July 9th, 1873
Dear Sir and brother:
Your favor of the 23rd ---- ult is just rec'd. In answer I will say that as far
as money matters are concerned it is out of the question to do anything now, and
probably this whole season. The reason for this I will give before I close this
letter. I saw Richardson yesterday and I spoke to him about exchanging notes on
the Jones matter, he promised to arrange it the first opportunity. Out of Smith
I have no hopes of getting anything; He is in Dixie doing nothing. Findlay will
probably pay his this fall, if the Indians don't clean him out; Morgan and Logan
it is hard to get anything out of.
Our crops, unlike yours, promise to be a total failure. We had a very cold spring,
all the fruit and a great deal of the grain crop, nearly all berries and the greater
part of vegetables were killed by frost, then extraordinary hot weather set in and
about the time the grain took a new start the Indians broke out and drove the settlers
from their homes and the probability is that not more than one fourth of a crop will
You will see by the outline given that we will have a very hard time to contend with.
The most serious shock our country has received is the Indian revolt. Grant county
was getting along finely, the assessable property this past year being over one million,
100 thousand, but this year it will fall below 700,000. The Indians on the Malheur
Agency broke out about the middle of last month and went to the Stein Mt. country where
they united with the Bannocks. There they stole about 700 head of horses, killed all
the beef cattle they wanted, burnt four of the ranches, killed four whites and one
chinaman, and after they were ready, went in a westerly direction to old Camp Curry and
again made a stand.
Here Colonel Bernard with three companies of U.S. Cavalry, about 150 men, surprised them
on the morning of the 23rd of June and killed 35 of them, losing himself 5 men; finding
that the Indians were too strong for him (they numbered about 700 warriors) he fell back,
erected rifle pits and awaited the arrival of General Howard, who was following with 500
Infantry. The Indians burned one of the men that fell and mutilated the others fearfully.
After the arrival of Howard they found that the Indians were travelling in a northerly
direction when a dispatch sent here by Howard requesting that 40 or 50 citizens start and
try to check their advances on the South Fork, where they would come down. Jim Clark,
Colby, Bob Hall, Joe Combs, and others started on June 28. On the 29th at 2 P.M., about
8 miles above the mouth of the South Fork, they discovered the Indians and not being
certain they were Indians, they advanced when a murderous fire was opened on them. Joe Combs
turned and having a good horse, made his escape. O. Aldrich was killed by a shot through the
head. Two others were wounded, but escaped. Clark had his horse killed and took to the brush
and three others were left afoot, their horses giving out. When the news reached Canyon City,
the wildest excitement followed as Clark and the other three men had not been heard of.
A party of 14 again left during the night and the next day, June 30th, at Cumming's place met
the Indians where two of them were wounded and Cumming's and Small's places burned by the red
devils. A currier reached the town about 2 o'clock reporting that the Indians were burning and
murdering everything before them and that they were advancing up the valley.
Shortly after, the farmers began to pour into town, and but very few arms being here, all women
and children were moved into the tunnels into the hills to the west of Canyon City. Here some
remained three days and nights. Our family returned home Monday.
We ascertained on Monday that the Indians fighting the boys at Cummings were only their advance
guard and that the main body of them crossed the bridge and started for the North Fork, having
about 1,000 head of horses with them. At M. Small's they killed Jim's nephew and a hired man
and at Billy Stewart's they killed a fine stallion and a lot of fine bucks just imported, and
stole all his horses. In their raid up the valley they stole all the horses they could reach,
and killed the large mares, as well as lots of cattle.
After this they crossed the river, passed through Fox Valley where they killed a sheep herder
and advanced on Long Creek where they burned the homes of seven large families and drove off all
the horses in the settlement and also killed lots of cattle and horses. The settlers here had a
fort in which they took refuge at this time. The Indians fired a few shots and passed on. The
raid on this settlement was peculiarly disasterous as all people there are newcomers and in
They are now somewhere between the North Fork and Umatilla Co. in a deep canyon which is reported
impregnanble. The troops, about 800 strong, are within five miles of them but dare not attack
them, as the Indians are about 1,000 warriors strong, well-armed and in a strong position. It is
reported that troops are coming from the other side of them, and that a battle will be given them,
if they don't get away before the military is ready. Jim Clark and the other two men did not
arrive until Monday having been in the brush surrounded by about 300 Indians for 44 hours. They
claim to have killed 10 or 12.
You can imagine the excitement that prevailed, but you cannot have any idea of the damage sustained
by Grant County, a blow that will be felt for years. A great many fear that when they get their
stolen booty in a place of safety that they will return and devastate the country. In fact,
straggling parties are seen daily in close proximity and Cummings and Stewart killed one each only a
few days ago. Yesterday two young men hunting stock on Beech Crk were fired on by six of them and
report says that all of Trowbridge's horses were driven off, this however lacks confirmation.
You can form some idea what a time I have. On the day of the picnic, June 30, I took my flock, wife
with a baby just four weeks old in her arms, and the other five to the place of refuge. Here they
remained until next evening when I took home wife, and baby, nearly sick, and had we remained there
another 24 hours I think they would have died.
This excitement followed the election which took place June 3, and owing to a defection in the Republican
Party caused by the Luces and others, our whole ticket was beaten for re-election.
The mining interest is being developed on Granite Creek, and in a few years I think I will be all right
anyhow having considerable of an interest there. The prospects are magnificent.
The country has improved a great deal since your departure, some rich men having as many as 25,000 head of
cattle in the southern part of the county, and had it not been for this Indian war, Grant county would have
been all right.
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