Incident at Long Creek, Oregon

Through newspaper articles from the Blue Mountain Eagle (John Day, Oregon) January 29, 2003, an article from the Oregon Inn-Side News (date unknown) and an article from the Long Creek Light printed in Long Creek, Oregon, January 30, 1902 the following information is known about the incident at Long Creek.
The first white men (2 English bachelors) came to the Long Creek country in 1872 and were the sole white inhabitants until 1874. In 1875, a few settlers came and in 1876 quite a number crossed the mountains with the intention of making their permanent home here.
In 1878 the Indians became angered and homes were burned, livestock driven off, property destroyed and a few white men were murdered. A fort was built in 8 days and the entire population of the valley gathered there. There were only a few guns in the group of 15 or so families (the number was less than 100 including men, women & children). Rattlesnake Jack, a scout, came into the fort at Long Creek, said that he had had a battle with a bunch of Indians at the head of Flowers Gulch on the Middle Fork of the John Day River and had killed 2, bringing in their scalps as evidence. Rich Blackwell & Steve Harer went to Flowers Gulch, found the body of an old blind buck that Rattlesnake Jack had killed, and a squaw whom he had shot and scalped, though wounding her only slightly. She was hiding behind some logs. They gave her first aid and took her to the fort at Long Creek where Mrs. C. C. Blackwell nursed her until her recovery. Mrs. Sam Harris discovered she did not have supplies and wanted her husband to go to their dugout and retrieve items she had forgotten. The group within the wall did not want to let him go, but finally decided if he did not light any light he could go and in the dark what we thought were diapers for their baby turned out to be linen napkins which were used for his young child. The elder children were to tend the younger ones. The Blackwell girls tired of tending the small ones and rigged an Indian figure in the willows on the east end of the ford. It was working -- the small charges stayed near the walls. However, when Father Blackwell saw the figure he fired upon it not once but twice and was puzzled at no response of the figure as he was a good shot. A family named Smiths were blamed for the stunt. It was many years later the Blackwell daughters admitted to their father that they had invented the "babysitter" in the willows and he was so angry he threatened to whip their butts. It was believed there was a much larger number of men in the fort than was actually the case. A few hours before the whole tribe of Indians swept down from the mountains to Long Creek about 2 dozen Indians approached the fort pretending to be friendly Indians and claiming to have all sorts of good news for the white people. They halted, and one dismounted and came up to the fort with the intention of entering. He passed 2 or three men who were acting as sort of sentinels at the entrance to the fort, but when he reached Billy Townsend, a Civil War Veteran, he refused to let him come further as he did not want him to see how few people there were to defend the fort. This saved the lives of the people in the fort.


This was also called the Bannock Indian War.

The settlers in Long Creek Valley had constructed a log fort to which everyone had gathered. O. P. Cresap, civilian scout for the Army, was in the fort when the Indians passed by: There were probably between 600 and 700 Indians ~ mostly Bannocks and Paiutes. The old men, women and children formed the van, the fighting men the rear. With the Indians were 2,000 to 3,000 head of horses and these were herded and driven by those unable to fight. The wickiups, personal property and plunder were packed on poles which were dragged by horses. This advance did most of the plundering and pillaging. The Indians kept heading north. The Army was following, but not too closely, hoping that reinforcements would be in place on the Columbia to prevent the Indians from crossing it. There was a fight on Battle Mountain, 18 miles south of Pilot Rock, on July 7, that caused the Indians to flee in chaos. After that there were small skirmishes  but no major confrontations. The Indian revolt was over, and the Indians began to head south to the reservations in small groups. The fight on Battle Mountain was the last Indian-Army battle in Oregon.


The James Family

We know that the family tended to travel together and several children (from Mary Dialtha, John E & Tylee) were born in Oregon during the time of Indian attacks.. Tylee told one of his daughter-in laws about living in Oregon in the 1870's and living in Long Creek Valley which was 30 miles from Canyon City. He said about 30 families were settled throughout the valley. Indians were on the rampage and no one could get to Canyon City, so the families built a fort for themselves to defend against the Indians. The story handed down from Mary Dialtha was that the men decided they didn't like Oregon, so they returned to Texas to reclaim their ranch.  They left Mary and a couple of the kids in Oregon.  Mary stayed at Ft. Canyon until Jesse was born (Jesse was born in September 1878).  A week or so later, she hitched up the wagon and started for Texas.  When she got to Pueblo, CO, she unhitched the mules and apparently left them near an ant den where they were either stung to death or ran off.  She stayed in Pueblo, taking in laundry and ironing until she could buy another team and continued to Texas. Tylee told his daughter-in-law that when he left Canyon City he went to Pueblo, Colorado where his wife died and a few months later he went to Texas and then Oklahoma. In Oklahoma he married Susan Ida Crossland in 1890 and stayed until 1910. While in Oklahoma he was involved with homesteading and it is believed it was in Kickpoo, Oklahoma that he ran the 3 miles and staked a claim. He said 14 others also staked. He said he leased land and sold that lease in 1906 and bought 80 acres which he later sold to come to California in 1910. He traveled to Sacramento via the "Immigrant Train". From Sacramento they traveled to Eureka by boat, settling in Fortuna, California  

1880 Census has the family living:

W. M. C. James living in Canyon City, Grant County, Oregon

J. M. Eakins, M. D. (Mary Dialtha), E.A., N.W., C.B., S.I., R.A. and J.O. living in Canyon City, Grant County, Oregon

John James, Sarah L, Martha A and Albert living in Long Creek, Grant County, Oregon

T Houston James, Francis N, Martha E living in Summerville, Union County, Oregon

Saml James living in John Day, Grant County, Oregon


PICTURE: The home in Fortuna, California that Tylee took his family to, his wife is pregnant with my dad (Jesse) in this picture.



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