Josephine County History / DESCRIPTION AND RESOURCES.
Location of the County — Boundaries — Extent — Character of the Surface — Mountain Streams — Illinois Valley — Northern Josephine — Trees — Animals — Minerals — Marble — Copper — Gold.
Josephine county embraces that portion of country lying between Jackson county on the east and Curry on the west, and extending from Douglas county to the California line. The boundaries, as given by the act of legislature of January 22, 1856, creating Josephine county, are as follows: Beginning at the southwest corner of township 32, range 5, west; being the south boundary of Douglas county;; thence west along the dividing ridge separating the waters of Cow creek from those of Rogue and Coquille rivers, to the northeast corner of Curry county; thence south along the east line of said county to the summit of the divide between Rogue and Illinois rivers; thence west along the divide to a point seven miles east of the junction of those rivers; thence south to the California state line; thence east to the intersection of the west boundary of range 4, west; thence north to the southeast corner of township 36; thence west to the southwest corner of the same township; thence north to the place of beginning.
There is a considerable discrepancy between the various maps of the region in respect of the western boundary of the county, and the dimensions, as given by the act quoted, do not by any means appear on the ordinary state maps. The western boundary is usually considered to be a north and south line dividing range nine west, through the middle from a point about three miles south of Rogue river to the California line. The boundary, as it appears in the act, would intersect the corresponding townships of range eleven, west, thereby giving to Josephine about twenty-nine townships more surface than are usually assigned her. But considering the character of the region thus gained, it would hardly seem a valuable acquisition. The greatest length of the county is from north to south, and is fifty-eight miles; the greatest width, assuming the county to be as it is usually figured on maps, is twenty-seven miles, and the extent of surface is 777,600 acres, or little more than one-third of the area of Jackson county.
Josephine county is very rough and mountainous in its character and has little level land. The principal mountain range is the Siskiyou, whose main chain separates Josephine county from California. Spurs of this range trend north and northwest, enclosing the Illinois river, which is the principal habitable section in the southern part. Between this valley and that of the Applegate is a rugged and lofty range, which is a portion of the Siskiyous. The general direction of these ranges is northwest, as is shown by the principal streams running that way, and the last named chain of mountains is no exception to the rule, for it continues in that direction as far as the confluence of Rogue and Illinois rivers. In the northern part of the county the principal elevations are off-shoots of what are commonly called the Rogue river mountains and sometimes the Umpqua or Canyon mountains. The Grave creek hills, so called, lie between that stream and Jump-off-Joe, and the Wolf creek range between Cow and Wolf creeks. They are very broken in appearance, but lie in a generally east and west line and are of considerable height, some summits attaining an elevation of 4,000 feet or more. Toward Rogue river the mountains decrease much in height, the highest summits being in the extreme ends of the county, whereas that stream flows through its middle or not far therefrom.
As previously inferred, the principal streams take a northwesterly course through Josephine county. They are Rogue and Illinois rivers, and Applegate creek, whereof the first and last rise in Jackson county, to the eastward, while Illinois river begins its course in Josephine, far up among the Siskiyous, and flowing through the most valuable part of the county runs into Rogue river about twelve miles from the coast of Curry county. This stream takes its name from the state of Illinois, whence some early miners came and applied that name patriotically. The Illinois is divided in the upper part of its course, and its two brances, called east fork and west fork, respectively, unite a short distance above Kirbyville. Into the west fork flows Rough and Ready creek, which rises in the mountains of Curry and flows eastwardly, and the east fork receives Sucker and Althouse creeks, streams of immense note in mining history. A few miles below Kirbyville, Josephine creek enters the Illinois from the west, and Deer creek from the east.
This section, commonly called Illinois valley, is, rightly speaking, a basin, whose sides are mountain ranges which enclose it perfectly excepting as to the narrow and almost impassable canyon through which flows the Illinois on its way to join Rogue river. The smaller tributaries named flow toward a common center. The height of the rim of the basin toward the south is from 5,000 to 7,000 feet. On the west are the rough and heavily wooded mountains of Curry county, among whose deep canyons and precipitous steeps man can find no habitable spot. The Illinois has, by the slow process of cycles, worn its deep and narrow passage, as has Rogue river, but upon their banks no fertile bottom land exists nor has humanity ever found a resting place by their turbulent waters. But nature wears a fairer aspect on the upper portion of the course of the Illinois. Here are many farms, and the soil is, though small in quantity, very rich and productive. Above Kirbyville, the river and its tributaries have yielded the greater part of the immense quantity of gold taken from the mines of Josephine. In the palmy days of 1855 and neighboring years the banks were lined with miners and the product of gold was enormous. The course of the Illinois is north for the greater portion of its length in Josephine county, but on reaching the waters of Deer creek, on the western boundary of township 38, it assumes a northwesterly direction and flows into Rogue river, thirty odd miles from the confluence of the creek named. The extent of the basin of the Illinois and its tributary streams in Josephine county is about 400 square miles or 270,000 acres, which is about one-third of the total area of the county. This extent of mountain, hill and dale comprises the most valuable portion of the county and constitutes an agricultural section of considerable importance. Here are gathered two-thirds of the total population of Josephine, with the greater part of the permanent improvements, etc. Here, too, is the county seat, Kirbyville, and the greater number of inhabited localities.
The northern section is less regular in outline than that just described, and is also more diversified. It falls short in the matter of natural advantages, nor has it means for supporting as numerous a population as the Illinois valley. The principal streams are the Rogue river and Applegate, Williams, Slate, Galice, Jump-off-Hoe, Louse, Grave, Wolf and Coyote creeks, all of which ultimately find their way into the one channel of Rogue river. Applegate creek, the largest of those, enters Josephine county on the eastern boundary, and running northward joins Rogue river nearly in the middle of hte county. It receives in Josephine county two considerable streams, Williams and Slate creeks, both of which rise in the divide between the Applegate and Illinois and run northeast. Galice creek rises in the western portion of the county and empties into Rogue river, a short distance below Grave creek. Louse creek joins Jump-off-Joe and runs into Rogue river, from the opposite direction. Grave creek pursues a westerly course, receives Wolf creek and adds its waters to the main river, about fifteen miles below the mouth of Jump-off-Joe. Coyote creek is an affluent of Wolf creek, and rises in the northwestern part of Jackson county. All of these creeks, without exception, have been the scene of mining operations and some are yet producing wealth and promising still better yields.
The flora and fauna of Josephine county have an almost exact resemblance to those of the sister county of Jackson. As regards the former there are various trees and plans of economic value, the principal of which are the sugar pine, pitch pine, cedar and red fir, of great importance in lumber making; there are several species of hard wood, particularly the black oak and white oak, as well as various descriptions of smaller trees, underbrush, etc. Speaking in general terms we may say there is enough timber in the county to supply the probable demand for many generations; and owing to its comparative inaccessibility large quantities will most likely remain standing for a long term of years.
Wild animals of many species are found in Josephine county, and those considered as game are particularly abundant. Deer of the black-tailed variety abound in large numbers in nearly all parts of the county and are much valued as a means of sustenance. Bears of the small black species are not uncommon, and the more formidable grizzly is met with, but not frequently. The cinnamon bear is also said to exist in the county. Elk, once plentiful, are now reduced in number to a few individuals who inhabit elevated and almost inaccessible spots in the mountains. The cougar, better known as the California lion, and sometimes miscalled panther, is to be seen or heard in the wilds, and the mischievous coyote, the fox, raccoon, wild-cat, badger, and occasionally a porcupine are seen. Of fur-bearing animals there are the beaver, otter, marten, fisher and mink. Silver foxes are occasionally seen in the Siskiyous.
The mineral resources of Josephine county are similar to those of Jackson, no great difference being noted in any respect. Properly speaking, the two counties are but one in location, industrial resources and natural advantages. As to mineral wealth, Josephine is well supplied with a large number of the more useful and valuable metals, ores and rocks, most particularly of gold, copper and marble. Of the latter a mountain exists near the former town of Williamsburg, of various colors and eminently adapted for constructive purposes, and being in such vast quantity may justly be looked upon as of great future importance. The celebrated cave, so much spoken of, is, like nearly all great natural caverns, in limestone, whose quantity is inexhaustible. Copper has been an article upon which great hopes have been based. Several locations have been made on promising veins, and work has been undertaken in two or three instances. Near Waldo a mine of this sort whose ore contains twenty-three per cent. of metallic copper is owned by S. F. Chadwick, John Brandt and C. Hughes. The same parties own a similar claim fifteen miles below Kirbyville. Iron ore of assumed valuable quality exists in Josephine, but of course it can be looked upon only as a possible source of wealth in the very remote future.
But all other sources of mineral wealth become trivial in comparison with the gold mines of Josephine. The region is pre-eminently a country of gold mining, exceeding in respect to those interests any other portion of Oregon. The first gold extracted in the state was found in Josephine county, and after a third of a century actively spent in that pursuit, the deposits are by no means exhausted. There are placer diggings from which, as in Jackson county, by far the greater bulk of the wealth has been taken, the quartz mines producing a very small portion of the total yield.
EVENTS OF THE COUNTY HISTORY.
Organization — Waldo, the First County Seat — Name Derived from Miss Josephine Rollins — Prospectors Arrive in 1851 — Discovery of Placer Diggings — Althouse — A Hard Winter — Roads — Mining, the Principal Resource — Statistics — Conclusions.
Josephine county was organized by act of the territorial legislature which took effect in January, 1856. The county seat at first was Waldo, originally and most frequently called Sailor Diggings, because of the discovery by a party of sea-faring men of rich placers in that vicinity. That place succeeded Althouse as the foremost locality in the Illinois valley, and in time was succeeded by Kirbyville, whose location is near the geographical centre. The first court of Josephine county was held in the fall of 1856, at Waldo, Judge M. P. Deady on the bench. The reason for setting Josephine off as a distinct county was that the people of that portion of Jackson county were incommoded by being obliged to travel so difficult a road to the county seat. This reason was of great force at that time, as the roads were extremely bad — in fact, were only trails — and travel was necessarily slow and expensive. At the present day that mode of reasoning has lost much of its force, particularly with regard to the northern part of the county, whose people, aided by the railroad, would find it much easier to reach the capital of Jackson county than the comparatively secluded county seat of Josephine. The county derives its name directly from Josephine creek, and indirectly from Miss Josephine Rawlins or Rollins, at one time the only white female in the county. Her arrival took place in 1851, her father being for a short time at least, a miner on Josephine creek, just below the confluence of Canyon creek. This young lady afterward settled in Yreka, and became the wife of O’Kelly, a resident of that town. It is worthy of remark that a member of the Legislature proposed to substitute the name Kelly for Josephine when the organic act was under discussion; but the attempt against euphony and fitness signally failed.
The earliest visitors to what is now Josephine county undoubtedly were the trappers employed by the Hudson’s Bay Company, who came through this region, traversing the northern part of it in the vicinity of the Oregon trail, and probably exploring in a casual way the valleys of the principal stream. It is known that they gave names to some of the water-courses and elevations of that part of the country, but the extent of their explorations and knowledge cannot now be known. At a later date, the trail — by that time well known and comparatively much used — was traversed by sundry parties of settlers from the northern part of the state, who were in the habit of making occasional trips to California for cattle, etc. Still later, the gold discoveries attract many people from the Willamette to the California mines, and travelers were frequent. Many curious and interesting occurrences must have taken place in these years, but of hte most of them we have no knowledge beyond tradition and garbled hearsay statements.
In the year 1851 the history of the county really begins, in the discovery and working of the placers in Canyon and Josephine creeks. Herein we find that the commencement of the history of this county antedates that of Jackson by a year, and in some sense Josephine may be looked on as a progenitor of the neighboring county, in respect to its actual development, though not, of course, as regards the county organization, since that of Jackson preceded the other by four years.
In 1851, several prospectors came north from the Klamath river, and passing over the divide into the valley of the Illinois, found gold to the west of that stream, in the sands of a creek which flows into the Illinois a few miles below Kirbyville. The news of their discovery was immediately communicated to the numerous and populous mining camps of Northern California, and people began to move toward the new diggings in considerable numbers. This was the first mining locality discovered or worked in Oregon, and therefore a historic spot. During the season, more particularly in time of the same year, a considerable number of men arrived on the creek and mined, meeting with varied success. Several of these old miners now reside in various parts of Southern Oregon, there being Hardy Eliff, of Cow creek, Dan Fisher, of Willow Springs, J. E. Ross, Nathaniel Mitchell and James Tuffs, now of Jackson county, and possibly others; while the most of them, of course, have passed away.
When in June, 1851, active hostilities began against the Indians along the banks of Rogue river, Major Kearney dispatched a subordinate officer to the Illinois valley for assistance in conquering the enemy. Quite a large proportion of the Josephine creek miners responded to the call and proceeded to Bear creek where they served for a few days against the Indians, their warlike career being terminated by the Gaines treaty of peace. Some thirty, it is said, were thus engaged, but others have fixed the number at twice that. How many remained on the creek is not known. Little prospecting was done in this year excepting on Josephine creek and its tributary, Canyon creek, nor were the diggings along these two streams very well developed. Canyon creek has continued to yield well ever since and is still worked somewhat. During the fall of 1851 a number of Willamette valley farmers and others tried their fortunes on the two creeks, but with indifferent success, owing mainly to their lack of skill and almost total lack of mining tools. In the following spring immigration set almost entirely toward Jacksonville, and Josephine county was neglected, until in the latter part of the year the Althouse — called so for Phillip Althouse, who washed the first pan of dirt in which gold was found on that stream — diggings were discovered and that place quickly assumed an importance almost equal to that of Jacksonville. Along Althouse creek for ten miles and more, the diggings extended and a vast number of miners labored there, perhaps not less than a thousand in the most active times. The pay dirt on this stream in places was of the richest description and probably surpassed any other locality in the whole of Southern Oregon. The aggregate production of the mines on Althouse and Democrat gulch, only separated by a divide, must have been enormous, for a very large number of miners labored there with satisfactory results for more than fifteen years. The average yearly number could not have been less than 300, and was probably more. Other mining districts filled up in like proportion, the principal ones being on the tributaries of the Illinois and on Galice creek, and when Josephine was organized as a county her mining population was probably not less than 2,500. Nearly the same mutations were experienced here as in Jackson county, in respect to the alternate ebb and flow of fortune and population, and there was a similarity in other respects, such as the difficulty of transportation, the want of communication with the outer world, lack of roads, etc. Prices were extremely high, particularly in the winter of 1852-3, when a great many miners were forced to leave their claims for want of food, and those who had the hardihood to remain were in many cases reduced to direst straits, and not a few had to live on meat alone, and without salt. A considerable loss of life from hunger and improper food resulted from the distressing condition, which was made so intolerable from the great fall of snow, which blocaded the trails in all directions and prevented ingress or egress. Spring came, however, communication was re-established, pack-trains began to arrive with loads of provisions, prices decreased, and the miners set about their season’s work with great hope and courage.
It does not appear exactly when the trail from Illinois valley to Crescent City was first traversed, but it must have been early in the summer of 1853. Soon after, an active transportation business sprang up, whereby pack-trains became common, their function being to supply a good part of the miners with the necessaries of life, and these articles were, at a somewhat later date mostly shipped in by way of Crescent City, which place soon supplanted its northern rival, Scottsburg, in the importing business. For several years the trail to the former point remained only a trail. In 1854, people having become aroused to the necessity of having a wagon road to the coast agitated themselves and procured the survey of a practicable route. The survey was soon completed, but it was not until 1857 that the Crescent City and Illinois wagon road was commenced. In due time it was finished and has since been used very much, but in a decreasing degree. This noted and important highway, second only to the old “Oregon trail” itself, beginning at the port of Crescent City, in Del Norte county, California, takes a northeasterly course to the Oregon state line, which it crosses at a point about three miles south of Waldo. Here it assumes a generally north direction and crossing the east fork of the Illinois, proceeds to Kirbyville, and then bending toward the northeast, crosses Deer creek and reaches the Applegate near the mouth of Slate creek, and Rogue river at Long’s or Vannoy’s ferry. Still keeping a northeasterly course it intersects the Oregon trail at Louse creek, near the eastern border of Josephine county. The Oregon trail enters Josephine from the north at Galesville, after passing through the celebrated Canyon, and proceeds southward across Wolf, Coyote and Jump-off-Joe creeks, passing into Jackson county a short distance south of the latter stream. It was customary to traverse the “hill route,” which lies over the Grave creek and Wolf creek hills, but sometimes the traveler chose a somewhat longer but more level course further to the west and consequently crossing lower down those streams. These routes were substantially the ones traveled by those who came through Southern Oregon in early years and they have since continued to be the main arteries of traffic, until supplanted by the railway.
The Applegate road leading from Wilderville on Slate creek, along the south bank of Applegate river was a thoroughfare of some importance; and in late years has been the ordinary state route from Jacksonville to the Illinois valley.
The question of roads has always been an important and ever present one in Josephine county. Permanent roadways are of difficult construction and expensive maintenance and the traffic of the country necessarily small. Many attempts have been made to secure closer communication with outside markets, but unavailingly. In 1874 D. S. K. Buick surveyed a route to Chetco, in the southern part of Curry county. His proposed road was to begin at a point eight miles north of Kirbyville, and proceed in a west-southwest direction to the coast. Its length was fifty-seven miles, which is twenty-three miles less than the Crescent City road from the same point to its ocean terminus. The steepest grades are said to be less than in the latter road, and the highest point is but 1,900 feet in altitude, while the Crescent City road reaches an elevation of 4,800 feet. The cost of the proposed road was estimated at $55,800. This highway, though offering considerable advantages to the people of the Illinois and Rogue river valleys, was never constructed.
In consequence of her limited area of agricultural land Josephine county was possessed of but one principal resource, that of mining. In this latter respect she excelled all other counties in Oregon in the amount of auriferous gravel within her borders, and probably — though that is an unascertained fact — in the amount of gold produced. We must consider the county as almost exclusively a mining community, whence we shall find a reason for the marked decadence immediately succeeding the period of greatest prosperity, which we may regard as ending in 1860. Until that time the number of Caucasian miners in the county had not sensibly diminished since the formation of the new county, while agriculture, such as it was, had got in a fit way to supply the demands of these miners for articles of sustenance. In 1857 and 1858 there took place that remarkable mining craze, the Frazer river excitement, which has become typical of all its kind. It was directly responsible for a great falling off in the population of Josephine county — a loss which was considerable, but whose extent is not definitely known. The loss was, as regards numbers, nearly made up by the increment of Chinese miners, and we find accordingly no diminution in the number of polls as returned by the assessor.
The statistical history of the later years of Josephine county is mainly embraced in the assessors’ rolls for the various years, from which we extract the following accounts. In 1858, at a rather prosperous era, we find the polls to have numbered 712, and the taxable property to have been $313,852. Three years later hte county had a total population of about 1,400, the number of voters was 724, the value of real estate was $253,920, and of personal property $347,377, and the rate of tax was twenty-five mills per dollar. Then came a long period of depression, when mining notably decreased, the aggregate population fell off one-fifth, and the number of voters one-half. In 1875 the assessor returned the population as numbering, 1,132, the polls 331, and the acreage under cultivation 6,269. The agricultural products of that year, wheat 16,000 bushels, oats 9,000, barley 3,000, corn 5,000, potatoes and apples each 10,000, and hay 3,000 tons. There were 6,000 sheep, 1,000 cattle, about the same number of horses, and twice as many hogs. The production of lumber for the year was 45,000 feet. The showing for 1880 was about the same. The number of polls had increased to 340, the gross value of all property was reckoned at $403,932, of which $253,594 was taxable. The acreage of land enclosed was 40,972, whose average value was fixed at $3.80 per acre. For 1882 the returns gave the number of acres of private land at 47,500, valued at $187,400; the gross value of property, $452,247; taxable property, $315,600. The polls had diminished to 241. When the Oregon and California railroad entered Josephine county value rose considerably, as we see by the assessment rolls of 1883, which give the value of the 55,889 acres of private lands as $227,746; the gross value of property, $563,880; taxable, 392,351; and the number of polls had increased to 547. The average assessment of lands was $4.07; there were 854 horses and mules taxed, 2,070 head of cattle, 2,700 sheep and 2,359 hogs. The population of Josephine county, as given by the census of 1880, was 2,400 souls; which by the influence of steam communication has probably been increased to nearly 3,000.
With the foregoing facts concerning the resources, extent and growth of Josephine county in mind, and its new advantages of access, the reader will doubtless be able to form conclusions as to its future. In regard to its agricultural importance, it must always remain very limited; but not so as to the culture of special products. There is an abundance of land suitable for fruit growing, on which can be raised a limitless amount of the more hardy and useful fruits of the temperate zone. With a very slight difference in climate, there is a strong parallel between the two counties of Jackson and Josephine as to nearly all the agricultural products which have been so far experimented upon. Probably every one of the fruits which have proved so signally successful in the Rogue river valley, would flourish equally well upon the hills of the Illinois and its tributaries. The once famed and prosperous valleys of Sucker, Althouse, Galice and other creeks, exhausted of their golden store, may renew the prosperity of their former days when the culture of the vine and the apple fills the vacant place of a decreasing industry. Farms are offered for sale in the Illinois valley for one-half of the value they would command in the Rogue river valley. Much government land remains unsold there, which would afford homes for many whose exertions would elevate the condition of agriculture and benefit the county immensely. The soil of these tracts is pronounced excellent and highly productive.
Though in its decadence, gravel mining is not by any means dead. Much valuable ground remains to be worked, and for this purpose great preparations are made each year. With the introduction of immense hydraulic apparatus, the working of the gravel beds has become very rapid in comparison with the former mode of working, whereby hundreds of hands are spared to other occupations. Doubtless further explorations will reveal yet other deep gravel beds, whose working will afford a constant supply of wealth to their owners and to the county for many years. On quartz discoveries similar expectations may be safely based with even more certainty, since, as quartz mines require a longer time for their discovery and working, and are altogether less certain in their returns, it follows that this particular species of mining may not cease permanently as long as the country remains inhabited or gold retains any value.
THE ILLINOIS AND ITS TRIBUTARIES.
Importance of the Section — Illinois River — Deer Creek — Eight Dollar Mountain — Kerbyville — Sucker Creek — Fort Briggs — Althouse Creek — Browntown — Quartz Mining — Waldo — Gravel Mining — New Hydraulic Claims — Copper Mines — The Queen of Bronze.
The principal historical events of Josephine county are found to cluster about Illinois valley. Along the river of that name and upon its tributaries by far the greater part of the mining has been done and still is doing, and the bulk of the population of the county has made its home here. The greater portion of the arable land of the county lies upon or near Illinois river, and farming to a limited extent has been an important industry. The tillable land here is of a very rich quality, and produces excellent crops of small grain, corn, fruit and potatoes, usually sufficient to supply the very limited market of the immediate vicinity. In early years agriculture and mining bore the same relation as in Jackson county, and the same remarks are applicable with the exception that in Josephine the agricultural land is so limited in amount, that tilling the soil could never supplant the mining industry, nor could it afford occupation for the very large population engaged in that pursuit in the early years. Hence we do not find any considerable class of gold-seekers retiring from their placers and settling on donation claims; but when mining was in its decadence the swarms of men thrown out of lucrative employment, turned toward other mining districts beyond the borders of Josephine, and were lost to the county.
Beginning with the Illinois river, we find the inhabited portion of its valley to have been the upper third of its length, lying between the California line and a point some miles below Kerbyville, where the stream enters a series of narrow and deep canyons, which continue to its mouth, thirty-five miles below. Along its shores no settlements have been made, and no human habitation ever existed there save an occasional miner’s shanty, built by the hardy gold-seekers who were working the various bars of the lower Illinois. The stream is hardly to be called river, for in the rainless season its bed contains little water, but in winter it becomes a torrent, and dashes swiftly through its stony, rough and crooked channel. Low down the Illinois there is a tributary, Silver creek, so-called, which runs through a deep and precipitous canyon. This stream derives its name from a pretended discovery of silver ore upon its bank, from which arose quite an excitement, with all the concomitants of difficult accessibility, high assays, and finally the total collapse of the bubble. This happened in 1879.
Higher up the Illinois, and within Josephine county, we come to the mouth of Deer creek, which enters from the east, rising in the divide between the Illinois and Applegate. Its name has an obvious derivation, and its valley has been the scene of many historical incidents. Here is a small extent of rich agricultural land, which early attracted settlers, and ——– Mooney was the first to avail himself of the privileges of the donation law. It was in 1853 that he came. Soon after came William Wixom, followed by Philpot — whose murder by Indians is alluded to in the history of the Indian wars — and William McMullin. Philpot, it is said, was sitting upon his horse which was drinking from Deer creek, when concealed savages opened fire and pierced the rider with several bullets, killing him instantly. Besides this, there was the Guess catastrophe, also alluded to, wherein the head of the first family to settle in Deer creek valley was killed. The tragedy took place while the victim was plowing in his field. The bereaved widow subsequently removed to Salem, but after a residence there of over twenty-five years, returned to the old homestead on Deer creek in 1882.
In the midst of these troublous times Forts Briggs and Hayes were built, the latter being situated between Deer and Slate creeks, the former on Sucker creek. These were fortified farm houses, in which the surrounding settlers took refuge, and garrisons were maintained in each of them during the later Indian war. Fort Hays is on the Thornton place, nine miles north of Kirbyville. The Indians besieged it for a short time, but ineffectually. At the time of hte battle of Eight-Dollar mountain the troops rendesvouzed there. The Hayes family who resided at the station gave name to it.
Eight-Dollar mountain, the scene of an important but indecisive battle with the Indians in the early months of 1856, stands at the south side of Deer creek and in the angle formed by that stream and the Illinois. It is perhaps 3,000 feet in elevation above tide-water. A road passes over it which has been in use since the earliest years by travelers between the Illinois and Rogue river valleys. The mountain derives its name, it is said, from the price of a pair of boots which some one wore out in a single day’s tramp over its rough surface. Who the wearer was is differently stated, but is of no consequence. The eminence is in the pine region, and good timber of that sort is abundant.
At the mouth of Deer creek occurred yet another tragedy in the killing of Horace Seeley, James Elzey and a German nicknamed Dutch Pete, in the latter part of February, 1856. These men with M. Ryder, A. Ryder, Coyle, Frank Larkin, and two others, were engaged in mining on Deer creek bar, where they were surprised by Indians, and these three were killed, the others retreating. Anthony Ryder was wounded, but escaped. This incident occurred on the twenty-sixth of February, 1856.
Six miles below Kerbyville, on the Illinois, is Dead Fish bar, a considerable mining locality, the most valuable claim being once the property of Peter Reiser, but now owned by W. W. De Lamatter. In the condition of mining at present these are some of the most important placer claims in the whole country. The gravel beds are extensive and on the claim mentioned are worked by a hydraulic stream whose fall is 200 feet. On the other claims ground-sluicing is chiefly resorted to.
The history of early times on Josephine creek embraces a vast deal of interesting matter relating to mining and prospecting and to Indian troubles, from which the miners of the stream and Canyon creek were not by any means exempt. The incident of the escape of John M. Bour, Billifeldt, George Snyder and another, from Indians in the fall of 1853 is given. The party of four stood a siege for many hours and after nightfall left their cabin and getting past the savages, found safety in another camp. Mr. Bour now resides on the Illinois river several miles below Kerbyville, and is supposed to be the oldest resident of the county. He came to Canyon creek in August, 1852. At Pearsall bar, on the Illinois, and about fifteen miles below Kerbyville, Mr. Tedford was mortally wounded by Indians, and Rouse, his partner, severely cut with an axe, as previously recounted.
Still further up the Illinois is Kerbyville, the county seat and the most important place in Josephine county. It is in the extreme northern part of township 39, south, range 8, west. The place was named for James Kerby, who took a donation claim there in 1855, or thereabouts. Two years later, or in 1857, the town-site was laid off in anticipation that the county seat, then at Waldo, would be changed to a more central locality. Dr. D. E. Holton purchased a part of the Kerby claim, and became instrumental in bringing about hte change. S. Hicks had been a partner with Kerby originally, but in 1857, or the following year, he abandoned his portion of the claim, and C. R Sprague, who squatted upon the land, also left, selling his rights to John B. Sifers, who got a patent for his land. The new town became a commercial center of importance, and yet retains a standing as such. The first building was erected by Dr. Holton in 1857, it being a residence. The second building of importance was a hotel, now existing, and owned by M. Ryder. This was built by G. T. Vining, and was considered an extraordinary structure, indeed, it being really a large and commodious house. At the same time, Vining built a store and filled it with a stock of merchandise, and began to traffic. David Kendall was his partner. Captain M. M. Williams, an enterprising Scotchman, who signalized himself in the Indian war of 1856, also built a store, which he rented to the firm of Koshland & Brother, traders. Morris & Taylor, another firm of merchants, soon after built a fine store, over which was a hall occupied by the Free Masons. This latter building was burned. In 1857 or 1858, a grist-mill was erected by Crawford & Dodd. At the time of these improvements mining was very active in the neighborhood. The bars of the Illinois river were being worked satisfactorily, and Josephine county was seeing its palmiest days. A long and costly bridge across the river at Kerbyville was built by colonel Backus. It cost $7,000, was 600 feet long, the center span was 120 feet, and it was the principal structure of hte kind in Southern Oregon. The county seat had been moved to its present location, and affairs were extremely lively. In 1858, there were five saw and gristmills in the county, and the same number of school houses. Kerbyville was described, in 1858, as improving rapidly, and being the liveliest town of its size in the state. It had two large stores, two splendid hotels (the Eagle, kept by C. C. Fairfield), a livery stable, barber shop, and billiard saloon. The Crescent City stage arrived every other day, bringing many passengers, and taking away much treasure — the product of the mines. By act of the legislature of January, 1859, the name of Kerbyville was changed to Napoleon — doubtless because of the renowned French emperor, who had just conquered the Austrians — but this cognomen failed to cohere, and Kerbyville the place remains, except that most people are now in the habit of leaving off the final syllable of the town’s name, and calling it Kerby. On September 23, 1861, a destructive fire occurred, the loss being about $8,500. At present the village contains the county buildings; stores of general merchandise, kept by Naucke and De Lematter, respectively; a hotel, of which M. Ryder is proprietor; a livery stable also owned by Mr. Ryder; and two saloons.
Proceeding up the east fork of the Illinois, the traveler finds himself in the center of what once was the most productive mining region in Oregon. This fork, with its affluents, Althouse and Sucker creeks, and Democrat gulch, have long been celebrated as placer mining localities, and yet remain productive to some extent. Sucker creek — named thus on account of some Illinoisan miners — rises in the Siskiyou mountains and flows west-southwest and falls into the east fork at a point nine miles north of the State line, and five miles south of Kerbyville. The first settler on the creek was —– Rhoda, who established a dairy in 1852, but did not remain long. Early in 1852 the first house in that region was erected by A. G. Walling, E. J. Northcut and —— Bell, near the mouth of Democrat gulch, and there sold supplies to miners on Sucker and Althouse creeks. At this place, known as “Walling’s ranch,” miners left their horses in charge while they remained at the several diggings. Walling & Company sold to Cochran in 1853. The Briggs and other land claims were early taken up. When the Indian war of 1855-6 commenced, the people of Sucker creek, then rather numerous, experienced some of the ills attending it, and several narrow escapes were run. In the fall of 1855 Elias Winklebeck was pursued by the Indians and compelled to take refuge in Sucker creek, where he lay with only his head out; the enemy failed to notice his location, and he escaped. During hostilities Fort Briggs was prepared, wherein the surrounding settlers and miners took refuge to the number of eighty or more. This was simply a palisade constructed so as to enclose George E. Briggs’ long house. Mrs. Briggs, widow of the former owner, still occupies the building. Elijah Johnson was mortally wounded by the Indians on Althouse creek, and being taken to Fort Briggs, died there some time afterward. Daniel Wiley, another victim, was killed at the time Johnson was wounded. This occurred on October 30, 1855.
There is a pleasant anecdote relating to an incident of Sucker creek mining life that has been often narrated. A culprit had broken into Smith Brothers’s store — kept on the creek in 1857 — and being apprehended, was taken before J. D. Post, justice of the peace, for examination, and was held to answer before a higher court; but as Josephine county had no jail, and the accused no money to put up as bail, his honor, the justice, released the fellow, compelling him to sign a note for fifty dollars to secure his appearance at the proper time.
In the spring of 1858, prospectors found quite extensive placers at the head of Sucker creek, which they named Sepoy diggings. At this time the other mining interests on the creek were in their decadence, and have steadily diminished in importance until the present, when some forty persons only are at work, half of these being Chinese. Sucker creek possesses a saw mill, built in 1868 by Beach, Platter & Brown, and now owned by the two former partners. Its capacity is slight, the total daily product being 1,000 feet of lumber. It is situated three miles above the mouth of the creek.
Althouse creek, a still more celebrated and important mining locality than any yet mentioned, empties into the east fork at the mouth of Sucker creek, and like the latter stream, also rises in the Siskiyou range. Its course is northwest, and it receives several small tributaries. All the region round about is famed for its mining operations in former times, and is replete with historical incidents of importance. Althouse creek was named for Philip Althouse, who was one of the party who first prospected the stream in 1852. In a very short time a large number of miners had arrived, and hundreds of claims were staked out, over ten miles of the creek bed being occupied within a year. In 1853 it was supposed that nearly 1,000 men were mining there, though not all at once.
A village — named Browntown, in honor of “Web-foot” Brown, the pioneer Brown of the vicinity — was started and it speedily became a point of much importance. At one time Browntown was supposed to have had from 300 to 500 inhabitants. Near by was a less important place, called Hogtown, which was regarded as a Brooklyn to its greater neighbor. The Althouse diggings continued to pay excellently for half a dozen years, and the population remained very large. In 1858 the miners were said to be prospering finely. The hills near Browntown were being tunneled into, the surface having mostly been worked. In the south hills were the Virginia Tunnel Company, Patten & Company, Peterson, Drake & Company, Lanigan, Miller & Company, and others, all doing well, for coarse gold, frequently in large water-worn slugs, was abundant. Althouse creek was noted for its yield of coarse gold in the early days of mining it. The largest slug of pure gold was found about a mile and a half above Browntown, weighing nearly twelve hundred dollars.
The region fell gradually into decay with the decrease of mining and at a faster rate than any other section of the country. In 1865 Althouse was said to have “nearly winked out,” and was compared to Goldsmith’s Deserted Village, as to its air of deserted loneliness. Since that time the process of decay has continued, and in spite of many attempts to revive it, the locality contains little to show but the remains of its former activity and importance. Browntown, Hogtown and Frenchtown are known only by their names, and nothing is left of them but the indestructible refuse of mining camps, the tin cans, the culinary vessels and the rough stone chimneys of miners’ cabins. Nevertheless, all life and energy has not passed away. A few gravel miners remain, and in Democrat gulch some work is being done. On the Althouse is one of the most remarkable and extensive engineering works ever constructed in Oregon for mining or any other purpose. These are the drainage tunnels through the divide between that stream and Illinois valley below Democrat gulch. In 1871 Frederic and Peter Hansen, Gustaf Wilson and Chris. Lutz commenced the first of these tunnels, which is 1,200 feet in length, and succeeded in turning the water of Althouse through it. In 1865, Beach, Platter and Leonard projected another tunnel, similar to the first, tapping Althouse creek half a mile above the first one and ending near the mouth of Democrat gulch. This was completed after ten years’s work, occupying a force averaging five men for that time. The tunnel is six by seven feet and contains a flume four by four feet, through which passes the water of Althouse creek. The object of draining certain mining ground on the creek was not fully attained, as the tunnel is above the bedrock of the stream. The projectors were Beach, Platter and Leonard, who sold to Harvey S. Brown, of San Francisco, in 1877. In 1877 Beach and Platter erected and stocked a store in Democrat gulch, which they still carry on. A post office was established there in the same year, of which C. H. Beach has since been postmaster.
Althouse, in common with the rest of Southern Oregon, had a quartz excitement in 1860. At that date the Enterprise mine, three miles east of Browntown, was opened and worked with profit for a time being abandoned in 1867. The vein was from eight to eighteen inches thick and was in metamorphic sandstone. By arastra process the quartz yielded twenty-six dollars per ton. Two tunnels were run and a large body of pay ore exposed. In 1875 the Oregon mining and milling company re-located this claim and bought several other quartz leads upon the Althouse, and set to work to revolutionize mining. They built a ten-thousand-dollar mill at Browntown, with five stamps, amalgamating pans, settlers and other apparatus. The motive power was water. The properties owned by the company were the Enterprise — otherwise called the Gold Back or Cohen mine — the Sucker ridge claim, Yankee Doodle mine, Jesse Randall ledge, several reputed silver lodes said to be astonishingly rich, and the Althouse ledge, near the crest of the hill opposite the mill site. After a few months of active prospecting the company suspended operations, and have not since resumed them. Another association, the Webfoot quartz mining and milling company, J. M. Tiernan superintendent, succeeded them in 1878, and proposed to establish reducing works containing a reverberatory furnace for treating sulphurets containing gold. They, too, suspended, and the presumed rich quartz ledges on and near the Althouse now lie neglected.
Waldo is situated on Sailor gulch, between the east and west forks of Illinois river, and only three miles north of the California state line. It has been, and still is, an important mining camp and celebrated for the amount of gold taken out in the earlier years. The camp and regions round about were at first called Sailor Diggings, having been discovered by a party of seamen in 1852. At a later period, when the place had grown much in importance, its name was changed to that in use at present,
in honor of a California politician, made the more applicable as the place was thought to be in that state. In 1855, Waldo had grown to be the largest town in the county, and was advanced to the dignity of county seat when Josephine was set off from Jackson county. This eminence it did not retain long, but was succeeded by Kerbyville, as a more central and convenient location. The population of Waldo, in 1856, is thought to have been 500 person. The place continued to improve in later years, and in 1858 several substantial buildings were being put up, among others, a large hotel. In 1851, Hunt’s ditch brought water to Shelby gulch, where many miners were working. At the same time, the Butcher gulch flume was in operation, and two saw0mills were turning out and selling 20,000 feet of lumber per week, and trade was very brisk. The village passed through the ordinary mutations of a mining camp, and has fallen off very much in later years, but retains more of its pristine greatness than most other places in the county. It is favored by being on the stage road to Crescent City, and particularly advantaged by the deep and extensive beds of auriferous gravel near by, which are a great resource, but not to be worked until of late, for want of water. Bringing on a hydraulic stream in 1880, Wimer, Simmons & Company took out considerable wealth in a season’s work, and since then the firm of Simmons & Ennis have brought water from a distance of four miles, and have completed preparations to work a very large and valuable deposit of gravel, superior, it is said, to any other known deposit in Oregon. Their ditch is ten feet wide and four feet deep, their hydraulic pipe twenty-two inches in diameter, and the working head, 150 feet. They will be able to pipe during half the year. This claim is three miles from Waldo.
In the vicinity of Waldo exist some very promising and important beds of copper ore. Of these, the mine called Queen of Bronze is best known. The first indications of the metal were found in 1859, when a small piece of native copper was picked up. Prospectors soon found some lodes of that metal, the mine mentioned being one of them. This ledge is no less than fifty feet thick at a depth of thirty feet, and fourteen feet of this is said to be pure sulphide, the most valuable of all the ores of Copper. Much of the ore from this and surrounding claims contains fifty, or more, per cent. of metal. In 1864, the ore from the claim of Emerson & Company assayed sixty-five per cent. In that year, the Queen of Bronze mine was being developed. No use of these deposits of wealth have ever been made, and no work of any consequence has been done in the claims, beyond developing two or three to some extent. The present high price of copper, far above what it has been for many years, should stimulate the owners of these lodes to endeavor to realize upon their undoubted stores of metal.
NORTHERN SECTION OF THE COUNTY.
Applegate Creek –Williams’ Creek –Murphy’s Creek — Slate Creek –Galice Creek –A Quartz Excitement — Origin of Names — Romance of Grave Creek — Lucky Queen and Other Mines — The Oregon and California Railroad — Tunnels — Reminiscences –Hungry Hill — In Memorium.
Cross the water-shed to the north of Illinois valley, the traveler comes to the Applegate river or creek, a considerable stream, which, as before said, rises in Jackson county and flows northwest into Rogue river, near the center of Josephine county. It is a noted stream, made so by the mining operations which have been carried on upon its banks since the earliest years. Its valley is not very extensive, but quite a number of farms have been cultivated there, and the soil is found to be very productive, and particularly favorable to the growth of fruit trees. The Redlands nursery, the most extensive establishment of the kind in the whole region, is a fine example of the capacity of the soil for plant and tree growing. This is located on the Applegate, at the mouth of Oscar creek, a small tributary. Some 6,000 young trees, principally apple, pear, plum and peach trees, have been set out by A. H. Carson, the owner, and are thriving luxuriantly.
Applegate creek receives several affluents in Josephine county, the principal ones being Williams’, Murphy’s and Slate creeks, all of which rise in the divide between Applegate and Illinois rivers, and flow north or northeast into the former stream. The first of these is a stream of some celebrity, both as a mining and an agricultural region. Williams’ creek was named for Captain Robert Williams, the noted Indian fighter, who skirmished with the natives on this creek in 1853. Previously, a detachment of another company, under B. B. Griffin, fought the same enemy, losing two men. The placers of Williams’ creek remained untouched until 1859, when nearly every other deposit in the county had been worked, and most of them exhausted. In that year the town of Williamsburg, situated upon the creek in the midst of the newly discovered placers, was founded, and grew rapidly. Several families resided there, and at one time a dozen trading posts were in operation. About 300 miners were working in the immediate neighborhood, some of whom made twenty dollars per day each. A school house was erected, a tri-weekly stage made trips to Jacksonville, and the place had become a worthy successor of Browntown and Sailor Diggings, in the matter of liveliness and importance. C. W. Savage kept a hotel and lodging house, and Duncan put up a saw mill two miles below town and did a large business in the manufacture and sale of lumber. J. T. Layton, still a resident of the vicinity, and for many years a very prominent miner, devised a plan for brining water to the diggings, and in company with Maury, Davis and O’Neil, completed nine miles of ditch, which first delivered a stream of water in Williamsburg on August 11, 1859. Thus within a few months the camp had become an important one and prosperity abounded. In due time the mines were exhausted, and the busy workers sought other fields. Williamsburg became an abandoned mining camp, a type of the thousands of other deserted villages of the same sort. But the creek still retains some importance by reason of the deep gravel deposits found there, which require hydraulic apparatus to work them. Mr. Layton has remained on the spot and conducted some heavy operations, frequently with success. A generation of farmers have occupied and cultivated the fertile valley of Williams’ creek, where their farms have the advantages of excellent soil, as good as any in Southern Oregon, and there is a sufficiency of water. They have organized themselves into an association called Washington Grange, which dates its beginning from 1875, and possess a hall and a store, valued in all at $5,000. W. W. Fiddler had the honor of being the first master of this Grange, a gentleman of literary ability, and who, while residing here, wrote an interesting account of the remarkable cave on Williams’ creek, which is one of the wonders of this region and a rival in some degree to the famous Mammoth and Luray caves of the Eastern states. It is limestone and contains a complex series of rooms and passages adored with beautiful stalactites and stalagmites, produced by the continually dripping of water which holds lime in solution and deposits it when exposed to the air.
Some miles below the mouth of Williams’ creek, the stream called Murphy’s creek, flows into the Applegate. This is a small water-course named for Barney Murphy, who, in 1852, took the first land claim ever held in the vicinity. His location was near the mouth of the creek. Upon the stream are a grist mill and saw mill, driven by water-power; and near the mouth is the postoffice and way-station named Murphy, kept now by James Wimer. This station is upon the stage road leading from Jacksonville to Josephine, which follows along the south side of the Applegate. Murphy’s creek, and its vicinity contain many small tracts of land suitable for the homes of industrious and persevering settlers, who would easily find a market for their surplus produce. This remark applies to the Applegate valley in general.
The third and last of the three streams, Slate creek, receives its name from the character of its rocky bed. It rises in the southwest, toward the head of Deer Creek, and flowing with a rapid current, pours its waters into the Applegate, two and a-half miles above the mouth of that stream. Its discharge is sufficient for the propulsion of very heavy machinery, for which purpose it may likely come in use. It abounds in trout, the woods along its borders contain game, and the comparatively limited amount of tillable land near by is of good quality. Besides, there are deposits of auriferous gravel which have been worked somewhat, and may yet prove of value. Bybee, Hawkett & Company’s claim is one of the best. The village or hamlet called Wilderville, situated near the mouth of the creek, is the only location of any note. Here, at one time, was the Junction house, so-called from being at the union of two roads, the Crescent City and the Rogue river and Applegate highways. In 1857, this hotel was kept by Oliver J. Evans. The name Wilderville is derived from Joseph L. Wilder, who laid out a town, hoping that it would become the county seat, which its exact central location seems to fit it for, but the people, in 1880, voted against removing it from Kerbyville. Wilderville now contains a postoffice and a store of general merchandise, established in 1879, by Chapin and Nickell, but now owned by Vance and Birdsey. Near by is Slate creek station opposite Wilderville, which was formerly the stopping place for the stage from Jackson to Kerbyville. J. Knight, in 1879, fitted up the place as an inn.
Galice creek received its name from Louis Galice, a French miner who worked upon the stream in 1852, having been one of the first to prospect it. The stream has been a very important one on account of the mineral wealth contained in its banks, which were successfully worked for many years, and are not yet entirely exhausted. A good many miners came in the early years, for Galice creek was one of the earliest diggings after Josephine and Canyon creeks, and some time in those years Galliceburg was built up. This was not a camp exactly, nor a village, but was the spot where population was densest and was accepted as a centre, and given a name. At this place a trading post was established by Wills, and McCulley had a hotel. There were saloons and the other concomitants of mining camps. The usual history of placer mining localities was enacted at Galice creek and the story is easily told. There were rich strikes, big pay, deep or shallow gravel which paid from the grass-roots down, a sloping bed rock, plenty or scarcity of water and a considerable output of gold. Then, having reached sometime int he fifties the climax of prosperity, the inevitable decline began and population and production fell off, the white miners left, to be replaced by Chinese, and Galice ceased to be of improtance. During the Indian wars some incidents of an interesting nature occurred on or near the creek, the principal one being the memorable “siege of Galice creek” in the fall of 1855, by the savages, immediately after their raid through the northern part of Josephine county. This is sufficiently described in the history of the Indian wars. Another incident was the hanging of Chief Taylor, also previously adverted to. We see by the public prints that in 1858 the miners of Galice began to make claim to a high moral standpoint, and while freely confessing the previous deserved reputation of the Galice boys as drinkers of whisky, they proclaimed an entire change in that respect. The shrewd critic discerns herein a symptom of the decay of the diggings, as only rich placers are able to support a population given to intoxication and merriment, and morals always flourish in proportion as the placers decline. A temperance society is less expensive than a saloon.
The quartz excitement of 1860 was felt in Galice creek to some extent, and a vein was found three miles above Witt and Arrington’s store, on the right hand fork of the stream. Sims, Martin, Cassiday and Dinsmore possessed the best claim. In 1874 another excitement, local, but of more intensity that the first, broke out on Galice creek, in the month of December. The occasion of it was the discovery of the Mammoth and Yank ledges, which are about 200 feet thick and extend across the bed of the Rogue river a short distance below the mouth of Galice creek. In less than a month 200 claims were taken on these immense veins, extending many miles along their axes. The excitement was kept up by the assayers’ reports that gave in some cases several hundred dollars per ton. Gold was said to be visible in all the quartz taken out, and capital was earnestly besought to join with labor in utilizing the supposed enormous wealth of the great vein. The roads were lined with teams and individuals making their way to the new bonanza, and a great many miners and speculators from all parts of Oregon and California arrived at Galice in the middle of the rainy season. A wagon road to the nearly inaccessible camp was proposed, and meanwhile Captain Pressley boated several tons of provisions down from the vicinity of Vannoy’s ferry.
Saunders built a hotel, a good-sized building, and the firm of Gupton and Buck put up another. Some Ashland people incorporated a mining company with a capital of $1,800,000, to operate in mines, and two mills were proposed by other “capitalists,” one to have forty stamps, the other fifty. Quartzville, a new town at the mines, was surveyed into lots which sold for fifty dollars apiece; and Yankville, otherwise called Lumberville, was a mile above and also held forth inducements to new comers. The lumber used in the building came mainly from the mouth of Jump-off-Joe, being floated down the river on scows, but a saw mill was soon afterwards built near the mines, which obviated the difficulty. Right here the history of the celebrated quartz excitement on Galice creek ends. There is no portion of the story which relates to the decline of these mines, for the process was too sudden to have a story. Every one got away as quickly as possible and left no indications of their stay, excepting an empty hotel and the sign “for sale” on the corner lots of the town of Quartzville, or Galice City.
Three years later the Sugar Pine quartz ledge in Galice creek was discovered and worked by the Green brothers. AT the time it was the only quartz mine in successful working in Oregon. There were two arastras, and the rock yielded from thirty to eighty dollars per ton, it was said. The firm still possess the mine, which is confidently stated to be a good property and a mine of permanent value.
A very large amount of hydraulic mining has been done on Galice creek, where extensive gravel beds exist. As early as 1858 the firm of Young and Company proposed to employ a hydraulic stream below Rich gulch. Nearly twenty years after quite an impetus was given to mining in general by the operations of the so-called English company, which purchased 500 acres of gold-bearing gravel and set about bringing water by means of a ditch several miles long. In the spring of 1876 the association began piping with great success, taking out $20,000, it was reported, for the season’s work. They ran four giants at one time. Opposite their claim was that of D. C. Courtney, called the “Old Titus” diggings. This had a ditch seven miles long, built in 1878. At the Taylor diggings Bybee had a hydraulic apparatus. The Centennial company and the Blue Gravel company also worked extensively in the same way, and some of these claims are still being mined upon.
North of Rogue river the Oregon trail crosses two very celebrated streams, Jump-off-Joe and Grave creeks, names familiar to the inhabitants of all Oregon. These streams, with their tributaries, rise in the northwestern part of Jackson county, flow westward into Josephine county and find their way into the Rogue river in that part of its course in which it runs northerly. These noted watercourses are of no great volume, in fact, are insignificant brooks, excepting in the floods of winter. Into Jump-off-Joe flows Louse creek, and into Grave creek runs Wolf creek and Coyote creek. How these streams obtained their peculiar names has long been a much-asked question. More has been written on the subject than upon aught else belonging to their history. Louse creek, Wolf creek and Coyote creek require no explanation. Their cognomens are doubtless derived from the prevalence of those different species of wild animals upon their banks. As to Jump-off-Joe, report has it that some individual, known as Joe, was compelled to leap into the stream to escape danger. But these reports cannot be traced to any authentic source. Probably the stories of Joe McLaughlin, Joseph Lane and the other Joes were invented to account for the name, and were not its real origin. It seems by far the most probable conclusion that the name arises from some Indian word, of whose sound “Jump-off-Joe” is an imitation. The present name is said to have been applied as early as 1837, which is highly possible.
The derivation of the name Grave creek carries with it a romance of no ordinary cast. In 1846 the Applegates, as has been said, piloted the immigrants of that year to Oregon by the newly explored southern route. Among these people was a family named Crowley, who had a daughter, Martha Leland Crowley, who was taken ill and died at the crossing of the stream called now Grave creek. She was buried there, under the shadow of a pine tree, and in order that the Indians should not exhume her remains for the sake of her garments, all traces of the burial were obliterated, and cattle were corralled upon the spot. Her coffin was made from a wagon box as is instanced by several persons who were personally more or less conversant with the affair, among whom are Theodore Prater, now in Lower California, and Mrs. Rachel Challinor, of Glendale, both of whom helped bury the deceased. The remains of the unfortunate girl, it would appear, were dug up by the Indians, though this fact has been disputed. Several persons contend that they have seen the grave before and after it was violated and therefore refuse to admit the possibility of a mistake in identity. Of these is Colonel Nesmith, who first set eyes upon the place of interment in 1848, and found that it had been opened and that the bones were scattered about the pit. These, says the colonel, were replaced, and the grave again partly filled with earth. According to the same authority, certain Indians who were killed a few days after the close of the war of 1853 were also thrown into the grave, so that Miss Crowley’s remains rest, perhaps, with those of the savages who desecrated her last abode. Mrs. Crowley, mother of the young lady, is now in Polk county, where she married Mr. Fulkerson, her first husband having died. There is a great deal of evidence to substantiate the truth of the above account, with the exception of the exhumation of the body, which, after all, is scarcely material to the subject of how Grave creek got its name. There would ordinarily have been no doubt on the subject had it not been that the history of Josephine county deals with another young lady, the Miss Josephine Rawlins, or Rollins, from whom the county’s name is derived, as previously related, and the two females, though not by any means contemporaries, have become confounded together in some measure, as such accounts inevitably will, when only preserved through people’s recollections. Thus from the death and burial of Miss Crowley, Grave creek obtained its name. In after years a famous place of entertainment for travelers was opened here by Bates, who afterwards sold to two men, James Twogood and Harkness, who remained until the latter’s death by Indians int he spring of 1856. Twogood is said to be now living in Boise, Idaho. They named this place, previously called the Bates’ tavern, the Grave creek house; and when, in 1854, the legislature changed the name to Leland creek, in honor of the girl we have been speaking of, the firm of Harkness and Twogood called their place Leland creek house. By the name of Leland the post office at the creek is known, but the ancient name of Grave creek seems ineradicable, and is interwoven with many scraps of the country’s history.
In mining the northern part of Josephine county has had something of a record. In the upper part of Grave creek valley a great deal of gravel has been found containing gold, and the deposits have been worked with ordinary success. Hydraulic apparatus has been instituted in quite a number of instances, and several ditches of considerable length and capacity have been constructed for the purpose of supplying the pipes. On Wolf and Coyote creeks, a similar experience has been had. On the latter stream, and in Jackson county, is the Coyote Creek Mining Company’s claim, better known as the Kelly-Ruble location, which is now regarded as the richest mining ground in the county, and is the subject of an important lawsuit.
Besides containing large amounts of gravel of a rich sort, this portion of Josephine county abounds with ledges of quartz, many of which have been prospected, with good results. The Esther or Browning mine, on Grave creek, and the Lucky Queen mine, on Jump-off-Joe, have attracted the most notice. The latter is situated two and a-half miles east of the stage road and very near the county line. It was the property of a joint-stock association of men, mostly residents of Southern Oregon. The works on and in the mine are believed to be the most extensive in the state, the aggregate length of shafts and tunnels being nearly 1,000 feet. The ore is very complex, containing various base metals, besides silver and gold, and assays, in places, very high. A ten-stamp mill was built in 1875, and included various experimental devices for extracting the gold. For several years, work progressed at the Lucky Queen, but suspended finally in 1879.
Of still greater importance than grave l or quartz mines, the railroad next claims the reader’s attention. The progress of the Oregon & California line through the Cow creek and Grave creek country was marked by some of the most difficult of engineering works, of which the most considerable are the nine tunnels found between the South Umpqua and Jump-off-Joe. The length of these are officially given as follows, beginning with the most northerly: Tunnel, number one, forty-six miles south of Roseburg, 258 feet; two, 382 feet; three, 442 feet; four, 323 feet; five, 340 feet; six, 514 feet; seven 109 feet; eight (known as Cow creek tunnel, between Cow and Wolf creeks), 2,805 feet; nine (Grave creek tunnel), 2,112 feet. The altitudes of several places on the road are as follows: Roseburg, 485 feet; Glendale, 1,440; Cow creek tunnel, 1,619; Grave creek tunnel, 1,549; the Rogue river crossing, 1,169. Within Josephine county there are thirty and one-half miles of road, upon which are several quite long and lofty trestles and bridges. The Brimstone trestle required over half a million feet of lumber in its construction, and the Grave creek bridge is 120 feet high, its central span is 120 feet long and the bridge, with its approaches, is 424 feet in length. The cuts are on a scale commensurate with the tunnels and trestles, and many of them are in such extremely soft ground that the difficulty of maintaining the road is immensely increased by the reason of the land-slides which are prone to take place.
From the foregoing, it will easily be seen that northern Josephine is not by any means deficient in interest. Almost the first events of which the student of Southern Oregon history has knowledge, were enacted on the old California and Oregon trail, and many a scene of romance and danger has since been viewed there. In the early Indian wars, that locality was the scene of the terrible murders committed by the revolting savages, and many of the victims of their famous raid were settlers in the Josephine county of a little later date. Here, too, occurred the active operations which took place in the following war of retribution against the natives. The Grave Creek House was the headquarters of a contingent of the volunteer army. In the Grave creek hills, some miles west of the railroad line, there took place the first, and perhaps the most important battle of that war. This was Hungry Hill, for a description of which action the reader is referred to previous pages of this book. The locality of this fight will ever remain a classical spot, made interesting by the death of many brave and worthy men. This memorable field of strife is now almost unknown, save to the few present survivors of the volunteers, who occasionally visit it. Rank underbrush and grasses have usurped the place where blood was shed, and only those familiar with the ground can point out even the last resting place of the dead who fell there. Several persons, among them General Ross and J. W. Sutton (deceased in 1879), both participants in the battle, have given utterance to a desire that the brave men who fell there should be honored with some kind of a memorial — a simple monument, at least, whereby their graves might be known. Enlarging upon this idea, Mr. Sutton proposed a monument to the fallen of the Indian wars, to be erected by the public — a measure so just and patriotic as to excite surprise that it has not been carried out. To build such a monument should be the immediate work of the public-spirited people of Southern Oregon. Of a visit to the battle-field of Hungry Hill Mr. Sutton wrote, in a style worthy of Irving:
“Some summers since, while passing the little cemetery, I halted for the purpose of visiting the grave of my old comrade. I stood beside the little row of graves that I found blended into one, the mounds now hardly distinguishable; no board or stone at head or foot is found; no one can tell these graves apart. In unity they met a common foe; in unity they fell; in unity they lay beneath the sod, awaiting the judgment day. In vain I sought to determine the grave of my old friend; it was lost, lost amid its comrade graves. After a short search among the weeds and grass that covered the graves, I found a fragment of a half-decayed board, on which I could trace the inscription which my own hand had carved full twenty years before — ‘Jonathan Pedigo; Killed by Indians at the Battle of Hungry Hill, October 31, 1855.'”
History of Southern Oregon, Comprising Jackson, Josephine, Douglas, Curry and Coos, Counties,
Compiled from the Most Authentic Sources. Published By A. G. Walling, 1884. Portland, Oregon.