Late Removals to the Grand Ronde Reservation from Umpqua Valley and Rogue River

As noted in several essays on this blog, removing tribes from their lands and to the Grand Ronde Indian Reservation was not a perfect process. Most of the tribal people were removed in 1856. Still, several families, bands, and individuals remained on their lands, most wary of the removal process and expecting an early death at the hands of the settlers once gathered. Indian agents and subagents continued to work in southern Oregon managing the remaining removals, especially those located on the coast, where removals continued into the 1870s, some quite forceful and even brutal. This forced removal was imposed legally in some areas of Oregon and illegally in others, Indian agents normally opting to convince or “induce” the tribes to remove peacefully.  This “inducement” involved meetings and negotiations and many promises made by agents of food, safety, and a “better life” if the Native people went to the reservation. These promises replicate those of the -American Dream-  the much-mythologized rights of U.S. Citizens detailed in the preamble to the U.S. Constitution of “life, liberty, and happiness.” As noted in numerous blog essays, the promised “better life” did not occur for the tribes for decades, if ever, and all of these verbal promises were forgotten once the agent who made them resigned or was fired and replaced.

Still, Indian agents had their duty and in 1856 they were ordered by Joel Palmer to remove the tribes to the Grand Ronde Indian Reservation, an action which they undertook believing that this would save them from further attacks by settlers and volunteer militia which resulted in murder, rape, theft, and genocide. Palmer was tasked with keeping the peace and the only solution he could manage was separating the combatants and placing tribes on federal reserves where they could be protected. This action would allow the American settlers unrestricted access to all of the lands and resources of the region, without any irritation or resistance from Tribal nations.  There was never exercised a political will by civil, federal, or military authorities to police the actions of white Americans in their “rights and privileges” to take all land and resources as their own and pursue their American Dreams of opportunity, wealth, and a better life. To this point the facts of American history are quite clear, it was the settlers and not the tribes who moved into the West and forcefully took land and resources from the original occupants. These are the facts even though the histories of Oregon cast the Tribal people as the aggressors in nearly all cases.

This case of late removal was reported through a set of invoices of expense claims by James P. Day through an advocate C.M. Walker, December 6th, 1856. Day was an Indian agent assigned to temporary duty at the Umpqua Reservation by Joel Palmer. Day apparently continued working for some months, as an Indian agent assigned by Joel Palmer to remove Indians as his primary responsibility. Day’s assignment was given some four months after the removal of the Umpqua Reservation tribes to the Grand Ronde Indian Reservation between January and February 1856. The Umpqua removal involved tribes on the Umpqua and Cow Creek reservations, the majority of the Upper Umpqua, Yoncalla Kalapuya, Cow Creek band of Umpqua, and southern Molalla people, as well as a band of Klamath people. The tribes were gathered onto the Umpqua Reserve and set out in wintery conditions, walking some 200 miles for nearly a month before arriving at the Grand Ronde Indian Reservation. But, again, the removal process was not perfect and several bands of Native people were left behind. Documented elsewhere are several bands of southern Molalla, one of which may have ended up on the Klamath Reservation (Henry Zenk, Molalla Peoples). The Klamath and Molalla peoples are noted in numerous instances of having a special relationship and friendship, were intermarried and the Klamath were noted to have annually traveled into the western Oregon valleys to hunt elk.

There is not a journal for the removal of some 71 Natives by James P. Day and his companions, to the Grand Ronde Indian Reservation. The Invoices submitted in February 1857 do contain great details and can serve in part as a form of a journal of actions and expenses of this project of removal.

Previously there were a few letters about the tribal people left behind. These letters are referenced by Joel Palmer. Boyle, which was part of the James P. Day team to remove these Natives, wrote one letter himself as a way he could make a little coin by helping the Indian department remove all Natives from the country.

Canyonville O.T. May the 20th 1856

Hon. Joel Palmer
Dr. Sir, I wrote you some time since relative to a small band of Indians in this neighborhood. Since that I have learned that four have
given J. P. Day charge of them. There was six in number in the first place but now there is but four. One died from sickness & the other (a man) a few days since was murdered in cold blood & the others are threatened. Now sir if you want them taken to the reservation in your part of the country I would like to get the contract. My family are at Col. Farris’ on the Rickreall & I will start soon after them with a team. I will bring the four to your place or take them to the reserve for one hundred dollars & you bear their expenses or I will bear their expenses & take them for one hundred & fifty dollars. If you conclude to let me have the contract let me know by return mail, as I will [leave] by the first of June for my family.

Yours resp.
    J. T. Boyle

NARA Series M2, Microcopy of Records of the Oregon Superintendency of Indian Affairs 1848-1873, Reel 14; Letters Received, 1856, No. 219.

Packet begins below

“You examination & attention the claim of James P Day who, you will perceive by accompanying papers, was appointed and did act as local Indian agent, did collect and subsist 71 Indians and have them, by J. McKay and other employees, conducted to the Grand Ronde Reservation. Mr. Day was unwell at the time the Indians left his place is the reason of his not conducting them in person. He came however at as early an hour as he could & presented the account of collecting & subsisting these Indians.

Which account the Superintendent refused to honor.

The accompanying accounts & letters of authority of late Superintendent Palmer, shows what was done by him. And the object of this to you is to ask your attention and decision in the matter, …

I have sent to you the accounts of misters Day, Boyle and Bowman as these men made out & presented to Superintendent Hedges [who was appointed after Palmer resigned]. Should you have the goodness to advise or instruct in the matter, …

I have been for sometime engaged in the Indian Department, and am very well acquainted with kind of services performed by Mr. Day; and believe he should be paid without a word. … Signed C.M. Walker

Copy of a Letter from A.F. Hedges to W.W. Raymond

October 9th, 1856- Office Supt. Ind. Affairs, Oregon City- Being informed of the arrival at the Grand Ronde Reservation of seventy one Indians from South Umpquah conducted by Mr. J. McKay and others, you are hereby authorized to pay the first claim against the United States of the said men, for actual & necessary service rendered, and expenses incurred in the discharge of said duty. Mr. McKay was not the person authorized to have performed the service in good faith and intention it is my wish to pay the just claims against the United States arising out of his action. You will however pay no claims for collecting, subsisting in any way providing for those Indians, prior t the date of their starting for the Reservation in charge of Mr. McKay. — A. F. Hedges to W.W. Raymond (Indian agent Grand Ronde Indian  Reservation)

Letter from Raymond

The enclosed accounts are in the state they were left with me for payment to Supt. Hedges. As he did not pay them, and as I am authorized to transmit to the home department I enclose them as if paid etc. Should the Hon. Commissioner in proper [sic] not to honor them, I hope they may be returned to me with his remarks & instructions.

No. 1 Census list & Provision returns
2  Ja P Day aff. $631
3 Elliott N. Bowman aff. $183
4 Ja P Day aff $511.80
5 Isaac Boyles aff $280


No. 1

The following remarkable table notes individual heads of tribal families, their tribal association and census of their families. These people would have to be added to the regular census of each tribe collected in 1855 and 1856 when being removed to the reservation. These people are likely captured in the October 1856 census of the Grand Ronde Indian Reservation. The addition of these 71 people did not make much of a dent in the overall census count between April and October, likely because of the many deaths which followed the removal of the tribes from the southern lands to the reservations.

We the Undersigned certify that we were present and saw the rations delivered to the Indians as set forth in the foregoing returns.- Elliott N. Bowman. Isaac Boyl, Witnesses

I certify that the foregoing Census list & provision returns are correct & as set forth therein. And that the provision were actually delivered to the Indians as stated. Jas P. Day, Local Ind. Agent

The Lookingglass Prairie Indians were likely Upper Umpqua people, although the Lookingglass area of the Umpqua Basin is close to the Cow Creek area and so there would have been considerable intermarriage. The Cow Creeks were not an Umpqua band, if the athapaskan peoples are to be considered central Umpqua. Instead, they were Takelma speakers and may be considered northern Takelma. There was always considerable intermarriage between neighboring tribes regardless of language differences. Note the leaders listed are Bob, Cow Creek Chief; Louis, Rogue River Chief; Marble, Lookingglass Chief; and Peter, Messenger. It may be Peter was the Native sent by Palmer to help and carry instructions, as noted in the Palmer letter. The name Louis does appear on the November 1856 census for Grand Ronde, but as an Umpqua Chief, and it is unclear if they are the same person.



-November 20 [1856]- For services 70 days as Local Agent Collecting, Guarding, & Conducting 71 Cow Creek, Rogue River & Lookingglass Prairie, Indians from South Umpquah River to Grand Ronde Indian reserve, commencing on 28th day of July & ending on the 8th day of October 1856 at $6 per day- $420.00.

-& Use of these 64 days in same service at 2.50 dollars per day- $160.00

-amt paid A. McElwain as per certificate- $51.00

-Received at Oregon City O.T., 20th Nov. 1856 of A. F. Hedges, superintendent Indian affairs, six hundred and thirty one dollars in full of this account. ($631)—I certify, on honor, that the above account is current and just, and that I have actually this 20th day of November 1856, paid the amount thereof.  James P. Day [signature]

[Certificate] September the 5 1856- received of James P. Day fifty one dollars in full for my services assisting & laboring for the Indians. $51- A. McElwain

No. 3

To Elliott N. Bowman

June 24th, 1856- For going after, from South Umpquah River to Hardy Eliss through the Kenyon (Canyon, Cow Creek) and receiving six Indians and conducting them to Umpquah River- $24.00

June 28th, 1856- 2 shirts @1.50 ea. ; I pr cloth pants- $4.00; 1 pr. cloth pants- $2.00; Supplied Indians in my charge

For Guarding, protecting & feeding the six Indians 28th June thru 28th July 1856- 1 Month- $150.00

Total- $183.00

Received at Oregon City, O.T. Dec. 1st, 1856 of A.F. Hedges Superintendent Indian Affairs one hundred & eighty three dollars in full of this account. [signed] Elliott N. Bowman

No. 4

To James P. Day

Sept. 22 1856- for; supplied to Indians under my charge as Local Agent

2712 # Beef; @ .10; – $271.20

2712 # flour; @ .05; – $135.60

70 days…. oats; $105.00

total $511.80

Received at Oregon City O.T. 1st December 1856 of A.F. Hedges Superintendent Indian Affairs five hundred and eleven 80/100  dollars in full of this account. – $511.80- [signed] Jas P Day

No. 5

1856 to Isaac Boyle


Services rendered Indian department under instructions of James P. Day local Indian agent 41 days commencing 10th day August & ending 20th September 1856 at $5 per day; going to & fro in the mountains at Rogue River and Umpqua River, collecting Indians and conducting them to Local Ind. Agent Day on south Umpqua River- $205.00

Amt cash paid to defray expenses during this time, in which twas not possible to procure the necessary vouchers.- $75.00

Total – $280.00

Recieved at Oregon City, O.T. Dec 1st, 1856 of A.F. Hedges Superintendent Indian Affairs two hundred & eighty dollars in full of this account.- $280.00 [Signed] Isaac Boyl

I certify that Isaac Boyle was duly authorized and appointed by me, by virtue of the instructions furnished me by the Superintendent of Indian Affairs of Oregon Territory, to collect from the Rogue River and Umpqua Mountains the scattered bands of Indians in those localities * deliver them to me at my residence on the South Umpqua River that he actually performed forty one days work in such service at the rates of$5.00 per day.- [signed] Jas P Day local Ind. agent, Dayton O.T 24th Nov. 1856

Letter from Joel Palmer to J.P. Day

July 14th 1856, Dayton

Believing you willing and desirous of aiding in removing the Indians from Umpqua Valley, I address to you this communication and request that you will assist us in that service. Letters from sundry persons have been received at this office informing me that several Indian families are still in the Umpqua valley, and from Gent. Limerick I learn that quite a band are along the base of the Mountain between the north and south forks of the Umpqua, and that they have recently committed acts of robbery and have burned a house. I contemplate sending Louis (or Lew-ey) formerly of your valley- an Indians with whom I presume you are acquainted- and who I believe, is familiar with all the locations where Indians would be likely to collect- to assist in hunting them out; and I have to request that you will act as Local Agent in collecting and removing all the Indians in the Umpqua Valley to the Grand Ronde Reservation in this valley.

Captain Smith, of the United States Army will shortly be coming with his command from Fort Lane to the Grand Ronde, and I wish you to collect all the Indians in the Umpqua valley and concentrate them at one point where they may join him, and come on with them to the Reservation. It may be necessary to employ a few teams to transport the aged, the infirm and the children, together with such of their effects as are of sufficient value to warrant it; but the healthy and athletic will not be furnished transportation. I will send you, by Louis, or some other Messenger, funds to defray the expense of subsisting the Indians, after collected, and on their way to the Reservation; but it is expected you will use all economy, and incur no expense not absolutely demanded. The object is to gather up every Indians in that country. Certain individual settlers have their favorites amongst the Indians, whom they desire to live among them, to do service, or for some either object, but none are to be left, old or young. It matters not how long they may have lived with them, or from whence they came; the entire Indian population is to be removed, and, at present there can be no exceptions unless indeed some woman has been legally married to a white man. In that case, we do not seek to control her, or her offspring…

[Signed] Joel Palmer Supt. Ind. Affairs. to James P. Day Canyonville, O.T.

The payments noted may have been added later to the documents. Hedges declined payment stating that Palmer had made the assignment and so Palmer should have paid Day and his companions out of his budget. However, this argument made little sense to Walker who put this petition together. The remarkable part of this case is the detailed list of tribal people removed, their names, and locations from where they came. With this information, we can put together a good amount of information about them.

In September 1856, a month after Palmer resigned, Hedges appointed Daniel P. Barnes of Douglas County to remove the remaining Natives from the Umpqua Valley (R609-9/22/56). Palmer’s report of expenses related to the removal of the tribes (R609-8/11/56) did not include the appointment of J.P. Day in July. It may be that due to the busy nature of his office in the summer of 1856, at the end of the Rogue River war, in the midst of removing other tribes from Port Orford,  and heightened tensions still raging amount the white populations, Palmer forgot to mention the appointment of Day. In this case, it may be that Hedges was surprised by the discovery of Day and his companions when the 71 Native people arrived at Grand Ronde and then realized that his Barnes appointment was an unnecessary expense. Money was quite tight in the Indian office budget and Palmer was forced to make many promissory notes out to vendors and services to remove the tribes trusting that the Federal Government would honor these notes. Hedges must have been upset that Palmer had essentially overspent the Indian office he took over, by many tens of thousands of dollars, without any efficient way to pay for these expenses. This seems to be the trend- whenever a superintendent is replaced, the new man, is always upset to see the debt of their agency incurred by the previous superintendents, and their early letters suggest that they can solve this problem and do better, only to find out some months later that the real problem is the complete lack of support and funding from the Indian office in DC.

C.M. Walker followed up his petition in a letter to the Commissioner on April 27th, 1857, asking for a response about the accounts of Day and his employees who had yet to be paid.

Original contents of the Day Claims were sent in a letter December 6, 1856. The packet of letters and invoices is in M234, R610 of the Letters of the Superintendent of Indian Affairs for Oregon. The C.W. Walker follow-up letter is in the same reel of film.

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