Her reminiscences and account of the Harris cabin siege.
Before returning to the affairs of the Harris home it may be noted that, in after years, Mrs. Harris was induced by her close friend and neighbor, Miss Alice Hanley, to relate to her the manifold details of the siege and the untimely death of Mr. Harris. The writer is indebted to Miss Hanley for the following authentic account of the tragedy.
In complete ignorance of the series of crimes already committed by the Indians and without the slightest intimation of their impending danger, the family had arisen early that bright and promising morning and set about the duties of the day. They had noticed and remarked about a column of smoke that rose just over the east divide in the direction of the Wagoner home, but that seemed to cause no particular apprehension. Yet Mr. Harris had mentioned the absence of Mr. Wagoner who, two days before, had started to the Sailor Diggings (Waldo) with a Boston temperance lecturer, and he was somewhat perplexed at the sight of so much black smoke ascending into the air at that early hour.
The sun seemed to be a long time in scaling the timbered mountain that morning, thought Mrs. Harris, but when its rays finally fell upon that cabin home all seemed serene and peaceful. Early she had planted her tubs on the puncheon stoop at the front door where she was busily engaged with the family washing. The pack train that passed southward the evening before, she told her husband, must have camped on Louse Creek, and perhaps the men had started a brush fire. Mr. Harris considered that good reasoning and it seemed to dispel an ominous feeling that lingered unbidden in his mind. Now in her 34th year, Mrs. Harris often expressed herself as content to meet the trials and tribulations of a pioneer life, and at no time had she felt more hopeful than on that autumn morning.
It was her custom to dress her wealth of auburn hair and secure it with a tortoiseshell comb that she had treasured for many years, and thus she was adorned upon that particular morning. To add to her matronly beauty, according to Miss Hanley, her hair fell over a shapely head in natural waves, and it requires no stretch of imagination to appreciate the fact that she was to her family a queen in a cabin home. Neither is it difficult to appreciate how an Indian in quest of scalps would look upon that scene.
Sofia, then in her eleventh year, was engaged inside the one-room dwelling which contained the family furniture and utensils. On the north side was the fireplace, where in the absence of a stove all the cooking was done. There the mother had heated the wash water by the use of a crane, but when she poured the water into the tub she found it necessary to use all the cold water in the house to cool it before she could rub her clothing. She could get another bucket of cold water, she thought, from the well when more convenient.
David, then in his ninth year, had been given a pail and sent to the garden, an eighth of a mile away, for potatoes. Mr. Harris had rigged a block for splitting puncheon to fence his crops out in the open north of the storage house, and for an hour or more Mrs. Harris had heard the sound of his mallet as it drove a broad ax into the yielding blocks of yellow fir. It could not have been later than 9 o'clock--probably not more than 8:30.
Suddenly the sound of the mallet ceased, and an instant later Harris reached the stoop and told his wife that there were some Indians down the trail, pointing to the place where the road entered the timber about 75 or 100 yards toward the Wagoner home, and that there was going to be trouble as they had their war paint on. Taken by surprise, Mary Harris was rather slow to appreciate the gravity of the situation, so her husband reinforced his command to get inside by gently pushing her through the open door and shielding her with his body as he followed her in. He had just crossed the threshold when a shot rang out from the direction of the Indians and a bullet pierced his left lung. He closed the door, and as he placed the hardwood bar in a position to secure it he said to his wife that he believed he was mortally wounded. Mrs. Harris then supported him to a bed in a corner opposite the fireplace where a brief but tragic consultation was held.
Harris told his wife that he would be unable to defend her against the Indians whom he was confident were determined upon their destruction; that she must defend herself and children to the best of her ability. When he told her to get the rifle and use it, she protested that she had never fired a gun in her life, much less loaded one, that she knew nothing about a gun, that she simply could not, no, she could not fire a gun.
With an appealing look the wounded man told her that she must defend her home and children. Those two words--home and children--seemed to rouse her from a sort of lethargy that had possessed temporarily her very soul when she realized that her peaceful home had been transformed into a place of carnage. Hardly a minute had passed since they had entered the house and bolted the door before the spirit of Mrs. Harris rose to the situation, and she faltered not again. Taking the trusty rifle down from its hanger she held it while her husband explained hurriedly the mechanism. Sofia brought the powder horn, cap box, bullets and paper wads. These being explained, she loaded the gun, ramming the charge home like a veteran.
Sprawled upon the bed and bleeding profusely, Mr. Harris cautioned her to keep the hammer down until ready to fire, and to use the sights. With that she climbed the ladder to the attic above, where openings in the chinking enabled her to survey the field in all directions. She saw the Indians peering from behind trees in an effort to determine the force that might be in the house and then, with a deadly aim, she opened fire. The smell of powder had its effect, and now she knew of no such thing as fear. Thus the brave woman, who had been reared in the sunshine of culture and refinement, fought her enemies with the courage of a gladiator for a period of 19 consecutive hours.
At first there were only a few Indians present--a scouting party that had ridden over from the Wagoner place to reconnoiter the premises--and these remained well under cover. They appeared to be apprehensive that there was a force in the house, for shots would come from all sides. At intervals a warrior would expose himself in order to draw fire, and dancing about, challenge the besieged to shoot him. They were always accommodated, first from one porthole and then another.
Mrs. Harris was prone, in later years, to bemoan her poor marksmanship, yet with the occasional use of a small revolver she succeeded in impressing upon the savages that there was more than one defender of the fortress. Upon several occasions they endeavored to taunt the inmates to the point where they would come out and give battle, by running into the open air and waving bloody scalps. One of these Mrs. Harris recognized as Mrs. Wagoner's, and another as that of her 4-year-old daughter. The Indians would wave these hideous symbols up and down and from side to side in a fashion designed to create a furious state of mind in the whites, who they supposed had taken refuge in the cabin. After the close of the war the Indians were greatly chagrined to learn that they fought a lone white woman.
Subsequent arrivals from the Wagoner and Haines places brought the total number of Indians about the premises--that is the number that Mrs. Harris was able to count at any one time--up to 21, though she said that it was possible that a greater number were present. She noticed a squaw with the warriors at times, and after a while Mrs. Harris recognized her as a Rogue River Indian whom she had frequently employed to do housework. Having had in her wardrobe an ill-fitting dress, she had given it to the squaw, who now wore it with a savage grace as she aided her kindred in their efforts to murder her benefactress.
During the forenoon a ball entered the lower room through a muslin window and, striking Sofia's arm between the elbow and wrist, broke one of the bones. While she was not wholly deprived of the use of the member, it was exceedingly painful as well as a dangerous wound. Nevertheless the child continued to melt lead bars and mould bullets for her mother, who never left her vigil in the attic until the Indians retired from exhaustion.
As night approached, a bright moon rose over the scene and lighted the open space about the house. This enabled Mrs. Harris to observe every attempt to approach the building with firebrands.
An internal hemorrhage set in after he was shot through the lung, and Mr. Harris fully realized that his hours were numbered. Thirst is one of the direful results of a hemorrhage, but in the case of Mr. Harris his suffering could not be relieved. The open space about the buildings would expose one to a merciless fusillade from all directions, even if Mrs. Harris dared to leave her post.
Shortly after the noon hour the dying man called for his wife to come to him; to bring him water and to relieve his suffering. Soon his calls became ravings, and Mrs. Harris always believed that his suffering was relieved by a delirious condition that developed during the last hours of his life.
Mr. Harris was mortally wounded, and he had so informed his wife when he instructed her to defend her home and children. While the piteous calls for water tore the woman's heartstrings, she fully realized that to leave her post, even for a moment, would only invite irretrievable disaster. Dire extremities indeed, between which she must choose.
From the time she climbed the ladder to the attic during the morning hours Mrs. Harris never saw her husband alive again. When at last she descended from her bullet-torn battlement she made her way in the darkness to the bed and found him cold in death. It was her belief that he died during the last hours of daylight.
With her arm only loosely bandaged, and suffering the most excruciating pain, Sofia continued through the day and night to feed the fire and mould bullets. The supply of wood was soon exhausted, and then she burned everything and anything she could lay hold of. When at last hostilities slackened she gave way to her suffering and cried aloud in anguish. David had not returned, though there was still hope that he might be safe, but the concern which that mother felt for her boy under those circumstances can never be fully realized.
Dame Rumor has had much to say about the number of Indians killed, the fate of David and the captivity of the Wagoners and the Haines, but as to her veracity at least, Rumor is a treacherous character. No one knows what became of the boy. He was never heard of from the time he left the house, nor was there ever found a stitch of clothing or a bone that would suggest a clue. The Indians knew nothing of him, and his fate is still and probably will always remain an unsolved mystery. His mother believed that when he saw the Indians at the house and heard the guns he ran away into the forest and became bewildered and finally was killed by mountain lions.
In response to the question as to whether she killed any of the Indians, Mrs. Harris said that she was not certain that she had, though upon two occasions she had taken deliberate aim and that the two braves at whom she fired did not appear upon the scene again. In early days Indians took delight in being fired at, provided they were not hit, and as it would appear that they did not become furious enough to assault the house en masse the casualties may not have been very great. However, Indians removed their dead and wounded if possible, and any estimate of their loss usually was only a wild guess. It would be interesting to know the result of Mrs. Harris' rifle practice upon that occasion, but beyond the fact that she held the enemy at bay until she was rescued by the troops, the truth will never be known.
The Indians retired between 2 and 3 o'clock in the morning of the 10th and moved down the small creek a short distance where they started fires, probably for cooking food. The mother, now for the first time since morning, ventured to the well for water and then washed and dressed the little girl's wounded arm, covered the body of her dead husband with a blanket and made ready to abandon the house. She surmised the Indians would renew the attack as soon as it was light, and she felt that she could not hold out another day. Any fate was preferable to being taken into captivity, so she decided to take a chance for life in the wilderness. Gathering up her suffering child, who between sobs promised to try not to cry, the poor woman abandoned her home and stole away into the shadows of the night.
After a futile tramp through the nearby timber softly calling for David, she concealed herself in a willow thicket south of the house and near the trail. By this time the torture of the little girl from her wound was being intensified by a raging fever, and it was only with the greatest effort that she could avoid crying out in her distress.
She had but a short time to wait until it was light enough to observe the situation. Scanning the morning mist in the direction of her home, she was horrified to see four savages sitting on the bank of the stream near the house, their bare feet in the water. Apparently they were guarding the place while the remaining members of the band were asleep a short distance away. The slightest sound would attract attention, and it was there that the heroic efforts of Sofia were worthy of commendation.
Suddenly she noticed these Indians duck down under the bank into the shallow water and speedily depart. Furiously they made their way to their sleeping comrades, and within a very short time there was not an Indian to be seen in the vicinity; all had vanished like a shadow. Another mystery now confronted the wretched woman. She heard a sound coming from the south. An ominous sound, no doubt, for she knew of no other kind in that accursed locality. It grew nearer and louder, and then it dawned upon her that it was the sound of galloping horses. Then, making out the sound of rattling sabers, she cried aloud, "It's the soldiers! Please God we are rescued!"
Mrs. Harris had lost her tortoiseshell comb, and her golden tresses refused to stay in place. While bending over the couch of her husband her hair became immersed in the blood that saturated the bed clothing, and in the darkened room this had escaped her attention. In her place of refuge in the thicket, her disheveled hair hung in clotted ringlets without sign of order. Her appearance was the more deceptive by reason of her face being blackened with powder smoke. Sofia's appearance was little if any better. When the mother realized that the troops had arrived, she gathered up her child and ran forward with all her strength. A soldier mistook her for a squaw and, enraged at what he had seen at the Wagoner home, lowered his gun. Just as he was pressing the trigger another discovered that she was white and struck the gun barrel in time to save the woman's life, the ball striking the ground in front of her.
Neither the mother nor child had tasted food since the morning of the 9th, and the soldiers now urged them to return to the house and prepare themselves a meal. Remaining only long enough to acquaint themselves with what had taken place and leaving a detail of four volunteers with the rescued, the soldiers hurried on in pursuit of the Indians.
A part of the puncheon floor was then removed and a grave dug in the center of the room. The body of Mr. Harris was then prepared for burial, and the distracted mother and fatherless child were called for a last look at the features of their fallen protector. The blanketed form was then lowered into the grave and the earth returned to its place. It was apparent that the conflict between the whites and reds would develop into a war; therefore it was deemed advisable to leave nothing about the premises that might prove of value to the enemy. The soldiers carried away the gun with which the defense was made and what ammunition was left. Mrs. Harris retained the family Bible before referred to and a small testament that belonged to David. Written on a flyleaf are these words: "Reward of merit. Presented to David W. Harris by his teacher, F. A. Reed, February 24, 1854."
The crucial test of motherhood came after a fruitless search for David, and Mrs. Harris realized that she must abandon her boy to his fate. Words can convey no conception of her anguish as the curtain fell on the pioneer tragedy.
During the day a number of pack outfits had arrived on the river, and two of these men had ridden out to the Harris home to ascertain the extent of the trouble. One, James D. Burnett, an uncle of Alice Hanley, and who was riding a large mule, invited Mrs. Harris to ride behind him to the river. The other man, George McKay, volunteered to take Sofia in front of him on his horse. The torch was then applied, and as the party rode away under the protection of four volunteers the smoke and flames were leaping high over the erstwhile happy home of the Harris family. At the river crossing the rescued were placed in a wagon and taken to Jacksonville.
From that time to the present day the landscape of that tragic field has changed but little. The furrows of the old Oregon-California Trail are overgrown with grass, and lead horse bells are heard no more, nor is there any sound save the bleating of the sheep that frequent the place. Years later the body of Mr. Harris was exhumed and placed in the family plot in the Jacksonville Cemetery. During the remaining years of her life Mrs. Harris visited the place only once, in 1874.
Sofia was married to John S. Love on the 26th of February, 1860, and to this union there were born four children, the second oldest of whom, Mary Harris Love, married John A. Hanley. Among the children born to this union is Miss Claire Hanley, who retains many of the characteristics of the Harris family.
A victim of an attack of malignant smallpox, Sofia yielded her life January 16, 1869, and was buried by the side of her husband, who had preceded her to the grave by 15 months.
Mrs. Harris married Aaron Chambers February 15, 1863, and from that time until her death she resided at the Chambers home four miles northwest of Medford. Mr. Chambers had been married before, and when he died September 15, 1869 he was buried by the side of his first wife. After his death Mrs. Harris-Chambers assumed the management of the farm, which was heavily mortgaged and run down. She succeeded in improving the estate and clearing it of all indebtedness.
February 17, 1882 she died, and after a separation of 28 years was again assigned a place by her husband's side beneath the tangled ivy in the Jacksonville Cemetery.
"And there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things have passed away."
Medford Mail Tribune, November 23, 1930, page B1 Alice Hanley's account, the basis for this article, is below:
Briefly, the events which took place were as follows:
George W. Harris and his family had crossed the plains from Tennessee to Oregon in 1853 and had settled the following year on a donation land claim eight miles north of Rogue River, on what was then known as the Oregon-California Trail. His family consisted of his wife, Mary Ann, his eleven-year-old daughter Ann Sophia and his nine-year-old son, David W.
On the morning of October 9, 1855, Mr. Harris was engaged in splitting logs for fencing, and his wife was preparing to do the family washing. Sophia was busy inside, and David had been sent to the garden for a pail of potatoes. Mr. Harris became aware of a band of fifteen to twenty Indians in war paint, and hurriedly left his work and walked rapidly to the house. Although he was ignorant of the fact, the Indians had become infuriated at the wanton massacre of some eighty [sic] Indian women and children at a rancherie on Rogue River two days [sic] before, and had embarked on a bloody trail of reprisal. Mr. Harris reached the cabin and pushed his wife inside, telling her there was going to be trouble, and was instantly struck by a rifle ball in the chest. He bolted the door, told her he was mortally wounded, while she helped him to a bed in the corner of the room. He then told her he could not defend her, and she must do that herself to the best of her ability, and proceeded to instruct her in the loading and firing of the Kentucky rifle, for which he had previously prepared large quantities of ammunition. Sophia brought powder horn, cap box, bullets and paper wads. These being explained, she loaded the gun, climbed the ladder to the attic where holes in the chinking gave her a view in all directions, and opened fire. An Allen revolver, lying on the roof plate, added to her arsenal. At first there were only a few Indians, but soon she was able to count twenty-one, although it is possible she did not see all of them. Among the warriors she saw a squaw whom she had befriended, wearing a dress she had given her.
Sometime during the forenoon a ball entered the window in the lower room and struck the girl Sophia in the arm, breaking a bone. She continued to melt lead bars and mold bullets for her mother, in spite of the pain. Mrs. Harris kept up her steady fire for nineteen consecutive hours.
Between two and three o'clock in the morning of the 10th, the Indians retired and moved down a small creek, where they started fires, presumably for food. It gave the courageous mother a chance to go to the well for water, and bathe her injured daughter's arm. She covered the body of her dead husband and prepared to abandon her home, feeling sure the Indians would return to the attack as soon as it was light. After a short, futile search for her son David, she concealed herself in a willow thicket south of the house and near the trail. When it became light she could discern four savages sitting on the bank of the stream, near the cabin, their bare feet in the water. Suddenly she noticed them ducking under the bank into the shallow stream and disappearing. She could hear the galloping of horses, but did not know if their riders were friends or foes until she heard the rattling of sabers. It was a detachment of U.S. Dragoons from Fort Lane, under the command of Major E. N. Fitzgerald, and twenty volunteers from Jacksonville. She ran out of her hiding place. With her loosened hair, her blood-saturated clothing and her powder-burned face, she did not resemble a white woman, and was almost killed by one of her soldiers. Another soldier struck up [sic] his gun, and the bullet struck the ground in front of her.
The soldiers now urged her to return to the cabin and prepare some food, neither she nor Sophia having eaten since the morning of the 9th. A detail of four volunteers was left with her, and the main body of soldiers moved on in pursuit of the fleeing Indians.
A part of the puncheon floor was removed, and a grave dug in the center of the room. The blanketed form of the father was lowered into it, and the earth put back in place. . . . Then the torch was applied, and everything else belonging to the once-happy family went up in roaring flames. Mrs. Harris realized that she must abandon David to his fate. No trace of the boy was ever found. Frank A. Reed, a single man employed by Mr. Harris, was killed while attempting to escape the massacre, and his skeleton was found the following year.
Alice Hanley, date unknown. Transcribed from a typescript attached to a February 6, 1963 letter from State Highway Engineer Forrest Cooper to A. W. Parsons, Division Engineer of the Bureau of Public Roads, and attributed to Mary Hanley. Oregon Department of Transportation archives.
REMINISCENCES OF EARLY DAYS IN OREGON
Miss Alice Hanley
Summer Meeting of State Home Economics Extension
Council, Corvallis, Oregon, August 5, 1935
Miss Hanley is one of the early pioneers of the state. She has long been interested in Extension work, and has been a member of the Extension Committee in Jackson County since 1918. She is now Honorary President of the State Home Economics Extension Council.Two ladies conceived the idea of having a church, which is the oldest Protestant church west of the Rockies. It was, of course, for the use of the people as a community center. Emily Royal and Emily Overbeck, who were both born back East, solicited funds. In raising the money, a hat was placed in a gambling parlor, all winnings for one evening being placed in the hat. It was a community church, open to all denominations, and later was turned over to the Methodists, and the Presbyterians built a church. The Methodist church was very old. It was located under some maple trees in the center of the lot. In front was a picket fence which the blacksmith made. Later it was all rearranged, and muslin curtains were put at the windows. They were always kept starched and tied back with a crocheted curtain strap. After we had the Presbyterian church people thought it looked so simple for the Methodists to have a presentable front, and they raised the church four or five feet. Somebody gave a melodeon that was brought out in 1853 or 1854. We all took part in raising the money to pay for this. I am now the owner of the melodeon. Interest was very great. The Presbyterians had a conference and everybody went over. The little Methodist church still stands.
When we built the Presbyterian church and disposed of the old Methodist church, we were very anxious to make a splurge. A very prominent wedding was set, and at the last minute, when the day was set and the invitations out, we put a coat of varnish on the seats. This was to be an unusually grand display. The minister stood in front where the ceremony was to take place. People had to sit on the rostrum. A German musician played the wedding march. The people waited for the ceremony and still the music went on. The minister said "That's enough" but still he played. The groom stamped his foot and said "Genuch" but the musician played for forty-five minutes. Mr. [Moses A.] Williams, the minister, stepped forward, turned around with his back to the bride and groom and asked a blessing. When people tried to rise from their seats everyone was stuck to the seat. There were only three people in the whole congregation who had not stuck. It was a most embarrassing situation for the pioneer gentlemen who wore old broadcloth clothes that had been laid away and were weak with age.
The first Fourth of July during the Civil War everybody thought they should be patriotic and celebrate in a big way to help the cause of freedom. One float was prepared to represent the 33 or 36 states. I rode on the float and was six years old at the time. They had one little girl to represent the Goddess of Liberty; another one, the Angel of Peace; and one little girl represented each state in the Union. There were boys for the Army and Navy. They sent to San Francisco for white dotted Swiss to make the dresses. We all had hoops and pantalettes with ruffles, and Mary Jane shoes. When the little girls came to stand on the float, there wasn't enough room for all of us because of our hoops. We sat down, and the mothers saw that our hoops stood out in front. We couldn't appear in public with a white dress and no hoops. The hoops we had weren't clean and fresh enough to be worn under white dresses, so they sent to San Francisco for new hoops and paid three dollars each to buy and express them into Jacksonville. When the mothers looked at us they said "Surely these children can never go out among the men looking like that!" When we sat down the hoops spread out so we looked like fantail pigeons. Finally the hoops were removed. We put our names on them and hung them on the wall of the old Methodist church.
There was a negro by the name of Sam [Cozzens] who had been a slave but was free. All the men around town gave him their cast-off suits. Some had dress suits which they gave to Sam. He always knew anything of importance that was taking place. He had a bell that he rang to tell us so and so had happened. One time there was going to be a wedding of note, with ten little flower girls dressed alike marching in front. Just as we were all dressed, and it was time for the wedding to start, up the road came Sam with his bell. At the last minute the bride had backed out and there was no wedding. Supper had been set for 500 people.
The oldest photographer in the Northwest was in Jacksonville. The first camera is there in the museum, and Mr. Britt was the photographer. He was an artist, and was born in Switzerland where he raised flax and made the cloth on which he painted portraits. He ground his own colors from minerals. Some of his portraits are still in Jacksonville.
We had many distinguished citizens in Jacksonville. Governor Grover was the first judge in the state. [This distinction is vaguely defined, and apparently incorrect.] At one time there were 6,000 people in Jacksonville, including 1,500 Chinese. We had the richest county in Oregon. During the winter of ['52] an ounce of gold bought an ounce of salt. The salt was brought in on snowshoes by B. F. Dowell, a relative of Benjamin Franklin. He made a fortune that winter.
The Chinese were brought in by two men on a contract. As soon as a Chinese boy had money enough to go back to China, off he went, and from time to time the men brought in another boatload.
June 11, 1861, during the Civil War, the rebel flag flew over Jacksonville. A doctor from Baltimore, whose name was [Ganung] put the flag up on the United States Hotel, where it floated all day. [No other teller of the story blames Dr. Ganung for putting up the flag. Other accounts charge Charley Williams or an unnamed clerk at P. J. Ryan's store, and that Dr. and Mrs. Ganung were out of town and returned to find the flag flying across the street from their home.] His wife, who was a sister of General John E. Ross, came home and cut down the flag and burned it in the stove. Nobody else would have done it. There are many historical facts about Jacksonville.
The first guest of the United States Hotel was President Hayes. I, him, and General Sherman [sic]. Jacksonville always served wine and champagne (there were 13 saloons in the town). Mrs. Hayes sat down at the table with the reception committee and turned her glass down so no wine was served then, but it was afterward served to the gentlemen. This is the time the hotel charged $150 for lodging and food for the presidential party for one night. To me, General Sherman was the outstanding figure of the party. The military men clicked their heels together when saluting the President. General Sherman came out and opened the door for the President and assisted him and his wife out, while the military men stood up. It was quite a sensation, with their uniforms and all.
In Jacksonville when one went to a party there were always from 15 to 18 officers present in full dress; swords, uniforms, etc., and white gloves. They were much entertained by the county people and established their own social life.
Some of the old buildings are still standing in Jacksonville. At the time of the Civil War Jeff Davis' [nephew] was a merchant in Jacksonville. His home still stands. Colonel Maury graduated from West Point, but resigned. [The 1854 Maury & Davis store stood on the site of Jacksonville's 1880 City Hall at Oregon and Main streets. Bricks from the 1854 store were used in the 1880 reconstruction.] When the Civil War broke out he was ordered to take his place in the United States Army. He was commanding officer at Walla Walla and also at one time in Vancouver. He sold out his business and went to join his brother in the South and go into war. One went south and the other went north. Colonel Maury was a major. The old store building still stands. It has had two fires and is now a city hall. The Native Daughters own a brick building that was built at the same time. It is worthwhile to keep it up for its historical value. We try to keep it open on Wednesday afternoons. It has been broken into a number of times and we have many things that need a safe place for safekeeping.
Even to this day you can go to the stage office in Jacksonville and find the timetable showing when the old stages left and arrived in Jacksonville.
Removal of the county seat from Jacksonville. Anything that is done should be done with honor. This was an important move. Jacksonville had friends among the military people. The effort to have the county seat removed was not successful, so they had to go to the legislature and have it changed. It should never have been changed until the people were ready. If it had to go, the people should have done it. [The decision was made by a vote of Jackson County residents.]
A man lives in Klamath County who was born in Jackson County, was educated and married in Lake County, but has never moved.
Crater Lake. The Indians thought the Phantom Ship was a demon. It appeared to sway in the wind. The men went there to see if there really was such a place.
The last Indian massacre was in 1855. The Indians were camped at the mouth of the Little Butte. Someone came in on horseback and shot 12 or 13 Indians. They believed in "an eye for an eye." One day they all started down the Rogue River, fording it at Savage Rapids. [The Indians didn't cross the Rogue during the breakout.] They killed Mr. Jones and his [wife] at Jones Creek. They crossed again and went down to Wagner's. Mr. Wagner had gone with a temperance lecturer to Waldo. His wife had lovely golden hair. They killed her child and then killed her. [All other accounts say Mrs. Wagoner and child were burned alive in their cabin.] Then they divided and some went to Mr. Harris' place and some to [Haines']. Mrs. Harris had a garden. There was only one room in their house. She had heated water in a brass kettle and was ready to commence laundry work. About eight o'clock in the morning she sent the little boy to the garden for potatoes. Mr. Harris came into the house and said "Indians in war paint." Their daughter, a girl of 12, was in the house. Just as Mr. Harris went to close the door the Indian shot him in the lung. Mrs. Harris got him to bed. She had never shot a gun. He told her how to load it and said "Now fire, or you'll be killed." She went up to the loft, looked through the port holes, and there were twenty-one Indians. The little girl melted lead for the bullets, and the fight lasted from eight o'clock in the morning to two o'clock in the night. Mr. Harris called for water from time to time, but she could not get it for him. Finally her bullets ran out, the little girl had been shot and her left arm broken, but with her right hand she had melted lead and made bullets and took them upstairs. Mrs. Harris bound the little girl's arm. Then she could see no reason why she should stay there, so the little girl went into the garden, nearly a quarter of a mile away. She called and called the little boy, but couldn't get any answer nor find any trace of him. Just at break of day she saw Indians in war paint watching the house. The girl's arm was badly swollen. She hid in a bunch of willows, and soon saw the Indians hurrying away, and she knew something had happened. She saw the volunteers coming. As they rode up she went to meet them. They saw what the battle had been like. She was so black with powder that she looked like a squaw, and someone tried to shoot her but another man knocked down the gun. They took the mother and the little girl on horseback to Jacksonville. The little boy was never found. He was nine years old. The government sent [the Indians] to Grand Ronde and later to Nebraska. [Some of the Modoc Indians were sent to Oklahoma, but the Rogue Rivers were never sent out of the state.] Investigation showed that [David?] Harris had been killed at Merlin Grove, near where the road comes into Merlin. A whole family had been killed there. The other detachment tried to overtake the Indians.
Extension Work. (Miss Hanley was a member of the Extension Committee in 1918) Miss Ann McCormick, who was with us at the time, did not stay on. The inducement was so great that she left for California. Then Miss Poole came. Of course, she did not have a car, but the county agent had an old Model T Ford which was good enough for Miss Poole. One spring I thought it would be nice to go to Josephine County and have a picnic down the Rogue. A company from Chicago had set out an orchard. Mrs. Smith, a Chicago woman, came during the boom days, and her house sat flat on the ground. She came out on the front porch and the pigs also came up on the porch. When she served us coffee, the pigs knocked her off her feet on the floor, coffee and all. We felt sorry that it spilled, but we drained the coffee pot and admired it at the same time. It was a lovely silver pot.
We had come in the Ford, and we went down the road as best we could. One tire ripped. We knew little about it, but nothing could be done except put on the spare. We bumped and bumped. There were no service stations then. Finally we came to a place where we could get a new tire. We spent most of the day like that, and arrived in town at ten o'clock. The picnic was successful. We started home, and the next tire went out, but we went clear to Grants Pass. There was no payment [sic--pavement?], and everybody gave us dust [i.e., passed without offering to help]. Once the car caught fire, and we got home late.
The first extension meeting was held in Sams Valley. We were afraid to take the Ford out. The inspector had a Chevrolet, and he offered to take us. We got to a place where the road was uphill, and a large rock in the middle of the road obstructed our path. The car was loaded and just stayed there, no inducement could get it over the rock, so we walked one and one-half miles to the meeting. Nobody could pass us. Finally a man took pity on us and took us to the meeting. Somebody made us cocoa, and we got home at daylight.
The first meetings were not named. Finally we were summoned before the legislature to tell why the meetings and the work should be continued and why appropriations should be made for it. We made hats and remodeled them and saved many dollars. Some of the men refused to ride to town with their wives in their homemade hats. It was all uphill business for some time. This was in 1916, and at that time there were only two counties in the state in the work, and the legislature had to make an appropriation to match that of the government. We made dress forms of flour sacks and plaster of Paris. The side was left open, or it was basted together in the back, pinned on, and then we had to work fast to finish it before the plaster of Paris set. At one of these meetings a woman weighing 315 pounds wanted a dress form. We all contributed what plaster of Paris we had, and the flour sacks, and then when we were working to make the form, the woman fainted. We took off the form by splitting it down the middle, and that, of course, ruined it. Stand off and look at yourself in the mirror. Every bump is pronounced. Think of how many flour sacks it took! We smashed the form when the woman fainted.
About 200 people in the little country room get rather uncomfortable, as the rooms here get so warm. No one wants to tackle the question. I remember one time we were in the office of the county judge for three hours. Finally someone said "We will go out in five minutes, and we expect you to sign that paper in our absence." We all marched out, and we timed ourselves, and in five minutes we were back. Everyone had signed. For ten years we had a hard time getting budgets from county courts. I hope Lane County will get in line. We are not sorry we gave our time to it. County committees now have a paradise.
Southern Oregon Digital Archive. Apparently a transcription of a talk or interview.
Last revised July 6, 2019