Jackson, Josephine, Douglas,
Curry and Coos
Compiled from the Most Authentic Sources.
A. G. Walling,
Abstracted from above named publication by
Linda Blum-Barton, November 2008 -
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
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
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
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 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
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
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
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
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
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
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.'"
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