The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised

Martin Peterson

    Rev. Martin Peterson preached at the courthouse last Sunday evening to a large audience. His subject was the fallacy of the doctrines of the Second Adventists, which he will further analyze on Sunday, March 1st.
"Local Brevities," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, February 14, 1874, page 3

Josephine Co., Dec. 1, 1874.       
Editor Times:
    Having been spending some time in company with others prospecting the mining country in this county, I take this method to give publicity to some things I have seen.
    I have seen an immense quantity of placer mines lying on the hills along Rogue River, from the mouth of the Applegate to three miles below the mouth of Galice Creek, that would pay handsomely if some company would put in a large ditch from Applegate on the mountains above said hills. I have no doubt but that it would prove remunerative. There are placer diggings enough here to employ a thousand men for the next ten years to profit, if scientifically managed.
    But the matter that took me into the mines was to see if the great ledge of quartz, discovered three miles below the mouth of Galice Creek, was what it is represented to be. This ledge, you will see by the proceedings of the miners' meeting last Saturday, a copy of which I send you, is called the Yank Ledge. Rogue River has worn its way through said ledge to the depth of some 500 feet, and where the river is now running it is more than 100 feet wide. The ledge of quartz, through which the river runs [in] a westerly direction, is cased well on one side with slate rock and on the west side with granite. But now comes the incredible part--that the ledge is over 125 feet wide. I have traced it for over three miles, and at different points have found where it is cut with small streams that run through it. It is cased the same as at the river, and on the left-hand fork of Rocky Gulch it is wider than it is at the river. The quartz of this ledge contains both silver and gold, and is in appearance the same as that of the great Comstock ledge of Nevada. I have the receipts of an assay made by an assayer of Walla Walla, W.T., for Messrs. Courtney, which reports $21.50 in silver and $6.40 in gold per ton. The same gentlemen have had another assay which is more than double the one I have given. The amount of minerals contained in the Rogue River Mountains is immense. I think if enterprising men will take hold of the Yank Ledge (which should have been called the mammoth ledge, as it surely is the largest known in the United States, if not in the world), they will make it profitable to themselves and of immense value to Oregon.
    I would say to the citizens of our county that we need to go to work to help Josephine County get a good wagon road to this mountain of minerals, that machinery may be put up and men set to work to develop its value. And if it proves as good as many think it is, it will give us a home market for our surplus at good figures, and be a benefit to all, if properly used.
    There is a tolerably fair road to Pickett Creek, which is some ten miles from the mouth of Slate Creek, from whence it is about twelve miles to the ledge by a pack trail, which one unaccustomed to the mountains would call bad.
    I have sent some of the rock for assaying to Portland and also to San Francisco. When I receive returns, by your permission, I will give the public the facts thereof.
Democratic Times, Jacksonville, December 4, 1874, page 3

    Ed. Sentinel:--Please allow me the use of your columns to say to the people of Southern Oregon: First, Shall we look to our own interests? Second, What are our interests? Third, How can we build them up? 1st. We should by all means look to our own interests, for certain it is, if we do not, they will be uncared for. 2nd. Our interests are many, and of vast importance to us. 1st. It is certain that we are interested in some of the most lovely little valleys on this green earth. 2nd. That if we wish their attractions increased we will have to increase them, for certain is it that our neighbors north and south of us have not the interest or disposition to aid us much. Our mountains abound in wealth, in minerals, &c., which needs labor to open up to commerce. Our beautiful streams need capital and labor to put up manufactories to make for us our farming and mechanical implements, and save much cost to us all in transportation; also we need factories to make our sugar, syrup and salt, and then we need the disposition to patronize home instead of foreign interest. 3rd. How can we best build up our valleys? Answer--By all working for each other's good. Farming is one interest that must be sustained or all will fail. Milling is closely allied to farming and must also be remunerative, or we will not make a success. Our woolen mills must not be ignored or we will not be as successful as we might. Our printing offices must be supported or we will not be much known in the outside world. Our mechanics must be paid or they will starve. Our miners must be indulged until they get their mines opened and draw on the bank. Our merchants must have patronage for their wares or they will become bankrupt. Our stock men must be encouraged in their vocation or the Indians will drive them out, and last but not least, our teachers, both religious and secular, must have the necessary encouragement or we will raise up a community of ignoramuses and infidels and bring all to ruin. All these interests go to make a happy and prosperous people. But if any one of these classes interfere with any other class or classes, they should be cautioned or reprimanded. For the merchant to interfere with the business of the farmer by pricing his grain below its actual worth is wrong, and he that would do so should have a good letting alone by all well-minded people. For the miller to place the price of flour beneath its actual value (taking into consideration supply and demand) should not receive the wheat out of which to make the flour, and by this means he can be prevented from hurting himself and the farmers, and the country in general. For the best farmers to quit their farms and to engage in the mercantile (when that business is already overdone) is not for the general good, and ought not to be encouraged. There is but one way to prevent this that I now think of, which is for farmers to cooperate, so as to make farming more remunerative and merchandising less so. That this class is too numerous already in our country needs no proof. There are more than double the number engaged in merchandising than the country demands. We are inclined to buy more than we actually need, then complain of the scarcity of money. The wonder has been with me that we have as much money here in Southern Oregon as we have. There is one drain on our finance that should by all means be stopped, for it not only uses up our means but it demoralizes and destroys our people. I refer to the use of beer and ardent spirits. This, worse than a useless practice, is not only robbing us annually of thousands of dollars but it is ruining hundreds of otherwise good people, and filling our hospitals with wrecks of humanity. Let us put a stop to this drainage on our beautiful valleys and good people. How can this be done? By all quitting the use of any and all drinks as a beverage. You answer they will not do it. I say by getting all to do this you will have accomplished something worthy [of] an honest and sensible person. Why not let this horrible habit die with those who say they cannot quit it? You that can quit, quit now and forever, and be bettered for time and eternity. Let us all make up our minds to not indulge in this soil-destroying habit, and discourage all we can from doing so. One good plan to lessen this evil is for us all to tell those who are aiding in building up this evil, that unless they will take a different course, we will not give them our support by doing business with them. Isolated as we are from the outside world, it behooves us to be sober, temperate, industrious and economical, and we will see better times. What say you good people? Will we all contribute our part to the building up of the interests of Southern Oregon? I for one will put in my mitts. There are many things that we might write concerning, but let this suffice for the present. Yours Truly,
Mound Ranch, Jackson Co. Ogn.
Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, August 21, 1878, page 1

    LOCATED.--Editor, Sentinel:--Please say in your columns that the office of the County Board of Immigration for Jackson County, Oregon is in the Town Hall of Medford, one door north of A. L. Johnson's land office. Those having real or personal property for sale, and those wishing to purchase the same, will do well by calling at our office. We also wish samples of the products of the county brought to our office, to be placed on exhibition, and we wish those who want help to send us word that we may find employment for those seeking for honest labor in our midst. Correspondence solicited.
    Address MARTIN PETERSON, Secretary of Board of Immigration.
Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, May 30, 1885, page 3

    Applegate with its tributaries covers the principal part of the southwestern part of this county. In it is much mining. There has been considerable gold taken out of quartz in the Steamboat mining district, and no doubt there will be much more taken out in the near future. Persons who are willing to go back into the mountains, and hew out homes in the woods and make wagon roads to get around, can find some vacant land in this region, as they can also in the mountains and other parts of our county, that will do to make homes on, but there is no valuable land near the valley or in the region where there are settlements and roads that are vacant.
    We will now turn our attention to the northwestern part of the county. Here we find mountains and small streams. First, Wolf Creek is a small stream, with but little agricultural land on it in our county. It flows westwardly into Grave Creek, in Josephine County. It has considerable good timber on it, and some good gold diggings. Next, south of this, is Grave Creek, which is similar to Wolf Creek, heading in the Rogue River Mountains, and flows westwardly a while, then bears southerly, emptying in Rogue River below the gigantic Yank quartz ledge in Josephine County. It has much timber, some gold mines, and some farming land on it. Next, south of this, is Jump-off Joe, a small stream that heads only a short distance east of the west line of our county and flows southwest, emptying into Rogue River eight or ten miles below Grants Pass. It has much timber, some farms and considerable lands unimproved yet, and some mining country on it. Next, south of this, are small rivulets flowing southwest into Rogue River above Grants Pass. There is considerable timber and some mines and a little farming land in our county north of Rogue River, before we get up to the mouth of Evans Creek, which is about six miles above Grants Pass. This creek heads far up towards Umpqua waters and flows southwest a distance of about thirty-five miles. It, with its tributaries, has much timber, some mines and considerable farming land, a portion of which is very good. Perhaps in the bounds of this section is to be found as good vacant land as is in our country. At the head of the west branch of Evans Creek are the salt works that from ten to fifteen years back furnished considerable salt. On the east branch is situated two sawmills that were built by Mr. Thomas, where much lumber has been cut. They are now opened by other parties and are doing considerable business. Down the main creek are other sawmills that have done considerable business. At the mouth of Evans Creek and on its east bank is located Woodville with its depot on the north bank of Rogue River. In this locality the hop-raising business bids fair to give employment to many persons. If it proves to be a success (and I see no reason why it should not), there will be hundreds of acres cultivated in hops along this stream soon, and no doubt other parts of our county are as well adapted to hops as this section. Following up on the north side of the river, we pass quite a number of farms which are cut in two by the railroad. Eight miles above Woodville is Rock Point. Here is situated the first bridge that was built on Rogue River, and here is the store of Haymond & Magruder Bros. They also own the bridge and have done much business in Rock Point. The mountains come down quite close to the river on each side for a considerable distance up and down from Rock Point. Two miles above here is Gold Hill station on the Oregon and California railway. Near here, on the south side of the river, is situated the famous Gold Hill, towering high up in the air, out of the top of which was taken the richest quartz ore that was ever mined in this region. One two-horse wagonload yielded $32,000, as I was informed by General Ross, who was one of the partners, and who hauled the gold quartz down to be crushed.
    Between Gold Hill station and Gold Hill proper the railroad crosses Rogue River just below Chavner's bridge, which is the second bridge across the river. This and the Rock Point bridge have both been rebuilt in the past ten years. They are toll bridges. Just below Gold Hill station is a lime kiln, where very fine lime is burnt from the marble and lime rock that abound in this region. A short distance above the station is the flouring mills owned by the Trimbles. This is a very fine water power. The race is about half a mile in length and taken out of Rogue River at the head of a rapids where a ledge of rocks crosses the river. By the enlargement of this race there could be a large amount of machinery run by the water. In the mountains on either side of the river in this section is an unlimited amount of iron ore, and we know not but think that there is quartz and other deposits--a sufficient amount of wealth, if we had it in sight, to make this one of the foremost counties in our state. But we must take a rest here for about a week, when we will proceed up Rogue River.
        Secretary of Board of Immigration.
Democratic Times, Jacksonville, June 19, 1885, page 2

    Proceeding up Rogue River from Gold Hill station we pass around the base of Gold Hill and along the foot of the hills east of it. Around here for about five miles the railroad had to be cut most of the way through granite rock, some of which is of the finest quality for building purposes. On the north side of the river are a few small farms before you reach the mouth of Sams Creek, but the bottom land is narrow and the mountains high. From the mouth of Sams Creek the mountains recede and the valley begins to widen. Sams Creek rises in the Rogue River Mountains, flows in a southerly direction, emptying into the river about two miles below Bear Creek, it coming in on the north and Bear Creek on the south side. Sams Creek has come excellent land on it, but its valley is small, being only ten miles in length and from one to two and a half miles in width. All the valley land is taken up, but there is some hillside and mountain land vacant, with some good fir timber on its head. Proceeding from the beautiful little valley of Sams Creek eastward we pass the lower Table Rock, a magnificent landmark standing out in our valley in bold relief. We now come to Table Rock Creek. It rises in the mountains near the head of the east fork of Evans Creek. Between these two creeks the mountain is low, which makes a good way for people to pass from Evans Creek into the valley and a good road to haul lumber from the sawmills over on Evans Creek. Through this pass is where Jesse Applegate made his survey for the Oregon & California railway. Some good farms are found along Table Rock Creek and on the mountainsides. On the west of this little creek is some vacant land. On the east, extending a distance of from four to eight miles, is undulating land. It is mostly brushy and thin land, but some very good arable land lies in this section. Table Rock Creek rises in Rogue River Mountains and flows southwesterly and passes between the upper and lower Table Rocks and empties into Rogue River at the south end of the lower Table Rock. Proceeding up Rogue River on the north side we find some very fine land, but most of the land in this region is brushy and gravelly, and not fit for much but early pasture. About 12 miles from Table Rock we come to the mouth of Trail Creek, a small stream heading away up towards South Umpqua River, and flowing southwest. It is mostly hills and mountains in this part of our county, and better adapted to grazing than farming. There are very good spots for farming purposes, but they are mostly occupied. Next above Trail Creek is Elk Creek. There is but very little farming land along it. Further up on the north side of Rogue River, along the bottoms, is some very fine land, but it is all taken. There is some undulating land in this region that is good but mostly taken up. On the south side of the river along here it is mostly mountainous and heavily timbered. A few miles farther up the river we reach Aiken Bros.' sawmill, situated on the south side of the river. It is as fine water power as is to be found, and being situated at the large body of pine woods of which we have already spoken, it would be a very valuable property if there was a flume to bring this valuable lumber down to the valley. In former years there was considerable lumber hauled from here by teams on their return from Fort Klamath when taking supplies there, but now, as the supplies are sent from another direction to the fort, there has not been much hauled of late, except some parties who wish to find finishing lumber have had it hauled from there. This fine body of timber lies on comparatively level land and is easily taken to where there is plenty of water power to manufacture it into lumber. Union Creek, one of the head branches of Rogue River, rises in the Cascade Mountains and flows northwest, emptying into the river on the south. It runs a large body of water, and for several miles flows through this beautiful body of timber. The principal part of this land is vacant, and to persons with sufficient means to bring the elements into service could make money for themselves and benefit the county by making a flume from some point here to bring this fine timber to the valley, and then use the water for irrigating purposes. No doubt the day is not far distant when this will be done. Some may look upon this as visionary, but I look at it in the same light as I did the practicability of constructing a railroad across the plains from Missouri to the Pacific coast over thirty years ago. After my return to Missouri from California in 1854 I was frequently asked what I thought of the project of constructing a railroad across the plains. My reply was that it would soon be done. So I think in reference to the practicability of building this flume some fifty miles to utilize the timber and water of this region.

        Secretary of Board of Immigration.
"Letter No. Three," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, July 3, 1885, page 1

    Elder Peterson and several assistants were engaged in preparing the northeast corner of the fair grounds for the meeting next Sunday, and for the great lecture by Rev. John A. Brooks on Friday afternoon, the 12th inst. A fine speaker's stand has been provided, numerous seats for the audience placed in the shade of the oaks and the grove of pines about the fine well, trimmed up and beautified. A large crowd is expected at both gatherings.
"Central Point Pointers,"
Democratic Times, Jacksonville, July 4, 1889, page 3

PETERSON--In Central Point precinct, July 2nd, of inflammation of the bowels, Elder Martin Peterson; aged about 70 years.
Democratic Times, Jacksonville, July 11, 1889, page 3

    It is seldom that a good man is more generally missed from his accustomed haunts than is Martin Peterson, whose sudden death was chronicled last week. He was a central figure in the community, about whom were attracted those who appreciate the better ways of life and revere goodness for its own sake. Simple and unassuming of manner, diligent in season and out of season in his Master's work, making no promise that he could not fulfill, he was ever ready to mourn with the sorrowing to sympathize with the distressed and rejoice with those who rejoiced. For twenty-five years he has labored in his chosen field with the zeal of an apostle, visiting the sick, counseling the wicked to better ways, admonishing the unwary; ever ready to respond to the cry of his parishioners in their need. For a quarter of a century he has officiated at the baptismal font, the marriage rite, the funeral obsequies of a large district--a veritable minister of grace. Two generations have listened to his teachings and will cherish his memory as one of the elect of the earth, who have "rendered with their precepts less the sum of human wretchedness." Born of sturdy pioneer parentage in the state of Indiana in October 1820, and becoming a pioneer of this coast himself when in the meridian of life, he lived to see the fruition of his hopes and the full appreciation of his ministration by his parishioners, and died in the happy reflection resulting from having consistently followed out the course prescribed by his Master, as he was permitted to see it. He was stricken while in the pulpit, expounding the Word, but lived to reach his home and died, surrounded by his family, on Tuesday afternoon at three o'clock, July 3rd. If his faith was well founded--and who can say that it was not--he but goes from sounding his Master's praise on earth to singing hosannas in heaven. The cortege which followed his remains to the place of interment was one of the largest funeral processions seen for many months in the valley. May his ashes rest in peace; his soul has but gone to its reward.
A FRIEND.               
Democratic Times, Jacksonville, July 18, 1889, page 1

    On our way home we stopped at Medford and Central Point, Oregon. At Medford we found the brethren hopeful, and erecting a fine church house. We spoke twice to good audiences. Two were added to the congregation.
    August 4th, in a beautiful grove on Rogue River, near our lamented Bro. Martin Peterson's house, we held a basket meeting. Had fine hearings and started a movement to secure a representative man for this important field. The death of Bro. Peterson leaves this field without an active worker in it. A few items in connection with his life and work will be of interest to many readers.
    Bro. Peterson was born in Xenia, O., Oct. 28th, 1820 and died at Central Point, Oregon, July 2nd, 1889, in his 69th year. He married Miss Sarah Arrowwood, of Montgomery Co., Ind., who died about one year thereafter leaving one child--Mrs. Dougherty, of Missouri. Sept. 22nd, 1884, he married Miss Elizabeth Hamrick, of Missouri, by whom he had six children, only one surviving him.
    With his family he crossed the plains with ox teams in spring of 1850, and landed in Grass Valley, Nevada Co., California.
    Four years after, the doctors prescribing an ocean voyage for his wife's health, they returned to Missouri by water, via Isthmus, Gulf and Mississippi River.
    In 1863 they made the overland journey again with horse teams, landing at Liberty, Cal., near where Galt now stands, midway between Sacramento and Stockton. After one year they removed to Central Point, Oregon.
    After returning to Missouri, he began preaching, and continued despite the dangers caused by the war until he left for the coast.
    To Bro. Peterson, we believe, belongs the honor of conducting the first "church on wheels" across the plains. In a company of 150 souls there were some 25 or 30 members of the Christian Church. They held regular services every Lord's day, preaching, breaking the loaf, etc. Emigrant trains that chanced to camp nearby would often invite him over to their camp and preach for them.
    Thus our brother was sowing the seed of the kingdom. Frequently have we met parties from all parts of the coast who knew Martin Peterson, and speak of him with great respect, saying we crossed the plains with him, or heard him preach on the plains.
    Sister Peterson remembers those days with pleasure and says that this trip was truly enjoyable.
    To Bro. Peterson also belongs the honor of organizing the first Christian Church in Southern Oregon. He was taken suddenly sick while preaching, on Lord's day, June 30th, but was able to be taken home next day, and died the following day (Tuesday) afternoon. Bro. P. was emphatically a pioneer preacher, a self-made man, a hard student, as a glance at his well-thumbed, well-selected library will attest, of positive convictions and fearless in his exposures of errors.
    The immense concourse of citizens that followed him to his last resting place testified to the hold he had upon the popular heart. The service was conducted by his old-time friend, Bro. G. M. Whitney, of Eugene, Oregon.
A. B. WADE.               
Central Point, Oregon, Aug. 6, 1889.               
"Oregon Items," The Christian-Evangelist, St. Louis, Missouri, August 22, 1889, page 9

A Handsome Monument.
    In the cemetery near Central Point there has recently been erected a massive and elegant monument to mark the last resting place of Elder Martin Peterson, who died July 2nd, 1889. The material is Italian marble, and the design is an Ionic pillar upon a broad sandstone pedestal that bears the family name. The pillar, which is over seven feet high, is finished with a capital surmounted by a beautiful closed urn. In the niches below the arches are lovely calla lilies, and around the pillar fern fronds and ivy are interwoven in delicate fretwork. About the base are oak leaves in bold relief. The monument is symbolic of the high character it commemorates. Elder Peterson was a man of strongest religious convictions and purity of character, and tender as a little child with humanity in its ever-changing mutations, and it is meet that the spotless marble that bears aloft the consecrated urn should be as unassuming in design as the life work of the man whose name is recorded upon it. This handsome monument is the work of the well-known marble dealers, Jackson & Sowden of Grants Pass.
Democratic Times, Jacksonville, June 27, 1890, page 3

Auction Sale.
    There will be sold at the farm of the late Martin Peterson, in Central Point precinct, at auction sale, on Saturday, July 19, commencing at 10 a.m., a number of horses, cattle, etc. Terms: Cash in hand on all sums under $25. Three months' time will be given on all sums over that amount, notes to be well secured and draw 10 percent interest.
Mrs. M. Peterson,
W. A. Owen, Auctioneer.
Democratic Times, Jacksonville, July 11, 1890, page 3

    The year 1864 yields data of an interesting character in one person of Martin Peterson, who crossed the plains and settled in the Sacramento Valley in 1863, coming to Oregon a year later. To him belongs the honor of organizing the first Christian Church in Southern Oregon. He built the first schoolhouse in his part of the state at his own expense and preached in it until his death. To his labors are indebted the churches of Medford, Ashland and Central Point. Other churches were organized by him in Jackson and Josephine counties which did not endure. His zeal for the cause was evidenced by the fact that in crossing the plains he held services regularly every Lord's Day with the emigrant train. He called it the "First Church on Wheels." There were 30 members of the Christian Church in that train. While preaching a sermon on June 30, 1889, he was stricken down and died the next day. He devoted his entire life to the church and steadfastly refused ever to take a penny for his labors.
C. F. Swander, Making Disciples in Oregon, 1928, page 35

Last revised June 26, 2016