HOME


The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised


Fort Hoxie

Sometimes cited as being near Medford, A. G. Walling (below) places it near Ashland. Possibly synonymous with the Gore Stockade.


Letter from Rogue River Valley
Three More Persons Killed--March of the U.S. Soldiers and Volunteers to the Valley.
    We published a day or two ago an account of the outbreak of the Indians in Rogue River Valley, derived from an extra of the Mountain Herald dated the 7th inst. We find in the Shasta Courier additional particulars of the outbreak from a second extra of the Herald, dated at 5 o'clock a.m. of the 9th inst. The following petition was brought by Mr. Wilson, who resides near Willow Springs:
Fort Wagner, Aug. 8, 5 p.m.
    The citizens of Rogue River Valley ask the citizens of Yreka, in the name of humanity, to assist in subjugating the Indians of this valley, who are daily and nightly murdering our citizens and killing our stock. Between 400 and 500 Indians are in the vicinity of Table Rock. The citizens are not sufficient in numbers to guard the different points at which the families have collected, and go to fight them. We are poorly armed, and ask your assistance in men and arms.
    Three men, Messrs. Dunn, Griffin and Overbeck, were killed on the 7th, near Willow Springs, besides Messrs. Nolan and Wills, whose deaths had been previously reported.
    On the 8th, at 2 o'clock, the Indians had attacked two houses--Mr. Miller's and Mr. Stone's. Mr. Wilson had not heard the consequences when he left. All the inhabitants were gathering together at Wagner's and were about building a block fort for protection. Most of the families in the neighborhood were at Wagner's, Hoxie's and McCall's, ten miles south of Jacksonville. The main body of the Indians were encamped at and about Table Rock. Their chief had sworn to have the valley back or die in the attempt.
    A company consisting of about 15 U.S. soldiers from Fort Jones, and twenty or thirty volunteers from Yreka and Greenhorn, well supplied with arms and ammunition, left Yreka on the 8th for the scene of action, and another company of much greater numbers was to have left on the 9th. The whole country was in a state of excitement. The people have gathered together at various points for protection. The Herald says: "Let this be our last difficulty with the Indians in this part of the country. They have commenced the work of their own accord, and without just cause. Let our motto be extermination, and death to all opposition, white men or Indians."
Herald of Freedom, Wilmington, Ohio, September 23, 1853, page 2


    Somewhat later than the events mentioned above, a very serious murder, or perhaps it may be called massacre, took place in the upper part of Bear Creek, resulting in the death of several persons and the serious wounding of others. Tipsu Tyee became hostile, probably in consequence of the influence of the Indians in the lower valley, and an attack was made on settlers in the vicinity of the site of Ashland. Tipsu Tyee was not present at this event, and no evidence tends to show the degree of his participation therein; nor is it material to the story. A detached party of his band, under sub-chief Sambo, being temporarily encamped on Neil Creek at the time of the Edwards-Wills-Nolan murders, excited the suspicion of the white men newly settled in the upper part of Bear Creek valley and on tributary streams, who united to the number of twelve and proceeded to the Indian camp. The whites, being armed, fired on the savages, who took refuge, as is their invariable custom, in the brush, whence they fired at the whites and shot Patrick Dunn through the left shoulder and Andrew Carter through the left arm. "One Indian only is known to have been killed, and a few slightly wounded." According to the accounts of interested parties this action occurred on the thirteenth of August [1853]. On the same day or that following, the Indian women and children of the encampment were collected and taken to the camp of the whites, which was the house of Messrs. Alberding and Dunn (now the General Tolman place), where a stockade had been constructed for the protection of the settlers and their families. On the seventeenth, Sambo and his warriors, numbering a dozen or so, came in voluntarily and surrendered to the whites and were provided for and retained at the "fort." Several families, including those of Samuel Grubb, Frederick Heber, Asa Fordyce, Isaac Hill and Robert Wright, were at this station, besides several single men whom the idea of mutual protection had drawn there. Having ample confidence in the good faith of their savage guests, no great precautions were taken to guard against surprise, and so the Indians had ample opportunity for an outbreak, which they effected on the morning of the twenty-third of August, as asserted by survivors, but on the seventeenth as given in various printed records. On this occasion they killed Hugh Smith, and wounded John Gibbs, William Hodgings or Hudgins, Brice Whitmore, Morris Howell and B. Morris. Gibbs died soon after at the stockade at Wagner's, where the whites moved for protection; Hodgings expired while being taken to Jacksonville, and Whitmore, reaching that place, died within a few days. The others recovered, as did Dunn and Carter, previously wounded, both of the men being alive and well at this day.
A. G. Walling, History of Southern Oregon, 1884, page 214


    The war of 1853 was provoked by the secret murder of a white man, Edward Edwards, who was found shot dead with arrows. Some eleven men collected with Isaac Hill as captain; and [Captain Thomas] Smith, with three other men were detailed to enter the camp of Sambo, chief of a neighboring tribe, and learn the cause of the murder. The Captain thus relates what there occurred: "Getting to their camp, we found them all lying about in the shade; and I began talking to the interpreter, whom we called Jim, and said that we had come to have a talk with them; and I wanted him to tell all his people that they must all be there to meet the Bostons, who were coming to have a friendly counsel. He said all right, and was just in the act of speaking to his people, when I observed a large, strange, wild-looking Indian just in the act of getting up and throwing his quiver over his shoulder, and picking up his bow, when Carter (one of the white men's party), who was a little to my right, shouted at the top of his voice, 'Stop, stop, I'll shoot you;' and before I had time to speak he fired an old single-barreled pistol, the only firearm he had with him. It bounded back and cut his forehead; and I saw the pistol bury itself in the sand thirty feet away. By this very foolish maneuver we were thrown into a very ugly little fight. On our side Carter and Dunn were wounded. In the evening we had about twenty Indian women and children and seven men and found one dead warrior at the edge of the brush, the others having gone to the woods."
     The settlers made a fort, to which five men with their families and seven single men repaired. Smith stayed on his place. Sambo, with ten Indians, surrendered, gave up his arms and wanted to stop at the fort. Smith was anxious to get them away; but neither Ross nor the captain at Fort Hoxie would take them. Apprehensive of an attack by outside Indians to relieve the captives. Smith kept a lookout, and thus relates what happened.
     "On my return from Fort Hoxie in the evening, when within six hundred yards of our fort I saw an impress made by an Indian's heel in the dust where he had jumped across the road. I got down and on examination found quite a number of tracks; and when reaching the fort I called Gibbs and told him of the discovery I had made. I said these were Indians that had come to release the prisoners, and that they surely would do it if he were not well on his guard. I declared that, if the attack were made, the Indians would massacre everyone in the fort and burn all the property. I advised him to arrange, without alarming the women, to have all the men on guard, and if he got through the night I would take some men and scour the woods in the morning. But he had great confidence in Sambo, and said if there were Indians about Sambo would have told him. He even called Sambo and said that I could satisfy myself; and to my questioning he denied all knowledge of any Indians in the region. Gibbs then said to me that I could see he knew nothing of it. I persisted, however, that Sambo could not be believed, and reluctantly rode away to my cabin. So deeply was I impressed with the presence of danger, that I did not remove my clothes, and even had my mule saddled, and tied him in the chimney corner, while I took what rest I could. At early twilight in the morning, I was already moving, when I heard a gun fired at a distance of about half a mile; and as quickly as could be done, I was on my mule and galloping down. When within eighty yards of the fort, the firing ceased; and I saw the flames rising from the grain stacks. I rushed into the fort without injury; but in what a condition I found my companions! They had put but one man on guard; and he had come to the conclusion that he would rather sleep, and had lain down on a bench at the back of the house with a lady's work-basket as a pillow, and was roused from his slumber by an Indian ball tearing through the basket. I found Hugh Smith killed. Gibbs, Fordyce, Hodgins, Whitmore, Morris, Howell, and I think one other, were wounded. Hodgins, Whitmore and Gibbs died soon after. I found that when the firing began Gibbs and Howell were lying together on the porch with Sambo near by; and, as Gibbs rose with his gun in his hand, this treacherous savage seized and wrenched the piece from him, and stepping back shot him down."
Elwood Evans, "Captain Thomas Smith," History of the Pacific Northwest--Oregon and Washington, 1889, page 573


    In the meantime, the citizens of Rogue river valley were left to defend themselves. About a week after Dunn and Carter, with their party, had captured the women and children of Tipsu's band, Sambo, a son of Tipsu, came with his warriors, numbering about fifteen, into their camp and surrendered. They were received in good faith and provided for. Several families were at this station at this time, including those of Fred Heber, Asa Fordyce, Samuel Grubbe, Isaac Hill and Robert Wright, besides a number of single men. The Indians were not watched, full credit being given to their professions of friendship. On the morning of the 17th, they made an attack upon their protectors, instantly killing Hugh Smith, and wounding John Gibbs, Wm. Hodgkins, Brice Whitmore, Morris Howell and B. Morris, and then made their escape. Gibbs died soon after at the stockade at Waggoner's [Fort Wagner, near Talent], where the Whites moved for protection. Hodgkins expired while being moved to Jacksonville, and Whitmore a few days after reaching the hospital at that place.
Elwood Evans, "Captain Thomas Smith," History of the Pacific Northwest--Oregon and Washington, 1889, page 412


    "One of the greatest tragedies of the old days," he returned to the pioneer times, "was the fire which broke out some time during the '60s [sic] and burned all through the hills. The Indians set it out and burned up a lot of the ranchers' rails. Then someone came riding through the valley calling 'White man killed,' and everyone rushed to old Fort Hoxie and stayed until the Indians settled. Later they broke out again and we cleaned them up at Table Rock."

"William Hamlin, Pioneer of Valley, Recalls Days When Redskins Troubled," Medford Mail Tribune, September 26, 1930, page B3



    After establishing their living quarters on a donation land grant from the government they began farming in the wild region.
    In 1855, at the time of the last Rogue River Indian War, grandmother Abigail Taylor and her family were ordered by Gen. Joe Lane to leave their land and take refuge at Fort Hoxie, present site of the town of Medford. "She went to the fort under protest, but daily mounted her white horse and rode back through Indian-infested territory to feed her small brood of chickens," chuckled Mrs. [Elva C.] Person.

"Diary Tells Tale of Pioneer Days on Old Oregon Trail; Early Settler Describes Events in Valley 95 Years Ago," Medford Mail Tribune, November 14, 1948, page B1



Last revised April 30, 2017