Siskiyou County Affairs
Transcribed from very faint microfilm.
Siskiyou Co. Affairs
from Early Yreka Papers--
Modoc Intelligence from Portland Bulletin.
From Yreka Journal, Dec. 15th, 1859The Pioneer Press: Who Has It?
The first paper ever printed in S.F., the Star, was worked off by Sam Brannan, a little after midnight on the 9th of Jan. 1847. The Grenada National thinks it probable that the press used by Brannan was burned in that establishment in 1855. To this opinion of the National several demurrers have been entered. The Shasta Courier gives it as its opinion that the pioneer press is still in existence, and is now in the Union office in this city. The press referred to was bought in the spring of 1853 in S.F. by C. H. Thornburg, who brought it to this city, and published upon it the pioneer paper of Yreka, the Mountain Herald. This press is one of the kind known as the Ramage patent, and is believed in size one of the smallest ever made. It is now in the Union office and is the property of M. J. Tyson. Should anyone object to Mr. Tyson's press receiving the honors which first [illegible] are bestowed on the little pioneer, where is another claimant? We have a press in the office of the same size and the same patent number. Our pioneer is number 259 of Ramage's patent, and was bought in 1856, in the state Journal office of Sacramento, by W. J. Mayfield, who brought it to this city, where it was used as a job press in the office of the Siskiyou Chronicle until within a few months past, when it became a part and parcel of the goods and chattels belonging to the Northern Journal. This press is just as likely to be the one used by Sam Brannan as that in the Union as any other printing establishment in the state.
But [illegible] a damper on the prospective glory of [the] little Ramage. In the Sacramento Union of Dec. 25th, 18[illegible] a history of all the newspapers that published in the state up to that date in which it is unqualifiedly stated that the one used by Brannan was a small hand press of [illegible] manufacture.
The Yreka Journal of Dec. 15th, 1859 speaks of the introduction of gas into Yreka, and says that the street lamps would be lighted for the first time on the following Saturday, Dec. 17th.
Condensed from the Yreka Mountain Herald, Sept. 24th, 1853:
J. P. Goodall, writing from Jacksonville, speaks of Gen'l. Jo Lane as having just returned from a trip with his guide into the mountains to interview the Indians in the direction of the Siskiyou Mtns. He met Tipsey-tyee (or the bearded chief). Gen'l. Lane found him & his party excessively timid & afraid of treachery, and would scarcely allow Gen'l. Lane with his two men to approach. The general intends to go out again soon with Capt. Robt. R. Williams' company of 80 rifles, which is the only company of mountain men now in service.
Tomorrow the general goes down to the agency to see Joe, the principal and Sam and Jim the subordinate chiefs. It is but justice to say that since Gen'l. Lane assumed command of the forces on the 21st ult. every exertion has been made by him (even after a [illegible] received on the 24th August) to settle these Indian difficulties which had stopped nearly all the business of the country. When seven days after the action of [the] 24th of August a treaty was made, which if adhered to by both parties will greatly aid the prosperity of the country, troops kept in the field at an enormous expense to the country, and who were consuming the subsistence of the settlements, were sent home, and of the necessary defenses taken to protect the valley, by keeping in the field a small force to awe the Indians, who cannot always be relied on, the countryside will settle rapidly and our Indian troubles will cease.
From the Yreka Mountain Herald, Sept. 24th, 1853:
Yreka is situated about 125 miles north of Shasta City, by a mule trail over a very rough country through which it is next to an impossibility to make a wagon road with [illegible] to the east of the Shasta Butte, which route would make this place to the Sacramento Valley from 150 to 200 miles. We have a wagon road, however, from this place to Oregon and the Umpqua & Willamette valleys. The distance however to the seaports in Oregon accessed by wagon is so great as to preclude all transportation of merchandise whatever. Merchandise for this place is packed on the backs of mules, [illegible] from Red Bluffs or Shasta to the south, or from Crescent City or Scottsburg to the north.
The town is situated in a branch of Shasta Valley in the midst of a country the resources of which for wealth are equaled by few and not surpassed by any on the continent. The agricultural and grazing portion of the country . . . can feed stock and raise sufficient vegetables & breadstuffs for the support of many thousands of inhabitants. As many are now turning their attention to the growing of wheat . . . the crops this year have yielded beyond expectation.
The mining resources of the region are unsurpassed by any other part of California. In addition to the many rivers and smaller streams in this part of the country, we have a considerable amount of placer diggings in nearly every part of this section which can only be worked in the rainy season.
Yreka Mountain Herald, March 18th, 1854:
The Mines of the NorthIt was not until the spring of 1851 that gold was actually discovered in paying quantities in the Shasta and Rogue River countries.
Salmon Creek was discovered in the spring of 1850 by a party from Trinity River--and almost the same time by another party who came up the Klamath River [illegible]. It is a large [illegible] stream and has yielded several million since its discovery. Miners on the stream are yet doing well. The diggings are extensive. The [illegible] creek from the mouth to the [illegible] is about 30 miles, all the bars on which have paid and many are yet yielding good wages. The South Fork for about 30 miles is equally rich. On the South Fork are the famous diggings in the vicinity of Bestville which yielded so richly in the winter and spring of 1851. They yet yield good wages. In fact, Salmon Creek is one of the best general paying large streams in California.
Klamath River--Gold was discovered on this stream in the spring of 1850. The first work which was done was at Red Cap's Bar about 10 miles above the mouth of the Trinity River. This was in July 1850. It only paid, however, from $8 to $16 per day in the hand with common rockers and the party left in search of better diggings. From the mouth of the Trinity to the mouth of Humbug Creek, about 125 miles, gold is found on all the bars and will pay many thousands of men from $2 to $8 per day for a number of years. This stream has been worked comparatively little. There is some good farming land on the large flat, but the river runs generally through cañons and is very rapid and dangerous. Miners at Humbug and other places on this stream from whom we have recently heard are making good wages at present.
Scott River--was discovered in July 1850. The first successful mining on this stream was at Scott's Bar in September of the same year. The river has yielded largely ever since. The heaviest gold that is found in the north comes from this stream. The bed of the stream has proved exceedingly rich, and has been worked with immense profits every summer since its discovery. It is not, nor will it be, exhausted for many years. It is a stream of "heavy strikes" and has gladdened the heart of many a miner with a pile, and yet contains hidden treasures which industry and perseverance will continue to discover for years to come. We make the following extract from a letter sent us by a friend residing on Scott's Bar. Some of the bank claims have paid first rate this winter. Among others those of Galsham & Co., Warner & Co. and Hill & Co., Messrs. Neal and Co. working a hillside claim above the Tennessee Bar have been making some fine strikes lately. On the whole, things are rather dull, owing in part to the inclemency of the weather this winter and difficulty in getting on the bedrock in the bank claims, on account of high water. A great many miners left here to look for winter diggings, but they soon hurried back and there are but few faces here that were not familiar to us last summer, and almost as many!
Humbug Creek--was discovered in May 1850. It is a small stream 5 miles west of Yreka, and empties into the Klamath River. It yielded very largely for the first year after its discovery. Many returned from these to the States with large quantities of the precious metal, and since that time it has yielded well, and has proved very extensive diggings. Miners are yet working to good advantage. It is thought that it will yield as much gold this summer as it has any one season since the first of its discovery.
Deadwood Creek--Is a small stream whose waters flow with Scott River, and is about nine miles S.W. of Yreka. It was discovered early in the spring of 1852, yielded largely the following summer, and has been worked with profit ever since. At this time miners are doing well. The new diggings on the main creek below the junction of Deadwood and Cherry creeks have proved to be very rich, and in that vicinity there will be a large amount of gold taken out this season.
Greenhorn Creek--Was discovered in the fall of 1850. It is about 1½ miles south of Yreka and has yielded well ever since its discovery. It continues to pay good wages. The diggings are tolerably extensive. Most of the water which we now have for mining purposes in the Yreka diggings comes from this stream.
Yreka Diggings--These are placer diggings and the richest and most extensive that have ever been discovered north of the Trinity Range of mountains. They have yielded an immense amount since their discovery, but this is a small amount in comparison to that which these placers will yet yield. As yet there has none of these mines been worked except with the scanty proportions of water from Greenhorn and the gulches afforded in the wet season. There is an area of country from Greenhorn Creek to the Shasta River, a distance of about 6 miles, by about 1 in breadth on an average, all of which with an abundance of water for sluicing will pay largely. This will afford work for many thousands of men for years. We have at this time a fair prospect of a good supply of water from the Shasta River through the Yreka Water Co.'s flume, within one year from the present time. The saw mill will be in operation in a few days, and the flume will be commenced shortly thereafter. When this work is completed, we may confidently expect all kinds of business more flourishing and money more abundant than at any time since the discovery of Yreka Flats in March 1851.
Backhouse Creek--Empties itself into the Klamath west of Yreka. It is newly discovered and is thought by many to contain extensive diggings. This summer will [illegible] prove the matter as there are many miners at work on that stream.
Indian Creek--There are several streams of this [illegible] in the north, on all of which gold has been found, but on none of them in sufficient quantities to pay over $2 or $3 to the hand.
Cottonwood--Is the next placer diggings in importance to those of Yreka in Siskiyou Co. They derive their water from Cottonwood Creek by means of two ditches. There is a large area of auriferous deposits in and about Cottonwood which are being worked at present to good profit. The town of Cottonwood is next in size in Siskiyou Co. to Yreka and the diggings for richness are not surpassed in the county.
Jacksonville--These mines were discovered in February of 1852. They are rich and extensive. Besides the creek, there is an immensity of placer diggings all around Jacksonville which like those of Yreka cannot be extensively used without the aid of a stream of water. The enterprise of bringing the waters of Applegate Creek to these diggings has long been talked of and will eventually be accomplished. When this is done Jacksonville, which is already the second inland in importance in the north, will be a city of wealth and magnificence; and the mines in its vicinity will be a source of wealth, not only to the miner, but to the farmer, merchant, mechanic and all who are interested in the north.
Rogue River--The bars on this stream nearly all contain gold, but few, however, have yet been worked to advantage. They will pay when wages are reduced, and provisions can be obtained for more moderate prices.
Illinois and Cañon creeks--Are situated about 50 miles in a westerly direction from Jacksonville, and about the same distance from Crescent City. There were some heavy strikes made on these streams when they were first discovered, which was in the spring of 1852. They have been worked ever since with tolerable success. In Illinois Valley there is a considerable extent of agricultural land.
Sailor Diggings--Are also in Illinois Valley and are supplied with water from Illinois Creek by two races. They are placer mines, and are extensive. There is quite a town at that place. They receive their supplies from Crescent City, which is distant about 50 miles.
Althouse & Sucker creeks--Flow into Illinois Creek and are streams of considerable mining importance. The former yielded largely in places last summer, and will be worked successfully in the bed of the stream the coming season. The latter is generally bank diggings.
Smith's River--Empties into the Pacific a few miles north of Crescent City; its banks and bars are auriferous, but nothing extensive has yet been found on that stream.
The Coast Diggings--We will leave as the subject of another article. We are not yet sufficiently informed as to their exact character to do them justice.
This review of the mines of the north we have hastily condensed. It contains, however, the principal features of the mines of the extreme north. We obtained our information from a three years' residence in this part of the country, and from a practical knowledge of all the mines above described the most of which we have either prospected or worked.
We have omitted many places of minor importance.
From Mountain Herald, April 15th, 1854:
A letter from Jacksonville mentions the reopening of the "New England" House by Messrs. Helman [Holman? Foreman?] as an ale and porter house, the beverage of their own manufacture and the first brewery ever established in Southern Oregon, though another in process of erection would soon be opened.
From Mountain Herald, Feb. 10th, 1855:
Rogue River War Claims.Condensed.
A Washington D.C. letter [dated] Dec. '54 to a gentleman in Jacksonville says of Gen'l. Lane and of the collecting of Rogue River war claims, which had thus far been unsuccessful, that "it has not been for want of energy on the part of Gen'l. Lane, for I am certain no other man could have done as much. He remained here the whole summer except one month." Capt. Alden made the trouble. "He thought prices were too high, especially forage, and recommended the reduction of 33 per ct. on all accounts over $800. And besides he recommended the troops should be paid the highest price allowed to U.S. troops in California. This the Secty. of War did not know how to interpret. The U.S. troops were only allowed about $15 per mo. in Cal. while the volunteers who fought Indians were paid $6 per day for themselves and horse by the State of Cal. [illegible] to the ambiguities of the language used by Capt. Alden, the Secty. was scarcely able to decide anything and had it not been for Gen. Lane's constant energy in seeing Eatkins and writing statements, all the large accounts would have been charged 33 per ct." The Secty. and auditors were disposed to act according to Capt. Alden & disregard Gen'l. Lane who is a volunteer officer. "There is a jealousy existing between officers of the regular army and volunteers and if Gen'l. Lane had not been a man of high standing, both in Congress and with officers in the department, we would have been badly shared at least. Even the passage of the act itself met with difficulties that no other man in Oregon could have surmounted. If any man but Gen. Lane had asked Congress to pay such prices as we were compelled to ask, he would not have been listened to for a moment, but would have been hissed from the "stand . . . The whole matter has been referred to a committee before whom I have spent several tedious days answering questions." . . . signed
John A. Miller
(of Jacksonville) Mr. Miller was in Washington to collect his claims.
In [the] same paper, [the] Mountain Herald, Feb. 10th, 1855, is a detailed account of an anti-Chinese meeting held Feb. 4th at the Morning Star House, Yreka, Lower Flats, Major J. W. Dunn, Chairman and Dr. Anderson Secty. There were eight resolutions passed, in the 2nd expressing indignation at the hordes of Chinese preempting mines, supplanting our most industrious men, accumulating the wealth of our soil etc. a people from whom no benefit can accrue to us, and who can not blend socially with our race without exciting our disgust. In the 3rd they speak of the fact that the wealthy Chinese merchants and Mandarins are sending hordes of their pauperized countrymen who are held and farmed by them on American soil in the relations of peons, dependents, serfs or slaves, also in China companies with no other view than sordid mercenary calculations regularly ship to this country their peons to work our mines and aggrandize themselves through their enslaved countrymen with gold from American soil. Again--American miners invariably give information without reserve to all miners of any mines discovered by them; whereas on the contrary all such discoveries by the Chinese, from their secretive character and habits, are studiously retained and secluded until accident develops it. Their idolatry makes their oaths and declarations value less. In the 4th resolution--that if a claim be jumped from a Chinaman, justice should be shown him, and the decisions of arbitration acted upon, "for, unhappily too frequently white men make tools of Chinamen to hold mining claims by fictitious bills of sale." Res. 5th the capitation tax on all Japanese and Chinese recommended, as passed in the Cal. Legislature of May 13th, 1854. Res. 6th [illegible] of Cal. being disproportionately the greatest sufferer from the Chinese, and the miner alone afflicted by the Chinese crowding and monopolizing regions where otherwise he might be successful. Res. 7th that "the miner is afflicted by having his chances staked against a horde of Chinese who are backed by extensive capital and governed by a system of police, organized among themselves in their state, which conflicts with the freedom and birthright of the American."
In Mountain Herald, March 10th, 1855 is an advertisement of Articles of Association of the Marysville and Yreka Telegraph Co., organized by N. B. S. Coleman of Sacramento, F. G. Hearn of Yreka and A. C. Hunter of Sacramento, the capital stock $75,000 at the outset.
From Siskiyou Chronicle, Dec. 24th, 1857 (Yreka):
(The editor says of the author of the following letter that he is a young [illegible] a personal acquaintance, a former resident of Salem, and the truth of this statements he can vouch for. He started in the spring with several others from this section of country and Rogue River.)
Council Bluffs, IowaEditors, Chronicle . . .
Sept. 18, 1857
After leaving Pitt River we struck what is called Noble's route, and I think it is the best one through the Sierras, we crossed in one day, a distance of 35 miles. From Honey Lake Valley to the Humboldt the road is quite rocky but not many bad mountains to go over. The grass was generally good, but there was little of it, and the spots where it would grow at all were small. This route can never sustain a large emigration, as the distance between good grass and water are so great. We drove 40 miles without grass and about 60 miles without water in one day.
We met the first emigrants July 12th, near the head of Goose Creek, and the last near Devil's Gate about August 20th. Most of the emigrants were from Missouri and Arkansas, and were composed almost entirely of families, who were going to California to reside permanently. Such an emigration cannot be other than beneficial to your young state, and a good many old Californians, who were returning with their families, intending to spend the residue of their days among the mountains and valleys of the Golden State are the "right smart chance" of young ladies. . . . There was very little sickness on the plains this year. I saw but two or three new graves. What sickness there was seemed to yield readily to treatment, and it was fortunate there was but little, for there were only three physicians en route that I heard of. While on the subject it is but justice to mention the valuable service tendered to the emigrants by a Dr. [illegible] of Missouri, who went from train to train to administer medicine to the sick and needy, and then refused remuneration for his services. He was many times fifty miles from his family, acting the part of the Good Samaritan. His name will [illegible] green in the memory of the emigrants of 1857.
The number of emigrants destined for California, as near as I could ascertain, amounted to about 12,500. They had considerable stock. About 80 wagons would have gone the Oregon route but were afraid of the Indians. The [illegible] the emigration went by way of Soda Springs in order to avoid Mormonton. There did not seem to be much [illegible] between the Mormons and [illegible].
On the [illegible] of emigrants I did not include the [illegible] emigration, which I think did not exceed [illegible]. We heard that about 500 Mormons had left Salt Lake and [illegible] the back track for the state, perfectly disgusted with the loathsome practices of the Saints. They stated there were many more would gladly leave if they could, and all complain of hard treatment. . . .
You have probably heard of a [illegible] which the Lord revealed unto the Latter Day Saints through their prophet Brigham last year, whereby a Saint can become a perfect [illegible] on the plains, an institution vulgarly called a hand-cart. Yes, your correspondent saw it operate. It was certainly the most novel and interesting sight I have seen for many a day. We met ten trains, one of 30 and the other of 50 carts, averaging about six to the cart. Each cart was generally drawn by one man and three women, through some carts were drawn by women alone. There were about three women to one man, and two thirds were unmarried. It was the motliest crew I ever beheld. Most of them were Danes with a sprinkling of Welsh, Swedes and English and were generally from among the ignorant and low classes of these countries, and scarcely one could speak the English language intelligibly, and could not of course understand what we said to them. The road was lined for a mile or two behind the trains with lame, halt, sick and weary. Many were quite old and would be going along slowly, supported by a son or daughter; some were on crutches, now and then a mother with an infant in her arms and two or three larger ones hanging hold of the skirt of her dress with a forlorn appearance would pass slowly along; some women in a condition that ought to entitle them to a first-class seat in a carriage were wearily wending their way through the sand, and seemed in good spirits journeying to the promised land, but the majority thought Jordan a hard road to travel. The old Mormons said that it was a very easy way to travel, and as it was new to me, for a little while I seriously entertained the idea of trading old "Cayuse" for a cart, but the thought struck me that while the machine would work well enough going downhill, the uphill part would not work so well. I did not, therefore, part with old "Cayuse." The hand-cart travel was gotten up last year, and will be the principal means of conveyance for all who are too poor and ignorant to get there in any other way. The experiment was pronounced successful by the Mormon leaders last year and quite a jubilee was held by them on the arrival of the first train in Salt Lake City. You probably remember that other trains were caught in the snows of the Rocky Mtns. and about 100 of their number perished from hunger and cold. Their graves are fitting monuments to the folly and wickedness of these deluded people who were enticed from their homes in sunny climes to perish in the snows of the Rocky Mtns.
Brigham Young holds as absolute sway as ever over his followers, and is not mealy-mouthed in his denunciations of the government and people of the U.S. The usual 24th of July celebration was held in secret, and attended only by their leaders. They were probably discussing the row they are now kicking up with the government.
At the South Pass Aug. 16th we found the advance party of surveyors of the Pacific Wagon Road. They had found a new route which lay about 25 miles north of the old road which was considerably nearer from the Pass to Soda Springs, but the engineers did not know whether it would be the one established. I believe the old road from the Missouri River to the South Pass will not be changed. The main body were at Fort Laramie Aug. 25th and it was expected that they would winter at Fort Hall.
From Fort Laramie to Fort Kearny, we passed almost every day large bodies of troops. The infantry and artillery were at Scott's Bluffs Aug. 30th. Sept. 1st Capt. Reno's battery was at Chimney Rock, 40 miles above Fort Kearny we passed a part of the 10th Reg. and Col. Sumner's provision train under Lt. Radick. We also passed, Aug. 20th, at the Devil's Gate, the advance provision train of the Utah Expedition. I think it is the intention of Gen'l. Harney to winter on Green River or at Fort Bridger.
What will be the result of the Utah Expedition it is impossible to predict. The Mormons seem stirred up and were running expresses to and from different points in the Territory. The mail contract hs been taken from them, and they have abandoned most of their mail stations and intend to abandon all. Judging from appearances, there seems to be a general gathering in of the "Saints."
We found settlements for miles up the Platte River, and where seven years ago it was a wilderness there are now fine houses and large fields of corn. Opposite old Council Bluffs, there is a large town called Omaha City.
Siskiyou Chronicle, Sept. 24th, 1859, last issue of paper:
As early as 1851, quartz leads were found and prospected on Humbug and in Scotts Valley, which were pronounced rich . . . yet the price demanded and received for manual labor, the high price paid for the common necessaries of life, the difficulties of transporting heavy machinery so far into the mountains, over dangerous and almost impassable trails, rendered the profitable working of those leads, to say the least, impracticable. Notwithstanding . . . several companies were formed as early as 1852 . . . but forced to suspend operations in a short time . . . found themselves poor men.
Results so disastrous as these for several years threw a damper upon quartz mining and until within the past six months the idea seemed to prevail that there was no quartz leads in Siskiyou Co. which would pay for working. Meantime facilities for transportation were increasing, roads were being made and improved, the price for manual labor was decreasing, the population of the co. was rapidly increasing, the placer mines with few exceptions no longer yielded a profit of $6, $8, $10 or $16 per day to the miner. Men could be employed for little more than half the wages their labor commanded five years before, and the demand for employment reduced men of capital to turn their attention to quartz mining. The first lead which was worked with profit to the owners was that of Messrs. Shores & Co. in Quartz Valley. These gentlemen have found quartz mining a very lucrative business. On Indian Creek a rich lead several miles in length has been discovered, on which two [illegible], belonging to the N.Y. and Siskiyou Cos. are now in full operation, yielding a fair profit to the owners. The Golden Eagle lead in the same vicinity has proven of almost fabulous richness. $30,000 have been taken from it within a short time.
Several leads which prospect well have been discovered in the vicinity of Deadwood, one or two on the Klamath River, another very rich vein has just been found near the residence of D. H. Lowry in Scott Valley. All of these leads will pay well for working; some of them have already proven immensely rich.
From the Northern Journal, Yreka, Feb. 9th, 1860.
The rich quartz lead lately discovered near Jacksonville, in Rogue River Valley, gives, according to the Sentinel, daily fresh and more gratifying evidence of their exceeding richness. On Thurs. night information was brought by experienced persons of most unlooked-for discoveries of gold. At the Ish vein, there had up to Thurs. noon about 1400 lbs. of gold quartz rock taken, all of which it is estimated will yield fully $12 by the pound! On Thurs. afternoon the co. struck upon a section of the vein not before worked, and from the ledge itself and from the surface ground close adjacent, 600 lbs. of rock were gathered, all of which is still more auriferous than any before found. The rock is literally wedged, permeated, and washed with gold. Two fragmentary boulders, one weighing about 60 lbs. and the other nearly 40 lbs., are in this last described lot, and it is positively thought by those who have seen them that both will yield one pound of gold to every five pounds of rock. We are aware these estimates seem even to those who have had experience in quartz mining, and who have seen some of the richest quartz ledges in Cal. But here we cannot reject the belief in their correctness, and quite ample, positive proof has been afforded since the discovery at Gold Hill was made. There have been some twenty different lots of the rock from there, both fragmentary and veinous, brought here in town and crushed with mortar and pestle in our stores. In no instance has the average yield of each lot been less than $10 to the pound of rock, and in some few instances it has reached $18 to the pound. The mass amounting to over 180 lbs. has averaged fully $15 to the pound avoirdupois of quartz, and of this the most indisputable evidence can be had.
Yreka Weekly Union of Feb. 11th, 1860 in speaking of Butte Creek Valley says it is being rapidly settled up by stock raisers and agriculturists, already more than [illegible] located, 18 miles distant from Little Shasta settlement--climate a little colder, and so the planting and harvesting a little later. Mr. L. Stone is one of the settlers. More than 1000 head of cattle have been driven into the valley during last autumn and this winter. There are ten small lakes, Cran's Lake and Morning Star Lake--timber easily procured here. Pine, cedar, fir and mountain holly grow in abundance.
The Yreka Weekly Journal, Feb. 9th, 1861 contains an article on woolen factories on the Pacific Coast, and speaks of initiatory steps being taken for the erection of one at Roseburg. There are, we believe, but two on the coast, one at S.F. and the other at Salem.
Yreka Weekly Journal, Dec. 4, 1861:
San Fran., Mar. 12--1861
Editor, S.F. Herald (of Nov. 14th) 1861
". . . On the 8th of April I started from this place for the Nez Perce mines. I arrived at Portland in time to take the steamboat for Slaterville and reached the mines from Portland in one week's time . . . The Boston Co. were among the first to commence mining near Pierce City, in Canal Gulch"--sluices and averaged $10 to $12 per day to the hand. At Oro Fino where the mines were first discovered, did not average at this time over $6 per day.
The richest mining locality anywhere in Washington Ter. is on Rhodes Creek, emptying into the Oro Fino 1½ miles above Pierce City. Claims pay from $12 to $25 per day to the hand.
"The great expense in opening a claim, however, eats up the profits . . . . Boards for sluices were 20 cts. per ft., nails 40 cts. per lb. A great deal of lumber is used for the purpose of making fall enough to carry on mining . . . there are a number of claims in the Nez Perce mines that pay well, but the majority are below par. Most of the gold is very fine, and can only be saved by using quicksilver." . . . The Californian miner is named not to run to another Fraser River excitement.
Chas. W. Shiveley
Yreka Journal Dec. 4--1861, Wednesday:
"The Vancouver Chronicle gives the prices of necessary articles together with a little sensible advice: Everything sells high: shovels $12.00, picks $8, axes $8, leather goods $16, gum boots $20, coffee, sugar and bacon 70 cts. per lb., and everything else in proportion."
The same paper contains also an account of a great flood on Yreka. "For nearly two weeks we have had considerable rain . . . but on Sat. last it came down in torrents, creating a flood on low land and on the banks of creeks and gulches. . . . Never since the settlement of Siskiyou has such a storm been known."
Yreka Journal, Dec. 11th:
"On Friday night another flood visited us. . . . On Saturday morning the water had reached a par with the flood of last Saturday. . . . Communication to any part of the county was completely cut off, and the smallest gulch was dangerous to cross from the swiftness of the current. This is, from all appearances, the heaviest storm ever known within the last century, in this section, and beyond the memory of the oldest native of the country. Yreka Creek is usually from 10 to 20 ft. wide, with banks from 4 or 8 ft. high, and has never since '52 flooded its banks; now the stream is from 100 to 300 ft. wide with bluff banks like a large river." . . .
Yreka Journal, Jan. 1st, 1862:
Flood in OregonThe distance by land will not differ much from the steamboat route.
"The flood has reached its greatest height in Salem about 7 o'clock on Dec. 23rd. It was higher than any flood ever known by the white inhabitants."
The Onward left the falls on Monday . . . Capt. Pease kept on amid the wreck of property on the next day. He picked up 40 persons in extreme danger.
"The warehouse at Wheatland was swept off. The breakwater and warehouse at the falls, Oregon City were carried away--loss not less than $30,000.The 'McLoughlin" and 'Island' mills were swept away. . . . The Oregon House and a large number of frame stores and buildings were swept away."
"At Linn City, opposite Oregon City, all the houses except two were carried away."
A large number of houses went over the falls. At Portland the river was higher than ever before known, destruction of property small. A part of the buildings at Corvallis carried away. Long Tom country was under water. At Albany several houses were washed away. At Champoeg, every building, except one, was swept away. At Butteville, 3 miles below Champoeg, several buildings were washed away.
"The belief is general that at nearly every steamboat landing, either the warehouses have been carried away, or their contents rendered valueless, along the whole route from Oregon City to Eugene."
Yreka Journal, Feb. 5th, 1862:
"Yreka markets--wholesale prices . . . flour 2½ or 3 cts., tea $1.25 or 75 per lb., sugar 26, 22½ and 20 cts. per lb., coffee 35 or 40, cheese 30 and 33, bacon, best 25, hams 30, potatoes 3 and 4 cts., beans 8 cts.--fresh butter 65, eggs 50 cts. per doz., hay $25 and $30 per ton--oats and barley 1 ct. each. Retail prices range higher."
Yreka Journal, Feb. 5th, 1862:
From the Portland Times of Jan. 13th, we take the following description of the country and route to the new mines: Salmon River Mines.
Description of the country north. It may here be remarked that nearly all the divides between the streams in this section of country are high mountains or high table lands, and the mtns. are generally covered with pine which in some places is small but dense. The channels of most of the streams are through and along deep cañons, with quite precipitous sides, some of which are rocky cliffs, some are covered with timber, while others are covered with grass. Along the timber are occasional patches of agricultural land; most of these are inhabited and partly cultivated by Nez Perce Indians who have considerable skill in agriculture. The gold is generally found near the sources of the streams and far beyond the accustomed haunts of the Indians, and at such an altitude as to cause the nights in summer to be very cold, while the days are sometimes oppressively hot.
The pay dirt is along the bed of the streams, or in the small strips of bottom land adjacent thereto, or in small ravines and gulches tributary to these streams, although the earth near the bedrock in the surrounding hills in some cases yields rich prospects, while the color of gold can be found on almost every square yard of earth over the whole country.
The bedrock lies at a distance of from two to ten ft. below the surface of the earth, and the stripping is from one to four ft. in depth. In the Oro Fino district there are found large numbers of small rock, from the size of a goose egg to that of a man's head, and large quantities of quartz gravel.
In the Salmon district there is found but small quantities of rock in the claims and the gravel is generally fine. In the Oro Fino district there is considerable clay, and the gold is not easily separated from the earth as in the Salmon district, where but little clay is found.
In the Oro Fino district there is a sufficiency of water for mining purposes during most of the spring, summer and autumn, while in the Salmon sluices can only be run during the period of rains or melting snows. At other times rockers are used, and these with a small supply of water. On the bars of most of the rivers are good mines in which, in some places, largely remunerative wages have been made. This is particularly true of the South Fork of Clearwater and its tributaries extending in the region of Elk City. The quality of gold found near Elk City is the best. That about Oro Fino the second in quality, and that about Salmon the third. The gold found on the Oro Grand and the streams north of Oro Fino is similar to that of the Elk City region. The mining section north of Oro Fino has been prospected to a limited extent. Late last fall some parties found what they termed rich mines near the headwaters of the North Fork of Clearwater. They thought that as high as $100 per day could be taken out with sluices. The gold was much like that about Elk City and Oro Grand in size and quality. Operations will extend in that direction the ensuing season. It is proved beyond question that the headquarters [sic] of nearly all the streams having their source in the western spurs of the Bitterroot Mtns. are in the midst of rich gold deposits, while some excellent prospects have been obtained on the eastern spurs of these mountains.
Indian ReservationAs the development of the country has progressed, it now seems to have been an unfortunately diplomacy which ceded back to the Nez Perce Indians so much of the country which embraces these rich mineral districts. But patience and skill we doubt not will soon devise means whereby the most valuable mineral lands will be treated for with these Indians by the general government and so much of the agricultural lands as may become adjuncts to mining districts. There is much valuable agricultural land on the Clearwater and its tributaries, and the open high table lands offer the best of grazing and some of them, we believe, will grow wheat, oats, barley and potatoes in abundance. In fact we have seen no richer lands east of the Cascades than are found between the waters of the Clearwater and Salmon rivers. According to treaty stipulations these cannot be open to the white man till further treaties are made with these Indians, and all attempts to settle and build upon them without license from the Indian agent and superintendent are in open violation of law, and exposing the settler to the punishment and confiscation usual in such cases. The treaty guarantees to the whites the right of transit through this reserve, and the consent of the Indians has been obtained for mining purposes, provided that nothing looking to a permanent settlement of the country is claimed and urged. These Indians are intelligent and thrifty, and understand their treaty rights probably better than any Indians on the Pacific Slope and they have always been the friends of the whites. Hence it would be the height of folly for emigrants to the mines to seek to trespass upon the rights of the Indians with impunity.
The mines on the headwaters of Slate Creek in the Salmon or Summit district are east of the line of the Indian reserves, and hence building there cannot interfere with Indian rights. The mines in the Oro Fino district are north of the South Fork of Clearwater and permission for temporary building there for the accommodations of miners was obtained of the Indians last spring by the superintendent and agent in the Indian Dept. It will not be a wise policy for emigrants to these mines to disregard the regulations of the Indian Dept. and do violence to the guaranteed rights of these Indians, lest such a violation should lead to a war which must necessarily involve not only the hostility of the Nez Perce, but of almost every other tribe of Eastern Oregon and Washington.
Facilities for MiningIn the Oro Fino district nearly all the tools and implements for mining can be purchased of the merchants resident there. Timber is abundant, and two mills are constructed for cutting lumber, both for the use of miners and those who propose to build houses and stores. In the Elk City districts there are also supplies of mining implements, though the stock is much less than at Oro Fino. There is also an abundance of good timber, but no mills for cutting lumber. The lumber used is whip-sawed in the Salmon district but comparatively few goods had been transported there up to the commencement of winter. But the prospect is that mining tools and merchandise of every needed variety will find their way there through the energy of traders in time to supply the wants of miners this coming season, though the purchase price will be great. Timber is scarce in the immediate vicinity of the mines now opened, or good timber for boards, but a few miles distant there is plenty. There are no saw mills here, though persons contemplate putting them in operation early in the season. Whip-sawed lumber is all that can be had, and that at a price ranging from .50 to $1.00 per ft. We are informed that the Powder River mills have the advantage of good timber, water and good agricultural land in the immediate vicinity.
Routes to the MinesIt cannot be expected that, at this early day, the routes traveled to these mines are susceptible of no good changes or no improvements. It becomes us to describe them as we understand them, fearless of their clashing with the peculiar interests of any persons or class of persons. We assume Portland as the starting point. We do this because it is practically the great starting point for all persons west of the Cascade Mtns. whether they have recently come from Cal. or have been long residents of Oregon and Washington. The greater part of the traveling from Portland to The Dalles is by steamboat and railroad, a distance of 110 miles, and nearly all the freight is transported by steamers between these two points and much of the loose stock. They make this trip inside of 14 hours. There is also a mountain wagon road which can only be traveled in the summer and early autumn months. In these months it is much used for pack animals and loose stock.
There is also a river trail, which has been used to some extent, when the water of the Col. River is at a low state. It is in contemplation to open a river trail which can be traveled at all times, and a proposition has been made to open such a trail early this spring. Should this be accomplished it will greatly facilitate the transit of animals from the west to the east side of the Cascade Mtns. The railroad travel is simply about 5 miles of portage at the Cascades, and the fare is $1.00. Persons can, if they prefer, make this portage on foot, as their baggage upon the steamboats is taken over the portage by the company, free of charge. The distance from [omission] to The Dalles . . . is about 110 miles, as follows:
From Portland to lower cascades . . . 60 miles
By railroad to upper cascades . . . 5 miles
To The Dalles . . . 45 miles
From the Deschutes is a portage for the steamboat travel, which is made by stage or on foot, a distance of 15 miles.
From the Deschutes to Wallula or old Fort Walla Walla is steamboating a distance of 110 miles. Thence to Lewiston 160 miles. Lewiston is the head of steamboat navigation in the direction of either the Oro Fino or Salmon mines. The boats will doubtless ascend higher up Snake River, should operations become extensive in the vicinity of Powder River. There is also an excellent wagon road from The Dalles to Lewiston via new Fort Walla Walla, or what is now the principal business town of Walla Walla. The new town is situated 30 miles distant from the old fort, where the steamboat touches, and stages run over this distance regularly on the arrival of the steamers.
The route by land from The Dalles is through an open country abounding in good grass and water and is now traversed by stages to Walla Walla with regularity. The distance is 173 miles, and convenient stations are now found on most of the route, where food and shelter can be had for the traveler. Houses can be purchased at The Dalles, and other means of outfit on favorable terms. If persons travel by steamboat to Wallula and thence to Walla Walla by stage, they will find horses and goods for sale there at fair prices.
From the town of Walla Walla to Lewiston, the distance along the wagon road is about 87 miles. By the Indian trail, which is more hilly, it is about 10 miles less. The whole route is through an open country, abounding in water and grass, and wood sufficient for camping purposes. There are numerous settlers having ranches along on the streams and in the valleys. From these, many necessaries and comforts for travelers can be obtained.
Lewiston is at the junction of Snake and Clearwater rivers, and is a good site for a trading town. It is on the Indian Reserve, and consequently permanent building is forbidden there, except upon a license obtained of the Indian agent or superintendent. How long this interdiction will continue is dependent upon the action of the government at Washington. However, men build and locate tents there and sell goods by present sufferance, and doubtless this state of things will continue till the government has purchased the land, and then titles will be obtained and building become proportionate to the condition and wants of trade.
From Lewiston to Oro Fino mines the distance is 83 miles, the greater portion of which is through an open grass country. About 10 miles of the route nearest Oro Fino is through a thick wood. A good wagon road is open over this whole route; the chief barrier to its feasibility is at the crossing of the South Fork of Clearwater. There is also a trail for horsemen and pack animals on the north side of Clearwater from Lewiston, which can be traveled in winter with more ease, and is somewhat shorter in distance.
From Lewiston to Elk City the route is along the Oro Fino wagon road to Burns' ranch, a distance of 31 miles. Then over the table land and the north side of the Pa-ha-la-whan prairie to the mouth of American River about 50 miles, thence over the mountains to Elk City about 60 miles. The route over these mountains is a good practicable pack trail, and the entire distance from Lewiston to Elk City is about 142 miles.
The present route to the Salmon mines is about 120 miles in length, and extends over high table land and across the south side of Pa-ha-la-whan prairie to Salmon River near the mouth of White Bird Creek, a distance of 8 miles. Thence up Salmon River to the mouth of Slate Creek 15 miles. Thence over the mountain to the mines 27 miles. The route to the brink of the prairie about seven miles. This side of Salmon River is a good wagon road. Here we descend through a cañon to the river. The trail up the river is different and at a high stage of water impassable for loaded animals. The trail over the mtn. is good, though the eastern slope of the mtn. is covered with fallen timber and the trail is narrow.
Another route is through Burns' on the Oro Fino wagon road, and thence on the Salmon River across the same Pa-ha-la-whan prairie. This is a little longer. Another still leaves Burns' and proceeds along the Elk City road to near the mouth of the American River. Thence almost in a direct line through a gap in the chain of mtns. to the mines. The last trail, when opened for animals, will be some 10 miles shorter and does not touch the Salmon River nor pass over any high mtn. how[ever] it is obstructed by logs and fallen timber for some ten miles beyond the mouth of American River.
The route to Powder River leaves the wagon road between The Dalles and Walla Walla at the upper crossing of the Umatilla, and passes along the old emigrant wagon road over the Blue Mtns. and through Grand Ronde to the crossing of Powder River, a distance of 85 miles. Thence in a S.W. direction a distance of some 30 miles to the headwaters of some of the small tributaries of Powder River to the newly discovered mines in that region. Parties have attempted to go through from the grand Ronde Valley to the Salmon mines direct, but were obliged to turn back soon after crossing Snake River, a short distance below the mouth of Powder River. Several persons still entertain hopes of being able to find a pass through in that direction, but so far their efforts have been fruitless, in consequence of the mtns. and cañons. So far as [is] yet known no practicable route can be made direct from Grand Ronde to the Salmon mines where now are found the rich deposits of gold.
The above are some of the general outlines of the routes to the mines, and more close observation may detect some errors, yet we trust that in all important particulars they will be found to be correct. We here annex tables of distances of the different routes and mention stations which may serve more fully as a guide to those who purpose to visit the mines the ensuing season.
Distance to Lewiston, by Steamboat
Portland to lower cascades . . . 60 milesThe Indian trail from Walla Walla is a few miles less in distance. If parties travel by steamboat to Wallula, and then prefer to go by land, they will find the distance from Wallula to Walla Walla 30 miles stage travel, and fare $5. Here they intersect the wagon road from The Dalles.
Portage by railroad . . . 5 miles
Cascades to Dalles . . . 45 miles
Portage by stage . . . 15 miles
Deschutes to Wallula . . . 110 miles
Thence to mouth Snake River . . . 10 miles
Thence to Palouse . . . 64 miles
Thence to Lewiston . . . 86 miles
Total by steamboat etc. . . 445 miles
(Printed total, though incorrect.)
Dalles to Deschutes . . . 15 miles
Thence to Mud Springs . . . 12 miles
Thence to John Day's River . . . 12 miles
Thence to Juniper Spring . . . 12 miles
Thence to Willow Creek . . . . 18 miles
Thence to Well's Spring . . . 16 miles
Thence to Butter Creek . . . 18 miles
Thence to Umatilla River . . . 9 miles
Thence to upper crossing Umatilla . . . 18 miles
Thence to Wild Horse Creek . . . 18 miles
Thence to Walla Walla . . . 20 miles
Thence to Dry Creek . . . 7 miles
Thence to Reed Creek . . . 15 miles
Thence to Tucannon . . . 17 miles
Thence to Pataho . . . 11 miles
Thence to Smith's Ranch . . . 8 miles
Thence to Craig's ferry of Snake River . . . 9 miles
Thence to Lewiston . . . 1 mile
Total from Dalles to Lewiston . . . 250 miles
Lewiston to Oro Fino--Wagon Road
Lewiston to La-Wai Creek . . . 12 miles
Thence to Craig's Ranch . . . 3 miles
Thence to summit of ridge . . . 6 miles
Thence to Burns' Ranch . . . 10 miles
Thence to Five Mile Creek . . . 14 miles
Thence to Tom Bell's ferry . . . 5 miles
Thence to Texas Ranch . . . 11 miles
Thence to Bill's Ranch . . . 8 miles
Thence to Mulkey's Ranch . . . 6 miles
Thence to Oro Fino . . . 8 miles
Total from Lewiston to Oro Fino . . . 83 miles
Lewiston to Elk City
From Lewiston to Burns' Ranch--via Oro Fino road . . . 31 miles
Thence by trail across the Pa-ha-la-whan prairie to Lawyer's. . . 40 miles
Thence to fork of South Fork . . . 6 miles
Thence to foot of mtns. . . . 14 miles
Thence over mtn. to Newsome Creek . . . 25 miles
Thence down the creek . . . 6 miles
Thence over mtn. to Elk Creek . . . 14 miles
Thence to Elk City . . . 6 miles
Total from Lewiston to Elk City . . . 142 miles
Lewiston to Salmon Mines or Florence, via Salmon River
Lewiston to Burns' Ranch . . . 31 miles
Thence S.E. across Pa-ha-la-whan prairie . . . 40 miles
Thence to Salmon River . . . 7 miles
Thence up Salmon River to mouth Slate Creek . . . 15 miles
Thence to Mtn. Spring and camp . . . 9 miles
Thence over summit to crossing Quartz Creek . . . 9 miles
Thence to Deep Creek. . . 5 miles
Thence to Florence City . . . 7 miles
Total from Lewiston to Florence (printed) 120 miles
By New Trail Not Touching Salmon RiverBancroft Library MSS P-A 62
Lewiston to Burns' . . . 31 milesThere is also a shorter trail via Salmon River which passes to the south of Burns' Ranch, and this has been traveled much during last fall. The general opinion prevails among the miners that the Salmon River trail will prove impassable during the high waters of that stream, as it runs in a deep mountain cañon with bold and precipitous cliffs. This trail first touches the river at the mouth of White Bird Creek, about 60 miles above its entrance into the Snake River.
Thence across N. side Pa-ha-la-whan prairie to east end . . . 55 miles
Thence by trail, this timber not all cut out to Florence . . . 25 miles
Total from Lewiston to Florence . . . 111 miles
Dalles to Powder River Mines
Dalles to upper crossing of Umatilla . . . 133 miles
Thence to foot of Blue Mtns. . . . 18 miles
Thence across to Grand Ronde . . . 40 miles
Thence across the valley . . . 9 miles
Thence to crossing of Powder River . . . 18 miles
Thence to the mines . . . 30 miles
Total from Dalles to Powder River mines . . . 248 miles
Yreka to Walla Walla--East Side of the Cascades
Yreka to Jacksonville . . . 60 milesBy going direct from Yreka to Klamath Lake, this distance may be lessened.
Thence to Klamath Lake . . . 70 miles
Thence to Walla Walla . . . 350 miles
Total from Yreka to Walla Walla . . . 480 miles
From Yreka to Portland by stage . . . 360 milesWith all this description it can be easily seen that a general advertisement is volunteered for the benefit of dealers in goods, provisions, animals, etc. in the section passed through [and] how we think when spring opens, considering the numerous towns and conveyances to patronize, that emigrants will find it better and cheaper to be their own steamboat and stage line, and make their own towns at every camping place, by going the route via Klamath Lake from Yreka. From Yreka to the lakes is a distance of 75 miles.
The Willow Creek Tragedy
In the Jacksonville Democratic Times of Feb. 15th, 1873 [page 1] is an article taken from the Portland Bulletin of the 6th inst., and is a tale of the suffering experienced by the immigration of 1852, in the region of Lost River, as substantially related by Col. Bellinger.
"In the year 1852, while an emigration was on the way to the southern portion of Oregon, it was attacked by a band of the hostile Modocs, upon or contiguous to Willow Creek, Cal. within a few miles of Tule Lake, and but a short distance from where the present forces under Gen. Wheaton are encamped. the train numbered nearly 100 souls, all of whom were massacred but two. Out of the train, two young girls, sisters aged about 14 and 16 years, were taken prisoners. Their name is unknown. The relatives and comrades and all that remained of that company perished in relentless and bloody massacre. Their bodies were thrown into the stream, and a pile of white bones, half buried in the soft mud, and half protruding above it, have been pointed out by the Indians as the site of the massacre and the remains of the victims. They and portions of the half-burned emigrant wagons may be seen to this day. The younger of the captive sisters died first, but under what circumstances is not known. To the right of the road leading from Small's and Van Bremer's ranches and within a short distance of Dorris' house, there stands a high ledge of rock that overlooks to the north a narrow valley that stretches away to Little Klamath Lake. There, when savage jealousy had made her an object of contention or when her ruined body could no longer administer to savage lust, the elder sister was murdered. Less than two years ago, Scarfaced Charley, who was a boy when these circumstances took place, showed this spot to Ball and related the facts here given. A crumbling skeleton was pointed out as the remains of the last victim of the Willow Creek tragedy. In company with another gentleman, and led by a guide, Col. Bellinger visited the spot indicated. All that was discovered was a human skull, one rib and one of the bones of the arm. Col. Bellinger gathered up the remaining relics and brought them away with him. On reaching Jacksonville, the bones were packed in a box and forwarded by express to Dav. Rafferty of East Portland, and will be placed in his cabinet."
From Jacksonville, Democratic Times, Feb. 15th, 1873 [page 1]:
The following correspondence is from the Portland Herald, the writer of which was in the late battle and who is conversant with all the circumstances connected with the Modoc War.
"Some years ago a drunken Indian fell from the hind part of a stage where he had smuggled himself to avoid the expense of legitimate travel between Hawkinsville and Yreka. His face struck upon a sharp rock inflicting a bad wound upon the left cheek. The wound, healing, became an ugly scar, and the Indian thenceforth is known as Scarfaced Charley. He is Capt. Jack's prime minister and commanding general. He is a man about 35 years old, and cunning and desperate. When the troops under Major Jackson went to Jack's camp on Lost River, at the time the first attempt to take the band to the reservation was made, Charley stood up in his wikiup, a circular tent with a circular hole in the top, with his head and shoulders exposed to the soldiers, who were drawn up with arms presented, and facing them, put on his war paint, seized a gun and fired, the instant before or after the first volley of the regulars was fired. Standing in that shower of bullets, he picked up another and another, until he had fired six or seven guns, then falling down with his leg resting on a sagebrush, he counterfeited [death] so naturally that not a suspicion of life was suggested to anyone present.
"When Col. Perry's troops on the evening of the 16th drove the Indian pickets from the bluff west of the lava bed, we distinctly heard, incredible as it may seem, above the distant yells and cries at the camp below, and three or four miles away, a big basso voice that sounded like a trumpet and that seemed to give command. This was probably Scarfaced Charley, so our scouts thought. The big voice was understood and interpreted as saying, 'There are but few of them, and they are on foot. Get your horses! Get your horses!' The yells and the voice under the fog approached us nearer and nearer. Suddenly there was a discharge of musketry far away on the east. It was Bernard, who was groping his way to a camp, and who deceived by darkness and ignorance of the country had stumbled upon the Indian pickets. The yells and the voice were arrested, turned back and finally mingled in the din of Bernard's first fight.
"Capt. Jack is about 40 years of age, below medium stature, muscular, remarkably intellectual in appearance, sedate, grave and dignified in his deportment. He does not speak English. This last statement is disputed by some. Fairchild is my authority in these matters, and I rely upon his correctness and truthfulness. True he seems to be an ardent admirer of Capt. Jack, the individual, and I am not sure but the facts in a certain sense justify admiration, and I am sure that Fairchild is a man with sense to perceive and the rare courage to tell the truth.
"Capt. Jack justifies himself in leaving the reservation the last time, on the ground that he was starved out, that he had nothing furnished him to eat but a little sour barley, that he was compelled to kill 17 of his horses to keep them from starving, that their squaws who weighed over 200 lbs. each when they went upon the reservation, were reduced to 140 lbs. each before leaving, that therefore he was moved by the natural impulse of a husband, father and chief in what he did. On the other hand, Mr. L. S. Dyar of the Yainax sub-agency, whether upon his own or other authority I do not know, informs me that Jack's story is not true, and that he was well provided for during his last stay, that when he was there the first time he was not well fed, but Jack makes no complaint of his treatment at that time. I think the captain's story is intrinsically a little bad. He was not there to exceed two months. His 17 horses alone ought to have kept the number with him from actual hunger. It is indisputable that they had access to the lake, where fish are abundant and easily taken at all seasons. The emaciation of his squaws is so strongly put that it alone is enough to throw a suspicion upon the whole statement.
"Between the Modocs and the Klamaths, who were both at Yainax, there was enmity and constant trouble. The mouth of Lost River is one of the most remarkable localities for fish in the world. During certain seasons they crowd into the river in such numbers as to almost render the ford impassable. These facts and that impatience of restraint so inherent in Indian character, I think afford a satisfactory explanation of the reasons that moved Capt. Jack to leave Yainax, and are much more likely to be true than the one he has given.
"The captain disclaims any connection with the late massacre, and affects to disapprove of the bad conduct of members of his band. If this is true, with what assurance can he treat for the bad ones? I suspect that the captain is a 'deep old file,' and that he plots much of the mischief that he affects to deprecate. In any event, he ought to surrender or detach himself from his bad Indians on account of their misdeeds.
"One Colonel Otis, representing the government, visited the Modoc Indians, had a talk with the Indians and both the testimony of Ball and Henry Miller, as to their good character and inoffensive conduct toward the white settlers. This testimony, for aught I know, may be before some congressional com. today. If so, it ought to be accompanied by the statement made immediately after that testimony was taken, by Henry Miller to John A. Fairchild. Miller's mouth is closed in death, murdered by the same Indians whose character he had vouched for. Miller came to Fairchild's house, after the visit of Col. Otis and, greatly excited, proceeded to narrate the fact of his having testified before Otis and of the circumstances surrounding him. He said that his life depended upon his answers. He detailed the questions put to him, and the answers he dared not do other than give, that these Indians were peaceable and well disposed toward settlers, that he had never heard of any depredations committed by them, that they had never given him any trouble, that he was willing they should remain and did not want them removed. These answers were not true; he did not want to give them; he did not dare to refuse. He complained bitterly of the position in which he had been placed. Possibly statements similar to these made to Fairchild, made to others less discreet, caused his death. I have not learned that Ball, the other witness, has made any declaration in this premises. I see that the proposition to compromise with Capt. Jack, by giving him the heart of Lost River Valley, is still insisted on in influential quarters in Cal. If the captain refuses to regard the existing treaty, will he regard the proposed one? Possibly, but who knows? When murder means not punishment but new treaties and concessions, massacre is liable to become the diversion of the savage mind, and the employment of savage leisure. If such concessions are made, no white man can live in or near Lost River Valley. The lives of those now there are already forfeited by the Modoc law, and the life of anyone who goes there will be one of constant peril.
"Large reinforcements of regulars are being forwarded, and active operations will likely be resumed at an early day. Gen .Wheaton's plan of the main attack will be as before, from the east and west. Two large flatboats will be built for the transportation of supplies into the lava bed from the mouth of Lost River. Mortars will be used instead of howitzers. Thus equipped, Gen. Wheaton proposes to "stay" with Capt. Jack. The danger from raids I think has been overestimated. The controlling points of country are well guarded. The Modocs have lost over 100 ponies in the fight of the 17th and in their subsequent affair with Barnard."
Last revised March 3, 2015