Early Oregon 1850 to 1860
By George E. Cole. Transcribed from Google Books for my convenience.
CHAPTER I.During the month of October, 1850, there were fitted out in San Francisco three brigs, suitable for carrying passengers, which were advertised for sailing during that month to the mouth of the Umpqua River. No American vessel had ever entered that port before. The mines had been discovered in Northern California, and a company had been organized in San Francisco to locate townsites on the Umpqua River. The townsite at the mouth of the river was called Umpqua City. Up the river at the head of navigation was Scottsburg; farther up, near the site of the post of the Hudson Bay Company, was Elkton, and still farther up, on the trail from Oregon to California, was Winchester. This route was intended to reach the Northern California mines. Flaming handbills were posted showing the advantages of the route and advertising the cities as before named. Plats of these new cities were made out, and lots were offered for sale at public auction at real estate offices in San Francisco, The names of these three brigs were the Bostonian, the Kate Heath and the Reindeer. The two former having sailed, the brig Reindeer left San Francisco on the 24th of October with about seventy passengers, part for Umpqua, among whom were Bush Wilson, Phillip Ritz and myself; and the rest for Portland. Ritz and I had crossed the plains together during the preceding summer, and had formed Wilson's acquaintance in San Francisco. Wilson located in Benton County, and held the office of county auditor for about thirty years. He died a few years ago. Ritz first located in Benton County, and in 1862 removed to Walla Walla County, where he had a big nursery. He was a prominent and public-spirited citizen. He was an early advocate of the Northern Pacific Railroad, and made several trips to Washington, D.C. in the interest of that road. He obtained from the company six or seven sections of land near where Ritzville is now located, and which was named for him. He died in Walla Walla a few years since.
[Compare Cole's account in the Sunday Oregonian of January 20, 1901, page 19.]
Meeting with adverse winds after passing out of the Golden Gate, we were driven far to the southwestward, and did not reach our destination until the 8th of November. Arriving opposite the mouth of the river as nearly as could be ascertained, as we had no chart and there was no one on board who had ever been at the harbor, we fired signal guns, and getting no response, started for the entrance. Arriving at the bar, we found that the Bostonian was a wreck, lying just outside of the channel on the north side. Thereupon we lowered anchor, discovering a ship's boatload of sailors coming down to meet us. It proved to be from the Kate Heath, commanded by Captain Tichenor, who was at that time mate of the Kate Heath. Coming alongside of our brig, and running up the ladder, he sang out in a shrill voice, "Weigh anchor and hoist sail, or you will go to h--l in five minutes."
We took hold in assisting the crew in getting the brig under sail, arriving inside of the harbor in a short time, where we anchored in safety. As we were anxious to get up to Scottsburg, we three, Wilson, Ritz and myself, purchased a small canoe from Indians who came aboard, and together with a Frenchman named Brobant and a Canadian, whose name I do not now recall, got into the canoe, having been supplied from the ship with a piece of salt "junk" and some hard biscuit, and rowed up the river. The tide setting against us, by dark we had reached within four or five miles of Scottsburg and camped.
Soon a raft of logs came down the river, having a sail and one man on it. We all agreed we would like to have that sail, as it had commenced raining, to protect us from the rain. So Wilson sang out to the man on the raft and told him to come ashore and stop with us overnight. The man replied that if we would take his line he would do so. Having landed his raft, he proved to be an old acquaintance of Wilson's, from the Kennebec River in Maine, so there was a very agreeable reunion of the two Maine men, in which the others took no particular part, but were nearly as glad as they in getting the sail as a tent for the night, as it was now raining quite hard.
Early the following morning we got into our canoe and went up to Scottsburg, which consisted of several tents and a log cabin built up to the square. Having no more salt "junk" or hard bread left, we applied for a breakfast, but found that no one was provided with the means there of getting us one. But the lone lady there, whose husband, named Fisk, was the proprietor of the cabin, sold us five pounds of flour and a pound of butter and loaned us the use of her stove, on which we cooked our own breakfast.
As the bateau which was to bring our luggage would not be there for several hours, the Frenchman and myself started on foot for Ft. Umpqua, leaving the others to look after the baggage when it arrived. We were not able to reach that point before darkness set in, having to climb a mountain while packing our blankets besides a bundle, so we camped for the night. As the woods were inhabited by large numbers of wild animals, particularly bear, the grizzly, the brown and the black bear, we kindled a fire and took turns in keeping it alive, more for protection against the wild beasts than anything else, while the others slept, until daylight.
In the morning we discovered that we were about two miles from Ft. Umpqua. A cabin had been built at the new city of Elkton. We reached this cabin early in the morning, which was Sunday. Having had very little to eat for a long time, we were provided with a sumptuous breakfast, consisting of the meat of a bear, which had been killed the day before, potatoes, which had been brought up from the settlement on the Willamette and baked in the stove, and very fine biscuits and coffee, all provided by Mrs. Wells, the wife of Dr. Wells, who owned and lived in the cabin, and who had moved from the Willamette that summer. The lady was some time preparing the meal, we were very hungry, and as our cook was neatly dressed, was young, and to us, who had not seen ladies for a long time, seemed very beautiful, we patiently waited, dividing our time between the cook and the breakfast preparing, until it was ready for the table, which proved to be indeed a very sumptuous meal.
After breakfast our Frenchman was very anxious to get to Ft. Umpqua, having heard there was a Frenchman named Gagnier in command at the Hudson Bay Company's post. Of course he and our Frenchman had volumes to talk, while I sat by, not being able to understand a word. Suggesting to Brobant that we had better move forward, our host insisted that we stay with him overnight. To this Brobant readily acquiesced, but after partaking of a luncheon consisting of tea and hard bread I took my blankets on my back and started for the settlement, some fifteen or twenty miles distant. The trail lay up Elk Creek, crossing and recrossing the same a great number of times. Reaching the outskirts of the settlement about dusk, I found a camp there of men who had come up on the Kate Heath, and who had been up in the valley and procured animals with which they were returning to Scottsburg to get their luggage and provisions, intending to pack to the new Eldorado in Northern California.
On my inquiring the distance to a house, one man with an Irish brogue told me that I must stay with them overnight, that they had some fine venison that they had just killed and plenty of bacon, and that he would get me up a meal, as they had just eaten. Every time he spoke I thought he must be an old acquaintance, like our friend Wilson's from the Kennebec. Getting in a position where the light shone on his face, I tried to decipher his features, but could not bring to my memory a recollection of them. Finally as he handled the dough in such manner as showed that he was probably an old camper, I inquired of him what his business was, and he said, "I've been a baker all my life." This gave me a key to recollection. I said, "Where are you from?" He said, "I'm from Covington, Kentucky." I had an acquaintance there by the name of Silas Rockwell, with whom I had stopped a week in April, '49. I asked him if he knew Silas Rockwell. He said, "Yes, I know him well; I've furnished him bread many a time." Having one night at my friend Rockwell's been requested by him to go down to the baker's and order some bread, as the firemen, who had just succeeded in quenching a fire, had come to his restaurant to get a luncheon, telling me that I would find where the bakery was and that I would find it closed, but to go to the rear end, in which the baker lived, rap on the door and call him and give him the order and see that it was sent immediately,--the inmate replied, "Ay, ay, sir; tell Mr. Rockwell I will be there in a minute." This was the same voice that I now recognized. So, telling him I was the young fellow who called him up, we soon became boon companions, and on the return of his companions, who had been looking after the horses, he hastened to tell them he had found an "ould acquaintance."
I remained there until morning. Getting breakfast, I started on for the Umpqua Valley. In a short distance I met a man on horseback with a compass and a chain, and in conversation soon found that this was Jesse Applegate, who informed me that he was out surveying and would be gone for a day and a night, that his house was only three or four miles from us, and he was very sorry he could not be at home to look after and entertain me. But he told me to go to the house of Charles Applegate, his brother, which I did, and stayed overnight. These two with their brother Lindsay had emigrated from Missouri in a large emigration from that state in 1843, and located in the Willamette Valley, but the year before had removed to the Umpqua Valley, this portion of it being called Yoncalla, a beautiful spot, in which they had selected each a section of land and had built improvements.
There were no grist mills at that time nearer than Rickreall, in Polk County, more than one hundred miles distant; so, having used up the amount with which they had provided themselves, they used instead boiled wheat, which was more palatable than one would suppose and answered all purposes of bread.
At this place I found a copy of the New York Weekly Tribune, to which the Applegates, being Whigs, were subscribers, and which reached them, via Panama, San Francisco and Portland, once a month.
I concluded there that I did not want to see any more of the Umpqua Valley until after I had seen the Willamette, and started in the morning retracing my steps northward, reaching a man by the name of Goodell at Elk Creek, the site of the present town of Drain, and, learning that some of my comrades of the ship had stayed overnight there the night previous and had pressed on to the Willamette, I disposed of my blankets to make my pack lighter and started on up the Pass Creek trail over the Calapooia Mountains, reaching Martin's, a bachelor, who lived in the Siuslaw, at which place I overtook my companions, reaching there late at night.
The next day we started on, reaching at the head of the Long Tom, a settler by the name of Mart Brown, who had married a daughter of one of the four Richardson brothers, three of whom lived farther down the Long Tom. Two of his wife's brothers, or cousins, were there on a visit to stay overnight, having with them a violin, or, as they called it, a fiddle, and we made a jovial night of it by getting up a dance, in which, there being but one lady, the wife of our host, three of our party personated ladies by tying a handkerchief on the arm. We had a very enjoyable time, dancing for hours on the puncheon floor, and I made myself very popular with the party by calling the "country dances," money musk, Virginia reel, etc.
These young men were very anxious that we should stop at their house the next night. They told us we would pass Uncle Ben Richardson's about noon and get our dinner, and before sundown reach the house of Gideon Richardson.
The next day we started for Marysville, now Corvallis. About eight or ten miles below we crossed the Long Tom to the west bank on a ferry which was operated by "Doc" Richardson, who was the chief of the Richardson family. He took us across the stream and cordially invited us to remain with him, but we excused ourselves and pushed on, taking dinner at Winkle's Butte, and arrived at Marysville in the middle of the afternoon.
The first house belonged to J. C. Avery, the proprietor of the town, who also had a little store near by. Finding him absent, I went on down to what was called the lower town, built on the edge of a claim of James F. Dickson, at which was a log school house, and a store belonging to Hartless & St. Clair.
As I was anxious for information, learning that there was a young man by the name of A. G. Hovey teaching there, I called on him as soon as school hours were over and made his acquaintance. I found he was from Ohio and had reached Oregon that year overland. I also learned from Hovey that a man named Jacob Martin, who lived out about six miles in the foothills, was in town and was going out in the morning to his claim, that there was a quantity of vacant land in that neighborhood, and that there was a school house near him which was not as yet provided with a teacher. So, staying overnight with Dickson, I returned in the morning to the store, at which Hovey was a clerk as well, and made the acquaintance of Jacob Martin, who was a large specimen of humanity from the Monongahela River district, in Pennsylvania.
Uncle Jake, as he was familiarly called, held out great inducements for me to accompany him to his home, in the forks of the Muddy and Marys rivers. Loaded with a large quantity of provisions for the family, he struck out with long strides, and I, not being able to keep up on the walk, had to make a trot to keep near enough to him to talk with him. We crossed the Marys River, wading it, about three miles distant from the town, and passed the house of Solomon K. Brown, an old settler, and then reached the home of Nicholas Ownby, or Uncle Nick, as he was known, who was a principal settler in that district.
Reaching Ownby's about sundown, having remained in Marysville most of the day, Martin informed me that it would be good policy for me to remain overnight with Ownby, who would most certainly invite me to do so. He was the most influential man in the neighborhood and had a family of four or five children that he wished to send to school for the winter, and also telling me that if I made a good impression upon the old Missourian, as he called him, between Ownby and myself I could be located on some unclaimed land, which I could take up as a donation.
I found Uncle Nick to be a fine specimen of man, about sixty years of age, born and raised in Kentucky, having married there and moved to Missouri and purchased land on what was known as the Platte purchase, and settling down on which, he reared his family. In 1845, finding he did not have land enough and could not get land cheaply on which to locate his children, he fitted out for Oregon. He brought with him the entire family, except the oldest boy, who was then married; a fine lot of cattle, some blooded horses, also sheep, pigs, chickens and, of course, dogs and cats, and his entire household outfit, except such things as were made of wood, which would be cumbersome to carry, and could be made by himself and boys in Oregon.
After learning from me, in answer to questions, that I had taught school, and that I was hunting a piece of land on which to locate, he said that if I would listen to him I could get a piece of good land and could get a situation to teach school for the winter, commencing at once.
On the following day, Sunday, we took horses and rode up to the log school house, about a mile distant, which proved to be on the vacant land referred to, and Uncle Nick suggested that that would be a good place to stay overnight occasionally and hold down my claim. A mile farther on we found Uncle Jake Martin again. The two men made arrangements for the campaign of getting up the school, and started out over the district settlements, the cabins not being closer than a mile of each other. A sufficient number of subscribers was obtained, and notice was given that school would commence on Monday, the next day. Reporting their success, Uncle Nick and I returned to his cabin. He said he had not seen all of them, and had not got all the pupils they required, twenty-five, at six dollars each for the quarter of thirteen weeks, but whatever it lacked in number he would sign additional ones, more than his actual number of children, to make out the amount.
So the school commenced at once. In order to make up the number, the distance to the homes of some of the boys and girls was six or eight miles. They all came on horseback, brought their dinners in dinner pails, and returned as the school was dismissed at night. Quite a number of the pupils were men and women grown, but had never had the benefit of a common school education, and of course were but beginners. They were very anxious to learn and gave me little trouble.
The only thing which was noticeable was the attitude of the younger men to the girls, for part of them having a section of land as a donation claim [they were], under the law, required by the 25th of September of the coming year to marry in order to get a patent to more than half a section, married men being given a section and unmarried men a half section. And the law allowed only one year from the time the act was passed for the bachelors to marry, so that their wives could also hold half a section. Hence, [there was] a good business in the matrimonial line that season, and indications that were not unpleasing to me were shown in the attitude to each other of the marriageable ones of the sexes.
CHAPTER II.On Christmas day "Doc" Richardson, who lived outside of the district, about twelve miles from the schoolhouse, gave a Thurston Christmas dinner, in honor of Samuel R. Thurston, the first delegate to Congress from Oregon, who was then in Washington, and whom he wished to honor for having secured the passage of the donation act, which not only allowed the settler a section of land but also to take it in such form as he laid out his claim, so that it was compact. But it was not required to be in legal subdivisions, as the land was unsurveyed, or to conform to the cardinal points of the compass.
[Compare Cole's account in the Sunday Oregonian of January 27, 1901, page 22.]
The Richardson relatives as far as Yamhill County (Clayton Richardson, a younger brother, and his wife and children) came, and as far as the head of the Long Tom in the other direction. Mart Brown, whose wife, it will be remembered, was a daughter of one of the Richardsons, and their collateral relatives, and other friends were in attendance at the Christmas dinner.
The dinner was given outdoors, for the day was pleasant. The men all sat down to dinner first, and the women (the wives and daughters) waited upon them until all had eaten before they sat down and were served.
After the dinner was over, dancing commenced in the double cabin, the furniture having been removed. Two sets, one in each cabin, were able to form; and, as my fame had preceded me on my trip down through the valley, I was put in requisition at once to call off the cotillions, which were formed, one in each room, on the puncheon floor.
Old "Doc" provided himself with two cases of whiskey, which he had packed from Brownsville, a distance of twenty-odd miles.
This was not a dress occasion as the term is usually known or usually applied, but some of the dresses were unique indeed. The girls and their mothers were neat and clean and, I must say, not only healthy but pretty. Old "Doc," who reminded me of an old feudal baron, of course had charge of the whole ceremony, and he was dressed in buckskin trousers, moccasins and a blue flannel shirt. His long white hair was in great abundance. He had waded the streams in his buckskin trousers, and they had shrunk to such an extent that they reached half way to his knees, his bare legs showing from there on down to the moccasins. He wore no stockings.
When the positions were taken ready for the dance, Old "Doc" came around with a bucket of water on one arm, in which there was a gourd, and a bottle of whiskey in his hand, and after taking a drink from the bottle and water from the gourd he passed around to all the dancers, boys and girls indiscriminately, and when all had been served he sang out to me, "All ready, go ahead."
After several hours' dancing, the whiskey having given out apparently, he lay down in the corner of the cabin near the fire, putting his legs over an improvised bench, which was made by halving a small sapling, in which holes had been bored and four legs inserted, which was the usual bench used in the cabins in those days, his feet near the fire, and was soon snoring. But the dance went on. After a while he woke up, and, bidding me let the dance go on without me for a while, took me to a large fir tree some distance from the cabin, and, pointing to an elevation in the mountains of the Coast Range, he asked, "Do you see that p'int in the mountains? Now fifteen steps from here I hid a bottle." Stepping off that distance in the wet grass, he felt around with his feet, but was unable to find it. ' He went back to the tree again, and said, pointing to another elevation, "I reckon I made a mistake. I reckon it was that p'int." He repeated his former performance, with the same result, which greatly surprised him. He was equal to the emergency, however, and said, "I'll roll for it," which he did and found the prize. Taking it to a tree, he knocked off the neck of the bottle as squarely as if cut with a diamond. I said to him, "Why didn't you put that bottle at the foot of the tree?" He answered, "I'm too old for that; the boys would have found it long ago, and you and I would have gone dry."
Everybody present was given an opportunity, and nearly everybody, young and old, took part in the dance. I well recollect one person who was there, quite a young man. He was teaching the neighborhood school. He had arrived there about the time I did. He was younger than I, though not much, and he is now living in an adjoining county, known as Judge N. T. Caton, whose acquaintance I have kept up ever since. I have frequently been taken for him, and he informs me he has frequently been called by my name. We had a joke that whenever one of us was thus designated the person making the mistake was given a dollar, but afterwards concluded we could not keep it up, as the dollars on both sides ran out.
I lived principally with Uncle Nick Ownby. His family consisted of his wife, who was a comely woman, a Kentuckian, somewhat along in years, like her husband, but the two people were patterns of what married people should do to assist each other, particularly in a frontier settlement. He assisted her in various ways, and she did not only the house work but frequently went out into the garden and dug potatoes, onions and turnips and got out a head of cabbage for dinner, which in the winter season was served in the evening after return from school. What struck me as very peculiar was that the winter was so mild that, although it rained some, but not much until the 20th of March, they were able to get their vegetables fresh from the garden as they cooked them every day.
When school closed, I assisted them in running out their land claims, as a surveyor general had been appointed who would soon commence surveying the land, sectionizing it, and it was necessary for them to show their lines so that they could make their applications for the lands they wished to obtain.
On the 20th of March, Judge Irving, who lived in Missouri, but who had come in to see the country the year before, John Ownby, the oldest boy, Isaac Auxier, and myself, loading up three or four packs, started for the mines in Northern California. It had rained but little during the winter. So pleasant in fact was the weather that the plowing and the seeding had been done in February. But we had scarcely started on our journey when it commenced to rain, and rained continually until we reached Deer Creek, where Roseburg now stands. Having been poisoned with poison oak, so that I was completely blind, the others advised me to return, which I did, they going on their journey after Deer Creek had sufficiently fallen so they could ford it.
I soon recovered from the poison and was able to commence rail hauling from the timber for building a fence and also to put me up a little cabin.
In the whole country everybody was looking forward to the return of their delegate, Samuel R. Thurston, who left New York on steamer by way of Panama immediately after adjournment of Congress. The steamer from San Francisco to Portland in April was expected to bring him, instead of which it brought the news of his death, which occurred aboard steamer after leaving Panama. His body was buried at Acapulco, a seaport on the western coast of Mexico, and subsequently removed to Oregon. General Lane, who was the first governor, having been appointed by James K. Polk, had been superseded by the Whig administration in the appointment of John P. Gaines. Turning his office over to his successor, Lane went to California to mine for gold, but returned to Oregon before the news of Thurston's death was received, and we had a talk about the propriety of his running against Thurston. This was at Marysville. I told him how they all felt toward Thurston, and he assured me that under such circumstances he would not run. But after reaching Oregon City, and the steamer arriving bringing the news of Thurston's death, he concluded at once to make the race.
There was no party organization, but of course he was known to be a Democrat and ran as such, but without nomination by any convention. Some were opposed to him because his interests were in Oregon City, the former capital, and, feeling that he would, if elected, use his influence at Washington to effect a relocation of the capital there instead of Salem, they brought out Dr. Wilson, a resident and the proprietor of Salem, to run against Lane. He was also a Democrat. At that time Whigs were very scarce in Oregon, and of course there was no such thing as a Republican Party.
Lane had made a tour of the country, speaking, among other places, at Marysville. But learning after leaving Marysville that there was considerable opposition to him on account of the location question, the same act that located the capital at Salem having also located the university at Marysville and the penitentiary at Portland, he returned to Marysville on Sunday before election day, in June, and on the morning of the election made a speech to the people of Benton County, they all having come in, word having been received by them, to hear him. At that time voters could vote at any precinct in the county. There were four of them besides Marysville, but no polls were open in any one of them.
After Lane's speech, A. L. Humphrey, who lived in Lane County and was a joint councilman for Lane and Benton counties, and J. C. Avery, who lived at Marysville and was running for the legislature, and had been a member of the previous legislature, were called upon to speak, which they did.
In my neighborhood there lived a family of Kentuckians, who had emigrated to Southwestern Missouri, and in 1850 had again emigrated to Oregon, the father, daughter and five sons, all six feet and more in height, all unmarried except the oldest son, Ike, who lived in the neighborhood. This family, Bailey by name, were looking for a location out more on the border, intending to remain in my neighborhood until spring, and in the spring look up a location farther to the southward. Very few of the people could read or write, so it was one of my duties to do the reading and to a great extent the correspondence of the neighborhood.
Congressmen from Kentucky and Missouri sent their speeches to their old neighbors and supporters living then in Oregon, and whenever a speech was received I was called upon and informed that by the next Sunday they would expect me at their places to read it for them, and I accommodated them with pleasure. Sitting around on the fence about the cabin would be a group of fifteen or twenty men and sometimes half that number of women, if the day was pleasant, while the speech was read. Of course I was not at all backward in making as much display of my ability as possible, as, being the teacher, I was expected to accomplish the speech with honor to myself and the district.
Ike Bailey was a very remarkable man. Long and gaunt, with a chew of tobacco in his mouth, he would comment from time to time upon the speech; and so enthused did he become at the end of a speech of a Kentuckian by the name of Jones, whom he knew when a boy, that he declared that, although Jones was a "peart" man, the teacher had read the speech better than Jones could speak it, and said that the teacher would surely go to Congress.
On the election day to which reference has been made, partly perhaps through the influence of Bailey, and partly through the friendship and support of "Doc" Richardson, I was called upon to get upon the platform, which was a farm wagon, and run for representative to the legislature, two members of which were to be elected. It was conceded that J. C. Avery, the present representative, would be reelected. Immediately after this was over they took me on their shoulders and carried me into the log school house, and polls were declared open. In an hour and a half 141 votes of the county were in, and it being announced that there were three who were not to be present because they could not leave their homes, the polls were declared closed, and after counting the votes, it was found that Avery and myself were elected.
CHAPTER III.Marysville was now an incorporated city and the county seat. The long-looked-for donation act had passed, and the people were happy. A Fourth of July celebration was projected, and most enthusiastically taken up by the citizens, whose numbers had greatly increased, many new buildings being in course of construction. The settlers of the surrounding country joined in the festivities. A bullock was roasted whole, and a great feast was spread. The Declaration of Independence was read by A. G. Hovey, and the writer delivered the oration. The day was very generally observed through the valley. Some of the older towns, as Champoeg, Oregon City and Salem, indicated by the toasts that were proposed the rivalry existing among them. I recall that Dr. Newell, an old and prominent citizen of Champoeg, gave the following:
"Champoeg for beauty, Salem for pride; If it hadn't been for salmon, Oregon City would have died."
But a small area was sown in wheat in this part of Oregon at this time. Every farmer had a few acres. Ownby having forty acres, which was much larger than most of the farmers had, as wheat was worth but seventy-five cents a bushel, and harvest hands were four dollars per day and difficult to obtain at that, as many of the men were still in California digging gold. Small as the acreage was, much of the wheat was left uncut, except what could be cut with one's own help. Ownby offered his son John and myself half of the crop if we could cut it and thresh it, which we undertook to do. There was no harvesting machinery, except hand cradles, with which a man could cut two or three acres a day. Ownby furnished us a truck (an improvised wagon), and horses, and younger boys to haul the grain to a dumping ground in the corner of the field. A circular corral was built, and a band of horses were driven in and threshed out the grain by tramping on it. It was cleaned by carrying it up ten or twelve feet onto a raised platform and letting it fall onto blankets on the ground, being winnowed by the sea breeze, which at this time of the year could be relied upon every afternoon. This was quite different from the mode in vogue in our day, and I give this instance that the reader may learn that farm machinery for harvesting and for threshing was unknown in those days in Oregon, and, however important it is regarded now, was not actually needed. The wheat yielded about forty bushels to the acre, and we made good wages in the transaction.
The legislature met on the first Monday of December, a decided majority of the members going to Salem, the new capital, and holding the session. One member of the council, however, from north of the Columbia River, and two members of the house from that section, joined by two from the south side of the river, met at Oregon City, and the governor and secretary being there, and the court having held that was the proper location, they met and adjourned from day to day, and adjourned finally. They were provided with stationery and other conveniences and paid their per diem, while those at Salem were not provided with any place to meet nor anything for incidental expenses. The citizens of Salem, however, furnished whatever was required, giving them the old Methodist Institute in which to hold their sessions.
Samuel Parker, joint senator from Marion and Clackamas counties, was made president of the council, and seven other councilmen were with him. He was a native of Virginia, and had had large experience in frontier life in legislative matters, having been an early settler in the territory of Iowa, was a member of the convention which framed the constitution for that state, and made a very good presiding officer. When a point of order was raised by any member of the council, he would proceed to decide the same by stating that the "cheer [chair] are of opinion that the p'int of order is well taken," or is not well taken, as the case might be. Notwithstanding this peculiar wording of his decisions, they were generally considered to be right.
William M. King, a resident of Portland, then in Washington County, and a native of St. Lawrence County, in northern New York, was speaker of the house. He was a good parliamentarian and also a man of education, and his language was quite in contrast with that of the president of the council.
There were other members of both the council and the house who afterwards became conspicuous in the territory and state of Oregon. M. P. Deady, from Yamhill County, was a member of the council. He afterwards became United States Judge of the territory, and when the territory became a state, in 1859, he was made United States District Judge for Oregon, and held the office until he died, a few years ago. John A. Anderson, a native Kentuckian, represented Clatsop County in the house. He was a bright and affable young man, and when the Civil War broke out went into the Confederate service. Ben Harding, who was afterwards United States Senator, was clerk of the house. Dr. J. W. Drew was there from Umpqua County, now a part of Douglas County, and was a very efficient and prominent member. George L. Curry, from Clackamas County, was afterwards territorial governor. Quite a number of others were for a long time prominent in various positions in the territory and afterwards state.
Thurston County was formed during this session of the legislature. Colonel Mike Simmons, who lived at Tumwater, representing the people of that locality, wished Olympia made the county seat, while J. B. Chapman, a lawyer living at Steilacoom, desired that town to be made the county seat. The committee on counties sided with Chapman, but Simmons, being a popular man, a good mixer and an old pioneer at that time, succeeded in winning the fight. The next legislature formed Pierce County and made Steilacoom its county seat.
I went to this legislature with the firm determination to do all the good in my power for the territory, but, contrary to my expectations, while there were some others who felt the same way, perhaps the majority of the legislature, the control passed largely into the hands of members who were there for the purpose of promoting their individual interests. They had ferry charters to look after for themselves and their friends, and county seats to locate, and one had a wagon road project across the Cascade Mountains, and they combined and assisted each other in what was called "log rolling," forming a very formidable party, which some of us designated as the "local interest" party.
Asahel Bush, the publisher of the Oregon Statesman, located at Oregon City, moved a printing office to Salem and did the printing for the legislature, leaving his paper at Oregon City, the former capital, until the location question should be finally settled. His paper was the mouthpiece of the legislature, which Governor Gaines and the other federal officials designated as revolutionary. The Oregonian, published and edited by Thomas J. Dryer at Portland, was the organ of the federal officials, being a Whig paper. The war of words between these two organs was bitter and quite acrimonious.
Judge Pratt, the Democrat member of the supreme court, came by invitation to Salem and read to the legislature a dissenting opinion, which, he being a learned man, was calculated to strengthen the position of the members at Salem in their acting in contempt of the decision of the supreme court. A memorial to Congress, setting forth our position in the matter and asking the action of Congress, was passed, and, it being supported by our delegate, General Lane, an act of Congress was passed confirming the location of the capital at Salem.
The hotel accommodations were very limited at Salem, and members of the legislature had to secure places to stop at private houses. John Anderson and myself were very fortunate in securing a room jointly and board at the home of Dr. Belt, father of Judge George W. Belt. We were probably more readily received and accommodated because of the fact that Dr. Belt was a native Kentuckian, as was also my associate, Anderson.
On the following June, 1852, the issue on which the people were divided was for and against the actions of the two legislatures, in which the voters sustained the so-called revolutionary party, after Congress had affirmed the act of the legislature, and the governor and secretary and the judges of the supreme court moved their offices to Salem. Governor Gaines issued a proclamation convening the legislature in August, for the purpose, as he said, of enacting laws at the now proper place, claiming that those passed before the action of Congress in the matter were invalid. The legislature met at Salem, and after three days session adjourned sine die, affirming that no legislation was necessary until the regular session in December.
At this special session M. P. Deady was elected president of the council, and Ben Harding speaker of the house, and when the December session convened they continued in those positions respectively.
While the Democrats were in a decided majority, Whigs having been elected from Washington County, and Democrats who had sustained the governor, from Clackamas County, in which was located Oregon City, there was passed a resolution in the Democratic caucus setting forth that, "Whereas, the legislature had been convened by order of one John P. Gaines," a minority of the Democrats dissented from the wording, although agreeing to what followed in the resolution, and it failed to pass until in place of the phrase "one John P. Gaines" there was substituted "His Excellency, John P. Gaines," and in that shape it passed.
Having come in from the mines in Jackson County to attend the special session, and having returned there in the interests that I was pursuing in that locality, I again came back to the Willamette Valley, arriving at Salem on the first day of the regular session commencing in December.
Colonel I. N. Ebey, from Island County, on the north side of the Columbia River, and F. A. Chenoweth, from Clarke County, desired to pass a memorial to Congress for the division of the territory. Accordingly a committee of three was appointed, consisting of those two, being the entire number of members from the north side of the Columbia River, and myself, from the south side. A memorial was drawn up and passed in accordance with the desires of the people on the north side of the Columbia River as represented by them, making the present boundary line between Oregon and Washington the dividing line between the two territories, and asking that the new territory be called Columbia. General Lane, favoring the petition, succeeded in getting through Congress an act granting the prayer of the memorialists in all except the name, which was changed to Washington.
Pierce having been elected President, Democrats were appointed to fill the various offices in the territory of Oregon, among whom was George H. Williams, supreme court judge, who, having previously been on the bench in Iowa, was a man of experience and ability. He was afterwards United States senator from Oregon and also attorney general under President Grant. General Lane was again commissioned as governor, but he decided instead of accepting to run again for delegate, and so, keeping, it is said, his commission in his pocket, without disclosing it to the public, he was elected delegate in June, 1853. George L. Curry was appointed secretary of the territory of Oregon, J. W. Davis of Indiana was appointed governor, and General Joel Palmer was appointed superintendent of Indian affairs.
Among the best known characters of Oregon whom I met at Salem during the session of the supreme court was United States Marshal Joe Meek, an early settler of Oregon. When Polk was President he went to Washington and did good service in securing the passage of the act organizing the territorial government. He was a tall, fine-looking man as one would meet in many a long day, and as there were many anecdotes connected with his name, he excited in me much interest. He was a cousin of President Polk, from whom he received his appointment as marshal, and he told me many interesting stories of his trip to Washington, and his visits to "Cousin Jeems" in the White House. He said that he arrived at Willard's Hotel in a buckskin suit and moccasins, and asked the clerk for accommodations. When he was handed a pen with which to register he pretended not to be able to write, and asked the clerk to register for him, saying:
"I am Joseph L. Meek, Minister Plenipotentiary and Envoy Extraordinary from all Oregon to the United States of America."
At the first session of the court Meek had no funds, and jurors and witnesses coming to subsequent terms were clamorous for their fees, but he was compelled to put them off. Hearing that he had received some $15,000, they called his attention to the fact, and demanded their money. He replied, "Oh, that is 'bar'ly' enough for the officers."
He was fond of entertaining the judges, lawyers and visitors from the East with stories of years gone by when Oregon was in its infancy. He said that he came to Oregon when Mt. Hood was a hole in the ground. He delighted to tell jokes on himself. He said he once took a party of volunteers out in the Burnt River country, in Eastern Oregon, to protect incoming immigrants, and that his soldiers suddenly met a body of Indians. They had just crossed a river, but they decided to cross back again, and they did so without any orders. His mount was a bucking mule that would budge for neither whip nor spur, and in consequence he was left alone while his comrades were making off down the river for a ford. He called out to them lustily, "Come back and fight the Indians, there's not more than a dozen of 'em. We can whip 'em," but they proceeded to go up the opposite river bank in full retreat. Suddenly an arrow struck his mule, which forthwith plunged down the river bank, forded the stream, and struck the trail far ahead of his companions, who were looking back to find him. Shouting, "Come on, boys, you can't whip them; there's more than a thousand of them," he led the way to the rear.
He was as brave a man as ever lived, but like all successful Indian fighters, he was wary and cautious. The boys apologized for having left him, but he had to tell them that it was his mule and not he who made the stand, pleading with them not to inform on him when he reached the valley.
The summer of 1852 brought a large immigration into the territory. The winter following was very severe. The raising of wheat had been neglected since the discovery of gold in California, farm hands being impossible to find, even at high wages. Wheat became so scarce that flour was imported from Chile, and sold at $16 a cwt., while seed wheat brought $4 or $5 a bushel.
CHAPTER IV.Soon after the adjournment of the legislature I went out to Jackson County, and was told many hard times tales of the hard winter now happily over. Provisions of all kinds had been scarce. To obtain flour was out of the question. Snow covered the ground everywhere. Salt and salt meats there was none. "Venison straight," as they termed it, only was plentiful. The crust on the snow would bear up a man, but the sharp feet of the deer would cut through it, impeding their progress to such an extent that they could not escape their pursuers, and were overtaken and killed by footmen with axes. This condition was fortunate for the miners, as they had no ammunition with which to shoot them, and venison without salt or bread or bacon or beans was in most instances their only food for several weeks. Just as I arrived at Jacksonville one muleload of salt arrived. It came from Scottsburg, most of the way through snow, a path being broken by the owner, Dr. Fisk, the mule following behind. Before reaching town Dan Kinney, partner of the Jacksonville house of Kenney & Appler, rode out of town and bought the load, at $8 per pound. There being 250 pounds of it, the packer was well paid for his hard trip of 150 or more miles. Hearing of this, the miners and citizens of Jacksonville held a meeting and passed a resolution, in other words a law, "regulating" the price of salt. It was decided that the merchant should be requested to sell this salt, in quantities of not more than one pound to each person, and at a price not exceeding one ounce of gold ($16) per pound. It is needless to say that no appeal from this action was taken. The men stood in line as at a post office, and handed their dust to one of the partners to be weighed, and the other partner weighed out the salt and handed it to the purchaser. In many instances three or four persons would club together, and as soon as the salt was obtained they would reach out their hands for a portion of it and eat it as a child would sugar. Persons who have never tried a diet without salt, and not having any kind of food containing it, could hardly realize the situation of these people. Tobacco was very scarce for a time, yet the price of it was only $14 per pound.
[This chapter was printed in the Sunday Oregonian of February 3, 1901, page 23.]
Early in May I returned to Marysville. Meantime General Lane had been nominated by the Democrats for Congress and A. A. Skinner, at that time Indian Agent to the Rogue River Indians, had been brought out by petition to run against him. That canvass was not political, but personal and sectional, as carried on by many of the supporters of each candidate. The principals, however, maintained throughout the campaign a gentlemanly bearing toward each other, and the amenities of civilized people were not ignored. I am tempted to write of the asperities of this contest, and of the continuance of this style for years, but I forbear. Elsewhere in other states any coarse vituperative expression appearing in public print was referred to as the "Oregon style," which phrase, happily for the good name of Oregon, has long since been discarded and passed out of use as a distinctive appellation of Oregon journalism. Lane was elected, having received about 1600 majority out of a total of about 7500.
On the morning of the first Sunday in June, 1853, Major James A. Lupton and myself, while on our way to Jacksonville, via the Table Rock trail, leading over the mountains from Umpqua Valley, with a drove of hogs which we were taking to the Rogue River Valley to feed on camas, the feed for hogs at that season of the year--we were also looking for a place to cut hay--and having camped the night before on Trail Creek, a tributary of Rogue River, rode into an Indian ambush on the north side of the river, a short distance above Thompson's Ferry. We had taken a trail leading to the river about two or three miles above the ferry, instead of the right one leading direct to it. On entering a clump of willows on the river's bank we found ourselves confronted by a band of about 40 Indians in war paint, armed in part with guns and pistols, others having bows and arrows, which in close quarters are more effective weapons in a fight than the guns used at that time.
Major Lupton, as he was generally called, was not an army officer, but came to Oregon in 1849 as wagon master for the rifle regiment. He was at that time engaged in the business of packing. We were partners, and a more honorable, upright and energetic man it has never been my fortune to know. He was brave to rashness. He was just ahead of me on the trail, and as he halted I noticed he reached for his pistol in the holster of his saddle. I spurred my horse to his side, and putting my hand on his arm told him not to shoot, immediately addressing the chief, who was standing in front of us a few paces off, in Chinook, asking him what was the matter, and how far it was to the ferry. This, of course, after saying to him, "How do you do?"
To none of these inquiries did he reply, but stood sullen and motionless. Lupton still held his revolver in hand, ready for action, but not raising it, awaiting the outcome of my talk with the chief, who proved to be "Cutface Jack," chief of a wild band of upper Rogue River Indians. Knowing enough of Indians to feel certain that they were lying in wait for a larger party than two persons, and having heard that a raid was contemplated by a company of white men to their country to rescue a white woman who was supposed to be held a prisoner among them, I immediately decided that the proper thing to do was to assume that it was that party, not us, they desired to intercept.
I kept close watch of the chief as he proceeded to question me in turn, knowing it was of the utmost importance to understand every word he uttered, as well as to make him understand me, which was a task not easily performed, as neither of us were proficient linguists in the Chinook jargon. He asked who we were, what we wanted, and where we were going. I told him we were from the Willamette Valley, had come across the mountains the day before, and had camped for the night a few miles back, giving him the exact spot, which I divined that he well knew, as I did not think that we could approach so near a party of hostile Indians without their knowledge. He was satisfied with my answers, and immediately came forward and gave me his hand to shake. He did not offer it to the Major, as he regarded me as chief, for I had done the talking. This was well, as the Major told me afterwards that he would have refused it, as he expected at any moment to have use for his right hand in handling his pistol. Upon a sign made by the chief, the warriors all disappeared into the bushes, and we passed on to the ferry without further molestation.
My companion, irritated by the occurrence, proposed going back and taking a few shots at them, as he said, just to teach them better than to interfere with white men. When we arrived at the ferry, Thompson informed us that ''Cutface Jack" and his party were looking for a company of volunteers under Captain Lamerick, who a couple of days before had captured four of their party, and while holding them prisoners as hostages for the release of the supposed white woman, who was believed to be held a prisoner by their tribe, two of them in trying to escape in the night had been shot and killed, the other two escaping to the Indian camp with the news. "Cutface Jack" had rallied his band of warriors and was on the warpath, and he was trying to intercept Lamerick's party on their return from their trip up the river. Instead of this, he informed us, they had returned to Jacksonville by a more southerly route, and thus had eluded the ambush of "Cutface Jack" which we fell into.
We arranged with Thompson to send a man with some trusty Indians back to move our camp to his ferry. As he had a squaw for a wife, and was on good terms with the Indians, we felt that the camp would be safe under his care.
The next day was election day, Jacksonville polling a very large vote. I had cut and stacked a lot of hay and built a cabin across Bear Creek from Jacksonville, about 12 miles distant, in what was conceded to be exclusively Indian country, as no settlers had located across the creek in that vicinity. Lupton had gone on the plains to buy cattle from the immigrants, and after I had completed the preparations he desired me to make, I started on horseback for Marysville, on what was to me most important business, seeing the person who later became the partner of my life.
On arriving at Patrick's ranch, some eight or nine miles north of Jacksonville, I found him gathering up his horses to start for the Willamette Valley, as he had just heard that Thomas Wills, a merchant of Jacksonville, had been killed by the Indians, and as he intended going soon after supplies, he thought it prudent to go at once. After feeding my horse and eating dinner, we started and made Rock Creek, then Dr. Rose's ranch, at night.
Early the following morning we started on, and arriving at Grave Creek, found the people "forted up." They urged us to remain, saying that the Indians were uneasy, and had done some stealing, and they feared trouble. We, however, were deaf to their entreaties, and moving rapidly on to the crossing of Cow Creek, some 10 miles distant, we found the cabin on the north side of the creek burned down, and discovered parts of the bodies of two men still burning in the ashes. We pushed on up the creek about four miles, and found the people "forted up" as at Grave Creek. We were again urged to stop and remain with them.
Making camp and cooking a meal, we seriously considered the situation. Large numbers of Indians were on the hills to the left of our road, yelling and howling like demons, and loudly calling out, and daring the whites to come up and fight them, generally talking Chinook, but some of them using broken English. We were but a short distance from Hardy Elliff's at the south end of the canyon. Fearing the loss of his horses if we remained, Patrick was anxious to go on. I was equally, perhaps more, anxious than he. We started about sundown. I was mounted on a strong, spirited horse, and, taking the bell from the bell mare, put it on him, and started ahead. Patrick, mounting his fastest horse, brought up the rear. On seeing us start the Indians started in the same direction we were going, expecting, no doubt, that they would be able to head us off by the time we reached the divide in the canyon, which was about three miles distant from the south end. Many of the Indians were on foot, some were mounted on ponies, but we were confident that we could beat them to the divide, as our path was free from brush and good, while theirs was through the brush. We made as fast time as good, strong horses could carry us, the loose horses following closely after the bell.
On reaching the summit we felt sure that we had beaten them, but, as it was dark in the timber, were not certain. Going down the steep and tortuous trail to the bed of the creek, in which now lay our way, we followed it for two miles. It was walled in by perpendicular bluffs on both sides. The ride was a rough one, as the creek was filled with boulders, many of them of considerable size. I called out to Patrick, and he answered, "All right" At this moment the Indians had arrived at the summit and set up a hair-lifting yell of rage and disappointment. We lost no time, but pushed on at full speed, and emerged from the creek. The road there crosses it 68 times, the crossings being usually made on a walk, but we slackened not our pace, and came out at the north end of the canyon (Canyonville) and warned the settlers, who until now knew nothing of the outbreak. They hastily "forted up" and put out a strong guard up the canyon.
Shortly after reaching Marysville, the news came of a general outbreak. The first man through after us brought news of the killing of John R. Hardin, Dr. Rose and others. Hardin and Rose we knew well, and had seen them just before, having said goodbye to Hardin at Patrick's ranch, and having stopped with Rose our first night out. Before reaching Roseburg, I met James Kyle, a partner of Wills, with his pack train of goods from Scottsburg. Learning of his partner's death, he at once gave orders to his train men where to camp with the train and remain until further orders. He immediately started for Jacksonville, but was shot and killed by an Indian in ambush on Rogue River, about 20 miles before reaching his destination.
I borrowed a good rifle of B. R. Biddle, and, having supplied myself with ammunition, retraced my steps toward the scene of hostilities, packing one horse lightly and riding another. On arriving at Myrtle Creek, three or four well-armed young men accompanied me. We arrived at Grave Creek the first night the news that an armistice with the Indians had been made reached there. The next day I went on to headquarters at Thompson's Ferry, and reported to General Lane, who at the time of my arrival was lying down with his arm in a sling, having received a wound in his right shoulder during the battle at Evans Creek with Indians.
As there were rumors among the volunteers that some of them were not standing by the armistice they had agreed to with the Indians, General Lane requested me to go among the camps and see what I could learn. Many new companies had arrived since the battle of Evans Creek, and they, having had no part in it, were "spoiling for a fight" and chaffed those who were in the fight for agreeing to an armistice, and declaring they would not abide by the agreement. This sentiment seemed to predominate. I reported to General Lane the information I had gathered. He called the volunteers together and gave them a strong talk, couched in the plainest English. He told them that the armistice had been agreed to on the part of the volunteers by their united vote, distinctly stating that he had exercised no influence in bringing about the decision, but that he would see that it was carried out in good faith, and that if others deserted him, he knew that his own, Douglas County company, and the regulars--Captain A. J. Smith with his dragoons--would stand by him, and that all honest men among all the companies would be found arrayed on his side.
There never was a mutinous set of soldiers so completely silenced and squelched. The sight of that gray-haired commander, with one arm in a sling, still painful from the wound of a bullet, with courage, not only sufficient to fight a savage foe, but also sufficient to meet boldly and resolutely an attempt to sully the character of his own command, was an inspiring spectacle.
Supposing that my cabin and haystacks were burned, and the hogs that were left there to feed upon the Indian camas had been killed or run off, as there had been destruction of property all over the valley, I was greatly surprised on being accosted by the little chief near my camp, who informed me that I would find everything safe. Thereupon I rode on to the camp, a distance of about eight miles, and found the Indian's information was correct. I returned to headquarters, and, as there were grave doubts whether or not a treaty would be made with the Indians, I asked General Lane's advice. He told me to move the stock. I thereupon did so. A treaty was made and peace prevailed until 1855, when a general outbreak occurred.
A description of what occurred at the making of the treaty is given by Senator Nesmith, then Captain Nesmith, as follows:
"Early in the morning of the 10th of September, 1853, we mounted our horses and set out for the Indian encampment. Our party consisted of the following named persons: General Joseph Lane, Joel Palmer, Superintendent of Indian Affairs; Samuel H. Culver, Indian Agent; Captain A. J. Smith, First Dragoons; Captain L. F. Mosher, Adjutant; Colonel John E. Ross, Captain J. W. Nesmith, Lieutenant A. V. Kautz, R. B. Metcalfe, J. D. Mason and T. T. Tierney. After riding a couple of miles across the level valley, we came to the foot of the mountain, where it was too steep for horses to ascend. We dismounted and hitched our horses, and scrambled up for half a mile over huge rocks and through brush, when we found ourselves in the Indian stronghold, just under the perpendicular cliff of Table Rock, surrounded by seven hundred fierce and hostile savages, arrayed in all their gorgeous war paint and feathers.
"Captain Smith had drawn out his company of dragoons and left them in line on the plain below. It was a bright, beautiful morning, and the Rogue River Valley lay like a panorama at our feet. The exact line of dragoons, sitting statue-like upon their horses, with their white belts and burnished scabbards and carbines, looked like they were engraven upon a picture, while a few paces in our rear the huge, perpendicular wall of Table Rock towered frowningly many hundred feet above us.
"The business of the treaty commenced at once. Long speeches were made by General Lane and Superintendent Palmer, which had to be translated twice. When an Indian spoke the Rogue River tongue it was translated by an Indian interpreter into Chinook, or jargon, to me, when I translated it into English. When Lane or Palmer spoke the process was reversed, I giving the speech to the interpreter in Chinook, and he translating it to the Indians in their own tongue. This double translation of long speeches made the labor tedious, and it was not until late in the afternoon that the treaty was completed and signed.
"In the meantime an episode occurred which came near terminating the treaty, as well as the representation of one of the 'high contracting' parties, in a sudden and tragic manner. About the middle of the afternoon a young Indian came running into camp stark naked, with the perspiration streaming from every pore. He made a brief harangue and threw himself upon the ground apparently exhausted. His speech had created a great tumult among his tribe. General Lane told me to inquire of the Indian interpreter the cause of the commotion. The Indian responded that a company of white men down on Applegate Creek, under command of Captain Owens, had that morning captured an Indian known as Jim Taylor, tied him to a tree and shot him to death. The hubbub and confusion among the Indians at once became intense, and murder glared from each savage visage. The Indian interpreter told me that the Indians were threatening to tie us up to trees and serve us as Owens' men had served Jim Taylor. I saw some Indians gathering up lasso ropes, while others drew the skin covers from their guns and the wiping sticks from the muzzles. There appeared to be a strong probability of our party being subjected to a sudden volley. I explained as briefly as I could what the interpreter had communicated to me; and, in order to keep our people from huddling together and thus making a better target for the savages, I used a few English words not likely to be understood by the Indian interpreter, such as 'disperse' and 'segregate.' In fact, we kept so close to the savages and separated from one another, that any general firing must have been nearly as fatal to the Indians as to the whites. While I admit I thought my time had come, and hurriedly thought of wife and children, I noticed nothing but coolness among my companions. General Lane sat on a log with his arm bandaged in a sling, the lines about his mouth rigidly compressing his lips, while his eyes flashed fire. He asked brief questions and gave me sententious answers to what little the Indians said to us. Captain A. J. Smith, who was prematurely gray haired, and was affected with a nervous snapping of the eyes, leaned upon his cavalry saber and looked anxiously down upon his well-formed line of dragoons in the valley below. His eyes snapped more vigorously than usual, while muttered words escaped from under the old dragoon's white mustache that did not sound like prayers. His squadron looked beautiful, but alas! they could render us no service. I sat down on a log close to old Chief Joe, and having a sharp hunting knife under my undershirt, kept one hand near its handle, determined that there would be one Indian made 'good' about the time the firing commenced.
"In a few moments General Lane stood up and commenced to speak slowly, but very distinctly. He said: 'Owens, who has violated the armistice and has killed Jim Taylor, is a bad man. He is not one of my soldiers. When I catch him he shall be punished. I promised in good faith to come into your camp with ten other unarmed men to secure peace. Myself and men are placed in your power. I do not believe that you are such cowardly dogs as to take advantage of our unarmed condition. I know that you have the power to murder us, and can do so as quickly as you please, but what good will our blood do you? Our murder will exasperate our friends, and your tribe will be hunted from the face of the earth. Let us proceed with the treaty, and, in place of war, have a lasting peace.' Much more was said in this strain by the General, all rather defiant, but nothing of a begging character. The excitement gradually subsided after Lane had promised to give a fair compensation for the defunct Jim Taylor, in shirts and blankets.
"As General Lane and party rode back across the valley, we looked up and saw the rays of the setting sun gilding the summit of Table Rock. I drew a long breath and remarked to the old General that the next time he wanted to go unarmed into a hostile camp he must hunt up someone besides myself to act as interpreter. With a benignant smile he responded, 'God bless you, luck is better than science.' "
Lupton came in from the plains with a lot of stock and was surprised to find even the arrangements at the camp were not disturbed. Half a dozen pack covers, half a dozen lash ropes, a hatchet and some nails were taken, but were brought back by order of little Chief John. When locating on the place I made a treaty with this Indian, paying him for the use of the land from which to cut hay and for the stock to range, naming specifically that the hogs were to have right to camas and acorns. The hay was hauled to Jacksonville the following summer and sold, as the winter was mild and it was not needed for the stock.
Lupton later became sole owner of this property, and, after living there two years, was killed by the Indians in a battle at the mouth of Butte Creek. He was leading a company of volunteers, and while charging in the brush was pierced through the body by an arrow from an Indian bow. The Indian was lying on his back and sprang his bow with his feet--a very effectual way, as great force can thus be given to the bow to speed the arrow.
At the treaty the facts about the white woman were ascertained from the Indians, which were as follows: During a war between the Rogue River and Umpqua tribes the latter had captured some prisoners. Among them was a young squaw, whom the Umpquas sold to one Ben Allen, a white man, who was a courier riding between the Hudson Bay posts of Vancouver and Umpqua. He made her his wife, and took her to Vancouver. While making a trip through the Rogue River Valley with this squaw and her child she, finding herself in her native country, escaped to her people and remained with them, so that, instead of there being a white woman and half-breed child, the fact was that it was an Indian woman and a half-breed child, living among her own people. Several raids had been projected for the purpose of rescuing a white woman, held prisoner among the Indians, one of whom, it was said, compelled her to become his wife and slave. Much valorous talk had, from time to time, been indulged in by the young white braves. Many other myths were explained, and a better understanding was had between the red and white races.
A true history of the difficulties would disclose the fact that most of them could have been avoided. The first knowledge Indians obtain of white men with whom they come in contact is not calculated to inspire them with much respect for, or confidence in, the white race. Better people, bringing families with them, came among them later, but the Indian judgment is made up, and it is hard to eradicate their first impressions. They change the statement that "all men are liars" by inserting the word white, but further acquaintance causes them to qualify this view, so as to admit that some white men tell the truth, and when they find such an one they trust him implicitly, and will take his word for any amount. In contrast with our management of Indians, instance the success of the Hudson Bay Company's management.
CHAPTER V.In the autumn of 1854, while on a business trip to Southern Oregon, I was overtaken by ex-Judge Pratt, on his way to Jacksonville to get acquainted with the people, as he intended to become a candidate before the Democratic convention to be held in the following spring to nominate a delegate to Congress. As I was for Lane and knew pretty well how he stood in the estimation of the people in the southern counties, I ventured to suggest to him that he would encounter much opposition in that section. He, however, nothing daunted, believed that he could readily overcome it. He was a man of rare qualities, a good lawyer and a learned judge. He was very proud and dignified, a fine talker and a very entertaining man. He was readily the peer of the foremost men of the territory, and by many regarded the superior of all. We stopped at the Robinson House, kept at that time by its proprietor, Dr. Robinson, who was a Whig. He treated his guests with great courtesy and much consideration, as his name was well known and he had been much in evidence in the papers of that day.
[This chapter was printed in the Sunday Oregonian of February 10, 1901, page 22.]
I left the judge with the host, with the request that he introduce him to persons who might come into the hotel, which he promised to do, and I went out to see some people on business. On returning to the hotel later, I found the judge busily engaged in "making his canvass." He stood before the bar, a thing he was never known to do before in Oregon. He was arrayed in a faultless suit, including a silk hat and a high shirt collar. In the parlance of the times, he wore a "stovepipe hat" and a "biled shirt with a stake-and-ridered collar." His boon companions were miners in their rough garb, ranged along the bar on both sides of him. The judge was a good talker, and he was giving them the best he had for the occasion, and they were listening with apparent interest. As soon as they caught his drift, however, they looked at each other knowingly, as they were ardent admirers of General Lane, having met him during the Indian war of the year previous. One tall miner reached down to his boot, drew out a long knife and took the silk hat off the judge's head, saying, "This stovepipe is too high by a j'int." Suiting the action to the word, he slashed it into two parts, and slapping the parts together, put it back on the judge's head. Pratt took this all in good part, and set up the drinks, which at this juncture was the only thing in order.
Pratt had long, curly hair, black and glossy. The miner's next performance was to cut off a lock, saying as he did so that it was the "puttiest ha'r he had ever seed," that he must have just one lock for a keepsake, and that he hoped no offense to him, as he loved him. With that he threw his arms around the judge and gave him a good hug. With a wonderful exhibition of good nature and tact, Pratt took it all pleasantly. This somewhat nonplussed the miner, and if he had any further designs upon his victim he evidently abandoned them, as he remarked, on putting away his knife, that he would not take off the top rail of his "stake-and-ridered" collar.
They bade each other good night, and parted, apparently the best of friends. The next morning I complimented the judge upon his successful entrance upon his canvass, and he seemed to be very well satisfied with the outcome of it. He had seen much of the world, but this was the first time he had seen this corner of it. He went over to Sterling the next day and then returned to the Willamette Valley.
He regarded himself as the leader of the Salem capital party, and it was generally conceded that without the aid he rendered in writing and reading his legal opinion before the legislature, its members might have gone to Oregon City and joined those there, and thus Salem would not have secured the capital.
Dryer, in the Oregonian, called those who adhered to Pratt's opinions "Durhamites," as it was told of Pratt that he bought a lot of scrub cattle of a man by the name of Durham and sold them at a fancy price for Durham cattle, claiming that they were of that stock. So all who shared his opinions were "Durhamites." His friends, however, claimed that the term "Durham cattle" was given to this band of cattle to distinguish them from other cattle he owned, and not for the purpose of deceiving. Pratt confidently expected the support of his former friends, and was very wroth when they deserted him. Many of them had supported Deady against Lane in 1853, and he could not see why he should not receive their support, and in addition that of numbers of others, on account of his well-known ability, which none disputed.
But several things had happened since 1853. The capital had, by act of the legislature, been removed to Corvallis. The Durhamites, now called the Salem Clique, were making a fight to render the removal abortive. The Treasury Department refused to pay any expenses incurred, or to be incurred, on account of that removal, and the Salem Clique could not, if it so desired, afford to break with Lane. Besides, Lane was so strongly entrenched that any effort in that line would have resulted in failure. Wisely, they concluded to support Lane, as they preferred a "sure winner" to an uncertainty, although in the person of a former idol.
The steamer arrived at Portland two days before the convention assembled at Salem, bringing Lane, and the day preceding the convention he and the delegates from the northern counties of the territory were on board of the steamboat Canemah, on their way to Salem. I was at the time captain, George Jerome was mate, George A. Pease, pilot; Theodore Wygant, purser; Sebastian Miller and William Cassedy, engineers; and Joseph Buchtel, steward. I mention these names particularly in this connection because these men, I believe, are at this time all alive and in fair health, except Jerome, who died several years ago, and Theodore Wygant, who died recently. A remarkable thing, I think, when we reflect that they were all experienced men in their respective positions at that time, except myself, who was a novice in steamboating. We were late in leaving Oregon City that morning, as we had to wait for the arrival of the boat from Portland, having on board General Lane and many of our passengers. Some miles out from our starting point, while running under a full head of steam, a woman on the bank hailed us. The pilot asked me if I wanted to land for her. I replied, "Certainly," supposing she wanted to take passage with us, as we usually took all passengers we found along the river, but under the circumstances would not have made a landing for a man, unless he was a delegate to the convention. Upon approaching the bank she, holding out a letter, said she wanted us to take it to her sister in Salem. The mate was indignant and ordered the plank pulled in. I said, "Mate, take the lady's letter," in a tone all could hear. Upon hearing this she sang out, "Thank you, Captain; I know you are a gentleman." I took off my hat, and, bowing to her, said it would be one of the greatest pleasures of my life to comply with her request. The passengers thought it a good joke on the captain, thinking that I must feel chagrined at the incident, but Lane came to my assistance. Stepping forward in true military style and saluting me, he said that he had traveled up and down the Mississippi River a great many times, and that this was the most gallant act that he had ever had the honor to witness. So the tables were turned in my favor. But as a matter of fact, it was annoying, and in case of a man would have called for a thumping. I did not credit myself with having performed a very meritorious act, for had I known her object in stopping us I would not have ordered the landing. But I was "up against it," and did the only thing to do under the circumstances.
Dr. McLoughlin, who a few years previous was chief factor of the Hudson Bay Company, now owner of a flouring mill at Oregon City, was the principal purchaser of the wheat grown along the Willamette River and shipped from points between Salem and Oregon City, mostly raised on French Prairie. Besides turning the wheat over to the mill, he required me to report to him in person on the evening of my arrival, which was at least twice a week.
Allen & McKinlay kept the old Hudson Bay store, with which Dr. McLoughlin was connected. On the evening of my first arrival with wheat, at eight o'clock, I went to the store, and McKinlay accompanied me to the doctor's home across the street. After politely receiving us, he turned a goblet one-third full of Jamaica rum, into another one-half that quantity, and into another one-half of that, then filling the glasses with two parts water to one of rum, he handed the smallest quantity to me, the next to McKinlay, the largest he appropriated himself. We all slowly sipped it.
During the conversation which followed, he inquired about the different shippers along the river, who were mostly Frenchmen and half-breeds, and gave me verbal orders, as none others would have done, to give them about further shipments.
The second time I reported to him the rum and water was repeated. On the way to the store, after our call, I asked McKinlay for an explanation of the doctor's partiality with the drinks. McKinlay, a jolly Scotchman, laughed and said, "Well, Captain, he dealt that rum out medicinally and not for sociability. Being a man of ripe years, he took the most himself, me, being next in age, the second-sized dose, and you, being the youngest, the smallest dose. That's his way, but come over to the store and we will have a social drink." Which we did, sitting around the stove, that rainy winter night, spinning yarns until a late hour.
Pratt was defeated in convention. He felt very sore over it, and soon after left Oregon and permanently located in San Francisco, where he was several times elected judge, served in that capacity with honor to himself, and wore his stovepipe hat in peace.
Ex-Governor Gaines was nominated by the Whigs, but Lane was for the third time elected, after the most exciting campaign Oregon had yet had.
The legislature had removed the capital to Corvallis and adjourned to meet there in December, 1855. Now came another fight over the capital question. The Treasury Department at Washington decided that no money could be paid out on account of such removal, and that the capitol building at Salem was entitled to the funds appropriated for its construction, which was as yet incomplete. Members of the legislature elected in 1855 were considerably at sea as to their duty, but concluded to meet at the place of adjournment, Corvallis, and there determine the question as to whether they would remain there or adjourn to Salem, or (in other words) proceed to relocate the seat of government. A bill was introduced to provide for the relocation, but the adherents of Corvallis put up a strong fight to defeat the removal. Nat Lane, a son of General Lane, was much interested in Corvallis. He had his home there, and was engaged in the mercantile business, and when accosted for aid in bringing an influence to bear upon the legislature, declared that he could most certainly control one vote, and that he would guarantee to do so; they could put him down for that. He said that old man Hutson, from Douglas County, he knew would vote as he asked him to, if he could see him when he first arrived. He did not assert that he could do this on his own account, although he and Hutson were on very friendly terms, but said that he relied upon the strong attachment existing between Hutson and his father, whom, he averred, the old man almost worshiped, and would do anything to please him. All he would have to do, he said, would be to talk to him, and show him that all his property interests were in Corvallis, and the love borne for the father would induce him to vote to promote the interests of the son. So a lookout was kept on the incoming member from Douglas, and upon his arrival a meeting occurred at Nat's store, where several of us came by invitation, to meet his friend. Nat was most happy on the occasion, and opened the ball by telling the member from Douglas how much his father thought of him, how much it would please his father if he should learn of any favor bestowed upon any of the family, and telling him that his own interests were now at stake in the projected relocation and adjournment to Salem. The old man replied that he would do anything in the world for him on account of the old "Gineral," saying that he did not want to come to the legislature, or hold any office, but the old "Gineral" had told him he must come, and to please him he ran, and was elected. He said that before the old "Gineral" went to Washington he got on his horse and rode over to see him, and ask his advice, how to act and how to vote when he went to the legislature, saying that he had always had his advice about matters, and now, with this most important matter on hand, he, the "Gineral," was going off to Washington, and he would be lost, and not know what to do. He said: "You know, Nat, I believe in the old 'Gineral'; I paid close attention to what his words war, and he told me that he was sorry that he had to go and leave me in that way, but it couldn't be 'holped'; that I must do what I thought was right, and if anything came up on which side I didn't know how to vote to go and ask Bush, as he was a very safe man. So, Nat, I'll go and hunt up Bush and come back and let you know."
This was a knockout blow for Nat, as Bush was the man, of all others, he did not want this member to meet, as he was considered the most active leader of the Salem forces.
"Salem Clique" had been substituted for "Durhamites" by Dryer of the Oregonian, as before stated, when referring to the controlling element of the Democratic Party, which was all-powerful at this time. The "Salem Clique" won in this second capital fight.
As the Indian war in Eastern Washington was in progress at this time, the Indians near The Dalles, on the north side of the river, had commenced hostilities and had run off the settlers, including E. S. Joslyn, who was caring for a lot of cattle for me at White Salmon. I learned from him at Portland that they were now across the Simcoe Mountains, which were covered with deep snow, so that it would be comparatively safe for us to go and look after the stock, and, if possible, move them to the south side of the river, which was considered safer from Indian attacks. I accordingly joined him at Portland, and we landed from the steamer Mary at White Salmon on Christmas Eve. The weather turned very cold, a Cayuse or east wind prevailing. The Mary returned to the Cascades the next day, but the river froze and no more trips were made for a long time. We gathered up the cattle, and finding that they could not stand up on the slippery ice, we hauled on sand and made a trail across the river, but as soon as it was completed there came a strong Chinook or west wind and destroyed the ice so quickly that we had to abandon the undertaking, and barely had time to get to the south side of the river ourselves. I came on down to the Cascades, and made arrangements to have a scow taken up by the first steamer, when the river should be clear of ice. The scow was procured, and 26 head of cows I had sold to Jenkins & Benson, and a few head I had let Joslyn have, were crossed, but mine were left, and were run off by the Indians the following 6th day of March.
I stopped overnight with Colonel Ruckle, and as I could not cross the river on account of drifting ice, so as to take the trail on the north side, I took the south side. On the start my trip was hazardous, as I had to climb for some distance along the bluffs until I reached the house of a Mr. Levins, at which point a fishery was afterwards established. It took me a whole day to make this distance. The next morning I started out to make Sandy River, and to cross it, as there was no house on the east side of the river, which was occupied. I was told that I would reach Sandy at the delta, and could cross it where it was divided into two streams, and that no one lived near enough to come to my assistance, but that I could ford the stream easily. But I took a trail striking the stream higher up, where it was all together, i.e., about the delta, but, not knowing it, I waded into the stream and soon got into deep swift water, which I could not ford. On returning to the shore I discovered a canoe lying in the brush on the opposite bank. I sang out lustily, and was immediately answered, and kept on calling as I made rapid strides for the shore. A man came running rapidly, got into the canoe and poled with great haste to me, while I lost no time in donning my outside apparel, although it was soaking with cold water. The wind was blowing a gale downstream, and much thin ice, just forming, covered the water. I jumped into the canoe, but upon reaching the other shore I was so stiff with the cold that I was able to get out of the canoe only with the assistance of my rescuer. He then took hold of me and, making me go with all possible speed, took me to his cabin, in which there was a good bright fire. It was the home of Mr. Buxton and family. Giving me a warm suit of woolen underwear and a strong decoction of "hot stuff," containing cayenne pepper, No. 6, and perhaps other ingredients, and a cup of strong coffee, I was made sufficiently comfortable to eat my share of a good, well-cooked meal. I remained with them overnight. Mr. Buxton provided me with a saddle horse to ride to Portland, but it was found that I was so nearly paralyzed that I could not mount even with the assistance of Mr. Buxton and another man. So a yoke of steers was hitched to a cart, in which was put a lot of straw, and an all-day trip brought me to the east bank of the Willamette River. I paid the man who brought me, but neither Mr. Buxton nor his wife could be persuaded to take any pay for the great service they had rendered me. I have frequently thought of them, and of their kindness to a stranger, and felt that the world was much better for their having been here. At Mr. Buxton's I first learned of the burning of the capitol building at Salem, which occurred on the last day of the year, and I deeply regretted it, as it was said to have been the work of an incendiary, and, as a resident of Corvallis, I feared censure might turn toward her citizens. After returning to my home, I for a long time sought to ascertain if there were any reasons to believe that one of her people would have been likely to do such a thing, but was glad to learn that such suspicion was attached to none of her citizens, though the incident at this juncture was unfortunate. It was several days before I recovered sufficiently from the effects of this trip so that I could walk without a cane, or canes, as I was compelled to use two of them, and with such aid could walk only on an even surface. For years I felt the effects of this exposure, but after the lapse of 49 years, all indications of it have disappeared.
CHAPTER VI.The removal of the capital again to Salem did not seriously affect the prosperity of Corvallis. The Statesman, of course, went with it, which might have had some effect upon the reputation of the town abroad, but, as it was never in sympathy with the people of Corvallis, its loss was not a cause of regret to them.
The year of 1856 was an exciting one for Oregon and Washington. In addition to the war east of the mountains, and at the Cascades, and through the Sound country, war had again broken out in [October] 1855, Southern Oregon, and extended by the end of the year from the Canyon to California, reaching westward to the ocean. Hostilities appeared simultaneously at far distant points, indicating a general uprising of all the tribes of a vast region of country, leaving only the Willamette Valley entirely free from attack, as some parts of the Umpqua Valley were not unmolested. Many of the counties were called upon to send companies of volunteers to the seat of war in the south. A regiment for the south was raised in the southern counties of the Willamette and the Umpqua valleys. At that time the county of Umpqua comprised what is now the northern part of Douglas County, the dividing line being at Calapooia Creek. John Kelsey, of Benton County, was made Colonel, and W. W. Chapman, then of Umpqua County, Lieutenant Colonel. Corvallis was headquarters, having established there quartermaster and commissary offices in charge of assistants appointed by the head office at Salem.
Numerous supplies were purchased, not only general supplies for the troops, but individual volunteers were permitted to go into the stores under an arrangement with the quartermaster and get all kinds of clothing. The prices charged were usually about double the cash selling price, as it was understood that it would probably be a long time before payment would be made. It was another case of greenbacks, but a quartermaster's voucher instead of the greenback. The question was not, as later in the Civil War, "when will the war be over and the government able to redeem?" but "will the government ever pay?" When peace came, and the horses, mules and cattle on hand were ordered sold at public auction under notice to purchasers that persons holding vouchers could turn them in at par for their purchases, there were numerous bidders and prices ranged high. Cattle that were worth for cash $100 per yoke were sold as high as $250 per yoke, and afterwards, when the amounts allowed by the government were paid in cash, it was found that those who held their scrip fared about as well as those who sold, so that no injustice was done by the transaction.
The government decided to remove all the southern Indians to reservations, selected for the purpose, between the Coast Range of mountains and the ocean. Accordingly they were brought in and located on the Siletz Reservation, in the western part of Benton, now Lincoln County, and the Grand Ronde Reservation, lying to the north of Siletz, and the cause of further Indian wars removed, as after years of bitter experience it was found that a war of extermination would have been carried on for years if whites and Indians occupied the same territory. A large number of whites had lost their lives, either in war or by massacres in times of peace, and the Indians claimed that they were safer during a state of open war than at intervals of alleged peace. When Chief John was asked at the council why he went to war he replied, "To save the lives of my people," saying that he "lost more of his people in one year of peace than two years of war." The fact is the peace treaties were not fully observed on either side. They were doubtless made in good faith and controlled most of the whites and Indians, while there were some of both races who, in such a country, could not be held in check, and it was found necessary to separate the races and plant the military in such positions as to be easily reached by the agents in charge, so as to prevent the first attempt at outlawry on either side.
It was also found that an Indian agent had to possess qualities suited for the purpose. He had to have coolness and brains, and sufficient character to command the respect of the Indians, and the military had to be vigilant and see that white men were kept off the reservations.
In the year 1857 Captain Augur built Fort Hoskins, 14 miles west of Corvallis. Lieutenant Phil Sheridan was his quartermaster and commissary, who frequently came to Corvallis in pursuance of his duties. The supplies for the camp were shipped from Portland by boat to Corvallis. Sheridan made me agent to receive and care for them. Accordingly when he came for them he stopped at my store, frequently remaining overnight. He never would accept the offer of a bed, but preferred to sleep in the store on blankets spread on the counter. Later, however, I had it on the best authority that he became thoroughly cured of that camp life habit. General and Mrs. Sheridan years afterwards came to Portland and were given a reception by the Progress Club and many citizens had an opportunity of being presented to him and his accomplished wife.
In 1857 another paper was established at Corvallis, more in sympathy with the active sponsors of the town, and called the Occidental Messenger. L. P. Hall, from California, took charge as editor. It came out boldly for slavery in Oregon, and also advocated it as a vital principle of politics. It held slavery to be a cardinal Democratic principle in theory, as well as for the well-being of Oregon as an institution. A new line of thought was sprung upon the public, and as Republicans were few in numbers at that time, it addressed itself with emphasis to the Democratic Party, and demanded a solution. A majority of Democrats denied the claim made by the propagandists, and declared that neither slavery nor anti-slavery was a Democratic principle, and that each individual was free to vote according to his views, either for or against slavery, without affecting his standing in his party, and so resolved in their convention of 1857. At the election of that year Lane was again chosen delegate to Congress over George W. Lawson, an independent candidate. The delegates to the convention were elected at the same time the vote on the call for the convention was taken, which was decided by a majority of about 6000 out of less than 10,000 votes cast.
The convention met August 18, 1857. It was in session one month, and framed a constitution to be voted upon on the second Monday in November of that year. The boundary of the state conformed to that of the territory, except that portion of Idaho east of Oregon, which was struck off, and an effort was made to include that portion of Washington lying south of the Snake River, now forming Walla Walla, Columbia, Garfield and Asotin counties, but Governor Stevens, at this time the delegate to Congress from Washington, vigorously opposed it, so that the permission of Congress was not obtained. The eastern part of Oregon cut off was made a part of Washington Territory.
The questions of slavery and the admission of free negroes were to be decided by separate clauses. From the adjournment of the convention until the election much discussion was had upon the slavery clause. The Occidental Messenger warmly advocated the adoption of the slavery clause. The Statesman admitted articles from both sides, requiring correspondents to sign their names to their contributions in order to receive publication.
There were several arguments made through the press, but the most noticeable one I recall was from the pen of Judge George H. Williams, on the free state side of the question, which was considered at that time by the free state people as unanswerable, and gained him a great many friends; but later it proved somewhat in his way when a candidate before the legislature for the senate, as his anti-slavery views were objectionable to those favoring slavery. The slavery clause was defeated by a vote of more than three to one, and the free negro clause was defeated by a vote of about ten to one.
Among all the leaders of the Democratic Party I can now recall but two prominent ones who were for slavery--Nesmith, Grover, Harding, Bush, Delazon Smith, in addition to Williams, and numbers of others, all being free state men. In 1858 Grover was elected to the House of Representatives, and Lane and Smith were elected Senators. As the state was not admitted until February 14, 1859, Oregon's first representative to Congress served only 17 days, and one of its Senators, Smith, the same length of time, while Lane's term was two years and 17 days. A special session was called by the Governor to convene in May to elect a Senator in place of Smith, whose term had expired, but it adjourned without effecting an election, and thus was inaugurated a precedent that has been followed with much persistency since.
Owing to the divisions among Democrats, their candidate for Congress in 1859, Lansing Stout, was elected by a very narrow margin, and in the following year George K. Sheil was elected by a small majority. In both cases David Logan was the unsuccessful candidate.
In the year 1858 I moved to Portland, and in the year 1860 took some little part in politics there. Owing to the warring factions, it was evident that Democrats could hope to win only by uniting on some fair basis of cooperation. Judge Williams and A. C. Gibbs had moved there also about that time, and as Williams' views represented the views of those Democrats who voted for a free state, it was desired by them to elect him as one of the Senators at the next meeting of the legislature, and an effort was made to make up a ticket so as to include him as one of the Senators.
Accordingly, Mr. Gibbs was put on the ticket for one of the members of the legislature, and Benjamin Stark, who favored Lane, was the other nominee, and thus both factions were represented and the ticket was elected.
Before the legislature convened, however, the split at Charleston came, and two Democratic electoral tickets were in the field, and no further union of Democrats was possible. The legislature met, and while the Democrats had a decided majority, the factions could not be reconciled. Instead of this a coalition was made between the Douglas Democrats and the Republicans which resulted in the election of J. W. Nesmith for the long term and Colonel E. D. Baker for the short term. Nesmith was an old pioneer, had been an active member of the provisional government, had been Superintendent of Indian Affairs under the territorial government, and a Colonel during the Indian wars, and was a prominent Douglas Democrat; besides he had a personal following among the Republicans. Baker had come up from San Francisco in the spring and stumped the state for Logan for Congress. He was thoroughly well equipped for the position and was thought not to be very radical in politics, so that it was easier to make this combination than any other. He was a good stump speaker. It was told of him that, while making a speech at the courthouse in Lafayette, an ardent Democrat, possessing a very dark skin for a white man, after listening to Baker for some time, interrupted him and asked him if he was a black Republican. All Republicans were black Republicans in those days in the estimation of dyed-in-the-wool Democrats, with the accent on the black, as pronounced by them. Baker was a very white man, both his face and full head of hair being very white. His questioner was standing on a seat, so as to be plainly seen over the heads of the audience.
Baker looked over the audience at him and replied: "Since you have called up the question of color, and we both are in full view of this audience, I am willing to leave it for the audience to decide which of us is the blacker man of the two." His friends pulled the questioner down and hid him from sight instantly, and the entire audience, Democrats as well as Republicans, joined in uproarious laughter. While he was always polite and affable to an interrupter, it was found that it was a good thing to let Colonel Baker alone while speaking. Delazon Smith canvassed the state for Breckinridge and made a very strong fight. There was no one who could make a more forcible speech. He had an excellent voice, and was a finished orator, and possessed the faculty of stirring up his audience to the highest pitch, and there are many persons now living in Oregon who will tell you that they have never heard his equal in the political arena. He died soon after the close of the campaign, mourned by many, even those who did not endorse his politics. An attempt of an eulogy to Baker would be superfluous, as we all know how he fell, at the head of his command at Ball's Bluff, on the Potomac, soon after taking his seat in the Senate, in a manner honorable to himself and serviceable to his country.
In September, 1860, I moved my stock of goods from Portland to Walla Walla, and on the Saturday before the election in November returned to Portland to vote for Douglas, well knowing he had not a ghost of a show for an election. Many of his supporters, not wishing to lose their votes, as they termed it, and it being evident that the vote of Oregon would go to Lincoln or Breckinridge, dropped Douglas and voted for their preference as between the other candidates, and so Oregon cast her electoral votes for Lincoln, who led Breckinridge by a few votes.
As it is not the purpose of the writer to give a history of Oregon, but only the personal recollections that it is thought may be of interest to others, he has purposely left out much of interest that transpired outside of his observations; in fact, much that belongs to the general history of the country. These recollections are confined to the locality of the writer at the time, but all to Oregon, that is, old Oregon--the Oregon to which he came in the year 1850. It then embraced all the country between California and British Columbia, and the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, and contained 13,294 white people, according to the United States census of 1850, principally confined to the Willamette Valley, and many times that number of Indians. That Oregon now embraces Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and a very important part of Montana, all that portion lying west of the Rocky Mountains, in which is situated the most important mining camp on the globe, Butte, Montana, having a payroll much larger than any other mining town, and also quite an area of southwestern Wyoming. It has an aggregate population of about one and one-half million of people, and possesses, in view of its already ascertained resources, sufficient wealth for an empire as large as the one over which Kaiser William proudly reigns. Fifty years shows an increase of more than a hundredfold in population, and many times that in productive wealth. What then will another 50 years accomplish?
Men are living today in the strength of manhood who will live to see an empire in population and wealth embraced in the limits of the Oregon to which I came. Men here speak of the state of Washington as quite a different country, and Idaho and Montana as quite distant states, but to the old pioneer, and especially to me, they are all one--all parts of the old Oregon to which my heart is attached. New people from the East are heard speaking of Oregon somewhat sneeringly, as if they were an entirely different people. Let them be reminded that they are a part of one people, that they are joint inheritors of what was won by those hardy pioneers, who crossed the desert plains and scaled the rugged mountains, and thereby established the right of America to the rich heritage which they now enjoy, and which forms an integral and an important part of this great and glorious country of ours.
In this connection I wish to say that, in my judgment, no territory of the United States was ever settled by a people so well adapted to endure and overcome the hardships that beset the people of Oregon. And if those who came later, and those who are native to the soil of these states, do as well their part as the pioneers did theirs, it will be well for the states that compose the Oregon which the pioneers established.
Here is all honor to the pioneers! I am proud to be known as one of them, and have only pity for those who, coming in palace cars years later, therefore think they are for that reason superior to the pioneers who crossed the plains with ox teams, eating their "peck of dirt" perhaps many times over.