Umpqua Journal of Removal To the Grand Ronde Encampment, 1856

The following is the raw transcription of the journal of the removal of Four tribes  (Cow Creek Umpqua, Upper Umpqua, Yoncalla Kalapuya, Southern Molalla) from the Umpqua Reservation west of Roseburg to the Grand Ronde Encampment (later Grand Ronde Reservation) at the western edge of the Willamette Valley. I have made some notes of clarification or questions regarding the legibility of the original handwritten journal of Robert Metcalf, Sub Indian Agent. The copy of the original journal was collected by me in the Winter of 2016 at Western Oregon University. The journal is in the correspondence series of RG 75 M2 Oregon Superintendency Reel 14, 1856 collection. I have now worked sporadically over the past year to fully digitize the most significant correspondence from all reels of the series.

I have not yet parsed out the route, and when that can be done I will add images to each segment of the route. Parts of the route clearly follow the Applegate Trail, but portions appear to deviate to avoid conflicts with settlers. These other sections need to be researched closely.

The journey begins on January 10th 1856 due to delays from snow, and continues to February 2nd, 23 days journey in the dead of winter. The journal suggests that five people died on the route, 3 women, a baby, and a man, who was murdered by perhaps another Indian, a possible Klickitat Indian as specified below.

Grand Round 31st March 1856

Dear Sir,

I have the honor to submit the following report of my official acts during the quarter ending March 31st 1856.

Agreeably to instructions received from your office I left Dayton on November to visit the Rogue River and Umpqua Districts there to act in conjunction with Agent George H. Ambrose in removing the Rogue River and Umpqua Indians to the Coast reservation or Grand Round Encampment; I arrived at the Rogue R- Agency on 2nd December & found most of the houses on the road from the Cannon [Canyon?] to the agency (distance about sixty miles burned to the ground and a large number of horses cattle and hogs killed on the way by the present hostile band of Indians on that district; after consulting with Agent Ambrose and Capt. Smith of Fort Lane we determined that it would be bad policy if not impracticable to remove those Indians during that inclement season and I then concluded to return to the Umpqua to ascertain the condition of the Indians in that district; where I writ you on the 24th December and then receiving additional instruction from you for the immediate removal of the Umpqua Indians, I commenced making the necessary preparations to accomplish that object purchasing wagons & trains and providing clothing for the journey; but a snow storm which commenced falling on the 25th December covered the ground to the depth of eighteen inches and followed by intense cold weather up to the first of Jan 1856 rendered it impossible for me to move camp until the 10th Jan at which time the weather had moderated and the snow began to disappear, I moved camp from the reserve on the 10th Jan & brought the Indians up one and a half (1 1/2) miles to Mr. Cadwaller’s house; but was unable to continue my march owing to not having received all of my teams at the appointed time; then there were many objections urged to leaving the land of their nativity where the bodies of their forefathers rest  and many of them expressed a desire to die in their own country- and I found it necessary to move with what teams I had to quiet them so I decamped on 11th Jan after much trouble having several families in camp moved about four (4) miles to Calapooyah bridge.

Saturday 12th

Remained encamped awaited the arrival of the remainder of my teams and sent for two wagons back for the families left on the 11th

Sunday 13th

Decamped and moved up to Bakers Mill about seven (7) miles; it was necessary to move on Sunday to get supplies and to prevent the Indians from scattering; Here “Lewis” the Head Chief of the Umpquas came to us from his farm and reported others would join us in the morning which made it necessary to purchase & hire other teams;

Monday 14th

Lewis “chief” here expressed a desire to remain in the Umpqua as he had a large amount of property which he could not take with him; and would have to sacrifice too much if he left then. This created a general dissatisfaction in camp and it was with the utmost difficulty I got them to leave camp; though by travelling until dark we made ten (10) miles to Mr. Wilson’s through a country entirely destitute of vegetation of any description having been destroyed through the summer by the grasshoppers and I had to purchase dry wheat straw at thirty dollars per ton for our starving teams.

Tuesday 15th

During the night seven Indians deserted, and when I arrived at Mr. Linsy [Lindsey] Applegate’s [Yoncalla] I called to get some Calapooya Indians (15) who were encamped there; they positively refused to come. Mr. Applegate appeared to sustain them and encourage them in their determination; finding the whites and Indians both against me I sent a request to Col. Martin for 15 or 20 men from the army to inforce their removal; and moved to Elk Creek where we were detained by high water, but as my stock was in a starving condition I determined to cross at all hazards had the wagons unloaded and the baggage packed over on a foot log; then swam the teams with the empty wagons, reloaded and moved on making four (4) miles during the day and found the same scarcity of forage only having about one thousand pounds wheat straw to feed one hundred and twenty five animals night and morning;

Wednesday 16th

During the night an Indian woman died (chronic disease) after she was buried we resumed our march over very bad roads made six (6) miles to Mr. Estes’s at the foot of Cal [Calapooia] Mts. & encamped;

Thursday 17th

After seeing the train under way I left Mr. Walker in charge and returned to meet the detachment of troops which I had requested of Col. Martin to meet me at Mr. Applegate’s; but he refused, without assigning any reason to render any assistance, so I was compelled to have the Indians encamped at Mr. Applegate’s house and return; the train traveled ten (10 1/2) miles

Friday 18th

I overtook the train which had traveled thee and a half (3 ½) miles & encamped

Saturday 19th

There being a great many old people complained so much of having leg weary I thought it advisable – to remain in camp where an Indian has died;

Sunday 20th

There being much complaint by the whites of the Indians cutting their timber for firewood I thought it best to remove to avoid trouble & traveled eight (8) miles.

Monday 21st

Nothing of interest traveled about ten (10) miles

Tuesday 22nd

Roads very muddy traveled eight (8) miles

Wednesday 23rd

rained through the day road very bad moved four (4) miles met an express from Supt [Superintendant’s] Office with funds

Tuesday [Thursday]24th

an Indian child died during the march and a woman of the Umpqua band died after we arrived in camp moved eight (8) miles

Friday 25th

I found it necessary to hire another wagon and team as our marches were getting much shorter and many of the old and infirm were very late getting into camp. Moved about six (6) miles encamped near Corvallis

Saturday 26th

decamped & moved to Reed’s[?]­ about seven (7) miles during the day we had several fights in the road caused by liquor sold them in the night by some reckless whites

Sunday 27th 

remained in Camp and went back for some Indians who were drunk and did not get in until Sunday noon.

Monday 28th

decamped & moved to the Luckamute Creek distance ten (10) miles

Tuesday 29th

There was an Indian man missing in the morning and could not be accounted for by any person in camp; after searching some two hours we found his blood were he had been murdered and thrown into the Creek; no trace of the murderer suspicion rested upon a Klickitat Indian (Joe) Rained through the day road very bad traveled about five (5) miles.

Wednesday 30th

Decamped raining moved about eleven (11) miles several oxen and horses gave out through the day and were left on the road

Thursday 31st

Decamped moved seven (7) miles

Friday Feb 1st 1856

Decamped & moved to the Yam Hill River distance six (6) miles

Saturday 2nd Feb

Decamped & moved five (5) miles to the Grand Ronde Encampment discharged most of the hired hands and took charge of that Sub Agency by your order and there remained until 28th Feb/56 when I received an order from you to proceed to the Rogue River Agency to carry funds and aid in the removal of the Rogue River Indians to the Coast Reservation leaving Sub Agent Raymond in charge of Grand Round until my return; I met Agent George H Ambrose at the Cannon [Canyon?]with the Indians and returned with him rendering such assistance as was in my power to facilitate the march; and arrived at the Grand Round Sub Agency on 25th March A.D. 1856.

Very Respectfully

Yr Obt Servant

R B Metcalfe

Sub Ind Agent

Joel Palmer Supt Ind Office

Dayton O.T.

Report of his official acts in the Quarter ending 31st March 1856

31st March 1856

Once the Caravan arrived at Grand Ronde they would be issued canvas Sibley tents. The original planning map of the reservation shows that there were 289 Umpquas and that their encampment was in the western part of the Grand Ronde Valley along the South Yamhill River.  Their campsites are noted on the map legend as K,L,M,N & O.

Map Legend
Portion of map showing location of the Umpqua encampments
Portion of map showing location of the Umpqua encampments
Hazen Planning Map for the G.R.I.R., O.T. 1856, Umpqua Encampment section outlined
Hazen Planning Map for the G.R.I.R., O.T. 1856, Umpqua Encampment section outlined

The various tribes in the removal were the Cow Creek Umpqua, Yoncalla Kalapuya and some Molallas. It is likely that all of these tribes were lumped together as “Umpquas” in the population counts based on their origin in the Umpqua basin. We can assume that these tribes were already well known to one another, from living in the same valley, as well as being gathered at the Umpqua Reservation for as long as 1 year. The southern Molallas had arrived relatively recently at the Umpqua Reservation, likely in December of 1855 or after, as their Treaty was not negotiated until November of 1855.  The five different encampments of the “Umpquas”  at Grand Ronde are likely based on tribal divisions.

By November 25th of 1856 the Umpqua tribes had grown a small number of people, according to a comparison of the population counts on the Hazen map (above) and the first Grand Ronde census.

Umpqua Census of the three tribes from November 25th 1856
Umpqua Census of the three tribes from November 25th 1856, data columns are tribe, adult males, adult females, boys, girls, totals, and chief.

On the Census section above, the Chief Louis Nepisank is likely the same as Umpqua Chief Lewis noted in the journal (14th). These tribes were the Cow Creek Umpquas of 220 people, the Yoncalla Calapooias are 30 people, and the Southern Molalla are 36 people. The total of 294 people in comparison to the 289 noted in the Hazen map from March 1856 suggests that either more people joined them from the south and/or several babies were born. There were many additional removals of smaller groups to the reservations following the initial removal of the large groups.

Some family groups sought to escape removal and hide in the forests, some were traveling to hunt, fish or visit friends, and a few who refused removal removed later. Chief Halo of the Yoncalla is one such refusal. In the Jessie Applegate story (The Yangolers), Robert Applegate (Jessie’s father) stood up for the Halo family against the Indian agents, causing them to back down. There are indications that Halo did go to Grand Ronde later, only to leave to return forever to his home on the Applegate homestead.

The Annual Report for the Commissioner of Indian Affairs for 1857 contains additional contexts for the removal of the Umpqua tribes. The notes about ten persons remaining may have been the aforementioned Halo clan of Yoncalla Kalapuyans. The lack of military help was a common issue in this period.

February 11, 1856, Dayton, O.T. [9 days after the arrival]

My letter of the 26th Ultimo informed you that I had received a letter from Agent R.B. Metcalfe, asking an escort of United States troops to enable him to proceed with an immigrating Indian party from Umpqua valley to the coast reservation. I have the honor, herewith, to enclose a copy of my letter to Major Rains, United States army, or the commanding officer of Fort Vancouver, applying for a detachment of United States soldiers, and the reply of Colonel Wright, in command of that post, declining to send them.

prior to the reception of Colonel Wright’s reply, I have sent discreet messengers to explain to the inhabitants along the route to be travelled by these Indians the objects sought to be attained in their removal, and that the immigrating party consisted wholly of the peacable and friendly bands of Umpqua valley. A full explanation of the policy of the government in regard to these Indians, and the correction of the erroneous impressions imbibed, with an exhibit of a few sections of the intercourse laws, together with the energetic and determined action of Agent Metcalfe, had the effect to deter persons from resisting by force our efforts t move these people.

On the 2d instant Agent Metcalfe arrived at the encampment in the Grand Ronde valley with the Indians under his charge. ten persons, who had fled from his party, could not be induced to proceed; other members of these bands joined his camp, so that there were 380 souls who reached the encampment.

Joel Palmer to George W. ManyPenny, Commissioner of Indian Affairs

The Annual Report for 1858 adds some few details to our information about the Umpqua Indians.

July 28, 1858

Under the instructions I received from you, dated August 23, 1857. I appointed Mr. R.E. Miller a special agent for the purpose of finding and bringing into the reservation a portion of the Umpqua tribe who were still roaming in the mountains and committed depredations on the citizens of Umpqua and Douglas counties. I am happy to say that he succeeded in getting them, nine in all, and they are now on the reservation. (261)

John F. Miller to J.W. Nesmith, Superintendent of Oregon

It was a common practice to hire special agents for collecting and removing Indians to the reservations well into the 1870s. Many Indians chose to escape and return home, and many others hid in the mountains to escape removal. Reports of the special agents reveal brutal treatment of the tribal people they captured. The issue of belonging and citizenship in this context is interesting as the tribes had lived in their lands for more than 10,000 years yet now they were living illegally on the land if not on a reservation. Citizenship was not bestowed on the tribes of the U.S. until 1924.

This transcription is my own from a PDF copy of the original correspondence. All errors are my own. I am aware that historian and author Stephen Dow Beckham is working on a series of articles about this journal which are to be published in the Umpqua Trapper, published by the Douglas County Historical Society.

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