[From the New York Herald, 1873; story by Edward Fox]
Via Ashland, February 15, 1873.
eneral Gillem and staff and the Herald Commissioner left Lost River Camp at noon to-day and rode over here, where they found General Canby, Commander of the District of the Pacific, and staff, who had just arrived from California, via Jacksonville.
By appointment of the Secretary of the Interior, the Commission to arrange peace with the Modoc Indians, comprising Messrs. A. B. Meacham, Jesse Applegate and Samuel Case, were to meet at Linkville on February 15.
The Commission met at four o’clock P.M. Present—Jesse Applegate and Samuel Case, Mr. Jesse Applegate in the chair. On motion of Mr. Samuel Case, Mr. O. P. Applegate was appointed clerk of the commission.
The following communication was then received from the secretary of the Governor of Oregon and read by Mr. Jesse Applegate:—
State of Oregon, Executive Office
Salem, February 10, 1873.
To the Commissioners Appointed to Conclude Peace With the Modoc Indians:—
Gentlemen—As the State of Oregon is deeply interested in the results of the pending Indian Special Commission I desire to express to you a few suggestions bearing upon the subject about to engage your attention. From official reports made to me, and from other reliable information, it appeared conclusively established that the massacre of eighteen citizens of Oregon, on the 29th of November last, was committed without provocation and without notice—cutting and shooting men down in cold blood at their houses and in their fields one by one as they were found—by Indians who had not been attacked by the soldiery nor otherwise molested, and who could not [sic] speak our language, and were personally acquainted with their victims. The homes and farms of the slaughtered settlers were upon lands to which Indian title had long since been extinguished by treaty. These acts I hold to be deliberate and wilful murder. Over such offences I conceive the civil authorities of this State constitute the only competent and final tribunal.
I desire, therefore, to protest, on behalf of the State of Oregon, against any action of the Commission which shall purport to condone the crimes of the Modocs or compound their offences. The people of Oregon desire that the murderers shall be given up and be delivered to the civil authorities for trial and punishment. As to the lands on Lost River, which some have suggested should be surrendered to the Modocs as a peace offering, allow me to say that these lands lie wholly within the State of Oregon, and within the jurisdiction of the Superintendent of Indian Affairs for Oregon; that the Indian title to these lands was extinguished by treaty, fairly made through the Oregon Superintendency, between the Modocs and the general government, on the 14th day of October, 1864. They have been surveyed under the direction of the Surveyor General of Oregon, and the surveys were long since approved by the General Land Office. These lands have been extensively taken, and are now occupied by bona fide settlers under the homestead and pre-emption laws of the United States. The Commission will, therefore, have no more power to declare a reservation on Lost River under these settlements to make the same basis of peace with those Indians than they have to provide for their establishment on any other settled portion of this State. For the interests of Southern Oregon and for the future peace of our Southern frontier I will express the hope and confidence that the project of a reservation on Lost River will not be entertained by the Commission, and that the Modocs will either consent to return to their own reservations or to be assigned to bounds beyond the settlements. With great respect, I am your obedient servant,
L. F. GROVER, Governor of Oregon.
On motion the letter was laid on the table.
Owing to the absence of Mr. A. B. Meacham, the Commission adjourned to meet at Van Bremer’s ranch, on Monday, February 17.
There is a very strong feeling in Oregon against peace, and especially against locating these Indians on the Lost River strip of land, as the settlers declare the country will not be safe with the Modocs in the neighborhood.
General Canby, General Gillem, the officers attached to their staffs, Messrs. Jesse Applegate and Samuel Case, of the Peace Commission, and the Herald correspondent leave to-morrow morning for Van Bremer’s ranch, forty miles distant.
A party of four or five Modocs, out on a scout, burnt Dennis Crawley’s log hut on Friday evening. General Gillem saw the smoke from the Lost River Camp, and sent out a detachment of cavalry to investigate the matter. They found the house in ruins and the tracks of Indians, but it was too dark to follow them up. In the morning another party of cavalry were sent out, but the Indians had taken refuge in their stronghold in the lava beds.