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Reminiscences of a Pioneer by Colonel William Thompson

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Produced by David A. Schwan

Reminiscences of a Pioneer

By Colonel William Thompson

Editor Alturas, Cal., Plaindealer

San Francisco 1912


I Farewell to the Old Southern Home
II First Winter in the Willamette Valley
III Indian Outbreak of 1855
IV In Which Various Experiences Are Discussed
V Taking Revenge on Marauding Snakes
VI One Bad Tale From Canyon City History
VII Col. Thompson's First Newspaper Venture
VIII History of the Modoc Indians
IX The Ben Wright Massacre
X Treaty With the Modocs Made
XI Battle in the Lava Beds
XII The Peace Commission's Work
XIII Three Days Battle In the Lava Beds
XIV Trailing the Fugitives
XV The Great Bannock War
XVI Snake Uprising in Eastern Oregon
XVII Bannocks Double on Their Tracks
XVIII Another Attack That Miscarried
XIX Reign of the Vigilantes
XX Passing of the Mogans
XXI The Lookout Lynching


Colonel William Thompson Frontispiece
(From photo taken at close of Bannock War)
Typical Scene in the Lava Beds
Runway and Fort in Lava Beds
Captain Jack's Cave in the Lava Beds
Captain Jack
(From photo belonging to Jas. D. Fairchild, Yreka, Cal.)
Colonel William Thompson
(From photo taken at close of Modoc War)


So rapidly is the Far West changing character, our pioneers should feel
in duty bound to preserve all they can of its early history. Many of
them are giving relics of frontier days to museums and historical
societies. And they do well. Yet such collections are unfortunately
accessible to only the few. Hence they do better who preserve the living
narratives of their times. For however unpretentious from the cold
aspect of literary art, these narratives breathe of courage and
fortitude amid hardships and perils, and tell as nothing else can of the
hopes and dreams of the hardy pathfinders, and of the compensations and
pleasures found in their sacrifices.

It is with this end in view, to preserve the life of the old days in its
many colors, that these recollections are penned. There was more to this
life than has been touched by the parlor romancers or makers of
moving-picture films. Perhaps some day these memories may serve to
illumine the historian delving in the human records of the past. And
perhaps, also, and this is the author's dearest wish, they may inspire
young readers to hold to the hardy traditions of the 'Fifties and to
keep this spirit alive in a country destined soon to be densely peopled
with newcomers from the long-settled parts of the world.

Reminiscences of a Pioneer

Chapter I.

Farewell to the Old Southern Home.

I have often wondered, when viewing a modern passenger coach, with its
palace cars, its sleeping and dining cars, if those who cross the "Great
American Desert," from the Mississippi to the Pacific in four days,
realize the hardships, dangers and privations of the Argonauts of
fifty-eight years ago. The "Plains" were then an unbroken wilderness of
three thousand miles, inhabited by hordes of wild Indians, and not too
friendly to the white man journeying through his country.

The trip then required careful preparation--oxen, wagons, provisions,
arms and ammunition must be first of all provided. These were
essentials, and woe to the hapless immigrant who neglected these
provisions. To be stranded a thousand miles from the "settlements" was a
fate none but the most improvident and reckless cared to hazard.

It is to recount some of the trials, adventures, hardships, privations,
as I remember them, that these lines are written. For truly, the
immigrants of the early 50's were the true "Conquerors of the
Wilderness." Cutting loose from home and civilization, their all,
including their women and children, loaded into wagons, and drawn by
slow-moving ox teams, they fearlessly braved three thousand miles of
almost trackless wilderness.

As a small boy I remember the first mention of California, the land of
gold. My father returned from New Orleans in January. On board the
steamer coming up the Mississippi river, he had fallen in with some
gentlemen "returning to the States." They had given him a glowing
description of the "land of gold," and almost the first words spoken
after the family greetings were over was, "We are going to California in
the spring." My mother was more than agreeable and from that time
nothing was talked or thought of but the journey to California. The old
refrain was sung from morning to night,

"In the spring we 're going to journey,
Far away to California."

My chum, Tant, a negro boy of my own age, and I seriously discussed the
prospects and dangers of the journey. Direful tales of the tomahawk and
scalping knife were recounted by the older children. But Tant's fears
were allayed by the assurance that the "Injuns" would not kill and scalp
a black boy with a woolly head. For once in my life I envied that imp of

In February a gentleman came to our home and after dinner he and my
father rode over the plantation. The next morning they rode over to
Bolliver, the county seat. Returning in the evening my father announced
that the plantation was sold. Then began the real preparations for the
journey. My father was constantly in the saddle. Oxen, wagons, ox yokes,
ox bows, cattle, covers for wagons, arms, ammunition and provisions were
purchased and brought to the plantation. All was hurry and excitement.
Two shoemakers came to our home to make up the leather purchased at St.
Louis or from neighboring tanneries. Meantime Aunt Ann and the older
girls of the family were busy spinning and weaving. Every article of
wearing apparel must be made at home. "Store clothes" were out of the
question in those days. Wool must be carded and spun into thread for.
Aunt Ann's old wooden loom. The cloth was then fashioned into garments
for clothing to last a year after we should reach our goal far out on
the Pacific shores. The clank of the old wooden loom was almost
ceaseless. Merrily the shuttle sang to an accompaniment of a camp
meeting melody. Neighbors also kindly volunteered their services in
weaving and fashioning garments for the family. All was bustle and

At last all was in readiness for the start. Spring with all its beauty
and glory was with us, and friends from the country round and about had
come to bid us a final farewell--friends, alas, we were destined never
to meet again. The parting I remember as the first real sorrow of a life
that has experienced most of the hardships, dangers, privations and
sufferings of a wild frontier life. It was a beautiful morning early in
April, 1852, that the leaders were pointed to the west and a start was
made. Four wagons were drawn by five yoke of oxen each, while the fifth,
the family wagon, was drawn by three yoke.

The first weeks of our journey were passed without anything happening
worthy of note. At Caw river we were detained several days by high
water. Here we began falling in with others, who, like, ourselves, were
bound for the golden shores of the Pacific. And it was here that we made
the acquaintance of families, and friendships formed that were to
survive not only the privations of the plains but were to last a life
time. Men were drawn together on the plains as in the everyday walks of
life, only the bonds were closer and far more enduring. The very dangers
through which they passed together rendered the ties more lasting. "Our
train" henceforth consisted of my father's, Littleton Younger, John
Gant, "Uncle" Johnny Thompson and a party of five Welsh gentlemen, under
the leadership of a gentleman named Fathergill, and a prince of a
gentleman he was. At that time there was not a cabin in what is now the
great and populous State of Kansas. Only vast undulating plains, waving
with grass, traversed here and there with timberskirted streams. Game
was abundant, consisting mostly of antelope and prairie chickens. Our
Welsh friends, being bachelors and having no loose stock, were the
hunters for the train, and supplied us with an abundance of fresh meat.

As we proceeded westward more immigrants were met, and often our camp
resembled a tented city. All was then a pleasure trip--a picnic, as it
were. No sooner was camp struck than a place was cleared and dancing
began to the sound of the violin. Many of these young ladies were well
dressed--actually wore "store clothes!" But alas, and alack, I was
destined to see these same young ladies who started out so gay and
care-free, in tattered dresses, barefooted and dusty, walking and
driving the loose cattle. Too many excursions and pleasure jaunts had
reduced their horses to skeletons before the real trials of the journey
had fairly begun. But the women of '52 and '53 were not of the
namby-pamby sort. When the trials came they were brave and faced
privations and dangers with the same fortitude as their stronger

At Fort Laramie we crossed the Platte river by fording. The stream, as I
remember it, was near a mile wide, but not waist deep. Thirty and forty
oxen were hitched to one wagon, to effect the crossing. But woe to the
hapless team that stalled in the treacherous quicksands. They must be
kept going, as it required but a short stop for the treacherous sands to
engulf team and wagon alike. Men wading on either side of the string of
oxen kept them moving, and soon all were safely on the north side of the
Platte river.

We soon began to see great herds of buffalo. In fact, at times the hills
were black with the heaving, rolling, bellowing mass, and no meal was
served for many days without fresh buffalo. As we wended our way up the
valley of the Platte one could look back for miles and miles on a line
of wagons, the sinuous line with vari-colored wagon covers resembling a
great serpent crawling and wriggling up the valley. Fortunately for "our
train" we were well in advance and thus escaped the sickness that later
dotted the valley of the Platte with graves.

On and on. Independence Rock, Sweet Water, and Devil's Gate were passed.
Members of our train had observed two men who traveled with us, yet held
themselves aloof. They appeared to prefer their own company, and while
they traveled along with us, probably for protection, they always camped
by themselves. Some said they were Mormons, while others asserted they
were merely a selfish pair. One day one of the men was missing. The
other on being questioned gave evasive and very unsatisfactory replies.
His actions excited the suspicions of our men. He appeared anxious to
get ahead and left us, making a long night drive. It was then determined
to make an investigation. Two of our party mounted good horses and
started back on the trail. Each camp was carefully examined until they
were rewarded by finding the body of a murdered man beneath the ashes of
a camp fire, buried in a shallow grave. By riding all night they
overtook the train, before starting back burying the body of the
unfortunate traveler. The news spread rapidly and a party followed the
murderer. He was soon overtaken and halted at the muzzles of rifles.
When the train came up a council was held. Probably a hundred wagons
were halted. It was determined to give the man a trial. The evidence was
conclusive, and after conviction the miserable wretch confessed all, but
begged for mercy. He said the murdered man had picked him up out of pity
and was taking him through for his company and his help. There being no
trees, three wagons were run together, the wagon tongues being raised to
form a tripod and to answer for a gallows. To the center of the tripod a
rope was attached with the other end around the neck of the trembling,
writhing, begging wretch. But he had committed a cruel, cold-blooded
murder and his crime could not be condoned. He was stood on the back of
a horse, and a sharp cut being given the animal the wretch was swung
into eternity. A grave had been dug and into this the body of the
murderer was placed. The property of the murdered man was taken through
to the settlements. His relatives were communicated with, the property
sold and the proceeds sent to the proper owners. Such was the swift but
terrible justice administered on the plains. Without law or officers of
the law, there was no other course to pursue consistent with safety to
the living.

July 4th, 1852, we reached Green river. Traders had established six
ferry boats at the crossing. In order to keep down competition, five of
the boats were tied up and the sum of $18 was demanded for each and
every wagon ferried over the stream. They had formed a kind of "trust,"
as it were, even in that day. The rate was pronounced exorbitant,
unfair, outrageous, and beyond the ability of many to pay. Train after
train had been blocked until a city of tents had been formed. On the
morning of the 4th a meeting of immigrants was called to discuss the
situation. A few counseled moderation, compromise, anything to prevent a
clash with the traders, who boasted that they could turn the Indians
loose on us. The great majority defied both traders and Indians and
boldly announced that they would fight before they would submit to being
robbed. Many fiery speeches were made, and about 10 o'clock a long line
of men, with shouldered rifles flashing in the sun, marched down and
took possession of the ferry boats. The traders fumed and threatened,
and Indians with war-whoops and yells mounted horses and rode off from
the opposite side. The traders said they were going after the tribe to
exterminate the entire train. They were plainly told that the first shot
fired by traders or Indians would sound their own death knell--that
they, the traders, would be shot down without mercy.

The ferry boats were then seized and the work of crossing the river
began. As fast as the wagons were crossed over they were driven down the
river, one behind another, forming a corral, with the open side facing
the river in the form of a half wheel. When the wagons had all been
crossed, the loose stock was swum over into the opening. There was no
confusion, but everything proceeded with almost military precision. A
committee had been appointed to keep tally on the number of wagons
crossed on the boats. The traders were then paid $4 for each and every
wagon. Still they fumed and threatened. The faces of the more timid
blanched and a few women were in tears. I beheld the whole proceedings
with childish wonder. But the circumstances of that 4th of July and the
execution of the murderer were burned into my brain with letters of
fire, never to be effaced while memory holds her sway.

Every man was under arms that night. Horses were tied up and the work
oxen chained to the wagons, a strict guard being kept on the traders in
the mean time. The next morning the long string of wagons started out on
the road. Two hundred men rode on either side to defend the train, while
scouting parties rode at a distance to guard against surprise. This
formation was kept up for several days, but seeing neither traders nor
Indians the different trains separated and each went its way unmolested.

Bear river and Soda Springs were next passed. A few miles this side of
Soda Springs the roads forked, one going to California and the other to
Oregon. Here a council was held. A portion of "our train" wanted to take
the California road. Others preferred the Oregon route. A vote was taken
and resulted in a majority for Oregon, and association and friendship
being stronger than mere individual preference, all moved out on the
Oregon road.

Snake river was finally reached, and here the real trials of the journey
began. From some cause, not then understood, our oxen began to die. The
best and fattest died first, often two and three in one camp. Cows were
drawn into the yoke and the journey resumed. But it soon became evident
that loads must be lightened. Wagons loaded with stores and provisions
were driven to the side of the road and an invitation written with
charcoal for all to help themselves. To add to the difficulties of our
situation, the Snake Indians were surly and insolent to a degree.
Gradually a gloom settled over all. No more of laughter, of dancing and
song. And faster and faster the oxen died. Camping places were almost
unbearable on account of the dead and decaying cattle. And then the
terrible mountains of which we had heard so much were before us. Would
we ever reach the settlements? This was a question that began to prey
upon the minds of many. A few of the young men shouldered a blanket and
some provisions and started on foot to reach the valley. Others began to
despair of ever reaching the promised land. If those who cross the
continent now in palace cars and complain of the tediousness of the
journey could take one look at the wreck and desolation that lined the
poisoned banks of Snake river, they would hide their heads in very

As our situation became more desperate it appeared the Indians became
more sullen and mean. Guards were kept night and day, the women and
children driving the teams and loose cattle and horses in order that the
men might get some rest. At one point the danger seemed imminent. The
men on night guard reported that the horses were snorting and acting as
if Indians were about. Mr. Fathergill's mule appeared especially uneasy.
The cattle and horses were then all driven to camp, the horses tied up
and the oxen chained to the wagons. The next morning moccasin tracks
were discovered within a hundred yards of our camp, showing plainly that
only extreme caution and foresight had saved us all from massacre. After
that camps were selected with a view to defense. A point was finally
reached where we were to bid farewell to the dread Snake river. Several
trains camped there that night. Among them was a man named Wilson, a
brother of ex-Senator Henry Wilson of Colusa county. Cattle had been
rounded up and oxen placed under the yoke. Wilson became involved in a
quarrel with a young man in his employ. Suddenly both drew revolvers
and began firing at each other. The duel ended by Wilson falling from
his mule, a dead man. The young man rode away and was seen no more. A
grave was dug, the dead man buried and within two hours the train was in
motion. There was no time for tears or ceremonies. Winter was coming on,
and the terrible mountains must be crossed. Besides the dread of an
Indian attack was ever present.

After leaving Snake river we lost no more cattle. We crossed the Blue
Mountains without any mishap. We met several settlers coming out with
teams to help any that might be in distress. They were told to go on
back, as others were behind far more in need of assistance than we. On
reaching the Columbia river we found the Indians very friendly and
obtained an abundance of fresh salmon. Trifles were traded for salmon
and wild currants, which formed a welcome addition to our bill of fare.
The dreaded Cascade Mountains were finally reached. A storm was raging
on the mountain and we were advised by settlers whom we met coming out
to assist the immigrants, to wait for better weather. Some disregarded
the advice and paid dearly for their temerity, losing many of their
cattle, and only for the help rendered by the settlers might themselves
have perished.

As soon as the storm spent its force a start was made and the dreaded
mountains passed in six days, and without any serious mishap. On
reaching the valley we were everywhere greeted with genuine western
hospitality. Vegetables were plentiful and cheap--in fact could be had
for the asking. But while wheat was abundant there were no mills to
grind it into flour, and we soon discovered that that very necessary
article could not be had for love or money. We were therefore soon
reduced to a daily diet of boiled wheat, potatoes, pumpkins and wild
meat, the latter requiring but little exertion to secure. But we were as
well off as anybody else, and with the remnants of clothing saved from
the wreck of the desert and plains passed the winter in health and some
degree of comfort.

Chapter II.

Our First Winter in the Willamette Valley.

The winter of 1852-53 will forever be memorable in the annals of pioneer
days in Oregon. Indeed, nothing comparable had been experienced by
immigrants in former years. Deep snows encompassed us from without, and
while we were sheltered from the storms by a comfortable log cabin, and
were supplied with a fair amount of provisions such as they were, a
gloom settled over all. Cattle and horses were without forage and none
could be had. Reduced to skin and bone by the long and toilsome journey
across the plains, they were illy prepared to stand the rigors of such a
winter. In this extremity recourse was had to the forest. The Oregon
woods, as all are aware, are covered by long streamers of yellow moss,
and in the cutting of firewood it was discovered this moss was devoured
with a relish by cattle and horses.

Then began the struggle to save our stock. From early morning to night
the ring of the ax was unceasing. The cattle, especially, soon learned
the meaning of the cracking of a tree and bolted for the spot. To
prevent them being killed by the falling trees, the smaller children
were pressed into service to herd them away until the tree was on the
ground. The stock soon began to thrive and cows gave an increased amount
of milk which was hailed with delight by the small children and afforded
a welcome addition to their bill of fare--boiled wheat, potatoes, meat,
and turnips.

Thus wore away the terrible winter of 1852-53. I say terrible, and the
word but poorly expresses our situation during that memorable winter. To
fully understand our situation one has but to imagine oneself in a
strange land, far from human aid, save from those environed as
ourselves. We were three thousand miles from "home," surrounded by a
primeval wilderness, in which ever lurked the treacherous savage.
Happily for us and for all, no annoyance or real danger threatened us
from that quarter. A few years before, a salutary lesson had been taught
the savages. The deadly rifles of the pioneers had instilled into their
bosoms a wholesome fear. Information had reached the settlers that the
Indians contemplated a massacre--that they were going to break out. The
information reached them through the medium of a friendly Indian. The
result was that the settlers "broke out" first. A company was formed,
consisting of about all of the able-bodied men within reach. The savages
were encountered on the Molalley and after a sharp fight were dispersed
or killed. Several were left dead on the ground. The whites had one man
wounded. Thus the war power of the Molalleys was destroyed forever.

In this connection I wish to make a digression, which I trust my readers
will pardon. It has often been urged that the white man has shown little
gratitude and no pity for the aborigines of this country. This I wish to
refute. The Indian that brought the word of warning to the white
settlers was ever after the object of tender solicitude on the part of
those whom he had befriended. I have seen that Indian, then old and
possibly worse off for his association with civilization, sitting down
and bossing a gang of Chinamen cutting and splitting wood for Dan'l
Waldo. The Indian, "Quinaby," always contracted the sawing of the wood
at $2.00 per cord and hired the Chinamen to do the work for 50 cents per
cord. He had a monopoly on the wood-sawing business for Mr. Waldo,
Wesley Shannon, and other old pioneers. It mattered not to "Quinaby"
that prices went down, his contract price remained the same, and the old
pioneers heartily enjoyed the joke, and delighted in telling it on

But enough of this. Spring came at last and a new world burst upon the
vision of the heretofore almost beleaguered pioneers. We had wintered on
a "claim" belonging to a young man named John McKinney, two miles from
the present town of Jefferson. He had offered his cabin as a shelter
with true Western hospitality, including the free use of land to plant a
crop. Accordingly about twenty acres were plowed and sown to wheat. This
work was performed by my elder brothers. Meantime my father had started
out to look for a claim. Nine miles north of Eugene City he purchased a
"claim" of 320 acres, paying therefor an Indian pony and $40 in cash. To
this place we moved early in May, and there began the task of building
up a home in the western wilds. A small cabin of unhewn logs constituted
the only improvement on the "claim," but a new house of hewn logs was
soon erected and a forty-acre field inclosed with split rails. We had
plenty of neighbors who, like ourselves, were improving their lands, and
mutual assistance was the rule.

As summer approached it became necessary to return to our wintering
place, where a crop had been sown, and harvest the same. Accordingly, my
father, accompanied by my two older brothers, the late Judge J. M.
Thompson of Lane County, and Senator S. C. Thompson, Jr., of Wasco, then
boys of 12 and 14 years, went back and cared for the grain. The wheat
was cut with a cradle, bound into bundles and stacked. A piece of ground
was then cleared, the grain laid down on the "tramping floor" and oxen
driven around until the grain was all tramped out. After the grain was
all "threshed out," it was carried on top of a platform built of rails
and poured out on a wagon sheet, trusting to the wind to separate the
wheat kernels from the straw and chaff. By this primitive method the
crop was harvested, threshed, cleaned, and then sacked. It was then
hauled by ox teams to Albany where a small burr mill had been erected by
a man named Monteith, if my memory serves me correctly, and then ground
to flour.

And then, joy of joys! We had wheat bread. No more boiled wheat, nor
flour ground in a coffee mill,--but genuine wheat bread. You, reader,
who probably never ate a meal in your life without bread, have little
conception of the deliciousness of a biscuit after the lapse of a year.
As Captain Applegate once said to the writer, referring to the first
wheat bread he ever remembered eating: "No delicacy,--no morsel of food
ever eaten in after life tasted half so delicious as that bread." It
must be remembered that Captain Applegate crossed the plains in 1843 and
was therefore an "old settler" when we arrived. His trials were
prolonged only a matter of eight years; but looking back, what an
eternity was emcompassed in those eight years.

One of the leading characteristics of the Anglo-Saxon is that on coming
to the western hemisphere he brought with him his wife and children,--
his school books, and his Bible. As soon, therefore, as a spot for a
home had been selected and a rude shelter of logs erected for loved
ones, the neighbors began discussing the question of school. It was
finally arranged that we must have a school, and the cabin of a bachelor
settler was tendered and accepted, and my father chosen as teacher. Logs
were split open and placed on legs, with the flat sides turned up to
serve as seats. The floor,--well, Mother Earth provided that. It was
sprinkled and swept out with "split brooms" twice daily. To prevent the
pupils getting lost in the tall grass of the prairies, furrows were
plowed from the settlers' cabins to the school house. This also served
as a protection to the barefoot girls and boys going to and from,
school. My father belonged to the old school and did not believe in
"sparing the rod," and as a result, it became indelibly impressed upon
my juvenile mind that he used the rod upon me to better preserve order
among the other pupils.

In those days girls dressed in "linsey woolsey," while the boys of all
ages wore buckskin pantaloons and hickory shirts. Now, buckskin is well
calculated to stand the wear and tear of even a robust boy. Yet there
were awkward drawbacks. The legs of the pantaloons absorbed too much
moisture from the dew-bedecked grass and they would stretch out to
almost any length. The boy, therefore, must roll them up at the bottom.
Arrived at school, however, the drying process set in, and he, perforce,
must unroll the legs. As the boy occupied a sitting position, the legs
of his buckskins set to the crook of his knees. Imagine, if you will, a
row of boys ranging from 12 to 17 years, standing in a class reciting
their lessons, straight as hickories, yet the pantaloons of every
mother's son of them still sitting down. But it mattered little to the
boy of that day, as he had only to wet them again, stretch them out
straight and wear them to "meetin' in the grove" Sunday.

There was no aristocracy--no "four hundred"--in those primitive days.
All dressed alike, ate the same kind of food, and every man, woman, and
child was as good as every other man, woman, and child, provided they
were honest, kind neighbors, ready and willing to render assistance in
sickness or in need. In fine, these pioneers constituted a pure
democracy, where law was the simple rule of honesty, friendship, mutual
help, and good will, where "duty was love and love was law."

One must not imagine that life was wholly devoid of pleasures in those
days. The young of both sexes always rode horseback, whether to church
in the grove, or going the round of parties, candy pullings, or kissing
bees. O, how in my young days I did dote on the candy pulling and the
kissing bee. To my young and unsophisticated mind they were divine
institutions; and, even now, after the lapse of so many years when the
"heydey in the blood is tame," how I look back upon those few days with
unalloyed pleasure.

Among the early pioneers, I mean the great masses, there was a stern
code of morals little understood at the present time. Exceptions there
were, to be sure, but I refer to the people as a whole. One instance
will serve as an illustration. The beaux and belles, in linsey-woolsey
and buckskins, were assembled from the country around and about. My
father had sent me along with brothers and sisters to bring back the
saddle horses, as there was not stable room for all. Other neighbor boys
were there on a like errand. We were sitting on our horses and ready to
start, when several of the young ladies, among them my sisters, came out
of the house and told us to wait. Presently, practically all of the
girls came out with hats and riding habits and a consultation was held
in the front yard. While they all stood there a man and a woman came
out, mounted their horses and rode away. We were then told to go on home
with the horses. I afterwards learned that the whole trouble originated
in the fact that the lady who had ridden away was a divorced woman. To
present-day readers, this may appear absurd, prudish, but not so to the
men and women of that day. This is not repeated here to "point a moral,"
but merely to "adorn a tale" of pioneer days.

For excitement, the frequent Indian uprisings, and more frequent Indian
scares, afforded abundant material upon which the young enterprising and
adventurous spirits of the day could work off their surplus energies.
Hunting, too, afforded a pleasurable and profitable pastime to the young
when not engaged in the work of building houses, barns, and fences, and
the boy of ten who could not pick off the head of a grouse or pheasant
at thirty or forty yards was only fit to be "tied to mama's apron
string." In times of danger age was no bar, the boy of 14 marched side
by side with the gray haired volunteer, or remained at home to protect
"mother and the children." I well remember once when the neighborhood
was thrown into a turmoil of excitement. A large grizzly bear had left
his mountain lair and was playing havoc with the cattle and other stock
in the valley. News reached the school house and my father at once
dismissed school, hurrying to join those in pursuit of the robber.
Arriving at home he mounted his horse, and taking his rifle and revolver
galloped away to join the neighbors. Now, I wanted to go and see the
fight, but was curtly told to stay at home. No sooner, however, than my
father had got fairly started than I mounted a pony and followed. I was
warned that punishment would follow. But what cared I for punishment at
such a time? Go I would, though promised a dozen whippings.

The bear had taken shelter on a small mountain stream that coursed
through the valley, and was bordered on either side by a narrow strip of
ash, thorn, and rose bushes, while beyond this was the level prairie. In
spite of scores of men and dogs the huge beast made progress towards the
mountains. Baying dogs and the quick snarl of the rifles marked the
rapid progress of the beast which at length reached a wooded ravine near
the home of "Squire" Miller, that led up the mountain, where a mile
above an old Indian was camped. The bear evidently came upon him
unawares, but whether he was asleep or was getting water from the small
stream, was never known, for, with one sweep of his mighty paw, the
grizzly completely disemboweled the Indian, strewing his entrails
fifteen feet on the ground. Half a mile above the body of the Indian the
fatal shot, among many, was delivered and the chase was over.

As the neighbors gathered triumphantly around the dead body of the
monarch of the Oregon forest I saw for the first time sitting on a
horse, a boy destined to make a name in the world of letters, C. H. or
"Joaquin" Miller. I remember him as a slender, light haired boy, several
years my senior. During subsequent years it was given me to see much of
this boy, at school, in the mines and later as an apprentice in the
Eugene City Herald, a newspaper of which he was the editor.

Chapter III.

The Indian Outbreak of 1855.

The years of 1853-4 were years of comparative peace, free from actual
Indian wars, and afforded the pioneers an opportunity of improving their
farms, building up more comfortable homes and surrounding their families
with some comforts and conveniences of civilization. Yet even these
years were not free from alarms and stampedes. Time and again swift
riders spread the news that the redskins had dug up the tomahawk and had
gone on the war path. These scares arose from isolated murders by the
Indians, whose cupidity could not withstand the temptations of the white
man's property. It was not, therefore, until midsummer of 1855 that
hostilities began in earnest. A federation had been formed among all the
tribes of Northern California, Southern and Eastern Oregon and
Washington. The great leaders of this insurrection were Tyee John and
his brother "Limpy," Rogue River Indians, and John was one of the
greatest, bravest and most resourceful warriors this continent has
produced. Another was Pe-mox-mox, who ruled over the Cayouses and the
Columbias, and was killed early in the war while attempting to lead the
white troops into ambush.

The outbreak was sudden and fierce, lighting up the frontier with the
burning cabins of the settlers. Travelers were waylaid, prospectors
murdered and in many instances entire families wiped out, their homes
becoming their funeral pyres. Neither age nor sex was spared. Little
children were seized by the heels and their brains dashed out against
the corner of the cabin. One entire family perished amid the flames of
their burning home. Women were butchered under circumstances of peculiar
and diabolical atrocity. A man named Harris, attacked by Indians on the
Rogue River, defended himself until killed. His wife then took up the
defense of her home and little daughter, and with a heroism that has
rendered her name immortal in the annals of Oregon, held the savages at
bay until relief came twenty-four hours later.

Mock sentimentalists and fake humanitarians have walled their eyes to
heaven in holy horror at the "barbarities" practiced by white men upon
the "poor persecuted red man." Yet had they witnessed scenes like those
I have so faintly portrayed, they too, would have preached a war of
extermination. You and I, reader, have an exceedingly thin veneering of
civilization, and in the presence of such scenes of diabolical atrocity
would slip it off as a snake sheds his skin. I have seen men as kind and
gentle,--as humane--as yourself transformed into almost savages in the
presence of such scenes.

For a year previous to the great outbreak, the Indians would leave their
reservations in squads, and after murdering and pillaging the
settlements, would return with their plunder to the protection of the
agencies. Demands made for their surrender by the settlers were answered
by a counter demand for their authority, which required delay and
generally ended with the escape of the murderers. The result was that
squads of Indians off the reservations were attacked and sometimes
exterminated. Thus affairs grew from bad to worse until the final great
outbreak during the summer of 1855.

Geo. L. Curry, Governor of the Territory of Oregon, at once issued a
call to arms and volunteers from every part of the territory instantly
responded. A company of U. S. dragoons under command of Capt. A. J.
Smith, who subsequently achieved fame in the war of the States, was
stationed in Southern Oregon, and rendered all possible aid, but the
slow tactics of the regulars was illy calculated to cope with the
savages. The main reliance, therefore, must be placed in the citizen
soldiery. Every county in the Territory answered the call to arms,
forming one or more companies, the men, as a rule, supplying their own
horses, arms, ammunition, and at the beginning of the outbreak, their
own blankets and provisions. There was no question about pay. The men
simply elected their own officers and without delay moved to the front.

Linn county furnished one company under Capt. Jonathan Keeny and went
south to join Col. Ross' command and was joined by many of our
neighbors. My two brothers also went with this command, one as teamster,
the other shouldering the spare rifle. As previously remarked, age was
not considered, the boy of 14 marching side by side with the gray haired
man, armed with the rifles they brought from the States. The ammunition
consisted of powder, caps and molded bullets, nor was the "patchen" for
the bullet omitted. The powder was carried in a powder horn, the caps in
a tin box, the bullets in a shot pouch and patchen for the bullets was
cut out the proper size and strung on a stout leather thong attached to
and supporting the shot pouch and powder horn.

In the fall after the departure of the first contingent, and at a time
when families were practically defenseless, news reached us by a tired
rider that 700 Indians had crossed the trail over the Cascade mountains
and were burning the homes and butchering the settlers on the Calapooya,
twenty miles away. The news reached us in the night, and one can easily
imagine the confusion and consternation that everywhere prevailed. To
realize our situation one must remember that most of the men and about
all of the guns had gone south. I shall never forget the awful suspense
and dread that prevailed in our home as the family sat in a group
through the long weary hours of that night, anxiously awaiting the
return of the day, yet dreading what the day might bring forth. Horses
were gathered and securely tied about the house, and such arms as we
possessed made ready for instant use. At last day broke, and searching
with the eye the almost boundless prairie, no enemy was in sight.

As the sun rose above the rim of the distant mountains my father
determined to disprove or verify the rumor. Neighbors sought to dissuade
him, but mounting a swift horse he started for Brownsville on the
Calapooya. Meantime everything was in readiness for forting up should it
become necessary. The day wore on, still no news. In vain we gazed from
the house top over the prairie for a sight of a horseman. Doubt and
uncertainty as to the fate of my father and our own fate was almost
worse than death. The day wore on. Would father never return--had he
been killed? were the questions whispered one with another. My mother
alone was confident, relying on father's discretion and the further fact
that he was riding the swiftest horse in the Territory. At last near
sunset we descried him galloping leisurely toward home. When within a
short distance he settled into a walk, and we then knew that the danger,
at least for the present, was not imminent. The only emotion manifested
by my mother was a stray tear that coursed down her pale and
trouble-worn cheek. My father reported a false alarm, originating in the
overwrought imagination of settlers on the exposed margin of the valley.

At other times the alarm came from the west side of the river. Fears
were entertained that the savages from the south would cross over the
Calapooya mountains and attack the settlements in Lane county. One
settler had a large bass drum, and the beating of this, which could be
heard for miles, was the signal of danger. More than once the deep roll
of the drum roused the country, only to discover that it was a false
alarm. But these constant alarms were trying indeed, especially on the
timid and nervous, and women became almost hysterical on the most
trivial occasions.

Time wore on, and at length the news came of the defeat of Col. Ross'
volunteers and Capt. Smith's dragoons. Many were killed with no
compensating advantage to the whites. Among the number killed was one of
our neighbor boys, John Gillispie, son of a minister, and my father and
mother went over to their home to convey the sad news and to render such
poor consolation to the parents as was possible. Every family in the
land had one or more of its members with the troops, and any day might
bring tidings of death or even worse. Hence there was a close bond of
sympathy between all. Happily, the death of young Gillispie was to be
the only one to visit our neighborhood.

The stay-at-homes, those gallant (?) soldiers who fight their battles
with their mouths, were loud in fault finding and severe in censure of
those in command, and would tell how the battle should have been fought
and how not. This was especially true of the one-horse politicians, too
cowardly to go to the front, and of disgruntled politicians. To the
shame of our common humanity be it said, there were not wanting those
who sought to coin the very blood of the brave men at the front, and
these ghouls and vampires talked loudest when the war was at length
brought to a close, to be quoted in after years as history by Bancroft
and others.

Chief John adopted a Fabian policy from the first. He would disappear
with his warriors, hiding away in the deep recesses of the mountains
only to appear again when and where least expected, but towards the
close of 1856 his people grew tired of war. They said the more men they
killed the more came and took their places, and in spite of John and
Limpy they determined to sue for peace. The terms were finally agreed
upon, and John and Limpy, deserted but not conquered, at last

After the surrender, John and son, a lad of 16, were placed on board a
steamer and started to a reservation up the coast. When off the mouth of
Rogue river and beholding the hunting grounds of his people and the
familiar scenes of his youth, he made a desperate attempt to capture the
ship. It was a "Call of the Wild," and snatching a sabre from his guard
he succeeded in driving them below and for a time had possession of the
ship's deck. But firearms were brought into play, one leg of the boy was
shot off and John, badly wounded, was placed in irons. He told his
captors that it was his purpose to capture the ship, run her ashore and
escape into the mountains. On a reservation, John spent the remainder of
his days,--a captive yet unconquered save by death. As previously
stated, in point of courage, cunning, savage ferocity and soldierly
ability and generalship, Tyee John has had few equals and no superiors
on the North American continent.

It was not my purpose to attempt a detailed history of the Rogue River
war as that task were better left to the historian with leisure to delve
into the musty records of the past, but I sincerely hope that when the
true story of that bloody time is written the kernel of truth will be
sifted from the mass of chaff by which it has thus far been obscured. My
purpose is merely to give the facts in a general way as I received them,
and the conditions surrounding the pioneers of which I was one. The true
story of the Rogue River war is but a duplicate of many other Indian
wars. It is a story of incompetent, bigoted, self-opinionated, Indian
agents, wedded to form and red tape, without any of common sense or
"horse sense," required in dealing with conditions such as existed prior
to the breaking out of he war.

The early immigrants to the Oregon, and indeed, to the Pacific coast,
merely sought to better their conditions. They came with their flocks
and herds, their wives and their children, their school books and their
Bibles, seeking not to dispossess or rob the occupants of the land. They
found a vast empire, of which the natives were utilizing but a small
portion. There was room for all and to spare. The natives at first
received the white strangers with kindness and hospitality. There were
exceptions even to this rule, but it was the exception. The white man's
property soon excited the cupidity of the Indian, and knowing no law but
the law of might, he sought to possess himself of the same. And right
here I want to say, that from an experience covering more than half a
century, the only thing an Indian respects on earth, is Power. Courage
he respects for the simple reason that courage is power. And I might
further add, that this rule applies with equal force to the white as
well as to the copper-colored savage.

Treaties had been made with the Rogue Rivers and the Umpquas but in a
true sense were not treaties, but, on the part of the Government, merely
bribes to be good. They moved to reservations, enjoyed the blankets and
other good things provided by the Government so long as it suited them.
Then they would steal out of the reservations, rob, murder and plunder
the settlers, and return to the protection of the agents. Tracked to the
reservations, the agents refused to surrender them. The red tape here
interposed and red handed murderers were saved, that more murders might
be committed. Instead of the Government and the agents being a
protection to the settlers, they were the protectors of the Indians, and
as sometimes happened, troops were called upon to lend a helping hand.
Such conditions could not last--such outrages could not be endured.
Hence when bands were caught off the reservations they were destroyed
like dangerous, noxious beasts.

Apologists of murder and rapine have held up their hands in holy horror
at such acts on the part of the settlers. The "poor, persecuted people,"
according to them, were foully wronged, massacred and exterminated. They
saw but one side, and that was the side of the savages. With the close
of the Rogue River war, the Indian question west of the Cascade
mountains was settled forever. John and Limpy had made a heroic struggle
for the hunting grounds of their fathers and incidentally for the goods
and chattels, and the scalps of the white invaders. But, moralize as you
may, the fiat of God had gone forth; the red man and the white man could
not live peaceably together; one or the other must go. And in obedience
to the law of the survival of the fittest, it was the red man that must
disappear. It was, in my opinion, merely a continuation of the struggle
for existence--a struggle as old as man, which began when "first the
morning stars sang together," and will continue till the end of time.
That law applies to all creatures. Take for instance, the lower order of
animals. In the tropics the deer is small, not much larger than a
coyote. The weakling as well as the strong and vigorous can survive.
Further north, where conditions are harder, the deer is larger.
Continuing on north, where only the strong and vigorous can survive the
rigors of winter, we find the caribou.

It may be pointed out that the largest animals of earth are found in the
tropics, where the struggle for existence is least severe. Yet in the
frozen mud of Siberia and Alaska we find the remains of animals the
elephant and the mastodon--compared to which old Jumbo was but a baby.
And imbedded in the asphalt of Southern California is found the remains
of the sabre toothed, tiger, by the side of which the royal Bengal is
but a tabby cat. But I am getting into deep water, and will leave this
question for the naturalist, the geologist and the theorist. And the
passing of the "noble red man" to the gentleman in silk gown and
slippers--and to the sentimental novelist.

Oregon settlers now had leisure time for building up their homes, so
better houses were erected, fields were fenced and plowed, school houses
and churches built, scythes and axes were wielded in place of the rifle
that now rested in idleness above the cabin door. A new era had dawned
on the Oregon, and gentle peace like a brooding spirit hovered above the
erstwhile desolate land.

During the succeeding years, up to 1861, there was little to distract
the attention of the pioneers. My time was occupied during that period
in assisting on the farm during summer and attending the district school
during the winter. The loop holes in the wall of the old school house
for the rifles had been boarded up, and the larger boys no longer
"toted" their guns, and stacked them in the corner.

On the east side of the Cascade mountains, however, the gentle savage
was lord of all the lands over which he roamed. Here he was yet master,
and thereby hangs a tale. In 1845 an immigrant train attempted to enter
the Oregon by way of the "Meeks cut off." With them were the Durbins,
Simmons, Tetherows, Herrins and many others I cannot now recall. The
history of that journey is one of hardship, starvation, and death. After
enduring sufferings such as sicken one in the bare recital the remnant
staggered into the settlements, more dead than alive. They crossed the
Cascade mountains, coming down the Middle Fork of the Willamette river,
and somewhere west of Harney Valley they stopped on a small stream. An
old Indian trail crossed at that point, and the oxen in sliding down the
bank to water uncovered a bright piece of metal. It was picked up and
taken to camp, where a man who had been in the mines in Georgia
pronounced it gold. He flattened it out with a wagon hammer, and was
quite positive it was the precious metal. But men, women and children
subsisting on grasshoppers and crickets and fighting Indians most of the
day, had something else to think about.

The incident, therefore, was soon forgotten amid the dire stress of
their surroundings. But when gold was discovered at Sutter's Fort in
California, Sol Tetherow called to mind the finding of the piece of
metal on the banks of the stream not far from Harney Valley. He told
about it--told and retold the story, and as the stories from California
grew, so grew the story of the old man, until finally he declared he
could have "picked up a blue bucket full in the bed of the creek." Hence
originated the name, the "Blue Bucket Diggins."

During the years of 1857-58-59-60 and 61, companies were formed in the
valley counties to search for the "Blue Bucket Diggins." The companies
were loosely formed, with little or no discipline, and were, therefore,
predestined to end in disaster. After crossing the mountains and seeing
no sign of Indians, the officers had no power and less inclination to
enforce discipline. There being no signs of Indians, it was useless to
maintain guards; they could whip all the Indians east of the mountains,
and why attempt to put on "military airs?" They were destined to a rude
awakening. Some morning about daylight, twenty or thirty red blanketed
men, with hideous yells would charge the horse herds, while a hundred or
more with equally hideous yells would attack the sleeping men. Then
would result a stampede, those who had talked loudest and talked most
about cowards, being first to lose their heads. The few cool heads would
make a stand, while the savages after getting away with the horses,
would beat a retreat, leaving the gold hunters to straggle afoot back
across the mountains to the settlements.

These expeditions served to work off the surplus energy of the
adventurous and restless, until the news arrived in the spring of 1861
of the discovery of gold in the Nez Perce mountains. The reports, as in
most similar cases, were greatly exaggerated, but it served to create a
genuine stampede, and while yet a boy of 14, I was drawn into that
torrent rushing to the new El Dorado. In justice to the good sound sense
and mature judgment of my parents, I am compelled to say that it was not
with their consent that I was drawn into this wild whirlpool, but, I
argued, was I not a man? Could I not ride and shoot with the best of
them? And, perforce, why should I not go to the mines and make my

I went. But by way of parenthesis, will say to my young readers--Don't.

Chapter IV.

In Which Various Experiences are Discussed.

I have now arrived at a point where I shall speak more of myself, and
the insignificant part I was to play in molding history and shaping the
destinies of Oregon and the Northwest.

Joining a company of neighbors we crossed the Cascade Mountains by way
of the Barlow route. All had saddle horses with one pack horse, or mule,
to two men. At Grass Valley, between the Deschutes and John Day River we
fell in with a large company returning from a search for the "Blue
Bucket Diggins." They, had been successful (in saving their horses) and
hearing of the Oro Fino strike were bound, like ourselves, for the new
El Dorado.

At the crossing of the John Day River we found a ferry boat kept and
owned by a couple of thrifty traders, who had set themselves down to
make their fortunes quickly and without the aid of the pick and shovel.
But their covetousness was their ruin. The sum of $6 was demanded for a
horseman and $4 for a pack horse. Our party argued with them, but to no
purpose. They would take nothing less. After parleying for some time the
traders were asked the price for ferrying over a foot-man and his
luggage. Wall Cushman, one of the traders, replied, "one dollar." Then
saddles and packs began to come off the backs of horses and mules.
Cushman threatened, swore and plead, but all to no purpose. He should
receive one dollar for ferrying footmen and no more.

Saddles, packs, provisions, and blankets were piled up at the ferry
landing and the most stupendous amount of luggage ever carried by a hobo
was then, one after another, piled on the backs of footmen. The footman
would stand within a step of the boat and, after his luggage was piled
on his back, would make a step on to the boat, and drop his load. Often
two and three men would steady him until the step was made. All was fun
and laughter except to Cushman and his partner. While this was going on,
others had crowded the horses to the river bank and were endeavoring to
make them swim the river. But try as they would, the horses upon
striking the swift current of the river would swing around and come out
on the same side. It was now Cushman's time to laugh. In this extremity
a reward of $20 was offered any one who would swim his horse ahead of
the band and guide them over. I quickly volunteered. I wanted the
twenty, and I wanted to save my dollar. Some of the older men objected.
But I had swum my horse across the Williamette River and the
insignificant John Day, not a fourth as wide, had no terrors for me.
Mounting my horse, I rode down into the river until almost swimming.
Meantime I had divested myself of all clothing save that provided by
mother nature, and having loaded my saddle and effects on the back of my
partner, fastened my right hand in my horse's mane and gave the word.
Sliding off on the lower side I guided my horse with my hand and he took
the current of the stream like a steamboat. The other horses to an
animal followed, and in a few moments were all safely on the other
shore. The crowd cheered heartily and even Wall Cushman could not
restrain his feelings, but exclaimed, "My boy, you are a brick."

The $20 was not only given me, but several who had not contributed to
the first "pot" gave a half dollar. Altogether I was handsomely paid for
my few moment's work, and as the water was not cold, I rather enjoyed
the swim.

From there we went to Walla Walla, following the old Nez Perce trails.
At that time there were not a dozen habitations between the Dalles and
Walla Walla, where now is a densely settled country and one of the great
wheat belts of the continent. A few days after crossing the John Day I
made my first horse trade. An old school teacher in the company fell in
love with my horse, and not only gave me a better animal, but almost the
value of my own to boot. I began then to flatter myself that I was not
only a traveler, but a business man as well. But alas! I had many a sad
lesson to learn ere I got my "teeth cut."

Arriving at Walla Walla, then a small village, with a Government post
half a mile away, we purchased a few supplies and then pushed on to the
mines. Going down the Alpowwa I saw apple trees planted by Father
Spaulding, of blessed memory, in 1836. The trees were thrifty and some
of them very large, and were being cared for by Nez Perce Indians. The
good Father Spaulding, with other Presbyterian missionaries, had come
among these people bearing the message of peace and good will and they,
with the exception of the rebellion of Chief Joseph, had ever after
adhered to his gentle teachings. The Nez Perce Indians are the most
intelligent and finest looking Indians I have ever seen. They are also a
brave, self-reliant race, and Joseph's band bears the distinction of
being the only Indians on the continent with the steady courage to
charge an equal number of the enemy in the open field.

We crossed Snake River at Lewiston, then a trading village of half a
dozen tents. The ferry boat was towed up the river half a mile by a
horse and then rowed across with oars pulled by two men. Lewiston is
located at the junction of the Snake and Clearwater, but we went by way
of Camas Prairie and crossed at Craig's ferry, and two days later landed
in Oro Fino city. Hundreds of miners had preceded us, and when we
arrived the ground was all taken up. I, therefore, found a job at sluice
forking at $75 per month, a boy's wages. Men were receiving $5 per day
of ten hours, but for night work $7.50 was paid.

I remained with my job but a short time, having found a better one in a
store, more suited to my strength and at better wages. I was also agent
for Miller & Mossman's express and received a good commission for all
the envelopes sold bearing their name. Envelopes were sold at $1 each,
and were carried to Walla Walla by pony express. The Miller here
referred to was then plain Heme Miller, express rider, but now known to
fame and the world of letters as "Joaquin" Miller.

The little store where I was employed was located about three miles
above Oro Fino city on Rhode's Creek, the richest placer diggings in the
district. Sunday was a busy day for miners. Clothes had to be washed,
picks sharpened, letters written to the "folks at home," and as often
happened, "dust" sent to them also. This had to be carefully weighed on
gold scales, a receipt given and the dust marked and placed in a
buckskin purse. There was no other means of communication with the
outside world, and both letters and dust must be sent by Miller &
Mossman's express. To the credit of Mr. Miller, be it said, that
thieves, robbers and murderers let him severely alone. Not only that,
but no one ever lost a dollar entrusted to Heine's care, though murders
and robberies were quite frequent, and it was well known that he always
carried a large quantity of gold dust; but they simply didn't want the
job of taking it away from Heine Miller.

It was one of my duties to take the "express matter," letters and gold
dust, to Oro Fino in time for the Walla Walla express Monday morning. As
the express started at 6 o'clock I had to get up early, besides it was
deemed safest to "hoof down the trail" before daylight. The trail was a
mere foot path cut through the bull pines, in the shadow of which
imagination more than once pictured a lone robber. But I always carried
my revolver in my hand and, though a boy, I was almost as good a shot as
Miller--at least I thought so. However, I always arrived on time and
without mishap or accident.

After delivering my express matter I had leisure to walk about town,
view the sights and watch the swaying crowds of gamblers, sure thing
sharps and other forms of human flotsam and jetsam as they fleeced their
victims, the miners. One occasion I shall never forget. It was the
funeral of one of the prominent citizens of Oro Fino. The aforesaid
prominent citizen bore the euphonious cognomen of "Bob-up-the-creek."
Bob, probably at his christening, was given another name answers as well
as another, especially among the aristocracy of which Bob was an honored
member. Bob was a bad actor, too, especially when under the influence of
liquor. One Sunday Bob imbibed quite freely and finally "declared
himself chief." There were none who cared to dispute with Bob his self
assumed title, but he finally ran "up against" an old Frenchman who kept
a pie stand. Bob concluded to take possession of the stand, but his
right to do so was disputed by the Frenchman. To settle the dispute the
Frenchman emptied the contents of a double barreled shot gun into Bob's
head. That settled the dispute and likewise Bob.

Being a citizen of prominence, his friends and admirers determined to
give Bob a respectable send off. Accordingly a neat coffin was purchased
and Bob reverently placed therein. A procession was formed and from
fifty to seventy-five of his friends followed his remains to the newly
made cemetery on the hill. All were in full dress--black pantaloons,
checked flannel shirt with white collar, and with a revolver and knife
swung conveniently to the belt. Now, no self-respecting or prudent
gentleman of the class of which I am speaking, moved abroad in those
days without the ever handy knife and pistol. As the occasion was one of
importance, I followed after the procession. Arriving at the grave, the
coffin was placed upon two poles laid across the vault. The burial
service was then read by one of the mourners, a faro dealer, if my
memory serves me right, a solemn hymn was sung and then all that was
mortal of "Bob-up-the-creek" was consigned to the grave. Four lusty
mourners then began shoveling in the dirt. When the grave was about
two-thirds filled, a repulsive looking vagabond, the town drunk, threw
himself across the grave bellowing like a bull buffalo, and exclaiming
"here is a poor soul gone to eternity and not one tear shed over his
grave." Meanwhile the dirt kept falling--it appeared to me a little
faster, when the old drunk, seeing himself about to be buried alive,
crawled upon his feet, shaking himself very much as a wet dog is wont to
shake himself. This action was greeted with peals of laughter and shouts
from the mourners. Such was the funeral of "Bob-up-the-creek." Shocked
and disgusted I turned and walked down the hill to town, to be followed
soon after by a laughing, jesting crowd, who dispersed to their
different "places of business" to lie in wait for the unwary sucker, the

I remained at the store until the proprietor, Mr. Vaughn, sold out, and
hearing that a company was being formed at Pierce City to go to the
Blackfoot country on a prospecting expedition, I went there and applied
to the, leader for admission. He looked me over, smiled and said that it
was too dangerous an expedition for a boy. I replied that I supposed
there was danger, that I was not afraid and could shoot as good as any
of them. At this the men listening began laughing and the leader told me
he didn't want me. Indignant, I turned away, but was followed a little
way by a rather pleasant looking man. He said, "My boy, you are too
young to go with the crowd. They are a rough set and not fit for a boy
of your age to associate with." He then shook hands with me and bade me
good bye.

I returned to Oro Fino, and as winter was approaching, I joined a strong
party and started back to Walla Walla. This was deemed prudent, for
besides the robbers, there were rumors of Indian troubles after we
should have passed beyond the Nez Perce country. About this time we
began hearing rumors of the Battle of Bull Run, and this formed the
chief subject for conversation around the camp fire of evenings. At
Lewiston a very dignified Indian, a Nez Perce, asked permission to join
our company to Walla Walla. He was accompanied by a boy about 16 whom we
judged to be his son. Permission, of course, we readily granted and we
proceeded on our way. That evening the usual subject of conversation
came up, Northern and Southern men good naturedly discussing the news,
and each construing a victory for his side. Finally the Indian spoke up
and said, "I think, gentlemen, I can settle your controversy. I have
received the latest papers and all are agreed that the battle resulted
in a disaster to the Federal arms." All looked at him in astonishment,
but he continued and gave us a vivid description of the battle. We at
once knew the speaker to be none other than Lawyer, chief of the Nez
Perces, scholar and graduate of an eastern college, and one of the
bright men of any race red or white. I met him after our arrival at
Walla Walla and recognized in the superbly dressed man our fellow
traveler. He wore a broadcloth suit, silk hat and carried a gold headed
cane. His son was also well dressed.

Again following the old Nez Perce trails, which everyone who has
traveled over that country during the early days will remember, we
proceeded to the John Day River. Here I met some old Lane county
friends, a Mr. Driskol and his son, a young man of about 21 years of
age. They had driven over the mountains a band of cattle and turned them
on the range at John Day and Rock Creek. Two brothers named John and Zim
Smith, from Douglas county, had also driven out cattle and turned them
loose on the same range. The Smiths had returned to the valley, but were
expected back in a week or such a matter.

Driskol and his son now asked me to remain with them and assist in
rounding up the cattle preparatory to leaving them for the winter. They
would pay me good wages and then, the Smiths returning, we would all go
home together. The free wild life of the prairie having an almost
irresistible charm for me, it did not require much persuasion to induce
me to remain.

Our task consisted in riding the river and tributary streams and driving
the cattle back on the range. The men at the ferry told us that the
Columbias were friendly and to be trusted. They cautioned us that the
country further up the river and Rock Creek was frequently raided by
roving bands of Snake Indians. These savages were hostile at all times,
and this was one reason it was desirable to prevent the cattle straying
too far and thus falling an easy prey to the Snakes. They also said it
would be prudent to keep a sharp lookout when riding too far south. We
continued riding and driving in the cattle for a couple of weeks, hoping
for the return of the Smiths before venturing too far. But they not
returning, we decided to go up Rock Creek above the cattle and drive
them down.

The first day we traveled leisurely along and made about twenty miles.
That night we camped and made our beds in a rye grass bottom, having
previously cooked our supper and riding until after dark. This was done
to prevent any roving band of Snakes that might be in the country from
discovering our camp and attacking us at disadvantage. The old gentlemen
Driskol was uneasy and he and his son watched our camp time about. I
offered to take my turn, but the old gentleman said "the boy will go to
sleep," an arrangement very satisfactory to a tired, sleepy-headed boy.
The next morning we packed up and rode to a favorable place and cooked
our breakfast. While we were eating an Indian rode into camp, who hailed
us in jargon and we assumed at once that he was a Columbia. He said he
had lost a horse while deer hunting and if we were going any further
south he would like to travel with us. We thought little of the matter
and readily gave permission, the more so as he carried a good rifle and
would be a welcome addition to our party in the event of a "scrap" with
the Snakes. As we proceeded up Rock Creek, we still found cattle tracks
and were loth to turn back. We halted at noon to rest our horses and
cook our dinner by the side of a pool in the bed of a creek. While the
younger Driskol was getting dinner, the elder Driskol keeping a watch, a
wild goose lit in the pond 20 feet away. Picking up my rifle I shot its
head off. I will now confess that if ever a foolish, thoughtless boy got
a scolding I got it then and there, from the elder Driskol. He declared
I was trying to bring "the Snakes right down to murder us all." I was
sorry of course for my thoughtlessness, but all the same I got my goose.
That evening that goose was the subject of many lectures, was in fact a
continued story.

As evening wore on and we were getting further and further away from our
camp on the John Day, we were more than usually careful. Patches of
willows, narrow canyons and high rye grass bottoms were avoided. In
fact, we kept on open ground where we could see an enemy several hundred
yards away. We figured that in an open field fight we could more than
hold our own, notwithstanding the fact that we were only four in number,
counting the Indian. But by-and-by, our traveling companion became a
source of considerable uneasiness. When questioned regarding his lost
horse he did not give straight replies, but was evasive and somewhat
contradictory, and Mr. Driskol began to have suspicions regarding his
friendly intentions. But what to do, or how to rid ourselves of his
presence, was a puzzling question. Besides, we felt that we were safer
where he could be watched than if out of our sight. That night, after
eating our suppers, we traveled some distance after dark and stopped on
a level piece of ground away from the creek bottom. We felt safer in the
open country than in the high rye grass, especially on account of our
Indian companion. We were very careful not to let the Indian see that we
were suspicious of him, and after unsaddling and unpacking our horses
all but the elder Driskol rolled up in their blankets, the Indian
choosing a spot about ten steps away from us. Before lying down, it was
deemed best to keep a strict watch on our fellow traveler, and if
necessary keep him with us if we had to make him a prisoner. Of course
nothing was said to him about keeping watch. During the night he was
several times detected, cautiously rising on his elbow and looking
around. Discovering the guard he would lie down with a grunt as if with

When daylight came we started to saddle up and load our two pack horses,
intending to go some distance upon our return trip, before stopping for
breakfast. Saddles were on the riding horses and the Driskols were
loading the packs. I had been directed to keep a close watch on the
Indian, "and if he attempts to get away, shoot him," said the elder
Driskol. They were perhaps twenty steps away, and one of the pack horses
starting off, the young man went to bring him back. The old gentleman
was busy with the pack, when suddenly, quick almost as a flash, the
Indian leaped upon young Driskol's horse and started off. The movement
took me by surprise and for an instant I sat as if stupified. Then
seeing the rascal going like sin, I raised my rifle, took deliberate
aim, and fired. The Indian threw back his head and throwing his arms
aloft, plunged headlong into the grass.

"There goes that d----d boy, shooting another goose," said old gentleman
Driskol, almost without looking around.

The young man, however, saw his horse galloping in a circle back to the
other horses. Meantime I had dropped my muzzle loader and with revolver
stood looking at the Indian kicking in the grass forty rods away. Mr.
Driskol flow ran up to where I was standing and pointing to the Indian,
I said, "It wasn't a goose this time, Mr. Driskol."

We were now all thoroughly alarmed, and imagined the Snakes would be
down upon us in no time. Hastily fastening the packs, we then took the
lock off the Indian's gun and breaking the stock, threw it away. The
pony, belonging to the Indian was unsaddled and turned loose, and we
pulled out for the "home camp" in a hurry.

Why the Indian came to our camp we could never understand. He would have
stood a better chance of stealing our horses by watching the camp, then
slipping in upon us in the night and driving them away, unless it was to
throw us off our guard. The probabilities are that he was either a Snake
or a renegade Columbia or Umatilla Indian, and counted on getting our
horses. Finding we were on our guard, and seeing an opportunity of
"swapping horses" while the men were busy, paid no attention and gave no
thought to the boy. Certain it was our, or rather the old gentleman
Driskol's watchfulness, that saved us from being left afoot forty miles
from home. Whether he had confederates, we never knew, as we lost no
time in putting as many miles between us and the "Snake country" as
possible. During the day we kept in the open country, avoiding any point
where an advantage could have been taken of us. We of course talked over
the affair of the morning, but not once was the goose mentioned by Mr.
Driskol. He did not even refer to the goose when apologizing to me for
scoldings he had given me.

We arrived late at night at the ferry, and found everything in turmoil
of excitement. Two men, an old man and his son, Briggs by name, if I
remember correctly, had been killed by the Indians in Tye Valley, about
thirty miles away. The murders created intense excitement, all fearing
it was the signal for a general massacre of the settlers around the
Dalles and the isolated traders on the Walla Walla road. The Smith
brothers had returned and had been assisting the two men at the ferry in
fortifying the post. The house, a mere shack, was being walled in with
rock, port holes for the rifles being left. Our absence had created
uneasiness on the part of the Smiths, but they knew it would be futile
to attempt to find us. Besides, it was thought more than probable that
we had already been massacred and to undertake to find us would be only
to throw their own lives away.

Their surprise and pleasure was therefore great when we rode into the
station at 11 o'clock at night. They at once informed us of the murder
of the old man and his son, and heartily congratulated us when in return
we told them of our own adventure. The two men at the ferry were
positive that the Indian did not belong in that section, and by our
prudence, they said, we had saved our horses and probably our lives. The
next day we all joined in completing the fortifications, and when
finished felt that we could "stand off" two or three tribes. Yet,
notwithstanding our confidence, we felt that in the event of a general
outbreak we were still in a dangerous position and that every care
should be exercised. Upon my own part, I felt no uneasiness. Zim Smith
was there, a rollicking devil-may-care fellow, and I believed he alone
was the match for all of the Indians east of the Cascade Mountains. A
careful guard was maintained, however, our horses kept near at hand, and
we anxiously awaited results.

Several days thus passed. The Smiths and Driskols seriously discussing
the situation. They had ventured their all in the cattle speculation,
and to abandon them to the mercy of the red devils was an alternative
hard to contemplate. But what could four men and a boy do opposed by
hundreds of blood thirsty savages? Under all the circumstances, it was
finally determined to embrace the first opportunity of getting out of
the country. Our lives, they argued--I had no say--were worth more
than cattle. Besides, we could not save the cattle cooped up in a stone
fort as we were. We knew that the news would be carried to Walla Walla
and that returning miners would travel in strong parties.

A few days later a company of forty or fifty men came along, and as they
were well armed, we determined to join them. The two men at the ferry
also abandoned the place and went with us.

I omitted to say that Wall Cushman, one of the owners of the ferry, had
gone below some time before my arrival there, and I had no opportunity
of renewing my acquaintance of the spring before.

We arrived at the Dalles without incident worthy of mention. There I
sold my horse, saddle and bridle, rifle and revolver to a man who said
he was going on a prospecting expedition, and took a Columbia River
steamer to Portland. As horses and arms were in demand, not much trouble
was experienced in selling, and most of the company with which I was
traveling made similar disposition of their "outfits."

Going down the river, Zim Smith, who was quite a talker, told the story
of the goose in my presence and in the presence of a crowd. I was
terribly mortified, and informed his brother that "Zim was making fun of
me." He laughed and mollified my feelings so far as to say, "Zim is only
talking and means nothing by it." "In fact, he thinks you are a great
boy." But I had made up my mind that I had seen enough of the wild life
of the mines, mountains and plains; I would go home and attend school.
No more Indians, miners, and rough men for me. I had seen and
experienced enough, and was heartily sick of it all. I had experienced a
"Call of the Wild" and was satisfied. And I want to say to my young
readers again, whenever you experience a similar call--don't.

The trip home was made mostly on foot, the great flood of the early
winter of 1861-2 having washed out bridges and roads, seriously
interfering with stage travel. An occasional boat made trips as far as
Albany and Corvallis, but we failed to make proper connections. Hence
from Oregon City to Albany we traveled on foot, but it was a weary
journey in the mud.

Here, if the reader will pardon a digression, I will relate a little
anecdote illustrative of the times. We were passing through French
Prairie in Marion County. The spot, one of the richest and most
beautiful in all Oregon, derived its name from the fact that it was
settled principally by Canadian French, employees of the Hudson Bay
Company. They were typical frontiersmen, hospitable and generous to a
degree. We had asked at several farm houses for accommodations for the
night, but there was so much travel that all were full and running over.
Our party consisted of six, the Driskols, Smiths, Ben Allen and myself.
Trudging through the mud, all were tired and hungry. As we neared the
upper edge of French Prairie, Ben Allen remarked that he had an old
friend, a Frenchman, and he was satisfied we would be welcomed to his
home. He lived nearly a mile off the road, but that was better than
walking to Salem, six or seven miles. Accordingly, we turned off to the
home of Ben's friend. The old Frenchman received us with open arms. He
was simply delighted and gave us the best of everything the house
afforded. In fact, the old man fairly danced with delight that "Bin" and
his friends had paid him a visit.

Seated in home-made rocking chairs, before an open fire place in which
was a roaring fire of oak logs, it was, as Zim Smith expressed it,
"solid comfort." Finally supper was announced, and the announcement was
never more welcome than to that hungry crowd. Besides ham, vegetables
and other accompaniments of a farm house dinner, there was a certain
stew with dumplings. This was an especially toothsome dish, and all
partook freely and with relish. As we neared the end of the meal our
host exclaimed, addressing Mr. Allen:

"Well, Bin, how did you like the cat!"

"Cat, h--l" said Ben.

"Oh, yes Bin, he very fine cat. We fatten him three week."

Somehow, our dinner came to a sudden close. Urged by our host to have
more, all politely declined, "Bin" saying it was very good, indeed, but
he had eaten heartily and didn't care for more.

The next morning we bade our hospitable host adieu, before breakfast,
saying we were anxious to get to Salem as we expected to catch a boat
for Albany, Corvallis or possibly Eugene City.

That was the first cat I ever ate and since that time I have eaten bear,
wild cat, horse, mule, but as a matter of fact, I never ate a more
toothsome dish than the old Frenchman's cat--until I discovered it was
cat. Hence I am inclined to the opinion that it is all a matter of

I arrived at home after Christmas and during the rest of the winter
attended the district school. Had I been told that that little district
school was destined to be the last I should ever attend, I possibly
should have better applied myself to my studies. I remained on the farm
that summer assisting in the general work. In the fall of 1862, Joaquin
Miller and Anthony Noltner started the "Herald," a weekly newspaper, at
Eugene City. Instead of going to school, as my father wished, I applied
for and obtained a position as "devil" in the office. Mr. Noltner was of
the opinion that the name was very appropriate in my case. However, I
soon gained the confidence and esteem of my employers. As evidence of
this, I remained three years, and during the time did not lose three
days, that is, if we except the several occasions when for a week or
two, the Herald was "excluded from the United States mails for disloyal
utterances." Publication would be suspended for a week or so and then
come out under another name. The columns would be filled with news and
"strictly literary matter" for a short time. Then Mr. Miller would
launch out and give expression to his opinion on things in general and
certain politicians in particular. After a few weeks something said
would incur the displeasure of the postmaster, and we would then have to
begin all over under a new name. And do you know, I grieve to admit it
now, but those little vacations came so regularly that I began to enjoy
them--I could go hunting.

Thus Miller and Noltner struggled along, issuing their publication under
three or four different names. There was talk at different times of
providing Mr. Miller a residence at Fort Alcatraz, with board and
lodging at the expense of the U. S. Government. Now, I may be "telling
tales out of school" but there are few left to care, save Mr. Miller and
the writer, and I trust that "Heinie" will pardon me in thus living over
the stirring times of our youth.

In the spring of 1864, I think it was, Mr. Miller sold his interest in
the paper to his partner, Mr. Noltner. After that the office had few
charms for me, and more and more my spirits bent to a "Call to the
Wild." This feeling became the more pronounced by reason of a little
misunderstanding with Major Rinehart who commanded the troops at that
time stationed at Eugene City. The circumstances leading up to the
"misunderstanding," briefly are that a friend, Henry Mulkey, had been
arrested for a political offense by order of Major Rinehart, and it had
been determined to send him to Ft. Vancouver and possibly to Alcatraz. I
went to Major Rinehart's headquarters and applied for a pass to see Mr.
Mulkey. That I played good-goody--lied like a tombstone in order to get
the pass, is not necessary here to state, but I got it and arranged an
escape with Mulkey. That the arrangement miscarried was due to Mr.
Mulkey, and not to the prudence of Major Rinehart or the failure upon my
part to carry out the program.

Be that as it may. Mulkey was re-captured, and my own arrest was
ordered. A little boy, God bless him, overheard Major Rinehart give the
order to Lieutenant Tichnor, and ran and told me. Now, I did not relish
the idea of a residence either at Ft. Vancouver or Alcatraz--nor did I
know how long it would last. Consequently I leaped upon the best horse I
saw standing hitched to the Court House fence and rode out of town,
sending the horse and saddle back by a son of "Uncle Jimmie" Howard.
That boy is now a Baptist minister and I seriously question if he would
now accommodate me so far as to return a "lifted horse."

Under all the circumstances, I concluded to absent myself permanently--
at least until Major Rinehart's soldiers should move on. Securing an
"outfit" I joined a small company in the mountains, crossing the
Cascades by McKinzie Pass.

Chapter V.

Taking Revenge on Marauding Snakes.

On reaching the east side of the mountains, it became necessary to
travel in the night, at least through the open country between the
Deschutes and Bridge Creek. The Snake Indians were raiding the country,
and encumbered as we were with a small pack train, and with only a small
company, we deemed that plan safest. During the day a careful guard was
kept out and no fires lit. We thus passed safely through the dangerous
country to Bridge Creek. We arrived there in the morning and finding
quite a company from the Dalles, concluded to "lay by" a day or two and
rest our animals.

About 3 o'clock that evening we saw a horseman coming, and riding as if
his life were at stake. Coming up, the horseman proved to be Jim Clark,
who informed us that the Indians would be upon us in a few minutes and
that they had killed his brother-in-law, George Masterson, a lad of 18
years. Horses were at once rounded up and preparations made for defense.
While the horses were being driven in, Clark related the circumstances,
which left a doubt in our minds as to the fate of young Masterson.
Accordingly, and as quickly as possible, every man that could be spared
from camp saddled his horse and started back with Clark, either to save
the boy or avenge his death.

The circumstances, as related by Clark, were that he and the boy had
left the house, afterwards known as the "Burnt Ranch" for a load of fire
wood. The house was located on the John Day River about a mile below the
mouth of Bridge Creek. Opposite the house the river makes a sudden bend
around the point of a high mountain, where the action of water and
erosion of time had washed away the base of the mountain leaving a
precipitous cliff, hundreds of feet high. Under this cliff a great
amount of drift wood has been deposited, and here Jim Clark went for his
fire wood. The high bank of the river next the house, which was 600
yards away, had been cut down so as to give an easy grade for loaded
wagons. Clark said for the first time they had left their rifles and
other arms at the house, immunity from attack rendering them careless.

While loading the wagon they happened to look towards the house, which
was in plain view, and saw it in flames. They could also see the Indians
around the house. Now the only means of escape was crossing the river,
the way they had come. The mountains rose hundreds of feet
perpendicularly at their backs, rendering escape impossible in that
direction. Hastily cutting the harness from the horses they mounted, and
Clark, who was a cool headed man in danger, and brave as a lion withal,
told the boy to follow him. As they plunged into the ford they saw a
number of Indians lined upon the opposite bank. But it was the only
alternative, and the Indians thinking the two men were charging them,
ran back out of sight. As they emerged from the river, which here was a
shallow ripple, and started up the cut in the bank, the Indians
discovered they were unarmed and attempted to close in on them. However,
Clark and the boy had reached the top of the bank, and turning their
horses up the river towards the mouth of Bridge Creek, sped for dear

As soon as they had passed beyond the reach of the bullets and arrows of
the savages, Clark tried to persuade the boy to hold up and save his
horse. The boy, however, was thoroughly frightened and drove his horse
to the top of his speed. Clark, meanwhile, had looked back and saw the
Indians mounting, and now began a race, on one side for life, on the
other for scalps. The race was prolonged scarcely two miles when young
Masterson's horse began to fail. He was then a quarter of a mile ahead
of Clark, who, nursing his horse, kept just beyond reach of the bullets.
Gradually the gap between Clark and the boy narrowed, and slowly the
Indians began to gain. At last Clark rode up beside the boy whose horse
was thoroughly spent. He remained beside him until an Indian, riding a
black horse, Clark said, ran up within twenty feet of him. The boy saw
him raise his gun, and throwing himself from his horse with the
exclamation, "O, Lord," was lost to view in the dust. The Indian was at
least fifty yards ahead of the others and did not stop to kill the boy,
probably leaving him for those behind. Sure of Clark, he kept on, his
black and savage heart leaping with joy in anticipation of torturing

After tolling the Indian some little distance and coming to a turn in
the road, Clark let his horse out and did not slacken his speed until
our camp was reached.

As may be well imagined, we did not spare our horses on the return,
Clark having been provided with a fresh animal. But it was six or seven
miles back to where Masterson left his horse. When we arrived there the
search began. But failing to find the body, the awful possibility began
to dawn upon us that he had been captured alive. Clark was wild. Had he
found the dead body of the boy, it would have been nothing compared to
the thought of his capture alive and death at the stake. A search now
began for the trail of the Indians, as they had evidently left before
our approach. But while this was going on, some of the men found the boy
under a bank, shielded from sight by over-hanging earth and matted
roots. When pulled out he was more dead than alive, his long bath in the
water rendering him practically helpless.

When sufficiently revived, he told us that when he threw himself from
his horse, he leaped into the brush, and coming to the creek, a small
stream, ran down until he saw the overhanging bank. He said several
times the Indians in their search for him were within a few feet of him.

After finding of young Masterson, we returned to camp. Clark had lost a
great deal of property, besides that which had been consumed in his
burned home. He was positive the party did not comprise more than
fifteen or twenty warriors. He begged us to help him recover his
property, or to at least get revenge. Accordingly Perry Maupin, John
Atterbury, myself and three others, whose names I cannot now recall,
volunteered for the undertaking, making seven in all.

Getting off at daybreak we struck the trail of the Indians and followed
as fast as the nature of the country would permit. In places the trail
was very dim, and this occasioned considerable delay, but just about
sunset the camp of the savages was located. As night was now upon us, it
was deemed best to await until daylight to make the attack. We were
satisfied they would remain until morning, probably feasting on some of
the stolen stock. They were camped on the west branch of Trout Creek
about one mile above the forks. Their position was two hundred yards
from the creek at a spring, and surrounded by a few scattering willows
and quaking asps. On every side was open ground, with a high, bald
mountain on the north side, and presenting a splendid opportunity for
attack. The location of the camp also indicated that they felt secure
from pursuit. Everything being settled, both as to the manner of
approach and point of attack, we withdrew and awaited the coming of
morning. Unsaddling our horses and picketing them, a portion lay down in
an effort to get some sleep, the others standing guard.

At 3 o'clock we saddled our horses and by taking a circuitous route were
enabled to approach the camp from the southwest side, and by following a
slight depression in the ground reached a point within 150 yards of
where the savages rested in fancied security. To prevent the possibility
of arousing them by any accidental noise, we had dismounted some
distance back, and carefully led our horses by the head, lest a stumble
or neigh might discover us to the enemy. It was yet dark when we reached
a spot opposite the camp, and standing at our horses' heads, impatiently
awaited the dawn. Streaks of light soon began shooting through the
eastern sky, but it seemed an eternity before we could see well enough
to shoot. Any one who has ever experienced waiting under similar
circumstances will appreciate our impatience and the slow passage of

But daylight came at last, and swinging into our saddles, we formed in
line and slowly, cautiously advanced. As our heads rose above the slight
elevation that had obscured the camp, our revolvers in hand, we spurred
our horses into a run and began yelling like furies. Scarcely had we
done so when several Indians sprang up and rushed towards us with hands
up and calling at the top of their voices:

"Warm Springs! Warm Springs! Wascos, Wascos!"

They were calling in jargon, and recognizing them as friendly Indians,
and not Snakes and therefore enemies, both Jim Clark and Perry Maupin
called out, "For God's sake, boys, don't shoot!" We halted among them
without firing a shot. They then related to us their story. They were
camped at the place hunting when the Snakes came upon them about 1
o'clock the previous evening. A skirmish had taken place, but without
serious consequences on either side, when the Snakes made overtures for
peace, saying they did not want to fight them, that they were only
enemies of the white man. They proposed, in order to settle the terms of
peace, that the two chiefs, Polina, or as some give the name, Penina,
chief of the Snakes, and Queapama, chief of the Warm Springs and Wascos,
should meet half way alone and unarmed.

All the Warm Springs earnestly opposed the meeting, feeling certain that
treachery was meditated. But Queapama believed otherwise, and the two
chiefs, in sight of their people, went out to the meeting. Scarcely had
Queapama reached the Snake chief when he was treacherously murdered by a
concealed assassin. Burning for revenge, the Warm Springs renewed the
fight, when the Snakes drew off and were seen no more.

They now volunteered to go with us in pursuit of the Snakes, who, they
declared, could not be many hours ahead. The Snakes, they argued, could
be easily overtaken as they were practically in their own country and
would travel leisurely. We knew the two tribes were traditional enemies
and the presence of their dead chief was evidence that their friendship
for us could be relied upon. The Warm Springs, however, held the Snakes
in great dread and never ventured far into their country. The present
camp was on neutral territory, and was the main hunting grounds of the
former tribe. Polina was especially dreaded, and was believed by the
Warm Springs to be bullet-proof. Many told of having shot him in the
middle of the forehead, but that the bullet dropped down without
injuring him. But may-be-so the white man had "good medicine" and could
kill him. Although with such superstitious dread we did not value the
aid of the Warm Springs very highly, yet we knew them to be good
trailers and skillful scouts, hence their company was accepted, the more
readily as we would soon enter the pine timber of the McKay mountains.

Accordingly, after filling our "cantenas" with dried venison from the
camp of our allies, we again took the trail. Our horses were fresh and
as the Warm Springs were such splendid trailers we made good progress,
especially after entering the pine timber. The Indians acted also as
scouts, skirting each side of the trail and keeping well in advance. No
effort had here been made by the Snakes to cover their tracks, and we
followed at a rapid pace. The trail led up the west branch of Trout
creek and in a southerly direction. We had not gone more than four miles
when we came to the camp of the night before. Their fires were still
burning, showing their utter contempt for the Warm Springs. We followed
up Trout creek to its head and passed through a low gap on to the head
of McKay creek, which flows in a southwesterly direction to its junction
with Crooked river. Just after passing the divide one on the scouts
dropped back and informed us that the enemy was not far ahead. They said
the grass cut by the hoofs of their ponies was as fresh as when growing.
It was not thought advisable to overtake them in the timber until they
had gone into camp. We therefore sent word ahead to proceed with great
caution, and to keep well back from the trail. Proceeding now with the
steathliness of a cat creeping upon a bird, the scouts kept well behind
the ridges and only occasionally venturing to peep over a ridge or point
into the creek bottom down which the Snakes were traveling.

About 3 o'clock they came back and announced that the Snakes had gone
into camp about a mile or such a matter ahead. A council was now held to
discuss the advisability of attacking them at once or waiting until
morning. The Warm Springs were eager for an immediate attack. The camp
was located in the edge of an open glade, presenting a splendid
opportunity for a close approach. We naturally looked to Jim Clark as
our leader and adviser, he being older and far more experienced than any
of our party, unless it was our allies. Clark finally advised an
immediate attack. "We are getting into the Snake territory, they might
move again tonight and we would be compelled to go further on," and, he
declared, "we might bite off more than we can chew." That settled the
matter, and our allies were in high glee.

It was arranged that a portion of the Warm Spring should approach from
the west, keeping well behind the hill, and at the moment of attack
should stampede their horses, while we were to make a detour and
approach at the point of timber nearest the camp.

After separating we turned to the left through the thick timber, keeping
well behind the ridge until we were about opposite the camp. Here we
dismounted and tied our horses in a thicket of firs. Silently, almost as
shadows, we moved up the ridge and crossing over the crest began the
descent through the woods, the moccasined feet of our dusky allies
falling noiselessly upon the pine quills. We almost held our breath,
lest the least noise, the accidental breaking of a twig, should startle
the enemy. Though this was to be my first real Indian fight, I felt no
fear and not so much excitement as when stalking my first buck. As we
neared the edge of the wood and were almost prepared for the rush, the
Indians on the other side raised the yell. Led on by their eagerness
they had come into view of the camp and seeing they were discovered
raised the war-whoop and made for the herd. The Snakes sprang to their
weapons and started to save their horses. Concealment being now useless
we burst out of the wood and opened fire. As we did so the savages
turned down the creek and fled toward the nearest shelter. I remember
dropping upon my left knee, and taking deliberate aim at a big fellow,
fired. At the crack of the rifle he sprang into the air and fell, and I
then knew I had made one "good siwash." Springing to my feet I drew my
revolver, a Colt's navy, and kept with the crowd in a running fight
until the Snakes reached the shelter of the woods. To have followed
further would have been madness, notwithstanding they were thoroughly
frightened and running, as one of the Warm Springs expressed it, "like
klanacks" (black-tailed deer).

Jim Clark now called a halt. To follow further would result in some of
us getting killed, as the Snakes would then have the advantage.
Reloading our rifles we returned to count the result of our victory. We
found four dead Indians, including one that had had his leg broken by a
rifle ball and had been dispatched by our allies, who now proceeded to
scalp the dead according to the usages and traditions of their race. It
was a gory spectacle, and when they generously offered to divide the
bloody trophies, we politely declined, saying the scalps belonged to
them, as they had lost their great chief by the treachery of the dead
Indians. The operation of lifting the scalp was a simple one. A knife
was run around the head just above the ears and the skin peeled off.
That was the first I ever saw, and I had no desire to see the operation
repeated. Some of those that escaped must have been wounded, but we had
no means of knowing the number of these.

The expedition had been partially successful, but keen regret was felt,
not alone by our party, but by our allies, that old Polina had escaped.
He was the scourge of the whites in all southeastern Oregon, and while
he lived there could be no such thing as peace. He was reserved,
however, for the rifle of Howard Maupin, father of the youth who was
with us and was kneeling by my side when I fired at the fleeing savages.
But that will be reserved for a future chapter. Besides killing four
Indians we had captured a number of ponies and some of the stolen stock
belonging to the whites. The ponies we gave to our friends, the Warm
Springs, besides a captured gun. After destroying everything of value
that we could not carry with us, including some camp effects, we
returned to our horses and started back. We parted with our friends at
their camp of the night before, who lost no time after their arrival
there in packing up and, taking their dead chief with them, making haste
to reach the reservation as soon as possible.

After bidding them adieu, we traveled on our return until daylight when
we stopped, unsaddled our horses and picketed them to graze and rest for
a couple of hours. Saddling up again we pushed on to Bridge Creek, where
we arrived towards evening. We had been in the saddle now, with slight
intermissions, for more than forty-eight hours, and rest and sleep were
a most welcome boon. Our horses, too, were nearly spent, and here we
remained to rest and recruit.

We remained at Bridge Creek several days, recruiting our horses and
resting from the fatigues of our recent severe and trying expedition. In
reading my simple narrative some may say we were taking desperate
chances in following an enemy, outnumbering us several times, into his
own country. That is true in a sense. But we had adopted his own
tactics, and depended on a surprise. Had we come out in the open and
shown ourselves, we would probably have fared badly in such an unequal
contest. Secrecy, therefore, was our only safe course, and that required
both skill and caution. We knew the Indians would be off their guard,
that they would never dream of pursuit, and when surprised would scatter
like a covey of quail. Another object was to come to close quarters as
quickly as possible, so as to use our revolvers when the rifles had been
emptied. Howard Maupin, an old Indian fighter, and father of the youth
who accompanied us, once remarked that in "close quarters an Indian
can't hit the side of a barn." I understood this when, years after in
the first battle in the lava beds with the Modocs, I asked General
Wheaton to signal to Colonel Bernard to cease firing and I would charge
with the volunteers. We had them hemmed between two lines, with an
intervening space of not more than 150 yards. He refused, saying we had
lost too many men and the country would not justify the sacrifice of
human life. We had fought them all day, and had suffered severely, and
finally retreated under cover of darkness. It cost nearly three hundred
men to close the Modoc war, including the life of the gallant General
Canby. I believed then--I know now we could have whipped them in twenty
minutes with the loss of less than a dozen men.

Chapter VI.

One Sad Tale From Canyon City History.

After a few days at Bridge Creek we joined a pack train going to Canyon
City from The Dalles, and though the road was infested with savages, who
mercilessly slaughtered small parties, we arrived at the then
flourishing mining camp without mishap or adventure. Canyon City at that
time was a typical mining camp. There were congregated every known
character, race, profession and creed. Under a rough exterior the
lawyer, doctor, minister, the rude western frontiersman and the staid
and sober farmer, worked side by side. There was no distinction of dress
among that restless, surging, throbbing throng of humanity, drawn
thither by the all-absorbing motive--the glittering dust that lay
hidden beneath the gravel and sands of the streams and along the
ravines. The bond of sympathy, however, among the miners was close, and
as warm hearts beat beneath the flannel shirts as ever throbbed in the
breast of man.

Here, too, were congregated those human vultures that feed and fatten
upon the frailties and follies of their fellowmen. The town proper
numbered about six saloons to every legitimate business house. Of
evenings the gambling hells were a glare of light, and music, both vocal
and instrumental, floated out upon the streets to tempt the miners to
enter, while away an hour, and incidentally part with their well-earned
dust. Some of these hells had "lady waitresses," poor, faded, blear-eyed
creatures, in gaudy finery, and upon whose features was stamped the
everlasting brand of God's outlawry. These dens of iniquity were only
too frequently the scene of awful tragedies, and the sawdust floors
drank up the blood of many a poor unfortunate. If the encounter was
between two gamblers the miners paid little attention. But if, as was
often the case, some miner, crazed with an overdose of "double-distilled
damnation," fell a victim to the revolver or knife of a gambler, there
was sure to be "something doing." Among these restless, adventurous men
there was a semblance of law, but its administration was too often a
mockery and a farce. This, however, only applies to the early days of
the camp.

One of the saddest of life's tragedies is associated in my mind with an
employee of one of these places. His name was Brown, and he was a
musician of some merit. He had with him a young and beautiful wife and
infant daughter. He played the violin at night and received $10 for each
of the seven nights of the week. He was a man of good morals as far as
could be observed, and sober withal. One morning he left the saloon at 2
o'clock, as was his custom. From the moment he passed out of the door he
disappeared from the sight of men as effectually as the light of an
extinguished candle. He was popular and had not a known enemy in the
world. But whether he was murdered and his body concealed, or whether he
left the country, remained an unsolved mystery. The latter theory had
few or no adherents, as he was tenderly attached to his wife and child.
Be that as it may. Soon after the disappearance of the musician, a young
physician, who was handsome, accomplished, and talented, made his advent
into Canyon City. In due time he became interested in the comely widow,
and when sufficient time had elapsed, and no tidings came back of the
missing husband and father, legal steps were taken, a divorce secured
and the young physician made the widow his wife. As years rolled away
and the mines "played out," the Doctor and his wife and little girl
moved to a town in the Willamette valley. There he prospered, gaining
not only gold but that which is far more precious the love and respect
of his fellow-man, and, being a public-spirited man, he took an active
interest in political and other public matters. In the campaign of 1874
he received the nomination from his party for State Senator. His
election was a foregone conclusion, as his party had not only a majority
of votes, but his talents as a speaker and his popularity among all
classes were in his favor. About that time, however, the exposures
regarding the past life of Senator John H. Mitchell were given to the
world by the press of Oregon. To offset the charges, there were dark
hints and innuendoes thrown out about the disappearance of Brown and the
subsequent marriage of the widow to the young doctor. The talk was
easily silenced, as it was shown that the doctor came to Canyon City
after Brown's disappearance; but it was enough to sting the proud,
sensitive heart of the young man to the quick. The mere fact that a
suspicion of dishonor attached to his name was sufficient to cause him
to withdraw from public life forever. As an orator he had few equals and
no superiors, and only for his innocent connection with the Brown
tragedy at Canyon City would have achieved a name the equal of that of
his distinguished brother, Senator and Vice-President Hendricks of

Dr. Hendricks and his wife have long since passed over the river, to the
white walled city of God. And there, let us hope, their rest will be
eternal, and that the poison tongue of slander will come not to blast,
to blacken and to sting.

I remained at Canyon City and vicinity until September and then returned
to the valley. During the summer and fall many depredations were
committed by Indians. A party of eight men prospecting in the mountains
to the west were surprised and all killed. Every one had died apparently
in his bed. The little stream, a tributary of the south John Day river,
was ever after known as "Murderers' Creek." The next year, I think it
was, Joaquin Miller, then judge of Grant county, led a company of a
hundred miners against the Snakes in Harney valley. He was joined by
Lieutenant, now Judge Waymire of Oakland, in command of a troop of U. S.
volunteers. They were repulsed with some loss and returned without
accomplishing anything of importance. The war dragged along until the
summer of 1867, when Chief Polina led a band of warriors into the John
Day country north of Bridge Creek, where they robbed a settler named
Clarno of a number of cattle and horses and started back. Howard Maupin
then lived at Antelope valley, 15 miles from the Clarno place. The
Indians attempted to capture his horses in the night, but were
frustrated by the watchfulness of the dogs that gave the alarm. The
horses were corralled, and Maupin and his son and a young German stood
guard all night. The next morning Jim Clark and John Attebury arrived at
the station, and it was determined to follow and punish the Indians and
recover the stolen stock. They followed the trail into the rough brakes
of Trout Creek and located the camp. The Indians had halted in a small
basin on the mountain side through which ran a small branch, bordered
with willows, where they had killed an ox and were enjoying a feast. The
five men approached as near as possible and then leaving their horses
made their way up the ravine upon which the unsuspecting savages were
camped. Howard Maupin was armed with a Henry rifle, a present to the old
hero from General George Crook. Silently the men made their way up the
rough and rugged ravine until they lay concealed seventy yards away.
Taking deadly aim the five men fired, killing four Indians. The Indians
fled to the protection of a rugged cliff of rocks, but Maupin's rifle
kept following them with deadly effect. One Indian was picked out as the
chief and fell at the crack of the rifle. He raised on his hands and
halloed to the others until they reached the shelter of the rocks. It
required two more shots to finish him, and thus died Polina, or Penina,
the leader of the Snakes and scourge of the white man. The shot from
Howard Maupin's repeating rifle closed the Snake, or Shoshone war, and
peace reigned until their great uprising under Chief Egan in 1877.

For a year or more, or until the spring of 1868, I followed the hum-drum
life of a printer. A call of duty compelled me to lay all else aside to
care for an invalid brother, Judge J. M. Thompson. He was dying of
chronic dyspepsia. Physicians had given him up. He was a mere shadow,
and while we had little hope of recovery, we determined to take him into
the mountains. As soon, therefore, as spring opened we made our
preparations. Our provisions consisted of unbolted flour and salt.
Nothing else was taken--no tea, coffee, or indeed anything else save
our bedding, guns and ammunition. We journeyed up the McKinzie fork of
the Willamette. Game was everywhere abundant and this and bread baked
from our flour constituted our only food. It was going back to nature.

A week or so after we arrived at our camp, my younger brother killed a
very large bear that had just come out of his hibernating quarters and
was as fat as a corn fed Ohio porker. An old hunter endeavored to
persuade my brother to eat some of the fat bear meat, assuring him it
would not make him sick. Now, grease was his special aversion, and to
grease the oven with any kind of fat caused him to spit up his food.
Finally, to please the old hunter, he ate a small piece of fat bear
meat. Very much to his surprise, it did not make him sick. The next meal
he ate more, and after that all he wanted. He gained flesh and strength
rapidly, and it was but a short time until he could walk a hundred yards
without assistance. After that his recovery was rapid and sure.

Now, high up on the McKinzie we were told of a hot spring, and that vast
herds of elk and deer came there daily to lick the salt that was
precipitated on the rocks by the hot water. We determined to move there.
But when we arrived we found a rushing, roaring, turbulent river, 75
yards wide, between us and the hot spring. The deer and elk were there
all right, the great antlered monarchs tossing their heads in play, but
safe as if miles away. In vain we sought a narrow place where we could
fell a tree. We found, however, a spot where the water was smooth,
though swift as a mill-race, and we determined to make a canoe.
Accordingly we set to work, and after many tedious days laboring with
one axe and fire our canoe was completed. I was something of an expert
in the management of a canoe and when it had been placed in the river,
made a trip across. It was a success, and delighted with our
achievement, we began ferrying over our effects. One after another,
everything but our clothing and cooking utensils were ferried over,
provisions, that is, the flour and salt, rifles, ammunition, bedding, in
fact all but the above articles. My younger brother was assisting me
with the canoe, and the last trip with the last load was being made.
Like the pitcher that goes often to the well, immunity had bred
carelessness, with the result that the boat was turned over in the
middle of the river, and we only saved our lives by swimming. That night
we camped beneath the forest giants. A good fire was lighted, bread made
on a piece of cedar bark and meat cooked on a stick and eaten out of our
fingers. That was indeed getting back to nature, but a more dire
misfortune was to befall me the first night. As before stated, we had
pitched our camp beneath the shelter of forest giants. Age after age the
quills had been falling, forming a mould several inches thick. Before
retiring that night I laid my solitary pair of trousers and drawers on
the ground before the fire to dry out by morning. They dried. I awoke in
the middle of the night to find that my last garments had been consumed,
leaving but the waistband of my trousers. The mould slowly dried, the
fire had followed, leaving me about the most forlorn individual that
ever was blessed with white hide. Now that was going back to nature with
a vengeance. In front rushed a roaring, foaming river, and relief was
fifty miles away. But what was I to do, but simply do the best I could
with a shirt and the waist-band of my trousers.

The next day we constructed a shelter of cedar bark in the event of
rain. And now I am going to repeat a story at the risk of being
denounced as a "nature fakir." We had with us a band of dogs, trained
for hunting. There were seventeen, all told, and of every breed, but
with a mixture of bloodhound to give the "staying qualities." We, or
rather I, had borrowed them of settlers living on the river fifty miles
below. They would chase a bear or cougar all day, and if treed, would
remain and bay around the tree until I came. The second night in camp an
immense timber wolf came up close to camp and gave a prolonged howl. The
dogs all broke away, but they came back faster than they went out. The
wolf followed and caught one of them, a large, full-grown dog, and gave
him one bite behind the shoulder. The dog gave one yelp and when we
reached the spot, ten feet from our bed, he was dead. To make sure that
the dog was bitten but once, the next morning I partly skinned him and
found that the ribs were crushed and broken. Now if a timber wolf can
kill a dog with one bite on the back, why not a young caribou at one
bite on the breast? That question I leave to others to solve.

But to return to my forlorn and altogether ridiculous situation. With
needle and thread it would have been an easy matter to manufacture a
pair of buckskin pantaloons such as I had worn in years gone by and
would have welcomed in my present predicament. But needles, thread,
scissors, razor and combs had followed the cooking utensils to the
bottom of the river. There was nothing to do but simply to "grin and
bear it," and I did so with the best possible grace. On an exploring
expedition one day I found a tall tree on the bank of the river at a
spot where the channel was contracted between narrow banks. I had no axe
and therefore set to work to burn it down, but it was a weary task. Day
after day I tended that fire, keeping in the shade to avoid the hot rays
of the sun, and after six weeks of waiting had the satisfaction of
seeing the tree spanning the river, and affording me a means of reaching
clothing. But I could not go to the settlements clothed like the Georgia
Major, minus the spurs. During the period of waiting for the tree to
fall, I had made a needle of bone and taking an empty flour sack
proceeded to manufacture a pair of legs which, with infinite pains, I
stitched to the waistband of my long lost trousers and added wooden pegs
to insure stability and strength to the flimsy ravelings. In order to
form a fair idea of my appearance, one must imagine a youth with a six
weeks' growth of hair and beard, a shirt that had to be taken off once a
week to wash, a black band around his waist, to which was stitched and
pegged parts of flour sacks. I say, imagine all this and you can form
some idea of a youth who, under ordinary circumstances, was rather proud
of his good looks. My brothers called me "Robinson Crusoe," and I
imagine the resemblance between the unlucky sailor, marooned on an
island, and a wretched young fellow marooned in the depths of the
Cascade mountains without clothing enough to hide his nakedness, was not
an inapt comparison.

However, I was now happy. A tree spanned the river and parts of flour
sacks covered my limbs, and I would go to Mr. Allen's place, sixty miles
below and get my clothing. Crossing the river, however, I discovered
that our horses, left in a prairie, had "skipped out." I knew they would
be caught at Mr. Allen's place, and the next day I started out. All the
dogs followed. They seemed to have an antipathy for my brothers, and,
try as they would, they could not make friends with them. Indeed, I have
observed through life that children and dogs have an affinity for me. I
started in the morning and made about 35 miles the first day, camping
and sleeping beside a fallen tree against which I kindled a big fire.
After a breakfast of cold bread and venison roasted on a stick, I
started on the final lap of my journey. About a mile from Mr. Allen's
home is a spot known to campers as "Rock House," where the mountains

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