane Family Letters

Brig Henry in the Columbia
    Bound for California March 18th 1848
The Honl. William L. Marcy, Sec. War
Dear Sir
    Herewith you will receive a package which issued from your office addressed to Edward Pickett [Charles Edward Pickett?], Esqr. Mr. Pickett is a resident of California and refuses to accept the appointment conferred upon him. I apprised Mr. Pickett of his appointment soon after my arrival in Oregon in Sept. last. I have recently received an unsatisfactory note from him, and I think perhaps that previous reports will be confirmed that he is not of sound mind. The acting Governor has made demand for the papers. I refuse to give them up & I know of no other means of acting correctly but to send them back to you.
    An express has just arrived from the Cayuse war. They have recently had a battle; the Indians began to fall & took to flight. I should write you in full of this Indian difficulty, but I am sure you have been duly apprised.
    I have the honor to be, sir, with much deference, your most humble & obedient svt.
The Hon. W. L. Marcy
    Sec. War
NARA Series M234, Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, Reel 607 Oregon Superintendency 1842-1852, frames 454-456.

    Mr. [Ephraim] Catching, with his two brothers, came to Oregon overland from Missouri in 1846 and settled in the Willamette Valley. In 1848, on the first intimation of the discovery of gold in California that reached Oregon, he resolved at once to cast his fortune there. A vessel arriving from San Francisco had brought the sensational tidings, and while many were skeptical with regard to its correctness, Mr. Catching had faith to warrant him in making the effort to reach the new gold field. Enlisting a score or more of adventuresome companions, a party was soon equipped and ready for the journey.
Murdered an Indian.
    Their course lay through the valleys of Umpqua and Rogue rivers--a region as yet in a manner unexplored and inhabited by tribes of Indians whose disposition toward the encroachment of the white man was an unsettled proposition. The trip as far as the Rogue River country was made without incident or happening worthy of mention. There was, however, enacted a tragedy which--though a reproach to our boasted civilization, and even to our race--is entitled to a place in history as the inceptive prompting of the Rogue River Indian War: One of the party shot and instantly killed an unoffending old Indian. The Indians had been entirely harmless, and the victim of that most hellish perfidy had visited the camp of the white men with seeming friendship and good will. Standing with folded arms and unmindful of the, to him, strange implement leveled at his breast, he fell the victim of a species of vandalism which, in its degree, is undefinable by invective provided by the English language.
    Mr. Catching was in favor of giving the miscreant over to the Indians to be dealt with accordingly as they should determine, but other counsels prevailing, the wretch was permitted to go unpunished and with the immunity so afforded to vaunt, in after years, his dastardly act as a mark of heroism. Thenceforth the enmity of the Indians toward the white settler, or wayfarer, was of marked intensity, till at length it culminated in the memorable Rogue River War, in which Mr. Catching participated and for which service his surviving widow is now entitled to a pension. Though recognizing the primary injustice done to the Indians, in defense of his own race and his own fireside he joined the ranks of the illustrious pioneer soldiers.
"First Man at Coos Bay," Sunday Oregonian, Portland, May 24, 1903, page 15

Office Supt. Ind. Affairs
    St. Louis Sept. 11, 1848
    I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 2nd inst. directing the sum of $6,902.85 to be turned over to Govr. Jos. Lane on account of the Oregon sub-agency, and to inform you that he left here about the 1st instant for Fort Leavenworth, at which place I have just learned from the clerk of the steamer Mandan he was on the 6th last and making his preparations to start on the 9th for Oregon. From another gentleman I learn that there was some uncertainty about his starting so soon, and have accordingly written to him this day by mail and steamboat, informing him that the money, instructions, blanks, commissions &c. are on hand here for him.
With great respect I am sir
    Yr  most obt. svt.
        John Haverty
            Clerk Ind. Affairs
NARA Series M234, Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, Reel 607 Oregon Superintendency 1842-1852, frames 414-415.

    GOV. LANE.--The steamer Martha arrived from Weston last night. We learn from her officers that Gov. Lane left Fort Leavenworth with an escort of 25 men, under the command of Lieut. Hawkins, on Sunday, the 10th inst., for Oregon, via Santa Fe and California. The officers also report that Gen. Price was expected to arrive in Santa Fe on the second of last month.
Unidentified clipping marked "Sept. '48," pasted onto letter below. Weston is a town in Ohio; the Martha plied the Ohio River.
Office Supt. Ind. Affairs
    St. Louis Sept. 28, 1848
    On the 11th inst. the clerk of this office had the honor to inform you of the departure of Govr. Jos. Lane from this city for Fort Leavenworth on or about the first of this month, and of his having written to him by steamboat & mail, advising him of the amount of funds &c. These letters have since been returned by the postmaster at Fort L. to this office, the Governor having left there on the 10th instant on his way to Oregon.
    The remittance of $6,902.75, advised by your letter of 2nd inst. for the use of Govr. Lane, was recd. here on the 13th. It being no longer available here for the purpose intended, I have respectfully to ask your instructions to redeposit it to the credit of the Treasurer of the United States.
    The documents recd. from your office for Govr. L. have been returned here up to this time, in the hope that an opportunity would occur of forwarding them to Oregon; none such having presented itself, I have this day returned them as directed by the postscript of your letter above referred to.
I have the honor to be sir
    Yr  most obt. svt.
        T. H. Harvey
            Supt. Ind. Affairs
Hon. W. Medill
    Comr. Ind. Affrs.
NARA Series M234, Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, Reel 607 Oregon Superintendency 1842-1852, frames 416-417.

Last revised July 15, 2017