History of Nathan Willis Fisk and of the Early Pioneer days in Crossing The Plains in The year 1852
contributed by Jane Harris
[This is typed from a handwritten copy and is presented as it was written with no corrections to punctuation or spelling. It is believed to have been written by the youngest son, William Ralph Fisk]
My Father Nathan Willis Fisk My Mother Esther Fisk and Family of Five children, John Moffitt Fisk, Amanda Ann Fisk, Nathan Taylor Fisk, Mary Jane Fisk and William Ralph Fisk.
My Father Nathan Willis Fisk with his wife and Five children the oldest 10
years of age. The youngest 1 one year old. Started on the 1st day
of May 1852 from Carol Co, Illinois Along with Some 35 or 40 others John
Douglas, F.M. Sacket, Clemens, J.C. Gillenwater And many others I don't remember
for Oregon and California through the
wilderness over Mountains Hills Valleys Crossing deep and wide Rivers through Rough and deep Canyons Brush and Thick timber & plains. with no Roads only Trails made by the Wild Indians and wild Buffaloes. The train was made up of most Ox Teams few Horses and Mule Teams a few milk cows and loose Horses when an Ox died put in a cow along side of the ox to fill out the team if a Horse or Mule died put in one of the loose Wild Horses or Mules
As luck would have it they brought along some few tools in case of a break
down on the Road. And a large size Rope to strech across the Rivers and
streams to attach
a Raft build of logs to float the wagons and (?) across. And swim the oxen mules and Horses across. Also the long large Ropes was stretched every night from one wagon to another to tie up the Horses and Mules The wagons was always driven up in a circle to form a corral to put the Oxen in at night to keep the Indians from driving them off and stealing them. And most of the time Stood Guard over and around them at night. Especially when any Indian sign had been seen that day. Father said many times the whole train would have to stop Bunch up to let the Buffalo pass some times for half an hour at a time as some times there would be a Band of 500 to a thousand Buffaloes in one band and nothing would turn them in their course. Buffaloes were thick in the early days of long ago. The People in the train used and burnt Buffalo Chips for cooking for days and days on The Plains as there was no Wood of any description or brush to be had in those days on the Plains for miles and miles at a stretch.
The emigrants at night and when they layed over used for stools to sit on was the ox yokes and wagon tongues on the wagon or a big Rock Chunk or on the ground. As such as chairs and Furniture or stools wasn't used in those days crossing the Plains.
I remember well of hearing my Father, Mother and others in the train Tell about the chickens some of them had brought along when camp was stuck at night the Chickens were let out of their cage to run around and be fed. And when ever the train was ready to start on again all the chickens would be at their wagon and get in their cage ready to travel without any assistance only to have their doors closed for the day. Another one where the train came to a River don't remember the name but camped and had to lay over to make a Raft to Cross the wagons on as the River was deep no place to ford it and water in the River was so bad they couldn't use it to drink. But there was a find cold spring coming out of the hill on the opposite side of the River so my Father and another good swimmer took two 10 gallon kegs which they all carried those days on the side of the wagon for carring Water. Straped a keg a piece on their back shoulder and swan the River which was about 200 yards wide and filled half full of good cold spring water and swam back across the River to camp which provided them all with good drinking water. there were many trials and hardships of ones life in many ways could be told of those who know still live and who was Old enough to remember. As I was only one year old when they crossed the Plains in 1852 I only Remember what I heard my Father & Mother and others tell. After Crossing the Plains For which we landed that fall at St Helens Oregon some time in November 1852. Stayed in St. Helens that winter next spring we went on to or near Ashland Oregon time of the Rogue River Indian War in 1853. My Father fought with the Volunteers in the Rogue River Indian Wars. But while young I remember well of One night A Bachalor who lived some 3 or 4 miles from us Came to our house aloong about midnight Barefooted Bearheaded only a shirt and Pair of Pants and telling us to go to the Fort at once as the Indians had came to his Cabin and killed one man who was with him in the cabin and set fire to his cabin But he ran and got away then ran on foot all over the neighborhood Warning to People to go to the Fort at once. I remember well how Father got up the team throwed Mother and us children in the wagon with little grub and Bedding and went to the Fort at Ashland that night.
Father lived near Ashland took up a donation claim Stayed there until the spring of 1856 he moved over to or near Yreka California at the mouth of Greehorn a mining camp there located a Ranch and went to Farming. The Winter of 1862 he took the gold fever when the Great Gold strike at Salmon River was discovered. he himself went to Salmon River mined there 1 years came home the Fall 1863 on his way home at the Dalles Oregon he heard of the great gold strike at Canyon Creek Oregon so in the spring of 1864 he sold out and riged up an outfit and started out for the John Day River on Canyon Creek on about the 10th of April 1864. Riged up one Four Horse team one Two Horse team and one spring wagon or Hack 15 head Horses 30 head of Cattle mostly milk cows 10 head of Pack Horses loaded with flour along with his wife and 8 children to again face the Frontier life amongst the Wild Indians. and help Blaze the Trail to a new country for the Precious Gold. There were about 30 People on the train with the women and children.
I will name a few Names that I remember D.B. Klinghart, Fathers Partner, Dryed Mcclintick, Mr. Griswall and family, J.C. Gillwater and family, W.B. Davis and family, Bart S. kelly, Ely Truman,George Karey, George Hallock, a Negro and some others I don't remember. All started one nice sunshine morning about the 16th of April.
Camped first night on Shasta river about 6 miles out. Next day came on past Sheep Rock. Crossed the Clamath River and on to Lost River there laid over one day to let the stock Rest up. While in camp that day some of the boys were cleaning up their Fire arms. An Indian dog came down opposite camp across the River and set up a terrible Howl for a long time So one of the boys thought he would stop his howling. So he took a shot at some distance away but only wounded him. then he howled worse than ever. it raised quite a comotion in camp. Especially amongst the women and children as they thought that would enrage the indians who would want revenge. And it so happened later on several days after.
My Father rounded the Boys up for shooting the dog and said he didnt want any more of that kind of work to happen. Bright and early next morning the tain was on the move to get away from there. I dont remember how far we traveled. we came to a River dont remember the name. Anyway it was deep and wide. we had to make Rafts to Ferry the Wagons across. Father had a large size Long Rope he brought along for such occasions and to use in streching it to tie up the Horses every nigh and stand guard every night to Keep the indians from stealing them.
they stretched this Rope across the River and with some Bock and Tackle and chains attached to the Raft Ferried the wagons all across one at a time until all were across. Then swam the Horses and Cattle across. This took two days and we then left there came on to Silver Lake and camped as usual the horses were all tied up that night with a guard around them on the following morning were all turned loose to graze before starting.
A Negro and another man went out as usual with them to herd them and bring them in when ready to start on our journey. the Horses of course got a little out of sight from camp. Mr. Linvil who had some Race Horses along left long ropes on two of them While the folks in Camp were eating their Breakfast here came the Negro Riding into camp at full speed and yelling the indians were stealing the Horses. This of Course raised quite a somotion in Camp. There was no more Breakfast eaten that morning, the women and children were Crying. there we were the indians Stealing all the Horses. and we a long ways from no place. they knew they would all be Massacreed. The Reader can imagine the predicament they were all in for himself. two of the men sprang to the two horses that were in camp and started in persuit. George Hallock an old indian fighter with his trusty Rifle was soon pouring the lead at the two indians that had caught the two horses with long ropes and was riding them away. the other herder was rounding the balance up and bringing them to camp which was about a quarter of mile away. As soon as the horses were brought into Camp they were caught and tied up. then 6 or 7 more men saddled up and gave chase.
when they arrived on the sene Hallock was pouring the lead at them as fast as he could reload and shoot. Remember we only had muzzle loading Rigles them days loaded with Powder Cap and Ball. the old Dragon and Colt Revolvers. in the train there were only 5 or 6 Rifles 2 shot guns several Revolvers as above mentioned. the indians had only old flint lock rifles and bows and arrows. the two indians that stole the horses just kept out of reach of our guns hollering at our men. Come on you Cowardly Sons of B. going up a Canyon with River Rock on both sides Folling our men in so as to cut them off from camp as the indians were sationed on both sides of the Canyon our men seeing indians Popping up on both sides concluded to retreat before they got cut off from camp. and then our man Mrs. Linvil was wounded by a spent Ball in the Calf of the leg.
Still he kept on until our men forced him to retreat. it was his horses the indians stole that morning. after all had returned to Camp and Mr Linvils wound was dressed we started on around Silver Lake under the high River Rock on the East side of the lake. looking all day for an attack from they Rim Rocks until we reached the north side of the Lake where the Trail or Road started across the 75 mile Desert to Mt. Springs there camped.
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