Testimony of Col. J. E. Ross in Relation to the
Commencement and Termination of the
Rogue River War of 1853.
Territory of Oregon )
County of Jackson ) s.s.
John E. Ross of said county being first duly sworn says--I resided in Jackson County aforesaid during the summer and fall of 1853. I was engaged in the Rogue River War so called. I acted as col. commanding. The first act of hostilities was committed on the second day of August 1853, by Indians called Tipsey's band--killing a white settler by the name of Edwards, and the shooting of cattle. I have learned during the continuance of said war, from a conversation with an Indian called "Jim," a principal chief of the Rogue River Tribe, that there was a difficulty between Jim and one of "Tipsey's" band in regard to a squaw. I appeared that a Spaniard among the whites had the squaw and Jim charged the wrong upon the whites. The Indian of Tipsey's band then left the camp of "Jim" declaring that he would cause a general war of extermination against the whites in Rogue River Valley. This was on the night before the killing of Edwards. From this time all the Indians in Rogue River Valley assumed a hostile attitude towards the whites and carried on an aggressive war by murdering citizens, burning houses and other improvements and property, killing and driving off stock &c., in all which acts of hostilities the Rogue River Tribe of Indians were either actors in the first instance or accessory as allies to straggling bands of neighboring tribes.
This war continued from the date before mentioned up to the battle in the mountains in which [Pleasant] Armstrong was killed on the 24th of August 1853, when an armistice of seven days [was] declared, which was only a temporary suspension of immediate hostilities with the principal band of Rogue Rivers until a council could be held by them with the subordinate chiefs to settle upon the provisions of treaty if such should be made, or if not to determine what negotiations should be made. But hostilities did not cease, except by the band immediately entering into the armistice, until after the treaty of the 10th September 1853.
"Jim" told me that the Indians about Grave Creek belonged to the Rogue River Tribe, and that in the difficulties in that quarter the Grave Creeks and Applegate bands were united, and acted together. I think that the Indians on Cow Creek, the other side of the Grave Creek Hills, had no connection with the Rogue Rivers in the war of 1853.
John E. Ross
Subscribed and sworn to before me at Jacksonville this 3rd day Jany. A.D. 1855.
Witness my hand and seal
L. F. Grover
( seal ) Notary Public
Microcopies of Records in the National Archives No. 2, Roll 28, Records of the Oregon Superintendent of Indian Affairs.Narrative of an
Headquarters 9th Regiment, O.M.,Sir: You will immediately proceed with your company, along the Southern Oregon immigrant trail, to some suitable point near Clear Lake or on Lost River, in the vicinity of the place where the immigration of 1852 was massacred by the Indians, where you will establish your headquarters. From this encampment you will send out detachments of such numbers as you may deem effective as far as the Humboldt River, giving them instructions to collect the immigrants together in as large companies as convenient, the better to withstand the attacks of the Indians. Each train will be strictly guarded through the entire hostile country.
Jacksonville, O.T., August 8, 1854.
It is to be hoped that your company, in the heart of their country, will deter the Indians from committing their annual depredations upon the immigrants coming in by this route. Your treatment of the Indians must in a great measure be left to your own judgment and discretion. If possible, however, cultivate their friendship, but if necessary for the safety of the lives and property of the immigration, whip and drive them from the road.
JOHN E. ROSS,Captain Walker.
Col. Commanding, 9th Regiment, O.M.
House of Representatives, 35th Congress, 2nd Session, Misc. Doc. 47, Government Printing Office, page 8
Jacksonville, O.T., November 10, 1854.Dear Sir: I have the pleasure of presenting copies of my call for volunteers on the 3rd of August last, my order to Captain Walker on the 8th of the same month, and Captain Walker's report of the expedition, dated November 8, 1854.
Captain Walker, with his whole command, arrived here on the 6th instant. The officers and privates were all generally well, and were immediately discharged. The muster rolls are not yet made out, but I will send them to General Barnum by one of our members, who will go down to Salem at the meeting of the legislative assembly. The expenses have been high, and more than I anticipated at the time the company was organized. But the evident necessity for the company, and the happy result of the expedition, it is confidently hoped, will induce Congress immediately to assume the expenses.
It may be interesting to mention the previous character of the Piute, Modoc and disaffected roaming Shasta Indians who inhabit the country east of the settlements of Rogue River Valley, and along the immigrant road to Southern Oregon and Northern California. The Modoc and Shasta Indians, who refused to make any treaty with the United States, occupy the country near the California line, between the spurs of the Cascade Mountains and the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and the Piutes occupy the country between the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the Shoshones, or Snakes, on Humboldt River. "Old Lalakes," the chief of the Klamath Lake tribe, has tried to control the Modocs and Piutes, but they dispute his authority and have confederated with the Shoshones, who inhabit the country along the Humboldt River, and have always been inveterate enemies to the whites.
I am informed that, in the fall of 1846, Jesse Applegate and others acted as guides for the first immigration that passed through the country of the Piutes and Modoc Indians, and they annoyed the immigrants very much by stealing their stock, and murdered one of the immigrants on Lost River.
Owing to the distance to Northern Oregon and Middle California by this route, and the hostility of the Shoshones, Piutes and Modocs, and the many difficulties which the first immigration encountered on this route, but few traveled it from 1846 until the fall of 1852, after the settling of Shasta and Rogue River valleys. In the fall of 1852 there was a large immigration came this route to California and Oregon, and about the 11th September news reached this valley that whole trains of immigrants had been massacred on Lost River. A company of twenty-two volunteers were immediately raised in Jacksonville, and they elected me their captain. The whole company left here on the 13th of September, made forced marches, and in a few days arrived at Lost River. We found the bodies of fourteen immigrants and buried them. Several of them were women and children; they were much mutilated. On our arrival at Clear Lake, about twenty-two miles beyond this, we found Captain Ben. Wright's company, from Yreka, California, stationed at the lake. He informed me that his men had found and buried eighteen bodies in the vicinity of Bloody Point, at Tule Lake and among the number were Captain Coats and Mr. Orvensby [Ornsby/Ormsby], two respectable citizens of Yreka, California, who went out to assist the immigration.
Captain Wright's company remained out some time after the immigrants had all passed through this country. He found several more bodies of those who had been massacred by these Indians. The precise number that were massacred in a single season by these Indians, between Klamath Lake and the Sierra Nevada Mountains, probably will never be known to the whites. Some of these Indians have been killed in battle since these massacres, but not a single murderer has yet been given up by the tribes and brought to justice.
The California legislature, at its next session thereafter, paid all expenses of Captain Wright's company, and liberally rewarded the officers and privates for their services. My company did arduous service, was out some thirty-odd days, returned with the last of the immigration, and received for our services the compliments of the Oregon legislative assembly. The last immigration was protected along this route by a detachment of dragoons and Captain John F. Miller's company (mounted volunteers), who were stationed on Lost River by General Lane, yet, notwithstanding this partial protection, they stole during the season a large amount of stock from the last immigration. Having a personal knowledge of these Indians, and knowing their deadly hostility and natural propensity to rob, plunder and murder the whites, it is truly gratifying to know that the whole of this year's immigration for Southern Oregon and Northern California have passed through the Piute and Modoc countries without a single immigrant being killed by these Indians, and comparatively with but little loss of property. Much credit is due to Captain Walker, and to the officers and men belonging to his command, for their kindness to the immigrants, and for their vigilance, energy and untiring industry in the prosecution of their mission. The animals belonging to the expedition bear unmistakable evidence of the arduous service which they have performed. The transportation and riding animals were all in fine condition at the time they entered the service, but the most of them have returned poor, emaciated and scarcely able to travel.
In relation to the massacre near "Gravelly Ford," on the Humboldt, the report is confirmed by the immigrants and the California papers. These Indians, too, will have to be taught the power of American arms.
I have the honor to be your most respectful and obedient servant,
JOHN E. ROSS,Geo. L. Curry,
Colonel 2th Regiment O.M.
Acting Governor and Commander-in-chief.
House of Representatives, 35th Congress, 2nd Session, Misc. Doc. 47, Government Printing Office, pages 14-16
Indian Agent's Nov. 11th 55To E. M. Barnum
Rogue River Valley
Respected sir yesterday I mustered into the service of Oregon at Vannoy's ferry the four companies from Jackson County called for by the proclamation of the Governor of the date of Oct. 15th 1855. As soon as mustered they went into an election for major which resulted in the election of Captain James Bruce.
The troops had been commanded by Col. John E. Ross, C. S. Drew acting as his aide, both of them endeavoring to prevent the men from organizing under the proclamation. I never saw as much cold calculation & open blackheartedness, in fact, open rebellion against the laws, as was manifested on this occasion. Had it not been for the influence of Doct. Ambrose, Mr. Hughes & some of the other good citizens, the troop would have went home and not have formed into mounted volunteers, as the proclamation called for. Much credit is due to Capt. James Bruce for his noble conduct on this occasion. Col. Ross ordered him to disband his men or to come under his (Col. Ross') orders. Capt. Bruce told him that he and his men were mustered under the proclamation & would not obey him any longer, at least when he would be going against the Governor's orders. Ross then ordered the commissary to not issue rations to any but those companies under the 9th Regiment of Oregon Militia, commanded by him (Ross). Capt. Smiley Harris, being one of Ross' & Drew's party got an order from Ross to draw all the ammunition and ten days' rations & sent his men out under pretense of guarding a pack train on the Crescent City trail. This was done for the purpose of preventing many of his men from joining the volunteers under the proclamation as many of them wished to do so. I met [Quartermaster] Genl. John F. Miller at Evans Ferry last night on his way to headquarters. He & Bruce will soon straighten things. I write in haste as the mail will soon go out. It has rained here incessantly the last three days. I will inform you more particularly soon as possible.
Respt. yoursTo Genl.
John K. Lamerick
E. M. Barnum
Oregon State Archives, Yakima and Rogue River War, Document File B, Reel 3, Document 708.
THE JACKSON COUNTY ELECTION.--Contrary to our expectations, Gen. Miller was beaten for the council. John E. Ross, Whig, or K.N., was elected by a vote of 305 to 181 for Miller. We have not heard the particulars, but we think that Gen. Miller was deserted by a portion of the Democrats. Is it not a little singular that in these war times, the patriotic Know Nothings should have brought out a candidate? Oh, hypocrisy! The Know Nothings are opposed to "party" when out of power, or in the minority, but uncompromisingly in favor of it where they are in power, or in the majority.Col. Ross, the member-elect, is doubtless a clever gentleman, but I think would before at ease in discussing a "bill of fare" than a "council bill."
The election for representative resulted in the election of Hale, Democrat. He received 307, and T'Vault 132.
Oregon Statesman, Corvallis, January 1, 1856, page 2
"Vox," "Rogue River Correspondence of the Statesman," Oregon Statesman, Corvallis, January 15, 1856, page 2
The Gold Rush in 1861 from Jacksonville to Salmon River
The author of these interesting reminiscences was born in Richland County, Ohio, and came to Jacksonville, Oregon by prairie schooner Feb. 5th 1857. For 63 years therefore he has been a resident of this section and nearly all that time has been active in mining. He owns one of the best hydraulic properties in the state, four miles from Jacksonville, but is now living in Medford and has, at the ripe age of 85, retired from active work. These experiences, written by Mr. Pearce, will be of interest to everyone, but particularly to the old pioneers of Southern Oregon.
----It will be remembered by all Southern Oregon pioneers what a great excitement the discovery of gold in Florence Basin and the Salmon River created in 1861-2. Men were going to the new mines from the Atlantic states, Oregon, California and Europe. The main line of travel was up the Columbia River to Walla Walla, then overland by Lewiston to those gold fields.
The discovery of these mines inspired some fertile brain to write the son "Save Your Money, Boys," so popular in the early days, of which this was the chorus:
"Save your money, boys, and pay your way through.The business men of Jacksonville, Oregon conceived the idea of sending out an expedition in search of a shorter and more convenient route. A subscription list was circulated, and $5,000 was readily obtained and deposited in Beekman's bank.
If you don't like Salmon, you can go to Caribou,
And when you get there, if you have the golden fever,
You're bound to make a pile if you go to Boise River."
Col. J. E. Ross, a pioneer by nature, went to the committee and told them he would be responsible for a sufficient number of men to make the journey.
At this time, 1861, east of the Cascades and south of the Columbia River has never been explored and was not shown on any map. A trip through the country was looked upon as a perilous undertaking, for it was inhabited by hostile Indians, who looked upon the paleface as his worst enemy.
During the winter Col. Ross and others were making active preparations for an early start in the spring. Nearly 100 men signed the roll during the winter, but later on some of them decided not to go, and some were rejected. Much care was used in selecting the party. Men of daring were preferred, who would prove themselves equal to any emergency. The writer hereof was in Nevada at the time, but was notified to meet the party in Jacksonville May 1, 1862. I started from Washoe City March 2nd and arrived in Jacksonville March 15th, finding the party actively engaged in preparing for the trip, buying mules, provisions and other supplies.
Peace Commission FormedA rendezvous was chosen on Little Butte Creek, on the site of the present Eagle Point, where we met and made definite arrangements for the trip. It was decided to start about May 1st. When all was ready our numbers were much smaller than had been anticipated, there being but 23. Next in order was organization and election of officers, which latter consisted of a captain and a lieutenant, these two being deemed sufficient. Col. J. E. Ross was elected captain and J. W. Hillman lieutenant. We also elected a peace commission consisting of five men, whose duty it was to settle all difficulties that might arise in the party. According to the agreement, their decision in all cases was to be final.
Because of a storm we did not get started until May 10th, but we did not mind it, as our camp was located in a beautiful oak grove on the banks of Butte Creek, which at that time abounded in salmon trout and silversides. Deer were plentiful, and we made the most of our opportunities.
The day before leaving camp, Daniel Rathbun, one of the party, took a plunge in the crystal waters of that beautiful stream, and made a complete transformation of his paraphernalia, declaring that he would not wash his face or change his clothes again until we struck diggings that would pay.
On the morning of May 10, Captain Ross ordered the men to make ready to start. You may believe we had some fun teaching our new horses and mules to wear pack saddles. However, we recaptured all the broncs that tried to escape, and they were pressed into service, greatly against their wills.
Signal to Start.When the signal was given to move, we crossed the foaming water of Butte Creek and began the ascent of the Cascade Mountains. In due course of time we arrived at Rancheria Prairie, where we found snow so deep that we could not proceed, so waited a few days. Fortunately we were not delayed long, when a cold night crusted the snow, so that we crossed the mountains without further difficulty. Two days' travel took us to Wood River, where we spent the night.
Next morning about 40 Indians, bearing a flag of truce, marched into camp in their war paint, and told us they had been ordered by their chief, Lalakes, to notify us we were not to cross over into their country. They felt very hostile towards the whites, for which the writer does not blame them. A few years before, a small exploring party was murdered by bloodthirsty Rogue River Indians, but suspicion fell on the Klamaths, as at that time a large number of them were in the Rogue River Valley, seeking supplies. They were captured by the Oregon cavalry and held as prisoners until their chief would deliver the murderers of the Ledford party. Chief Lalakes proclaimed their innocence, but to no avail, and 17 of his dusky braves were given up to be hanged to secure the release of other prisoners. [This last sentence is unknown to history. Only Tyee George was hanged.] However, circumstances afterward proved that they were not guilty of the crime. Captain Ross told these warriors to tell their chief to come to our camp next day, as he wished to have a personal talk with him.
Next morning the chief presented himself with about 50 of his best warriors. After Captain Ross explained the object of our journey and assured him we meant to do no harm, we gave an exhibition of target shooting, after which there was a short consultation and we were permitted to pass on.
Dinner was prepared, they accepted an invitation to dine, and I must say they did it justice. Then we smoked the pipe of peace, and when Lalakes took his departure, promising that we would not be molested by them in any way, we felt sure we could pass on in perfect safety, so far as that tribe was concerned. While camped here we were overtaken by 30 Californians, who, having the same object in view, gladly joined our ranks.
The Indians informed us that the Klamath Marsh was in an unusually bad condition, owing to the extremely hard winter and late rains, so we decided to take a guide, one of Lalakes' most trusted warriors, for whose services we paid $50, to guide us over their boundary line on the Deschutes River. He started with us from this camp. We apprehended great difficulty in crossing Williamson River, it being very high and cold, having deep snow at its source. We had an 18-foot canvas boat but considered it insufficient in taking our stuff across, consequently we built a raft of dead cottonwood logs, placed two deep. It was 18x30 feet. While the raft was under construction, an incident occurred that is worth describing.
James Louden was a member of our Jacksonville party, but usually went by the nickname of Reuben Q. Rinos, or Reuben Q. He was a good storyteller and very fond of giving his experiences. His nickname came about in this way: In Yreka he fought a man much larger than himself, a pugilist by profession, whom he whipped after a hard fight. He then jumped to his feet as a victorious rooster does, flapped his wings and crowed three times, declaring he was Reuben Q. Rinos, the Second. He was telling of this fight, as he stood near the riverbank, using gestures freely, all those not working on the raft being his listeners. Just as he finished the "rooster act" a man named Pankey, without a thought of what might be the result, pushed him off backwards into the river. He was rescued with great difficulty. After coming to the surface the third time, a man cast a lariat over his head and under one arm, by which means he was brought to shore. One of our party, Dr. Overbeck, was called and soon had him on his feet. In the meantime Captain Ross took in the situation and ordered the guns, and all other instruments that might be used as weapons, stacked and guarded. When Louden had sufficiently recovered, he looked around for a weapon and found a hatchet strapped to a saddle that had been overlooked. He took it and made for Pankey, who started to run. As he could not catch him on account of his wet clothes impeding his progress, he threw the hatchet, striking him on the ear and causing it to bleed. The captain ordered three men to catch him, as he was in the act of picking up the hatchet. They brought him back to Captain Ross, who told him he must abide by the decision of the peace commission. Accordingly it was decided that Pankey should ask forgiveness, and that Reuben should grant it. Pankey then approached Reuben, who sat silent, except for an occasional grinding of his teeth. Pankey then asked to be forgiven and after a few moments of silence Reuben replied: "Yes, this great and glorious peace commission, which I helped elect, says that Pankey shall ask my forgiveness and that I shall forgive him." Then, looking viciously at Pankey, he said: "Pankey, they make me forgive you; I forgive you, Pankey, but I'll never forget you, and if you ever cross my path again, I'll have your heart's blood."
The raft having been completed, Captain Ross called for volunteers who would swim the river with a small rope, for drawing a cable across. The water was very cold and there were no responses. A group of men, of whom I was one, was standing aside from the rest of the party. Turning to us the captain said: "You men stand where you are and draw lots to determine who shall swim the river." It fell to my lot, and there was much speculating as to how I might best carry the rope. It was left to me, however, and after stripping I had a knot tied in one end of it, which I took between my teeth. The other end was tied to the cable, after being carefully coiled, except about 30 feet. The coil was then thrown above me as I was swimming, so when I reached shore and had gotten hold of a small tree, the line became taut, having been carried down by the current. Had I been a minute late I could not have held its weight. I immediately secured it to the tree, climbed out on the bank and drew the cable across, which was not in itself an easy task. When the two ends had been made fast, the raft was launched, loaded and brought over. It seemed that I waited in the chilling wind an hour for my clothes, but they told me it was only 30 minutes. The outfit was soon across, and after having resumed our journey Indians took possession of the raft and charged three dollars for each man who crossed with his animals.
With great difficulty we traveled through the marsh and on until we reached the Deschutes River. Our guide had proved himself of great value to us, and we were loath to give him up, so prevailed on him to go farther, offering him one of our best saddle horses, which he accepted, and for which he was to take us over another piece of uncertain ground, a distance of 40 miles, which required three days' travel through the Modoc country. He became very despondent after entering into this new agreement and hesitated not a little, fearing that if he did not return at the proper time his tribe would believe he had been murdered by the Modocs, thus bringing on a war.
Our arrival at the Deschutes brought us to a place called Big Meadows, where the guide was to leave us. By this time he had grown very much alarmed for his safety, and was afraid to return to his tribe alone. Therefore, living up to his belief, he counseled Captain Ross about "making medicine." He found several men in the party who believed in this way of invoking the Great Spirit for aid. According to their belief, when this method of prayer had been performed, if successful, the Great Spirit would come, and they were granted that for which they had asked. The guide desired to know whether or not he would return in safety. If not, he had decided to go on with our party. There were 20 white men and the Indian who engaged in this service. Supper being over, each one secured a stick about eight feet long. Just at nightfall they gathered in the place selected, and held a low consultation, then formed in double file, with Captain Ross in the lead and marched around in a circle, humming a low chant. Occasionally someone would break the line and run out a distance of 50 feet, beating the ground furiously with his stick, to drive away the evil spirits. Quite often some of those in the inner circle would fall face downward and lie upon the ground for a moment, then, jumping to his feet, would go on as before.
This performance continued until daylight, when the Great Spirit came. This knowledge seemed to be imparted to them all instantaneously, for just at that moment they all gave out the most piercing yells ever heard by mortal man. The very hills seemed to shake. Indian medicine having been made, for such the performance was called, the guide seemed a different man. So great was his faith that he was brimming over with exultation as he shook hands with every man in the party and started on his lonely journey, without fear of danger and sure that he carried with him our best wishes for a safe return, for had he not been obliging and had he not rendered valuable service?
While riding along that day, a skeptical person asked Captain Ross if he believed the Indian would ever reach his tribe. He replied in a tone that left no doubt as to his belief in the Indian medicine method, saying: "There's no power on earth can harm him now, or keep him from returning to his tribe in safety."
At our next camp an incident occurred that came near resulting seriously. After a hard day's ride we arrived in a beautiful little valley, tired and hungry. We found a plant growing in profusion which we all supposed to be wild onion, so prepared and cooked it for supper. Very soon the members of the party who had eaten of the new dish were seized with violent cramps. Dr. Overbeck immediately gave them an emetic, which brought relief. We learned afterward that the plant was very poisonous, and had it not been for the doctor's prompt action we would have lost several of our best men. It was his opinion that in 20 minutes more it would have been too late, or fatal, had he not had such a powerful medicine with him.
When we left this camp we were all truly grateful that we were all able to fall in line in the "forward march." From this point we traveled almost due east until John Day River was reached. Nothing of special importance happened for several days, except that we killed some very fine game. We crossed the south fork of this river, then the north fork and traveled up the latter for several days. It was here that we reached the climax of our hunting experiences, having killed the largest muletail buck ever seen by any of the party. It weighed about 400 pounds net. We crossed this branch again, then followed up the middle fork, where we found gold in paying quantities. Believing that better diggings would be found further up these streams, we traveled on until we came to a creek in which all said we would find pay dirt. After dinner a prospect hole was dug, and the results were very pleasing. Then came the time for Dave Rathbun to wash and change his clothes. It was on the Fourth of July. You can imagine how he looked. It had been nearly two months since he had washed his face or body, but he had washed his hands as often as anybody. His whiskers were black and inclined to be curly. Heavy, black eyebrows projecting had caught all the grease and soot that was necessary to make him look hideous. With his black eyes sparkling as coals of fire in the dark, he said: "I have kept my pledge. We have found gold in paying quantities, so now I shall wash and change my clothes." With a bar of soap and a few Comanche yells, he went into the cold waters of Granite Creek, which name we gave to it. When he returned none would have known him, had he not known of the change. Next day we spent in prospecting up and down the stream, to determine the extent of pay, and were satisfied it was a good placer mining creek, which it proved to be.
A code of laws was written, regulating the size of claims, etc., which were surveyed and staked, then lots were drawn to determine to which each one should fall. The ground paid from $10 to $40 a day to the main. Roaming the woods were many kinds of game, such as deer, elk and bear, which supplied to us the greater portion of our living. We remained here until the first of October, before any supplies were brought in. As for eatables, we had plenty, but every man had worn out every garment he had.
Some were barefooted and wore pantaloons of more patches than pantaloons. One Dutchman had no clothes at all. He would lie in bed until the sun peeped out, then with a few lusty yells would jump out, wrap a blanket about himself, go down to his claim and work about five hours, during the warmer part of the day.
Lieutenant John Hillman was chosen with several men to go to The Dalles for supplies, a distance of more than 300 miles. He returned in about five weeks with provisions, our mail, clothes for each man and plenty of whiskey. He told them they could have no whiskey until they had washed and put on their new clothes, which they did immediately. We learned that the Jacksonville Sentinel had stated that our Indian guide had safely returned to his tribe. He went on over to Jacksonville and reported where he had left us and that we were all well.
While in The Dalles Hillman found a man and his wife who wished to come to the new mines. He told them they would make a "raise" if they would take in supplies and establish a hotel, which they did. Hillman surprised the camp by taking the bells off the animals before his arrival, and on seeing the pack train he was saluted with cheers and gunshots. Astonishment greeted the men when they saw a woman, the first they had seen since leaving the Rogue River Valley. While gazing at her they forgot for a time, then suddenly came to their senses as the thought came that they were nearly naked, so they fled precipitately to their huts. After dressing they gathered together and serenaded her with a fusillade of more than a thousand pistol shots. Then a subscription was started and more than $800 collected, which was presented to her. Next day the miners built the married couple a house, which was used as a hotel. A dollar was charged per meal, except for Sunday dinner, when the price was one dollar and fifty cents, and they had all the boarders they could accommodate.
Never did a miner's party get along more harmoniously than this one. The finding of Granite Creek was the means of a great many other creeks being found in that region. We left there with various takes. George Hillman, brother of John, wrote me subsequently from Portland that he had left there the second summer with $20,000.
You no doubt wonder whether or not we completed our contract, as we stopped to mine. Yes, late in the fall we built a trail over the mountains to the old emigrant road on Powder River, which leads to Farewell Bend on Snake River. Thus we counted our work complete, which was accepted in due time.
In conclusion [I] will say [that] many incidents occurred in our party that are not mentioned in this article, but such as are given are facts, and facts alone. As far as I know, there are now but two of the original party of 20 living. They are J. W. Manning of Klamath Falls and the writer, D. J. S. Pearce of Medford.
Medford Sun, serialized April 25, 1920, page 6; May 9, 1920, page 7, and May 16, 1920, page B6
Old Document Found; Tells Story of Adventure, Bravery
CENTRAL POINT--As the pages of the old manuscript were unfolded, so was a story of exploration, adventure, superstition and bravery.
The manuscript--probably read by few and never published--was written by D. J. S. Pearce and included in a scrapbook now in the possession of John Deuel, Central Point. Deuel is the great-grandson of Southern Oregon pioneer and Indian fighter Col. John E. Ross.
The story Pearce recorded was the story of the exploration of a route between Southern Oregon and the Salmon River country in Idaho, a route much desired when the cry "gold in Idaho" was heard by the miners in the Rogue River Valley.
It was late in the year of 1861. A subscription list was circulated by the businessmen of Jacksonville and $5,000 was collected to establish a route through the wild country, inhabited only by hostile Indians.
Col. John E. Ross said he would take charge.
Rendezvous"Twenty-three men of daring were chosen. Mules, provisions and other supplies were purchased and arrangements were made for all to meet at a rendezvous on Little Butte creek, where Eagle Point now stands," Pearce, a member of the party, wrote.
Departure day was set for May 1, 1862. The men organized, elected Ross captain and John W. Hillman lieutenant. They elected a five-man peace commission to settle any difficulties that might arise.
Because of a storm, departure was delayed until May 10.
"The day before we left, Daniel Rathbun, one of our party, plunged into the crystal waters of that beautiful stream. Little Butte Creek made a complete transformation of his paraphernalia, and [he] declared he would not wash his face or change his clothes again until we reached Idaho and struck diggings that would pay," Pearce wrote. (It was nearly two months later that Rathbun made good his promise.)
"On the morning of departure we had some fun teaching our new horses and mules to wear pack saddles. However, we recaptured all that tried to escape and they were pressed into service, greatly against their wills. When the signal was given to move, we crossed the foaming waters of Little Butte Creek and began the ascent of the Cascade Mountains."
Meet Hostile IndiansThe party had to wait at Rancheria Prairie (near Butte Falls) because of deep snow. When cold skies crusted the snow, the little band of men moved on to Wood River, in the Klamath Lakes region.
And then came the Indians. Pearce wrote:
"Next morning about 40 Indians bearing a flag of truce marched into our camp in their war paint. They told us they had been ordered by their chief, Lalakes ["Leihlak" in the ms.], to notify us we were not to cross over into their country. They were very hostile, for which this writer does not blame them.
"A few years before a small exploring party (Ledford party) was murdered by bloodthirsty Rogue River Indians, but suspicion fell on the Klamaths. Chief Lalakes proclaimed their innocence, but to no avail. Seventeen of his dusky braves were given up to be hanged and later proved innocent of the crime. [This last sentence is unknown to history. Only Tyee George was hanged.]
"Captain Ross told these warriors to ask Chief Lalakes to come for a personal talk. Next morning the chief presented himself with about 50 of his best warriors. After Captain Ross explained the object of our journey and assured him we meant no harm, we gave an exhibition of target shooting. There was a short consultation and we were permitted to pass on."
The Indians were invited to join the whites for dinner and the pipe of peace was smoked. Chief Lalakes promised the party would not be molested by any of his tribe.
While at Wood River the explorers were joined by 30 Californians who had the same plan--to establish a route to Idaho. The two groups joined ranks.
Chief Lalakes assigned one of his most trusted warriors (for $50) to guide the group through the Klamath Marsh. He was to take them to the boundary line on the Deschutes River.
The party was on its way. But there was the Williamson River, high and cold, to cross.
River Fight"We built an 18x30-foot raft of dead cottonwood logs to take our stuff across," Pearce wrote. "While the raft was under construction, an incident occurred that is worth describing.
"James Louden, who had the nickname of Reuben Q. Rinos because of an incident in which he fought and whipped a pugilist by profession, was telling the story of the fight. He stood near the river and was gesturing freely, all those not working on the raft being listeners. Just as he finished his 'rooster act' a man named Pankey pushed him backwards into the river. He was rescued with great difficulty.
"After coming to the surface the third time, a man cast a lariat over his head and under one arm, by which means he was brought to shore. Dr. Overbeck soon had him on his feet. In the meantime Captain Ross ordered all guns and other instruments that might be used as weapons stacked and guarded.
"When Louden had sufficiently recovered he looked around for a weapon and found a hatchet strapped to a saddle. He took out after Pankey, threw the hatchet and caught him in the ear."
The party's peace commission took over and "except for an occasional grinding of his teeth," Pankey asked to be forgiven and Reuben, "looking viciously at Pankey," said he would forgive him: "But I'll never forget you and if you ever cross my path again I'll have your heart's blood."
The raft was completed and volunteers swam the river with ropes for drawing a cable across. When the ends had been made fast the outfit was transported across. The raft was left for Indians who in the future charged $3 for each man who crossed it with his animals.
Indian Medicine"With great difficulty we traveled through the marsh and on until we reached the Deschutes River," Pearce wrote. "Our guide had proved himself of great value to us, and we were loath to give him up so prevailed on him to go farther, offering him one of our best saddle horses, which he accepted and for which he was to take us over another piece of uncertain ground, a distance of 40 miles. This required three days' travel through the Modoc country. He became very despondent after entering into this new agreement, fearing that if he did not return at the proper time his tribe would believe him murdered by the Modocs, thus bringing on a war."
The party camped at Big Meadows, where the guide was to leave. He was afraid to return to his tribe alone and asked Captain Ross if he could "make medicine" to invoke the protective powers of the Great Spirit.
Permission was given and Pearce described the ritual as follows:
"There were 20 white men and Indians who engaged in this service. Supper being over, each one secured a stick about eight feet long. Just at nightfall they gathered in the place selected and held a low consultation, then formed in double file with Captain Ross in the lead and marched around in a circle humming a low chant.
"Occasionally someone would break the line and run out a distance of 50 feet, beating the ground furiously with his stick to drive away the evil spirits. Quite often some of those in the inner circle would fall face downward and lie upon the ground for a moment, then jumping to his feet he would go on as before.
"This performance continued until daylight, when the Great Spirit came. This knowledge seemed to be imparted to them all instantaneously, for just at that moment they all gave out the most piercing yells ever heard by mortal man. The very hills seemed to shake.
"Indian medicine having been made, the guide seemed a different man. He was brimming over with exultation as he shook hands with every man in the party and started on his lonely journey without fear of danger."
Captain Has FaithLater in the day a skeptical party member asked Captain Ross if he believed the Indian would ever reach his tribe.
"He replied in a tone that left no doubt as to his belief in the Indian medicine method, saying, 'There is no power on earth can harm him now, or keep him from returning to his tribe in safety,'" Pearce wrote. (It was found later that the Indian did reach his people without incident.)
The exploration party pushed on east until it reached the John Day River. It was on the north fork of this river the men killed a 400-pound muletail deer.
It was a little farther up this river they found "pay dirt." A prospect hole was dug and gold was found.
"It was time for Dave Rathbun to wash and change his clothes," Pearce wrote. "It was on July 4, so you can imagine how he looked. It had been nearly two months since he had washed his face or body. His whiskers were black and inclined to be curly. Heavy black eyebrows projecting had caught all the grease and soot that was necessary to make him look hideous. With his black eyes sparkling as coals of fire in the dark he said, 'I have kept my pledge. We have found gold in paying quantities, so now I shall wash and change my clothes.' With a bar of soap and a few Comanche yells he went into the cold waters of Granite Creek, which name we gave to it."
Locate Mining ClaimsThe party decided to stay here and mine, and a code of laws was written regulating the size of claims, etc., which were surveyed and staked. The ground paid from $10 to $40 per day per man.
The men hunted for food, and it was October before any supplies were brought in. There had been enough to eat--but their clothing was worn out. Some were barefooted and wore pantaloons of more patches than pantaloons.
"One Dutchman had no clothes at all," Pearce wrote. "He would lie in bed until the sun peeped out, then, with a few lusty yells he would jump out, wrap a blanket around himself, go down to his claim and work about five hours during the warmer part of the day."
Lt. Hillman and a group of men went 200 miles to The Dalles and returned with provisions, mail, clothing and "plenty of whiskey."
They also brought with them a man and his wife who had agreed to establish a hotel at the mining site.
When the woman arrived--the first woman the men had seen since early May--she was serenaded with a fusillade of more than a thousand pistol shots, after the astonished men had fled to their huts to don their clothes.
"The next day the men built the married couple a house which was used as a hotel. One dollar was charged per meal except for Sunday dinner, when the price was $1.50," Pearce wrote.
There was Granite Creek to mine, and then other creeks. The second summer one miner left the area with $20,000.
A trail was built over the mountains to the old emigrant road which led to Farewell Bend on the Snake River, and the exploration party counted their work complete.
Medford Mail Tribune, February 9, 1966, page B4 What is apparently the entire Pearce memoir had been published in the Medford Sun, beginning April 25, 1920--transcribed above.
John E. Ross
Written between dark and daylight by H.H.B. [Hubert Howe Bancroft] while the Colonel's horse was standing at the door, the whole night being occupied in the work.
John E. Ross born 1818 Feby. 15th in Madison County, Ohio, removed to Indiana in 1828, thence to Illinois in 1834, emigrated to Oregon in 1847, yet unmarried. Left Independence in May. The company consisted of some 40 wagons called [the] Ross Train, of which Mr. Ross was captain.
The train divided into two companies at Little Blue River and the train that was behind Mr. Ross' was surrounded in crossing the divide between Little Blue River and Platte River near Ash Hollow by Pawnees who did no damage. They only demanded tobacco and salt, which was given them.
In traveling up the South Platte a guard had to be kept before and behind the train to keep off the buffalo which were very numerous as it was, and notwithstanding this precaution some stock was lost. The buffalo appeared to be traveling south. There was no end to them. For miles there seemed to be a moving mass of buffalo. Men on horseback were kept to frighten them off, to make them divide; otherwise they would rush over the train and carry off horses and cattle which would get among them and rush off with them. When within 40 miles of Laramie they got out of the buffalo range and were troubled no more with them.
Had to ford Platte River by tying ropes round the horns of the leaders of the oxen, and men on horseback would lead them across. In some places horses & cattle would have to swim over holes, the wagon in such cases being submerged; the load was elevated to the top of the wagon bed, which was fastened to the running gear.
In coming up the Little Blue, through a level country, the train stampeded, the cattle became frightened at something, nobody knew what, and all started off simultaneously to run. They kept it up for about two miles. A child had a leg broken, and several oxen came out minus a horn. This sort of thing was of not infrequent occurrence in crossing the plains.
Arrived at Laramie about the first of July. It was a trading post of the fur company then under Choteau. Kenner was then going through to Bridger.
Crossed the North Platte as they had crossed the South Platte. Several persons had been drowned there in crossing a few days before Mr. Ross' party arrived.
Through by Sweetwater and Independence Rock. The buffalo were again encountered at Horseshoe Creek but not in alarming numbers.
Halted a few days on Sweetwater where Mr. Vener going to Bridger joined the train. Halted likewise a few days at Fort Bridger.
Followed the road by Soda or Steamboat Springs to Fort Hall then occupied by H.B. Co. Down Snake River, which stream they crossed at Salmon Falls, where they lost some stock by the Indians.
At Fort Hall, where they rested three days, met Stockton with his command returning from California. Thinks he had Fremont with him under arrest. The old mountaineer Greenwood, who gave the emigrants a good deal of valuable information regarding the country and the way to travel through it, was Stockton's guide.
After leaving Fort Hall traveling down Snake River they lost many cattle from their drinking poisoned or alkali water which was found in the pools and springs in that region. The cattle after drinking it would bloat up and die. The remedy which in many cases proved successful was to give them salt bacon, cutting it in strips and forcing it down their throats.
Struck Boise River about 15 miles above where Boise City now is. Followed down the stream to old Fort Boise where they re-crossed Snake River and took a southwesterly direction to what is called the Malheur River, whence turning north again they struck Snake River again along which they traveled for one or two days, and then turned and traveled up Burnt River, then crossed the divide into Grand Ronde Valley. Here Mr. Ross left the train with two other men and traveled horseback across the Blue Mountains to the Umatilla, where he met Dr. Whitman. Camped with him one night and he advised them to have a guard about Indians, for the Walla Wallas were disposed to be hostile. This advice was followed by camping early, eating supper, and then moving to some more secure retreat off the trail. Met some Indians who appeared sulky. The third day they reached a spot where they were satisfied emigrants had been attacked by Indians. Feather beds were cut open and books were torn and various articles scattered about. There they expected to find hostile Indians. They traveled at night.
Col. Ross was notified by some Indians at the mouth of Rock Creek on John Day's River that there was trouble ahead. Hurrying forward after crossing John Day's River he passed up through a cañon a mile and a half in length. There he found four families who had been robbed and stripped of clothing & their cattle taken. There 2 old women & 4 young women grown and some children. One family was named Warren, a man by the name of Hoyt and his wife were missing. The women after being stripped found a bolt of factory cloth of which they made slips, and in these white slips the fair sisterhood were arrayed. Their outrage was supposed to have been committed by the Walla Wallas. None of the party were killed. The men belonging to these families were away in search of cattle at the time, which had been driven off by the Indians. Col. Ross remained with these people several days until other trains came up. He traded his clothing what he had on to the Indians for salmon and split peas for the destitute women to live on. He also hired an Indian to hunt for their cattle & he succeeded in bringing in two yoke. Col. Ross gave to these women his blankets, keeping only a buffalo robe for cover from the frosty night for the three men. In lieu of warm clothing, they gathered greasewood and burned it on the sand in order to warm the ground, which they afterward slept on.
Arrived at The Dalles the latter part of October; it was too late to cross the Cascades. Rains had set in and many emigrants had congregated there. Many left their cattle at The Dalles; others drove their stock down to Ft. Vancouver. Many built flatboats below The Dalles and putting their goods aboard sailed down the river. At the Cascades they unloaded the boats and carrying the cargoes over the portage turned the boats adrift over the falls. Some of the boats were dashed to pieces, others went down the rapids in safety.
At the Cascades Col. Ross hired out to a man named Seby who had a boat to help emigrants down the river. He rowed the boat for thirteen days at a dollar a day, working sometimes half the night and sometimes all night and in the rain. He had borrowed 2½ dollars from an old lady, all the money she had, at Grand Ronde Valley to buy biscuit with to travel on.
Stopped at Portland one night. On the east side lived one Stevens, and on the other side there was one house. When Col. Ross went to Oregon City, where he found his sister whose husband, Mr. Edward Trimble, had been murdered by the Pawnees the year before at Platte River. Started in the butcher business with Stephen Meek, brother of Jo Meek, & was in business one month when the Cayuse War broke out.
On the 8th day of Dec. 1847 the news of the Whitman massacre reached Oregon City. The legislature was then in session at Oregon City. A call was made that evening for volunteers, and a company was raised of 40 or 50 men, who held an election for officers next morning resulting in H. A. J. Lee for captain, Jacob Rinearson or Magone 1st lieut. and John E. Ross 2nd lieut.
The same day the company started for Ft. Vancouver. Commissioners, consisting of Peter H. Burnett, Jesse Applegate, Geo. L. Curry and James W. Nesmith, were appointed to negotiate for boats and supplies.
Proceeding up the Columbia in their boats the company got windbound at Wind Mountain and lay there for ten days, but a company of ten men went on afoot and finding the mission at The Dalles deserted took possession of it. Those who were windbound joined them at The Dalles Christmas night.
After fortifying the place the company remained there until April when they were reinforced, but on the 8th day of January 1848 they had a fight which lasted nearly all day. The Indians came down in pretty strong force and attempted to drive off some stock. Barlow with some man were out in search of the stock when the Indians attempted to cut them off. But one white man was wounded, shot through the leg, and two Indians killed.
In April Capt. Gillem came up with reinforcements consisting of five companies. Capt. H. A. J. Lee was promoted. The first company of which Lee had been captain was then reorganized, and John E. Ross was elected captain.
After the war Col. Ross again engaged in the butchering business in Oregon City, and in August 1848 he was running a small threshing machine which was made there,
News was rec'd. at Oregon City of the discovery of gold. Coming into town one Saturday night Col. Ross heard the news. There was great excitement. Monday he went out and got his mules with which he had been running the machine. He took his mules and was off for Cal. & on his return both the machine & Zachary were gone and he never heard of them after.
Scott's house was the only house at that time on the south side of the Calapooya Mountains until you reached Reading's in the Sac. Valley. There was fourteen days' travel between houses. Indian troubles began at the north end of the Canyon, where Canyonville now is. Shots were given and returned. The gold hunters fought them at every point they met them until they passed Shasta Valley. There were thirty-seven in Col. Ross' company. No wagons had been over the road at this time. Thomas McKay took a train of wagons through from the Willamette through the Canyon & on to Feather River in the autumn of 1848.
Col. Ross reached the mines on Feather River the last of Sept. or the first of Oct. where Bidwell, Potter, Neal and Toms were working Indians in the mines at Bidwell's Bar washing gold in wooden bowls which had been dug out for that purpose. They treated the newcomers with courtesy, taught them how to wash out gold.
After remaining in that vicinity for a short time the party divided. Hearing of good diggings below, Col. Ross proceeded to Sutter's Fort where was Brannan trading of whom they obtained supplies. Then he went to a place called the Dry Diggings, afterwards called Hangtown. Subsequently the miners met and organized to give the place a name which was Placerville. This was in the winter of
In the spring of 1849 Col. Ross joined several of his old companions and went prospecting below Coloma, then called the Mill. Part of the company then went to Coloma for supplies, and while thus engaged five, all of those who were left, were killed by the Indians at a place afterward called Murderer's Bar, so called from this incident, and thrown into the river. Among the killed were Bob Alexander & Ben Woods.
When Col. Ross returned with those who had gone to Coloma for supplies and found those they had left murdered they raised a company of Oregon men and of about twenty and went in search of the Indians. They found about 130 Indians, squaws and all, at Green Springs, some 20 miles west from Coloma. Taking them all prisoners they set out for Coloma. Soon they fell in with Spaniards, who were anxious to have the Indians brought to justice. Camping they selected two young Indians to direct them to the camp of those who had done the murder. They found the camp but it had been fired, and the remains of an Indian was still seen smoldering in the embers. This was an Indian who had been killed or wounded by the five men who were murdered. The Indians themselves had fired their camp and fled. They had with them 5 or 6 thousand dollars in gold dust which they had taken from the Oregonians. They had been trading with Hastings, who had a store about a mile from the Mill on the hill above Coloma. Hastings had given one of them a pass to show that he was a good, friendly, trusty Indian. Showing this pass to the Oregonians, the latter trusted him and his band and so were killed. Finding the band of murderers, by the aid of the young Indians, following their trail over the [omission] at the mouth of Haver Creek. There they were surprised while holding a great feast, and 14 of them killed, and among the rest the chief who had this pass from Hastings. Afterward Ross saw Hastings and asked him if he had given that pass. He said he had. Ross then told him that he had countermanded that pass and would so countermand him if he ever gave an Indian another.
Returning to where the Spaniards were guarding the captured Indians, bringing with them 15 additional captives from the band lately attacked, all squaws, no man, the Oregonians proceeded with the whole to Coloma to hold a council over them with the assistance of the miners & to get by the aid of an interpreter at the facts.
There seemed to be a jealousy manifested by the California miners against the Oregonians. There were at Coloma Mr. Weimar, Marshall & others. Marshall started in to advocate the cause of the Indians but he had to leave. A man named Everman [Heffernan?] had raised his gun to shoot Marshall when Col. Ross struck it up and so saved Marshall's life. Marshall was given five minutes to leave the place in which he gladly availed himself of.
John Greenwood and Britain Greenwood were sons of the mountain man Greenwood, half-breeds. The father died in California in 1849 between Bear River & Yuba River. He had two children with him, a boy and a girl. He was a very large man. Greenwood Valley on the divide between the South and Middle forks of the American River [is named after him]. John Greenwood was captain and guide in this hunt after the murderers.
Arrived at Coloma with about 150 captives in all a council was held. There were then at Coloma a good many men, Yankees who kept shops, and miners. Mr. Weimar had a daughter whom the miners wished to act as interpreter, but Miss Weimar indignantly refused. She had an Indian at that moment secreted in her house, one of those implicated in the murder. The miners took him out, and he with four others were held as being guilty. They were confined in a cabin for the night. It was the intention next day to give them a trial. The rest were dismissed with presents.
In the morning when the five were brought forth to trial they broke and ran. One plunged into the river and escaped. The other four were killed. The place where the five men were murdered was afterwards known as Murderers Bar.
Four days after an Oregon man by the name of Dougherty was found murdered between Hangtown and Coloma. This raised the miners again and some sixty Indians were killed in retaliation. Some of them were shot in Daly's yard. Daly was an Englishman who had a ranch on the Cosumnes. The Indians were followed clear down to his ranch. Perry McComb had a ranch near Daly's.
From there Col. Ross went prospecting in company with F. R. Hill and discovered Yankee Jim's Diggings. Yankee Jim was in company with them and he gave his name to the place, but Col. Ross discovered the diggings.
Yankee Jim was a notorious character. Yankee Jim was a sailor, a rough man, a very bad man. He was hung afterward. He was a man of marked ability, knew Spanish and several other languages perfectly. All this was in 1849.
Col. Ross then went to the North Yuba and discovered Wambo Bar, and thence went to the South Fork of the Yuba in company with Poole who discovered gold at Jacksonville. Col. Ross discovered several rich mines on these rivers. In the autumn of 1849 Col. Ross with several of the party who had gone with him returned to Oregon by water.
Col. Ross went again to Cal. in the spring of 1850 by water, fell in with a company of Oregon boys who made their headquarters on Cache Creek where Woodland now is. Twelve of them fitted themselves out for an expedition to search for mines aiming to strike the South Fork of the Trinity. They went out on Cottonwood and struck through the redwoods north toward Humboldt Bay and struck the Klamath River about 20 miles from the mouth of it, and crossed it supposing it to be the South Fork of the Trinity. They followed up the river and discovered gold at Sawyer's Bar and elsewhere. Near there they were robbed of their horses by the Indians who were thick there and wild, being apparently entirely ignorant of white people. This was the first party of white men that ever hunted for gold on the Klamath. They had to burn up their goods in order to keep them away from the Indians.
The first day's march after they had been robbed they came onto a camp of Indians where they found three of their stolen horses tied. They made a rush on the camp, Col. Ross receiving a wound in the thigh. There were three large Indian horses well supplied with tons of dried salmon, to which they set fire after routing the Indians. Seizing the boats of the Indians they re-crossed the Klamath River some distance below the mouth of Scott's River. Then they turned into the high mountains and came down onto Scott's River. This was in June 1850. Scott's River being high they could not cross it. The Indians again captured their animals, all but one. Then they came out and saw Mt. Shasta. Then they knew where they were, and that Trinity River was still to the south of them.
They finally found their way, entirely destitute of provisions, to Salmon River, where they were found by a party of prospectors. Two of their number became insane from hunger and thirst, though they afterward recovered. Col. Ross carried a crow for three days, expecting to be obliged to eat it.
Joseph Scott was one of the party who found Col. Ross and his comrades. Ross was satisfied that gold was on Scott's River and so informed Scott, who went over and discovered Scott's Bar, and gave his name to the river. Scott's River was first called Ross' River, being discovered by Col. Ross. But as Scott, under Ross' direction, found Scott's Bar, which became famous as a rich mining locality, the river naturally took the same name. Scott returned to Salem from Scott's River, being driven out by the Indians.
Col. Ross remained on Salmon River until his wound was healed. Then in company with James Owens he obtained supplies at Weaverville on the Trinity and in Sept. 1850 joined a big rush for Scott's Bar. Scott had displayed his gold and created an excitement. They remained at Scott's Bar four or five days, fearing the winter would be so bad that they could not get out.
To show how things went then, the mines at Scott's Bar were spotted; the gold was coarse. One man might pick up $200 to $300 in an hour, another find a crevice with a thousand dollars which could be emptied in a day. Others might scratch around a week and find nothing. The latter would become disgusted and say "there is nothing here; we must get out of this." And so they came and went to and from Scott's Bar after the manner of miners in those days.
Col. Ross and his friends went from there to the Sac. Valley again. But before they had proceeded far the Indians tried to capture their horses. They succeeded in killing three of the Indians, shooting them at daybreak.
Arrived at Sac. in the fall of '50, Col. Ross met his nephew, Angus Brown, commonly called Hank Brown, whom he left with money, 30 ounces, to buy a six-mule team, and falling in with monte sharps he lost all, leaving Col. Ross nearly broke. Then Ross joined a party of twelve which wintered at Churn Creek on the east side of Shasta City, on the east side of Shasta River. Remained there until the last of February '51. The Indians were very troublesome, had several fights with them. Then all the party, among whom were E. J. Curtis, Jeremiah McKay, Hank Brown, Col. Ross and others went to Clear Creek and remained there until April. While there they discovered French Gulch. A party had been out fighting Indians. A Frenchman of the party picked up the first gold and so the place was called French Gulch. News there reached them of the rich diggings discovered at Yreka. Thereupon all hands gathered themselves up and set out for the place. McKay and Ross packed up a load of goods from Shasta, called Reading Springs, the original name of Shasta City, and opened store at Yreka. Was there a few days when a council was called and stringent resolutions were passed against the whites for their treatment of the Indians.
An Indian had been killed by one Gage for stealing a horse, and Mr. Vail, alcalde at Yreka, with Turner and others wanted Indian offenders to be brought to justice before the alcalde the same as white offenders. Nothing was done to Gage.
Col. Ross opposed these sentiments, and spoke against them, and he was supported by the crowd.
The night after this council, those same Indians after receiving presents stole forty mules and horses from William Martin's corral, and as usual Col. Ross was requested to go after them.
With 20 men he followed them for three days and surprised them in Butte Falls 60 miles east from Yreka. Seven scalps were brought in though 15 Indians were killed in the fight, and among the rest the scalp and the cap of a chief prominent in the Vail treaty. Three or four white men were wounded, and one named Betts died after reaching Yreka. The wounded man was brought in on a litter consisting of two poles swung to the sides of two mules. Returned to Yreka Col. Ross displayed the chief's scalp and cap to Vail, as an example of the sort of faith kept by Indians. Col. Ross also brought in 5 or 6 female prisoners, for the purpose of ascertaining to what tribe they belonged. They were supposed to be Shastas, but they proved to be Modocs.
Ben Wright was at Yreka at the time and he pitched his tent with a long pole to the top of which someone fastened an Indian scalp. An interpreter was found to officiate at a council which was held to ascertain what tribe of Indians had stolen the horses. No sooner had the Indian interpreter saw the scalp than he broke and ran, and he was shot to death.
The next gold excitement was the discovery at Josephine Creek, and thither Col. Ross went. The Indians were very troublesome. Col. Ross and his party first discovered diggings on Cañon Creek which proved to be very rich. There had been some fighting of Indians by Major Long near the mouth of Applegate a few days before Col. Ross arrived. After working the mines there a month Col. Ross sold out and removed to Salem. Thence he returned to the Umpqua, Douglas County, located a land claim, remained there a short time when he was joined by his partner from Yreka who had sold out the store at Yreka. Then they went to the Willamette Valley and bought cattle and brought them to Rogue Valley in the spring of 1852 and commenced butchering at Jacksonville.
The fall of '52 the Indian troubles on the emigrant trail, the southern emigrant road, broke out. News reached Jacksonville that a company of emigrants had been surrounded by Indians and massacred near Tule Lake in the lava beds of the Modocs. A company of 30 men was raised at Jacksonville and started next day. Ross was elected captain. He made a forced march and joined Ben Wright's company east of Tule Lake, at what is now called Clear Lake.
Proceeding on the road they met Capt. Snelling's company, supposed to be the last of the emigration. On their return east of the natural bridge on Ross River near Tule Lake, they found and buried some fourteen bodies of persons killed by the Indians. For this Capt. Ross received the thanks of the Oregon Legislature.
In the winter of 1852-3 John E. Ross married Elizabeth Hopwood, the first wedding ever in the town of Jacksonville. In 1853 in August the Rogue River Indians broke out in general war. Ross was elected colonel.
In 1855 Ross was again elected colonel of the 9th Regiment and commissioned by Gov. Davis, which he held during the war of 1855-6. In the fall of 1855 he was elected to the territorial council to fill a vacancy caused by the death or removal from the county of Dr. Cleveland. In 1866 he was elected to the state legislature of Oregon, and in 1872 was commissioned by Gov. Grover as brigadier general in command of the state troops in the Modoc War, and in 1878 was elected to the state senate from the county of Jackson
Bancroft Library MSS P-A 63
One whole night I spent with Ross at Jacksonville, writing down his experiences; and when at early dawn my driver summoned me, I resumed my journey under a sickening sensation from the tales of bloody butcheries in which the gallant colonel had so gloriously participated.
Hubert Howe Bancroft, Oregon Biographical Sketches Bancroft was being charitable. See here.
As the committee appointed by the last legislature to investigate the affairs of certain state officials has about completed its labors, Senator Ross, one of the members of the committee, will not return as he first intended. Sickness in his family has prevented him from joining in the investigation.
"Local Items," Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, November 20, 1878, page 3
Col. Ross, of Jackson County, passed through town on Friday morning en route for Salem. From him we learn that it is expected the investigating committee will close its labors within two weeks time.
"Local Notes," Douglas Independent, Roseburg, December 7, 1878, page 3
BIOGRAPHICAL.--The Salem Statesman is publishing short biographical sketches of the members of the state legislature, among which we find the following of Gen. Ross, of this county: "John E. Ross, Independent, was born in Ohio (we have lost the date), moved from that place to Illinois, from which state he came to Oregon in 1847, was lieutenant and captain in the Cayuse war in 1847-8, was a colonel under Gen. Lane in the Rogue River war in 1855, and a brigadier in the Modoc war in 1873, was a member of the territorial council in 1855-6; a member of the House in 1860, was one of the presidential electors for Bell and Everett, was also placed on the investigating committee by President [of the Oregon Senate] Whiteaker, but could not stand fire and went home. Col. Ross has a pleasant face and a very finely shaped gray head, and is a very agreeable gentleman. His course in the Senate was one which would lead me to suppose he would be careful to make friends, and but few enemies wherever he went. He took but a small part in the discussions, but made several good speeches."
Ashland Tidings, December 13, 1878, page 3
Margaret, wife of John E. Ross, and daughter of Alex. and Cateche Robinson, died Jan. 14, 1841, aged 17 years.
Transcription of a headstone in the Robinson family graveyard, Chicago. Quoted in Henry Higgins Hurlbut, Chicago Antiquities, 1880, page 458
GEN. JOHN E. ROSS.The name heading this biographical sketch is familiar to the people of Oregon. General Ross was born in Madison County, Ohio, February 15th, 1818. When ten years of age he emigrated with his parents to Cook County, Illinois. In 1840 he was married to Miss Margaret Robinson, daughter of Alex. Robinson, of Chicago. His wife survived but eight months after her marriage, when she was taken suddenly ill, and died in a few brief hours. In 1847 he came to Oregon, overland by way of Fort Hall and the Snake River route. At that time the Indians on the plains were generally hostile and when near John Day's River the General and his company saved a company of emigrants from being massacred and brought them to The Dalles in safety. The women of the party had been robbed of their clothing and, when rescued, they were dressed in single garments made of domestic which the savages had permitted them to retain. He settled first in Oregon City and engaged in the butchering business, in which he continued but a short time when he volunteered with a company of Oregon riflemen to fight the Cayuse Indians. He was commissioned First Lieutenant under Captain Henry J. Lee, in which capacity he served for a short time only, when he was elected Captain of the company, Captain Lee having been promoted to Major in the regiment, under Colonel Gillem, who was killed during the war. Dan Barnes was first and Nathan Olney second lieutenants under Ross. By virtue of his authority he solemnized the marriage of Nathan Olney and his first Indian wife, the daughter of a famous chief. Gen. Ross was in the first battle fought near The Dalles on the 8th of January, 1848, and in which Wm. Berry was severely wounded. This fight was brought on by Barlow & Boswell endeavoring to retake a band of stock stolen by the Indians. Near the close of the war he returned to Oregon City and again engaged in butchering. He continued in the business for a short time only when he purchased an interest in the first threshing machine ever run on Tualatin plains and started in to thresh grain. News of the gold mines in California caused the threshers to desert their machine in the field and start with their work horses packed for the diggings. The party located on Feather River, where they mined for a short time and then went to Hangtown to winter. Gen. Ross was present when the parties were hung from whose tragic fate the place derived its name. He next went to Bird's River where he worked for a time with Flem. Hill. During his mining operations he discovered the famous mines known as Yankee Jim's Diggings. He remained in the mines until 1849 and returned by water to Oregon. In 1850 he returned to California and organized a company of eleven men to go on an expedition to discover the mouth of Trinity River. They failed to find the object of their search, and in crossing the Klamath River they were attacked by Indians and robbed of everything they possessed but their arms and ammunition. During the fight the General was shot through the thigh. After wandering in the mountains for several days the party was found by a company of prospectors on the South Fork of Salmon River destitute of provisions and almost worn out with fatigue. After resting a few days they proceeded to [the] Sacramento Valley and wintered. In the spring of 1851 they returned to Yreka and Gen. Ross was selected to command a company of twenty men to go after the Indians who robbed Bill Martin's corral of a band of horses. After the expedition was ended he went to butchering and continued in the business for a few months. He then went with an expedition to Josephine County, Oregon, and discovered the Canyon Creek diggings. After a short stay at that place he proceeded to the Willamette Valley, bought a drove of cattle and returned, locating in Jacksonville. In the fall of 1852 he was chosen captain of a company to rescue a train of emigrants surrounded by Indians at Tule Lake. On the way he was joined by Ben Wright and company from Yreka. The General and his company after burying fourteen dead bodies of emigrants, murdered by the savages, escorted the remainder into this valley and the company disbanded. In January 1853 he was married to Miss Elizabeth Hopwood, the wedding being the first ever solemnized in Jacksonville. In December of the same year he located the ranch on which he now resides, three miles from this place, and was a short time thereafter elected Colonel of the volunteer forces called out to subdue the Indians. He served during the war under Gen. Joe Lane. In 1854 he was commissioned Colonel by Governor Davis and served through the wars of that and the two following years in Southern Oregon. In the fall of 1855 he was elected a member of the Territorial council to fill a vacancy caused by the resignation of Dr. Chambers. In 1866 he was elected to a seat in the Lower House of the State Legislature. He was one of the first Directors of the Oregon Central Railroad Company before that franchise was transferred to Ben Holladay. In 1872 he was commissioned Brig. Gen. of the First Brigade, Oregon State Militia and served in that capacity during the Modoc War. In 1878 he was chosen State Senator from Jackson County and was selected as a member of the committee appointed to look into the accounts of the State officers who had just retired from office. The. General is Independent in his political views and sentiments, and liber- [cut off] Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, September 17, 1879, page 2
John E. Ross, born in Madison County, Ohio, on the 15th of February, 1818. Emigrated to Oregon, in 1847, from Illinois, engaged in farming.
"Southern Oregon Pioneers," Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, July 8, 1882, page 3
GENERAL JOHN E. ROSS.--The subject of this sketch was born in Madison County, Ohio, February 15, 1818. His father moved to Fountain County, Indiana, when he was ten years old; thence to Cook County, Illinois, in 1833. He married, in 1840, the daughter of Alexander Robinson, of Chicago, who died after they had been married about eight months. In 1847 General Ross came to Oregon, and was captain of a company which crossed the plains. Col. Ross, Jo. Kline, and an Englishman, left the company at Grand Ronde, with the intention of coming on through ahead of them. On the road beyond Rock Creek, they discovered where a train had been attacked by the Indians. They overtook the emigrants after crossing John Day River, who proved to be the Warren party. They had been robbed of all they possessed, the Indians not even sparing them their wearing apparel. Mr. Ross traded his clothes to the Indians for provisions for this destitute band, and remained with them until his own train arrived--all coming to Oregon together. General Ross landed at The Dalles without a dollar, and went to work on a boat--which brought down emigrants to the falls--at one dollar per day. About the first of November, 1847, he went to Oregon City and opened a butcher shop, which he conducted about one month. Then the Cayuse War broke out, and he enlisted in the first volunteer company, with H. A. G. Lee, captain, Joseph Magone, first lieutenant; and Mr. Ross, second lieutenant, and went to the mission station at The Dalles, on the Columbia River. Lee and Magone were promoted, and General Ross was commissioned captain of the company, holding this position during his term of service in that war. He returned to Oregon City after the Cayuse War in 1848, and was engaged in running a threshing machine when the news reached him of the discovery of gold in California. Leaving his machine standing in the field--which he never saw afterwards--he went to the mines on Feather River, and there engaged in mining until the fall of 1849, when he returned to Oregon; went back to the mines in California, in the spring of 1850, and was one of the first discoverers of gold on Scotts River. In 1851 he came to Yreka, thence to Josephine Creek, and was one of the first discoverers of gold on Canyon Creek, in Josephine County. He returned to the Willamette Valley in the winter of 1851 and purchased a band of cattle, drove them to the Rogue River Valley in January, 1852, and opened a butcher's shop at Jacksonville. In the fall of 1852, General Ross raised a company of thirty men and went to rescue immigrants who were attacked at Bloody Point on Tule Lake. They joined Ben. Wright's company at Clear Lake, and with them met a party of immigrants between Clear and Goose lakes, returning with them. On the road.they buried about fourteen of the immigrants, who had been killed by Indians. Ross and his company paid their own expenses on this trip, and for pay they received the thanks of the Oregon legislature. In January, 1853, he married Elizabeth Hopwood, this being the first marriage in Jacksonville; the ceremony was performed by a Methodist preacher by the name of Gilbert. He settled on his present farm in December, 1853. In August, 1853, an Indian war broke out, and he was colonel in command of two battalions of mounted volunteers. After operating a few days in conjunction with Colonel Alden, of the U.S. army, and having only a few skirmishes with the Indians, General Lane arrived and took command. After a hard-fought battle on the headwaters of Evans Creek, in which engagement General Lane and Colonel Alden were wounded, and [Pleasant] Armstrong killed, the Indians made a treaty with General Lane. Colonel Ross acted as interpreter, both at the preliminary arrangements for the treaty, and at the treaty itself, although J. W. Nesmith was the appointed interpreter by General Lane, and is so reported by him. The Indians, however, did not know Nesmith, and were acquainted with General Ross, and it was only through him that they would communicate what they had to say in relation to the treaty. In 1854 he was ordered by the Governor to organize a company and send them out to protect the immigrants on the southern route, which was done, Captain Walker commanding. On the fifth of June of that year he was commissioned colonel of the 9th regiment by Gov. John W. Davis. In the fall of 1855, a breakout of the Indians, not only in this county but in the northern part of the state as well, resulted in a general war. Colonel Ross being in command of the 9th regiment, took the field, fought several severe battles, and was at length superseded in command by Col. [John] K. Lamerick. At a special election held December 15, 1855, he was elected to represent Jackson County in the territorial council to fill a vacancy caused by removal of Dr. Cleveland, and at the general election in June, 1866, to the legislative assembly. In 1866-7 when the California and Oregon Railroad Company was formed, Colonel Ross was elected one of its directors, and the directors transferred the franchise to Holladay. He was appointed brigadier-general of the first brigade of the Oregon militia by Gov. L. F. Grover, on Dec. 2, 1872. The next important move was at the beginning of the Modoc War, when he was commissioned brigadier-general and took the field, commanding as such throughout the war, and participated in the principal engagements. In 1878 he represented Jackson County in the state senate, and was honored by being appointed chairman of the military committee. He was appointed one of the investigating committee to report upon the acts of the preceding administration. Gen. Ross' portrait, and a view of his residence, will be found in this work.
A. G. Walling, History of Southern Oregon, 1884, page 538-539
ROSS-LANE--At the residence of Gen. John E. Ross, May 18th, 1885, by Rev. M. J. Straeten, Lewis G. Ross and Miss Ida Lane.
Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, May 23, 1885, page 3
John E. Ross was born in Madison Co., Ohio, Feb. 15, 1818. Emigrated with his parents to Ind. when 10 years of age, and to Ill. when 16 years old. At the age of 29 he started for Or., and was capt. of his train of forty wagons. In the Cayuse war which broke out soon after he arrived in Or. he served as lieut. and capt. He resided for some time at Oregon City, engaged in various pursuits. When gold was discovered in Cal. he went to the Feather River mines, and in 1850, after having returned to Oregon, explored in the southern valleys and in northern Cal. for gold, discovering several rich placers, known as Yankee Jim's, Wambo Bar, Jacksonville, etc. For a numbers of years he was almost constantly engaged either in mining or selling supplies to miners, and in 1852 again commanded a company who went out to fight the Indians on the southern route. In the winter of 1852-3 he was married to Elizabeth Hopwood, of Jacksonville, theirs being the first wedding solemnized in that place. They have 9 children, 5 girls and 4 boys. When the Rogue River war broke out, in 1853, Ross was elected col., and again in 1855 was elected col. of the 9th reg., and commissioned by Gov. Davis. He was a member of the ter. council in the same year; and in 1866 was elected to the state leg. When the Modoc war broke out, in 1872, he was commissioned by Gov. Grover as brig. gen. in command of the state troops. In 1878 he was a member of the state senate from the county of Jackson, where he has resided for many years. The Salem Statesman, in remarking upon the personal appearance of Ross, describes him as having a well-shaped head, pleasant face, and a reserved but agreeable manner. Ashland Tidings, Dec. 13, 1878. One whole night I spent with Ross at Jacksonville, writing down his experiences; and when at early dawn my driver summoned me, I resumed my journey under a sickening sensation from the tales of bloody butcheries in which the gallant colonel had so gloriously participated.
Hubert Howe Bancroft, History of Oregon, vol. I 1834-1848, San Francisco 1886, page 638
RECOVERING.--Gen. John E. Ross, who was seized several days ago with a dangerous attack of palpitation of the heart, is fast recovering. He is strong enough to be driven out, and in a few days will leave for the coast. Gen. Ross was probably the greatest Indian fighter among the militia men of the Northwest Coast. The savages could not kill him, and though he is past three score and ten, he is still able to fight disease, though he had a very close call two weeks ago. May the brave pioneer see many more years of peace and comfort.
"Local and General," Oregonian, Portland, June 24, 1886, page 5
General John E. Ross, in 1843, left Chicago and pitched his tent on the banks of the Willamette, near Portland, and accumulated considerable stock. When the gold mines broke out at Jacksonville he moved, with all personal effects, near Jacksonville, and nearly all was destroyed in 1853 by the Rogue River Indians. Thus the hard labor of ten years of the ablest part of his life was swept from him. He is a true type of a bold pioneer. He sold his land at Chicago for a nominal sum, and his claim near Portland for but little. His Chicago land today is worth probably two millions of dollars, and his claim at Portland not less than half as much more. He has raised a family of ten bright, lovely children, and since the above was written he has had paralysis and is now poor and on the verge of the grave.
B. F. Dowell, The Heirs of George W. Harris, 1888, page 52
Thos. Hopwood, aged 89 years, died on the Col. Ross farm Sept. 2nd. He came to Jacksonville in 1852 and has resided in the county ever since, Mrs. Ross being one of his numerous children.
"Pressed Bricks," Valley Record, Ashland, September 8, 1892, page 1
MEMORIAL TO JOHN ENGLAND ROSS
By Members of the Southern Oregon Pioneer Society
in Meeting Assembled September 11, 1890.
General John E. Ross, an honored pioneer of Southern Oregon, died at the family residence near Jacksonville, Oregon, on the 17th day of February 1890, aged 72 years and two days. He has been a prominent man and a conspicuous character in Oregon from its earliest, history; none occupied a more prominent position or was more closely identified with all phases of pioneer life. John England Ross was born in Madison County, Ohio, Feb. 15, 1818. When 10 years old his parents moved to Fountain County, Indiana, where they remained until 1835 and then moved on westward to Cook County, Illinois.
In 1847 Mr. Ross came to Oregon as captain of a train of immigrants. On the long and weary dangerous journey across the plains at that early day, suffering and want traced their steps westward. To Captain Ross the suffering of humanity was never appealed in vain, and in answer thereto he traded all his personal effects to the Indians for provisions for the destitute. He also divided his scanty wardrobe among his needy friends. He arrived in Oregon City, by way of the Dalles, late in the season, entirely destitute of funds. Beginning at day labor to earn an honest livelihood, his native force of character and manhood soon made him a leader among the hardy pioneers of that day.
When the Cayuse Indian War broke out he entered the volunteer forces called out by Governor Abernethy and was made second lieutenant of Captain A. G. Lee's company. Soon after he was promoted to the captaincy of the same company. At the close of this war he returned to the Willamette Valley and was running a threshing machine near Oregon City when news came of the discovery of gold in California in 1848. Leaving his machine in the field, off he went to the mines on Feather River, California, and later was among the discoverers of gold on Scotts River. Following the excitement northward he also mined in Yreka in 1851. Soon after Yreka he came to Jackson and Josephine counties, Oregon.
Early in the spring of 1852 we first met John E. Ross in Jacksonville. One night, and one never to be forgotten, he ran from cabin to cabin and from tent to tent, exclaiming in his clear and loud voice, "Indians, Indians--we are surrounded by Indians. Put out the lanterns, put out every light--darkness is our safety! Boys, get guns, get clubs, get axes! Get anything you can lay your hands on and defend yourselves--keep cool and keep out of sight!" He then gave two or three of his Indian yells, of which he was a noted expert, and called to the Indians in jargon, "Charco, charco, nika tika memaloose siwash!" ["Come, come, I want to kill Indians!"]
The hills around us seemed swarming with murderous yelling fiends that night. At midnight, that call to arms pierced every heart; women gathered their babies to their bosoms and prayed their shortest prayer. No idle tears dampened their blanched cheeks. Their broken prayers reached the very throne of God. All the rest of the night of terror men fired their guns at intervals and succeeded in keeping the Indians out of camp.
The horrors of barbarous war were many times around and about us. We have known John E. Ross to venture out alone into the shades of night to the unprotected settlements and gather the sick and helpless, bringing them over the trackless wilds in the middle of the night to places of safety and at the time when every waving bush took the shape of a painted warrior.
The first marriage solemnized in Jacksonville was that of Mr. John E. Ross and Miss Elizabeth Hopwood on January 7, 1853. In December of the same year he and his wife availed themselves of the benefit of the federal donation land laws and settled and improved their farm and home near Jacksonville. They contentedly lived in peace and happiness and were soon surrounded by a family of four sons and five daughters, who now mourn the loss of their honored father. Mrs. Ross still survives. She has ever been a true helpmeet to her late husband in the fullest sense of the word. She is a woman of sterling worth; her makeup is of the early pioneer type--a true woman.
After the early Indian wars, Captain Ross represented this county in the territorial council and was a member of the Legislature. At one time he was director of the Oregon and California Railroad Company, prior to the transfer of the franchise to Ben Holladay. As brigadier general, he commanded the state militia and volunteer forces which operated in the Modoc Indian War in the Lava Beds of Southern Oregon. That conflict in 1873 was with Indian "Captain Jack" and his warriors.
It was not alone on the field of strife that his countrymen honored him with their confidence. We find him again seated for four years in the House and Senate, among the lawmakers of the State of Oregon, his voice ever a power in the councils of his country. The services of John E. Ross in Oregon commenced with the Cayuse War of 1847, and during all the years of Oregon's struggles with the red man, his name (John E. Ross) was ever found in the muster roll with those who went forth to battle with the daring enemy of civilization. His name appears in history among those who met and conquered the combined tribes of Rogue River country in the terrible wars of 1855 & '56 when Indian cruelties and massacres darkened our land and cast foreboding shadows around every hearthstone. These were struggles between life and death, when civilization was held in the iron grip of barbarism. Then and there the germ of civilization took root in the soil that was bathed with the blood of Indian massacres and watered by the tears of women. In history we again find him leading a company of young men volunteers to do battle with the Indian warriors under the renowned leadership of Indian "Old Foxy" or Tyee John.
The Indians thought highly of John E. Ross in their councils, because they found him just. He was among the number of those worthies in that famous "Peace Talk" between Gen. Joseph Lane and Indian Joseph on Sept. 10, 1853. The meeting place was on a long, narrow, gently sloping hill lying against the noted bluff called "Table Rock." The Indians feared Ross because of his bravery; in conflict with our common foe he was as fierce as a lion. Around the camp fire among his men, he was as kind and gentle as a woman. In his youth he received the wise instructions of pious parents and grew to manhood under the influence of the Christian religion, for which he ever retained the most profound respect. He talked freely of his hopes beyond this life, saying "I am waiting to cross the river, waiting to join the old pioneers in that great new country where we all are journeying. Our camp fires are dying out, and one by one we are nearing our home of peace and rest."
Submitted to the Southern Oregon Pioneer Society meeting Sept. 11, 1890 by the committee ofFrom a 1963 typed transcription by Frank Ross, SOHS Ross vertical file
Jane M. McCully
S. R. Taylor
R. J. Cameron
The same was read and adopted at the 14th annual reunion meeting of the society at Jacksonville, Oregon, 9/11/1890.
GENERAL JOHN E. ROSS DEAD.
A Pioneer Defender of Oregon, and One of Jackson County's First Settlers
JACKSONVILLE, Feb. 19.--(Special Telegram.)--General John E. Ross died at his home, near Jacksonville, of heart disease, at 5 p.m. February 17. General Ross was a member of the Oregon State Pioneers' Association, of the Jackson County Pioneers' Association, and an Indian war veteran. He has lived in the vicinity of Jacksonville for nearly forty years, and was one of the bravest and most valiant of Oregon's frontier defenders. He leaves a wife and nine children.
Rev. Father Noel celebrated a solemn requiem mass for the repose of his soul at the family residence yesterday afternoon. The funeral took place at noon today.
Morning Oregonian, Portland, February 20, 1890, page 1
Death of a Southern Oregon Pioneer.
George Ross, brother of the late Col. John E. Ross, a Jackson County pioneer of '52, died at the home of his daughter in Washington on the 26th of February. The following interesting bit of history connected with [the] deceased's life in Southern Oregon is furnished us by Mr. W. J. Plymale, of Jacksonville:
Mr. Ross participated in the Indian wars of '52 and '53, also of '55 and '56, and was in all the important battles. He was in the battle of the Table Rocks, Big Meadows, mouth of Butte Creek, at Battle Creek on Evans Creek, Hungry Hill, the siege of the cabins on Applegate and was one of the party that rescued Capt. Smith at the Big Bend on Rogue River, when old John was swinging the rope with which he intended to hang Capt. Smith. He was also one of the party that rescued Mrs. Harris and her daughter after the massacre of twenty persons between Grave and Louse creeks. He was the first white man to look upon the sunken waters of Crater Lake. He was out with a party of twelve searching for a young woman who escaped the massacre at Bloody Point, Klamath County, where a train of immigrants was killed by Modocs in 1852, but who, it was afterwards learned, had been killed a short time after the capture. Mr. Ross was seventy-five years of age.
Medford Mail, March 14, 1902, page 2 It seems unlikely that Ross could have been present at every major battle of the Rogue Indian wars--and have discovered Crater Lake, usually attributed to J. W. Hillman. Henry Klippel doesn't list him as one of the party that rescued Mrs. Harris.
GEN. JOHN ENGLAND ROSS, well-known pioneer and Indian fighter of the West, was born in Madison County, Ohio, February 15, 1818, and when ten years of age removed with his parents to a farm upon which has since sprung into being the splendid city of Chicago. His father, Angus, who came to America from Scotland, died in Oregon, at the home of his son, J. E. Ross, at the advanced age of eighty-five years. John E. Ross married Elizabeth Hopwood, born near Uniontown, Pa., in August, 1830, and of English descent. There were ten children born of this union, six sons and four daughters, Mrs. Reames being the second child. In the spring of 1847 Mr. Ross crossed the plains with ox teams to The Dalles, and from there went by boat to Oregon City. In that city he engaged in a butchering business for a short time, but soon entered upon that active Indian career which practically dominated his life in the West. He was first lieutenant in a company of Oregon riflemen who sought to quell local disturbances and protect the lives of the settlers, and soon afterward took an active part as captain in the Cayuse War. When the war was over he returned to his butchering business, and afterward took the first threshing machine in the state to the Tualatin plains. From 1848 until 1849 he mined with indifferent success in California, and later mined and fought Indians throughout the northern part of California and Southern Oregon. In the fall of 1852 he located in Jackson County, and in January, 1853, married the wife who so materially aided in his success, this being the first marriage solemnized in Jacksonville. In December, 1853, Mr. Ross located on his claim of three hundred and twenty acres, upon which the balance of his life was spent, and a short time afterward he was elected colonel of the volunteer forces called out to subdue the Indians. In 1854 he was commissioned colonel by Governor Davis, and served through 1854-5-6, bringing additional distinction upon a name already endowed with the finest attributes of the soldier.
In 1866 Colonel Ross was elected a member of the legislature, and in 1872 was commissioned brigadier general of the First Oregon State Militia, serving in that capacity during the Modoc War. In 1878 he was elected state senator from Jackson County, and during the session represented the interests of his promoters with his usual tact and discernment. The death of this brave soldier and successful politician and farmer occurred on his home farm, three miles from Jacksonville, February 17, 1890. He is survived by his wife, who is making her home at Central Point. Besides Mrs. Reames, there are four daughters and four sons living of the ten children in the family.
Portrait and Biographical Record of Western Oregon, Chapman Publishing Co., Chicago, 1904, pages 925-926
THE OREGON COUNTRY IN EARLY DAYS
By Fred Lockley, Special Staff Writer of The Journal.
"I was born in Jackson County in the 'fifties," said Mrs. Evan R. Reames, of Klamath Falls.
"My father, General John E. Ross, was the first man to be married in Jacksonville, and his marriage was the second in Jackson County. When he was married it was the era of the red shirt, high boots and greasy overalls. Mother wanted him to be dressed up for the wedding, so he tried to secure proper garb for the occasion. A careful canvass of Jacksonville and the nearby camps resulted in finding one 'boiled shirt,' as the miners called white shirts, and a dress coat. The dress coat was too small to go on, so the difficulty was solved by splitting the coat up the back, putting it on and lacing it up to keep it on. There was a gap of three inches up the back, so Father had to keep his back to the wall during the ceremony and also to face the guests after the ceremony. He certainly was a wallflower until they could get rid of the company.
"This was in January, 1853, just a year after the discovery of gold in Rich Gulch by James Clugage and J. R. Poole, that led to the stampede which resulted in the founding of the town. Appler and Kenny put up a tent in February, 1852, and started the first store and saloon. Next month W. W. Fowler, who later married Mrs. Goss, the mother-in-law of Alexander Martin, my husband's associate in business, here put up the first log cabin built in Jacksonville. Mr. Fowler was chosen as judge in the trial of the first murder at Jacksonville. The man tried was hanged and buried within an hour of the trial.
"The winter of 1852 was a severe one. Several thousand people had rushed to the new camp of Jacksonville, and very little supplies had been hauled in. Flour was $50 a sack, tobacco $16 a pound and salt was exchanged weight for weight for gold dust. There was no salt in the camp and the miners on the nearby creeks who had small amounts could hardly be induced to sell any. Neighbors would share their small supply, and a pinch of salt was the most acceptable present you could give. Father had to have salt to put in his sausages, and he bought it by paying an ounce of gold dust for an ounce of salt.
"My father was appointed brigadier general. He had served in the Cayuse War in '46 and '47, in the Indian troubles in 1853 and '54, and also in the Rogue River war of 1855 and '56.
Oregon Daily Journal, Portland, August 12, 1915, page 6 The remainder of the interview is on the Reames page.
Last revised April 8, 2017