View of Rogue Valley from Wagner Butte

Rogue River Oregon Indian War




The 5th and 6th days of August, 1853, will long be remembered by the people of Southern Oregon, as dark days in their early history. On the 4th, Edward Edwards, had been murdered at his home on Stewarts creek (Bear creek), and on the 5th, Thomas Wills was killed. The next day, August 6th, Noland was killed in his cabin among the miners on Jackson creek.
Thos. Wills was killed near the spot where the residence of Hon. A. M. Berry now stands, just at dark. The inmates of the Robinson house, including the writer, heard the firing followed by the cries and groans of Mr. Wills distinctly. This murder followed so close after the other spread consternation throughout the country. The news rapidly spread far and wide and the miners from Applegate, Foots creek and the other various mining camps flocked to Jacksonville for safety.
On the 7th of August, the miners captured two Shasta Indians, one on Jackson creek, and the other on Applegate. These Indians were both in their war paint when caught. They were brought to Jacksonville and on examination it was found that the bullets belonging to one of their guns were the same size of the one with which Noland was killed. There were other facts and circumstances which tendered to identify them as the guilty parties. They were tried by a miners jury and hanged before 2 o'clock the same day. In my opinion they were justly punished.
(In justice to the military authority at Fort Lane, we will add that they assisted in bringing these Indians to justice, and indorsed the action of the citizens in the matter. ED. TIDINGS)
One of the saddest and most inhuman acts of the whole war, remains to be told. Late in the evening of the day those Indians were executed, a small innocent boy about nine years old was brought to Jacksonville by three men from Butte creek, with whom the boy had been living. The poor little boy on being discovered by the miners and taken to a place near where David Lion's [Linn’s] Cabinet shop is now standing, and near where the scaffold where the two Indians were still hanging. I mounted a log near by, and called the attention of the vast crowd, to the solemnity of the act they were about to perpetrate. I called on them to punish the guilty, but to spare the life of the innocent child. While pleading at the top of my voice the crowd gathered around the hangsman's tree. Some one called out "what will you do with the boy." I replied, I will take him to a hotel and feed him. I went to him and took him by the hand and started up California street when Martin Angel came up on horseback and without alighting commenced to harangue the mob against the murderous Indians. He said, "The war was raging all over Rogue River valley, we have been fighting Indians all day; hang him, hang him; he will make a murderer when he is grown , and would hang you if he had a chance." The mob at once seized the boy and threw a rope around his neck, which I succeeded in cutting twice. I was violently thrown back by an Irishman, of the firm of Miller, Rogers & Co., of the left hand fork of Jackson creek. The excitement was so great that I found that my own life was in danger, and I had to withdraw. In a moment more the boy was swinging to a limb. I turned away with a sad heart at this inhuman conduct towards the innocent child, against whom no crime was charged. No mob ever committed a more heartless murder than this. It is only equaled by the murder to two Indian women, and a child ten months old, by a private of Capt. Wilkinson's company on Slate creek, on the 7th day of November, 1855. The women and child had been taken prisoners and entrusted to this man and one other to guard in the rear of the company as they marched toward Illinois valley. He wantonly shot them and left them laying by the side of the road; I will add also the murder of "Dick" Johnson and his family in Douglas county.
(There were several other heartless murders committed during the war of '55 and '56 of which we will speak in the course of our sketches. Ed. TIDINGS)
Had Martin Angel remained quiet, I would have saved the boy. As it was, he was responsible for his death. Martin Angel was a good neighbor, a kind husband and father and an influential citizen, but an implacable enemy to the whole Indian race. But poor unfortunate man! he at last came to his death at the hands of the Indians. On the 2d day of January, 1856, during the war of '55 and '56, he was in search of Indians between Jacksonville and Applegate, and while riding down Poorman's creek, he was shot by Indians and instantly killed.
The murderers of Edwards and Kyle were tried in the District court at Jacksonville on the 7th and 8th of January, 1854. They were found guilty and hanged on the following Friday, being the 10th day of January.
The following particulars of the trial of those murderers are gleaned from the records of the court.
The officers of the court were Hon. O. B. McFadden, Judge; C. Sims, Prosecuting Attorney; Matthew G. Kennedy, Sheriff; and Lycurgus Jackson, Clerk.
The Grand Jury presented indictments against Indian Tom and George for the murder of James C. Kyle.
They were brought into court and arraigned, and having no council, the court appointed D. B. Brennan and P. P. Prim to defend them; these attorneys being their choice. Louis Dennis was appointed, in connection with Mr. Colver, to act as interpre tor, to the court and jury. Indian George was first put on trial, and the following jury was empannelled to try the case: S. D. Vandyke, Edward McCartie, T. Gregard(?), A. Davis, Robt. Hargadine, A. D. Lake, James Hamlin, Sam'l Hall, Frederick Alberdine, F. Huber, and R. Henderson. After hearing the evidence in the case, arguments of councils and charge of the Judge, they rendered a verdict of murder in the first degree. On motion of the Prosecuting Attorney the Court proceeded to pronounce the following sentence as the Judgement of the Court.
You, Indian George, have been indicted and tried for one of the highest offences known to the law, to wit: The crime of murder. You have had a fair and impartial trial, as much so, as if you had belonged to our own race; you have had the benefit of council who did everything for you that was possible. But an intellectual and upright jury, upon a fair and dispassionate examination of the evidence given against you, not only by those whom you suppose to be unfriendly toward your people, but by the chiefs of your own tribe, have found you, Indian George, guilty in manner and form, as you stand indicted, of having on the night of the 7th of Oct., 1853, deliberately, and without premed itation and malice, shot Jas. C. Kyle and as there was no provo cation on the part of Mr. Kyle, which could justify you in the use of violence toward him, they have said that you are guilty of murder in first degree, an offense which by our laws is punish able by death. It, therefore, becomes my duty to pass on you the sentence approved by our laws.
The sentence of the court is, that you, Indian George, be taken hence by the Sheriff of the county of Jackson, and be by him, the said Sheriff, kept and detained in safe and secure custody until Friday, the 19th day of February, A. D., 1854, and between the hours of 10 o'clock a.m., and 12 a.m., of said day; and that you, Indian George, be taken by the said Sheriff or his lawful deputy of successor in office, on the day and between the hours in that he has last afforesaid from the place of confine ment to a gallows, to be by said Sheriff, for that purpose erected at Jacksonville, in the county of Jackson, and there to be hanged by the neck, until you, Indian George, be dead and may God have mercy on your soul