The Man and The River by Dot Gray
Curry County Reporter - Rogue Coast May 21, 1997
Flowing waters, whether they come from a natural hot mineral spring, a lovely waterfall, a placid lake or rushing river, have always had a healing effect on humans.
People are drawn to water, turbulent or tranquil. Souls are lifted, sorrows and troubles seem to wash away... and life goes on.
Living a lifetime near flowing waters is a dream most never experience. Creating a paradise alongside a river called the Rogue was what one man set out to do about 75 years ago after first setting eyes on 12 acres of riverbank on the north bank of the Rogue, about 8 miles from its mouth at Gold Beach.
History of the Geisel Monument and the Last Hanging in Curry County
John and Christina Geisel were married in May 6, 1842 in Butler County, Ohio. Before making there way west the lived in Kentucky and Indiana, and finally Oregon. In 1854 they settled about 6 miles north of the mouth of the Rogue River on a bluff of the ocean bench. On February 22, 1856 the family consisted of John, Christina and 5 children, three boys and two girls. The oldest child was a girl of 13 years and the youngest was a baby girl about two weeks old.
They lived in a house that also served as a hotel and store. The house was about 30 x 35 feet and was two stories high, with three outside doors. The house had 12 rooms and 12 windows, and was a framed house built out of whipsawed lumber. The house was nearly new. They valued the house at $1,100.00. In addition to the house they had three 14 x 20 one room mining cabins with stone chimneys. These had also been built out of whipsawed lumber and were nearly new. They valued the cabins at $150.00 each. A large house near their dwelling was being used as a store. This building was 20 x 30 and one story high and built of lumber. They valued this at $800.00.
On February 21, 1856, Ben Wright, the Indian Agent for the area paid a visit to the Geisels. He told them that the Indians were well and peaceably disposed towards the white people and that there was no danger of an attack from them. On the following night a "tame" Indian who had been working for them and who had been out hunting their hogs that day, returned to their house around midnight and knocked on the door asking to be let in. They knew his voice and since they were not suspecting any danger, John Geisel got out of bed and opened the door. As soon as the door was opened the Indians that had been working for them and three or four others rushed in immediately and began a murderous assault on John.
Although Christina had given birth to Annie on January 28, 1856, and had not yet fully recovered her strength, she rushed to John's side to assist him and received a painful cut that nearly severed her finger. Christina was soon over powered and John was killed. The oldest daughter, Mary, born February 14, 1843, was dragged out of her bed and her and Christina were securely bound. Her little boys, Andrew 5, Henry 7 and John 9, were then brought out one by one killed in her presence while the Indians made her watch. The Indians then removed Christina and her daughters from the house in their night clothes and more Indians showed up. They ransacked and burned the houses without removing the bodies of John or the boys.
The Indians stayed at the Geisel residence for about an hour and a half and then started on the return trip up river. Christina and Mary were not permitted to take any clothing or shoes. About a mile from the Geisel residence the Indians stopped at a cabin lived in by a settler named McPherson. He was immediately killed in their presence and after the cabin was ransacked it was burned. Not far from there the Indians came upon another man in a cabin and killed him. By this time it was daylight and Christina could see several dead people near the trail to the river. Their houses were burning and their fences were destroyed.
Hugo Mayer was an unnaturalized immigrant that was born in Suhl, Germany, in 1884. He came to the United States in 1904, arriving in New York and continuing on to California. He went to the Klamath River country and got a partner and the two of them came to the illinois River in 1906. They prospected along Josephine Creek and Cyon Creek and then headed down river. The trail at that time only went as far as Bald Mountain and they had to blaze trail from there to Silver and Indigo Creek.
In 1906, Hugo found a meadow and decided to homestead it. He needed some money, so he went to Crescent City and worked that winter. When he came back he found that Phillip Hancock had homesteaded the meadow while he was gone. Hugo crossed the river and homesteaded a place there. The only building on the property was an old miner's shack. He cleared the land of rocks to make a pasture and garden space. It became his home for the next 27 years.
To obtain tools, Hugo ordered from a catalogue. His order would arrive by train and he had to travel 50 miles to West Fork to pick it up. Most of his supplies he obtained from Gold Beach or Selma. The only groceries he bought were flour and coffee. He left his homestead occasionally to get money, but most of his time was spent on the Illinois.
D. M. Moore was born in Ophir, Oregon, February 12, 1886, the sixth son of D. L. and Mary Cook Moore. His parents crossed the plains and settled on a ranch in the Willamette valley in 1880. A few years later they came to Curry County, where Moore engaged in logging on the Rogue River and drove a bull team in the Port Orford area.
The later settled on a ranch in Ophir and had eight sons and one daughter. The daughter and one son died in infancy. The boys were: Thomas William, William W., Asher H. (killed in a car accident), James, Walter, D. Milton ("Bullhide") and Willis.
While a young man, Moore and his older brother, Walter, bought a store. Moore operated it until 1909. He also went to work on the home ranch until January 1, 1908, when he purchased a saloon from F. L. Crew and Son, located on the site of the present Drift Inn Motel in Gold Beach. He operated the saloon for about nine months and then sold it to Ira Moore. Next he started a meat market behind the Bishell Hotel where he sold meat by the chunk.
In the early years Moore noticed the cowhides were thrown away. When he opened his meat market in 1908, he started buying hides from the farmers and paid them a dollar for each one. He cleaned and preserved them until he had a sufficient number to ship. The name "Bullhide" was attached to him by County Judge Ed Bailey, and he became known as Bullhide up and down the coast. He received telegrams and mail addressed to Bullhide, and his wife and daughters were often called Mrs. Bullhide or Miss Bullhide.
RUBY MORGAN PURDIN'S grandfather, Wesley Morgan, left a plantation in Mississippi and moved to Horse Creek, California, after the Civil war. Ruby was born April 9, 1898, to Wesley and Grace Bratt Morgan in Horse Creek, twenty-eight miles down the Klamath river from Yreka.
Ruby lived there with her parents and two brothers, Ernest, born in 1891, and D. D., born in 1900. In 1910 she moved to the Burnt Hill Creek area near Pistol river with her mother and stepfather, Walter Doolittle.
Too far from the schools to travel back and forth daily, ruby first lived with Abe and Emma Hardenbrook and their sons Dallas and Homer, at their home near Carpenterville and attended the Irma school. Her teacher was Mr. Hewitt who lived in Roseburg and came to Carpenterville for three months in the summer to teach the ten children attending Irma school. The children were Myrtle, Lola and Linda Clarno, Nettie, Brother and Stan Colgrove, Homer and Wilbur Ostrander, Alice Hill and Ruby.
Hattie Hogue was born on July 10th, 1900, at Woodville, Oregon, to Frank and Mattie Gilmore. Woodville is now known as Rogue River. Hattie had three sisters, Minnie Kirkpatrick Hall, Ada Johnston and Pauline Deo.
On April 3, 1919, she was married to Charles "Shenie" Hogue in Portland, Oregon. They had two sons, Donald, born September 5, 1928 at the Mary Smedburg Hospital on west 4th Street in Gold Beach, and Ralph, born October 3, 1930, in the "new" Smedburg hospital located about where the Inn of the Beachcomber is now located. Ralph was killed in a logging accident in 1957. Don and his wife Pat live along the North Bank Road a few miles from Gold Beach.
Hattie and Shenie lived at Kerby in the Illinois Valley until 1925 when they moved to Harbor near Hanscam's store and Shenie fished commercially on the Winchuck, Chetco and Rogue Rivers. They grew up with the Hanscams, and with Archie and Fred Anderson, brothers of Viola Hanscam.
by Edith Wakeman Jones, Constantine Smith & Reinhold Rissio
Constantine Smith was the first homesteader in the area near the headwaters of Indian Creek. He and Reinhold Riissio homesteaded the adjoining property to the north and the east. Smith had trouble pronouncing Riissio's name, so he dubbed him "Hooter Scooter" and the name has endured.
Anna Riissio died in childbirth and was buried in the old Gold Beach cemetary. Riissio returned to San Francisco. When he remarried, he brought his second wife to the homestead, but she only stayed six months.
In the early 1900's, all the mail was carried by horseback. Frank Colvin once carried the mail from Gold Beach to the Irma Post Office, about twenty-two miles south.
"I went to the Gold Beach Post Office at 6:00 a.m. and Charles Dewey, postmaster, swore me in and signed me up as a substitute mail carrier. He gave me the mailbag and several small sacks, one for each mailbox on the route.
I started south at 6:15 and saw Dennis Cunniff, Sr. on his way to milk his cows. He came to Ellensburg in 1858 with his wife and stepdaughter Eliza Ann Graham, then aged fourteen, who was murdered in 1861 near her home. Two men were hung for the murder by the miners' vigilantes.
I went on to Hunter Creek and saw Antone Defonte who claimed to have walked from St. Louis to San Francisco. He homesteaded at the mouth of Hunter Creek in 1855. Just above the bridge lived a German, Chris Ringe, who deserted the German Navy. He homesteaded his ranch in 1855 and lost his house in the flood of 1890.
The Wakeman Family by Edith Wakeman Jones (1975)
Wakeman is an English name which has been traced back to the Norman Conquest in 1066. It was originally to words, "wake" and "man." A wake man had the task of keeping watch over the clan and alerting them if danger was near.
The Wakeman name came to America in the 1630's and settled in Connecticut. In 1805, our line moved to the Western Reserve in the northeastern part of Ohio where they traded their Revolutionary script for land.
James Frank Wakeman was born in Athens County, Ohio, on July 28, 1847. He lost two brothers in the Civil War. Seth was killed at the battle of Bull Run, July 21, 1861. Jarus was killed at the Battle of Missionary Ridge, November 23, 1863. When Grandfather was seventeen, he enlisted in the Union Army in another man's place for the one hundred dollars bounty. He served nine months and was mustered out on June 28, 1865. He married Mary Elizabeth Dolen on October 30, 1866. They moved to Wisconsin, east of LaCrosse and near Bloomington, where my father, Charles LeRoy Wakeman, was born on August 15, 1867.
Hathaway and the Balky Mule
I swam a river with my mule one fall to go hunting in one of my favorite spots. I must have picked a good day because I bagged two five point bucks within an hour. I just got them cleaned up when I heard a noise. I turned around and looked at the business end of the biggest black bear I had ever seen. I just had time to get off one shot but that did it. I cleaned him up to take home for jerky meat. I loaded the two five points on the mule without any trouble, but when I tried to load the big bear the mule just wouldn't have no part of it. I went ahead and packed the bear myself and let the mule pack the two deer. Then we came to the river and the mule balked again. She just would not go into the water with those deer on her back. I told her she could stay there as far as I was concerned and I tied the two deer to the back of the bear and then kind of got inside the bear so that all three of them were on my back. I eased into the river and headed across. Right away I started having trouble. I was lower than I had figured I would be and I was having trouble keeping my nose above water so I could breath. I just kept swimming as hard as I could and I somehow I made it to the other side. Then I saw the problem. That mule had somehow crawled up on top of those two deer.