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Uncle Dan' Drumheller tells thrills of western trails in 1854 Drumheller, Dan, 1840-1925 1925

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FROM Cariboo to Hermosillo, and from Bitter
Creek, near the summit of the Rockies, on west
to the Golden Gate, there is hardly a cattle trail
or a country town but "Uncle Dan'* Drumheller
knew it intimately. Coming overland from Missouri
to California in 1854, he spent his long life on the
Pacific coast. As a rider for the old pony express in
the days before the civil war, and later as miner,
packer, cattleman, rancher, banker, farmer and investor, he has ransacked this country from one end
to the other.
More than 60 years ago he passed over the present
site of Spokane, while driving a pack train laden with
supplies from Fort Walla Walla to the placer mines
of Studhorse creek—since euphemistically rechris-
tened Wildhorse creek—in the Fort Steele district of
East Kootenay. It may well be doubted whether any
other man of this century had so remarkable and intimate a knowledge of the resources and the development of the whole Pacific coast.
At the age of 81, he recorded some of his recollections in a series published in The Spokesman-Review.
Those who knew Uncle Dan best are most astonished
at the accuracy and the extraordinary scope of his
memory. These chapters were written without reference to tests, but it is believed the errors that may
have crept in are of the most trifling sort. This
autobiography covers a range of interest and human
life such as has seldom been experienced.
Daniel Montgomery Drumheller died in Los Angeles, California, on February 28, 1925.  "UNCLE DAN" DRUMHELLER  "Uncle Dan" Drumheller
Tells Thrills
of Western Trails in
By       I m
Spokane, Washington
Inland-American Printing Company
Foreword  iii
I  1
II  13
III - - - -|  23
IV -  39
V  51
VI 63
VII 77
IX 105
X 113
XI 123  WHEN you trail cattle overland a thousand
miles at a stretch you get a pretty fair idea
of a country. You learn to find the water
and the good grass, or else you go busted in short
order. Foot and horseback I've probably traveled
as far over this country as the next man. I've had
my pick of the land and I'm here in Spokane because
I think it's the richest, healthiest, friendliest part of
the United States. I'm talking now about eastern
Washington and the panhandle of Idaho and the
Grande Ronde valley and Umatilla county in Oregon.
Back in 1864 I came up through the Palouse on
my way to the Canadian placers and camped at the
springs where the J. J. Browne house now stands on
Moran prairie, near Spokane. The bunch grass was
belly high on the horses. You didn't need to be a
graduate of agronomy to know that soil which
would raise such grass would raise small grains. I
made up my mind then that the country between
here and Walla Walla was the land to tie to and
I've been keeping this for headquarters ever since.
Of course, I haven't been altogether paralyzed or
bedridden. I've driven cattle over the Blue Mountains and over the Rockies into Cheyenne when
Indians made the trip real annoying. I've traded
and mined and run live stock through Montana and
Wyoming and California and Nevada and down into
Mexico, but I've always headed in again for Spokane.
Why?    Well, look at the facts:
Whitman county, just south of us, is absolutely
the greatest and richest wheat growing spot in the
United States, both in yield per acre and in total
LX. They've been farming down in Walla Walla for
over half a century to my knowledge and the yield
per acre has doubled under intelligent methods and
summer fallowing. According to the experts the
land should have been worn out a generation ago.
It's a pretty lively corpse.
In the dry belt my guess would be that the wheat
farms will grow bigger instead of smaller. In the
higher lands of eastern Washington and Idaho there
will be diversification based on alfalfa, with a steady
growth of live stock. The animal industry is shifting away from a range proposition and is getting to
be a business that is best developed on small farms.
Iowa has almost as many cattle as the combined
herds on all the ranges of Wyoming, Montana and
Colorado. The feed lot is the answer. Sheep
scattered in little droves throughout Ohio are worth
more than the entire bunch in Idaho or California
or Oregon or New Mexico. There's no use talking
about the sheep of Washington. Little old Michigan usually has four times as many.
We used to think that cutting up the range would
end beefsteaks and mutton chops and would drive
the American people to a diet of oatmeal and boiled
rice. There has been a reduction in the yearly output of live stock, all right, but the small farms and
feed lots are the backbone of our animal food supplies.
I've mined off and on all my life. I was on the
Comstock before Virginia City could brag of a
cemetery, and I staked the Overman. Also, I made
some money there and I've been taking a hand in
the mining game whenever a new camp has opened
up in the Northwest. People here talk as if the
big  days  of  mining  around   Spokane  were  over.
x. They're simply ignorant. They don't recognize
the astonishing fact that the Coeur d'Alenes in an
area a dozen miles square produce more wealth every
year than all Alaska. A lot of us are dead in
the world when it comes to grasping the progress of
metallurgical science. Jim Breen, who made the reduction of Rossland ores on a cheap basis possible,
is one of the best smelting men in the business. A
few years ago I heard him tell how it did not seem
possible to expect a substantial lowering of the rate
of $7.50 a ton, which he had worked out for LeRoi
ores. He meant it, too. But it wasn't long before
Granby was making money by mining and shipping
and smelting and refining similar ores that only
carried $3.50 a ton gross. We are in line for further
reductions in the cost of treatment that will open up
enormous tonnage now lying dormant in the nearby
XI.  dtfcC J
Hitting the Trail
Y NAME is Daniel Montgomery Drumheller
and I was born on a plantation near Gallatin
in Sumner country, 26 miles from Nashville,
Tenn., March 25, 1840. My father's people were
Virginians, and he was born at Monticello, in sight
of Thomas Jefferson's home, so I'm a natural born
Democrat, but parties are getting so scrambled up
that it doesn't mean much what you think you are.
Father was a machinist and built a cotton gin for my
mother's father, who was a prosperous Tennessee
planter with a hundred slaves.
Our family left Tennessee when I was a baby,
and settled down in southwestern Missouri near
Springfield in the Ozarks. When I was three, father
died and left mother with a big brood of children.
It was a rough and primitive country. Our people
farmed and raised a few cattle, some corn and a little
cotton. There was nothing else to do. I never saw
a cook stove until I was twelve years old. All the
cooking was done around a fireplace, and we lived
pretty much on hog and corn and sweet potatoes,
with some game and peaches and berries.
The women folks had a hard life. They spun
the wool and wove the cloth and dyed it, if it happened to be dyed, and they made our clothes, every
stitch, by hand. I never saw a sewing machine until
I came to California.     For lights,  when  we cele- 'UNCLE  DAN" DRUMHELLER
brated, we used tallow candles, but mostly we depended on the blaze of the fireplace and a flat lamp
like a saucer with a cotton wick floating in grease
that fed the flame. You could have found the same
lamps 4,000 years ago when they were building the
pyramids, and I don't know that down in Missouri
we had progressed very much ahead of the pyramid
A Visit to St. Louis
In the early '50s folks built a little railroad running 40 miles from St. Louis down to Iron mountain, but it was just a legend to most of us. We'd
have been afraid to ride on the train if we'd had a
The only teaching was in pay schools. The
master got $15 a month and was boarded around
among the pupils' families. I went to school maybe
three months at a time during three or four winters,
and we got clubbed regularly to help us along the
road to wisdom. Later, in California, I went to the
Santa Rosa Methodist academy a couple of terms for
a few weeks.
St. Louis was the biggest town in the world for
us. With the river traffic and the fur trade of the
Northwest that centered there, it was the headquarters for adventure. When I was 11 or 12 the farmers got me to help them drive cattle and hogs overland, 225 miles to St. Louis. I would make the
whole trip one way on foot. The drovers would sell
cattle at two cents a pound, hogs at three or four
cents and oxen at $50 a yoke and would invest the
proceeds in the purchase of cheap St. Louis wagons,
which they would load up with merchandise to
freight home. HITTING THE TRAIL
I always got to ride back. I got pretty good
wages for a youngster in those days—$9 a month
and board. Once a chap named Norton paid me
off with nine silver dollars, but when I got back
to mother she found three of them were bogus, and
I rode 35 miles over the hills to Norton's to have
him make good. There was a lot of bogus silver
in circulation.
I saved my money and bought two steers—
scrawny Arkansas critters that cost $3 and $4 each.
A St. Louis wagon, of the cheaper variety, cost $40,
but the better kind such as was used for the overland
trip to California, cost $75 to $100. It was largely
made of prime hickory with narrow tires.
Crazy Over California
Everybody then was crazy over the California gold
rush. Everybody wanted to sell and go west. You
could buy the best farm in that part of Missouri for
$10 an acre. My brother Tom came to California
in 1850 and made some money in placer mining
around Hangtown and Red Dog. He died on a farm
near Medical Lake, Wash., 15 years ago. Another
brother named Jesse—who was always known as
"Curley" throughout the Northwest—came to Oregon in 1852 in the same train as Ezra Meeker. He
worked in Governor Abernethy's saw mill on the
Columbia river at Oak Point. Of course I wanted
to strike out West, too, and as a result of my trips
to St. Louis, I thought I was a regular globe trotter.
About this time Joe McMinn was planning to
start for California. He had crossed the plains two
years before and knew the trail wonderfully well.
He was the same breed as the pioneers that McMinn- "UNCLE   DAN" DRUMHELLER
ville, Oregon, is named after. He wanted to venture
to California again with a bunch of 175 head of
cattle that he picked up around $20 apiece. In California he would get $90 each for good steers three
or four years old.
He had three wagons, each drawn by four yoke
of oxen, and there were three families with six men
in his party, three women and a little child or two
and a couple of boys. They had half a dozen horses
for handling their cattle. I got mother's consent to
go, and McMinn was glad to have me, for I was a
handy youngster at handling either horses or cattle.
He let me put my two. Arkansas steers with his
bunch and he provided me with a wonderful pinto
saddle horse named Arch. The old pinto breed was
a small, round Percheron quarter horse that came
originally from England to America. I rode her
behind that bunch of cattle all the way from the
Ozarks to the Sacramento river. Oh! she was a
lovely animal, with a crease down her backbone that
you could roll a ball along. Fifty years later, in
the Santa Rosa valley in California I met some of the
McMinns who were driving a beautiful mare.
'Why, that mare looks like old Arch," I said. And
they told me that she was the granddaughter of Arch.
Hitting the Trail
We struck out for California April 22, 1854, and
we crossed the Missouri river south of where Kansas
City now stands—but there was no such thing as
Kansas City then. We crossed the Rockies at Sweetwater Pass on the Green river and went on to Box
Elder (now the site of Ogden) \ where we met some
Mormons, the first whites west of Fort Laramie ex-
4 cept the emigrants. Striking west, we got into
the Thousand Springs valley in northeast Nevada
—then part of the territory of Utah—then followed
the Humboldt river to its sink and went 40 miles
farther to the Carson river. Then we went on to the
Trucked river where Reno is now.
We crossed over the Sierras at Donner pass, and
saw where the ill-fated Donner party were caught
in 1845. You got some idea of the depth of the
snow from the stumps 20 feet high where they cut
trees for firewood. Those stumps are still standing.
Most of the Donner party perished in their camp.
The rest were rescued by pioneers from Sutter's Fort.
It seems to me 50 or 60 died. On the west slope of
the Sierras we went through Hangtown, now Placer-
ville, which was a camp of 2,500 people with a few
women, and we crossed the Sacramento river at the
mouth of the Feather river, September 22, 1854, just
five months to a day after we started. The trip was
nearly 2,200 miles long. We had moved every day
and we didn't lose a single animal.
Years On the Ranch
I left the McMinn party at the mouth of the
Feather river and started up to Colusa, 45 miles
away, to get a job on a ranch. The fare was ten
cents a mile, so I walked most of the way. At Colusa I found a rancher named E. C. Singletary who
was raising' cattle and a little grain—mostly barley.
He gave me a job at $40 a month and I made my
headquarters at his ranch for over five years. McMinn sold my steers for me at about $90 apiece, and
I did a little trading in cattle on my own account,
and managed to make some money, for I saved pretty
much all I earned.
It was a primitive farming country. There were
wild geese by the millions in the tule swamps, and
there were Indians by the thousands—peaceful Diggers, who lived on fish and geese. They set up
stuffed stool-geese in the swamps, and caught the
birds in nets spread among the rushes. The Si-
washes tied long cords to the nets and jerked the
snares up to catch the birds when they settled down.
Then the squaws gathered roots by the ton that they
dug out of solid rock crevices. That was why they
were called Diggers. The roots were mashed with a
stone pestle and baked. The tribe has been nearly
exterminated by disease.
Those Spanish Grants
To the north were the Modocs. They were an
alert and war-like bunch who later went on the warpath under Captain Jack, but in the '50s they were
not so bad. Many of them talked good English and
Spanish. Then there were some Rogue River Indians
in southern Oregon near where Medford is now, an
intelligent tribe, but as mean as Apaches. The coast
Indians who had an easy living were peaceful, but
the mountain tribes that had to rustle made trouble.
The whites along the Sacramento river were mostly living on Spanish grants—and many of them were
forged. One of the big estates was called the Cam-
bustian grant. It purported to comprise an immense
tract 25 miles long claimed by this Cambustian.
Some of the squatters, including Singletary, were
fighting Cambustian and took his title into court.
His grant was a majestic looking document, all writ-
ten out in Spanish, with seals and signatures supposed to have been executed by some Spanish viceroy
down in Mexico.
The settlers were represented by a smart rancher
named Jones. In court he got to pawing over this
grant, and holding it up to the light he saw a water
mark in the foolscap showing that the paper was
made ten years after the time when it was dated.
That ended Cambustian. Among the squatters on
the Cambustian grant was Mayberry Davis, grandfather of Harold and Jim Davis, now sheepmen and
bankers of Colfax, Wash.    They were born there.
I went to San Francisco first in 1855, when I was
a boy of 15. It was a town of 25,000 people and
Montgomery street was the principal thoroughfare.
There was nothing south of Market street. There
were not many Spanish nor greasers, but the country
even then had many Chinese. They were operating
deserted placer camps and were cooking and doing
domestic work all over the country.
Land But No Settlers
Going back to our trip overland: Up the beautiful valley of the Kansas or the Kaw river, to its
junction with the Blue river, near Fort Riley, we
passed an occasional Indian who was trying to farm,
but I don't remember a single white rancher that we
struck on the trip from Missouri to Box Elder, Utah.
That was before the days of squatter settlement on
the plains and before John Brown of Ossawotamie
started in to make Kansas a free state. The creek
bottoms were covered with wonderful groves of walnut.   There was no trouble following the road. 'UNCLE  DAN" DRUMHELLER
The gold rush for California started in '49 and
continued furiously until 1852. Those were the
years when the greatest emigration went over the
plains, and the wagon tracks made a trail you couldn't miss. Besides, there were bones of dead cattle
and abandoned wagons and graves of pioneers along
most of the way. Fremont had gone out in '43;
Whitman in '36. Captain Bonneville had gone out
over the continental divide as far as southeastern
Idaho in 1832. He was the first man to cross the
Rockies by wagon. Whitman, as I recall, did not
finish his trip with a wagon. He had to cut it in
two and finish with a cart.
At Fort Riley, which was about 130 miles west
of the Missouri river, we found a little pioneer garrison where one or two companies of cavalrymen
were stationed to protect the emigrant trails. There
were whitewashed log cabins with a little flag post
in the center of the plaza and there was a sutler who
traded a little with the Indians, but there was no
sign of a town.
Among the Buffalo
Here the trail struck northward up the valley of
the Blue river into Nebraska, and we met the Platte
river near Fort Kearney and turned west. There we
got into the buffaloes and we were in buffaloes until
we got to Fort Cheyenne in Wyoming. The animals
were in a continuous line of travel that stretched
from the Canadian, river in Texas far up through
Montana clear into the Peace River country, in Canada. I suppose that north and south they occupied
a range of 2,000 miles, and twice during the year,
in their spring and fall migration, herds were in motion across the whole territory.
It is impossible to give an idea of their numbers.
On those level plains of western Nebraska and eastern
Wyoming one can easily see 20 miles away to the
horizon, and for days as we drove westward there
were clusters of buffalo in every direction just as far
as the eye would carry. I don't mean to say that
they were there in solid mass. Instead, they were
stretched out in little bunches as close together as
they would normally graze. Hour by hour they
were working their way northward in advance of
the summer sun.
Once, in camp on the bank of the Platte river, we
found ourselves in a stampede of buffaloes. Something started them to running and the noise was
frightful—the roaring of the bulls, the bleating of
the calves and the thunder of those thousands of
hoofs. We were pretty badly scared, for if they had
started in to cross our camp nothing could have saved
us. By some good luck the herd split and passed on
each side of our wagon, while they swept by for
an hour and a half.
Few Crossed the Rockies
So far as I know, there has never been a trace of
buffaloes found west of the main range of the
Rockies, except one report that I got 30 or 40 years
ago from a pioneer named Jonathan Keeney. in
1843-4 he wintered near the sink of Lost River, in
central Idaho, near where Mackay now stands. He
told me a bunch of 30 or 40 head perished there that
winter. Montana and Alberta were probably their
greatest headquarters.   What are now known as the 'UNCLE  DAN" DRUMHELLER
Wintering Hills east of Calgary were originally
known as the buffalo wintering hills, because the
grass was so fine and the snow so light that it was
a famous winter rendezvous for the herds.
The Indians from Walla Walla and the Spokane
country, as I found out afterward, used to go on
annual hunting trips for buffalo on the east slope
of the Rockies, over Lolo pass, or around Pend
d'Oreille lake or over the Indian trail that Lieutenant Mullan subsequently followed. After jerking
the meat by drying it in the sun, they would load
up their cayuses and come back home with their
winter's provisions.
There were antelope on the prairies of Kansas
and Nebraska—pretty little fellows that would slip
along beside our wagons just outside of gunshot,
and they would follow us for hours. Their color
changes while you look at them. I tried to shoot
one, but was hit by buck ague. The meat is the
finest game I ever ate, very dry, much like chicken
rather than venison.
Travel Every Day
Occasionally we would travel for a little while
with other emigrants, but we seldom stayed together
for any length of time, for everybody was anxious
to get to California just as soon as possible. We
were up at 4 o'clock in the morning to round up
the cattle, and would strike out as soon as we could
get the breakfast over and the cattle yoked and we
would drive on till we got to a good camping place
for the night. Usually we made about 15 miles a
day, starting by 7 o'clock and keeping on until 4
or 5 in the afternoon, with maybe an hour at noon,
making about two miles an hour.
On the whole trip to Sacramento valley, 2,200
miles, which took just 152 days, we never laid up a
day, and while the water was often bad, we never
failed to find water for the night's camp except in
our trip through the Nevada desert. We made two
dry camps in the sinks of the Humboldt. On the
treeless plains we made our fires of buffalo chips, or
maybe we found an abandoned emigrant wagon or
a scrawny tree along the trail, and we picked up the
wood and carried it in to the night's camping place.
11  ~Jt£ j
fcCX jSi
The Pony Express
WE HAD to learn to make fires without paper
or kindling, but we had matches in blocks
like the old Chinese match. They were
stinking affairs, but were a recent discovery and were
considered very much up to date. When I was a
child we had used flint and steel with punk. Usually we would dig a little hole in the ground and
start the blaze with the buffalo chips. They made
a wonderful fire, much like clear coke, and there
were millions of tons to be had for picking them up.
We had coffee regularly for breakfast and some
tea, but tea wasn't common. We lived on home-
cured ham and bacon, dried peaches and apples, and
wheat bread, which we baked in a Dutch oven on
the trail. We had milch cows, and the trail was so
rough that we put the sour cream in a churn and set
it in the wagon, where it would churn itself into
butter. Then, of course, we had fresh buffalo right
along, and we would jerk the meat.
We were dressed in jeans dyed brown with butternut, or, if we were very fashionable, we had it dyed
The wagons that we used were in design much
like the farm wagons of today, except that many
of them had beds that curved up at each end, something like a boat. The better ones had watertight
boxes, which we raised on the standards to protect
the contents when we made the fords of rivers and
creeks. The axles were of hickory, covered top and
bottom with a thin sheet of iron on the skein where
they rested within the hub of the wheel. There was
a linchpin that fitted in a hole at the outer end to
keep the wheel in place. For grease we user tar, and
a tar bucket swinging under the tail of the wagon
was almost as necessary as the oxen. We had eight
oxen to the wagon and the four yokes were strung
together on a long chain attached to the tongue. The
cattle were trained to guide to the command of "Gee"
and "Haw."
Pioneer Transportation and the Pony Express
The main interest in travel was to overhaul the
immense freight outfits of Major & Waddell. They
were the pioneer transportation men of the great
West, and they were credited with having hundreds
of wagons in their employ. They moved government freight for the army posts from the Missouri
river clear across the continent to Santa Fe and Salt
Lake. The usual freight outfit consisted of 26
wagons, with 12 oxen to each, in charge of a wagon
master, and sometimes they had guards of soldiers
along through the more troublesome Indian country,
although usually they depended on the teamsters
standing guard at night.
This was long before the days of the overland
stage. As I remember, the stage commenced running
through the South first in 1857, via Texas and
Arizona to San Francisco, and was moved to St. Joe,
Mo., on through Laramie and Ogden to Sacramento
in 1860, about the same time the pony express
The pony express could make short cuts on bridle
paths where the cumbersome stages could not possibly
follow. In a general way the stage route and the
pony express followed the same route as the present
line of the Union Pacific system from St. Joe through
Cheyenne and Ogden on to Sacramento, but the pony
express route, which started first, used some short
cuts to the Carson valley over the Sierras. The stage
road followed the Humboldt valley. Neither went
through Virginia City, Nev., which was six or eight
miles south. Sacramento was the western terminal
because from there to San Francisco, 90 miles, the
trip could be made by fast steamers. One boat, the
New World, made the run in five hours.
The installation of the stage route was a tremendous job. Wherever possible the stage stations were
built of stone, in the form of a Spanish hacienda.
The camp-tender's house formed part of the outer
walls, which were extended in a hollow square to
include the stables. There were fireplaces where the
cooking was done. Ruins of these old stage stations,
which were set maybe 20 miles apart, are still standing across the country in Wyoming.
Keeping Stagecoach Cargo On an Even Keel
The stage coaches were immense affairs. As I recall, there was room for nine people inside, and there
was room for two more with the driver in the front
boot, and then there were cross seats on top. The
Wells-Fargo express messenger, who rode with the
gold shipments, sat up in the boot with the driver,
with his artillery at hand. There was a boot of
solid cowhide in the rear where mail was supposed
to be carried, but as a matter of fact mail and express
were packed in everywhere over the stage, and the
passengers inside were lucky to have leg room.
I have seen as many as 30 people inside and out
on those stages. The more they were loaded the
easier they rode on their long leather thorough-braces
—a cradle of leather thongs stretching from one axle
to the other, on which the body of the coach swayed
and rocked like a cradle. It was a nice job for the
driver to get his load adjusted to his liking. Sometimes on a long down-hill grade, if he was out of
balance we would invite a stray Indian to take a
ride in the rear boot. Then, having trimmed ship,
he would turn his horses loose and all six of them
would go tearing down hill with the great coach
swinging behind them, at a pace that took your
breath away.
The fare from the Missouri river to Carson City,
Nev., in the early days, was $250 gold. These huge
red coaches, which cost $1,200 to $1,500, were
pretty expensive to operate, for they were frightfully
heavy. Later on in many parts of the West a smaller
stage, or mud-wagon, as it was called, came into
use. It was of the same design as the old thorough-
brace coach from Concord, New Hampshire, but it
could be hauled by four horses, and it carried eight
or ten people instead of the crowds that they piled
up on the overland stages.
Competition in Stages Out of Walla Walla
In later years, in 1862, a string of the big coaches
was brought from California up to Walla Walla by
George H. Thomas, formerly president of the California Stage company. He was the father-in-law of
George Cosgrove of Spokane. He had a dozen
coaches and a string of 200 magnificent horses. They
were put on the run from Walla Walla to Lewiston
and later they were operated to Boise by way of the
Grande Ronde valley and Baker City. They ran
night and day to make time and the live stock was
kept in the pink of condition. John Hailey, after
whom Hailey, Idaho, was named, and a chap named
Henry Greathouse, started a line of opposition mud-
wagons that carried cheap freight and made maybe
five miles an hour, and they put the Thomas stages
out of business.
That was about the end of real stagecoaching in
the Northwest. The Mackay and Central Idaho
Stage company, under the management of Charley
Hanson, is still running mudwagons back into Custer
county, Idaho, on maybe 180 miles of lines. Even
Hanson has abandoned his coaches in the summer
time and runs Ford trucks covered with canvas like
a Mormon hack, but in the bad weather, when snow
piles up, they have to stick to the horses and then
they run either coaches or sleds.
There used to be a big stage outfit running in
the southwest and into Montana, run by Boomer
& Parsons. I thought once it was the same bunch
as Boomer & Parsons, the contractors of Spokane,
but I was mistaken. The old stages way billed the
passengers by name, like freight, and the agents at
the stations entered them by name in the records. I
I remember one very fat woman who was charged
a fare and a half because she took up so much room.
The Stage Driver a Prince of the Trails
I am sorry over the passing of the Concord coach.
There was never anything finer than to see the stage
gallop out'of the station with fresh horses in place
and the driver fingering the ribbons to give his out-
fit its head. The driver was a prince along the old
trails. He had good clothes, and he had plenty of
money, and he would scorn touching a horse when
the changes were made. He usually wore a broad
black leather belt, 10 or 12 inches in width, strapped
tight around his waist. The belt was an emblem
of office, but even more it was decidedly useful in
supporting his back—and he needed some support,
for it's hard work to sit all day high up on a swinging seat with one foot on a brake outside the coach
while you hold up a string of heavy reins that keep
half a dozen restive horses in line.
There was a rail around the top of the coach and
you could stretch out in the flat on top of the rig
and take a nap in the sun. You might think that
you would lurch off in those wild rushes around the
mountain roads, but you always managed to grab
that little rail in time. I got so that I was as comfortable inside a stage coach as I am in a Pullman
car, but it is a curious fact that the roll of those
Concords made many people actually stage-sick. The
last of the overland stage drivers that I know was
old Ed Paine, who came up with Thomas and died
a few years ago in Ruby City in the Okanogan.
My Share in Founding the Pony Express
While the overland stage was a wonderful institution, it never compared with the pony express. All
things considered, the present travel of the limited
trains that go from Omaha to Sacramento in three
days is an easy exploit compared with the service
of the pony riders who made that same run of 1,950
miles from St. Joe to Sacramento in from eight to
ten days.    It happens that I had a little part in the
founding of the express.
I was still working for Mr. Singletary in Colusa
county in the winters of *59 and '60. I was always
dickering and trading around on my own account,
and I had a few horses that I had bought. About
the first of February, 1860, a man named Finny
came along in search of horses, and I sold him four
or five head of nice saddlers. He liked the bunch
and asked if I could get him 50 or 60 head like them
—gentle, fairly well broke critters of good bottom.
I told him I thought I could, if I could square matters with my boss, Mr. Singletary. He let me off
and I picked the horses up.
Mr. Finny was so well pleased that he gave me
$200 in gold, ten double eagles, as a present, and
asked me to drive them with help of another man
across the Sierras to Genoa in the Carson valley, 15
miles south of where Carson now stands. He was assembling a bunch of horses there for the pony express. Already they had men at work building stations and collecting feed and supplies for the pony
service. We got the horses over the range, and I
was ready to start back for the Sacramento when in
came Finny.
'You stay with me and sort of look after things,"
he said. I was a youngster 20 years old, ready for
any excitement, and it was all one with me whether
I was working for Finny on the express run, or
whether I was punching cattle for Singletary, so I
stayed. He paid me, I remember, $150 a month,
gold, which was more than the pony express riders
were to get. They had $100 a month for their
wages.     The  pony   express   service   started   about
March 25,   1860.    The overland stage route was
started later in the same year.
Jumps in Saddle to Keep Pony Express Going
It wasn't expected then that I would ride, for I
was a little over weight—they did not like to take
on riders who weighed more than 130 pounds, and
I weighed 150 pounds—but the second day after
they got the service started a young rider came into
the station nearly dead from loss of blood. He was
carrying a six shooter tied around his thigh and it
happened to explode, with the result that he got an
awful wound in his leg. I happened to be there,
and so I jumped into the saddle and started to ride
the pony express route.
Our equipment was very simple. In the front of
every station when the driver was due, the horse
stood out at the rack, bridled and saddled and ready
to go. The saddle was a very light tree with a single
cinch. The mail was carried in a machero—two
pieces of pliable harness leather each about two feet
long and 18 inches wide, spliced together along the
top with rawhide thongs. There were holes in the
top of the machero to fit over the pommel and the
cantel of the saddle tree, and a cinch around the
horse's belly held the rigging fast. The rider used it
as a covering for his saddle.
On each side of the machero, behind the rider's
leg, was a big leather pocket 10 inches wide and 12
inches deep, with a smaller pocket of leather in front
on each side of the pommel. Here the mail was
tucked away. The through mail was padlocked in
one set of pouches which could be opened only at
the terminals—St. Joe and Sacramento. Local mail
was carried in the small pouches. As I remember,
we carried about 30 pounds of mail and it consisted
entirely of letters written on the thinnest of paper.
I believe the special editions of some newspapers
printed on tissue were also sent regularly through.
There was reason for economy of weight, for the
rate of postage was $2.50 for a half ounce. Even
then the rates were not exorbitant, for that little
bundle had to provide the revenue for a string of
stablemen, to say nothing of superintendents and
horses and supply outfits, which were required to
keep the service in operation. The stations were
usually 18 or 20 miles apart. We aimed to make
100 miles in a day's trip of 10 hours with five relays of horses. Then we would lay off at the station
for a little more than 36 hours before starting back
with the opposite mail. We averaged about 10 miles
an hour. Changing horses at the stations, we would
unbuckle the machero, throw it onto the waiting
animal and off we would go.
Rates and Heavy Expenses of Pony Mail System
The section that I rode was only 90 miles long,
but it was in one of the roughest and most dangerous
parts of the route, from the Carson river ranch to
the sink of the Carson river. It was infested with
roving Piutes, including old Winnemucca's bunch of
lazy pirates. One night, coming into a station, instead of my fresh horse tied up and waiting for me,
there was neither horse nor camp-tender in sight. The
cabin was a little affair, made out of quaking asp
logs with a gunnysack door. I walked into it in
the darkness, and there was the corpse of the station
tender, dead and mutilated by the Piutes. I had to
push on to the next station for a fresh horse. I was
riding the pony express for a month, beginning witfi
the second day that the service began out of Genoa,
in the sink of the Carson.
Puncturing Some Claims to Pony Express Fame
I got tired of the pony express and quit about the
first of May, 1860, and struck out for Virginia City.
The service was never profitable, and I believe that
Major Waddell and Russell, who were behind the
deal, lost half a million dollars on it. It only ran
a little more than a year.
Every once in a while I read about the death of the
last of the pony express riders. Buffalo Bill claimed
to have been one of the early riders. Maybe he was
on the east end, but I never knew anything about
him. I remember reading of a rider named Appleby
who died in Salt Lake about two years ago. I remember meeting a lad of that name at the east end of
my run. Then there's a story of Pony Sam, who
claims to have ridden out of Virginia City. He was
a faker, a pieshop gambler. I knew him well, and I
don't believe he ever rode the express.
The line which was maintained by the Central-
Overland-California & Pike's Peak Express Company
only lasted about a year. It went out of business
in 1861 upon the completion of the Pacific Telegraph company's line across the continent. As I recall the fastest time ever made by the pony express
was a trifle more than eight days in carrying the
news of Lincoln's nomination.
Fighting Indians
SOME folks are natural-born heroes. Nothing in
the world tickles them so much as the prospect
of getting into a scrap. If there is no war handy
they go out hunting for anything from chipmunks
to moose. I admire the energy of these blood-thirsty
citizens, but me, I'm a man of peace. I don't believe
I ever went hunting in my life except to rustle some
meat. However, right after I left the pony express,
I started on the war-path after Indians, and the only
reason I am left to tell about our campaign is because
I was such a good runner that the Siwashes never
had a chance to catch up with me.
Here is the inside history of the strategy, tactics
and results of the battle of Pyramid lake. I was
only a kid 20 years old, but I had enough soldiering
then to last me if I live to be a hundred. I was telling you about the raid by the Indians on a pony express station in the Carson river valley. There were
two old duffers at the ranch, and the Indians first
murdered them and then burned their shack before
running off with the live stock.
Organize Force to Quell Bad Indians
There had been so much trouble with Winnemuc-
ca's band of Piutes that the folks in the territory decided it was time to clean up the Indians.    A small
company was formed at Genoa, a little Mormon
town east of Carson, and when the news reached us
at Virginia City, we formed a battalion of 38 men
with Henry Meredith as captain. Carson City sent
on some troops, and all told we numbered 105 men
with Major Ormsby for commander in chief. He
was the man that Ormsby county in Nevada was
named after, and we looked upon him as a seasoned
warrior on account of his having been among the
few soldiers who escaped after trying to capture
Nicaragua under Walker. The troops were miners,
stagemen, prospectors and a few hay farmers from
the Mormon settlements and many professional
gamblers and cut-throats. Of course we all had
horses, and there was one lonesome pack-mule to
transport the commissary department.
Being as we were about to annihilate the Indians,
we had a council of war and decided that the first
step in our campaign should be to establish contact
with our victims. This looked to us like the hardest
part of our job because we felt sure the cowardly
red men were undoubtedly in terrified retreat before
our onslaught. Somebody suggested that the best
plan would be to go down to the scene of the murder
and look for clues. So all of us—106 counting the
commissary mule—cantered over to the stage station
and found the bones of the station-hands among the
ashes of the cabin. As we were looking for clues to
show where the Indians were going, we got our
money's worth.
There was a trail 50 yards wide left by the dragging lodge poles of the Siwashes as they rode north
along a bluff beside the Truckee river. We started
after them, and the very first day of our campaign
-it was about May  10,   1860—we   found   the
Indians camped along a little grassy bottom beside
the Truckee river. The Siwashes promptly disappeared back into the sagebrush. Pretty soon Indians
bobbed up maybe a quarter of a mile away, and one
of them was waving something. I and my partner,
Ab. Elliott, were close beside Major Ormsby. Ab.
had a big gun with a telescope sight.
'Take a peep at that buck and see what he's
doing," said the major.
Ab. took a good look and found that the buck
was practicing with a battle ax. The major then
said, 'Take a crack at him." Ab. drew a bead, fired
and missed, so far as we knew. The best muzzle-
loader on the Pacific coast then couldn't kill a man
at more than 200 yards and Ab. might just as well
have turned his artillery loose on the moon.
The Canny Reds Seek for Cover and Revenge
The only result was that the Indians disappeared
and a shower of arrows began sizzling down our
way. I didn't know that an arrow could carry so
far or so sharp. Major Ormsby decided on a charge.
One man out of every four or five was left to hold
the horses.
"Charge," said the major, and with much whooping and hollering we started forward up a precipitous
trail alongside the bluff. In no time at all several
of the boys had fallen, hit by arrows, but as there
wasn't a single Indian in sight we retreated, lined
up again and made another attack.
The result was just the same—no Indians visible,
but plenty of our boys unsaddled.    With the third
charge we managed to reach the first bench where the
Indians ought to be, but the cowards had sneaked
up to the top of the second plateau, while we weren't
looking, and kept taking pot-shots at our bunch.
Anybody could see they had no idea of fighting fair,
and we made a strategic advance to the rear without
bothering Major Ormsby for orders. We went back
so far we thought there would be no more trouble
with the dastardly red men, and when we had caught
our breath we had a conference of everybody in sight.
The rear guard, in charge of the horses, reported
that five of our comrades in arms never stopped in
their retreat after the first assault, but had kept going
right on for Virginia City.
Retreating Comrades Are Given Vote of
The more we talked about the matter, the more
sure we all became that these comrades were men of
sound judgment, and we started out to congratulate
them if we could overtake them. With that we hurried up the trail alongside the bluff, on our way
home. It was a narrow trail—only wide enough for
one horse—and I was caught in the crowd so I
couldn't do better than get half way up to the front.
That trip up the bluff was the roughest experience
of my whole life.
The Indians who had been hiding in the sagebrush came right after us and there never was a finer
target in the world than our line of horsemen
scrambling single file up the bluff. I don't know
how many there were—it looked like thousands—
but anyway there were enough to take the last bit
of nerve out of us.    Our men were falling on every
Half way up the bluff I overtook a little Mexican
named Juan, whose horse had been killed. I put
him behind me and we plunged up the hill. At a
particularly steep pitch I got off to let the horse
have a chance, and when the greaser got on again,
alone, he gave me the slip and ran away with my
A Bad Night and Day Across Lonely Land
I ran out into the brush to get away from the
Indians and there I found Joe Baldwin, a prince of
a boy, 17 years old. Together we hid in the sage,
a quarter of a mile from the trail, and by some
miracle we kept out of sight until dark. Meanwhile
the Indians were beating up the brush on every side
in the hope of finding wounded or dead, that they
could scalp.
We stayed there until 1 o'clock in the morning,
when the Siwashes seemed to have disappeared, and
then we started out by starlight for the Carson river.
It was a 30-mile trip, but we made it the next morning soon after sunup, which is a record for speed I
have always been proud of. Our feet were in frightful shape, and we bathed them in what water was
left after we had nearly drunk the Carson river dry.
Well, there we stayed, hiding in the brush all day
long. That night we started again for Virginia
City, and we found a relief party that had started
out to save the Ormsby expedition. There were 200
regulars that had come over from Benicia, California,
and 800 to 1,000 California volunteers, all mounted,
with plenty of pack animals.
Later I went back over the battlefield and we
found 30 dead. All told only 33 ever reported back
at Virginia City and Carson City, plus five people
from Genoa. That left 42 unaccounted for out of
our original company of 105. Out of our own company of 38 men only four or five survived—mostly
old Mexican volunteers like Three-Fingered McDonald or Sam Brown, who was a desperado with
an established reputation. He had certainly killed
about 30 people.
The Strange Case of Eh. Elliott Is Explained
Among the chaps that we never discovered was
Ab. Elliott, who fired the first gun in the battle.
His father's family had come overland to California
in 1843 or 1845, and Ab. had helped Fremont raise
the Bear flag in Sonoma, when Fremont captured
that place. I passed him on the trail up the bluff,
standing beside a little mule. He wouldn't retreat,
and while I was trying to get him to come on, he
was hit by a musket ball. It was a cause of wonder
that we couldn't locate his body.
Years afterward I ran across a chap named Gurney, a veteran of the Sebastopol campaign, who was
along with me in the Ormsby expedition. Gurney-
ville, Cal., in the Russian river country, was named
after him. He told me that several years after the
battle, he was crossing the Sierra Nevadas on his way
to Virginia City when he met Ab. Elliott on the
trail. Elliott told him that he had been saved by a
young son of old Winnemucca, who had worked on
the Elliott cattle ranch.
The Indians kept him prisoner for two or three
years before he escaped and then he started back for
California to join his wife and his children. Of
course he wanted to know all about his family and
Gurney had to tell him that his wife had given him
up for dead and had married again. The news was
a terrible shock to Elliott.
Instead of going on over the divide for home he
decided to leave his wife in peace and the last Gurney
saw of him he was riding through the woods off the
trail toward the Carson river. And that's the end
of the story about poor old Ab. Elliott, except that
his brothers in California spent many thousands of
dollars without success searching eastern California
and Utah territory for their lost brother. Gurney
knew Elliott well before they went to Utah. The
question now is: Did Gurney lie to me about seeing
Ab. on the trail? You can't tell. There were almost as big liars running loose in the '60s as there
are now.
Blames Overconfidence and Poor Military
It may be inferred from what I have said that I
considered Major Ormsby's little army to be largely
composed of rank cowards and cut-throats. However,
this was not my intention, for I firmly believe Major
Ormsby's followers were made up largely of men of
the highest type and as brave a lot as ever banded together. The causes that led to our defeat were over-
confidence, under-estimating the number of Indian
warriors we might have to contend with and miscalculating how well the Indians were equipped.
Later on it was a well-known fact that there were
at least 600 warriors engaged in the battle of Pyramid
lake and that they had many more guns than we.
But the greatest blunder made by Major Ormsby
and his advisers was in attacking the Indians on
ground of their own choosing. When we first
caught sight of the Indians we were on the brink
of a high plateau overlooking short stretches of the
Truckee river and Pyramid lake. The Indians were
encamped about four miles away on a little grassy
bottom on the banks of the Truckee river. Our
viewpoint was perhaps 1,500 feet higher than the
river to the north of us. Here we held what they
called a council of war, or at least Major Ormsby
and about six other men picked by him did. It was
then the middle of the afternoon. We had marched
30 miles that day across a deep sand desert. The
sun was extremely hot. Many of the men were not
accustomed to the saddle. They were badly used up,
sore and tired. Our horses had not had any water
since early that morning and were jaded.
When the select council had outlined its program,
Major Ormsby called his men around him and made
a stirring speech. He told us that he and his advisers had agreed practically unanimously that we
should march down the trail to the river and if the
Indians interfered with us we would clean them
before night, but if they let us alone, we would take
a good rest that night and lick them the next day.
Other speakers made addresses advocating the major's
Elliott Warned Against Plan as Outlined
The last man to speak was my friend Ab. Elliott.
He was not an orator but a fighter. He said it would
be suicidal to undertake to march down that long,
narrow, rocky, hazardous trail.    He said he knew
enough about Indians to know they would not fight
us unless they had 10 to one the best of it, and most
likely the Indians then were lying in ambush along
the trail in the most advantageous places to pick us
off when we tried to pass them. Mr. Elliott said
that from the looks of the country he believed that
50 unarmed men could prevent a thousand Indians
from reaching the river by rolling rocks down the
precipitous mountainsides. Mr. Elliott said that even
though we did reach the river without trouble the
Indians would surely have a trap set there from
which none of us could escape.
He pleaded with Major Ormsby and others not
to attempt to reach the river by that trail. He insisted that a small scouting party first be sent down
the trail and finally offered to make the trip alone
provided he was furnished with a good horse. Mr.
Elliott concluded his talk by saying sensible Indian
fighters in out situation would pick out a good safe
camping place, rest their horses, reconnoiter the country thoroughly and then attack the Indians from
high ground.
A vote was taken, but Elliott's followers were
beaten and the order was given to march. Major
Ormsby led the way down that horrid trail into a
death trap. The five men that made their getaway
never even started down the trail, but remained on
the high ground in plain view of the Indians. As
Elliott and I started down the trail he said to me:
"If we succeed in reaching the river there will not be
one of our party left to tell the tale. The only hope
for us is that the Indians concealed along the trail
near the river may begin picking off the men in advance.    This would call a halt and a retreat back
to the high, open country, where we could protect
ourselves anyway until nightfall."
Death Trap of Piutes Makes Them Confident
The river was not visible after we started down
until we were in a few hundred yards of it. The
Piutes did not interfere with us on the trail, well
knowing that they had a far better ambush fixed
for us on the little grassy bottom, which was surrounded by steep bluffs and deep gorges, with the
whole surface covered with big boulders and brush,
too thick for a coyote to crawl through. There
was not a place on that little bottom that was not
in gunshot range from some point to be reached by a
Piute concealed behind a big rock.
The five brave lads that sniffed the battle from
afar were in view of what was doing around the
slaughter pen. They could see the Indians moving
back to high ground. They said later that at one
time they could see a thousand warriors and could
see our men when they began their final retreat back
up the trail. These five braves made a bee line for
Virginia City and reached there the next day. There
were 100 or more Siwashes evidently hidden in the
canyon along the line of our retreat and perhaps the
first of our men to stampede were as badly punished
as those in the rear.
I am not sure that more than one Indian was
killed and he got caught after we had been driven
back to the mountains for the third and last time and
just before the stampede began. We were nearly all
dismounted at the time when a Piute brave ran out
of the brush. A big German was nearest to the Indian and the notorious Sam Brown next.    Brown
yelled to the Dutchman to shoot the Indian and the
Dutchman hesitated. Brown pointed his gun at the
Dutchman and threatened to shoot him, but decided to kill the Indian first, which he did.
When the stampede was well under way I noticed
a rich young Comstocker on foot that I knew very
well. His horse had just been shot from under him.
He was frantic and willing to give his kingdom for a
horse. He said he would pay $5,000 for a ride. I
was mounted on a good horse. This young millionaire ran up to me and said: "Young fellow, you
know me and know I am good for any amount. Get
down and let me have your horse. You can name
the price."
I told him he was very generous, but I had no
horse to sell just then. That fellow made his
escape all right. I was talking the situation over
with him afterward at Virginia City. I told him
that I was sorry I did not let him take my horse, for
I lost the horse shortly after starting out.
Death List Included Several Prominent Men
There were at least 20 quite prominent men with
that expedition and all that I had any knowledge
of were slain. Major Ormsby, the leader, had been
a colonel in the United States army and served
through the Mexican war. He had a good record.
Then there were Captain Hawkins and Captain Arm-
itage. Both of these men were captains of volunteer
companies in the Mexican war. Henry Meredith,
my captain, was one of the leading young attorneys
of California and about the finest man I ever met.
There were many others almost equally prominent.
Then there was my chum, young Joe Baldwin.
He was a prince and had the highest ideals of any lad
I ever knew. He first attracted my attention in
camp on the Carson river at the burned station where
the men had been murdered. That evening three
nice pigs came into our camp and some of the men
killed them. These pigs had belonged to the dead
station keepers, but in some way had escaped the
When young Joe discovered the pigs had been
slaughtered by our men he was raving mad. He
denounced the men that had killed the pigs and said
that to take private property and convert it to public
uses was one of the blackest crimes known. His
friends tried to convince him that under the circumstances there was nothing wrong about it, but
he could not see it that way. Finally, when we were
thrown together by chance, I found him to be a
wonderful boy. He was then only in his 18 th
year, and having never undergone any hardships
was as tender as a baby, but notwithstanding all
we afterward endured that boy never whined.
The Green Cottonwood Trees of the Carson
When we were wandering across that sand desert
Joe kept saying: "Poor Henry."
I said:  "Who is Henry?"
He said: "Henry Meredith, my dearest friend
and if one of us has to die I would rather it would be
He said his parents had entrusted him to Mr.
Meredith's care for an outing to Virginia City.
When the boy was almost exhausted he said to me
several times that he believed Mr. Meredith was dead,
for his vision with a bleeding scalp had appeared before him. He got so footsore and famished for water
that several times he gave up, but I would encourage
and help him all I could. Finally, he caught sight
of the green cottonwood trees on the Carson river,
three or four miles away, but he said he could go
no further and for me to go on and try to save myself. I told him I would do nothing of the kind.
I told him I would rather perish than to leave him
alone, and that he was strong enough to reach the
river. He said if I felt that way he would get up
and try again.
When he got within a mile and a half of the water
he gave completely up. I decided to mark the place
and go to the river and bring back my hatful of
water. After starting away from him I feared he
would get up in a delirium and wander away so that
I could not find him. I jollied him again and almost dragged him along for another mile. He then
got up courage and made good time to the river.
His feet were a solid blister: his neck and face were
covered with blisters; his tongue was swollen and his
eyes almost closed. When we reached the water I
had to use force to keep him from drinking too much.
After I had bathed his head, face and neck for half
an hour, and he had soaked his feet in the cold water,
I led him across the river into a thick cluster of cottonwood trees, where we kept hidden for the remainder of the day.
When we had gotten settled down in our hiding
places I opened all the blisters I could find on the
lad.    We then stretched out and fell asleep.    About
the middle of the afternoon I was awakened by the
boy and asked him how he felt. He said he never
was so thirstly in his life. I slipped to the river
and carried half a gallon of water in my hat to him.
When he had a good drink he was much refreshed.
We then put in what was left of the day talking over
the events of the last 24 hours and many other subjects. He told me all abount Henry Meredith. He
said Captain Meredith was engaged to be married to
his sister the next September. The boy said if Mr.
Meredith had been slain it would break his sister's
heart. The poor girl's heart must have been broken.
Then for the first time the poor boy cried.
I spoke to him about his own family. His parents lived in Sacramento. His father was a lawyer
and at that time was one of the justices of the supreme court of California. Young Joe was preparing himself for a lawyer.
A Brave Lad Under Hard Circumstances
When dark came we began trudging up the road
in the direction of Virginia City. Considering what
I had passed through I was in pretty good shape in
every way except my feet were frightfully sore, but
in a pinch could have covered 30 miles before sunrise
next morning, but poor Joe was dreadfully used up
and with all the assistance I could give him we could
only travel about a mile an hour.
Although the lad did not complain, I knew every
step he made pained him, but we trudged along all
night. At daylight the next morning we were picked
up by a rescuing party and taken to Virginia City.
When young Joe was able to travel again he was
taken back to his home. I never met him after he
left for home, but for a time I occasionally received a
letter from him. The last I heard from him was
some 40 years ago. He was practicing law, I believe
somewhere in Utah.
About 10 days after the battle of Pyramid lake
800 volunteer cavalrymen and 200 United States
infantry arrived in Virginia City from California.
The infantry was in command of Captain J. E. B.
Stewart. These troops came over to bury the dead
and kill all of the Piutes that participated in the battle of Pyramid lake. I went out with the expedition,
not as an Indian killer, but in charge of a small bunch
of beef cattle. After all those killed in battle had
been buried the trail of the Indians was picked up
and followed north 20 miles. It appeared the Indians had split up into small squads and scattered in
every direction.
There were several little skirmishes between a few
dozen Piutes and a few crazy volunteers but no scalps
were taken on either side.
37  3£f
Early Days in Mining Camps
THERE was one little skirmish where more than
100 Piutes were engaged. It looked for a short
time that this might be a lively scrap. That
day all of the troops were in camp. I was half a
mile away in a little valley with the beef cattle when
all at once I discovered 100 or more Piutes in plain
view not more than half a mile away. This bunch
was evidently meandering around to get a chance to
stampede the cattle. I sent a cowboy to camp in
doublequick time to sound the alarm and immediately started the cattle toward camp. In a few minutes
out rushed 200 of the wild California volunteers.
The Indians dropped back a short distance to higher
ground. The volunteers charged up the ridge, but
the Piutes held their ground.
A Running Fight Staged Before My Eyes
Pretty soon the volunteers wavered and fell back
a short distance and in the excitement about one-
fourth of the volunteers had been thrown or fallen
off their mustangs and the riderless broncos went
flying back toward the camp. Other mounted volunteers went rushing to the fray, but were not
anxious to approach too near the Piutes, for they
were trying to encircle them. When Captain Stewart
came around a point of the hill with his 200 soldiers
within a quarter of a mile of the Piutes the soldiers
charged the Indians and the Indians beat a hasty retreat, but the soldiers got close enough to fire a volley
into the retreating Siwashes, killing and wounding
four or five of them.
From where I was sitting on my horse I could
see the whole show. When the Indians retreated
they broke up into bunches of half a dozen and went
in many directions. The brave Californians were
chasing furiously everywhere, but they were all back
in camp that night. The only ones that were badly
hurt were the ones that fell from their horses and
were run over. These brave lads that night were
tireless in telling what wonders they had done in
killing half the Indians and driving the other half
out, and they swore there would never be any further
trouble from the red men. I said to one boisterous
bunch of these brave chaps that it was customary
with volunteers to scalp the Indians they killed. I
said: "Where are the scalps?" The truth is these
wild lads never killed an Indian and it is doubted
if they even wounded one.
A few days later Captain Stewart permitted me to
return to Virginia City. He told me nothing
further could be accomplished, as his men on foot
could not run fast enough to catch the Piutes mounted on their ponies and the California mounted volunteers were a failure. Captain Stewart and his infantry shortly afterward were back in Virginia City.
He was then ordered to build a government post near
the sink of Carson river. This he did and named
it Fort Churchill. Captain Stewart afterward became
a famous cavalry officer in the Confederate army.
After our disastrous campaign against the Piutes
at the battle of Pyramid lake I went back to Virginia
City and naturally drifted into mining.
Recollections of Early Days in Mining Camps
Virginia City, Nev., in the spring of 1860 was a
sprawling camp of perhaps 600 people, with a few
scattered over the surrounding gulches. I don't believe there were more than 20 real buildings and they^
were mostly mere walls of rough stones, roofed over
with canvas. Aside from them it was a tent town.
Timber was scarce and expensive and the shortage
subsequently made mining operations difficult. The
place was growing fast, with prospectors crowding
in and walking out and maybe there were 4,000 people in the district the following winter.
The town was named after "Old Virginia" Corn-
stock, a placer miner from the Coast who had drifted
into Nevada. Placer gold had been found at Dayton,
on the Carson river, at the mouth of Gold canyon,
in the summer of 1849. Comstock prospected up
the gulch maybe seven miles west from the Carson
and ran into a curious mixture of decomposed rock
that wasn't like anything he had ever seen. It was
rich ground, but he kept piling up dumps of a black
stuff that he couldn't pan.
One day in 1859 a Mexican prospector came by
and on looking over the dump he told Comstock
that the black stuff looked remarkably like silver
ore that he had mined down south. They shipped
a specimen to Sacramento for assay and it returned
$5,000 a ton. That was the discovery of the Comstock lode, the most remarkable gold and silver ledge
know in the whole world. In 60 years this lode,
ever discovered in the United States, and so far as I
four miles long, has produced about half a billion
dollars. In one year, 1877, it yielded $36,000,000,
more than all the rest of the United States.
Each Camp a Law Unto Itself Regarding Claim
The California placers had commenced to shrink
a little in their output—the peak was reached in
1852, with a production estimated at $82,000,000
—and the gold boom was dwindling in 1854, but
still during the 10 years prior to the civil war the
production of the state reached a vast sum and it was
calculated never to have dropped below $50,000,000
in any year. Th'e total production of gold in California has reached a billion and a half, which is two-
thirds of the entire gold stock of the United States
at present.
Well, the discovery claim was named the Comstock, and the next one, as I recall, was the Mexican,
and then came the Ophir and so on. Every camp
made its own mining laws and fixed the size of
the location. They made the claims there 200 feet
long and either 25 or 50 feet in width along each
side of the center line. In no time at all the whole
country was just a patchwork of locations.
/ Got Fooled Badly On the Overman Claim
Comstock made some money, but lost it again
and died a pauper about 20 years ago in a little
camp in central Idaho—I think it was Pierce City
—where he was trying to get a fresh start in life.
When I got to Virginia City in the spring of the
following year I staked a claim on the Comstock
lode. The lode itself was a peculiar proposition.
The ore came in huge lenses, and if you opened
one up you might make a tremendous killing, and
the adjoining claim might be almost worthless. By
the way, the original location at the head of Gold
gulch seemed to mark the northern limit of the pay
ground. Any amount of money was spent in trying to get ore north of the gulch, toward Mount
Davidson, but it was all a failure. The discovery
of the lode was one of those accidents due to following up a placer prospect.
In those days there was no such thing as an incorporated mining company in Nevada. The owners of a claim held so many feet, which was presumed to run along the lead, and they would sell undivided fractional interests called feet. The transfer
was made by simple bill of sale, and there was not
even the formality of recording the transfer. It was
up to the seller to see that he didn't dispose of more
feet than he owned. Sometimes, maybe he would
get mixed in his figures or pressed for money and
put out a little inflated frontage, but that wasn't
common. Anyway, the danger was no more serious
than the danger of over-issuing shares nowadays in
a stock company. As the mines grew more valuable
they began selling not feet but inches, and finally
fractions of an inch. It was a wild and glorious
The Overman didn't look to me like a particularly
promising property, which is where I got badly
fooled, for it has since produced millions. I got an
interest in a property called the Sucker, which showed a ledge of free milling gold quartz that ran at
right angles into the Comstock lode. You could
pan out the metal and it assayed about $15 a ton
by fire tests. I was crazy to develop it. All my
life I have been hankering to own a good, reliable
little gold mine. I have just missed out several
times. Here lately rheumatism is bothering me once
in a while, and my children raise quite a fuss whenever I talk about doing any prospecting, so I am
getting a little fearful that maybe I never will get
just the kind of a gold mine that I want. But it
would be a pretty sore subject with me if I never
I started to sell out the Overman foot by foot to
raise money for the development of the Sucker. I
kept putting up the price as the boom kept growing,
and I must have taken out $5,000 or $6,000 from
the Overman all told, which I put back into the
An Adventure With the Camp's First Stamp Mill
About this time along came a chap named Admiral B. Paul, who was supposed to be one of the
smartest mining engineers on the Coast. He looked
over the Sucker, and he made no bones about wanting
to buy it, but he said he couldn't afford to pay our
price because it would take a lot of money to develop
the property. He kept coming back time and again
until finally he made a trade with us. He said that
over in Sacramento he had a magnificent new stamp
mill just shipped in from the states. He offered
to install that mill for an interest in the Sucker.
We took him up and he sent over orders by the first
pony express to ship the outfit to Virginia City.
Pretty soon it came, on ox teams, over the Sierra
Nevada mountains, and it was a beautiful plant.
Meanwhile he had rustled around to put up buildings, and although timber was mighty scarce and
costly, he had a fine layout, painted white, all ready
for the machinery, and he got the plant to running
in a couple of months. It was called the Pioneer,
and it was the first mill to be erected in Nevada. It
was quite a celebrated affair. When the miners got
roaring drunk, one of their favorite songs was a
bunch of doggerel:
"I've got two feet in the Deadbroke lead,
"Over in the land of Washoe,
"Over in the land of Washoe.
'There's the Roaring Jack and the Pioneer Mill,
"Over in the land of Washoe,
"Over in the land of Washoe."
There's a lot more to this hymn, and a good deal
of it was as raw as anything you hear nowadays
in the most refined vaudeville show, so naturally I
shouldn't care to repeat it before ladies. But what
I started out to say is that this Pioneer mill was so
well-known that it was a byword over the Coast.
We Start the Mill and Troubles Begin
When we started up the mill, the troubles began.
The gold was so fine that it seemed to float away
with the tailings. We couldn't make an extraction
like we expected and the cost of mining and milling
was higher than Mr. Paul calculated, so there was
a loss of maybe $1.50 a ton on $15 ore. We
worked away for months and then when I was about
all in financially, I turned over my interest to Mr.
Paul, and left for San Francisco.
Later on it developed that the end of our claim,
where it joined onto the Comstock ground, held
some wonderful silver-gold ore at depth, and in
subsequent years the Sucker people sued the Consolidated California and Virginia for something like
$10,000,000 on account of silver-lead ore extracted
from the Sucker. And we had been fooling away
our time and money with the free-gold quartz prospects at the other end of the claim!
A Simple Game, But Very Fascinating
The Ophir, in the Virginia City camp, was owned
by a young fellow named Jim Gatewood. His
father was a Campbellite preacher from Iowa, who
had come west with two or three sons to try their
luck at placering. They saved up maybe three or
four thousand dollars and were on their way to
San Francisco to start back home, when Jim put on
a private party by way of farewell before leaving
California. Late that night when his father and
brother started out to round him up, they found
him bucking a chuck-a-luck game.
That is a simple pastime with a layout consisting
of a board on which there are the numbers 1, 2, 3,
4, 5 and 6. The dealer has one big dice that he rolls
in a leather box. The dealer bets that you can't
guess what number will come up on the roll
of   the   dice.      This   Jim   Gatewood   had   been
watching the game long enough to make sure there
was something crooked about it, for he noticed that
the dice hardly ever turned up a number on which
most of the money had been bet.
So Jim kept away from the favorites, and after
most of the bets had been laid he would put his dust
on any numbers that weren't proving popular. He
was getting along pretty well, when in came his
father to drag him away from this sink-hole of hell.
Now his father was carrying the main bankrolls of
the family—a poke of gold with maybe 150 ounces,
worth around $2,500. His father said it was an
awful thing to gamble, and a disgrace to the family,
and it would be a curse to them to carry away any
tainted money even if that wolf of a chuck-a-luck
dealer should make a mistake and roll 'em straight
once in a while.
What Seemed a Splendid Financial Opportunity
The more the Rev. Mr. Gatewood pleaded with
his prodigal son to cut it all out the more Jim
argued that this was no business for a Campbellite
preacher to muss up with, and if father would just
leave him alone, Jim promised to end up the evening's
entertainment with a poke that would make the
family bankroll look like a sun-dried fishing worm.
During the ruction the dealer found out that
father was toting some easy money, so he rolled the
dice casual-like, and before taking off the box he
pretended to be looking away at a dog fight. Just
then a capper at the chuck-a-luck game lifted up the
cover and showed a six-spot on top of the dice. It
looked like a sure thing to the Rev. Mr. Gatewood
and before Jim could stop him he had thrown his
poke with $2,500 on the table as a bet on the six.
The dealer got busy and pulled off the box, but
instead of a six-spot here was a deuce, and the
gambler hauled in the Gatewood family fortune. It
made the Rev. Mr. Gatewood awful mad and he
hollered that he had been robbed, because he had
seen with his own eyes that there was a six-spot
up and he wouldn't have bet under any other conditions. But he couldn't get any satisfaction from
the crowd, for everybody said the parson was trying
to cheat the house and got just what was coming to
It was hard luck for the Gatewoods, for they didn't have the price of transportation home. But Jim
told his father and his brother that he had $500
cached with a merchant down at San Francisco
which he had won at faro on a former celebration
and he would give father and brother an order for
the money to take them back to Iowa, where they
could return to the practice of agriculture and
baptism by immersion. Jim said California was
good enough for him and he would stay there and
stew in his sins. The Rev. Mr. Gatewood and the
brother went back home and Jim drifted over to the
Comstock, where he got hold of the Ophir and we
all agreed that he was worth a million.
Easy to Spend Money on Gold Dust Basis
Practically all the business of the country was
carried on in gold dust. Everybody carried a poke
of buckskin filled with dust, and everybody who
did any business at all carried some little gold scales.
They were set up on every bar and in every store,
and the bartenders would take out a liberal pinch for
a drink. It wasn't good form to drink alone, and as
everything cost at least two-bits, by the time you
had ordered drinks for a whole barroom it didn't
take any assay scales to measure your bill.
The California gold generally was worth around
$17 or $18 an ounce, and it was current at from
$1 to $2 an ounce below its real value. The storekeepers and the bankers had a rake-off of $1 or $2
an ounce in handling it and shipping it out of the
country. The gold in the Idaho camps was not quite
so pure. In Florence camp it ran about $12 an
ounce, with a higher percentage of silver. There
was a private mint conducted at San Francisco by
Kellogg & Co., who coined the old eight-sided California slugs worth $50 in pure gold.
They were yellower and softer than standard gold
coins minted by the government, for the latter contain alloy of silver and copper and are only 90 per
cent pure gold. Occasionally you can still see some
of those octagonal California slugs.
49  afcO
Off to Walla Walla
I LEFT Virginia City late in the fall of 1860 and
went back to my old home in Colusa county,
California. Mr. Singletary appeared to be pleased
to see me, said he needed me and if I would go to
work for him again he would advance my pay, and
if I would stay with him he would help to start me
in life. I then went back to my old job. My authority was extended, permitting me to buy as well
as sell. I had always assisted in marketing the beef
cattle. Our market was in the various placer mining
camps in the Sierra Nevada mountains. I did all the
driving and distributing of the cattle.
Mr. Singletary was a large dealer in cattle as well
as a cattle raiser, and his stock were a very good
grade of Durhams or Shorthorns. He was the best
judge of cattle I have ever known and it was from
him I gained my first real knowledge of the cattle
business. Born and raised in Massachusetts, he was
a shoemaker and learned his trade in his father's
shop. When he was 18 years old he made a dicker
with his father to make a certain number of pairs of
shoes for his liberty and by the time he reached the
age of 20 he had paid his obligation to his father.
He then went west and settled in Sangamon county,
111., where, although he was a democrat, he and
Abraham Lincoln became  warm personal friends.
51 II
This friendship, to my knowledge, existed until the
career of Mr. Lincoln was closed so untimely. Mr.
Singletary, who died 10 years ago at San Jose, Cal.,
left a large fortune.
/ Hear of Development at Pierce City, Idaho
The winter of '60 and '61 passed along in the
usual way with me. We occasionally read news
items from the newly discovered placer diggings at
Pierce City, now in what is known as the Orofino
district of Idaho. My brother, Jesse, who had been
in the Walla Walla country since 1855, had visited
me in California in the spring of 1859 and had told
me a lot about that country, of its healthy and fine
climate. He predicted a great future for the Walla
Walla country, but said that it would not likely
reach its greatness during our lives.
I liked California, my home and Mr. and Mrs.
Singletary, but that particular section of the country
was full of malaria and ague and I had contracted the
fever the first season I was there. I had a chill every
other day for four or five months each year. This
I disliked very much. I had returned from Utah
strong and healthy, but when the warm weather
came on in April the same old chills and fever caught
me again. Then I began to reason whether it would
not be better for me to find a country where I could
at least enjoy good health rather than remain there
and feel miserable so often. One of my brothers died
in the Sacramento valley and it was believed fever
and ague was the primary cause of his death. I continued to shake.
One evening after I had a hard chill I told Mrs.
Singletary if I had another chill I was going to quit
them and leave the country. She sympathized with
me and said she was very sorry for me, that they
would very much dislike to have me leave them, but
if I was her own son she would prefer to have me go
where I could be healthy rather than stay there and
suffer as I had. They continued to feed me quinine,
but that only made my fever much higher. Then I
settled up my little business affairs, which were not
much, and boarded a boat for Sacramento. At Sacramento I took a larger boat, 'The New World," for
San Francisco.
/ See Rough Weather in Trip to Portland
There is one thing that may long identify my
name with the early settlement of Colusa county.
There is a dead slough 30 miles long and terminating in a big swamp. This slough runs through a
level plain four miles east of the Sacramento, parallel with the river. Often in the rainy season the
water was deep enough to swim a horse. Mr. Singletary, my employer, built a shack near a pond of water in this slough. I occasionally occupied this shack
in order to look after the cows and young calves.
This shack was called the Drumheller cabin and
afterward the slough became known by the same
name, and I understand it still bears that name.
After a few days in San Francisco, I bid farewell
to California and went aboard the rotten old steamship "John L. Stephens," bound for Portland, Ore.,
on my way to Pierce City placer fields. After a
long, rough voyage we landed safely at Portland. I
was sea sick from start to finish. We spent two days
in   Portland.    Some of my young traveling com-
panions advised me that the way to get rid of my sea
sickness was to keep out in the open air and walk.
I walked the muddy streets—of course it was raining—for two days, and I grew gradually worse right
along. We left Portland on a steamboat for the
cascades of the Columbia where we walked for miles
across a portage, and then went by boat to The
Dalles, Ore. We landed at The Dalles late in the
evening of the same day. I managed to reach a shack
of an old hotel and went to bed.
The next morning I was unable to get out of bed
and was a very sick man. Some of my friends who
stayed over with me that day called in a Dr. Hogg,
who, however, was only hog by name. While Dr.
Hogg could not tell what ailed me, he insisted that
sea sickness was not the cause of my trouble and he
began treating me for lung fever.
A nurse could not be found for love or money to
take care of me. The little town was completely
upset, full and running over by prospectors rushing
to the mines. The only care I had during six days
of serious illness was what little the doctor could
give me, assisted by a chambermaid who would occasionally drop into my room. I was dangerously
The doctor called early one morning and asked
me how I felt. I told him I had slept a little the
night before and was feeling better. While the
doctor was talking to me I felt a little itching on one
of my arms. I took my hands from under the covering and began rubbing the itching spot.
The doctor said: "Let me look at your arm." He
said he thought he could see a little rash appearing,
and after examining me carefully*he said: 'You have
been suffering with a severe attack of measles." He
believed the worst was over. He went out into the
hotel kitchen and made a pitcher of stew out of
whisky and ginger and told every one he met I had
the measles. The doctor brought back the stew and
told me I could drink all I wanted to, the more the
Ordered Out to Save Hotel's Business
In a few minutes the landlord sent me word that
I would have to leave the hotel, as he could not afford to have his business ruined by a measley guest.
I was up against it good and hard until a young
man came into my room and told me that he had
just overheard the landlord say he was going to
throw me out.
The lad asked me if I had any friends in town,
and when I told him Dr. Hogg was the only soul
I knew, this chap, Charley Mansfield, went out
among the families in town to see if some of them
would not take me. But pretty soon he came back
to report all the families he had met were afraid of
the measles and would not take a chance on me.
Mr. Mansfield said he had a little store across the
street with a good bed in it in the rear that he occupied himself, and with my consent he would have
me moved into his room. I said it would be fine but
I didn't like the idea of crowding him out.
Mr. Mansfield said: "Young man, forget about it.
I can find another place to sleep." It was not long
before Dr. Hogg and Mr. Mansfield appeared with
clean sheets and blankets. They rolled me in between the sheets, wrapped me up well in the blankets,
packed me over to the room and placed me on a
good clean bed. From that time on the doctor and
Mr. Mansfield gave me the best attention possible.
Mr. Mansfield spent every moment of his spare time
with me and I improved very rapidly.
Here came a surprise for me. One evening Mr.
Mansfield was in my room talking with me. It was
the first time he had ever asked me anything about
myself. He asked me where I came from and where
I was going. When I told him he asked me if I had
any friends in the Walla Walla country. Pretty
much all of eastern Washington was then known as
the Walla Walla country. I said I had a brother
at Walla Walla usually called Curley. Mr. Mansfield said he and Curley were close friends and were
once in some kind of partnership on the lower Columbia and Curley had loaned him a little money
when he started, his Dalles store. He said he was
sorry he had not known who I was sooner. I told
him that no man could have done more for anybody
than he had already done for me.
A Lucky Avoidance of Doctor's Medicine
When I was convalescent Dr. Hogg asked me one
day if I had taken all the medicine he left for me.
I said I had not. He asked me why and I replied
that from the start I did not believe he knew what
disease I had. He said, "Now that you are all right
it's just as well you did not take the medicine."
I told the doctor that while he had cautioned me
only to take a little sip of water at a time, just enough
to moisten my mouth and tongue, I had drank at
least a gallon of water every day. The doctor said
it was a wonder that I was alive.
After being with Mr. Mansfield a few days he said
a family by the name of Brown, friends of his, were
living on a farm a few miles out of town and their
home would be a good place for me to recuperate. I
thanked him and replied that if arrangements could
be made I would be pleased to go out there. The
next day Mr. Brown came to town with a load of
wood and I climbed onto the woodrack and away
we rattled to the ranch.   I went to bed at once.
Mrs. Brown made us feel at home. Woman-like
she asked me all kinds of questions and wound up
by asking where I came from. I told her. She
"Heavens, why I came from that same place."
She said her name was Sarah Jones before she married
Mr. Brown.
When I told her my name she said: "Don't you
remember me?    We used to go to school together."
I said: "You do not look like the Sarah Jones
I once knew." She told me she married Mr. Brown
in the spring of 1852 and they went across the
plains to Oregon, where they settled on their little
farm in the fall of the same year.
New Found Friends Are Most Generous
Mrs. Brown's cooking and good care soon enabled
me to get out into the open air. I helped to do the
chores and in less than two weeks I was able to resume my journey to the mines.
I went back to The Dalles, paid my doctor and
dropped in to pay Mr. Mansfield for his trouble and
bid him goodby. He would not take a dime from
me and asked me please not to mention it again.   Mr.
Mansfield did not have a yellow streak in his makeup. He was surely a prince of good fellows and one
of God's noblemen. I never had the opportunity
to meet him again. Selling his Dalles store the next
year he settled in Eureka, Cal., in 1864. There
he was elected a delegate to the national republican
convention but was stricken and died during the convention.
Off to Walla Walla On Long River Trip
I rode on a wagon from The Dalles 15 miles to
the steamboat landing on the upper Columbia river.
Then I boarded the little steamer Wright for Wallula. From Wallula I traveled on a six-horse stage
coach to Walla Walla and arrived there June 16,
1861. I have been identified with the great Inland
Empire tot all the 60 odd years since then.
My brother, Jesse, was living on his farm a few
miles south of Walla Walla and when I visited him
he said I was in no condition to go to the mining
camps. Anyway, he said, there were no claims left
to be staked, all of the camps were overrun with
idle men and he did not think much of the mining
game anyway. He said he could give me plenty of
light work to do on the farm until I could regain
my strength and health and I concluded to stay
in Walla Walla and work through the harvest season.
There were 4,000 to 5,000 acres of grain, wheat
and oats in the 15-mile circle around the town of
Walla Walla, and that was about all the grain then
grown in eastern Washington. In fact it was about
all of the grain in what is now called the Inland Em-
pire.    This grain had to all be cut,   bound   and
stacked before it could be threshed.
The greater portion was cut with old-fashioned
hand cradles. A few of the larger farmers used the
old-style McCormick reapers. This was before the
self-binder came into vogue. Necessarily the process
of harvesting was very slow. The farmers did not
get all their grain in the stack that season, before the
15 th of September. Virtually all the grain in Walla
Walla county was grown on the creek and river bottoms.
I worked in the harvest field until the grain was
in the stack ready for the thresher. Just at that
time John A. Simms, among the best known and
respected old pioneers of this country, had received
the first grain threshing machine ever brought into
eastern Washington. Mr. Simms owned a good farm
two miles south of Walla Walla and was then building a flouring mill on his farm. He wanted me to
manage his threshing machine and offered me $8 per
day or one-fourth of the net profits. I told him I
would accept any kind of an honest-paying job, but
if there was anything I did not know a thing about
it was running a threshing machine.
He said he did not expect me to feed the machine
or attend the separator, but wanted me to hire the
help, collect the bills and take complete control over
operations. I told him if that was what he wanted
I would accept either one or the other of his propositions, and asked him how long he would give
me to decide which one I would take. He said until
the machine starts to work. I asked him if he knew
of a man capable of running the machine.    He said
he did not and I would have to look one up, There
were very few men in this country then who knew
anything whatever about threshing machines.
/ Take Job of Running Threshing Outfit
I hunted up two bachelor brothers who had operated my brother's reaper during the harvest, and I
thought they might know something about threshers. I told them of Mr. Simms' two propositions to
me and asked which one I should take. They said
by all means take one-fourth of the profits. I asked
them if they knew anything about feeding and taking care of a threshing machine. One answered:
"You bet your life. We know all about it. That
was our last work before leaving Illinois."
I asked them if they would look after the machine
for me and they said yes, if I would promise to
thresh their own grain early. I told them they could
consider themselves engaged, but we would have to
arrange their pay later.
These men, "Swearing" Jack and Tom Walters,
raised 10,000 bushels of grain that year. They did
know how to run a threshing machine. Ours was
run with 10 horses. It was manufactured by Ault-
man & Taylor, then at Canton, Ohio. The same
class of machine is still being made by the same old
firm and no better grain separator is made today.
After a successful run we finished the threshing
at the beginning of winter. When all expenses had
been paid we cleaned up a net profit of $4,400 with
not a bill unpaid. When farmers could not pay
cash for their threshing I placed their grain in Mr.
Simms' granary at his mill.
And this reminds me of the terrible winter of
1861 and 1862. For the last 50 years no winter
has come anywhere near approaching this winter in
severity and deep snow. This frightful winter began
at Walla Walla on the 22d day of December, 1861,
with a big snow storm followed by severely cold
weather. One snow storm followed another for 40
days. Seventy inches of snow fell, but it settled
down to about 40 inches deep.
Chinook Takes It Down in a Few Hours
The night of January 23 a strong, warm chinook
wind set in. It was a real chinook that continued
for six or eight hours and melted the snow down to
about 28 inches deep. This thaw formed a heavy
crust on the snow that in places would bear the weight
of a cow, but on the whole made it impossible for
cattle to move around and thousands perished. This
heavy crust also made it impossible for the horses to
paw the snow away sufficiently to permit them to
reach the grass. During that severe winter practically
all the horses in that country, except those that were
fed, perished.
The Umatilla cayuses, belonging to the Walla
Walla Indians on the Umatilla reservation, were
estimated in the summer of 1861 to be 10,000 head.
The Indians in the fall, as had been their custom,
moved all their horses and belongings across the
mountains to the Willowa and the Grande Ronde
valley. On the return of the Indians late that fall
to their winter quarters on the reservation they got
caught in a big snowstorm on the headwaters of the
Umatilla river and only succeeded in getting about
half of their horses through.    Nearly all of these
died before the next spring.
When the snow had disappeared from the valleys
the Indians went back up the Umatilla river and
found nearly all of the horses they had left in the
mountains still alive. The weather there had been
much milder. The snow did not disappear from
Walla Walla until March 20. On the south side
slopes of the ridges at the foot of the Blue mountains
the snow went off a couple of weeks earlier.
ft use
The Winter of 1862
THERE were weeks at a time during that winter
when the thermometer registered 40 degrees
below zero. It was so cold that tanks of quicksilver at the placer mines congealed. Teamsters and
packers paid as high as $100 a ton for hay, 25 cents
a pound for oats and 30 cents a pound for bran
and shorts, and flour went up to $50 a hundred.
Even after feeding out every pound of feed that could
be found the ox teamsters lost at least 75 per cent of
their oxen.
Columbia River Frozen
No outside mail reached Walla Walla for 90
days. The Columbia river was frozen over for a
long time to a point below Vancouver. Major R.
R. Reese and his brother Sewell commenced the publication of the Walla Walla Weekly Statesman in
the summer of 1861 and in the middle of the winter
of 1862 their white paper gave out. They printed
several issues of their paper on brown butchers' paper. These old papers are now to be found on file
in Walla Walla. |
Some people may think that what I have said
about the awful winter is only a fairy tale, but really
it was more severe than I have described it.    Any 'UNCLE  DAN" DRUMHELLER
person now living who passed through that season
will verify what I have said.
I have but little knowledge of what that terrible
winter was like in the Spokane country. The late
James Monaghan was operating a ferry across the
Spokane river where LePray's bridge now stands.
Mr. Monaghan told me that not a white man crossed
his ferry going north for four months. On the 4th
of May he walked down the river 10 miles from his
ferry and on the north sides of the gulches the snow
was still four feet deep. Mr. Monaghan must have
reached a point about four miles east of Reardan.
Lewis Neace, a well-known pioneer of the northwest and one of the men who assisted Captain Mull-
an in building the military road through this country, told me he left his ranch April 15 on horseback
from Mountainview, Pend d'Oreille lake, and he
was snowbound for several days at a point 25 miles
south of Spokane.
Tear Fences to Save People From Freezing
There were about 1,000 permanent residents in
the town of Walla Walla in the winter of 1861-62
and about 1,500 transients made up of miners, teamsters, packers and gamblers. About the middle of
that winter the fuel gave out. Usually the firewood
had been hauled from the Blue mountains, but the
snow was so deep the mountains could not be reached,
and for a time it was feared the people of the town
might freeze. Finally a road was opened to a French
settlement down on the Walla Walla river, 10 miles
from town. There were at this French settlement
miles of fences built of rails split out of cottonwood
trees.   Thousands of these rails were hauled on bob-
sleds to town and saved the people from freezing.
Hundreds of men were kept day and night in big
gambling saloons.
My friends at Walla Walla told me they never had
any cow-killing winters in that country. I was
anxious to enter the cattle business again in connection with my friend Louis McMorris. In the fall of
1861 we bought a bunch of 300 head of nice cattle
at $16 a head, good stuff, mixed. I put every dollar
I had into this enterprise. There were at that time
in Walla Walla county, Washington, and Umatilla
county, Oregon, about 10,000 head of cattle, and on
the first day of next May there were not 1,000 of
them left alive. McMorris and I, out of 300 head
to start with, ended up either with eight apiece, or
eight together; I don't remember which. They were
calves that had sucked their mothers to death and
managed to pull through.
Notwithstanding the losses and hardships I went
through in the Walla Walla country during the winter of 1861-2, I am still attached to that country
and believe it to be the garden spot of the Pacific
The cattlemen of this region seem to be of the
opinion that the range cattle in the early days of
the industry were veritable scrubs. In this they are
badly mistaken. It is true that all the cattle in the
early history of California were of the long horn
Mexican breeds. A few of these were driven into
Oregon prior to 1850.
In the early '50s a great number of well bred
cattle of the beef strains had reached California. By
1860 there were but few of the full blood, long horn,
Mexican cattle to be seen in California.    Governor
Gains, one of the early governors of Oregon territory,
brought with him to Oregon some splendid Durham
cattle. A few years later Sol. King of Benton county, Oregon, made several importations of choice
Shorthorn cattle. Besides there were many other
early settlers of Oregon who owned full-blooded
cattle of beef strains. These cattle came from a
source unknown to me.
Still farther back in the history of this country,
nearly 100 years ago, the old Hudson's Bay company
made a shipment of Durham cattle from England to
Vancouver, now in the state of Washington. The
Hudson's Bay cattle must have been a superior breed
judging by the imprint they made upon the beef
animals of the Northwest.
Beginning with the spring of 1850 and covering
a period of 10 years, tens of thousands of good
American cattle were driven across the plains to the
Pacific coast. In my opinion the range cattle in Oregon and Washington were as good 60 years ago as
they are now. The good grazing at that time may
have been accountable for this to some extent.
In the spring of 1862, in connection with my
brother Jesse and Samuel Johnson, we bought 240
head of cattle, remnants left from the winter. That
spring I drove this bunch of cattle to Fraser river,
B. C to supply the placer gold miners of the Caribou district. I got through to where the town of
Ashcroft, B. C, now stands without any loss, and
the only trouble I met with was in swimming the
cattle across the large streams. The Snake and the
Columbia rivers that season reached the highest stages
of water ever known.
I did not succeed in finding a market for all my
cattle that season. This compelled me to remain in
that country until the following spring. I wintered
the cattle I had left over about eight miles from Ash-
croft. They went through the winter in fine shape
out on the open range. I furnished beef that season
to Isaac and Charles Oppenheimer, who had the
contract for building the government wagon road
from Lytton on the Fraser river to the Caribou
mines, a distance of 300 miles.
Isaac Oppenheimer now makes his home at the
Westminster apartments in Spokane. Mr. Oppenheimer, fine old gentleman that he is—I would say
at a guess is 90 years old—appears to be hale and
hearty. He and I, to my best knowledge, are the
only ones left out of 5,000 men that were on the
upper Fraser river in 1862.
I spent a pleasant and restful winter near Ashcroft.
A young man by the name of William Gates from
The Dalles, Ore., had a little herd of cattle running
with my cattle on the range. Mr. Gates and I spent
the winter together. We built a cabin of rough pine
logs near a little spring in a well protected cove at
the foot of a range of mountains. In dimension this
cabin was 12x16 feet. We dragged the logs on
horseback with a rope, one end of which was tied
to the log, the other end made fast to the horn of
the saddle.
The roof of the cabin all sloped one way and was
made by, first, a tier of poplar poles. On the top of
the poles we placed a covering of dry rye grass cut
with our knives, then covered over the rye grass with
earth about a foot deep.    We built a fireplace in one
corner of the shack to provide warmth and for cooking.
We daubed the cracks between logs with mud.
There were no windows and but one door in the
cabin and the lumber used in making the door was
taken from an old dry goods box. That old stopping place of mine has been known ever since as the
Drumheller place, and the little valley lying out
in front of the old cabin under irrigation has proved
to be first-class alfalfa land. My old log cabin, built
in 1862, was still standing five years ago.
We lived well that winter on plain food consisting of good beef, bacon and beans, dried fruits, sugar
and coffee and potatoes obtained from the Indians.
The only work we had to do that winter was keeping the watering places open for the cattle and rustling firewood.
Our nearest postoffice, Lillooet, was 60 miles
away. During the winter I made a couple of trips
to the postiffice. In a radius of 10 miles around
us there were a few hundred head of cattle, at least
500 pack mules and perhaps 50 men were wintering. Some one of my neighbors would go to town
about every week, and in this way we kept in touch
with what was taking place in the outside world.
There were thousands of Indians in that country
then, but they were most peaceable. They had contracted the smallpox that season and hundreds of
them died. When an Indian was stricken with the
smallpox he would go into a sweat house, take a
big sweat and then plunge into the river. This usually settled it in a few hours with the Siwash. Several of the packers around me had the smallpox that
winter, but after a long siege they all recovered.
68   THE WINTER OF 1862
About the first of December of that same winter,
one evening at dusk, I noticed a little bunch of cattle
being driven along the main traveled trail running
through the little valley a quarter of a mile from
my cabin. I rushed out to see if they were my
cattle being swiped, but found they were not. There
was an old man and his half-Indian son driving
these cattle. I asked the old man where he was heading for, and he said he was driving the cattle up
into the Kamloops country, where he intended to
leave them with some one for the winter, and then
he and the boy were going on to their home in The
Dalles,   f-1
A Bunch of Cattle Are Placed in My Care
The old man then asked me where I belonged and
what my business was. I pointed to a light in my
cabin and said that I was wintering some cattle here.
The old chap said "The grass looks to be pretty
good here." I said, "Yes, the best in the country."
He asked if I would take care of his cattle until
he returned early in the spring. I told him I would
if I was not held in any way responsible for them.
He said all right, and then separated his packhorses
and two loose horses from the herd and said there
were 40 head of cattle and four horses that he
would leave with me.
I asked the man and the boy to stay over night
at the cabin with me and we would talk the matter
over. The old duffer said "no," and started on.
I then yelled after him and asked him his name.
He said his name was Jackson. It was strange that
man never asked me my name or requested me to
write to him.
In the latter part of the following March I sold my
cattle to a shrewd Yankee trader named A. S. Bates.
I delivered the cattle to Bates at my place and he
moved them away. I had rounded up Jackson's
with mine. Bates wanted to know what I was going to do with old Spokane Jackson's cattle.
Old Man Spokane Jackson Shows a Profit
I told him I would leave them where they were,
that the old man would likely be along in a few
days and he could easily find them when he came.
Bates wanted to know how much I was going to
charge Jackson for taking care of his cattle. I told
him I thought about $40 a month and that I wanted
him to collect the bill. Bates then wanted to know
how many there were of Jackson's cattle. I told
him 40 head and two head of horses. Jackson had
left four head of horses with me, but two of them
had died during the winter.
Bates said he knew old Spokane Jackson and that
he was a hard old case, and I was not charging him
a half of the regular charges in that country for
ranching stock and if I would turn the stock over to
him he would pay me $100 for my trouble and take
the chance of collecting it from Jackson.
I said "All right." He paid me the money and
took a receipt for the stock. I then started for Lillooet. It appeared shortly after that Bates went away
from his home and left some Indians to look after
his cattle and at about the same time when old Spokane Jackson showed up and found I had left the
country he rounded up his 40 head of cattle and two
horses, sold them and left the country before Bates
returned, and thus tricked the shrewd Yankee.
By the fall of 1865 old Spokane Jackson, for that
was his name, had worked his way back into the
Spokane country and had built a shack where the
Mullan road crosses Hangman creek, 10 miles from
the city. He and his Spokane squaw-wife and
children were then living in this shack. That same
fall I went from Montana to Walla Walla with a
friend. We traveled on horseback and camped out
near old Jackson's shack. The nights were frosty
and we built a big blazing fire to keep warm. Old
Jackson came into our camp just after dark and sat
around the camp fire for hours spinning yarns.
A Surprise Meeting With Spokane Jackson
He told of his travels and the wondreful acts he
had performed, and told also of having had a band
of cattle in the Fraser River country in 1862. I had
never seen him but once before and it was dark at
that and, of course, I did not recognize him, so I
finally asked him his name. He said he was known
by the name of Spokane Jackson. Then I knew who
he was. I began quizzing him and told him I had
understood him to say that he had a band of cattle
in the Fraser River country in 1862. He said he
had. I then asked if he succeeded in disposing of all
his cattle that season.   He said: "All but 40 head."
He said he left them with a young stranger near
Cache creek for the winter and that he went home
to The Dalles. I asked him if he went back to
British Columbia. He said he did early the next
spring. I asked him if he found any of his stuff
alive. He said he found all fat and fine, but the
young fellow had left the country before he got
He said he failed to find two of his horses and
supposed some one had stolen them, but said he
made no kick about that, as it just about squared
the ranch bill. I asked him if he knew the young
man's name in whose care he left his cattle. He did
not know, but believed he was raised away down in
Oregon on the Callaposia mountains. When the old
snide had gone I told my friend I was the man that
had cared for the old fellow's cattle. He laughed and
said I was the man that was raised on the Callaposia
mountains and stole the old man's horses. My
friends often joked me about this.
I do not know what became of old Jackson, but
in the early '80s I often saw his squaw-wife around
Spokane. Jackson's boy, as I have mentioned heretofore, later became the notorious Bill Jackson and
was killed here in 1883 by Joe Warren or one of the
A Meeting With a Red-Handed Robber
I left my winter quarters on March 31 for Walla
Walla. A friend accompanied me to the town of Lillooet on the Fraser river, where I had a little unsettled
business to attend to. When we arrived there I
noticed a red-handed robber then known as Brockey
Jack. This fellow I knew by sight. I was very
suspicious of this fellow and was on the lookout for
him again in that town.
He and a half dozen other desperadoes had drifted
into that country the year before from the Salmon
river mines in Idaho. There had already been a
number of murders and robberies in British Columbia attributed to this band of cutthroats. At
least three of this bunch were afterward   hanged,
namely: Boone Helm at Virginia City, Mont.;
George Lowery at Lewiston, Idaho, and Brockey
Jack near Wallula, Wash. This particular bunch of
robbers always killed their man before they robbed
On my trip from Lillooet to Victoria I went by
what was known as the lake route. It was about
100 miles from Lillooet to Port Harrison, at the
head of steamboat navigation on the Fraser river.
To reach Port Harrison I had four land portages to
make and three lakes to cross. I was carrying with
me about 100 ounces in gold dust.
At that particular time there were few people going out of the country, but many coming in. I
made this journey from Lillooet to Harrison alone,
and it afterward developed I came nearer being robbed
on this trip than I ever had before in my life.
This fellow Brockey Jack found I was leaving the
country and was carrying a lot of gold with me.
Brockey left Lillooet two days ahead of me. He did
this in order to have time to pick out a safe place for
him to kill me and get away with my money. Leaving Lillooet in the morning on a contrivance called
a stage to the first lake, which I crossed on a small
boat, then by stage across portage No. 2 to lake No.
2, which I crossed on a light draft steamboat and
then by stage about 12 miles to within one mile of
where I crossed lake No. 3 to what they called a
A Narrow Escape From Serious Misfortune
That night the hotel was full of drunkards and
some tough looking men. After getting something
to eat I concluded it would be safer for me in the
brush than around the hotel. I walked down to the
end of the lake where there were a few shacks, but
I could see no one around. I then went into the
timber and spent the night. At daylight next morning I went to the end of the lake. It was a small
lake, about four miles long by one mile wide.
Passengers were transported across this lake in
row boats. I aroused a boatman out of a shack and
asked him if he would row me over the lake. He
said he would. I asked him how long it would take
him, and he said, "Less than an hour." I told him
I was anxious to catch the stage that morning. He
said I would have plenty of time as that stage did
not leave the hotel until 8 o'clock and that I could
easily walk from the lake to the hotel in 30 minutes,
as the distance was only one mile.
We then pulled out. There was a strong head
wind blowing and we were about half way across
the lake. The wind was blowing at a rate of at
least 30 miles an hour. The man was working hard,
but making little headway. Finally I said: "You
are not going to reach the end of the lake in time
for me to walk a mile and catch the stage." '
/ Take a Rough Course to Catch the Stage
I asked him if there was a trail running along the
side of the lake. He said there was a trail along the
west side. Then I requested him to land me on the
west side and I would try to make it to the hotel
in time to connect with the stage. We were then
much nearer the east side than the west. The man
pulled for the west side but the wind was against
him.    I told him to land me on the east side.    He
said: "All right, but it will be very difficult for you
to reach the hotel from that side."
He pointed out to me about where the hotel stood.
I discovered I was much nearer the hotel than I
would have been if he had succeeded in landing me
on the opposite side of the lake. I found it was
impossible, on account of rocks falling into the lake,
for me to travel along the shore line, so I climbed
the steep bluff and took as direct a course as I could
for the hotel, which seemed to be about two miles.
On account of the fallen timber it was the longest
trip I ever tackled.
I finally reached the trail leading from the lake
which was only a few hundred yards from the
hotel. When I looked at my watch it was just 8
o'clock and I thought I was left. When I neared the
hotel I discovered the stage pulling out. I yelled at
the driver but he did not hear me. The horses struck
into a gallop and I chased them for about 300 feet,
but without gaining headway on them. I could see a
steep hill ahead, however.
Then I exerted myself hoping to get in hailing
distance of the driver before he reached the top of the
hill. This I did and the driver waited for me. I
got on to the old spring wagon hitched behind two
old plugs of horses. It was 23 miles from there to
Port Harrison. I had to stop over there until the
next morning to take the boat for Victoria. Late
that evening, to my surprise, Mr. Brockey Jack
walked into the hotel where I was staying.
75  3C
Placer Mining
AT THAT time I had no idea where Brockey
Jack came from. Very shortly after the gentleman had entered the hotel a constable arrested
him on suspicion and threw him into jail. This was
a great relief to me. That evening I had a talk with
the constable and told him I knew Brockey Jack by
sight and that he was considered to be a bad man
and the vigilance committee of Walla Walla had him
on its list of bad characters.
The constable said he had no positive evidence,
but thought Brockey Jack was connected with the
murder of a man in the Caribou country the previous
year and the authorities would lodge him in jail and
try to get evidence against him. If not, they would
banish him from the country. I told the constable
I hoped he would hold the man until I could get
out of the country as I had some gold dust with me
and had just arrived from Lillooet and that I believed the fellow had followed me from there, but
had no evidence. I was greatly relieved to know they
had him in jail.
Brockey Jack was hanged by a vigilance committee
near Wallula in the spring of 1864. He made a complete confession before he was executed. The confession was reduced to writing. Several years afterward a friend of mine handed me a copy of it to read.
The fellow apparently confessed to every crime,
murder and attempted murder he ever committed. He
said he knew me and told of his attempt to murder
and rob me.
An III Wind Which Blew Good to "Uncle Dan
He said he had been in touch with me two weeks
before I left Lillooet. He told of concealing himself
on the trail between the lake and the hotel for the
purpose of killing and robbing me, but a wind on the
lake forced me to land on the side instead of the end
of the lake and I managed to reach the hotel by going
through the woods instead of by way of the trail.
He continued by stating that after he believed the
stage had departed he went to the hotel and ascertained that I had caught the stage and that he followed me to Port Harrison. He said that if he had not
been arrested he intended to follow me to Walla
Walla and try to get me on the way. This once an
ill wind saved my scalp.
If this fellow's confession was true he and Boone
Helm killed and robbed a Jew on the trail leading out
from the Caribou mines in the summer of 1862, and
therefore the constable was justified in arresting
Brockey at Port Harrison.
I left Port Harrison by boat for New Westminster,
then the capital of British Columbia. After transacting some business there I went on the old steamship Otter to Victoria. At that time Victoria was
booming and was the liveliest town on the Pacific
coast. I sailed on a little steamship from Victoria
direct to Portland, Ore. This little boat was not.
seaworthy and the sea was fearfully rough, and, as
usual, I was mighty seasick. Besides my nerves were
unstrung from worrying and carrying 30 odd pounds
of gold dust on my shoulders. There were a lot of
young sports and toughs aboard the boat returning
from gambling expeditions to Victoria. This bunch
added nothing to my comfort.
The Discomfort of 30 Pounds of Wealth
There happened to be traveling in the same stateroom with me a middle-aged man who had been
living in the vicinity of Portland for many years.
This gentleman told me his name was James Bybee.
I knew Mr. Bybee's reputation was good and then
told him of the strain I had been under with the gold
dust. Mr. Bybee said he knew what it meant and
if I could trust him he would see there were a few
bad men on the boat, but there would be do danger
from them until we arrived in Portland. He said
that he would stay with me until I had deposited
the dust in a place of safety.
When we landed in Portland Mr. Bybee went with
me to the Wells Fargo Express office and introduced
me to the manager. When the gold had been placed
in the safe the manager asked me what I was going
to do with it. I told him I lived at Walla Walla
and intended to ship it there by express.
The manager said: "Young man, I can save you
some money by shipping your gold dust from here
to the mint, or if you will have the dust melted and
run into bars and ascertain their value I will pay you
the coin for them at almost their assay value."
I asked the manager how long it would take to
have the assays made.    He said that if the assayer
was not busy it would not take more than one day.
When the assayer weighed the dust it came within a
few dollars of weighing 400 ounces.
At noon the next day I found the gold bars at
the express office with certificates of assay. I was
pleased to find the value of the dust ran higher than
I had expected. Wells Fargo & Co. discounted the
bars l/8th of one per cent of assay value. I then
shipped the gold coin to Walla Walla by express. I
arrived in Walla Walla about April 20, having
spent nearly one year in British Columbia.
/ Decide to Get Rich Quick at Placer Mining
After settling with my partners I began looking
around for something to do. The Boise Basin placer
gold fields were at their height, and public opinion
was directed entirely to that country. I got the gold
fever and decided to try my hand at placer mining
and get rich quick. Fearing I might go broke I
loaned half of my money, taking a note payable in
one year with interest at the rate of 24 per cent. That
was the going rate of interest at that time. I then
started on horseback for the land of old, the land of
gold, the land of '49.
When I reached the promised land I found all the
ground of value had been staked and the only thing
for me to do was to buy a claim. After looking the
country over a few days, I met three men who went
into the diggings with the first rush. The three were
holding two claims located on Moore's creek. One
of these men, Buck Strickland, was a friend of mine.
Buck told me that one of his partners, by the name
of Nuckolds, wanted to sell his interest in the two
claims and they were located on a flat mucky creek
bottom 300 yards wide and 40 feet long, running
up and down the creek. This ground would have
made a good hay meadow.
Buck pointed out to me a shaft he had sunk on the
ground the year before in December. He figured the
shaft was 14 feet deep to pay gravel and that he was
only able to pan a few pans of dirt before the water
forced him out of the shaft. He said it panned $2.50
the pan. I believed him and bought the interest. I
then employed a force of miners and started to develop the ground. We found Buck's shaft was about
half filled with water and badly caved.
We decided it would be best to sink a new shaft
a tod from the old one. We found this a hard as
well as an expensive problem. We had to timber
the shaft with heavy timbers. The ground was full
of water. When we had dug a few feet it required
four men to bail the water out of the shaft and one
man working with a shovel in it. There was not a
pump in Boise basin. It cost $1,000 to sink this
shaft 15 feet deep to bed rock. We did not find either
gravel or gold on the bed rock. After sinking two
more less expensive shafts, without finding any gold,
I feared Buck had lied and I was ready to quit. I
believe Buck also came to the conclusion that he had
Hed. I §jj| |:
We then sold the two claims for a song to a little
merchant named John Ingersoll. Ingersoll next season, in connection with the adjoining claimholder,
ran long draining ditches at a heavy expense through
the claims. That pretty well drained the ground.
There were five narrow streaks of pay found running through the claims. In a narrow and very thin
streak of pay gravel at the bottom and on the bed
rock of Buck's old shaft $100 to the pan was often
washed out. A few years later Ingersoll, after cleaning up something like $100,000, returned to his old
home in Galesburg, 111.
Discovery of the Great Boise Basin Placer Fields
This history of the discovery of the Boise Basin
placer fields was related to me in 1863 by Joe
Bransteter, one of the discoverers:
Mr. Bransteter said he joined a party of prospectors, numbering about 15 men, at Walla Walla in
the spring of 1862. It was the intention of Colonel
Fogus, Moses Splawn, Jake Westenfelter, Jack Reynolds and himself, and perhaps some others of the
party, to prospect and explore the country lying
between old Fort Boise and the Salmon river mining districts.
Mose Splawn, who was mining on Salmon river
the year before, told them of a Bannock Indian that
came to his mining claim, and while watching
Splawn panning out gold the Indian told him that
when he was a boy he had seen plenty of that kind
of stuff.    Splawn asked him where he had seen it.
"Long way," said the Indian, and pointed towards
the Boise country.
This Indian could speak a little English and appeared to be interested in the gold dust. He came
to Splawn's mining claim again and repeated the
story. Splawn got excited and asked the Indian if
he would take him to the place where he had seen
the gold.
"No," said the Indian. "It was in the Bannock
country and the Indians would kill every white man
that entered."
Splawn asked the Indian to describe the country
where he had found the gold. The Indian drew a
rough sketch of the country to show the place he had
seen the gold and he marked the easiest way to reach
it, which would) be by way of old Fort Boise on
Snake river.
The Indian, in his imperfect way, described his
find to be in a basin surrounded by high mountains
that could be reached by going in a northeasterly direction, two days' ride from old Fort Boise.
The Walla Walla prospectors headed for old Fort
Boise, but before they reached that place they fell
in with a big prospecting party from Oregon in
search of the lost Blue Bucket diggings, which they
felt certain they could find within less than 10 days,
and that they all could load their pack horses with
gold dust.
Rattlesnakes About All the Prospectors Could
^ Find
The two prospecting parties joined together and
went on a hunt for the Blue Bucket mines. After
chasing over the sand and sagebrush plains for six
weeks without finding anything worth speaking
of except rattlesnakes, they all became disgusted and
split up. Six of the Oregon party, including George
Grimes, joined the five men whose names have been
mentioned, and those 11 men started for Snake river
at Fort Boise to carry out Splawn's original plan.
They were unable to cross Snake river at Fort Boise,
and after some of the men came near being drowned,
they followed up Snake river to the mouth of the
Owyhee where they whip-sawed lumber from cotton-
wood logs, built a boat and finally succeeded in crossing Snake river at that point.
They then traveled in a northerly direction until
they came in sight of high ranges of mountains. They
headed for the highest mountain in sight, reaching
the summit late one evening where they camped for
the night. Here they had a fine view of the whole
surrounding country. Looking east from this point
they discovered what appeared to be a basin between
ranges of mountains. The next morning, before
breaking camp, they discovered what appeared to be
a big camp of Indians in the direction of the basin.
George Grimes insisted on turning back down the
western slope of the mountain toward the Payette
Splawn wanted to go in the direction of the supposed basin. It was then left to a vote of the men
which way they should go and they decided to follow
Grimes. Shortly afterwards the men changed their
minds and said they would follow Splawn, Indians
or no Indians. They went down the mountain and
through the Indian camp, having decided it would be
better to act bold than try to evade the Bannocks.
They found no Indians in this camp but in a very
short time they sighted a dozen Indians stripped
ready for battle.
These 11 prospectors, among the bravest that ever
chased the fleeting gold, were in the summer resorts
of many bands of roaring Bannocks, one of the most
treacherous tribes of Indians on the American continent. These prospectors were then on the outskirts
of what proved to be the Boise basin. They then
began prospecting for gold, but were beset and harassed by the Indians continually.   From that time on
they prospected for a few days and then reached a
good-sized creek, where they camped. This creek
was known after as Grimes' creek.
Prospecting With Wild Indians Lurking Nearby
They had not been in this camp an hour when
Colonel Fogus discovered the first gold in paying
quantities in the Boise basin. They prospected up
this creek for five miles and found pay dust in every
hole they sank. These men, in prospecting worked
two together, carrying their firearms with them and
while one man prospected the other was on the alert
for Indians. Three men constantly guarded the
camp and horses.
When they had about satisfied themselves of the
extent and richness of their find, George Grimes was
shot and killed by the Indians and Mr. Splawn was
slightly wounded. The whole party was then assembled as quickly as possible. They buried Grimes
in one of their prospect holes and that night they
succeeded in making their escape. They went to
Walla Walla and reported the discovery. This news
spread rapidly and in a very short time the discoverers, accompanied by 100 miners, were on their way to
Boise basin with 500 other miners closely following
them. These 500 or 600 miners located all of the
most valuable ground in the basin that fall.
This story may not be exactly correct in every
particular, but I doubt if ever there will be a truer
one told.
Colonel Fogus had the honor of finding the first
gold, but Moses Splawn's belief in the Bannock Indian's story and his determination in following the
Indian's story up, in my judgment makes Mr.
Splawn entitled to the credit for the discovery of
Boise basin.
The placers of Boise basin perhaps were not the
richest found in Idaho, but were the most extensive
and probably produced more gold than all other
placer districts combined in the state. Colonel Fogus and Marion Moore, a very intelligent young miner, developed the rich silver mining claims called the
Poorman and Ida Elmore at Silver City, Idaho, in
1862. f
Mr. Moore was killed in 1865 in a tunnel at
Silver City by a party of claim jumpers. The Poor-
man and Ida Elmore mineral claims produced several
million dollars' worth of ore.
Colonel Fogus accumulated a snug fortune at
Silver City, but I understand he died poor in San
Francisco 20 years ago. ,
Moses Splawn was a middle aged man in the
'60s, but he was still going strong six months ago.
/ See a Murder in the Early Morning
I tackled several other little mining propositions
and the first of August I found myself minus what
money I had carried into the camps with me. I
then ordered my saddle horse to be brought in from a
ranch and one bright afternoon I rode over to Placer-
ville. On my line of travel to Walla Walla I stopped
in this camp over night to see a party that owed me
a little money, but failed to get it. There was no
horse feed in the camp. My horse was given to a
night herder to be grazed and returned early next
morning to a horse corral.    I slept that night in a
little lodging house and was up next morning at
In going down to the corral to see about my
horse I passed in front of a big gambling saloon. The
nighthawks were then leaving the saloon. As I
walked down that side street I noticed two men
walking in front of me. They were about 20 feet
apart and were apparently quarreling. The man in
front was Andrew McKay, known all over the Pacific coast as Snapping Andy. The man following
him was Jette Hickey. This fellow had been drinking heavily. In front of these men was a little store
conducted by Captain Bledsoe. The merchant had
set some of his wares out on a porch in front of his
store. When Andy approached the store he stepped
up on the porch and when Hickey came in reach
Andy seized a pick handle out of a barrel and double-
handed gave Hickey a wallop on the head with it. As
Hickey fell Andy hit him again. Either blow would
have killed a bull. As I passed the store Andy said
to me: "I had to kill the son-of-a-gun. Do you
think the Vigilantes will hang me?" Andy was not
concerned about the civil authorities, but he did fear
the Vigilantes.
Andy Lived Happily as a Wandering Hoodoo
I learned afterward that Andy was given a hearing and discharged. It seems Hickey had been bothering Andy the night before, mimicking him and
calling him Snapping Andy, and of all things most
disliked by him was to be called Snapping Andy.
This old fellow was one of the most notable characters in the West. He was never known to ride on
a horse or any other conveyance.    He never worked
and could not gamble. He walked alone, without
a cent in his pocket, from Salt Lake to Virginia City,
Nev. He was never known to have more than $10
at any one time. He spent all of his time in gambling saloons and, the gamblers in a way supported
him. They believed he was a hoodoo and if a
gambler was playing at a game and losing he would
look over his shoulder to see if Snapping Andy was
behind him, and if Andy was there it meant a five
or ten spot for him to move along. Old Andy was
considered only a harmless old crank. He finally
met his death by drowning while floating down the
Missouri river on a raft.
After witnessing the tragedy I rushed to the corral,
saddled my horse and proceeded on my journey
without my breakfast, fearing I might be detained
as a witness. I made this trip alone until while
descending the western slope of the Blue mountains
I overhauled 10 men, all fairly well mounted and
driving a few pack horses before them.
I was acquainted with two of these men, Alex
Carter and Jeff Hankins. Carter had been a car-
gadore or boss of a big mule pack train and so far
as I know had a good reputation. The other man,
Jeff Hankins, was a gambler of the better type.
I looked the other fellows over. Some of them
I knew by sight. They were in appearance surely
a band of scoundrels. I soon learned they were all
on their way to Montana. I chatted along with
Carter and Hankins until we were within four miles
of Walla Walla. Then the whole party turned off
the road and bore east, Carter explaining to me that
they were aiming for a camp on the creek above town.
A Cattle Deal
WHEN I reached Walla Walla I began looking
for something to do. I met Governor Cole,
then a candidate for delegate in congress. Mr.
Cole that same evening introduced me to Lieutenant
Charles P. Egan, quartermaster at Fort Colville. The
lieutenant was in the market for beef cattle for Fort
Colville. Governor Cole told the lieutenant that I
was a cattleman and that I could supply him with
anything in that line he wished.
Lieutenant Egan explained to me that he had
looked at a band of cattle that he wanted, but he
could not buy them from their owners for the reason
that they would not sell for anything but coin, and
that he could only pay in greenbacks. He told me
how much a pound he was willing to pay and take
the cattle at an estimated weight of so many pounds
per head. This looked good to me. The lieutenant
told me the cattle belonged to a man by the name
of Hardman and his son, and that they lived on the
Touchet river, 18 miles north of Walla Walla.
I went out the next day to see if I could make a
dicker for the cattle. I found they were a nice lot.
The owners said they wanted $30 a head, gold coin,
for the cattle. I could see then a net profit on the
cattle of $1,500 to $2,000, and the seller's and
the buyer's price had both been fixed.    I told the
owners I would take the cattle and be out next day
to receive them. The old man said that would be
all right.
The son then spoke up and said: "Father, don't
be too fast. I sold the cattle at $30 a head six weeks
ago and received payment of $25 down."
The father said the son was under age and had
no right to sell the cattle without consulting him
and that he would not stand for it. The son said
the next day would be the last day his man would
have to pay for the cattle. I felt then that I had
suddenly lost about $1,500.
Preparing to Finance a Quick Sale
I asked the young fellow who he had contracted
to sell the cattle to. He told me and I felt a little
relieved, for I did not believe the man would be able
to pay for the cattle and would most likely have to
forfeit the $25 he had paid. It then developed that
the young Hardman had bought the cattle the year
before and gave his note payable in gold coin and the
father had indorsed the note. The father was determined the cattle should be sold and the note paid
in gold coin when due. The father finally, with
my consent, agreed to let the matter stand for another day. I told the owners to round up the cattle
the next day and hold them and if the other man
did not come that I would be on hand and take
the cattle.
I then rode back to town and explained the situation to Lieutenant Egan and advised him to be ready
to go out with me the next day, and if I did not get
the cattle I was confident I could arrange with the
other fellow so he would get the cattle. I requested
the lieutenant to be prepared to pay for the cattle
on the spot for if I should buy them I would need
assistance. The lieutenant promised to pay on a moment's notice.
The next morning the lieutenant sent his agent
Morris and three enlisted men out with me. When
we reached the ranch the cattle were all rounded up
and they were holding them out on the prairie. At
noon the father insisted on turning the cattle over
to me, but the son claimed his man had all that day
in which to make the payment. That was an anxious
afternoon for me. When the sun set the boy said
his man's time was up and I could have the cattle.
We then drove the cattle down a lane and counted
them carefully. We agreed the count was correct and
A New Count and a Race for the Coin
Morris and, his men were with us, but did not
undertake to count the cattle then. We drove the
cattle into a corral, and I demanded a receipt for
them, and told Morris there were 151 head. Hard-
man said the count was correct. Morris said he
would not accept our count. I told him to satisfy
himself. Morris told his men to count the cattle
in the corral. It was then dark, and it would have
been impossible to have counted the cattle correctly
in the corral. In daylight the men counted the
cattle, or attempted to, and said according to their
count there were 160 head.
Morris said: "All right, boys." He then began to
figure up the pounds based on 160 head. I told him
I was only paying for 151 head.    He said he knew
his business and wrote me a receipt accordingly. I
just had one $20 gold piece in my pocket. I gave
that to Mr. Hardman, and explained to him why
I did not have more money with me. This explanation was not entirely true. I went into town that
night to receive payment for the cattle, but told Mr.
Hardman before leaving his house he could hold his
cattle in the corral until I returned with the gold
Next morning at 9 o'clock when I returned to
Walla Walla I found Lieutenant Egan playing
billiards and having a good time. I told him he
must settle with me, and that I had delivered the
cattle to his agent and held his receipt for them. The
lieutenant said it would be impossible for him to
pay before the next morning; that his money was
in the quartermaster's safe at Fort Walla Walla. I
asked him what time he could settle with me next
morning.    He said: "Any time after daylight."
I then asked him where I could find him. He
said he slept in the quartermaster's office at the fort.
I fiddled around with him until midnight. I told
him finally he would be boozing around all night
and I might not be able to rouse him out of bed when
I found him. He told me to come to his room and
if necessary to knock his door in. I then went to
bed, but was up and at the quartermaster's office at
Handling an Officer and a Quartermaster
I found a man sweeping out the quartermaster's
office. I asked this man if Lieutenant Egan was
there. He said he was sleeping in a back room. I
told this fellow that I must see Egan.    He said it
was impossible at that unusual hour. I watched my
chance and bolted into Egan's room and found the
door locked. Then I began banging on the door. I
then got into a row with the janitor, but I finally
broke into Egan's room, found him in a fearful
state, but finally got him up and partly dressed.
Then he discovered he could not get into the safe.
We finally had to go to the quartermaster's quarters and found the quartermaster drunk and harder to
handle than Egan, but we persisted. Finally Lieutenant Egan became vexed and told the fellow if he
did not get out and open the safe he would report
him being drunk and unable to attend to business.
The quartermaster then rolled out of bed and managed to dress himself and went stumbling and
grumbling and opened the safe. The lieutenant then
settled with me quickly for the cattle, paying in
government vouchers, which were payable at face
value in greenbacks at San Francisco.
A Speedy Transaction With a Fine Gentleman
It was now 7 o'clock and I had a ride of 20 miles
to make to reach Hardman's ranch on time. Besides,
I would have to stop in Walla Walla to borrow the
gold coin on my warrants. The firm of Baker &
Boyer were at that time conducting a general store
in Walla Walla and were doing a little brokerage
business on the side. I rode up to this store and
found Mr. Boyer just entering. I immediately approached Mr. Boyer and told him I wanted to borrow $4,500 in gold coin. I then handed Mr. Boyer
my vouchers and told him I was in a hurry.
Mr. Boyer counted out the coin and I put it in a
big buckskin purse and I started away with it. Mr.
Boyer called to me to stop and sign a note. I said
to him: "You are all right. Hold the vouchers and
I will arrange it with you later." Mr. Boyer was all
right and a fine gentleman, he was.
I mounted my horse and arrived at the Hardman
ranch on time. When I came in sight of the cattle
corral there were no cattle in sight, and at first I
supposed the cattle had escaped from the corral during
the night. When I entered the Hardman home Hard-
man and his son were out. I asked Mrs. Hardman
what had become of the cattle. She said the men
had taken the cattle out of the corral and had gone
with them at daylight. I told her they let the cattle
go before they were paid for. She said they were
not alarmed about their pay. I then said to Mrs.
Hardman if they had known how hard up I was
it might have been different with them. Mrs. Hard-
man prepared a good breakfast and I surely enjoyed it.
/ Part With Vouchers—Then Price Declines
When the Hardmans came in, I paid them and returned to town and then went to see Mr. Boyer.
I met Dr. Baker in the store and gave him my note
and told him to hold the vouchers until the note
was paid. The doctor asked me what I was going
to do with the vouchers. I told him I would sell
them when I could get a fair price and would then
pay my note. The doctor asked me how much I
wanted for them. I knew the doctor would drive the
hardest bargain with me if he could so I said 75
cents.    They were worth about 71 cents on the dol-
lar and the doctor offered me 70 cents. For several
days, every time I would meet the doctor he would
bother me to buy the vouchers.
One morning I was in the store and Mr. Boyer
was getting ready to start for San Francisco. The
doctor again tackled me to buy the vouchers. I
stood firm and asked him 75 cents. The doctor said
he would split the difference with me. I asked him
how much that would be. He said he offered me
70 cents. I said: "All right, doctor, you can have
the vouchers at 72 J4."
Baker and Boyer were dealing in government paper and sending it to San Francisco for some purpose. Government vouchers were more desirable for
speculators to handle on account of being less bulky
than greenbacks. Mr. Boyer immediately started for
San Francisco carrying a large amount of vouchers
and greenbacks with him. When he arrived at San
Francisco, the greenbacks had declined in price and
were only 68c in gold. Greenbacks continued to decrease gradually in value until they were only worth
about 45c on the dollar in gold. Every time I would
meet Dr. Baker for years afterward he would scold
me for cheating him. However, the doctor did not
lose any money on greenbacks for he converted them
at their face value into good government 4 per cent
gold bonds.
Lieutenant Egan was still enjoying himself in
town and in the meantime we had become pretty
good friends. One day the lieutenant said to me
that he had a lot of government supplies piled up on
the north bank of the Snake river near the mouth of
the Palouse that he wanted hauled to Fort Colville,
and if I would promise to display the same efforts
in hauling and delivering the freight I did the cattle
he would give me the contract to haul the freight,
but the freight would have to be delivered at the fort
before the winter set in.
I said: "All right, lieutenant, I am the lad that
can turn the trick if the price is right."
He then gave me the estimated number of tons
of freight there would be to move and said he was
permitted to pay for the hauling of the freight on a
gold basis. I told him it would require four big ox
teams to handle that amount of freight before winter
and that the teamsters all seemed to be busy. He
said he realized all that and if I would tackle the
job he would allow me 15 cents a pound in gold.
He said other parties had offered to do it for less,
but he doubted their ability to do so in the required
time. I told the lieutenant I would accept his proposition and would guarantee to have the last pound of
the freight at Fort Colville before the first day of
A Speedy Lineup on Transportation Facilities
I then went out and saw two big freight wagons
with six yokes of oxen hitched to each wagon. I
asked one of the drivers who the teams belonged to.
He told me that I would find the owner in a certain
saloon. I then went to the owner and asked if the
teams were for sale. He said they were and his price
was $2000 for the two teams. I looked the outfit
over and found them to be what I wanted, paid for
them and took possession. I completed this transaction in less than 30 minutes.
I had a friend by the name of Sam D. Smith, who
had two good ox teams and if he would sell I knew
I could buy them on time. Smith told me when I
found him that his teams were not for sale, but that
they were idle and he would like to have a couple of
months' work for them to do. I told Smith I had a
certain amount of freight to move and that I would
give him 10 cents a pound in gold for two trips with
both from the mouth of the Palouse to Fort Colville.
He said he was willing to make one trip at that
price. I then told him if he would agree to make
two trips I would allow him 111-2 cents per pound
and that I owned two teams and was going to drive
one of them myself and would make a round trip
from the Snake river to Colville in 20 days, and if
necessary I would make four trips to Fort Colville
before winter. Smith accepted my proposition and
asked when I would start. I told him the next day,
to which he consented.
I then located my friend Egan and asked him for
an order on his agent at Snake river for the freight.
The lieutenant wanted to know how I was getting
along. I told him I would be starting out the next
day with four big ox teams. He looked at me with
astonishment and said I was a wonder. I replied
that when grass was getting short I had to rustle.
When all was in readiness the next day I picked
up a bull whip and we moved out. Everything went
smoothly with us. When we reached the Snake river
on the second trip I sent Smith's teams home.
/ Pick Up a Bull Whip and We Are Of
When I began loading my two wagons for the
third trip I discovered the weight of the freight was
not holding,  the government having estimated in
measurement instead of dead weight, so I did not
have quite two full loads. My expenses after crossing Snake river were very small, only the wages of
one bull whacker and grub for two of us and ferrage
across Spokane river, where the Lepray bridge now
My late friend, James Monaghan, was owner of
the ferry. He charged me for ferrying a loaded wagon
and team $20, and for an empty wagon and team
$10, but I did not begrudge it to Jim, living as he
was then, alone, his nearest white neighbor being to
the south of him at Snake river, 100 miles away.
I found whacking bulls was not as tough a job
as some people might think it was, especially, through
a country like that was then between Snake river and
Colville. Good grass everywhere and nice camping
places were all along the road. I enjoyed it. Of
course, it was a little slow and tedious to walk alongside of an ox team eight or ten hours a day.
My ox teamster's name was Multitude, and if he
had any other name I don't believe he knew what it
was. He was the most wonderful man with a bull
whip I ever knew and could crack his whip oftener
and louder than any other man and delighted in
touching off his fireworks whenever he could attract
an audience. He was the most generally known bull
whacker in the northwest.
When the last load of freight under my contract
had been delivered at Fort Colville I received government vouchers, payable on a gold basis in San Francisco. We returned to Walla Walla with our two ox
teams about the middle of November and immediately after our arrival there I sold the two teams for A CATTLE DEAL
exactly what they cost me, $2,000 in gold coin. My
earnings in the three months were very satisfactory,
considering my investment of one $20 gold piece.
The Remarkable Career of Lieutenant Egan
Lieutenant Charles P. Egan's career was quite
remarkable. He was a waif bootblack and newspaper boy in San Francisco, it was said, but his intelligence and tenacity attracted the attention of a
wealthy Californian by the name of James Hudspeth, who gave the boy a good education.
When the first Washington territory regiment of
volunteers were being raised in California in 1861
young Egan enlisted. The regiment was enlisted
in California to relieve the regular troops stationed
in Washington territory. On the organization of
this regiment Egan was appointed first lieutenant of
his company. This company, with another company
of the regiment, was sent to Fort Colville to relieve
the regular troops.
At that place Lieutenant Egan was made quartermaster and served in that position at Fort Colville
for three years. He was then transferred to Fort Lap-
wai, Idaho. While stationed there Lieutenant Egan
married a nice, intelligent young woman of Lewiston.
Egan was a scrapper. It appears that Mrs. Egan
and all of the commissioned officers at Lapwai dined
at the same table. One morning at breakfast Egan
was absent when the smart-alec captain made some
remarks that insulted Mrs. Egan. When Egan came
in Mrs. Egan told him of what happened at the
breakfast table.    Lieutenant Egan, without waiting
further explanation, took his riding whip from the
wall, went out on the parade grounds and horsewhipped his captain, and while so doing was heartily
cheered by all of the buck privates. Egan was ordered tried by court martial, but was acquitted.
Egan Tries His Hand at Making Money
At the end of the war Lieutenant Egan was mustered out of service. He then bought a road tavern,
but was not successful. Egan then came to me for
assistance, telling me his business was a failure and
that he was a failure himself.
He said the only place for him was in the army,
and that if he had money for his expenses to Washington, D. C, he felt he might be able to secure a
commission in the regular army. He said if he was
in Washington he could rely on the assistance of Senator McDougall of California and Delegate Cole of
Washington. He said I had before assisted him when
in trouble and that he felt compelled to ask me again.
I asked him how much money would be needed
to pay his way to Washington and return. He said
it would take about $300 in gold or $500 in currency to pay his way to Washington, but nothing to
return. He said he would land something—maybe
in jail—before he returned. I loaned him the money,
or, if you please, made him a present of it.
I then asked him what was to become of Mrs.
Egan and the baby boy while he was away. He said
that God only knew, but that they would have
plenty to live on for a while and in the meantime
Mrs. Egan might be able to dispose of his holdings
for a few hundred dollars.
I never saw Lieutenant Egan since. Egan reached
Washington at the time the senate was trying to impeach President Andrew Johnson. Senator McDougall and Governor Cole were both active in the defense of the president. Cole's time in congress had
expired, but he was still in the east. President Johnson was acquitted. Then Governor Cole presented
Lieutenant Egan to the president and told him what
Egan desired. The president called an attache, who,
reported there was a vacancy for a second lieutenant
at Fort Churchill, Nevada.
Egan, with the commission in his pocket, started
the next day for Fort Churchill, and was shortly
afterward promoted to first lieutenant and made
quartermaster. Lieutenant Egan did active service in
the Modoc, or Klamath, Indian war, and for bravery
shown by him while fighting in the lava beds was
promoted to a captaincy. From then on he must
have climbed very rapidly, for the next I heard of
him was during the Spanish-American war. He was
then quartermaster general of the United States army,
and was mixed up in the embalmed meat scandals.
I have no idea now whether Egan is dead or alive.
He had two sons some 20 years ago. They owned
a big sugar plantation on the Hawaiian islands.
Army Man Pioneer of Walla Walla
Captain P. B. Johnson of California and a member of the First Washington regiment, relieved Captain Dent of the command at Fort Walla Walla.
Captain Dent was in command at Walla Walla when
I first reached that country. I knew him very well.
He was a brother-in-law of General Grant.
When Captain P. B. Johnson was mustered out of
service he settled down in Walla Walla and began
the practice of law. He was a good friend of mine.
He afterward founded and published the Walla Walla Daily Union. The captain died in Walla Walla
some 25 years ago.
Grove L. Johnson, father of Senator Hiram Johnson of California, was a brother of Captain P. B.
Johnson. Grove L. Johnson, in the early '60s, was
a citizen of Walla Walla and practiced law there for
a short time, and I remember one of his children was
born there. But we won't claim Hiram. He is a
son of the Golden West.
THE freighting business now appealed to me and
I decided to go to California and buy a good
mule pack train. After, searching all over
northern California from the Golden Gate to Yreka,
I failed to find the kind of mules I desired. I went
to San Francisco on Christmas day, 1863, and remained there until the latter part of the following
San Francisco was lively that winter, good theaters presenting such great actors as Booth and Barrett and Joe Jefferson. The town was full of transient people, mostly miners from all parts of the Pacific coast. They all had money to burn and they
found the flames to burn it. The town was wide
open—horse racing by day and every known gambling game running all night. I had the time of my
life there that winter.
When the middle of February came I was getting
ready to quit San Francisco, but where to go or what
to do the coming season was undetermined. I finally
decided to buy miners' supplies and ship them to
Umatilla Landing on the Columbia river. There I
would have the goods packed into some of the flourishing mining camps. When my goods had been
paid for and ready to ship I boarded the old steamship Pacific, bound for Portland.    (The old tub on
its return to San Francisco via Victoria went down
while crossing Cape Flattery and every living thing
on board perished except one man.) When my goods
arrived at Umatilla Landing I engaged three pack
trains to pack them into Silver City, Idaho, promising to pay 35c a pound freight. The weather was
yet cold and stormy.
Fifty Cents a Pound for 380-Mile Trip
A few days after the pack trains had loaded out I
started to Silver City via Boise City on horseback.
When I reached Boise City I learned of a placer mining camp that had been discovered a few months before. The new discovery was reported to be important and 500 miners were in this new camp practically without supplies. This sounded good to me so
I went back, met my packers, persuaded them to pack
my goods to Rocky Bar instead of to Silver City. It
was but 50 miles farther to Rocky Bar than to Silver
City, but the packers held me up for 15 cents a pound
additional freight, making altogether 50 cents a
pound for packing goods from Umatilla to Rocky
Bar, a distance of 380 miles.
I went with the pack trains to Rocky Bar. The
trail was covered with snow all the way and we had
to shovel the snow off the trail for many miles in order to get through. When we reached the camp I
found more than 500 prospectors. Seventy-five per
cent of them were broke and out of grub. About 15
prospectors had discovered the camp late in the fall
before and had done sufficient work on their claims
to know they would pay, but none of the remaining
prospectors reached the camp until the ground had
frozen so hard they could not work their claims.
They had nearly all made locations and it was believed many of them would prove to be good.
I was up against a hard proposition. If I held my
supplies until the ground was proven, other supplies
would have come into the camp at a freight rate of
less than one-half what I had paid. Moreover, it
would have been impossible for me to have held my
provisions from 300 hungry men. In less than 10
days I sold all of my goods except some mining tools.
I received about one-half in cash—all the money
there was in the camp—and to protect myself for
what I sold on time, I formed the busted prospectors
into groups of about 15 each, and took each group's
obligation for the goods they had purchased.
An Offer to Reach the Gold Dust First
While waiting for spring to come and the ground
to thaw I went on a wild goose prospecting trip. In
the fall of 1863, three prospectors on their way on
foot from Montana to Boise discovered what appeared to them to be a good placer prospect. They
were short of grub and only sank one hole to bedrock. This was in a little dry gulch in the mountains
35 miles north of Soldier creek and about 135 miles
easterly of Boise City. These three prospectors agreed
to keep the discovery to themselves until the next
spring, when they expected to return and investigate
their find. Then they went on to Boise, one drifted
into Rocky Bar and in April he heard of a big prospecting party, headed by his two partners at Boise
City, who were getting ready to go on a prospecting
He came to me with a story that his partners had
betrayed him and offered to lead me to the place they
had discovered the gold. This prospector, myself and
two others, started for the new find. We were all
on foot with one pack horse to carry our tools and a
little grub. We estimated the distance to the New
Eldorado would be about 75 miles without a trail,
through a rough and mountainous country. It was
a trip to be remembered. The country was covered
with snow except an occasional south hillside and in
many places for miles we waded in the beds of creeks
to avoid the deep snow.
When we were within about seven miles of our
destination, we ran into the big Boise City party of
some 70 men, well mounted and well equipped. That
night three of our party, including Oregon John, myself and the discoverer, slipped out of camp. We were
first on the ground and made the original locations,
including the discovery claim. This claim, which had
a little streak of rich dirt, proved to be the only claim
in the vicinity worth staking.
€(Red" Brings Out Expression Which Grew
After prospecting a couple of days and finding
nothing, both parties fell in together and we grossed
over the divide to Soldier creek. The Boise City
party was composed largely of gamblers.. We all
camped together one night at Soldier creek. The next
morning a gambler they called "Red" said if he had
a good horse he would go to Salt Lake. His friends
said to him that he was joking as he did not have the
courage to make the trip.   Red said:
"Give me a good horse  and I will  show  you."
Somebody produced a strong horse, and Red saddled
him and tied his faro layout behind, and started
away, when he remembered he did not have any
money to pay for being ferried across the rivers. One
of the gamblers piped up: "What difference does it
make which side of the river you are on if you are
broke?" That was the first time I ever heard the
expression, which has since become famous.
That same morning, while we were eating breakfast, a very old Indian rode into camp on a skinny
old horse. We gave the Indian something to eat.
Some of the young gamblers said they were going to
kill the old Siwash. The others protested, but those
braves said they were going to kill him just the same,
for, no doubt, he had been a party to killing emigrant
women and children.
As the old Indian rode away about a half dozen of
those braves jumped on their horses and took
after him. He did his best to escape, but they overtook him and killed him. This brave bunch returned
to camp with Secesh Jimmy carrying a double-barreled shotgun on the saddle in front of him. When
West Jenkins rode up against the muzzle end of the
shotgun from some cause one barrel of the gun was
discharged, and Jenkins received a full charge of
buckshpt in the thigh. I did not think the fellow
would live an hour, but they made a litter and packed
him between two horses to Boise City, and I understand the scalawag recovered. Secesh Jimmy, shortly
after returning to Boise, was killed in a gambling
row by Jim Buckley.
When I returned to Rocky Bar I found that half
of the men that owed me money had already left the
camp, and that not more than 40 placer claims in
camp would pay to work. I collected a few hundred
dollars, all that I likely would ever get. The miners
who owed me money had located all the good gold
quartz ledges in that country, and they willingly and
voluntarily conveyed all of their interest in these locations to me, but I did not even bother to have the
quit claim deeds recorded.
/ Neglect Claims Which Turn Out a Fortune
Had I placed them all on record and then held the
claims for a few years they would have made me a
fortune. Among these claims was the Ida Elmore at
Atlanta, the Red Warrior at Rocky Bar and many
others. There were afterward many millions of dollars in gold extracted from the Ida Elmore and Red
Warrior claims, and there were many other claims
that I had title to that were nearly as good. But such
is life in the far west.
When my affairs had been arranged at Rocky Bar
we were receiving flattering reports of the rich placer
discoveries on Wild Horse creek in the east Kootenays
of British Columbia. I bought a half interest in a
pack train from Charley Allenberg. We started for
Lewiston via the Weiser route, but when we reached
the headwaters of the Weiser river we found the snow
was so deep we had to turn back and go around by
Walla Walla. % | I
Reaching Walla Walla we bought our goods,
packed our animals and started for Wild Horse creek,
British Columbia. We followed the old Mullan road
to a point six miles east of what now is the center of
Spokane. On this trip I had, my first glimpse of
Spokane Falls and the Spokane prairie.   We camped
one night on Moran prairie where Mrs. J. J.
Browne's residence now stands. The next day's travels brought us to the south end of Seltice lake, where
we camped for the night.
Many Coeur d'Alene and Spokane Indians visited
us in this camp. They all spoke the Chinook jargon.
I spoke to an Indian in Chinook of the beautiful
grass on Spokane prairie. The Indian replied: "All
same wheatfield."
I asked the Indians if they knew what the word
Spokane meant in English. Several of them replied
at the same time: "Wheat fields, Wheat fields." These
indians pronounced Spokane "Spokaine" with the accent strong on the last syllable. In later years I was
speaking to a Coeur d'Alene Indian and asked him
why they called this country Spokane. He said when
the bunch grass on Spokane prairie was in seed and
turning brown the whole prairie resembled a big
wheat field and I am inclined to believe that Spokane
or Spokane prairie really means wheat field.
We forded the Spokane river near the present Spokane bridge. We crossed the Pend Oreille river, swimming our animals and ferrying our goods across in
Indian canoes at a point 10 miles below where the
town of Sandpoint now stands. We followed alongside the lake to the spot where Sandpoint is located.
From there we followed practically the same route
now followed by the Spokane International railway
to Cranbrook, which is within 15 miles of Wild
Horse creek.
When we reached the Kootenay river, where the
town of Bonners Ferry now stands, I met E. L. Bonner, R. A. Eddy, Dick Rackett and John Walton, all
old friends of mine.    They had left Walla Walla a
few days in advance of me bound for Wild Horse
creek. When they reached the Kootenay river they
saw a chance to make some money by putting in a
ferry boat. They had a whip saw with them and
were engaged sawing lumber to build the boat. Bonners Ferry and Bonner county were both named in
honor of Mr. Bonner. Bonner and Eddy both accumulated large fortunes. Mr. Bonner died some 20
years ago at Missoula, Mont.
We finally reached our destination, Wild Horse
creek, B. C June 15, 1864, northeast of where
Cranbrook now stands and found about 1,500
miners already on the ground, and about 200 straggling miners arriving daily. We built a little shack
of logs a few rounds high and covered it with
canvas and then opened up a little store. My partner, Charley Allenberg, was more merchant than
packer, so he took charge of the store. I sold our
little pack-train aind then devoted myself to prospecting and mining.
112 WHEN I was ready to go prospecting I met an
old California placer miner by the name of
Steve Babcock. I asked Mr. Babcock what
he thought of the camp. He said he had done some
prospecting, but found nothing, and believed the
diggings were going to prove quite limited. The
camp was on the widest part of a high flat or bar.
This bar was about one mile in length and its widest
place was 300 yards. The creek running along the
side of this bar was the richest ground in camp.
One morning Babcock and I took our mining tools
and what grub we could pack on our backs and
started to go out about six miles to prospect a stream
called Stony creek. We had only proceeded a few
hundred yards when we stopped to arrange our packs.
We were then near the upper end of the bar on which
the camp was built. When we had our packs arranged I said to Bab.:
Tm a poor packhorse and why not prospect this
bar before going further."
Bab consented and said he had several times had
in mind to sink a hole in this bar. Without further
ceremony we went to work. The bar at this point
was perhaps 300 feet wide. We put down hve prospect holes to bedrock across this bar about 50 feet UNCLE  DAN" DRUMHELLER
apart. It was from four to six feet to bedrock. We
found but very little gravel in any of our prospect
holes even on the bedrock and no gold.
What a Difference When We Return to Prospect
The bedrock was of slate formation, craggy and
checkered with deep seams. Neither Bab nor I had
had any experience in mining on that kind of bedrock. After finishing our fifth hole we went out and
prospected Stony creek, but found no gold. We were
gone about 10 days, and on returning to camp, when
we came in sight of our five prospect holes, hundreds
of men were standing around them. I said to Babcock that very likely some drunk had fallen into one
of our prospect holes and broken his neck. When we
approached these men I asked one of them I knew
what was causing all the excitement. He said:
aHaven't you heard the news?" I said "No." When
this man was able to speak again he said: "This
morning Jobe Harvey, the barkeeper, was looking
down into one of your old prospect holes and saw
something glittering in a deep crevice in the bedrock.
When he got it out it proved to be a nugget of gold
weighing $56."
We were too late to secure a location. This bar
produced more gold than all the balance of the camp.
The Wild Horse creek discovery was made by a
bunch of prospectors numbering about 60 men during March, 1864. Many of these prospectors had
been ordered to leave Montana by the Vigilance committee. They headed for the Walla Walla country
late in the fall of 1863. When they reached French-
town, a Canadian-French settlement, near where the
city of Missoula now stands, they decided they were
out of reach of the vigilantes and concluded to spend
the winter in the French settlement and hit the trail
early the next spring for Walla Walla. I do not
pretend to say all these men were bad, but many of
them were hard cases.
An Indian Breed Brings a Sample of Gold
During the winter there came a mixed-breed Indian of the Finley tribe from the upper Kootenays of
British Columbia to visit the French settlement. This
breed had some small nuggets with him which he exhibited to this bunch of prospectors and of course
they were interested. He told the prospectors he
picked the nuggets out of seams in the bedrock at the
bottom of a small clear stream of water flowing into
the Kootenay river 40 miles above where Fort Steele
now stands. The prospectors employed the half-
breed to pilot them to his find. They left French-
town the first of March for the upper Kootenays.
When they reached what is now Wild Horse creek
many of their horses were fagged out. Here they left
their worn horses and the greater portion of their
supplies and three men, Pat Moran, Mike Brennan
and Jim Reynolds, to take care of their stock and
supplies. The balance of the party went on up the
Kootenay river to Finley creek. They did not find
sufficient gold at Finley creek to satisfy them. While
the main body of men were at Finley creek, the three
men left with the supplies had begun prospecting on
the Wild Horse creek at its mouth. They found a
little gold there.
They then prospected up the creek some four miles
to a box canyon and a perpendicular fall in the creek,
but still without success. Then Pat Moran worked
his way around above the falls and struck rich pay
dirt. When the party returned from Finley creek the
discovery had been made. Then these men called a
miners* meeting and made their own mining laws according to the American custom, notwithstanding
that they were in British Columbia, Canada. They
made their claims large enough so the 60 prospectors
could cover all of the rich ground on the creek.
The British Flag Goes Up—After the Fight
About the 10th of July a British Columbia gold
commissioner and two English constables rode into
camp and hoisted the British flag. There had been
a great feud existing between the miners from the
east of the Rockies and those from the west, and the
night before the commissioner arrived there was a
free-for-all fight in a saloon. One man, Tommy
Walker, was killed. Overland Bob was hit on the
head with a big hand spike and a fellow by the name
of Kelly was stabbed with a knife in the back.
A mob was quickly raised by the friends of Tommy Walker for the purpose of hanging Overland Bob
and East Powder Bill. Then a law and order organ^
ization numbering about 1000 miners, of which I
was a member, assembled. It was the purpose of our
organization to order a miners' court and give all
concerned a fair trial. Our organization took charge
of the four wounded men and put a strong armed
guard around them. The next morning we appointed
a lawyer by the name of A. J. Gregory as trial judge
and John McClellan sheriff, with authority to appoint as many deputies as he wished.   That was the
condition of things when Judge Haines, the British
Columbia commissioner, rode into camp.
"Fifteen hundred men under arms in the queen's
dominion. A dastardly usurpation of authority,
don't cher know," remarked Judge Haines. But one
little English constable with knee breeches, red cap,
cane in his hand, riding a jockey saddle and mounted
on a bob-tailed horse, quelled that mob in 15 minutes.
Bad Men and Others Soon Scatter From Camp
Judge Haines tried, as far as known, all connected with the scrap, but the evidence was so contradictory all were acquitted. Overland Bob, under
a Dr. Case, was in a serious condition for three
months, but finally recovered. As soon as East Powder Bill's stub fingers healed he left camp. Kelly soon
recovered, but poor Paddy Skie, who was hit on the
head with a hand spike, did not regain consciousness
for months and I am not sure if he ever recovered
entirely from the blow.
A fellow by the name of Neil Daugherty was tried
for braining Paddy Skie. In fact, I saw Daugherty
assault Paddy. It was dark. Paddy was standing in
the middle of the street with his hands in his pockets
when Daugherty slipped up behind him and hit him
on the head with a green pine stick about four feet
long and at least two inches in diameter. I heard the
evidence in this case. The judge examined the witnesses himself.
Daugherty testified in his own behalf. When the
judge asked Daugherty to explain why he assaulted
Paddy Skie, Daugherty arose and said: "If your hon-
or plaise, it happened just like this, judge. When I
saw Paddy Skie standing upon the strait, judge, I
was so distracted over the killing of Tommy Walker,
the top sawyer, I picked up a bit of a stick, judge, as
long as your arm, about three-quarters of an inch in
diameter, and gave him a slight rap over the head."
Daugherty was acquitted, but a few years later was
arrested and accused of robbing some Chinamen. He
broke jail and while hiding in the mountains it is
claimed he perished.
Get Out No Wiser, But Much Poorer
I put in the balance of the season in that country,
trying my hand at different things, but mostly prospecting, without success. My partner also had lost
money in his enterprise. After my partner and I had
divided up, I did succeed in making a couple of thousand dollars out of a mining ditch I had located, but
left the camp no wiser, but much poorer, than when
I entered it.
There were many noted characters in that old mining camp, among them being an old fellow by the
name of Cuddy. He was Irish. Cuddy operated a
little store in the camp and succeeded in buying an interest in a group of rich placer claims and by fall had
succeeded in getting together about 1000 ounces of
gold dust. He had closed out everything and was
getting ready to quit the country as soon as he could
collect a few outstanding bills.
He still occupied his old store building where he
kept his gold dust. Cuddy loved to play poker but
did not like to pay. He had the habit of sitting
down in a poker game and if he lost he would leave
the game without paying. Cuddy had been practicing this kind of business for months. It was unlawful to gamble in that country and therefore none
of the sports dared complain of Cuddy's system of
Cuddy had a trusty old Yankee that guarded the
gold day and night in the old building. Finally old
Cuddy at midnight was in a saloon engaged in a
game of poker. The old Yankee had spread his blan-
nets on the floor and had rolled in with all of the
gold dust under his head. Just then two men approached the front door of the store, fired their pistols and called to the Yankee to get out quick and
run to Cuddy, who had just been shot. The old
Yankee jumped up in a dazed condition and ran to
Cuddy. The two men then entered the store and
carried the gold dust away and hid it and afterward
managed to carry it out of the country. When the
old Yank reached Cuddy he found him busily engaged in playing poker.
Turns Out That Robbery Was No Fake
At that time there was an export duty of 50 cents
an ounce on gold dust being carried out of British
Columbia. The constables watched the trails for a
few days to see if they could detect any one carrying
gold dust out of the country without paying the
duty. The constables made up their minds that it
was only a trick of old Cuddy's to slip his gold dust
out of British Columbia without paying the duty,
and it was the general belief that Cuddy had not
been robbed and no one sympathized with him.
However, it afterward developed Cuddy had been
robbed by two gamblers who were in the camp. One
of them was named Hugh Donahue and the other
man's name was Bowen. Bowen was hung by a
vigilance committee in Montana and confessed to this
robbery. Donahue met his death by drowning in
the Missouri river.
When November was approaching, I had decided
to quit mining forever and go into the cow country
and follow the cattle business in some capacity for all
time to come, feeling that I was competent at least to
make an honest living handling cattle.
In the early part of November I returned to Walla
Walla. When I reached there I met a friend indeed,
Samuel Johnson, who owned a stock farm 10 miles
southwest of Walla Walla, in Umatilla county, Oregon. Mr. Johnson invited me to go out to his ranch
with him, which I did. In the spring of that year
Mr. Johnson bought in southern Oregon 400 head of
fine 4-year-old steers and had then driven to his Walla Walla ranch. These big steers, he told me, were
giving him too much worry in keeping them on his
Mr. Johnson asked me what my plans were. I
told him my plans were to go to work at the first
thing that showed up. He said: "Good for you,
Dan. I need you and will make you a proposition
/ Start in Cattle Business With Hard Work
The next day I rode out over the range with him
and looked his cattle over. They were surely a nice
bunch. Mr. Johnson asked me if I thought I could
keep the cattle on the range.   I told him yes and also
told him how I would manage it. He then wanted
to know how many herders would be needed. I told
him I would want one man for a time and then I
would herd them alone. He thought that would be
impossible and said he had three men busy with the
cattle all of the time, besides he helped all he could
He said he had about 30 head of saddle horses up,
feeding them grain and hay, and then some cattle
were getting away and the way things were going on
he would make no profit out of the cattle.
That night Mr. Johnson said: "Dan, I want you
to buy a half interest in those steers. Take comr
plete charge and relieve me of my trouble."
I said: 'That would be fine, Mr. Johnson, but I
have not the cash to pay for them."
He said: You need not pay me a dollar until you
sell the cattle."
He would sell them to me at just what they cost
him to date. He had not kept books, but we figured
it out within a few hundred dollars. That made
it about $30 a head.   Very cheap at that.
I then asked him about the saddle horses and he
said he furnished them. I told him I had money to
pay for horses and the expenses for the cattle. I
picked out 16 head of saddle horses and four pack
horses. He made a low price on them and I paid him
in cash. I asked him what the interest would be. He
said my time would balance the interest.
121  3C!
A Profitable Cattle Deal
MR. JOHNSON proved to be the best friend I
ever had. I took full charge and relieved the
old gentleman from bother. I kept one herder
for a short time and then tended the cattle on the
range alone until I started them to market the next
spring. I had good saddle horses, and was in the
saddle on an average of 12 hours a day. I went to
town but once in four months.
Our cattle came through the winter in fine condition and without the loss of a single animal. April
15 1 had 400 head of magnificent steers all rounded
up, and with the help of three cowboys and a man
to drive the saddle and pack horses we started with
them for Fraser river, British Columbia.
The Most Remarkable Chinaman I Ever Saw
When we reached Moses coulee with the cattle the
most remarkable Chinaman I have ever met rode
into our camp. He said his name was Chesaw and
that he had a store on the Columbia river near the
mouth of the Okanogan. Chesaw stayed overnight
with us. The next morning he was going up to his
store on the Columbia river and would help along
that far.
This Chinaman was a daring horseman, and could
handle a rope equal to a Mexican.    It was five days'
travel for us to the Columbia, and when we got there
we found the river rapidly rising, with large quantities of driftwood running. This made it very difficult for us to swim the cattle across the Columbia,
but with the assistance of some Indians in canoes and
Chesaw's help we finally succeeded in landing all the
cattle safely across the river except one big, red, white-
faced steer.
We had this big fellow in the middle of the river
several times, but he would manage to turn back and
land on the same side of the stream whence he started.
A cow swimming the Columbia at this point would
drift down stream about one and one-half miles.
Chesaw roped the big white-faced steer. We forced
the steer into the river. Then the Chinaman threw
the end of the rope to an Indian sitting in a canoe
and another Indian in the canoe paddled into deep
water. When the Indians in the canoes leading the
steer were in midstream they became entangled in a
big drift of floating timber. The steer got away
from them and swam back. I gave up trying to
make the steer swim and gave it, rope and all, to Mr.
Chinaman for the assistance he had rendered.
At that time Chesaw was employing several
Chinese rocking out gold on the bars along the
banks of the Columbia. These Chinamen never left
that section of the country. He finally settled down
where the town of Chesaw now stands. He died
several years ago.
Make Good Progress After Swimming River
We went on with the cattle into the Fraser river
country without any trouble or hindrance. I stopped
the cattle on a fine summer range 20 miles southeast
of the town of Lillooet. I had only been in this
camp a few days and as yet had made no attempt
to find a market for the cattle, but had ascertained
the market was very dull. In fact, I had been told
that cattle were unsaleable at any price. I felt that
I might be in for a long siege in that country. When
I was feeling most blue Jerome Harper came into my
He had heard I was back in that camp and had
ridden 20 miles to visit me. Mr. Harper was the
largest cattle operator in British Columbia. We
had a long and friendly talk. Mr. Harper said he
was sorry I had brought cattle into that country and
that he alone owned more cattle than could be consumed. He believed it only a matter of time when
he would have to drive cattle out of British Columbia
to find a market. This last proposition of his actually came true in later years.
A Nighfs Feast on Venison, Bread, Coffee
That evening Mr. Harper and I rode out through
my cattle. The grass was good and those big steers
looked as fine as silk. The cattle were scattered over
a half section. I am sure Mr. Harper looked at each
steer twice. I knew then he would make me an offer for the cattle before he left my camp, but did not
expect it would be more than $55 or $60 a head.
Mr. Harper was a good judge of cattle and the next
day, after he had bargained for the cattle, he told
me they were the best bunch of 400 head he had
ever seen.
That evening when we got back to camp we found
that my cook, a California Indian, had shot with his
pistol and killed a two-spiked deer. Mr. Harper and
I sat around the camp fire nearly all that night broiling venison steaks, eating warm frying pan bread
and drinking coffee. Mr. Harper rolled in the
blankets about 2 o'clock and had a few hours' sleep
in the open air. He was a frail, nervous little fellow
and seldom slept more than four hours. Next morning, after Mr. Harper had saddled up his horse, he
"I did not come here even to make you an offer
for your cattle and I do not need them, but they are
here and will have to be sold and consumed in my
territory and I can find a place for them next winter.
What price do you expect?"
I told him all I knew about conditions there was
what he had told me and had not even thought of a
price. I said I expected to sell him the cattle and if
he would make a fair offer I would at least consider
it.    Mr. Harper said:
/ Provide Mr, Harper With a Good Saddle Horse
"Dan, you once gave me some valuable information I will never forget and if you will promise not
to bring any more cattle into this country I will make
you an offer."
I answered I would not bring any more cattle
unless the market had greatly improved. He said
that was satisfactory and he would give me $75 a
head for the cattle.   I said: "Jerome, they are yours."
I then asked him about my saddle horses. Mr.
Harper said he had more horses than he needed. I
said: "Now you like good saddle horses. Come
down to the corral and take a look at mine."    He
took a look at them. They were good ones.
He said: "What do you want for them?" I said:
"Just what they cost in Oregon last year, $60 a
head, but I want to reserve six head out of the 20
and I would not take out all the better ones?"
He thought they were cheap and he would take
them. I picked out my six head, one of them my
fancy saddle horse. Mr. Harper said he would like
to have this horse, but was satisfied. He then sent
one of my men to one of his cattle ranches at Kamloops to tell the foreman there to come down and
receive and take care of my cattle. I led my nice
saddle horse to the camp and put Mr. Harper's saddle
on him.
Mr. Harper said: "What does this mean?"
I said: "It means I am going to make you a present
of this good horse to ride and you can leave that old
crow bait of yours here."
Mr. Harper never did forget that present. I did
not intend to reserve but five horses, one pack horse
and one for each of my men to ride back to Walla
Walla. ;1f    j:
Mr. Harper started for the little town of Clinton,
where he was operating a flouring mill. He told me
when I had delivered the cattle to his foreman to
come up to Clinton and he would settle with me.
In a few days I had delivered my cattle and started
my men home. I then went to Clinton and settled
up with Mr. Harper, he paying me part in gold bars,
the balance in his check on the Bank of British
North America of Victoria, payable in United States
gold coin.
Mr. Harper said to me that before he had seen
my cattle he did not have the least idea of even making me an offer for them. He said he had handled
thousands of head of beef cattle in Shenandoah valley in Virginia and that he was in the cattle business
in California when he first knew me. He said he
intended to hold my cattle to supply his winter trade
in the Caribou mines and said he would get 15 cents
a pound net weight for them the middle of December
and they would be weighing at that time 850 pounds
net.    He would make about $50 a head on them.
He asked me what I thought they would weigh.
I answered that if he would keep them on the good
fresh range until the middle of December I believed
they would weigh on an average of 900 pounds net
a steer. Mr. Harper afterwards told me he had all of
those steers slaughtered and frozen for the winter
trade in the mining district the following December
and that their average net weight a steer was 900
pounds. This was the best band of 400 steers I
have ever handled and for cattle that had been raised
and fattened entirely on grass I do not believe their
equal has ever been surpassed on this continent.
In the spring of 1873 Mr. Harper was in the East
and on his way west he wired me to meet him at
Walla Walla on a certain day. I met Mr. Harper
as requested. He came through some point on the
railroad in Utah to Walla Walla on the overland
stage. When I met Mr. Harper he informed me that
he would have to drive 2,500 head of big steers out
of the upper Fraser river, British Columbia country,
to the states for market.
He wanted me to buy for him 70 head of saddle
horses to be used in this big drive. I got the horses
together quickly and sent them to Fraser river by
Guy Fruit. This big herd of cattle was started out
that spring, but when they reached the Columbia
river at the mouth of the Okanogan they found the
water in the Columbia at high stage, and notwithstanding that some of the most skilled cattlemen in
the West were in charge of these cattle they were unable to swim them across the Columbia river that
A $6,000 Investment Which Earned A
Hundred Thousand
These cattle were wintered in the Okanogan country and early in the spring of 1874, while the water
in the Columbia was at low stage, they managed to
swim them across. These cattle were then driven to
the headwaters of the Humboldt river in eastern Nevada and sold for shipment to the East. This only
illustrates what the cattlemen of the Northwest in the
early days had to contend with.
Mr. Harper was among the most clever men I
ever knew. He was born at Harper's Ferry, Virginia,
was a full cousin of General Stonewall Jackson. He
died at San Jose, Cal., before the big drive of cattle
to Nevada had been sold.
When I told Mr. Harper goodby at Clinton, B.
C, and thanked him for buying my cattle I said
to him that I felt he had made me a present of
about $6,000 by buying at $75 a head. He said he
was pleased I felt that way about it. At any rate
he had only partly repaid me for what I once did
for him.    I said: "What was that?"
"I remember," he said, "in San Francisco in
February, 1864, you told me where I could buy in
California 1,000 good steers for $6,000. I bought
the steers and drove them to Fraser river and I made
more than $100,000 on that turnover."
A Visit to Olympia, Seattle and Other Tiny
I took the stage for Fort Yale. From there the
boat to Victoria, and from Victoria I sailed on a big
steamboat plying between there and Olympia, Wash.
There were but few people living in the little towns
on Puget Sound in those days. Our boat did not
even tie up at Seattle. It threw a gang plank out to
a little dinkey wharf, landed a few small packages of
mail matter and took one mail bag aboard. There
was not a passenger went ashore nor one that came
aboard the boat.
There were a few little buildings at the old town
of Tacoma, but not a building on the present site
of the city. When our boat landed at Olympia apparently every man, woman and child in the town
came down to meet the boat—I believe I was the
only passenger landed there. The only remarkable
thing I remember was that all the men and boys were
wearing white straw hats.
Olympia was then the principal town on Puget
Sound and had a population of from 600 to 800
people. I stopped over night there in a little hotel
conducted by a colored lady known as Aunt Barbara.
She did thef cooking and had a lot of white trash
doing the other work around the hotel.
I traveled from Olympia on a jerk-water stage
to Monticello, now Kalama, on the banks of the Co-
lumbia river, from there by steamboat to Portland
and on to Walla Walla.
When I arrived home Mr. Johnson, my partner,
was greatly pleased over my quick and successful trip.
Mr. Johnson and I were engaged in the cattle business together for many years, principally in buying
and selling and during that time I drove cattle over
virtually every trail on the Pacific coast. I often
bought cattle in California and western Oregon and
distributed them from the Walla Walla country to
the mining camps of British Columbia, Montana,
Idaho and parts of Nevada, besides furnishing many
work oxen to the lumbering camps of Puget Sound.
I did all the trading and work and Mr. Johnson furnished the big end of the capital.


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