Empire City, 1868 – A Raid Goes Awry for the Agent

During the reservation period (1856-1876) the Indian agents would periodically go on raids to capture ‘runaway’ Indians to take them back to Yachats.  Recall Royal Bensell went on one such mission in 1864 (and he found the whole experience distasteful).

Dr. Stephen Dow Beckham found an interesting letter written by Indian Agent Collins in 1868 but a raid that went rather wrong.  It also contains an interesting tidbit of Jordan family history.  Here is a transcript of the letter:

Oct 24 1868

Ten Mile Creek Coos Co Ogn

Dear Sir I am this far back on my way to the Agency with Thirty Seven Indians that I have captured on Coos River and in the vicinity of Coos bay. We had to run three days & nights without stopping much during the time there were a few Coos Indians with fifteen Coquelle fled to the Mountains and Scattered so that it was impossible to follow them. I had one of my men arrested for going into a man’s house by the name of J. (T.?) Jorden near Empire City who has an Indian woman for his wife. Carr is the man’s name they arrested he was informed that there was Indian women consealed at this house or near by in the brush he went to the house with his gun on his arm and seeing several squaws in the house he went inside of the door. Two of them started to leave the room he told them to stop he wanted to talk with them the oldest one the wife of the man Jorden said she was a Boston man’s wife he told her that he did not want her he wanted none that was married to white men. They bound him over for his appearance at the next turn of Courts I will give you all the particulars when I arrive at the Agency.

Very Respectfully Yours

Obt Servt

G. W. Collins

To Hon J. W. Perit Huntington

Supt Ind Affairs

Salem Ogn

I could not quite make out the name Collins wrote – It looks like J. T. Jorden but the middle initial might not be a T, could possibly be an L.  Collins’ man Carr foolishly invaded a house, Mrs. Jordan stood up to him, law enforcement came and Carr wound up being arrested.  And so far as we know, the two Indian women visiting Mrs. Jordan (relatives or friends, I wonder) escaped.  Would be interesting to know what happened to Carr (one would have to see if there are records in the Coos county courthouse archives for latter part of 1868).

I am also intrigued by the story of the ‘few Coos and fifteen Coquelle’ that escaped -he uses the word ‘escape’ so that implies they were captured at one point but broke free.  It reminds me of an incident I once read where an agent (I think Collins again) was marching along with captured Indians over Humbug Mountain.  They staged a rebellion, got themselves free and tied the agents up.  Sadly I don’t have a copy of that letter – it is somewhere within the SW Oregon Research Project Papers (SWORP) – and is a pretty funny incident.  Perhaps something similar happened again here.


About shichils

Just sharing some fun on language
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