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The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised


T'Vault's Mission


    The steamer Sea Gull arrived at Portland on the 21st inst. On her way up she touched at Port Orford and landed a party of 65 men, with four cannon and plenty of small arms and ammunition. Twenty-four of the party started immediately for Rogue River and the Shasta mines. The Sea Gull stopped four days at Port Orford. She was to leave Port Orford for this port, via Trinidad and Humboldt, on the 23rd inst.
"Later from Oregon," Daily Alta California, San Francisco, July 30, 1851, page 2


    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 [in] 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. [probably William Clinton Tichenor]
"Our Port Orford Correspondence," Daily Alta California, San Francisco, August 26, 1851, page 2


    STEAMER SEA GULL.-This steamer arrived here on Sunday morning last, with a full cargo and about forty passengers. She touched at Humboldt Bay, Trinidad and Port Orford on her way up. Capt. Tichenor reports all quiet at Port Orford. The exploring party who had gone out with a view of finding a road from that point to the Rogue River country had not returned. The Sea Gull left on Wednesday, p.m., with a full freight of various kinds of produce and several passengers. Among them were Dr. Dart and Messrs. Spalding and Parrish en route for Port Orford, for the purpose of effecting a treaty with the Indians on the coast below.
Weekly Oregonian, Portland, September 13, 1851, page 2


Mr. T'Vault's Letter.
Dr. A. Dart, Superintendent of Indian Affairs for Oregon Territory:
   
Dear Sir:--I hasten to lay before you the result of one of the most fatal occurrences that has taken place within the limits of Oregon since its settlement. Your letter addressed me under date August 14th, was duly received.
    I proceeded to this place on board the steamer Sea Gull, leaving Portland August 15, and on the 24th Aug., with a company of 18 persons, took up my line of march for the purpose of exploring and ascertaining the practicability of locating a road or roads from Port Orford to the upper Rogue River country. For the first three days' travel our route was down the coast in a southern direction to or near the mouth of Rogue River. We informed the Indians, whom we found very numerous, that you would be at Port Orford in from fifteen to twenty-five days for the purpose of making them presents of blankets and clothing and also treating with them for their illahe (lands), at the same time making them small presents myself. When near the mouth of Rogue River, while riding some distance in advance of the company, there were some manifestations of hostility--two Indians drawing their bows and presenting their arrows at me. However, upon raising my gun to present, they immediately ran.
    From this place our course bore about northeast, until the 31st of August. Here nine of the company started on their return to Port Orford, and the remaining nine continuing with me up Rogue River in a northeast direction, until the 7th September, our provisions having given out, we laid by this day for the purpose of curing elk meat. Our road up to this place lay over mountains and canyons, densely set with chaparral (underbrush); not being able to proceed more than from three to eight miles per day. From this place I could examine the upper Rogue River country sufficiently well to satisfy myself that we were not more than from twenty-five to thirty-five miles west of the Oregon trail leading to Shasta mines. Here a consultation was had, and our scarcity of provisions as well as the country's opening out to the north, influenced by a plain Indian trail, we were induced to travel to the north, believing that we could soonest obtain supplies in that direction. On Tuesday night, the 9th, we reached the headwaters of a stream flowing into the ocean at or near Cape Blanco. We traveled down it some distance, through an open country, and on Wednesday picked up an Indian boy who acted as our guide. On Thursday we started in a northern direction, crossing some low hills, and on Friday, the 12th, fell onto the southern branch of the Coquille River--which flows into the ocean in latitude about 43 deg. 10 mts. In passing down the southern branch, we had several beautiful views from high points of the large and extensive valley of the Coquille, which appeared to be generally level bottom land, densely covered with ash, maple, birch, some oak, and rich vegetable undergrowth of vines, nightshade, &c., such as is produced in the Missouri and Wabash bottoms. On Saturday morning, 13th, being entirely out of provisions, and not having had one-quarter's allowance for the last several days, it was thought advisable to abandon our animals, as we could make but little progress with them, and that too not in a direction so as to warrant the obtaining of any provisions. We, therefore, obtained Indian canoes and Indians to transport us to the mouth of the Coquille River. After passing a few miles we came to the junction of the south and north forks, which form a stream about eighty yards wide, where the tide ebbs and flows from two to three feet, at a distance of fifty miles from its mouth. From the junction of the forks, the course of the river is north of west, passing through a valley from ten to twenty miles wide. During Saturday, the 13th, Saturday night and Sunday, up to 9 or 10 o'clock a.m., we descended with rapidity and ease. When within a few miles of the mouth of the river, one of the party, a Mr. Hedden, recognized the river to be the Coquille, which he had rafted in going from Port Orford to Oregon in Kirkpatrick's company, and that the Indians, which had become very numerous, were then hostile, and it would be necessary for us to be on our guard. We were now in sight of the place where we intended to leave the canoes, at the same time passing several Indian lodges on the right bank, where vast numbers of the naked Indians were promenading the banks. One of our party, whose name I will not here insert, insisted most strenuously that we land on the northern bank, at the largest Indian lodge we had seen, and there get our breakfast. To this, Mr. Brush and myself remonstrated. We, however, drew in so near the bank that the Indians could reach the side of the canoe with their hands while in their canoes lying along the shore. They immediately grabbed our canoe and refused to let us push off. On one occasion we succeeded in pushing off some six or eight feet, but they jumped in and pulled our canoe to the shore and commenced boarding us and seizing hold of our arms. We made one instantaneous rush for the shore. I think Mr. Brush fired a pistol, the only one I recollect of hearing. In less than fifteen seconds we were completely disarmed; as there were ten Indians to one white man in the rencounter, and not less than from one hundred to a hundred and fifty standing around. In drawing my six-shooter, I was knocked down. The first thing I remember, I was some fifteen yards in the river in swimming water. I looked around and saw upon the shore the most awful state of confusion--it appeared to be the screams of thousands--the sound of blows, the groans and shrieks of the dying--at the same time I noticed my friend Brush, not far distant from me, in the water, and an Indian standing in a canoe striking him on the head with a paddle, causing the water to become bloody around him. My attention was then directed to a small canoe with an Indian lad in it but a short distance from me. I swam to it; he helped me in, put a paddle in my hand, pointed to the southern bank, and immediately ran to the other end of the canoe. On looking around, I saw him helping Brush to get into the canoe, and he immediately jumped overboard. We then paddled for the southern bank of the river. Upon landing we succeeded in getting to shore, then stripped ourselves of our clothing and, crawling on our bellies up the bank, succeeded in escaping to the thicket. We then continued in our naked condition traveling south, through the worst of hammocks and dense briery chaparrals during the day; at night we approached the beach, traveled all night, and about daylight on Monday morning reached Cape Blanco. On Monday we were taken by the Indians living near Cape Blanco, treated with a great deal of kindness, kept all night on Monday night with every accommodation they were able to afford, and on Tuesday brought into Port Orford in the situation that you saw us in. Mr. Brush and myself are all of a party of ten that remain to tell the melancholy fate of our companions--Mr. Brush being severely wounded by having several inches of the scalp of the top of his head cut off.
    The names of our companions who were murdered are:
A. S. Doherty                aged 30     Texas
Patrick Murphy
               "    22     New York
Thos. J. Davenport
          "    26     Mass.
John P. Holland
               "    21     New Hamp.
Jeremiah Ryan
                 "    25     Maryland
Cyrus Hedden
                    "    __     Newark, N.J.
J. P. Pepper                      "    28     Albany, N.Y.
    The loss of property--seven United States rifles, with accoutrements and ammunition; one rifle, with fixtures, &c.; one musket; one double-barreled pistol; one Sharp's patent 36 shooting rifle, with implements and ammunition; one Colt's six-shooter, revolving pistol; one brace holster pistols, together with a number of blankets.
    The foregoing contains, substantially, the facts as they transpired. I, however, might say much more, but my feeble state of health and the severe pains from my wounded and bleeding limbs forbid my saying more at present.
    It will afford me much pleasure, at all times, to give such information as I may possess.
                I have the honor to be, sir,
                                Very respectfully,
                                                Your ob't serv't,
                                                                W. G. T'Vault.
Port Orford, Sep. 19, '51.
Weekly Oregonian, Portland, October 4, 1851, page 2


(Correspondence of the Statesman.)
Port Orford Expedition--Disastrous Result--
Seven Men Murdered--T'Vault and Brush Only Escaped.

Port Orford, O.T., Sept. 24, '51.       
    Editor Statesman:--In my last communication I made mention of an expedition being fitted out under the direction of Mr. W. G. T'Vault, for the purpose of opening a trail to the mines, or one intersecting the road leading from the Willamette Valley to the Shasta mines. The result of this expedition you may have received prior to the receipt of this; if not, you will now learn some very unpleasant tidings of it. Mr. T'Vault left here on or about the 24th of August with a company of eighteen men, exclusive of himself, comprising, in all, nineteen men. They had six horses for the purpose of packing their provisions, blankets, etc., and they were also accompanied by an Indian chief who went as guide for them to Rogues' River. After the company had been absent some eight or nine days, nine of the company returned, reporting the progress of the company not of the most flattering character, and also a scarcity of provisions. Previous to this division of the company, the Indian guide left the party to their own discretion and guidance. Previous to this transaction, however, they had succeeded in reaching Rogues' River, distant from this place, southward, about twenty-five miles, nautical measurement. At the time of the separation both of the nine men from the company, and also the guide, were traveling in an easterly direction. This course, however, they continued only for a short distance, but so far as they proceeded, they found no obstacles insurmountable, and from the experience thus obtained they pronounce the route not at all impracticable .After leaving the river, and when about eight or ten miles distant from it, they struck an old Indian trail leading off in a north or northwest direction. This they followed for several days, supposing, at the time, that it would lead them to the Umpqua River. In this supposition they were sadly mistaken. Instead of reaching the Umpqua, agreeable to their expectations, it was a branch of the Coquille River. Here they abandoned their horses and employed Indians to take them to the coast, leaving their animals to be destroyed by whatever animal or being that might come across them. At this time the party were not aware that this was the Coquille River, but supposed that it was another river of considerable size that empties into the Pacific some ten miles from the mouth of the Umpqua. Their mistake was recognized by one of the nine unfortunate persons who made their escape from this place in June last, and crossed this river near the mouth, and who was one of the eight unfortunate men who met a sad fate in a desperate struggle with the Indians at the mouth of the Coquille River on the morning of the 14th inst. The company had been for several days almost entirely destitute of provisions, and several of the men were now almost entirely unfit for service, and in fact they were all more or less debilitated from the want of food and severe fatigue. In this critical and [in] every way way incapable situation of the party, they were attacked by a large number of the Coquille Indians just as the canoes reached the shore of the river, at or near the wigwams where the party had resolved on procuring breakfast, if possible. Their reception, however, was a sad one, and only two of the ten men who comprised the company made their escape, and those fortunate individuals were Messrs. W. G. T'Vault and Gilbert Brush, and they escaped with their lives and their lives only. They secreted themselves during the day in the roads, and when night set in they took to the beach, and in this way they succeeded in reaching a friendly tribe of Indians, some forty miles from the scene of action, and within fifteen miles of our camp. Here Messrs. T'Vault and Brush were cared for in a manner not unworthy men of a civilized character. Mr. Brush was exceedingly weak and debilitated from the wounds that he had received by the Indians in the engagement, in which he received two severe gashes upon his head, and which bled profusely from the time of his receiving them up to the hour of his reaching the friendly Indians, who dressed his wounds and otherwise provided for him and also Mr. T'Vault. They remained at the Indian rancho during the night, and on the following day the chief and some of his tribe assisted them in traveling to our camp, where they met with a reception that is more easily conceived than described.
    The chief who brought Messrs. T'Vault and Brush into camp was immediately employed to return and ascertain, if possible, the whereabouts of the other eight men who were still missing. The chief was absent three days, and returned with the sad intelligence that he had, with the assistance of several of his squaws, succeeded in finding the bodies of five of the eight men who were then missing. The names and residences are as follows: A. S. Doherty, Texas; Patrick Murphey, New York;  Thomas J. Davenport, Mass.; Lorin L. Williams, Michigan; John P. Holland, New Hampshire; Jeremiah Ryan, Maryland; J. P. Pepper, Albany, N.Y., and Cyrus Hedden, Newark, N.J. Of this number, the Indians say, two escaped, and after they had succeeded in freeing themselves from the Indians, they discharged their rifles, and, as good fortune would have it, each shot done its deed of execution; they then fled in the direction of the Umpqua. How true this statement may be I cannot say, but I am inclined to believe that the two here spoken of have been confounded with the escape of Messrs. T'Vault and Brush, for almost at the very moment that the canoes touched the bank of the river, the Indians rushed into the water, seized the men and disarmed them, without giving any chance of defense, and as soon as Mr. Brush saw the result of the Indians' intentions, and knowing that the lives of the whole company were in jeopardy, he drew a concealed pistol from his belt, placed it against the breast of an Indian, and, as he supposed, discharged it, but receiving at the same moment a sure blow by an Indian with a kind of sword or long knife which felled him in the water, and for a few moments produced insensibility, which wholly disqualified him from witnessing the whole tragedy. His sense of understanding having returned to him, he then found that the blood was flowing profusely from the wound that he had received upon his head, which further disqualified him from witnessing the awful scene that was then being enacted around him. He saw, a short distance from him, Mr. T'Vault in a canoe with a young Indian. He succeeded in reaching the canoe, and was assisted into it by the Indian. The Indian then left them, and Messrs. T'Vault and Brush paddled the canoe to the opposite bank of the river, from whence they made their escape as I have above related.
    It is possible, however, notwithstanding all these circumstances, that two and perhaps three of the men made their escape, for it is ascertained almost beyond a doubt that five of the men have been killed, or the bodies of five men have been found by a number of friendly Indians who went in search of them; consequently there are three unaccounted for. It is the opinion of the chief who went in search of the men who are missing that only five were killed, one drowned, and two made their escape. In regard to the opinion of the chief thus expressed, I sincerely hope it will prove true--so far as the escape of the two men are concerned--but I sincerely doubt the safe arrival of any men of that unfortunate company to a civilized settlement.
For the present, adieu,
    J.C.F.
    P.S.--Since writing the above Mr. Parrish went out and endeavored to negotiate with the Coquille Indians. He made them several presents in behalf of the government, but all was of no avail. Mr. P. informed them that they could have many blankets, and other presents, if they would come down to this place with him, but they concluded that they would like to have the blankets, but could not go after them, though they concluded to receive them if they were brought up there.
J.C.F.
Oregon Statesman, Oregon City, October 7, 1851, page 2  "J.C.F." is James C. Franklin.


Correspondence of the Statesman.
Two of the Port Orford Party Arrived in the Umpqua Settlements--
One Severely Wounded--Four Safe and Five Murdered.

Gardiner, Umpqua River,
    September 22, 1851.
    Editor of Statesman:
    Sir--Last evening two men, named Hayden and Williams, arrived at this place, reporting that they were attached to Colonel T'Vault's party of twenty men, which left Port Orford a short time since in search of a passage from that port to the mining country in the interior. They give the following account of that expedition:
    After spending several days in the mountains in an ineffectual attempt to discover a passage, the men and horses becoming worn down with fatigue and hunger, they separated into two parties of ten men each, one half retracing their steps to Port Orford, while Col. T'Vault, with the remainder, attempted to strike across the country for the Umpqua. They (the latter party) abandoned their animals, and arriving at the headwaters of the Coquille River (which, unfortunately, they mistook for the Coos), engaged some Indians to convey them in their canoes to the coast. Towards night (one of the canoes containing four men being three miles in the rear) Col. T'Vault with five of their party reached an Indian village and requested to be landed on the opposite shore, which the Indians refused to do, but carried them directly to the village, when the instant they touched the shore they were suddenly attacked by about 200 Indians, and their arms wrested from them.
    Messrs. Hayden and Williams escaped to the woods with one other of the party, whom they have since neither seen nor heard from. At the time of their escape one of their number had been killed. Col. T'Vault was thrown down on the beach, and another was held in the water by the Indians, who were also beating them on the head with guns and paddles.
    Hayden and Williams have been eight days reaching this place, having subsisted, in the meantime, on berries and mussels, and being almost entirely without clothing. The former is unhurt, except from fatigue and exposure, while the latter is badly if not mortally wounded, having two arrows shot into him and otherwise much bruised and cut.
Oregon Statesman, Oregon City, October 7, 1851, page 2


A New Discovery!
    W. G. T'Vault, Esq., left this place some two months since, for Port Orford, on the steamer Sea Gull. Mr. T'Vault, in company with 18 other men started from Port Orford on the 24th of August to explore and locate a road, if possible, from that point to the upper Rogue River country. After being out several days they met Indians who manifested an unfriendly disposition. Some of the party, becoming disheartened, expressed a wish to return to the place of starting. Accordingly, on the 31st of August, 9 of the number started back, the rest pursuing their enterprise. Their course previously was down the coast towards the Rogue River, but meeting with many obstacles in that direction, they changed their course northward. After proceeding some days through a somewhat open country, they struck on the 12th of Sept. the southern branch of the Coquille River, which Mr. T'Vault thinks empties into the ocean in latitude 43 deg. and 10 min.
    From a letter addressed to Dr. Dart, Supt. of Indian Affairs, and printed in the Oregonian, we give the writer's own account of it, without expressing an opinion:
    In passing down the southern branch, we had several beautiful views from high points of the large and extensive valley of the Coquille, which appeared to be generally level bottom land, densely covered with ash, maple, birch, some oak, and rich vegetable undergrowth of vines, nightshade, &c., such as is produced in the Missouri and Wabash bottoms. On Saturday morning, 13th, being entirely out of provisions, and not having had one-quarter's allowance for the last several days, it was thought advisable to abandon our animals, as we could make but little progress with them, and that too not in a direction so as to warrant the obtaining of any provisions. We, therefore, obtained Indian canoes and Indians to transport us to the mouth of the Coquille River. After passing a few miles we came to the junction of the south and north forks, which form a stream about eighty yards wide, where the tide ebbs and flows from two to three feet, at a distance of fifty miles from its mouth. From the junction of the forks, the course of the river is north of west, passing through a valley from ten to twenty miles wide. During Saturday, the 13th, Saturday night and Sunday, up to 9 or 10 o'clock a.m., we descended with rapidity and ease. When within a few miles of the mouth of the river, one of the party, a Mr. Hedden, recognized the river to be the Coquille, which he had rafted in going from Port Orford to Oregon in Kirkpatrick's company, and that the Indians, which had become very numerous, were then hostile, and it would be necessary for us to be on our guard. We were now in sight of the place where we intended to leave the canoes, at the same time passing several Indian lodges on the right bank, where vast numbers of the naked Indians were promenading the bank. One of our party, whose name I will not here insert, insisted most strenuously that we land on the northern bank at the largest Indian lodge we had seen, and get our breakfast. To this, Mr. Brush and myself remonstrated. We, however, drew in so near the bank that the Indians could reach the side of the canoe with their hands while in their canoes lying along the shore. They immediately grabbed our canoe and refused to let us push off. On one occasion we succeeded in pushing off some six feet, but they jumped in and pulled our canoe to the shore and commenced boarding us and seizing hold of our arms. We made one instantaneous rush for the shore. I think Mr. Brush fired a pistol, the only one I recollect of hearing. In less than fifteen seconds we were completely disarmed; as there were ten Indians to one white man in the rencounter, and not less than from one hundred to a hundred and fifty standing around. In drawing my six-shooter, I was knocked down. The first thing I remember, I was some fifteen yards in the river in swimming water. I looked around and saw upon the shore the most awful state of confusion--it appeared to be the screams of thousands--the sound of blows, the groans and shrieks of the dying--at the same time I noticed my friend Brush, not far distant from me, in the water, an Indian standing in a canoe striking him on the head with a paddle, causing the water to become bloody around him. My attention was then directed to a small canoe with an Indian lad in it but a short distance from me. I swam to it; he helped me in, put a paddle in my hand, pointed to the southern shore, and immediately ran to the other end of the canoe. On looking around, I think I saw him helping my friend Brush to get into the canoe, and he immediately jumped overboard. We then paddled for the southern bank of the river. Upon landing we succeeded in getting to shore, then stripped ourselves of our clothing and, crawling on our bellies up the bank, succeeded in escaping to the thicket. We then continued, in our naked condition, traveling south, through the worst of hammocks and dense briery chaparrals during the day; at night we approached the beach, traveled all night, and about daylight on Monday morning reached Cape Blanco. On Monday we were taken by the Indians living near Cape Blanco, treated with a great deal of kindness, kept all night on Monday night with every accommodation they were able to afford, and on Tuesday brought into Port Orford in the situation that you saw us in. Mr. Brush and myself are all of a party of ten that remain to tell the melancholy fate of our companions--Mr. B. being severely wounded by having several inches of the scalp of the top of his head cut off.
    The names of our companions who were murdered are:
A. S. Doherty                aged 30     Texas
Patrick Murphy
               "    22     New York
T. J. Davenport
                "    26     Mass.
L. L. Williams                  "    23     Michigan
John P. Holland
               "    21     N. H.
Jeremiah Ryan
                 "    25     Maryland
Cyrus Hedden
                    "    ---     New Jersey
John P. Pepper                 "    28     New York
    The loss of property--seven United States rifles, with accoutrements and ammunition; one rifle, with fixtures, &c.; one musket; one double-barreled pistol; one Sharp's patent 36 shooting rifle, with implements and ammunition; one Colt's six-shooter, revolving pistol; one brace holster pistols, together with a number of blankets.
    The foregoing contains, substantially, the facts as they transpired. I, however, might say much more, but my feeble state of health and the severe pains from my wounded and bleeding limbs forbid my saying more at present.
    It will afford me much pleasure, at all times, to give such information as I may possess.
                I have the honor to be, sir,
                                Very respectfully,
                                                Your ob't serv't,
                                                                W. G. T'Vault.
Port Orford, Sept. 19, '51.
----
    We have been handed a letter addressed to the Secretary of the Territory for perusal, from which we extract the following:
    "Two men arrived here (Umpqua) (Sept. 23rd) the survivors of nine headed by Mr. T'Vault, who were trying to find a road through the mountains to the mines from Port Orford; they report that all their company except themselves were killed. They escaped by running and killing their pursuers. One of them is badly wounded by two arrows, the heads of which have not yet been extracted. They report that it is, in their opinion, impossible to get a road through from Port Orford to the mines.
Oregon Spectator, Oregon City, October 7, 1851, page 2


    HO! FOR PORT ORFORD.--By reference to our advertising columns it will be seen that Col. T'Vault proposes to start next Monday for Port Orford by land. He is confident that the construction of a road from that place to the mines is practicable, and is determined to "never say die."

Oregon Statesman, Oregon City, October 7, 1851, page 2


Port Orford Expedition.
    The subscriber intends leaving Oregon City for Port Orford, by the overland route, on Monday, the 13th inst., and wishes to employ five good men to accompany him, for the purpose of exploring the country between Umpqua and Port Orford. Persons desirous of availing themselves of an opportunity to explore, or go to Port Orford, are invited to join the expedition. Information given by calling at my residence in Oregon City.
W. G. T'VAULT.
Oregon City, Oct. 5, 1851.
Oregon Statesman, Oregon City, October 7, 1851, page 3


Port Orford Correspondence.
The Indian Treaties in Oregon--T'Vault's Expedition--The Rogue
and Coquille Rivers--Probable Errors in Their Geographical Determination--Discoveries, &c. &c.

Port Orford (O.T.), Oct. 7, 1851.
    Messrs. Editors:--In a previous communication I promised to furnish you an account of the proceedings of Dr. Dart, the Superintendent of Indian Affairs, who for several days has been negotiating with the different tribes in this vicinity, and with satisfactory results, the object of the treaty on the part of the government being to secure peace and thereby afford the privilege of traveling through, with safety, all the Indian territory in this vicinity, and also for the purpose of purchasing their lands. In these projects the Superintendent has succeeded, except with the Coquille tribe, which is the most formidable tribe on the Pacific coast, and with whom a treaty at the present time is absolutely demanded. It will be remembered that this is the tribe into whose hands Capt. T'Vault and his company of ten men fell, and of which only two made their escape.
    The extent of territory inhabited by the Indians with whom a treaty of peace and friendship has been concluded, and from whom lands have been purchased, extends from the Coquille River on the north to a point some twenty miles south of Rogue River and extending back from the coast fifty miles, making an area of four thousand square miles, or 2,550,000 acres, at an aggregate cost of $25,000. The terms of the treaty give to each tribe the privilege of traveling with safety through any portion of the territory occupied by other tribes, and also gives the whites the privilege to occupy any portion of said territory which may be desired, in consideration of which the government of the United States has agreed to pay the said tribes, for ten years, yearly installments consisting principally of clothing and provisions. Dr. Dart estimates the whole expense of the treaty and purchase will not exceed the sum of $25,000. The Indians seem to be very much pleased with the great bargain that they have made, and seldom have I witnessed proceedings of a public character that were more interesting. Knowledge of the most serviceable character in regard to the geography of the country has been made known at these negotiations, and in the future explorations of this portion of Oregon it will be of the greatest importance. From the Indians and what we have gained from our own discoveries, we are led to believe that there has been a great error committed in naming the rivers of the interior in accordance with the names applied where they empty into the Pacific.
    McArthur, in his survey of the coast, has placed the delta of Rogue River some twenty miles north from the line of California, and from many sources we learn that there is an extensive farming country bordering on Rogue River and extending from thirty miles back into the interior. But Mr. T'Vault, while on his recent adventurous tour, contradicts this report and positively asserts that there is but a small portion of farming land situated upon this river, and that is at or near the coast. But while passing down the Coquille River, he found the description which had been given of Rogue River exceedingly applicable to that, and he reports a large river, with extensive farming lands bordering upon it, and extending back into the interior at a distance not less than fifty miles, where the tide in the river ebbs and flows at a height of two feet. Judging from these facts, we are led to believe that the description of what has been termed Rogue River was intended for the Coquille; we are also inclined to believe that the river passed over by the Oregon Trail, and supposed to be Rogue River, is none other than the Coquille. We arrive at this conclusion, however, more particularly from the pleasing descriptions of the geography of the country. We have taken much interest in making all the inquiry possible in regard to this same subject, and from all the information thus obtained, from persons who have actually traveled over the Oregon Trail from the Willamette Valley to the Shasta mines, we gain the same important information. We learn that after leaving the south branch of the Umpqua the trail leads a southerly direction until it reaches Rogue River. This distance, they say, is from thirty-five to forty miles, and that they cross no river of any importance between the two points. Now it is a well-known fact that the coast between the Umpqua and Cape Blanco, and in fact to the California line, extends about north and south, and the trail, we are informed, runs parallel with the coast. Consequently, at the point where it crosses the river, which is supposed to be Rogue River, it cannot be over sixty miles from the coast, for at the point where it crosses the Umpqua, it is less than that distance to the coast. After crossing Rogue River the trail follows up the river on an easterly course some thirty miles, at which point it again leads off [in] a southerly course. At this point, where the trail leaves the river, the distance to the California line is put down at forty miles. These facts convince us that there is a mistake somewhere in regard to the application of names to the rivers from the Umpqua southward. If not, where does the Coquille head, or where does it come from? It is most assuredly equal in size to Rogue River, and far more susceptible of navigation. According to the most reliable information, Rogue River rises in Oregon and runs a westerly course, passes into California, and when some seventy miles from the coast recrosses the line into Oregon and empties into the Pacific some twenty miles from the California line. Consequently the trail leading from the Willamette Valley to the Shasta mines cannot at any point on the borders of the stream named Rogue River in McArthur's coast survey be a distance of forty miles [sic]. Another fact, and one which convinces us more forcibly that there is a mistake somewhere, is this: When Capt. T'Vault and his company reached the Coquille River, or rather a branch of that river, they supposed that it was a small river that empties into the Pacific Ocean some twelve miles south of the Umpqua. But while passing down that stream, and to their great disappointment, they found that it was nothing more or less than a branch of the Coquille, and from the discoveries made by them, compares with the description of those who have explored Rogue River for several miles below the crossing.
    These circumstances appear plausible, and almost positively indicate that the river over which the Oregon Trail passes, and known as Rogue River, is none other than the Coquille; yet we may be mistaken. It is a subject that causes much speculation in the minds of adventurers, and I have no doubt that if these remarks should meet the observation of any person who is sufficiently conversant with the geography of the country to furnish the desired information, he will confer a great favor by making the same known to the public.
    Having already occupied a much greater space than I intended in my remarks upon the above subjects, I shall content myself with giving an account of the discoveries of gold, as related by Messrs. T'Vault and Brush, by barely making mention of the fact, and reserve the principal remarks as a subject of interest for a future communication. We are convinced that they discovered an extensive mining region, and not unfrequently, while passing over high mountains several thousand feet above the neighboring streams, they found gold-bearing quartz, and from appearances exceedingly rich and extensive.
    More anon.                              CLINTON.  [probably William Clinton Tichenor]
Daily Alta California, San Francisco, October 16, 1851, page 2


    Another of T'Vault's party has arrived in safety; five safe and four murdered. This gentleman is Mr. Davenport. He brings no further accounts, is uninjured except by exposure, having been twelve days in the mountains, subsisting entirely on roots.
    Mr. Davenport thinks the remainder of the party were all killed by the Indians. He was pursued and passed by them, but by keeping [to] the mountains he eluded them and arrived at Gardiner after twelve days of the most intense suffering. He had nothing left but hat and boots when he arrived. He states that there is a large tract of fine farming country on the Coquille River, which river can be navigated for forty miles. He says the Indians are very numerous.
    Mr. Williams is suffering much from his wounds, but will probably recover.
"Arrival of the Columbia," Daily Alta California, San Francisco, October 28, 1851, page 2


    Mr. Williams, one of the unfortunate remnants of the Port Orford expedition, under Mr. T'Vault, is still at Gardiner, suffering severely from the effects of this wounds. He does not, however, surrender the hope that the energetic and humane Capt. Tichenor will yet make his appearance in the steamer Sea Gull with the benevolent design of removing him to San Francisco and procuring him that medical assistance which he so much requires.
"Indian Massacre on Rogue River," Oregon Statesman, Oregon City, November 25, 1851, page 2


Indian Fight in Oregon.
    Col. Casey, with a small detachment of United States troops, made an expedition against the Coquille Indians living back of Port Orford, and chastised them severely for their murderous attack, made some months since, upon Mr. T'Vault and his party. . . . Col. Casey, soon after arriving at Port Orford, proceeded thence to the mouth of the Coquille, and, encamping on the right bank, proceeded to construct rafts with which to cross. For two days the Indians kept firing from the left bank. Having embarked the whole command of sixty men, the expedition proceeded up the Coquille.
    Arrived at the forks of the river (sixty miles up), having burned all the rancherias on both banks, together with the provisions and fishing implements, they found the Indians, to the number of two hundred, encamped, awaiting their approach. They had sent their women and children to a place of safety, and had made preparations for a fight. Giving the command of one party to Lieutenant Stoneman, and heading the other himself, the Colonel made the attack; at the same time the Indians were firing into the boats. The fight continued for about twenty minutes, and at the end of that time the savages fled. A portion of them were intercepted by Lieut. Stoneman, and some six or seven killed. In all there were about fifteen killed, and many who were wounded were dragged off the field by the savages in their flight. Several of the men had their clothes cut by bullets and arrows, but none were hurt.
    A large quantity of provisions found in the rancheria was destroyed, and the rancheria razed to the ground. Returning, the Colonel left Lieut. Stoneman encamped at the mouth of the river with forty-five men and a howitzer. As all their winter provisions had been destroyed, and their canoes taken, the Indians will be compelled to sue for peace, and the severe chastisement they have received will cause them to refrain hereafter from molesting the whites.
    The Indian who was captured gave, by signs, such information as confirms the belief that five of T'Vault's men were murdered, and two of the Indians were shot at the conflict. The savages were under the impression that Mr. Brush had been drowned in crossing the river. Colonel Casey was about proceeding to Rogue River, 21 miles below Fort Orford, the Indians on that stream having recently harassed the white settlers, and requiring chastisement almost as much as those living on the Coquille.
"Further California News," The Sun, Baltimore, Maryland, January 3, 1852, page 1


    In September, 1851, Captain Tichenor brought Mr. T'Vault--of Oregon City then, afterwards of the Jacksonville Herald--to Port Orford as guide and interpreter. He said he was acquainted with the country and language of the Indians, which the unfortunate results of his expedition seemed to disprove. He got eleven men--some of them from San Francisco and some of the original nine--to follow his lead to the then-new southern mines. After wandering about in the mountains for six days, never having been beyond the sound of the sea, they fell in with a village of Coquille Indians and had a misunderstanding, which resulted in a fight, of which our boys had the worst. This was from ten to fifteen miles north of Port Orford, and was no massacre, but as far as I could learn, had all the characteristics of a fair fight. Some of the men swam the Coquille River and came back to Port Orford. Among them was Mr. T'Vault. Some came to the Willamette Valley and are here now, and some got in safe to Umpqua. Governor Gibbs and his friends took three of them over the Umpqua to Gardiner in their boat, and they are living in the Umpqua Valley now. Their names are Captain Willing, Cyrus Hayden (or Hedden) and Mr. Davenport. Whether any of the men were killed is not certain, for they were nearly all accounted for. But that some of them were badly wounded I do know.
J. H. Egan, "The Port Orford Affair Again," Portland Bulletin, February 25, 1873, page 1


    They did not find their way through to the Rogue River country; after several days' travel they came upon the headwaters of a river which they learned put into the Pacific some thirty miles north of Port Orford. Here they induced some Indians to take them (the eight) in a large boat to the ocean. When the boat party arrived within a mile or so of the ocean they met, on the bank of the river, the tribe of Indians called the Coquilles, that being the name of the river down which they had come. It being in the morning, they concluded to stop there among the Coquille for breakfast, and as they turned their boat to the shore they saw nearly a hundred Indians standing on the bank
APPARENTLY FRIENDLY
and glad to see so many white men who, they supposed, had come down from the settlements in Oregon. As the boat approached the shore, an Indian chief stepped into the water and took hold of the side of the boat to pull it up so the men could get out without wetting their feet. This act of the chief was construed by one of the white men as unfriendly. He struck the chief's hand with a paddle, drawing blood from the hand and bruising it considerably, whereupon the chief jumped into the boat. At that instant a white man standing in the stern of the boat fired his rifle, killing the chief; thereupon two more Indians jumped into the boat, and they, too, were shot dead, making three dead Indians in the boat before there had been the slightest demonstration on the part of the Indians of unfriendly feeling, and this, too, while upward of a hundred Indians stood on the bank of the river witnessing the whole transaction--the violence of the white men and murder of their chiefs. It is hardly necessary to say a deadly fight ensued.
SAVED BY AN INDIAN.
    The Indians supposed they had killed all the white men, but it seems an Indian boy with his boat saw two men (while) struggling in the water, a few rods down the river from the scene of the affray. The boy helped them into his boat and carried them to the other side of the river, and signed to them to hide in the bushes out of sight until darkness set in. After dark they crept along the riverside to the ocean beach, and thus they proceeded, hiding by day and traveling by night, until they got within six miles of Port Orford, when they were discovered by the Indians. This was on Sunday, the same day I arrived at Port Orford.
POWER OF RED BLANKETS.
    My first act on landing was to call some ten or twelve Indians who were hovering about the shore to me. I opened a bale of red blankets and gave one to each Indian. They seemed delighted, and after talking to them through my interpreters they started off, some up and some down the coast. Two of those Indians belonged to the band who had discovered the two survivors of the eight explorers who were to make their way to Port Orford. Upon their being discovered by the Indians they were tied hand and foot to a small tree, and their captors were deliberating as to the mode of putting them to death. While thus deliberating, two of the Indians to whom I had given the red blankets came running into the Indian camp, announcing that a good friend of the Indians had arrived at Port Orford from their Great Father, and exhibited the red blankets as gifts from
THEIR GOOD FRIEND,
and repeated the talk I had with them. The Indian council at once liberated the two white prisoners, dressed their wounds, fed them bountifully and prepared a bed of bearskins for them. The poor, wounded, half-dead and terrified whites slept in peace and continued to sleep for twenty-four consecutive hours. On awakening they were again washed, their wounds dressed, again fed and brought into Port Orford on litters made by the Indians, and carried by them six miles into Port Orford. Most of the facts in relation to the doings of the exploration party of eight was derived from the two prisoners brought to me at Port Orford. They finally recovered, and always attributed their rescue to the gift of the red blankets and my friendly talk and treatment of the Indians on my landing at Port Orford. [The pair were apparently T'Vault and Brush.]
Anson Dart, "Early White Treachery," San Francisco Chronicle, May 18, 1873, page 7

Last revised May 19, 2017