Early, conflicting accounts of the discovery of gold in Southern Oregon. See also Jackson County News, 1850 through 1852. and Discovery of Gold in Josephine County.
Reminiscences of an Old Timer, 1889
Letters from the Secretary of the Treasury Transmitting a Report Upon the Mineral Resources of the States and Territories West of the Rocky Mountains, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1867, page 14
Gold was discovered for the first time in Oregon near Gold Hill on January 19, 1849.
"Oregon Firsts," Oregon Oddities and Items of Interest, vol. 2, no. 6, Works Progress Administration, 1939, page 3 I would dearly love to find their source for this tidbit.
A letter of November 11, from a gentleman who went to San Francisco, then changed his mind and went to Oregon, where he seems highly pleased, says . . .
There are about thirty houses at this place (Portland), five stores, and it bids fair to be a town of importance. Many merchants from Salem, Oregon City and Linn City come here for goods, and there is an extensive back country thickly settled. Next spring there will be a grand rush to Rogue River and the Umpqua, where gold has been discovered, and I hope we shall have the benefit of it.
"Interesting Oregon Affairs," The Sun, February 13, 1850, page 1
I should have stated that, whilst we were traveling through the Umpqua and Rogue River valleys [in April 1849], we made it strictly our business to look for gold in every likely-looking place. This gave us a chance also to examine other qualities of this country, and in our investigations we found considerable gold, both on the Umpqua and Rogue rivers. I should also state that, from the prospects of gold above mentioned, the people of Oregon are at this time all on tiptoe, and making great preparations to open those mines this spring.
Benjamin C. Cleaver, "Gold in Oregon," Illinois Daily Journal, Springfield, August 1, 1850, page 2
GOLD IN SOUTHERN OREGON
Well-Known Pioneer Tells of Discoveries in 1849.
NORTH YAMHILL, Or., Jan. 20.--(To the Editor.)--I notice in a letter published in yesterday's Daily Oregonian, copied from the Ashland Tidings, that someone, in giving an account of the first discovery of gold in Southern Oregon, places the time in the fall of 1851. I am quite sure that gold was known to exist in the Rogue River at least two years earlier than the fall of 1851. In the latter part of August or first part of September, 1849, a party, with pack animals, left the Willamette Valley to go over the trail to the California gold mines, the writer, then a lad 10 years old, being one of the party. We proceeded up the Willamette Valley and through the Umpqua Valley to the north end of what was then called "the canyon." Here we laid over, waiting for additions to our party, as it was considered unsafe at that time, on account of the hostility of the Rogue River Indians, to attempt to pass through their country in small parties. We laid over a few days until our party had increased to the number of 28, when we proceeded on our journey, fording the Rogue River at what was called Perkins' ferry. Proceeding up Rogue River we camped one night a mile or two below what was then called "Point of Rocks," but now I think known as Rock Point. This was considered the most dangerous place on the trail for attacks from Indians.
After passing Point of Rocks, next morning, we concluded to stop and prospect on the Rogue River. Turning to the left, leaving the trail, we went up the river toward Table Rock, two or three miles, camped and laid over that day, and some of our party prospected on the bars of the river and found gold. We never thought of stopping there to mine, as we had started for the gold mines of California, and the next morning we proceeded on our journey. Previous to this, on our way up the South Umpqua, we had prospected for gold on the river bars, and had also found it there, I think somewhere near the mouth of Myrtle Creek.
Now, after the lapse of more than 50 years, I recall the names of a number of persons who were in the party, as follows: From Tualatin County (Washington), Norman Martin, Norman Smith and Martin Bridgefarmer. From Yamhill County, T. B. Hutt, Kendrel Dobbins, A. McBuck, James Mills ---- Comegys, H. H. Hyde, Dan Craft, J. H. Hawley and Jephtha Walling. From Polk County, Perry Smith, Ira Townsend, John Pigg and William Pigg. From Linn County, Mr. Neil, Mr. Montgomery and Mr. Wright.
If any of the persons above named are still living, they will no doubt readily recall the facts as I have here stated them.
LEE LAUGHLIN.Oregonian, Portland, January 21, 1900, page 5
. . . gold has been found in several places, in sufficient quantity to induce the belief that there are mines, perhaps extensive ones, of this precious metal within the borders of our territory. . . .
Governor Joseph Lane, Message to the Oregon Legislature, Indiana State Sentinel, Indianapolis, December 13, 1849, page 4
In the spring of 1850 I prospected as far north as Yreka and had considerable trouble with the Shasta Indians. Soon afterward I crossed the Siskiyou Mountains into Oregon and went down on Rogue River. The prospecting party consisted of Luther Hasbrouck, Nathan Giles, Moses Dusenberry, George Wells, Henry Lawrence, John Collins, John Twentyman and Captain Jennings.
First Mining in Oregon.The first mining in Oregon was at Big Bar, near Rock Point, on Rogue River, in Jackson County, in 1850. This was in the middle of May, and the first placer mining in Southern Oregon. The diggings did not prove good, and the prospectors went down Rogue River until they came to a small stream since called Applegate Creek. Not finding gold in paying quantities on this creek, they followed the creek to its head, crossed the Siskiyou Range into California, and came down to what at that time was called the Big Bar, on Klamath River. At this point they worked for two weeks. Not being satisfied here with the diggings--which paid one-half of an ounce per day--the party went down Klamath River until it came to a small stream which was named Indian Creek, many Indians camping there. We prospected this creek to its head, but not finding sufficient gold to pay, we crossed the Siskiyou Mountains again into Oregon and what is known now as Josephine County. We discovered a river which we followed down until it went into a canyon. We named this river Illinois, it running through Illinois Valley.
We first camped on the north side of the Illinois River, then crossed to the south side, and went down the river until we came to a small stream putting into what is now called Illinois River, which was afterward named Josephine Creek, after a daughter of Mr. Magruder, who came in that same summer, 1850.
First Gold Washed Out.Josephine Creek was found to be very rich, paying one to two ounces per day. Luther Hasbrouck washed the first pan of dirt on this creek, and it averaged 50¢ to the pan, and washed 16 pans. It was in July 1850, and was the first discovery of gold in Josephine County, and our party composed the first white men in the Illinois Valley.
Luther Hasbrouck, "Discovery of Gold in Southern Oregon," Sunday Oregonian, Portland, August 24, 1902, page 21
Gen. Adair, the collector of the customs for the Territory of Oregon, informs me that large numbers of the Oregonians were leaving for Rogue River (150 miles south of the Columbia), and that some had returned and reported that there is lots of the "oro" on that river.
"Letter from California" dated March 31, Morning Courier, Louisville, Kentucky, May 16, 1850, page 2
It is ascertained that gold may be obtained in the valley of Rogue River. This valley is healthy, and is nearer the settled portion of Oregon than the gold mines of California. These circumstances have induced very many of our people to propose working these recently discovered diggings. Few persons, therefore, will put in spring crops. Breadstuffs, at least, must then necessarily be high.
"Further from Oregon," Vicksburg Weekly Whig, Vicksburg, Mississippi, June 19, 1850, page 1
While our citizens have been quietly preparing to go to Rogue River to dig for gold this summer, they have been aroused to unusual excitement by the discovery of a rich mine in another direction [in the Spokane country]. . . .
We suppose that there will also be a considerable mining business done this season on the rivers along the southern border of Oregon, as many persons who have been to California have convinced themselves that Rogue River and other streams in that vicinity will afford profitable "diggings."
"Gold in Oregon!" Oregon Spectator, Oregon City, May 30, 1850, page 2
Reports from Rogue River represent gold as very abundant upon that stream.
"Gold in Oregon," Daily Alta California, San Francisco, June 18, 1850, page 2
News from the gold mines comes in slowly. We learn that Gov. Lane has gone on to Rogue River. The washings on South Umpqua yielded a fair remuneration to the industrious. It was confidently believed, however, that Rogue River would pay much better, and most of the companies have passed on to that river.
"News from the Gold Mines," Oregon Spectator, Oregon City, June 27, 1850, page 2
News from the Gold Mines.
Persons have come in from the Rogue River country who are confident that gold may be found there in considerable quantities, though the waters were still too high to "prospect" satisfactorily. Gold, however, was found. Gov. Lane, not finding things to suit him on Rogue River, after negotiating a treaty of peace with the Rogue River Indians had gone on to Trinity, on his way to California.
Oregon Spectator, Oregon City, July 25, 1850, page 3
By arrival of steamer Carolina three days from Astoria, and four days from Fort Vancouver, we have advices from Oregon. We learn that Gov. Lane and party, whose departure to Rogue River has been previously announced, had been unsuccessful in his explorations for gold in that region, and had proceeded to the Umpqua.
"Oregon News," Sacramento Transcript, August 9, 1850, page 2
Gen. Lane, the Governor of Oregon, had left the city on the 1st of June with seventy-five Klickitat Indians and a few regulars for Rogue River, on an exploring expedition, and also for the purpose of making a treaty with the Rogue River Indians, who have lately been committing robberies and depredations on the emigrants. Gen. Lane's party had proceeded as far as the South Fork of the Umpqua River, where gold dust was discovered in quantities on the bars of the river. Here the party stopped and went to mining. As they had but few utensils, however, they only averaged about ten dollars per day. Great excitement prevailed in Oregon in regard to the flattering rumors of the existence of great quantities of gold in the Spokane country, north of the Columbia, which had been confirmed. Great quantities had left for the mines.
"From Oregon," Illinois Daily Journal, Springfield, August 21, 1850, page 2
Our last accounts from Oregon represent those who have returned from the gold diggings on Rogue River well satisfied with the result of their labors.
Illinois Daily Journal, Springfield, August 21, 1850, page 3
OREGON GOLD MINES.--The Alta California publishes a letter from a reputable source, which gives some further particulars of the discovery of gold in Oregon. We make the following extract:
ST. HELENS, May 29th, 1850.
. . . Reports from Rogue River represent gold as very abundant on that stream. . . .
Sacramento Transcript, June 20, 1850, page 2
Mr. YULEE. I will now offer an amendment [to the Donation Land Claim Act], to which I presume there will be no objection. The gold region extends into Oregon, and I presume it is not the purpose of the Senate to grant the mineral lands in these proposed bounties. I propose to except them. The amendment I offer is this:
"Provided, That no mineral lands shall be located or granted under the provisions of this act."
Congressional Globe, Senate debate of September 17, 1850, pages 1846-1847
A DISCOVERY!--Capt. Ottinger, on the Laura Virginia, has made a trip to the mouth of Rogue River. This schooner was the first vessel that ever entered the mouth of that river. He was surprised to find there an English party, who had squatted upon both banks of the stream, and the islands in the river--which they very modestly claimed as their property. One of the party of the Laura Virginia, regarding the advantages and appearance of the country, found a spot not claimed, and which the English supposed was a swamp, and at once struck down his preemption stakes. Gold has been found on the upper branches of this river, and may be found down to its mouth.
Illinois Daily Journal, Springfield, August 5, 1850, page 2
Gov. Lane has gone to Rogue River, to negotiate, if possible, a treaty with the Indians in that region, preparatory to working the gold mines there. It is the intention of the governor to explore that section of Oregon pretty thoroughly, with reference to its mineral resources.
"Later Arrival from Oregon," Fort Wayne Sentinel, August 10, 1850, page 2
Rogue River is also still attracting some attention on account of its probable golden treasures. Another large party have started for that river this week, with the hope of doing better than working here for $10 per day. Whether these enterprising adventurers succeed, or not, the character and qualities of the country will be brought into notice, and good will result. All the signs of the times indicate the speedy settlement of the southern part of Oregon.
"Umpqua River," Oregon Spectator, Oregon City, September 5, 1850, page 2
Persons have come in from the Rogue River country, who are confident that gold may be found there in considerable quantities, though the waters were still too high to "prospect" satisfactorily. Gold, however, was found.
"Later from Oregon," Albany Evening Journal, New York, September 23, 1850, page 2
Persons have come in from the Rogue River country, who are confident that gold may be found in considerable quantities, though the waters were still too high to "prospect" satisfactorily. Gold, however, was found. Gov. Lane, not finding things to suit him on Rogue River, after negotiating a treaty of peace with the Rogue River Indians, had gone on to Trinity on his way to California.
"From Oregon," Illinois Daily Journal, Springfield, October 2, 1850, page 2
The late discovered mines on the waters of Rogue River are occupying some 200 this winter & will be likely to call the attention of vast nos. from the Willamette next season.
Indian Agent H. H. Spalding to Superintendent of Indian Affairs Anson Dart, December 9, 1850, in Microcopy of Records of the Oregon Superintendency of Indian Affairs 1848-1873, Reel 12; Letters Received 1848-1852, 1850 No. 35.
The [New York] Tribune of September 26th announces the arrival of Judge O. C. Pratt. His friends here will be rejoiced to learn of his fortunate escape from the cholera, which was cutting off many all around him prior to and whilst at the Isthmus. Judge Pratt informs the Tribune that there is not gold enough in Oregon to pay emigrants for coming here--that it is confined principally to the Umpqua Valley and Rogue River. We have no inducements in the way of rich gold deposits to offer the future emigrants, but we have good soil and a healthy climate, which is more reliable, more precious than gold--yeah, than fine gold.
Oregon Spectator, Oregon City, December 12, 1850, page 2
KLAMATH AND SHASTA MINES.--Mr. Geo. E. Frazer has written a letter to the Oregonian, dated the 3rd of May, relative to the above mines, from which we glean some interesting facts. Persons at work on Rogue River and vicinity were making from six to eight dollars per day, on an average. . . .
Sacramento Daily Union, May 18, 1851, page 2
Umpqua Valley, Oregon, April 22nd, 1851.Gentlemen:--Allow me to call your attention for a moment to Southern Oregon. It is not my intention to dwell upon the fertility of its soil--the beauty of its scenery--the grandeur of its forests--the purity of its waters, or the salubrity of its climate. It is generally allowed, I believe, to possess all these advantages. But in addition to all these, recent disclosures have satisfactorily shown that Rogue River is as rich in gold diggings as the Klamath, and the most intelligent men among us think that the Umpqua will prove equally fertile in gold. The distance from Scott's Bay, the head of schooner navigation on the Umpqua, to the mining regions on Rogue River is from seventy-five to ninety miles, with a fine road through the whole distance. Indeed, the route runs through the finest portion of Oregon, almost the entire way being over a level prairie. The mining region of the Umpqua and its tributaries is not more than fifty or sixty miles from Scottsburg. Goods and supplies can be easily transported on the route, and the miner will soon be able to obtain his supplies at a low rate.
Scottsburg is at least 175 miles nearer the Rogue River mines than either Oregon City or Portland, on the Willamette, and the road from this point is as good as the Willamette. Indeed, our road intersects with the road leading from Portland to Rogue and Klamath rivers at a distance of only thirty-five miles from Scottsburg. The demand for goods will be very great during the present season, and mules, horses and cattle are needed for transportation, as the supply in Oregon is not sufficient for the demand.
I believe that all who are competent to form any opinion on the subject say that the entrance to the Umpqua is as safe and easy of access as any that can be found on this coast to the north of San Francisco. There are three and one-half fathoms water on the bar at low tide, and large vessels find no difficulty in getting in the harbor.
In haste, yours,Daily Alta California, San Francisco, May 10, 1851, page 2
Joseph W. Drew
The Mines and Miners of Oregon.It is not, as a general thing, known by our citizens that Oregon has beyond question rich gold mines, and that there is a perfect gold fever pervading the whole community there, particularly that of the Willamette Valley. We are informed by Gen. McCarver, who has just arrived from Oregon, that at least one half of the people of the Territory have left the farms and towns and have gone or are going to the mines. These mines are but a continuation of the Californian mines. But little is known, it is true, with regard to the northern boundary line of the state, but wherever it lies, there can be no doubt that the mines of the South Fork of the Umpqua and those of Rogue River are in Oregon.
The streets of Oregon City and Portland are at the present time filled with pack animals and wagons which are continually loading up and pushing off for the mines. These towns present in their bustle and their general aspect at the present time very much the appearance of our Californian supply towns.
The miners on their way pass up the Willamette Valley to the dividing ridge between that and the Umpqua, over the ridge and down upon the South Fork of the Umpqua, or, keeping on, they cross the dividing ridge between the Umpqua and Rogue River valleys and so down on to Rogue River.
At the last advices there were at least a hundred wagons and several hundred miners waiting at the canyon between the Umpqua and Rogue River valleys, on account of the high water. So soon as the stream falls they will pass through.
Such is the feeling in relation to the Oregon mines that the Oregonian comes out in a leading article praying all Californians who have the interests of the Territory at heart to remain upon their farms. The argument it uses is after the style of the proverb "Money is the root of all evil." We imagine, however, if money is the root of all evil, the want of it is a pretty important branch thereof.
Sacramento Transcript, May 8, 1851, page 2
OREGON PLACERS.--The intelligence from the mines is rather encouraging than otherwise. Quite a large number have returned from the mines, or, rather, gave up the trip before they arrived there, having become disheartened at the bad state of the roads, and the unsettled weather that caused them. Gen. Lane reports rather favorably of the mines. He says that the most of the miners, by proper exertion, can make from $6 to $12 per day. There are some instances where men do much better. The General is opinion that the mines in Oregon and California, the Shasta and Klamath diggings, will pay well for the next fifty years. There is a large scope of country in that part of Oregon that is decidedly rich. But the greatest obstacle in the way is the want of protection going there in the Rogue River country, those Indians having sworn eternal hostility to the whites. Several persons have been brutally murdered lately by the savages near what is generally known as the Umpqua Canyon. [Spectator.
New York Tribune, June 23, 1851, page 6 Abridged from the Spectator of May 8, 1851, page 2
LATEST FROM THE MINES.--A gentleman arrived here last evening, ten days from the Shasta mines, and eight days from the Rogue River country. He reports that the Indians are very hostile, and avail themselves of every opportunity to murder and rob. Four additional murders had been committed near Rogue River.
New diggings had been discovered on Rogue River, which are said to pay better than the Shasta mines. About three hundred miners came on with him to work them, and about one hundred came through to the valley.
Oregon Statesman, Oregon City, June 20, 1851, page 2
Gold Digging in Oregon Territory.
From the Boston Globe.
Shasta Valley, Friday, June 20, 1851.We arrived here after twenty days' travel from Trinidad, each of us four with a mule loaded with provisions, tools &c. Two of the party have gone to Rogue River, five days' further travel. We have a comfortable tent, and enjoy good health. We work hard. Our mode of operation is this: We dig holes about six by ten feet, and six or seven feet deep; the last three feet is in water; it takes one to bail out while the others dig and throw out. The dirt, till you come to the rock, is valueless; there is often a little clay on the rock, and if the rock is soft, an inch or two of the rock will contain gold. This is pecked up with a pickaxe, shoveled out, and washed in a machine. The dust is collected and washed in a pan, and separated from the sand. In other diggings about here, the top of the earth is dug up from one to two feet deep, and carted to the water--some of it a mile. This sand pays from five to six cents a bucket. It is hard digging, being clay and stone. Occasionally one meets with something better. Some of the first comers found something handsome.
There are about one thousand people in this neighborhood. Many hundreds left for Rogue River a few days since, and some have returned. We pay for pork here 75¢ per lb.; bacon and butter the same; flour 40¢; sugar 50¢ per lb.; milk 50¢ per quart; nails $1.50 per lb.; ink $1; shoes $4; boots $10-$16 per pair; fresh beef only 25¢ per lb. The trouble with the Indians has ceased. It was caused by the whites shooting some of them, many think unjustly. I am now alone, with a good tent, and as comfortable as I can be here. I have never seen worse traveling, nor a rougher part of the world than we came over, but it appears healthy. I attempted to make some minutes of the journey, but owing to circumstances and the kind of people I was with, I had to give it up. Since they left I do much better.
The position of this country is such that I can only judge that the latitude is about 43°, and about 300 miles distant from Portland, Oregon Territory, and from Trinidad and Sacramento about 325 miles, and not far from the longitude of 120° West. In our route from Trinidad we passed the Salmon River at the Forks, and passed up its middle fork, over what is called the Divi Divi, into Scotts Valley, then into Shasta Valley. There is quite a settlement of tents and log huts, and is called Shasta Plains. The scenery is pleasant, surrounded by high and lofty mountains. The high mountain of Shasta Butte is plainly in sight, bearing S.E. about 25 miles distant. The snow is lying about on the mountains, but the weather is getting warm. Now I am here, I shall try if plowing gold is better than plowing the sea.
New York Times, October 1, 1851, page 3
As a general thing, the men have resorted to industrious pursuits, and engaged themselves in the manufacturing of shingles, cutting and preparing piles for shipment, and prospecting the country in the vicinity of all the small streams for gold. . . . This kind of employment will continue for a few days longer and then another expedition for opening a trail to the Shasta mines will be fitted out under the direction of Mr. [William G. T'Vault]. This gentleman was employed by the United States government as guide for the company of rifles under the command of Captain Stuart, who recently marched through the Indian country from Oregon to California. We have the utmost confidence in the ability of Mr. T. as being every way qualified to conduct a party in an enterprise of this character. It is the intention of the party to prospect all the streams over which they pass, and I have no doubt but what they will make some discoveries that will comprise no small degree of interest. In my next I anticipate imparting something of more importance.
For the present, adieu. CLINTON.
"Our Port Orford Correspondence," Daily Alta California, San Francisco, August 26, 1851, page 2
FROM OREGON.--We have files of Oregon papers to the 7th of August--the midst of what is called "the dry season." The farmers around Portland were busy harvesting. The crops were abundant. The Portland Times says that notwithstanding many persons went to the mines last year, there has been much cultivation, and there will be a large surplus of produce after supplying the home market.
The same paper says that the mines of Oregon appear to be paying well, both the Shasta diggings and those at Rogue River sending in good quantities of gold dust.
Daily Republic, Buffalo, New York, September 23, 1851, page 2
The mines of Oregon appear to be paying tolerably well. We have heard of good diggings on Rogue River, while the gold dust scatters in from the Shasta diggings. In the Shasta mines there is a scarcity of water in the dry season, but it is expected that the miners will get a rich harvest this fall and winter.
"Oregon--Things in General," Gallipolis Journal, Gallipolis, Ohio, October 16, 1851, page 2
GOLD IN SOUTHERN OREGON.
Its "First Discovery" Attributed to Men Named Bills.
Correspondence of Ashland Tidings.
It has been published and republished, iterated and reiterated some thousands of times, that James Clugage and James Pool in passing through the valley, from the Willamette to California, in the fall of 1851, camped on Rich Gulch, within the present corporate limits of Jacksonville, and that while in camp Mr. Pool did some prospecting with a pan and made the discovery. Nobody disputes the prospecting by Mr. Pool, or the finding of gold, but was this the first discovery in Southern Oregon? The purpose of this paper is to show that it was not.
Mr. David Linn, who has lived in Jacksonville since early in the spring of 1852, and whose word is as good as his bond, says he left Oregon City in the fall of 1851 in company with Wesley McGanigal, a man with whom he had just crossed the plains. They walked from Oregon City to Salem, and bought their outfit and two ponies. They packed the ponies and started on foot for California. Arriving at Canyonville, they found the town to consist of one log cabin, and no modern adjunct in the shape of a real estate agent to boom the prospects of the place and offer corner lots at bankrupt prices. The two men stopped here a short time for reinforcements, as it was considered dangerous for so small a party to travel through the Rogue River country. The next day after their arrival a party of three men came along, going to California, and together the five pursued their journey south, leaving Canyonville the morning of October 23, 1851. Mr. Linn remembers the date distinctly on account of it being his birthday. The party went through the Canyon in a day, and camped at Hardy Elliff's. Judge Skinner and party were there on their way to Rogue River, where Mr. Skinner was to take up his residence as Indian agent. The five men continued their journey on the 29th, leaving the Skinner party, who had ox teams, which would travel too slow for the packers.
On the 1st or 2nd day of November the party arrived at Perkins' ferry, on Rogue River. There were three or four men at the ferry, and they had built a stockade to protect themselves against the Indians. They advised the party not to cross the river until reinforced, as the Indians were hostile and had killed a number of persons up in the valley a few days before. The party, however, crossed the river, and went about two miles and camped for the night in a secluded bend in the river. The next morning, after starting out, they met a man on horseback, whom McGanigal recognized as an old schoolmate by the name of Bills. After greeting each other, Bills requested us to camp about a half mile south of the rocky point, a noted place for Indians to attack travelers, and that he would return in the evening, as he was only going to Perkins' ferry for some boards to cover his cabin. About sundown Bills returned, and McGanigal went with him up the river to Big Bar, and there found young Bills' father. They were engaged in mining, and had apparently been there for some time.
When McGanigal returned to camp he was greatly excited. He said there were thousands of Indians up there, but that young Bills and his father told him the Indians would not disturb the party, and that they could pursue their journey in safety. In passing up through the valley, the only evidence of civilization met was a log enclosure, four or five logs high at the back and one log in front, the sides tapering from the back to the front and forming a sort of scoop-shaped camp, without covering. There were some blankets and other things in the camp, indicating that someone was stopping there, but the party saw no one. This was at the Willow Springs. When the party arrived near where the flouring mill ditch crosses the county road above Phoenix, they came across three packers who had been killed by the Indians and thrown together, and the flour sacks cut open and the flour poured over them. As assured by the two Bills, the five reached Yreka without being molested.
Your correspondent expects this statement to call out a strong protest, if not a vigorous attack, because when an idea concerning any important matter or event becomes crystallized in the public mind, it becomes a sort of cherished memory, and if the idol is shattered or its foundations shaken, somebody is sure to kick.
Oregonian, Portland, January 19, 1900, page 6
The Oregonian has been shown some fine specimens of gold-bearing quartz, from the Shasta mines, which from appearance are as rich as any in California. This quartz is said to be abundant through the Shasta and Rogue River mines. If so, it will prove a most profitable business as soon as the requisite machinery can be obtained for working it.
Sacramento Daily Union, December 31, 1851, page 2
Anson Dart, Esq., U.S. Indian Agent at Oregon, is now at Washington, upon official business. He has brought with him several new pieces of cedar plank, some beautiful specimens of wild flax, which is exceedingly plentiful in that territory, and of fine quality, and several small lumps of gold from the south fork of Rogue River.
Illinois Daily Journal, Springfield, January 16, 1852, page 3
ROGUE RIVER.--On the 6th inst. intelligence was received in Shasta Valley of gold discoveries on Rogue River, near the Oregon trail. The claims on that portion of the river are said to be marvelously rich. Full confidence has been placed in the news from these mines. On the 9th, at least five hundred persons had left Shasta Valley for the Rogue River mines.
Sacramento Daily Union, March 25, 1852, page 2
The Shasta Courier reports rich discoveries of gold on Rogue River, near the Oregon trail, and about five hundred persons had left with the intention of engaging in mining at the new location. The same paper represents that the average result of mining in that vicinity is now ten dollars per day for each man engaged.
Daily Picayune, New Orleans, Louisiana, May 5, 1852, page 1
Umpqua City, O.T., March 30, 1852.Messrs. Editors.--Extraordinary accounts of the recent discoveries upon Rogue River are reported by packers arriving here from that region. . . . The exciting news from Rogue River has produced a general rush to that point. I have been unable to obtain any particular information in respect to the character of these mines, other than their richness and extent, and the large number of miners already centered there. These mines are located in Southern Oregon, and in the vicinity of this river.
"Umpqua Correspondence," Daily Alta California, San Francisco, May 1, 1852, page 2
RICH DIGGINGS.--Mr. Flinn of Johnson's line of stages has received a letter from Mr. James Clugage on Rogue River, stating that he and his two partners owned a claim out of which they had taken on an average seventy ounces per day for ten weeks. This is certainly one of the richest claims we have heard of for a long time.
Daily Alta California, San Francisco, May 18, 1852, page 2
Mining News.--Rich mines have been discovered in Rogue River Valley. They are creek and ravine diggings. I have seen a miner direct from there, and he informed me that these diggings are extensive. He exhibited some of the gold, and it looked bright and beautiful. He has gone back to these mines. Miners there are averaging from ten to sixteen dollars.
There is a great excitement in Mt. Shasta City and Humbug Creek consequent on the discovery of these new and rich diggings. I saw about 200 leave for Rogue River Valley on last sabbath. Parties are leaving town daily. Mules are selling from $100 to $140 each. Rogue River Valley is about all taken up by persons who intend to settle permanently.
Daily Ledger, New Albany, Indiana, May 20, 1852, page 2
The attention of our citizens and business men here seems to be directed towards the southern part of the Territory. Since my last, gold in considerable quantities has been discovered in the Rogue River country, Jackson County, which, together with the rich farming land in that quarter, has served to fasten nearly all eyes upon it. Emigration at this time tends toward Southern Oregon, that part of the Territory embraced within the counties of Umpqua, Douglas and Jackson, lying south of the Willamette Valley, and divided from it by the Calapooia Mountains, a spur stretching across the country from the Coast Range.
The gold mines in Northern California and those just discovered in Southern Oregon afford to the latter, by their steady demand, high prices and proximity of one of the best markets for all kinds of agricultural products in the world, and when these countries are settled it will enjoy the almost exclusive monopoly of this market. With these two occupations of mining and farming, carried on in the same vicinity, this part of Oregon must soon become densely populated.
"From Oregon," Daily Picayune, New Orleans, Louisiana, June 25,, 1852, page 2
Many persons who left Shasta Valley for the mines on Rogue River are said to be returning. The mines on Rogue River are exceedingly rich, but not of sufficient extent to afford claims to call.
"Mining News," Flag of the Union, Jackson, Mississippi, July 30, 1852, page 3
Families are settling into this valley quite fast, and in less than six months I predict a dense settlement all though the most eligible parts of this country. Milk is $2 per gallon, butter $1 per pound, and other things in proportion. The mines are rich. Mr. J. Skinner, Clugage and Pool made more than $100 a day every day last week. Mr. O. says he is making at least one ounce per day, and Mr. N. told me his company were getting half an ounce a day. This I am told is true of those who work, after throwing off the top of the ground 5 or 6 feet. The place is known by the name of "Hard Scrabble" or "Rich Gulch."
D. R. Williams, Oregonian, Portland, June 5, 1852, page 1
Diggings were first discovered near here in Feby. 1852 by Messrs. Clugage & Pool, who being on a prospecting tour found their labors rewarded by the discovery of good diggings. There were but three log houses in the Rogue River Valley then, for farming purposes.
Messrs. C. & P. were digging a ditch to take water to the diggings. They had disc'd [discovered gold] and seeing some other men around discontinued work for about a month, but seeing the strangers about to locate they resumed their work and one and another would come and set to work and stay, hence arose the town so that now the population is about 700--22 families--and over 200 families in the Rogue River Valley. There are 53 marriageable [women] within a circuit of 12 miles of Jacksonville--9 within Jacksonville--35 scholars attend a day school kept by Miss Royle. Couldn't find the number of children in the valley. There are 10 stores, 3 boarding houses, 1 bowling alley, 1 billiard [saloon], 3 physicians (and 300 men called Doctor!), 1 tin shop, 1 meat [market], 1 livery stable--shame on it--1 church, 1 schoolhouse.
Journal, 1855, entry for February 9, James Mason Hutchings papers, Library of Congress MMC-1892
In February, 1851, two men, one named Clugage, and the other Pool, were out on a prospecting expedition for gold; and, near the site of the present town found their labors rewarded by a "good prospect," of the precious metal, and immediately pitched their camp. At that time there were but three log cabins in the valley.
As men began to gather in, a little town sprang into existence, and from a singular rock at the lower end of the valley, about nine miles below the town, resembling a high table, this little village was first named Table Rock City; but as the valley became settled, it became the county town of Jackson County, Oregon, and was then changed to its present name.
"Jacksonville, O.T.," Hutchings' California Magazine, January 1857, page 296
During the winter of '51-2, several miners were at work on the Big Bar in the river, and on some of the gulches in what is called the Blackwell Diggings. Sometime in February 1852, James Pool and James Clugage made the discovery of gold on Rich Gulch. The first discovery was made within the limits of what is now the Jacksonville corporation. This at once created an excitement--people from all parts were directing their course to the new diggings--Clugage took the claim where Jacksonville is now situated, and Pool the claim adjoining Clugage's on the east.
Mr. Sykes [possibly Joshua B. Sykes, named Indian sub-agent in the Umpqua District in 1859], who worked for Judge [Alonzo] Skinner, was one of 2 or 3 who first found the diggings on Jackson Creek. Clugage and Pool were packers. Many think they were the discoverers of gold on Jackson Creek, but this is not so. It was a beautiful valley, that of Rogue River, and the paradise of packers, the tall grass affording of forage for mules. Stopping at Skinner's, about the first of February, 1852, Clugage and Pool heard of the discovery made by Sykes and Co. They then drove their mules from Skinner's, situated on Bear Creek six miles northeast from Jacksonville, on to the present site of Jacksonville, where they turned them loose and began prospecting. They soon discovered rich diggings, which soon took the name of Rich Gulch.
Sykes' discovery on Jackson Creek [was] close to where the west line of the present incorporated town of Jacksonville now lies, and about half a mile north of where Clugage and Pool made their discovery on Rich Gulch. Pool was a natural miner and prospector. Clugage was a packer and happened to be a partner of Pool. It was not in 1851 that Clugage and Pool discovered Rich Gulch, nor was Rich Gulch the place where gold was first discovered in the Rogue River Valley, but the Sykes discovery before mentioned was first.
L. J. C. Duncan, "Settlement in Southern Oregon," July 1878 interview with H. H. Bancroft, Film P-A 25, Bancroft Library, Berkeley, California. Typed transcript in Southern Oregon Historical Society "Duncan" vertical file. Agent Skinner doesn't mention Sykes in any of his correspondence with the Department of Indian Affairs; in September 1852 he mentions that he only has one employee, interpreter Chesley B. Gray.
The first discovery of gold in the Rogue River Valley was that of Rich Gulch within the now corporate limits of the town of Jacksonville. This discovery was made by James Clugage and James R. Pool. These men had been mining at Scotts Bar and Yreka and came this way prospecting. The mine was very rich, men taking out $100 a day each, and almost immediately a large camp arose. It was placer mining, very coarse, smooth gold. In the spring of 1852 there were 1000 or 1500 men in this vicinity engaged in mining, and for twenty-five or thirty years it was continued with greater or less success.
After Rich Gulch Jackson Creek mines were struck about two miles from the first discovery, then gold discoveries followed rapidly--Willow Springs, Applegate, Sterling, Jackson Creek, Poorman's Creek, and in other neighboring streams and gulches. All these diggings were in what is now Jackson County and within distance of ten or twelve miles.
Paine Page Prim, "History of Judicial Affairs in Southern Oregon," 1878, Bancroft Library
The Indian agent, Judge A. A. Skinner . . . reached the valley in Sept. or Oct. 1851 when he took up a claim and built a house. Mr. Sykes, who worked for Judge Skinner, was one of the 2 or 3 who first found the diggings on Jackson Creek.
Clugage and Pool were packers. Many think they were the discoverers of gold on Jackson Creek. But this is not so. It was a beautiful valley, that of Rogue River, and the paradise of packers, the tall grass affording the best of pasturage for mules. Stopping at Skinner's for a day or two about the first of February 1852 Clugage and Pool heard of the discovery made by Sykes and co. They then drove their mules from Skinner's, situated on Bear Creek six miles northeast from Jacksonville, on to the present site of Jacksonville, where they turned them loose & began prospecting. They soon discovered rich diggings which soon took the name of Rich Gulch.
Sykes' discovery on Jackson Creek was close to where they west line of the present incorporated town of Jacksonville now runs, and about half a mile north of where Clugage and Pool made their discovery on Rich Gulch. Pool was a natural miner and prospector. Clugage was a packer and happened to be partner of Pool. It was not in 1851 that C. & P. discovered Rich Gulch, nor was Rich Gulch the place where gold was first discovered in the Rogue River Valley, but the Sykes discovery before mentioned was first.
Legrand J. C. Duncan, "Settlement in Southern Oregon," Bancroft Library MSS P-A 27
In the fall of 1851 Mr. Clugage was packing freight from Scottsburg to the rich mining camp of Yreka, and on his last trip, about the beginning of January, 1852, was camped near the present site of Central Point at one of the only two houses then built in the main Rogue River Valley. One night two mules were stolen by the Indians, who were followed towards the south, and in the pursuit gold was discovered in Rich Gulch and Jackson Creek where Jacksonville now stands--one of the party stopping to drink at a spring the bottom of which seemed to be encrusted with the coveted metal. Mr. Clugage and two others at once engaged in mining, keeping their discovery secret, and making an average of one hundred ounces of gold per day for many weeks.
"Biographical Sketches," Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, February 5, 1879, page 2
Jacksonville should have been called "Jim." Three Jims first discovered gold there, respectively Jim Clugage, Jim Pool and Jim Cinnor, and the first white child born there was Jim McCully.
Daniel F. Fisher, "Pioneer Names," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, January 4, 1884, page 2
When we were at Minersville . . . some packers from Oregon came there and stayed a few days till they sold out the load of their train; they had potatoes, onions and flour and bacon. . . . The packers' names were James Pool and James Clugage, the last from Chicago, Illinois. I got well acquainted with both.
They told that there had been some new diggings discovered in Rogue River Valley just close to Jacksonville. A gulch called Rich Gulch had been discovered by their partner named [James] Skinner. He was the son of the then Indian Sup. Agent of Rogue River Indians, and they, Pool and Clugage, advised me to go there, as there had been two or three rich creeks struck at Jackson's Hill or Jackson's Creek on both forks, and there had been some miners with three or four pack animals come to Yreka for provision and [one] had paid in very nice coarse gold, some different from the Yreka gold, and when the merchant tried to find out where he got his gold, would not tell. But he got drunk and spent his money so freely and kept saying he could get plenty more where that came from, that some men concluded to watch him, and one night he struck out on the sly with his animals loaded with provisions and new tools. The men that had been watching him followed him with pack animals, and they had along tools and provisions. . . . The same night there were fifty or sixty men all followed right after each other and followed the man that they were after right into his camp and found that two or three others were mining on the sly. [They] went to work prospecting and found a rich creek and in a short time a thousand miners from California had overrun the whole country. (How[e] was one of the discoverers.)
Doyce B. Nunis, ed., The Golden Frontier: The Recollections of Herman Francis Reinhart 1851-1869, written 1887, published 1962, page 33
I went up and saw the rich gulch near Jacksonville where Skinner, Clugage and Pool first made the discovery of coarse gold. It was very shallow and they used knives and spoons in the crevices and took out from $500 to $700 per day, nice bright coarse gold like drops of molded lead.
They got to work with rockers until they got water to work sluices and long toms. They took up great long claims and smuggled some between them, under fictitious names, until the miners got to cutting them [the claims] down and jumping some of them. But it being so shallow, [mining] was not very extensive and they soon skimmed off the best of the rich gulch.
Doyce B. Nunis, ed., The Golden Frontier: The Recollections of Herman Francis Reinhart 1851-1869, written 1887, published 1962, page 40
There were then [in the middle of June 1852] but few families in Jacksonville, more of a mining camp. We looked round a while and then went round to some of the diggings. Went to the first that was discovered in or around Southern Oregon. It was discovered in 1850 or 1851 by a packer by the name of George Frazier. He was packing goods from Scottsburg to Yreka, California. The first discoveries took from this "Rich Gulch" (this was the name given it and still retained) some over $30,000, in a few months' time, mostly coarse gold from $1.00 to $20 pieces. The second workers the next year took out $12,000 to $15,000, working over the old tailings. When we got there two men were at work on the same tailings for the third time, and making six to eight dollars per day.
Thomas Frazar, "Recollections," (written 1880s), in "Pioneers from New England," Oregon Historical Quarterly, Spring 1982, page 41
In passing back and forth to California, the Oregon miners had not
failed to observe that the same soil and geological structure
characterized the valleys north of the supposed
northern boundary of
California that were found in the known mining regions, and prospecting
was carried on to a considerable extent early in 1850. In June two
hundred miners were at work in the Umpqua Valley.
But little gold was found at
this time, and the movement was southward, to Rogue
River and Klamath.
According to the best authorities the first discovery on any of the
tributaries of the Klamath was in the spring of 1850 at Salmon Creek.
In July discoveries were made on the main Klamath, ten miles above the
mouth of Trinity River, and in September on Scott River. In the spring
of 1851 gold was found in the Shasta Valley,
at various places, notably on
Greenhorn Creek, Yreka, and Humbug Creek.
Rogue River Valley is divided into three counties--Jackson, Josephine and Curry. Jackson County was crested January 12, 1852, and Josephine was cut off from it in January 1856. The name of the former does not refer, as one might suppose, to the deity of good Democrats, but to Jackson the discoverer of the mines on Jackson Creek, after whom Jacksonville, the county seat, was also named.
Jackson was the owner of a pack train which transported provisions to the mines, who being encamped at this place made himself and the locality suddenly famous by his discovery.
Frances Fuller Victor, Atlantis Arisen, 1891, Philadelphia, page 135
Such is very briefly the history of Southern Oregon prior to the time of permanent settlement, which began in Jackson County about the time of the discovery of the rich placer mines on Jackson Creek in January, 1852, by Messrs. Sykes, Clugage and Pool. In March of the same year, there were no less than 150 men working in the vicinity of Jackson Creek, and by the middle of the summer there were fully 1,000 miners in the Rogue River Valley. . . . In February, 1852, Appler and Kenny, packers from Yreka, pitched their tent and began trade with the miners. But in March, W. W. Fowler built a log cabin, the first building of any description in Jacksonville.
"Southern Oregon: A Brief Outline of Its History," Oregon Mining Journal, Grants Pass, Midsummer 1897, page 19
The discoveries on Jackson Creek were made by a man named Sykes in December, 1851, and a little later Skinner [sic] and Pool, two packers, made like discoveries in Rich Gulch, one-half mile north of Sykes' claim.
"Mining in Southern Oregon: The Discovery of Quartz and Placer in Earlier Days," Oregon Mining Journal, Grants Pass, Midsummer 1897, page 30
During the winter I made the acquaintance of Squire Appler [in Yreka], who informed me that new diggings has been discovered somewhere; that men were leaving in the night to keep down suspicion; that the new mines were fabulously rich, etc. It however, soon leaked out that this latest strike was in Rogue River Valley, Oregon. Appler's enthusiasm was contagious, and I consented to go to the new Eldorado. Petzer Smith, who ran a pack train between Yreka and the Willamette Valley, agreed to take a man and his blankets to the new strike for one ounce of gold dust, the passengers to ride an apperaho [aparejo]. This looked like a good proposition; I paid the ounce, mounted a bronco, and experienced the toughest ride of my life. Imagine a man riding a distance of sixty miles on a barrel and you will form an idea of what it is to ride an apperaho.
We reached Jacksonville about Feb. 20th, 1852. I felt disappointed after investigating Rich Gulch and Jackson Creek, about the only diggings that had been discovered up to that date. Rich Gulch was extremely rich; Jackson Creek both forks was only rich in places, and the prospectors, prospecting either fork, would draw a blank oftener than a prize.
Henry Klippel, "Reminiscence of Early Days," Medford Enquirer, March 2, 1901, page 4
In December, 1851, James Clugage and J. R. Pool located the first mining claim in Southern Oregon, at a point near the old brewery in Jacksonville. They had been informed by a couple of young men who were passing through the country that they had found gold near that place. Immediately after this discovery became known in California and by the incoming immigrants to Oregon, there was a rush made to the mines of Jacksonville. Old man Shively, the discoverer of Shively Gulch above Jacksonville, inside of eighteen months had taken out over fifty thousand dollars, and since that time, from the best statistics obtainable, the mines of Southern Oregon have yielded about thirty-five million dollars in gold.
William M. Colvig, "Indian Wars of Southern Oregon," Medford Mail, August 8 and 15, 1902, page 2
It was in December 1851 that Rich Gulch was struck, the first gold being found near the present crossing of Oregon Street. Gold had been found earlier in Jackson Creek opposite the city brewery by two young men who communicated the fact to James Clugage and J. R. Pool, who were traveling through the valley. Afterwards, the discovery of Rich Gulch was made by James Skinner and Wilson who claimed four hundred feet of the gulch. It did not take the discovery long to leak out when men washed out a pint of gold in a day. In Feb. 1852 every foot of land in Rich Gulch was claimed, and by March all the hills and gulches around were taken in spite of the hostility of the Indians.
Jessie Beulah Wilson (Jacksonville High School student), "History of Jacksonville," Jacksonville Sentinel, June 5, 1903, page 4
. . . the mines on Rich Gulch within the limits of Jacksonville were discovered by a party en route from the Willamette Valley to Yreka late in the fall of 1851. After crossing the Rogue River the party kept near the foothills to avoid the dangerous Indians on Bear Creek, and camped overnight on the present site of Jacksonville. While some of the members were preparing supper, James Pool took a pick and pan and went down to the bed of the gulch to prospect, and was happily surprised to find that every pan yielded the most flattering results. The party made a permanent camp, staked off claims and went to mining. The gulch proved to be very rich. Yreka was at that time a booming mining camp. The flats and gulches in and around the town literally swarmed with men, and the new discoveries from day to day kept the transient population at fever heat. When the news of the discovery of Rich Gulch reached there, exaggerated as discoveries always were in those days, an avalanche of men swept over the Siskiyous, and by the spring of '52, 3000 or 4000 miners were delving in the hills and streams around Jacksonville.
W. J. Plymale, "First Hanging in Southern Oregon," Sunday Oregonian, Portland, June 21, 1903, page 15
Jacksonville [in March 1852] was a mining camp that had been established only about two months, for it was only the previous December that gold had been discovered in Rich Gulch [by] James Pool, who with James Clugage had come that month from Yreka to winter their train of pack horses and mules on the luxuriant grass that then grew all over Rogue River Valley. It was not until January that news of the finding of this new and fabulous rich diggings reached the California old miners, and then there was a rush across the Siskiyou Mountains to the new camp, which had been named in honor of President Jackson, who was then the popular idol of Americans and especially of the Southerners, many of whom were in the rush to Rich Gulch.
E. K. Anderson, "First Murder and First Hanging in Rogue River Valley," Rogue River Fruit Grower, October 1910
FIRST DISCOVERY OF GOLD IN SOUTHERN OREGON.
It has been published and republished, iterated and reiterated some thousands of times that James Clugage and James Pool in passing through the valley from the Willamette to California, in the fall of 1851, camped on Rich Gulch, within the present corporate limits of Jacksonville, and that while in camp Mr. Pool did some prospecting with a pan and made the discovery. Nobody disputes the prospecting by Mr. Pool, or the finding of gold, but was this the first discovery in Southern Oregon? The purpose of this paper is to show that it was not.
Mr. David Linn, who has lived in Jacksonville since early in the spring of '52, and whose word is as good as his bond, says he left Oregon City in the fall of '51 in company with Wesley McGanigal, a man with whom he had just crossed the plains. They walked from Oregon City to Salem, and bought their outfit and two ponies. They packed the ponies and started on foot for California. Arriving at Canyonville they found the town to consist of one log cabin, and no modern adjunct in the shape of a real estate agent to boom the prospects of the place and offer corner lots at bankrupt prices. The two men stopped here a short time for reinforcements, as it was considered dangerous for so small a party to travel through the Rogue River country. The next day after their arrival a party of three men came along going to California, and together the five pursued their journey south, leaving Canyonville on the morning of Oct. 28, 1851. Mr. Linn remembers the date distinctly on account of its being his birthday. The party went through the Canyon in a day, and camped at Hardy Elliff's. Judge Skinner and party were there on their way to Rogue River, where Mr. Skinner was to take up his residence as Indian agent. The five men continued their journey on the 29th, leaving the Skinner party, who had ox teams which would travel too slow for the packers.
On the first or second day of November the party arrived at Perkins' ferry on Rogue River. There were three or four men at the ferry, and they had built a stockade to protect themselves against the Indians. They advised the party not to cross the river until reinforced, as the Indians were hostile and had killed a number of persons up in the valley a few days before. The party, however, crossed the river, and went about two miles and camped for the night in a secluded bend of the river. The next morning after starting out, they met a man on horseback, whom McGanigal recognized as an old schoolmate by the name of Bills. After greeting each other, Bills requested us to camp about a half mile south of the rocky point, a noted place for Indians to attack travelers, and that he would return in the evening, as he was only going to Perkins' ferry for some boards to cover his cabin. About sundown Bills returned, and McGanigal went with him up the river to Big Bar, and there found young Bills' father. They were engaged in mining, and had apparently been there for some time. When Mc. returned to camp he was greatly excited. He said there were thousands of Indians up there, but that young Bills and his father told him the Indians would not disturb the party, and that they could pursue their journey in safety. In passing up through the valley, the only evidence of civilization met was a log enclosure four or five logs high at the back and one log in front, the sides tapering from the back to the front and forming a sort of scoop-shaped camp, without covering. There were some blankets and other things in the camp, indicating that someone was stopping there, but the party saw no one. This was at the Willow Springs. When the party arrived near where the flouring mill ditch crosses the county road above Phoenix, they came across three packers who had been killed by the Indians and thrown together, and the flour sacks cut open and the flour poured over them. As assured by the two Bills, the five reached Yreka without being molested.
Your correspondent expects this statement to call out a strong protest, if not a vigorous attack, because when an idea concerning any important matter or event becomes crystallized in the public mind, it becomes a sort of cherished memory, and if the idol is shattered or its foundations shaken, somebody is sure to kick.
Undated clipping circa 1910, Southern Oregon Pioneer Society scrapbook 18/23, page 31, Southern Oregon Historical Society MS517.
The discoverers of gold in Southern Oregon were James Clugage and Pool. During the winter of 1851-52 they had driven their string of mules up Jackson Creek to fatten and condition them for packing in the spring. These men chose Jackson Creek for their pasture ground because it was off the beaten trail. At this time Californians from Yreka were scouring the country in search of horse thieves, and it was safer to for two men with a string of mules to be encamped in a secluded spot, as pursuers were nearly as lawless as pursued. While encamped on Jackson Creek early in January, 1852, these men discovered gold shimmering in the gravel of the creek bottom.
Arthur M. Geary, "Gold Mines of Southern Oregon Are Scenes of Great Activity," Oregonian, Portland, January 22, 1911, page B4
In 1850 two men, Clugage and Pool by name, equipped a pack train at the mining town of Yreka, California, and carried supplies between Yreka and towns in the Willamette Valley. They followed a narrow trail across the Siskiyou Mountains and along the bank of Bear Creek. It was their custom when they reached this valley, to stop to rest and recuperate their animals. The wild grass grew so high in the valley that the man who herded the mules had to stand on the back of his horse in order to locate the rest of the herd.
Clugage had worked at mining, and one day, while they were in camp in the valley, went up into the hills where Jacksonville now is. Following up a gulch or ravine, he came to a place where the heavy rains had washed the soil entirely away, leaving a ledge of rock exposed. Taking his bowie knife from his belt he dug around in the rocks and sand and found nuggets of gold. He returned to camp and reported his discovery to Pool. Together they went back to the spot and staked out their mining claims.
Returning to Yreka they bought a camp outfit and mining tools and returned to work their claims. They had kept quiet in regard to their discovery, but in some way it became known, and in two months from the time Clugage found the nuggets of gold a thousand men were on the spot. Claims were staked out and every man went to work to dig out the gold. No time was spent in building cabins; a man would throw his saddle blanket over a manzanita bush and put his bed under it. Some built shelters of bark and brush while others put up tents. Fortunes were taken out that winter, and many who had families in the east and elsewhere went back in the spring and summer and brought them to the Rogue River Valley. This was the beginning of the settlement.
Alice Applegate Sargent, "A Sketch of the Rogue River Valley and Southern Oregon History," Oregon Historical Quarterly, March 1921, pages 3-4. Read before the Greater Medford Club in the spring of 1915.
Gold Discovery in Rich Gulch in 1851.
Interesting Pen Picture of Jacksonville
in the Days of the Gold Excitement.
First Murder Trial Held in Jackson County.
Following is a brief account of the first discovery of gold in Rich Gulch and the first murder trial held in Jacksonville. While the court's methods may have been crude, they were certainly effective in holding the lawless element in check and safeguarding life and property during the strenuous first days.
Much of the history of Jacksonville is unwritten but, fortunately, some of those who dug its foundations and reared its schools and churches still survive, and upon the faithfulness of their memories we must depend for the accuracy of the records. It was in December 1851, or January 1852, that Rich Gulch was struck, the first gold being taken out near the present crossing of Oregon Street. Gold had been found somewhat earlier on Jackson Creek, nearly opposite the old City Brewery, by two young men, who communicated the fact to James Clugage and J. R. Pool, who were traveling through the valley. The result was the discovery of Rich Gulch by Clugage and Pool, who associated themselves with Skinner and Wilson, who conjointly claimed four hundred feet of the gulch. It was not long until the secret of a "discovery," where men could wash out a pint cup of gold daily, was leaked out. In February 1852, every foot of the gulch was staked out and claimed, and by March the surrounding hills and gulches were, in spite of the evident hostility of the Indians, filled with the rapidly swelling population, and soon the first discovery was the center of an extensive mining region.
In February a trading post was opened in a tent by Appler & Kenney, packers from Yreka. It was by no means a bazaar, the stock comprising only a few tools and little "tom iron" [perforated sheet metal used in a rocker or long tom], the roughest clothing and boots, some "blackstrap" tobacco and a liberal supply of whiskey--not royal nectar, perhaps, but nevertheless the solace of the miner in heat and cold, in prosperity or in adversity. Other traders follows, bringing supplies of every kind, pitching their tents on the most available ground, and finding plenty of customers flush with treasure. In March the first log cabin was built by W. W. Fowler, near the head of Main, the only street in the embryo city. Lumber was "whipsawed" in the gulches at the rate of $250 per thousand, or purchased in small quantities from a sawmill in the valley; clapboard houses, with real sawed doors and window frames, began to rise among the tents; the town emerged from the chrysalis stage, and before the end of summer assumed an air of solidity, and fairly entered on the second stage of its existence.
During this time a marked change had taken place in the social structure of Jacksonville. Gamblers, courtesans, sharpers of every kind flocked to the new El Dorado. Saloons multiplied beyond necessity; monte and faro games were in full blast, and the strains of music lured the "honest miner" and led his feet into many a dangerous place, where he and his money were soon parted. Notwithstanding the loose and reckless character of a large portion of the people, crime was remarkably rare. There was no written law. The hastily prepared handful of territorial laws, borrowed from the Iowa code, generally relating to property rights, were inoperative at so remote a point from the seat of government, and there was neither county organization nor judicial officers.
But there was a law higher, stronger, more effective than written codes, the stern necessity of mutual protection, and an element had the courage and will to enforce it. Justice was administered by the people's court; its findings were singularly correct, its decrees inflexible, its punishment certain. In 1852 the first court of this character was convened. A miner named Potts was shot dead without provocation by a gambler named Brown. Immediately every claim was vacated. Men, not angry but outraged by the deed, gathered in hundreds, and the assassin was secured. That fine sense of chivalry and fairness common on the frontier prompted a proper investigation, and in the absence of even a justice of the peace, W. W. Fowler was appointed judge and a jury of twelve men was selected. The case was tried by the rules of right and wrong divested of legal technicalities. Brown was readily proved guilty of a cowardly murder and taken to an oak grove a little north of the site of the Presbyterian Church, hanged and buried under a tree a few yards west of where the church now stands, and the remains have never been removed. The court was quietly dissolved, the judge disclaiming the right to exercise further jurisdiction, but the lesson was salutary and effective.
"True Tales of Pioneers," Jacksonville Post, August 21, 1920, page 1
The accepted legend is that James Clugage and James Pool bore the same relation to gold mining in Oregon that Bennett and Marshall did to that in California, Clugage and Pool having panned the first color late in 1851, in the gulch where now stands the town of Jacksonville. But a quarter of a century or so ago, when the topic was fresh and also controversial, a number of highly credible witnesses came forward to testify that for some time prior to the autumn of 1851 mining operations were being carried on by a man named Bills, on Big Bar, on the Rogue River, not far from Perkins' ferry. David Linn, later a pioneer settler in Jacksonville, and Wesley McGanigal set out from Oregon City in October, 1851, on foot for Salem, where they outfitted for the California mines. Linn, whose credibility was good and whose story was confirmed by others, said that he and his fellow travelers came upon Bills some weeks prior to the Jacksonville discovery, and that he had then apparently been mining for some time. Another contributor to the history of the period, Lee Laughlin of North Yamhill, laid claim in behalf of his party to having found gold in the Rogue River in September, 1849.
"Gold Discovery on the Pacific Coast," Oregonian, Portland, May 14, 1922, page C8
In the late fall of 1851 two young men panned out some gold on Jackson Creek, near where the City Brewery was later built. They told James Clugage and J. R. Pool about it. Clugage and Pool happened to be camped there when the gold was found. Clugage and Pool began prospecting and struck gold in Rich Gulch. Word got out that new diggings had been discovered, where a pint of gold to the man could be panned out daily, so by February 1852 Rich Gulch was stacked and within a month the hills and gulches nearby were staked.
William M. Colvig, quoted by Fred Lockley, Oregon Journal, Portland, May 13, 1927, page 16
In 1851 two men, Clugage and Pool by name, equipped a pack train at the mining town of Yreka, California, and carried supplies between Yreka and towns in the Willamette Valley. They followed the narrow trail across the Siskiyou Mountains and along the bank of Bear Creek. It was their custom, when they reached this valley, to stop and rest and recuperate their animals. The wild grass grew so high in the valley that the man who herded the mules had to stand on the back of his horse in order to locate the rest of the herd.
Clugage had worked at mining, and one day while they were in camp in the valley went up into the hills where Jacksonville now is.
Following up a gulch or ravine, he came to a place where the heavy rains had washed the soil entirely away, leaving a ledge of rock exposed. Taking his bowie knife from his belt he dug around in the rocks and sand and found nuggets of gold. He returned to camp and reported his discovery to Pool; together they went back to the spot and staked out their mining claims.
Returning to Yreka, they bought a camp outfit and mining tools and returned to work their claims. They had kept quiet in regard to their discovery, but in two months from the time Clugage found the nuggets of gold a thousand men were on the spot. Claims were staked out and every man went to work to dig out the gold. No time was spent in building cabins. A man would throw his saddle blanket over a manzanita bush and put his bed under it; some built shelters of bark and brush, while others put up tents. Fortunes were taken out that winter, and many who had families in the East and elsewhere went back in the spring and summer and brought them to the Rogue River Valley. This was the beginning of the settlement. Some took up land in the valley, while others settled in Jacksonville and Ashland.
"Battle of Table Rock Told by Mrs. Sargent," Medford Mail Tribune, January 3, 1932, page 3
That James Clugage and J. R. Pool located the first mining claim in the Jacksonville area is not disputed, but there is more than one version of how they happened to discover gold. The two were operating a pack train between Yreka and towns in the Willamette Valley. It was their custom to rest and feed their animals along the banks of Bear Creek, where the wild grass grew high. One day in December, 1851, while they were in camp, Clugage went up into the hills and in a gulch came upon a place where heavy rains had washed away the soil.He dug around in the sand with his bowie knife and found gold nuggets. According to another version the discovery was not by chance--he had been tipped off by two young men who were passing through the country that they had found evidence of gold in the gulch.
"Gold Under Jacksonville," Oregonian, Portland, March 6, 1946, page 14
Last revised May 6, 2017