The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised

Jackson County News: 1849

News of Jackson County and the "Applegate Trail"--the southern emigrant route.

 Mines, Ho?
    With the view of inducing inquiry and reflection, we ask those of our readers who are preparing to go to the mines to consider well as to the proper time of going. Many of you are better acquainted with the character of the country over which the road to California passes than we are, yet a little further inquiry and reflection in these times of general excitement may prove serviceable. It is said by good men now in California, who went with wagons, that wagons cannot be taken through into the California mines until July; the same opinion is entertained by some intelligent men here who have an extensive knowledge of the country--if this be true, farmers who intend going to the mines with wagons would do far better to drive business upon their farms until August, before commencing their journey.
    Traveling from Oregon to California with wagons was never attempted before last fall, when it resulted well, and it would prove equally advantageous again in the same season of the year. An arrival in the mines between June and September would be very likely to prostrate persons from Oregon with sickness. One thing is true; many more of those who packed through last fall were sick than of those who went with wagons; now, although this may be attributable in part to the greater exposure of the packers, yet it was probably mainly owing to the fact that the packers reached the mines earlier than the wagoners. We believe that an ox team will pass over ground with a wagon containing a load of one thousand pounds where a horse bearing one hundred and fifty pounds burden cannot go, but horses can sometimes avoid ground that wagons must pass over. Suppose that you reach the immediate neighborhood of the Sacramento with horses and wagons by the first of May (which is as early as you can well hope), will not that be during high water, and on the verge of the sickly season? and will not the great fatigue of the journey so early in the season exhaust the energies of the body and render it more than otherwise liable to successful attack from the diseases of the country? If so, then both interest and prudence would dictate that rather than undertake the journey so early in the season with wagons and horses, it would be more wise to wait until a time when the roads are known to be good, and the more sickly portion of the season will have passed. By August another crop can be grown, harvested and secured. By leaving here on the first of August the mines can be easily reached by the middle of September, and by going into the mines at that time such such conveniences as can be taken with wagons, with plenty of provisions and good health, a man might entertain a reasonable hope of retaining his health through the fall and winter. The foregoing suggestions are thrown out more with the view of eliciting inquiry among our fellow citizens as to what their true interests are than by way of advice.

Oregon Spectator, Oregon City, February 8, 1849, page 2

    The Commissioner on "Cayuse war claims" will commence his first session at Oregon City, on the first Monday of November next, for the investigation of claims against the late provisional government growing out of the Cayuse war.
    Com. &c.
Oregon City, Oct. 18, 1849.
Oregon Spectator, Oregon City, December 13, 1849, page 3

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.
Oregonian, Portland, January 21, 1900, page 5

    In the spring of 1849 a party of 13 decided to make a trip from Portland to the Missouri River on horseback, a distance of over 2000 miles. Mr. [James] Field was selected captain of the company. The Indians were very aggressive on the Oregon Trail, and it was decided to go south through the Willamette Valley and the Rogue River Valley, then to cross the Cascade Mountains and avoid the Indians. They had serious trouble with Indians in the Rogue River Valley and were compelled to build a fort, under cover of which they built a boat and crossed the river. During the whole trip half the party were obliged to do picket duty while the others slept. The party was under orders that at no time should anyone be out of reach of his rifle, and, for fear of treachery, no Indians should be allowed to come near them. In the Rogue River Valley they met a party from Sutter's Fort, Cal., who reported having been hard pressed with Indians.
Port Chester Daily Record, May 11, 1903, quoted in "Pioneer of Oregon Dies," Morning Oregonian, Portland, May 19, 1903, page 7

Last revised August 8, 2016