The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised

Rogue River Indian War 1852
And the Battle of Big Bar. See also 1852 Jackson County News.

    We have been favored by Col. Redick McKee of the city, U.S. Indian Commissioner, with the following information, collated from a letter dated Shasta Butte City, March 21st, from the temporary Indian agent at that place.
    A war of extermination has been declared by the whites against the Indians, and many aborigines have been killed. An Indian that was left by Col. McKee with Mr. T. J. Roach was shot at Happy Camp by Capt. Gwinn R. Tompkins, for stealing a knife. A miner, with whom the Indians were intimate, started down the river with the Indian mentioned for Happy Camp and, loitering among several camps on the way, was repeatedly advised not to go to that camp, as he would be killed. He persisted, however, in going, and was shot as he was crossing the stream. The miner remained at Happy Camp a few days, and upon his return was identified by the Indians as being the person seen with the Indian that was killed. They accused him of the deed--threatening his life, and also that of two or three others. The whites learned, through an Indian speaking the jargon, that revenge would be taken for the murder, and that the chief had gone over to Rogue River for warriors, and that the squaws had all been removed to Scotts Valley. The party whose lives were threatened went down to Happy Camp, raised a crowd, came up the Klamath River, collecting miners on their way up, and on the morning of the 12th surrounded two lodges at the Indian ferry and shot all the men, several squaws and destroyed the rancho. The same scene was enacted at Indian Flat, two miles above--but one escaping, and he wounded. Some thirty or forty Indians were killed, and two whites wounded, one badly. The squaws and children are in Scotts Valley, mourning over their hard fate and begging for bread.
    The deplorable consequences which would spring from an Indian war in the north would be of so afflicting a character that we sincerely hope the above account may prove to be exaggerated.
Daily Alta California, San Francisco, April 5, 1852, page 2

    MASSACRE OF INDIANS.--A correspondent of the [San Francisco] Times and Transcript, writing from Godfrey's Rancho, in the Scott Valley, gives the following details of an Indian massacre:
    Another battle was fought on Klamath River between the miners and Indians on the morning of the 12th of this month.
    Yesterday I was informed by a miner of my acquaintance, just up from Klamath, that an Indian rancheria, located in Seiad Valley, 15 miles below Scott River, was stormed, and forty Indians killed and their houses burned to the ground.
    The Klamath Indians, for a distance of forty miles below the mouth of Scott River, have been for a long time very hostile and troublesome to the miners and packers.
    At Happy Camp, which is situated twenty miles below Seiad Valley, the miners passed a law among themselves that no Indians should be allowed to come to this place; if they did they were to be shot instantly. When the Indian Agent McKee passed up this river and formed a treaty with these Indians, the miners informed him of the law which they had made for their protection against Indian depredations. Mr. McKee communicated this to the Indians. Last January an Indian from Seiad Valley said he was not afraid to go down to Happy Camp, and down he started, and no sooner had he arrived there than he was shot dead while crossing the creek near the camp. Last week the Indians made preparations to fight the miners. The squaws started for Scott Valley, and the Indians sent word down to the Happy Camp miners that they were going to kill three of their men for the one they had killed. The Happy Camp miners, on hearing this, came up to Long Bar, within four miles of the Indian ranch. Here they were joined by another party and marched up in the night, and at early dawn surrounded the Indian rancheria. A number of the Indians stepped out of their houses and were shot.
    They set fire to the ranch and smothered out the Indians. When an Indian would break from the ranch, they would shoot him down. In this way they shot forty Indians, and not one escaped from the rancheria. One of these Indians had eight balls shot through his body before he fell to the ground. Among all of the dead there was only one squaw, and she was the Indian chief's daughter.
    During the battle two white men were shot with arrows; one of them was shot in the thigh and the other in the breast; the arrow passed between two of his ribs. Their wounds are not considered mortal. The men are now improving, and in a short time will be able to resume their labor. What this will end in, time will determine.
    The Scott River Valley reservation is of no effect with the Indians. Klamath Indians say that it was not them who wanted to make a treaty of peace; it was the white men. I am rather suspicious that this will lead to further Indian hostilities and depredations.
The Commercial, Buffalo, New York, May 18, 1852, page 2

    INDIAN DIFFICULTIES IN CALIFORNIA.--By the late advices from California, it appears that a war of extermination has been declared by the whites against the Indians, and many aborigines have been killed. An Indian that was left by Colonel McKee, with Mr. T. J. Roach, was shot at Happy Camp by Capt. Gwinn R. Tompkins, for stealing a knife. A miner, with whom the Indians were intimate, started down the river, with the Indian mentioned, for Happy Camp, and loitering among several camps on the way was repeatedly advised not to go to that camp, as he would be killed. He persisted, however, in going, and was shot as he was crossing the stream. The miner remained at Happy Camp a few days, and upon his return was identified by the Indians as being the person seen with the Indian that was killed. They accused him of the deed--threatening his life, and also that of two or three others.
    The whites learned, through an Indian speaking the jargon, that revenge would be taken for the murder, and that the chief had gone over to Rogue River for warriors, and that the squaws had all been removed to Scotts Valley. The party whose lives were threatened went down to Happy Camp, raised a crowd, came up the Klamath River, collecting miners on the way up, and on the morning of the 12th surrounded two lodges at the Indian ferry and shot all the men, several squaws and destroyed the rancho. The same scene was enacted at Indian Flat, two miles above--but one escaping, and he wounded. Some thirty or forty Indians were killed, and two whites wounded, one badly. The squaws and children are in Scotts Valley, mourning over their hard fate and begging for bread.
New Orleans Daily Crescent, May 11, 1852, page 1

    The Indians have, of late, become very troublesome on Rogue River. On the 14th inst. they stopped two travelers and demanded their horses, money &c., which being refused, the Indians left in a sulky mood. On Saturday, a party of whites went to settle any difficulty there might be existing between them, and met a deputation of twenty-one warriors, but before they had come to any terms an Indian drew an arrow on a white man, which was the signal for a general fight. The Indians were whipped, leaving eighteen of their number cold on the sod. A second engagement took place in the afternoon of the same day, when thirteen more Indians were killed. On Sunday a third meeting took place, when four Indians were killed, making thirty-five in all. No white men were killed in any of these engagements, and but few wounded. The citizens of Siskiyou County have sent a petition to Gov. Bigler for assistance.
"Arrival of the Falcon," Salem Weekly Advocate, Salem, Illinois, September 2, 1852, page 4

    RUMORS OF INDIAN WARS.--The Indians have of late become very troublesome on Rogue River. On the 17th inst. they stopped two travelers and demanded their horses, money &c., which being refused, the Indians left in a sulky mood. On Saturday, a party of whites went to settle any difficulty there might lie existing between them, and met a deputation of twenty-one warriors, but before they had come to any terms, an Indian drew an arrow on a white man, which was the signal for a general fight. The Indians were whipped, leaving eighteen of their number on the sod. A second engagement took place in the afternoon of the same day, when thirteen more Indians were killed, making thirty-five in all. No white men were killed in any of these engagements, and but few wounded.
    The citizens of Siskiyou County have sent a petition to Gov. Bigler, asking for assistance.
Daily Intelligencer, Wheeling, [West] Virginia, September 4, 1852, page 2

Correspondence of the Oregon Statesman.
Salem, July 30, 1852.
    Friend Bush--Believing that information from any and every portion of Oregon is at all times acceptable with you, I send you an item of news just received by me from the Rogue River country, from S. B. Marye, Esq.
    It appears that for several days previous to Friday, the 16th of July, there had been some misunderstanding between the whites and Indians, growing out of unfriendly demonstrations by Sam, the war chief, towards Dr. Ambrose, a settler of the valley, which indicated a disposition upon the part of the Indians to hostilities. That on Friday the whites turned out, to the number of from one to two hundred, under the command of J. K. Lamerick, Esq., who marched his men to what is known as the Big Bar on the river, where a fight ensued, in which the Indians sustained considerable loss, there being from 20 to 30 killed--a portion of whom were boys--and one white man wounded in the hand. On Sunday night following, Capt. Lamerick, or a portion of his forces, made an attack upon a ranch near Evans' ferry, some twenty miles below Jacksonville, and killed a number of squaws through mistake, not being able in the darkness of the night to distinguish them from men. By this time Sam had collected the main body of his forces near Table Rock, upon the old battleground where the fight took place between himself and Maj. Kearny, something over a year ago, and which is considered by the Indians as an impregnable position, but it appears that Capt. Lamerick and his men took a little advantage and surrounded them in the night, before they were aware that the whites were near, and when they were apprised of the fact it was only to see that fight was useless--that they would, to a man, have been cut off, unless they surrounded on any terms that Capt. Lamerick might dictate. They did surrender, and an agreement was made and signed, which runs something after this manner:
    That the Rogue River Indians should have no communication with the Shasta Indians, who are in the habit of committing depredations upon the whites by stealing horses and other property and running them over into the Rogue River Valley and securing succor and protection from the Rogue Rivers; that they should expect no more presents from the hias Boston tyee ["great white chief"] unless he wanted to do so; that the Bostons have the right to settle where they pleased and be secure and protected by the chiefs and their counselors in their person and property; that all cattle in the valley belonging to the whites are to be safe from molestation by the Indians; that if any property, of any kind or description, belonging to the Bostons is stolen or destroyed by the Indians, and Sam, the chief, does not produce it in a given time, that he is to be surrendered up into the hands of the Bostons, to do with him as they think proper, even to the taking off of his head.
    There is no paying and suing, you will observe, on the part of the whites, in these stipulations.
Yours,            J. R. HARDIN.
Oregon Statesman, Oregon City, August 7, 1852, page 2

Late and Important from Shasta and Rogue River.
    MORE INDIAN DIFFICULTIES.--We learn from persons just in from Rogue River that a regular pitched battle was fought a few days ago near Table Rock, between a large party of Indians and the whites. Several Indians (some say between 30 and 40) were killed. The whites sustained no loss whatever. We learn, also, that Judge Skinner was enabled to make a treaty of peace with these Indians immediately after the fight on the most advantageous terms.
    STILL LATER!--FURTHER PARTICULARS!--Since the above was set in type, we learn from Mr. Kennedy of Dugan & Co.'s Express, who has just arrived from Shasta and the Rogue River country, that the late difficulty between the Indians and whites grew out of a determination on the part of "Sam," the war chief, to get possession of a little child of Doct. Ambrose, formerly of Vancouver; and upon refusal of Doct. A. to comply with his wishes, the chief demanded three beef cattle to be given him, or the Doct. must leave the valley; whereupon the Doct. made the miners at Jacksonville acquainted with the facts and his situation, who immediately formed a company of seventy-five--marched down to Big Bar and sent for the chief, to have a talk and make a treaty. The chief came over, but declined to enter into any terms, and asked for a parley until the next day, with the understanding that in case he did not come over with his warriors by 10 o'clock, the whites might consider it as a declaration of war. The chief came over, but nothing definite could be arranged with him, and after returning, sent over a party of his warriors. The whites made prisoners of these Indians as hostages for the good faith of "Sam" the chief. Soon after, one of the prisoners drew his bow upon one of the whites, and was about to shoot, when the sudden fire of a miner killed the Indian instantly. A regular engagement immediately followed this event, which lasted about half an hour, and which resulted in the whites killing all but three or four of the Indians engaged in the contest. After this, a party of whites, numbering about forty men, marched down to Evans' ferry--attacked a body of Indians encamped there--killed eleven, and captured three of the chief's family. The next day, two white men and a Klickitat Indian who had wandered from the camp were surrounded by some two hundred Indians. The Klickitat was shot through the body, but is now recovering. The three escaped, after killing several of the "redskins." That night, the whites, under cover of the darkness, surrounded the whole band of Indians in their encampment, and on the approach of daylight, made their appearance. The Indians, finding themselves completely surrounded, threw away their arms, and upon their knees begged for quarter. The miners complied, and they were all marched over to the Indian Agency, when Judge Skinner made a treaty of peace, which was signed by all the chiefs.
Weekly Oregonian, Portland, August 7, 1852, page 2

From Rogue River.
    The continued reports that the Rogue River Valley is rich in gold seem to be no longer a matter of doubt. We have conversed with a number of reliable men from that section recently. The southern portion of Oregon is settling fast; and already the surplus products of the upper Willamette Valley seem to have taken a turn in that direction; and large drafts are made upon our merchants for goods to supply the mining districts. We append an extract from a letter written by H. P. O'Bryant, to D. P. Fuller in this place:
Table Rock City, July 21, 1852.       
    "The Bostons and Indians have had a fight here, and the result is ten Indians were killed and three wounded. All is now peace and quiet, now and for always in the Rogue River Valley. Times are brisk. The miners are all having a 'time,' in consequence of the victory over the Indians. This is the place to make the 'slugs,' and always will be. There is plenty of gold here. Messrs. Wood & Hammon took out one slug the other day that is worth $523.25. They are doing well."
Oregon Weekly Times,
Portland, August 14, 1852, page 2

Hermitage Scotts Valley Nov. 15 1857
Genl. C. S. Drew
    Dear Sir
        In answer to your questions regarding my knowledge & recollection of the history and settlement of Northern California and Southern Oregon and particularly the relations existing between the settlers & the Indians occupying the country, I cheerfully give you a history of events as they have transpired under my personal observation, prefacing my history with that of miners with whom I became acquainted on my arrival here & who had preceded me some ten months and who were the first white men that has made a settlement in this section of the country.
    From them I learned that prospecting parties of which they were members set out in the spring of 1850 in search of gold on the upper Klamath and its tributaries and that the placers of Scotts Bar on Scotts River were discovered in the month of June of that year by one Dollarhide & his party but that the Indians were very troublesome and the diggings heavy, and as they supposed the mines limited they soon left. The river was then called
Beaver Creek. Soon after another party, under one Scott, hearing of their success, came upon the river for further explorations, found the placers extensive and circulated a report of their success to induce the influx of miners sufficient to afford protection against the Indians, whom, as did their predecessors, they found to be very troublesome, both in stealing stock in the daytime and attacking camp by night.
    Up to February 1851, after my arrival in California, I was a resident near Shasta, in Shasta County, in this state. Whilst there in the fall of 1850 I made the acquaintance of Genl. Joseph Lane, now delegate in Congress from Oregon Territory. Genl. Lane, being quite a favorite with our frontier men, was early informed of the prospects of Scotts River & vicinity, and as early in the season of 1851 (& I think February) as the weather would permit set out for the new diggings and invited me to accompany him, which I did. We arrived on Scotts River in the last of February of that year. Upon our arrival on the upper waters of Scotts River, the Indians, who had heard of Genl. Lane through the Oregon Indians, learning that the Genl. was leader of the company, came into camp and expressed a wish that all hostilities between them & the whites should cease, and that Genl. Lane should be "tyee," or chief, over both parties. Up to this time during our journey, which had been protracted to eighteen days, we had been under the necessity of standing guard, both over animals and camp, day & night. This proposition of the Indians was a great relief to us. Among the Indians who came in at that time were the chief of the Scotts River Indians (calling themselves Ot-te-tie-was), whom we have christened John, and his three brothers, Tolo, now called Old Man, chief of the band inhabiting that part of the country upon which Yreka is now located, and the chief of the Cañon Indians, as they are called, inhabiting the cañon and mountains on the lower part of Scotts River, including the bar. He is since called Charley, and has not been in any way implicated in any of the difficulties since that time, though previous thereto he was the most formidable enemy that the whites had to encounter.
    In March of that year diggings were struck on what is now called the Yreka Flats, and on Greenhorn. In company with Genl. Lane I then moved from Scotts River to those diggings, where a little town was established called Shasta Butte City. The news of the new discovery was soon spread by the traders, and the exceeding richness of the district caused a sudden and heavy influx of miners, who, excited by the prospect of suddenly realizing their fondest anticipations of wealth and competency, would turn out their horses and mules on the Shasta plains, and pay no further heed to them until they had either realized their anticipations or had met with disappointment from not striking it, and were again in want of them to either start for their far distant homes, or in search of other & to them more lucky diggings.
    The Indians now called the Shastas were then quite numerous, including the band occupying the Yreka Flats, under the chief Tolo, and those inhabiting the valley of the Shasta River and the contiguous mountains, under chiefs called "Bill," and another called "Scarface" (the latter so denominated from a deep scar on his cheek, caused by a cut received at the time he killed the chief of the band & usurped his authority). These Indians were all congregated on what is called Yreka Flats when we moved over and received us in a very friendly manner. They, with those of Scotts River and Rogue River, all talk the same language and were formerly under the control of one chief, but each of the bands being under the control of a subordinate chief. This head chief, who was the father of "John," of Scotts Valley, had been killed accidentally a few years previous, and John being young, a strife for the supremacy had been carried on for some time by Sam & Joe of Rogue River & Scarface of Shasta, and John of Scotts Valley, old Tolo remaining neutral in the contest. The whites coming in among them, their difficulties ceased, and each chief took supreme control of his separate band. At this time they had no stock among them, knew nothing of the use of horses & mules except for food, except what they had seen of their use when white people had passed through their country in the transit from Oregon to California or when the Modocs (a word signifying with them strange Indians) came in among them in war parties. The Indians were naked and lived an indolent life, game, fish & roots, upon which they subsisted, being then very abundant and easily obtained. As a consequence of the inattention of the miners to their horses & mules, they frequently strayed off a long distance & when wanted could not be found by their owners, and but for the influence of Genl. Lane much irritation & difficulty would have grown out of that source, which would have involved us in a fatal Indian war. Genl. Lane commanded the respect of the whites and had won the confidence & affection of the Indians, and at a word from him old Tolo would send out his young men to look up any lost animals desired. Upon bringing them in & delivering to him, he would award to the Indians a shirt, pair of pants, or drawers, or some little trinket, according to the value of the animal and the trouble in finding. This duty, which by common consent was awarded to him, was a heavy draw upon both his time & his means, but was performed with a cheerfulness which has endeared him to all the old settlers here. Many times the owner of the animal had nothing with which to reimburse the Genl., and his horse was his only means of exit, in which cases he never allowed the owner to go out on foot, but bid him take his animal & ride.
    After the Genl. left for his home in Oregon, the Indians, from having seen me frequently in his company and at his tent, came to me with their troubles, and I had to take his place with them, they styling me for some time "Tyee Joe Lane's codawa," meaning Genl. Lane's brother. [I've been unable to find a Chinook word for "brother" anything close to "codawa." The Indians were more likely saying "Tyee Joe Lane's klatawa," meaning "Chief Joe Lane has gone away."]  Everything passed off in this friendly way until the summer of 1852, and our citizens were safe in passing singly anywhere in the mountains. But in the June of that year, whilst I was absent to Sacramento City on business, Calvin Woodman was killed by an Indian on what is now termed Indian Creek, a small stream emptying into Scotts River through the valley from the north. About four days after his murder I arrived in the valley, and in passing down the valley I met some of the Indians moving their squaws & children into the mountains towards Salmon River and from them learned that Woodman had been killed, that the white men were in arms at Johnson's ranch at the lower end of the valley, that there had been a fight the day before, and they were making preparation for a general war. And although I was traveling alone they did not offer to molest me. I then proceeded to Johnson's ranch, where the information was confirmed, and also that Mr. S. G. Whipple, then acting sheriff of this county (Siskiyou), was seriously wounded, and a few horses killed. That night a large number of citizens came out from Scotts Bar, under Maj. Rowe as capt., having heard of the skirmish at Johnson's, and proceeded to Yreka (late Shasta Butte City, but now Yreka, intending the Indian name of Shasta Butte, Y-e-ka, which had acquired a considerable importance as a mining town), in search of the hostile Indians. The next day most of them returned to Scotts Bar. I went that day to Scotts Bar & back, a distance of ten miles over a high mountain, alone, and was not molested by the Indians. This was on Sunday. On Monday I held a talk with the Indians at the request of Mr. Johnson, who had a wife and children there and was under much anxiety about the state of affairs. Old Tolo was over in Scotts Valley on a gambling visit. I induced him & his son, chief John, & his three brothers, into the fort which had been erected around Johnson's house. They informed me that the murder had been committed by an Indian from Rogue River, in company with one from Shasta Valley, that they did not desire war, but that if I would go with them they would deliver up the guilty parties if to be found at the camp of the Shastas, & if not that they would follow them as long as I would go with them. I asked for a small company of five or six men from the citizens there, and obtained six, namely, John McLeod, James White, James Bruce (now Maj. Bruce, of the Oregon militia), John Galvin, Peter Snellback and a young miner called Harry. With them & old Tolo & his son, which we christened Phillip, and one of John's brothers, whom we named Jim, we started for the cañon on Shasta River. On arriving at Yreka we found the people under a great excitement on account of the Indians having moved up into the mountains, and learning that I had brought some into town, a public meeting was called in the evening for the purpose of taking them away from me and hanging them. I addressed the meeting, explained my proceedings thus far and my intentions for the future, when quiet was restored. Judge Wm. A. Robertson, then first judge of the county, proverbial for his sympathy for the Indian, and his associate judges James Strawbridge & Pattison, on the morning of the next day officially authorized me to obtain & deliver up the murderers and agreed to pay the cost out of the county treasury, supposing I would have to go only to Shasta Cañon (a further distance of ten miles) to obtain them. Here I was joined by J. D. Cook, Esq., Doct. L. S. Thompson, Mr. F. W. Merritt, and Ben Wright, the last named being employed as an interpreter, he talking the Indian language well. The Indians having fled to the mountains, we were two days in hunting them up & getting them together, when we learned that the two we were in pursuit of had fled to Rogue River to join Tipsu Tyee (in English, the chief with the beard, inhabiting the Siskiyou Mountains & upper Rogue River) and old Sam, the chief of the Rogue Rivers, whom they said were in arms and intending to kill the whites if a Doct. Ambrose would not give his little daughter to Sam's son for a wife. Here old Tolo & his son & Jim proposed to substitute two others in their stead, young, active warriors, who were better acquainted with the country and who proffered to go & either obtain and deliver up the murderers or suffer their punishment. I then in company with Esq. Cook returned to Yreka and consulted with Judge Strawbridge, the other judges having left, one for Scotts Valley & the other for Scotts Bar. Judge Strawbridge (who now resides in New Orleans, his former residence, and a lawyer by profession) advised pursuit, & it according with my own opinion, I set out, Esq. Cook not returning with me, business preventing.
    Upon arriving at camp I learned from the Indians that, from further information gathered among them, that the fugitives were undetermined when they left as to whether it would be best for them to flee to the upper Klamath or Rogue River, that the Indians proffered to raise a band of their own men to go out to the lake with Ben Wright, and I to go to Rogue River with my company, now numbering, myself included, nine white men, two Shasta Indians, and one Klickitat, called Bill, who had come into the country with Genl. Lane. We adopted this course: traveled much in the night through unfrequented paths, as led by the two young Indians, whom we christened Tom & Jack. In crossing the Siskiyou Mountains we met a Rogue River Indian with his bow strung and arrow set & three more in his teeth for immediate use, his quiver well filled, and surrounded him before he discovered us. Our guides talked with him a short time, and then informed me that the Indians we were after had gone to Sam's band, and that this Indian was going over to induce their people and the Scott Rivers to join Tipsu & Sam against the whites. I then ordered Mr. Galvin to take his bow & arrows away from him & told the Indians to explain to him the state of affairs, which they did, & that he must go back with us to the Indian agent of Rogue River Valley, Judge Skinner. On attempting to disarm him he resisted, and snatching Mr. Galvin's pistol (a six-shooting Colt's revolver of large size), commenced firing at us in quick succession, doing, however, no material damage, grazing my horse with one ball only. He then broke loose from Mr. Galvin and fled up the mountain. I ordered pursuit, but finding he could climb the mountains faster than our horses, I ordered Indian Bill to dismount and pursue him on foot, and if he could not overtake him & detain him until the rest should come up, to shoot him. He pursued about half a mile, when, the Indian being likely to get away, Bill killed him. After passing the summit of the mountain we fell in with Tipsu Tyee's son, who was out reconnoitering, and took him prisoner. Upon descending into Rogue River Valley we were met by Doct. Con Hillman & another gentleman, who informed us that the Indians of Sam's & Joe's tribes were gathered in arms near Table Rock on Big Bar on Rogue River in large numbers, and that the citizens, under Capt. Lamerick, were under arms on the opposite side of the river and wished us to hasten on to render them help. The cause of the trouble was as reported by the Indian messenger. Doct. Hillman & companion proceeded to Yreka for ammunition. We immediately by a forced march proceeded to the place designated, where we arrived about sundown, taking on our way another prisoner, who was well mounted & fully armed with revolver & gun. About a mile from the bar we met the Indian agent, Judge A. A. Skinner, who informed us that matters looked desperate, and asked us to go down to the bar and camp and keep a good lookout till morning, when he would join us. We made known to him our business and asked him, in case of an arrangement, to add to the terms a delivery of the fugitives, which he promised to do.
    On the following morning he came to the bar, when we had some further consultation. After a short time, by sending our young Indian Tom across the river we induced Sam and some of his warriors to come over and hold a talk. Tom then saw & talked with the Indians we were in pursuit of. After Sam & Joe and a few others had been with us a short time, others commenced coming over, all armed & many with guns & revolvers, until there were between one & two hundred mixed around among our men. Sam, seeing our prisoners, demanded that they should be set free as a preliminary step. Judge Skinner ordered me to restore them their guns & pistols & let them go, which I declined doing unless Sam would bring over & deliver up as an exchange the Indians we were after, which he refused to do. Judge Skinner then made a peremptory order for me to deliver up & set them free, with a notice that I was within his jurisdiction. I refused, told him that the Indians I was in pursuit of were there, & that I was determined to hold these until I obtained the others. Judge Skinner then went up to the Indians and told them to go, that he was chief of the whites, & that they might go. I told him in their language they must not go, and told them if they moved a foot I would shoot them.
    Judge Skinner threatened my arrest & to send me to Oregon City for trial unless I let them go, yet I refused unless upon the compliance with my terms to deliver up the refugees. I then placed the prisoners under charge of two of my men with instructions that if an attempt should be made to rescue them or raise a disturbance with a view of giving them an opportunity to escape, and they should break away, to shoot them, but if they remained quiet not to injure them or allow them to be injured, & told the Indians what my orders were. I then told the other six of my men to place themselves at proper distances from each other, and by trees, so that each should be a guard to the other and prevent the Indians from getting in their rear and surprising us. I then, with the Indians, Tom, Jack, and Bill, took my place in the council with Sam, Joe & other Indians. Sam then informed Judge Skinner that before he would talk the white men must go and stack their arms at some fifty paces back, indicating the place. Judge Skinner immediately & without any conditions ordered the whites so to do. Capt. Lamerick, being under his jurisdiction, felt under obligations & did cause his men to comply with the order. I refused and remonstrated that unless the Indians should do likewise with their guns (they being as fully armed as we were), we would all be massacred without being able to make a show of defense. Judge Skinner refused to require them to stack their guns. We then commenced the talk, my company & the Indians retaining their arms. Sam refused to give up the refugees, but finally proposed to cross the river & talk with the Indians over there and would soon return. After crossing the river he halloed back that he should not return, but defied us. I then ordered my men to keep themselves ready for immediate action. Capt. Lamerick ordered his men to resume their arms and divide off, half to go below a half a mile to a ford, under his lieutenant, & the residue to go with him about the same distance above to another ford, and both to cross the river as soon as any difficulty should occur where we were. Judge Skinner asked time to go over and make one more effort at pacification, which we consented to. He went & was absent about half an hour, when the Indians that were on our side of the river commenced crossing, one by one, and in a short time there were but about fifty of them left with us. I then placed a guard of two men, McLeod & Galvin, and ordered them to allow no one to pass until Judge Skinner should return, and sent the Indian boy Tom over after him, who soon returned, accompanied by the judge. Judge Skinner refused to allow Tom to point out the murderers. Whilst I was urging Judge Skinner to use all his influence to deliver up the Indians, and offering to deliver up my prisoners & leave for our homes, the Indian Jack observed two Indians going over the hills at a distance, escaping towards the upper Klamath Lake, and presently another, who proved to be Scarface. The others he identified as the ones we were in pursuit of. The Indians on our side commenced hiding themselves behind trees, and making evident demonstration of a disposition to commence a fight. In this move I ordered my men to intercept them, as we had the advantage of the timber. Mr. Angel then interfered, and the Indians that were on our side of the river (all of their chiefs having gone over to the other side) and they agreed to deliver up their arms to him & go into a log house and remain prisoners until they should send for and bring back the Indians we were in pursuit of. This we agreed to, and Mr. Angel undertook to get them into the house, but as soon as they got past us they ran away from him, and commenced hiding behind large pine trees. If they had succeeded in getting shelter we should have been exposed to their fire without any chance for shelter. I then ordered my men to fire upon them, which they did, and the firing immediately became general. We killed thirteen, and followed the others to the water's edge, where, discovering that Lamerick's men had not crossed, & the Indians on the other side, sheltered by the underwood, were pouring in a rapid fire upon us, I ordered a halt and soon discovered Lamerick & his men marching up the valley towards the settlements to prevent the Indians from making an attack upon the families who were unprotected. In this engagement the Indian boy Jack killed three of the enemy. I immediately ran to the place where I had left the prisoners and learned from the guard that the Indians made a rush to release them, when one was killed after running about fifty paces, and one of the guard was then shooting at the other in the river. I shot him with my revolver as he came out on the opposite bank. The Indians on the opposite bank, discovering that there were but few of us left, made a movement to surround us & to do so threw a body of warriors into a chaparral bush or thicket, through which we would have to pass. In this they were surprised by a Mr. J. Luckey, who was hastening down to render us assistance and met & killed the foremost, which so disconcerted them that they immediately retreated & left our road clear. That evening news was brought up Rogue River that during our council a party of Indians had passed some distance down the river and surprised & killed a company of miners. We then arranged that during the following night Capt. Lamerick should cross the river and take possession of the western side of Table Rock & then pass between it & the river, & that I should move up the river with my company about twenty-five or thirty miles [sic], and in the morning commence scouring the underwood along the river and drive the Indians down to Lamerick's company, which was done, and before night we had them all surrounded. They then called for quarter and wanted to make peace. Judge Skinner was sent for and a peace was concluded with Sam's tribe, which was adhered to by them the residue of that season. Tipsu Tyee remained out in the mountains and continued the warfare. He had killed several travelers whilst we were at Big Bar, the Siskiyou Mountains being his field of action. After the treaty was concluded Sam told us that if the Shasta & Scotts River tribes had broken out, as he had sent word to them to do so that the people of Rogue River could not get help from the whites there, he would not have had a good talk, but that he would have killed all of the men & kept the women & horses for themselves. We then asked him by whom he sent, and his answer proved it to be the one we had killed. Sam said he had held the talk on Big Bar only to give him an opportunity to arrange an outbreak with those Indians, so that they could kill off all the white population in this part of the country, and that the Indians at the Klamath Lake country had agreed to kill off all that might come in that way, that they did not intend to let any more whites come into their country. After the close of the treaty we returned to Yreka and found Ben Wright there. He with his Indians had met the refugees on the Klamath as they were escaping from us and brought them into town. In the meantime the citizens of Yreka had obtained traces of Scarface and learned what he was up to & intercepted him as he was passing towards the Salmon River, took him prisoner & hung him. There being no legal tribunal to try a charge of murder, we took the two prisoners over to Scotts Valley, at the mouth of Indian Creek, gathered the Scotts Valley & Shasta Indians together, and then had a citizens' meeting, and it appearing from the confessions of both that one only was guilty, the other trying to dissuade him from the act, the guilty one was hung & the other set at liberty. The Indians were satisfied & peace restored.
    A few days afterwards news was brought in that the Klamath Lake Indians had attacked a train of immigrants and murdered men, women & children. Capt. McDermott raised a company & went out to protect others coming in and after a fall campaign succeeded in passing the residue of the immigrants, but lost some of his men. My expenses on the trip were two thousand two hundred & seven dollars, which has never been reimbursed from any source. [The following sentence was struck out--but with a single line, indicating an intent to leave it easily readable.] Judge Skinner to cover his own cowardice & neglect of duty falsely branded our company as a small band of horse thieves committing depredations upon the Indians as appears by his report to the department at Washington.
    In 1853 a new outbreak occurred, originating in the bad conduct of a Mexican who was living with the Indians. The Indians retaliated upon the citizens by murdering them before they heard of the aggression, and the citizens of the valley were drawn into a war upon short notice. This war has been recognized by Congress and the history generally understood. The Shasta Indians from that time continued, with the exception of a few that adhered to Tolo, to be troublesome--living in the mountains, stealing stock and murdering travelers whenever opportunity presented. The Scotts River Indians & Tolo with a few of his Indians remained in Scotts Valley and were generally peaceable. In 1854 the Scotts Valley Indians informed the whites that the Modocs intended to murder all of the immigration of that season and steal their stock, and that they were desirous of a council and [wanted to] unite all the Indians together in these aggressions. A meeting was appointed on Klamath, and they attended as advised to by Judge A. M. Rosborough, then Indian agent, and after hearing their proposition broke up the council and came in & reported to the agent. Like information was conveyed by friendly Indians to the citizens of Rogue River, and there being many who expected friends in that way [over the Applegate Trail] that season, the panic spread, & Gov. Davis was petitioned for an order to raise volunteers to send out to their assistance, which was granted and a company of volunteers raised, furnished & sent out into the Modoc country to preserve peace.
    At the time of raising the company I was informed that the duty devolving upon you of obtaining supplies without money was a very arduous one & that the hesitancy with which the traders advanced the necessary outfit at the price offered came near rendering the expedition a failure, that your untiring & unceasing efforts & the urgent necessity of the case finally induced the outfit. Shortly after[wards] it became necessary to send out further supplies inasmuch as many of the immigrants were destitute and had to be assisted, thereby making the consumption greater than anticipated, and many of the weak trains were yet behind on their way in. To withdraw the troops would have been certain death to them. The citizens of Rogue River had stood as much tax as they would; application was then made to the traders of Yreka & Scotts Valley for assistance. We met you at Yreka, and after several days consultation we very reluctantly agreed to furnish you, which we did. The price offered was no inducement, as it would not pay first cost and the lowest usual rate of interest to the earliest possible day of recognition & payment. Government has been so backward in the settlement of these war claims, as also in sending protection against the Indian aggressions, and the constant demand upon us for means which could not with safety to the community be refused had taxed our energies to the utmost, & in fact many men in good business standing had been entirely ruined by these drains, even at the prices allowed, which prices [even] in a country where everything is abundant & easily obtained [would] seem enormous.
    I am fully satisfied, from my knowledge at the time [and] from information afterwards from those that came through that year, that had it not been for this timely aid & protection many lives & much property would have been sacrificed to the savages during that fall, that the immigrants owe to your exertions & interest their lives & property. During my acquaintance with the affairs of this country I have noticed that as soon as warm weather set in many of the young active warriors of the different tribes would disappear, and upon inquiry of the old men [I] would receive information that they were sick or dead, but cold weather would invariably bring most of them in again, that soon after their disappearance in the spring horses & cattle would disappear from time to time, and the Indians that remained in sight would commence accumulating stock quite fast, which they would represent as having [been] stolen from the Modocs. I have no doubt but that they have had a regularly organized system of stealing from the citizens and exchanging with the Modocs. The government having appointed Judge A. M. Rosborough an agent for this part of the state, and he having made himself acquainted with the Indians, their character & habits, and having acquired a supremacy over those within reach of his influence for the year 1854 to the present time, I have paid but little attention to the Indians or their affairs. The duty required of me by both whites & Indians, previous to his arrival, in maintaining peace & keeping advised of the movements & intentions of the Indians being both expensive & troublesome, I was happy to throw off the honor attaching to the position. During the time of Judge Rosborough's administration those Indians within his jurisdiction were well restrained and his duty promptly attended to. I have no doubt but that the judge would cheerfully convey to you much valuable information touching the matters of your inquiry.
I remain yours, very respectfully,
    E. Steele
Cayuse, Yakima and Rogue River Wars Papers, University of Oregon Special Collections Bx47, Box 1, Folder 47.

Steele retold the story in 1873:

    In the spring of 1852, whilst I was in the lower country, a difficulty arose between the Indians of Lower Scotts Valley and the settlers on account of the murder of a white man from Scotts Bar by Indians on Indian Creek, a tributary of Scotts River. A company was organized, and a fight ensued in which Capt. Whipple, now of the regular army, received a serious wound in the side. I happened to return home at that juncture, and in passing down Scotts Valley alone I found the Indians in great commotion and, upon inquiry of them as to the cause, hearing their version, told "Tolo," Chief John and others to come to me at Johnson's the next morning for a talk. Getting to Johnson's, I found it surrounded by a stockade, and all the inmates in great fear and also in wonderment at my coming through the Indians unharmed. The next morning, agreeable to appointment, the Indians came in, claimed that it was none of their Indians that committed the murder, but a couple of young men from Rogue River, then stopping with the Shastas. They then gave me as hostages Tolo, Jim and another Indian, who were to go with a company I should raise to capture the murderers, or on failure to be dealt with as I should say was right. With our Indian prisoners or hostages we came to Yreka, where we found the people under great fear and excitement, and it was with difficulty that we could prevent an excited mob from taking our Indians and hanging them. Next morning, with the addition of a few more of my friends at Yreka with our Indians, we followed in the chase. Proceeding to the canon of the Shasta River, we found all of the Indians of that branch of the tribe under great fear and after much difficulty, by sending Tolo out as a runner, we got them together on this occasion. A powerful spyglass of which I had, & of which then they had no knowledge, by which I could see their Indians on the hills far off, had a wonderful influence on their superstition and aided in their control. We remained with them all night and during the talk learned that they had driven [the] Indians out that had committed the offense for fear of bringing trouble upon themselves, and that the aggressors had gone to Rogue River. These Indians proposed to exchange two of their Indians, whom they said were acquainted with the passes of that country, for the ones we had, and we to continue the pursuit. Some of our men thought it was mere pretext to evade the responsibility, but a few of us, ten in all (one of the number being another Indian), resolved to accept their proposition. Frank Merrit (now with McConnell and Mr. McManus of Yreka), Dr. Thompson (I think now in the employ of some of the Departments at Washington, D.C., at least he was five years ago), and General James Bruce of Oregon, are all that I now know the existence of that [experienced the] event with me. We received two bright, active Indians whom we named Tom & Jack and released our other hostages and proceeded on our way to Rogue River.
    On crossing the Klamath River we learned that the whole Rogue River country was in arms on account of a demand made by Old Chief Joe of a white girl for a squaw for his son, and of his threats if the demand was not complied with. On arriving near the foot of the Siskiyou Mountain we met an Indian of that tribe coming over as a messenger to the Shastas to persuade them to join the Rogue River Indians in extermination upon the whites. As we came upon him before he saw us, we readily surrounded him and asked an explanation of his visit (which was unusual) and the meaning of his hostile attitude. He refused to talk, when I ordered him to give up his arms and go back with us to his tribe and the Indian agency at Rogue River, which he refused to do, I then told Mr. Galvin (now dead), a powerful young man, to take from him his weapons and tie his hands that we might take him back. Upon Mr. Galvin undertaking to do so the Indian wrested a pistol from Galvin and turned and shot at me, cutting the mane of my horse's neck, and then fled. He went but a short distance when a bullet sent him home. On arriving at Cole's, a short distance above, we found two men that were unarmed that this Indian had forced to march ahead of him until they came in sight of Cole's house, when the Indian passed around by a circuitous route and left them. We then continued our journey over the mountains in the night and early in the morning discovered an Indian on the trail, whom we took prisoner and kept with us. On arriving at the Mountain House on the Rogue River side we met some gentlemen on the way to Yreka for aid, and notwithstanding we had ridden all night, at their request we pushed on to the Big Bar, on Rogue River, where it was said the Indians had congregated. Shortly before reaching our destination we met the Indian agent, Judge Skinner, who asked us to pass on and camp at the river until he could come back next morning in the hopes of adjusting the matter. On our passage from thence to the river we met one of Joe or Sam's sous, I do not justly know which, heavily armed, passing out toward the other tribe. We took him prisoner and held him as a hostage with the other prisoner. On the next day the agent made his appearance. In the meantime one of our Shasta hostages had espied across the river the two Indians that we were looking for. We found at this point about one hundred & fifty citizens of Rogue River on one side and between two and three hundred Indians, all well armed with guns, on the other side of the river. After a long parley, in which we demanded the two Indians we were after in place of our prisoners, the agent ordered me to give up my prisoners and all of the white men to stack their guns fifty paces back & allow the Indians to come into council with their arms in their hands. This order I repulsed for our company to comply with. The Rogue River people stacked their guns, and a large number of Indians came over and were disposed to dictate all the terms of settlement. In a short time it was discovered that they were sheltering themselves within the range of their guns, whereupon the others on our side resumed their weapons, and in a short time the Rogue River company divided, one division to go on upper crossing and the other to a lower crossing, whilst our company should engage the Indians at that point. As the other companies left, leaving our small company, now increased by three or four from Jacksonville, among whom was Mr. Wm. Burgess, now of Nevada, the Indians assumed a hostile attitude and the fight commenced, we killing thirteen of them and losing one man, wounded, of which he afterward died. We charged so rapidly on the Indians that they broke and ran, and as was supposed dispersed into the settlement in the valley, whereupon the company from that valley immediately started to cut them off and protect the settlers. This left us exposed, and an open plain to cross before passing into a thicket, which the Indians discovered and recrossed the river with the purpose to ambush us there. Fortunately a gentleman by the name of Clugget [Clugage?], knowing the locality and danger to us, took shelter in the thicket and killed the foremost Indian, which created consternation in their ranks, & we escaped. That night we guarded the family of Mr. T'Vault, now deceased, but whose family yet reside in Jacksonville. The next day it was found that the Indians had moved up to the head of Rogue River [more likely the head of Bear Creek], and it was arranged for the Oregon volunteers to take their position at the foot of Table Rock whilst our company, increased to twenty-one, of whom were Wm. Burgess of Nevada & Geo. C. Pierson of Boston Heights, should pass up the river in the night and, if possible, drive the Indians back the next day. Daylight found us at the head of the river, or nearly so, and above the Indians, and we commenced beating the bush and forcing them down until they were forced upon the company below, where the Indians called for a talk, which was had, and satisfactory terms were made without more bloodshed. The Indians we were after had, in the meantime, escaped and started back across Siskiyou Mountains, to join Tipsu Tyee's tribe. My men in the fight captured two Indian ponies. I have been thus prolixing the statement of this affair, inasmuch as for rendering those people this service at that time and at their request, I was branded by this Agent Skinner, in an official report, as a leader of a band of horse thieves who had come over and made disturbance with Indians then in peace with whites. Then, as I do now, under the charge of Superintendent Odeneal, I held myself in readiness to appear before the district court of the United States to answer any charge of crime they can present against me. I did and do object to false official reports and newspaper libels to blacken my name, with whom I have not the pleasure of a personal acquaintance. But I have digressed. After learning that our criminals had escaped, through our Indian hostages and guides, we struck their trail and started again in pursuit, our company reducing itself down to its original number. Recrossing the Siskiyou Mountains, we fell in with Ben Wright who, learning from a squaw with whom he was living that these Indians had taken that course, he, with a band of Shastas, had started in pursuit and intercepted and captured them. We came in together and took the Indians to Scotts Valley and there gave them a fair trial, proving their identity by both white men & Indians, and the Indian testimony and their own story, all of which was received in evidence. One was found guilty, and the other acquitted and set at liberty. Our present Superintendent of Public Instruction, Professor G. K. Godfrey, was one of the jury.
NARA Series M234 Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs 1824-81, Reel 618 Oregon Superintendency, 1873, frames 812-827.  The entire letter is here.

    In 1852 [Sam Hughes] was in Oregon, at Foots diggings on Cow Creek. These diggings were discovered by Foot and named after him. They passed up the Rogue River and discovered the Big Bar. [Lemuel and Worthington Bills had mined the bar the previous year; it's possible Hughes was with their party.] Capt. James, who by the way was a woman, Tom Bartlett and three others whose names he does not now recall were of the party. Shortly after reaching the place the Rogue River Indians became ugly and threatened war. The cause leading thereto was the refusal of an Indian agent named [Ambrose] to trade two of his children for two of an Indian chief named Sam, who threatened war unless a swap was made. While the controversy was afoot a party of miners arrived under command of Sefure Field [sic--Sheriff Field? Sheffield?], from [Scotts] Valley. On the appearance of these men a council of war was called and seventeen Indians killed. One white man was shot through the hand next day.
"Biographical: A Brief Sketch of Hon. Sam Hughes as Related to a Citizen Reporter," Arizona Weekly Citizen, Tucson, February 29, 1896, page 4

    The Illinois Valley Indians at that time being troublesome, it was necessary to build a fort for protection, and consequently a fort was built of logs on Josephine Creek and called Fort Gidney. It was so named after Nat Giles, whose nickname was Gidney. As soon as the fort was completed we found it necessary to go out after provisions. It was agreed that lots should be drawn to see who should go out. The men who went out were Luther Hasbrouck, Moses Dusenberry, Henry Lawrence and Captain Jennings. They went north until they found the trail from Oregon to California, which they followed to Shasta City. There they purchased supplies and returned, being gone 21 days. The men expected that they would have independent "diggings" on Josephine Creek, but on their return they found a thriving mining town. Probably 2000 people were in Illinois Valley at this time.
*  *  *
    I presume there are some of the old settlers still living in Oregon that have a remembrance of the Rogue River Indian War, but probably few know the cause of this war, that led many brave pioneers of the Golden West to shed their blood for home, family and protection. In the fall of 1850 Luther Hasbrouck went into partnership with Samuel Grubbe, John Twist and Ad Miller in the general merchandise and butchering business. The partnership continued for nearly two years, and the business was sold out to Mr. Derbysheer, who continued it. Just before selling out to Derbysheer the company had some cattle stolen by the Illinois Valley Indians, and they were caught with the meat in baskets, going to Deer Creek. On being overtaken, the Indians left their baskets and ran. Sam Grubbe went over to Deer Creek the next day and saw old Chief John, of the Illinois Valley Indians, and tried to arrange a settlement. Chief John and the braves promised to come over the next day to the store and get their baskets and make things right. The next day 16 bucks came over on the ridge near the store. Sam Grubbe undertook to approach them and give them some blankets that were left with the baskets containing the stolen meat, when all at once the 16 Indians turned loose and shot at Grubbe. They shot through his clothes and blankets, but did not wound him.
    The Indians then fled back to Deer Creek. Sam Grubbe was a very angry man after this occurrence, and swore he would have revenge. The next morning he insisted that four of the party should go over to Deer Creek and have a talk with Chief John. The rest of the company said no, as it was a dangerous trip and refused, and he went alone. Old John, the chief, promised to come over and make peace. Next morning the Indians came over and prepared for a fight and, discovering they were on the war path with guns and bows and arrows all drawn ready to shoot, "Ad" Miller and Sam Grubbe shot two Indians. The rest of the band retreated to Deer Creek. This was in the fall of 1852, the time of the killing the first Indians by whites in the Illinois Valley. This trouble was the commencement and cause of the Rogue River Indian War.
Luther Hasbrouck, "Discovery of Gold in Southern Oregon," Sunday Oregonian, Portland, August 24, 1902, page 21

Last revised May 12, 2017