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The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised


Martin Angel


    Our townsman, Martin Angel, has purchased one half of the steam propeller Black Hawk. He is just the man for the business, energetic and industrious.
Oregon Spectator, Oregon City, June 19, 1851, page 2


    In Oregon City I became acquainted with a man by the name of Angel. About the time the Rogue River gold mines were discovered and began to be worked, Mr. Angel concluded to remove there. Previous to his removal, as I was talking with him in relation to the matter, he said he was the owner of a good rifle, and that Indians were quite plentiful in the Rogue River country. He said he intended to shoot the first Rogue River Indian that he should see after his arrival at that place.
    I had some argument with him in regard to the justice or propriety of committing such an act, but he persisted that his mind was fully settled, and he would certainly do that deed, provided he should have an opportunity. When I was fully convinced that he was truly in earnest, or appeared to be so, I said to him, that should he do as he said he would do, and murder an innocent, unoffensive Indian in cold blood, it was my wish that he would also be shot by an Indian.
    Mr. Angel removed to Rogue River, and I later learned that he shot three or four Indians at different times, while he was standing in his own doorway, and that he made a boast of it, but that he was killed during the Rogue River Indian outbreak. Provided I had the truth of the matter, I certainly believe he received his just deserts. Poor Mr. Angel!

Kimball Webster, The Gold Seekers of '49, 1917, pages 216-217



    [At the Big Bar massacre in June 1852] The Indians on our side commenced hiding themselves behind trees, and making evident demonstration of a disposition to commence a fight. In this move I ordered my men to intercept them, as we had the advantage of the timber. Mr. Angel then interfered, and the Indians that were on our side of the river (all of their chiefs having gone over to the other side) and they agreed to deliver up their arms to him & go into a log house and remain prisoners until they should send for and bring back the Indians we were in pursuit of. This was agreed to, and Mr. Angel undertook to get them into the house, but as soon as they got past us they ran away from him, and commenced hiding behind large pine trees. If they had succeeded in getting shelter we should have been exposed to their fire without any chance for shelter. I then ordered my men to fire upon them, which they did, and the firing immediately became general. We killed thirteen. . .
Elijah Steele to Charles S. Drew, November 15, 1857


    The people there now demand an extermination of the hostile Indians, and are resolved not to stop short of it. Indians are shot down wherever they are found. Martin Angel, late of Oregon City, shot one from his door the day Mr. E. left. He says he saw not less than ten or twelve bodies of Indians lying by the side of the road leading from Jacksonville north.
"Indian War in Rogue River," Oregon Statesman, Salem, August 23, 1853, page 2


    The Rogue River War was commenced by Shasta Indians who had been driven from Shasta Valley. They killed a man named James Kyle, within hearing of the center of the town on the road coming from Yreka Sat. night Aug. 2nd, '53. [This was apparently Thomas Wells; Kyle was killed on Oct. 7; see below.] This fired the citizens & miners acting made indiscriminate war on the Rogue River Indians. A meeting of the citizens were called that night. They slaughtered indiscriminating war on Rogue River or Shasta Indians, though of the latter there were but few, and so those most guilty suffered the least. Two Indians were captured on Applegate, which is a tributary of Rogue River, lying 8 miles south of Jacksonville. These Indians had on the war paint; they were brought to Jacksonville and in a few hours hung by the citizens and probably justly. But the saddest part of the tale remains to be told. About four o'clock in the evening, two farmers from Butte Creek brought in town a little Indian boy 8 or 9 years old. The cry was Hang him! exterminate the Indian! The miners put a rope around his neck & led him towards the tree where the others were hung. B. F. Dowell mounted a log in the vicinity, made a brief speech to the excited crowd of 1000 men, in behalf of the Indian & humanity. Someone cried out what will you do with him? I replied "Take him to the tavern and feed him at my expense." The excitement subsided & they gave me the Indian. Mr. Dowell removed the rope from his neck & led him toward the tavern. At this moment Martin Angel, an old citizen & brave soldier, rode up in an excited manner, cried out, "hang him! hang him! we've been killing Indians all day!" The excited mob rushed and took the Indian from Mr. Dowell, and in a moment had the boy hanging from the same tree from which the two men were suspended. Mr. Dowell resisted after the rope was placed the second time and cut the rope, but the crowd seized him and held him until the execution occurred. Less than a year and a half after in Jany. '56 Martin Angel paid the forfeit of his crime by being assassinated by the Indians on the road above Jacksonville leading to Crescent City. This boy had been employed with the farmers on Butte Creek--farming. During the Rogue River War Mr. Dowell carried the mail between Cañonville and Yreka as mail contractor, and never was molested by the Indians. After the war, Chief Limpy told him that he could have killed him several times, but that he wouldn't hurt a paper man and one who had tried to save a "tenas tillicum," little papoose.
Interview with Benjamin Franklin Dowell, Bancroft Library MSS P-A 25-26


    The families throughout the valley have all been collected, and a great many came to town. Those families on lower Rogue River have congregated at Fort Dardanelles (Wm. T'Vault's), also at N. C. Dean's, Willow Springs, at Martin Angel's and Jacob Wagner's. Each of these places are well guarded.
T. McF. Patton, letter of August 6, 1853, Oregon Statesman, Salem, August 30, 1853, page 2


MORE INDIAN MURDERS.
    Last Wednesday, about 2 o'clock p.m., our town was thrown into the most intense excitement by the intelligence that Martin Angel, an early settler and influential citizen of this valley, had been killed by the Indians. A force from Fort Lane, composed of a howitzer and small covering party of infantry, were on the way to join Capts. Rice and Bushey on the Applegate, preparatory to an attempt to dislodge a band of Shasta Indians from a fort near Star Gulch. At this place they were joined by several spirited citizens, and proceeded on by the Crescent City trail. When about two and a half miles out, Mr. Angel and Mr. Walker, who were about 250 yards in advance, were fired upon by Indians from the brush. Four balls passed through the head and neck of Mr. A., killing him instantly, while another shot killed his horse. Mr. W. was not injured, though a ball passed through his beard, grazing his face. The troops, hearing the firing, halted a moment to load their rifles, and hastened up, but found the body of Mr. A. and that of his horse, already stripped, and the Indians, springing into the undergrowth, escaped.
    The Indians were supposed to be in force, and Mr. Wagner hastened back to town for assistance. In a few minutes a company of mounted men were on their way to the scene of the affray. But on their arrival the enemy had fled up a precipitous mountain, inaccessible to horses, and they returned, bringing with them the body of Mr. Angel.
    At this place the distressed wife, but a few hours after she had parted with him in the full flush of health and activity of vigorous life, met the mutilated remains of her murdered husband. Besides the widow, several children are left to lament his death.
    Mr. A. had for a long time filled a large place in the public eye. His faults were those which all men might overlook, and the better traits of his character had secured to him the kind regard of a large circle of friends. Since the destruction of life commenced there has been no such sensation of gloom and dismay upon this community as was observable last Wednesday afternoon.
Table Rock Sentinel, Jacksonville, January 5, 1856, page 1


    The express from the south this evening confirms the report of the death of Martin Angel, surrounding of the Indians on Applegate, &c., which have been in circulation for a day or two. Martin Angel and a man by the name of Hull were killed by the Indians within three miles of Jacksonville.
"Umpqua Correspondence of the Statesman,"
Oregon Statesman, Corvallis, January 15, 1856, page 2


    About New Year's Day a small party of whites discovered a band of Indians on Applegate Creek, some twenty-five or thirty miles from Jacksonville. Pretending to be miners on a prospecting tour, they managed to remain on the creek, unsuspected by the Indians, until they could send word to the nearest settlements. These Indians appeared to belong to the band that committed the depredations on the Upper Klamath, as they pretended to entertain hostile feelings against the whites in that region only, and did not care to fight the "Bostons" about Jacksonville.
    As soon as information of their whereabouts was received in the valley, about 150 of the troops, and many citizen volunteers, took up the line of march for Applegate on the 2nd of January, carrying one of the mountain howitzers along. When about two miles from Jacksonville, Mr. Martin Angel and John McLaughlin passed ahead of a troop of thirty soldiers, and within a distance of only 40 yards of them were shot at by Indians. Mr. Angel's horse took fright, and while cantering off the trail the Indians succeeded with several more shots to kill horse and rider, and then stripping them, taking Mr. Angel's two revolvers and rifle. Angel's companion, McLaughlin, succeeded in rejoining the soldiers, who immediately loaded their guns and then advanced toward the spot where Angel fell. They came soon enough to make the Indians hasten their escape and drop some of the plunder, but Angel was already dead. Mr. Henry H. Hutchins, our informant, learned that on the same morning Mr. Hull was out hunting with his son when the latter was killed by the Indians, and it is thought this was done by the same scout which killed Angel.
"Progress of the War in the Interior," Crescent City Herald, January 16, 1856, page 2


    ANOTHER INDIAN MURDER.--Last Wednesday the body of Mr. Chas. W. Hull was found on the divide between Jackass Creek and the left-hand fork of Jackson. A company of men hunting had struck the trail of Indians and were following it when they came upon the body. He had been out with a hunting party and was separated from his comrades when the Indians discovered and shot him. The deceased was about twenty-two years of age, had formerly resided in Ypsilanti, Michigan, and had relatives living here. The Indians were undoubtedly the band that afterwards, and on the same day, killed Mr. Angel.

Table Rock Sentinel, Jacksonville, January 5, 1856, page 2



Notice.
    W. G. T'VAULT is my authorized Agent and Attorney to transact business for me in my name. Persons having claims against the estate of Martin Angel, deceased, will present the same to my attorney, at his office in Jacksonville, to be presented to me for allowance or rejection.
ANNA ANGEL,
    Jacksonville, July 30th, 1856.
Table Rock Sentinel, Jacksonville, August 9, 1856, page 4


Jacksonville OT Jan 6th / 58
Gen Joseph Lane
    Dear Sir
         I write to you in regard to some forage scrip of [the] '53 war. This scrip I have spoken of before to you, when you were here last. I believe I told you something about the circumstances. I think it was not properly entered on the muster roll. This I think I told you about; it is made out in the name of my former husband Martin Angel. Now I want you to understand the matter fully, as I might have omitted something when I was speaking to you about it. Mr. Angel lost this scrip gaming and gave his bond for the payment when it was paid to him. After his death suit was entered against the estate to recover the amount, but those entering suit were nonsuited, as they failed to make out a case, and now I being the proper one to receive this money ask you as a gentleman and friend to use your influence for the purpose of trying to collect the same, and I am perfectly willing to pay you any reasonable charge for any trouble you may be put to in the collection of said scrip. Besides being under many obligations I shall muster up all the proofs I can and send by J H Reed, as he will leave here on the 20th of next month for Washington, and he is my attorney. I shall need your testimony in the case, as you are better acquainted with the matter than anyone else. Charley Drew's testimony will be about as strong as anyone's as he was acting agent or quartermaster. This is all of business matters. Now for a little friendly talk. I suppose you have heard long since that I was married again. I was married on the 27th August to Charles Williams. I had been living at Oregon City previous to my marriage and was married while on a visit to Jacksonville. I since went below and brought out my children and am sending them to school. We are all getting along as well as could be expected. This now is about all I can say, trusting this may find you in the enjoyment of good health. I remain your friend and well wisher.
                            Yours, Anna Williams
Joseph Lane Letters


    We plead for the payment for the property destroyed belonging to Martin Angel, who left the bluegrass of Kentucky to join Dr. Whitman in 1842 and settled on the bunchgrass of Oregon. His wife left Canada when a child, under the guardian care of a learned physician who in the same year stretched his tent in Oregon City, two thousand miles west of any white settlement, and when the gold mines were discovered in southern Oregon they became the first settlers of Rogue River Valley. Ten years afterwards Angel and his wife lost nearly all their property by security, and two out of three of their children are poor and wanderers in the gold fields of British Columbia, so the expense of the affidavits to establish their claims had to be borne by the husband of a younger sister.
B. F. Dowell, The Heirs of George W. Harris, 1888, page 52


FIRST WHITE MALE BORN IN VALLEY DIES, GRANTS PASS
    Martin Angel, the first white male child* born in Jackson County, died at Grants Pass, Thursday, October 15, with Bright's disease, aged 58. Following the discovery of gold in Jackson Creek in 1852, the Angel family was one of the first to settle in the new Eldorado, locating a donation land claim between Medford and Jacksonville, where the birth of the young Martin was celebrated in 1856. During the strenuous pioneer days the Angel farm was the scene of many exciting circumstances, and some of the battles of the Rogue River Indian War were fought around the Angel home place [skirmishes, maybe, but not battles], the elder Angel being one of the victims of the lust for blood of the redskin warriors. He was shot from ambush, and his body now rests in the Jacksonville cemetery, within a short distance of where he fell.
    Martin Angel remained in the Rogue Valley during his boyhood. In early manhood he drifted to the state of Washington, where he pioneered in the development of the Puget Sound country. He assisted in laying out the original townsite of Tacoma and joined the engineering crew on the Northern Pacific Railroad.
    In 1897 Martin Angel joined the rush to the north and was with the first to reach the Nome fields. Here his training in the southern Oregon gold mines stood him in good place, and success in the search for the golden metal was with him. He later returned to the "states," and a few years ago came to Grants Pass and purchased a farm in the lower valley. He made his home in the city. He never married.
    Funeral services were under auspices of the B.P.O.E. The remains will be shipped to Medford, from which place they will be escorted by Medford Elks to the Jacksonville cemetery.
Medford Mail Tribune, October 17, 1914, page 6  *Click here for more claimants to the title.


UNIQUE FIGURE PASSES
MARTIN ANGEL LONG IDENTIFIED WITH ROGUE VALLEY HISTORY.
First White Male Child Sees Many Conflicts with Indians
and Has Part in Development.

    GRANTS PASS, Or., Oct. 24.--(Special.)--In the death of Martin Angel, who died October 15, aged 58, there passed one of the best-known characters in Southern Oregon history. He was born in 1856, the first* male white child to be born in Jackson County. Following the discovery of gold in Jackson Creek in 1852, the Angel family was one of the first to settle in the new Eldorado, locating a donation land claim between Medford and Jacksonville, where young Martin was born.
    During the strenuous pioneer days the Angel farm was the scene of many exciting circumstances, and some of the battles of the Rogue River Indian War were fought around the Angel home place, the elder Angel being one of the victims of the lust for blood of the redskin warriors. He was shot from ambush and his body now rests in the Jacksonville Cemetery, within a short distance of where he fell.
    Martin Angel remained in the Rogue Valley during his boyhood and early manhood days, but the spirit of the pioneer was dominant, and he soon drifted to the state of Washington, where he pioneered in the development of the Puget Sound country.
    As a young surveyor he assisted in laying out the original townsite of Tacoma, and then joined the engineering crew that marked the route of the Northern Pacific railroad from the crest of the Cascades to the sea, completing the union of the East and the West with the twin bands of steel that brought modern civilization to the land of the Pacific.
    In 1897, when the discovery of the Alaskan gold fields again stirred the spirit of adventure, Martin joined the rush to the north, and was with the first to reach the Nome fields. Here his training in the Southern Oregon gold mines stood him in good place, and success in the search for the golden metal was with him.
    He later returned to the "states," and a few years ago, wishing to settle down in the land of his youth, the Rogue Valley, which was always "home" to him, he came to Grants Pass and purchased a farm in the lower valley. He made his home in this city, however, directing the development of what is considered one of the foremost peach orchards in the valley. To this orchard Mr. Angel was giving his thought. It was his present ambition.
    A sister and a half brother survive him, the former, Mrs. Julia Dudley, having arrived to attend the funeral.
Oregonian, Portland, October 25, 1914, page 5


Compare the credible accounts above with the mythologized version below, which thoroughly scrambles the facts and order of events:


Slaying of Martin Angel by Indians in Applegate an Episode of Early Day
By Maude E. Pool

    Innumerable people have traveled up the Big Applegate River and, driving around Mule Hill, located about 12 miles above Ruch, experienced a thrill of delight at gazing at the steep precipice below descending to the river's edge. Many have passed the tranquil spot about four miles above Mule Hill where Squaw Creek, a tiny mountain stream heading in the famous Squaw Lakes, merges with the Applegate and runs merrily on its way. But behind the quiet dignity of these beauty spots of nature there lies a story.
    Miss Alice Hanley, well-known pioneer residing northeast of Jacksonville, related that story a few days ago of the tragedy that is so closely interwoven with those spirited days when the first settlers of Southern Oregon struggled and fought for existence.
    One day in the spring of the early '50s, Miss Hanley said, a saddled horse galloped into Jacksonville from the trail through the wilderness to the Applegate country. The horse was riderless, and carried traces of blood, evidence of tragedy. The Jacksonville people knew Martin Angel had been killed by the Indians. Angel lived south of Central Point on a donation land claim [now] known as the Cooksey place.
    Stirred to a raging fury over the murder that had been done in the hills, a group of volunteers hastily packed food and ammunition and started to the Applegate on the trail of the Indians. Northeast of Poorman's Creek they found the dead body of Angel, who had been shot through the back. (The scene of the murder was along the present Jacksonville-Ruch Highway nearly a half mile west of the summit.)
    At this point the band of volunteers divided, part of them carrying the corpse back to town, the rest continuing on horseback in pursuit of the Indians. Tracks in the dust led the avenging company up the Big Applegate, where darkness halted their chase until morning.
    Then, soon after the first glimmer of dawn, misfortune occurred, and as the brave band scaled a dangerous pass around a mountain they looked on in helpless horror as their mule, too heavily laden with ammunition and food, lost his balance in the shell rock [i.e., limestone] trail and tumbled into the rushing floodwaters of the Applegate below. With the precipice so high and steep that the men were unable to rescue their mule, they last saw his four feet occasionally emerge in the air from the muddy depths, and realized that his heavy load had caused him to turn on his back in the water. That mountain is called Mule Hill.
    With unfailing courage the volunteers moved onward, planning to battle the Indians with the ammunition carried by each individual. But that battle never materialized, for a few miles above Mule Hill lay the camp of the Indians where a tributary flows into the Applegate. The reds, probably sighting the enemy, had fled, leaving their squaws and papooses and one blind man to the mercy of the whites. The squaws were at breakfast, but the hungry volunteers dared not eat, fearing poisoned food. From that day the rivulet coming down from the mountains there has been known as Squaw Creek.
    The Jacksonville man took the squaws and children back to their town as prisoners. The braves did not return for their wives, and the squaws were freed when further captivity seemed unprofitable.
    Miss Hanley believes this story to be authentic, since it had been told to her by one of the volunteer band, Dan Fisher, of the Central Point vicinity, who once pointed out to Miss Hanley the points of interest in that trip to the Applegate. The episode broke up the stronghold of the Applegate Indians, the fugitives probably escaping through Elliott Creek to the Klamath. They remained away for a long period of time, finally returning to join the remaining tribe of Shasta Indians in the Rogue River Valley, and together moved down the Rogue to the Illinois Valley.
    An incident believed to be an aftermath of the Angel murder occurred in Jacksonville a short time afterward, Miss Hanley said, when some quick-tempered resident shot two Indian boys who were thought to have been sent from the Applegate to investigate the degree of hostility in the gold town. Miss Hanley believes the killing of these innocent boys to be the greatest mistake occurring in relations with the Indians. The cause of Angel's murder never was known, and was thought very unusual, since his wife herself was a French Canadian.
Medford Mail Tribune, June 14, 1934, page 8





Last revised April 9, 2017