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Undaunted Pioneers

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As Told by
Mary Dunn

Indians Unfriendly

   About the first of August we noticed that the Indians were beginning to act strangely.  One day a big fellow came to the door when mother and we girls were alone in the cabin.  Beside the door was a shelf on which father kept some tools; among them was a whet stone.  The Indian took out a long bladed knife and began sharpening it; then he carefully examined a pistol.  Seemingly satisfied that his weapons were ready, he stepped inside, picked up a stool and threw it down.  He walked across to one of our curtained beds, jerked the curtains apart, then suddenly spied father's gun and started for that.  I sprang ahead of him, drew the gun on him and followed him as he backed toward the door.  Mr. Gibbs, who had been following the Indian, also Mr. Dunn came in a few minutes.  They told the Indian to leave, and he made a hasty retreat.  Mr. Gibbs said he was sure the Indian intended to harm us.
    A few days after that Mr. Gibbs came for father to go down the valley with him to see if the people thought there was any danger from the Indians.  They came back a little after noon.  Father went inside to tell mother and Mr. Gibbs came in the shed where we were cooking.  I was making pies (they must have been elderberry pies, for that was the only fruit we had) and he said I better go in and get ready, for there would be a wagon here in a few minutes to take us all down to the Dunn and Alberding place, where a few women had already been taken.  After seeing that we were safely housed, the men formed a little company of which my father was made captain.  There were just twelve men, and father divided them into three groups, and they started out to try to make peace with Sambo, the Chief at the rancheree about one mile from us.
    Mr. Dunn and three others got there first, and the Indians began firing on them at once.  Mr. Dunn was shot in the shoulder and Andy Carter in the wrist, breaking both bones and severing the artery.  The others heard the firing and came to their assistance.  They killed several Indians and took the squaws prisoners and brought them to Mr. Dunn's place where we were.  They brought Mr. Dunn and Mr. Carter home and sent about twenty miles to Jacksonville for a doctor.  Mother did the best she could in giving them first aid, but Mr. Carter's wound was very serious on account of the bleeding.  Lou and a man took turns about holding his wrist, as none of the rest of us could hold it tight enough to stop the bleeding.  It was a hard night for all.  We had no beds, just rolled up in blankets on the floor, and we could hear the squaws and their children and the men on guard walking back and forth.  We were glad when daylight came, so we could at least see what was going on.  Dr. Cleveland finally came and cut the bullet out of Mr. Dunn's shoulder and fixed up Mr. Carter's arm.  It was a painful operation for each of them after waiting twenty-four hours and not having anything to deaden the pain.
    Mr. Dunn's house consisted of a living room, a small bedroom and a "lean-to," and there was quite a crowd of us; Mr. and Mrs. Grubb and their five children, Mr. and Mrs. Heber and probably half a dozen more besides ourselves.  We had to feed the squaws and the children and try to find something for ourselves to eat, as we had not brought anything with us.  Father and another man started for the hills to get us fresh meat.  While they were gone, Sambo came within calling distance and wanted to talk.  Mr. Gibbs and two men went to him and he wanted to make peace, promised to give up their arms and stay where they were if we would not send them to the Fort.  Mr Gibbs agreed and let them come to the house where the squaws were.  when father returned, he was very much put out and said it would only be a day or two until the Indians from down the valley would come and attack us and that he would not risk his family there unless they sent the Indians away.   Mr. Gibbs said that if he had fifty lives he would trust them all in Sambo's hands.
    A party of about twenty men under the leadership of Geo. Tyler came over from Yreka and took us from Mr. Dunn's place to the Fort at Wagner Creek.  They made a wall of logs about ten feet high in a large square around Mr. Wagner's house, with a gate at each end and port holes at the corners.  We had a row of beds next to the wall all around and a passage way between them and the house.  Besides the crowd from Mr. Dunn's place who were there, I can remember Mr. and Mrs. Sam Culver and two children, Mr. and Mrs. Hiram Culver, the Reames, McCalls, Rockfellows, Helmans and Emerys.  Also Mr. and Mrs Samson and the Risleys stayed in the house with the Wagners.  There was also an emigrant camp just outside of this enclosure.
    Among the company of men from Yreka was my cousin Isham Keith.  They all stayed at the Fort the first night and then went on down the valley to join Lt. Elliott.  They went over to Evan's Creek to try to located the main body of the Indians.  They soon found traces of them and Lt. Elliott sent back four men for help.  The rest sat down to eat, and the Indians began firing on them.  They ran for their horses and one man was shot in the leg.  Isham put him on his mule and helped him back to the timber.  Lt. Elliott then ordered Isham and some others to go farther up on the mountain and try to keep the Indians from surrounding them.  Geo. Tyler tried to keep Isham from going, saying he would be killed sure, but Isham said he was there to obey orders, and had just gained the top when he was shot.  Mr. Tyler ran to him and asked if he were hurt.  Isham said,"Yes, I am a dead man."  He turned over, laid his head on his arms and was soon gone.  He was born in September, 1834, and was killed August 17, 1853, not quite eighteen years old.  He was Aunt Kelly's only child.  They buried him on the mountain side where he fell, and about four days later father, La Grande and Cicero went after the body and brought it to our home and buried him on the hillside just across from our cabin.

Hill Cemetary
    My father gave ten acres on the hill for a cemetary for Indian war victims.  It was part of Sister Lou's portion of the claim, and she gave a deed to the district.  Our own cousin Isham was the first one laid to rest, and Mr. Gibbs was the next to be buried there, having been shot by Sambo, the Indian chief whom Mr. Gibbs had said he would trust with fifty lives.  Sambo first shot Mr. Gibbs in the arm.  Mr. Gibbs said, "Why Sambo, I did not think that of you."  Sambo grinned at him and shot him in the bowels.  Mr. Gibbs was brought to the Fort at Wagner Creek and died the next day.  My mother prepared seventeen of these Indian war heros for buriel in the cemetary, and she and my father are laid to rest there as well as a number of other relatives.  It is called the Hill Cemetary, and the American Legion furnishes flags for the soldiers' graves each Decoration Day.  It is right on the Pacific Highway six miles south of Ashland, and my son George Dunn and the son of another pioneer, George Barron, have erected stone pillars at the gateway.  My sister, Mrs. A.H. Russell (Has) has done much to perpetuate this place and has carved a history of it on a slab there seven feet long.  Mr. Goff came to our place to board in the fall of '53 and made a vault over Isham Keith's grave.
    A number of Indians came to Mr. Dunn's place and killed two men and wounded a number of others. They killed all of the stock, two oxen, a span of mules and three cows, burned all of the first crop and got away without being fired upon. I have no knowledge of how many were killed down the valley, but many good men lost their lives, stock was killed and crops burned all over the valley. About all we had left for the summer's work was a few potatoes. After the Indians had quieted down, father took us home, and the next morning a train of emigrants came in. They had turned off the regular route at Fort Hall in the eastern part of Idaho and had come through the Klamath country and across the Green Spring Mountain. The Walkers, Wells, Myers and many others were in the party. Father killed a beef and gave them anything we had to eat, and the logs which father had for our house they took and built a high fence so they were protected.
   September 10, 1853. Gen. Joseph Lane made a treaty with the Indians near Table Rock. They agreed to take $60,000.00 to be paid in annual payments. Many of the Indians died that winter; some thought it was on account of their eating too many potatoes. Although they promised to live in peace, they continued to kill and rob whenever they had a chance.
   A party of twenty-five went out reconoitering over the hills and found three Indians killed by the Indians and named that the Dead Indian Country.Another party of five or six men went hunting over the mountainside. Henry Chapman shot a grizzly bear. He only wounded it, and it attacked him and tore his shoulder terribly. Chapman got hold of the bear's tongue and held on till the others got there and killed it. The men carried Chapman down to Well's place, and he went later to San Francisco to have his shoulder fixed, but he never fully recovered from his experience. That mountain is named Grizzly Peak and is across Bear Creek from Ashland. They named Keene Creek for Mr. Keene, who was killed there.

New Homes Founded


   During the winter Cupid was busy, and the spring found many new homes being started. I was married to Patrick Dunn, February 23, 1854; sister Has married James H. Russell May 9, 1854; and sister Lou married Alvin Gillette, April 25, 1855. Brother LaGrande had boarded at the Owen's while running the mill at Clatsop, and he married Bethena Owen May 4, 1854. Brother Cicero married Sarah Powell, April 25, 1865. My wedding was the first in Jackson County, which at that time included Jackson, Josephine, Klamath and Lake counties as they are now divided. Mother had a cook down from the Mountain House for three days preparing for the feast. Father killed a beef. The fruits and flour were from South America, packed over from Crescent City. Mr. Burns of Yreka baked a large fruit cake for the occasion, and Aunt Kelly carried it in a bucket in her lap as she rode over the Siskiyous horseback. There was a big dinner for everybody. Dr. Cleveland and three other men came from Jacksonville; and Mr. Broner, a storekeeper whose brick store is now a curio shop in Jacksonville sent me a box of cut glass, four glasses, pitcher and a dish. The men also brought a carving set, chopping knife, potato masher and anumber of kitchen things. Father and mother gave me three cows. Uncle Eb. Kelly and his wife and Joe Kelly rode over from Yreka. Other neighbors there that I remember were John McCall, Albert Rockfellow, Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Grubb, Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Grubb, Mr. and Mrs. Giles Wells, Mr. and Mrs. Jennings and baby Cecelia Wells, Hugh Barron and Mr. Russell. My dress was of thin white material much like the fine swiss of today, and we used the same material for Cecelia's dress as she was my bridesmaid. John McCall was the best man. We had a rather large house then with a big fireplace, and we had a nice wedding. Rev. Myram Stearnes, a Baptist preacher, married us at noon. We stayed that night at father's and went down to the Dunn house the next day. Mrs. Grubb kept house for Mr. Dunn, and she had prepared a big dinner to welcome me to my new home. My father, mother, Has, Lou, Cicero and LaGrande and McCall were all there that day with us.
   My new home was about two miles from father's, a log cabin with beds built on to the wall, rough unplaned floors without rugs or carpet, a few chairs, a home-made table, and an immense fireplace built across the end of the room which served as heater and cook stove. Not a very pleasing picture to the girl of today, but to us who had trained our minds and hearts to the thought of the future home, it was just the beginning of a hard fight to make the valley a garden spot where church bells and the school bells would soon be ringing, where the wild flowers so profuse would be replaced by the waving grain; and the apple, the peach and the pear would take the place of the mighty oak and fir.
   Mr. Alberding, who had sold his farm to Mr. Tolman and gone back to Iowa to be married, came back the later part of August, 1855. He said he was hungry for some venison; so on the second of September he and two others started out hunting. They went about ten miles beyond the Soda Springs and camped. Next morning they missed a pony they had taken along to load with venison. They were sure the Indians had stolen it, so they decided to go back for help and try to talk the Indians into giving the pony back. About a dozen men went with them; and as soon as the Indians saw them, they began firing. The men had left their horses about a mile away, and they soon saw that the Indians outnumbered them. Mr. Keene was killed; Mr. Tabor was wounded and fell beside Cicero, who helped him to his horse. Several of the Indians were killed. Mr. Alberding had a piece of bone at the corner of his eye and the end of his nose shot off. The men finally reached our house,, and I fixed Mr. Alberding up the best I could before his wife saw him, and then she nearly fainted, he looked so terrible. We sent to Jacksonville for the doctor, but he could not get to us until the next day, and they had to take Mr. Tabor's arm off at the shoulder.
   On the 25th of September Harrison B. Oatman, Dan Briton, and Calvin Fields each driving an ox team with wagons loaded with flour, which had been ground at Waite's Mill near Father William's place down by Medford, were on their way over the Siskiyous going to Yreka. The road was very steep, and they would put all the oxen on one wagon and take it to the top, then another one until they would get all the loads up. When near the summit, Oatman and Fields were with one wagon, and Briton stayed behind with the other wagons. He heard a shot fired, so he ran up the mountain until he could see the wagons, and the Indians were scalping a man. He turned and ran down the mountain, with the bullets whizzing past him, to the Mountain House where he got help, and they went back with him. They found Field's body by the roadside; the twelve oxen had been killed, the flour sacks cut open and the flour emptied on the ground. Oatman had escaped and ran to Coles, now Colestein, on the other side of the mountain. The long run almost killed him; in fact, he never did recover from it. Oatman had suffered much from the Indians. A company coming west were all massacred except two nieces of his, and one of them died later. The other one was found some twelve years later down in Arizona. She had been tatooed by them and had been their captive all those years.
   On the 25th of September a young man named Cunningham was returning from Yreka with his team. His body was found behind a tree where he had tried to hide. Samuel Warner and several others were killed at the same place, and we supposed by the same Indians. They had been all cut to pieces. Their bodies were brought to father's, and he and mother tried to fix them up for buriel.

"The Massacre"

   On October 9, 1855, the most eventful day in the history of Southern Oregon, there were about twenty persons killed and a number of women and children taken prisoners. Many of the woman were later killed, and some died from exposure. A Mr. Harris had a log cabin on a knoll a way north of Jacksonville. This day he was working about the place about nine o'clock when he saw a band of fifteen or twenty Indians. He returned to the house, and as he turned to close the door a volley of at least a dozen shots struck him in the breast. His daughter, Sophia, only seven, was shot also; but she ran up stairs without making any outcry. Mrs. Harris took the gun from here dying husband and kept firing from a chink in the wall for five hours. The Indians retreated about two o'clock, evidently thinking there were a number of men inside. She then noticed a trickle of blood from the upstairs. Rushing up she found that little Sophia had been wounded. Carefully bandaging the wound and applying restoratives, her next thought was for her little boy David, about ten. He had gone to spend the day with a bachelor friend, Samuel Bowden, who lived a quarter of a mile away. She straightened her husband's body and finally slipped out into the dark, carrying Sophia, and hid in the brush until morning. She heard horses coming and was terribly frightened, as she thought it was the Indians, but it proved to be a detachment of soldiers under command of Major Fitzgerald. After burying the dead and taking Mrs. Harris and the little girl to Jacksonville, they searched everywhere for David, but not even the child's wagon which he had with him could be found. Sophia married John S. Love of Jacksonville, but died in the smallpox scourge of 1869. She left two children, Mary and George, who have often heard their grandmother tell of their heroic and intrepid mother.
   It would be difficult to tell the state of alarm which swept over the valley when the details of the massacre became known. All business was stopped, and most of the families near Jacksonville went there for the winter. Others built club houses near their homes where a number of families could stay. We covered the windows of our house with slabs and filled sacks with grain and lined the kitchen with them as high as our heads. We had port holes through them so we could fire if we were attacked and kept two big barrels of water on hand in case we should be surrounded. Father and mother, Mr. and Mrs. Alberding, her sister and a friend from Iowa, and a man who was working for us stayed with us. We lived this way all winter. The worst of the fighting was down the valley, and many were killed near where Grants Pass is now. Mr Wagner was telling Mr. Dunn and I just before his death how his company had found a large band of Indians near Table Rock and how they got behind some trees and would stick their hats out; the Indians riddled their hats but used all their ammunition in doing so. Some of the men fighting lost their toes or their feet and some died from standing up to their knees in snow. The next spring the Indians were subdued, and the Government placed them on a reservation at Siletz, north of Newport. We were then free from further trouble with them.

 

Last updated by William P. Russell onSaturday, 25-Jun-2005 21:11:11 MDT