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CAROLINE SEXTON

A FEW NOTES OF THE LIFE OF CAROLINE SEXTON
Written by Charles D. Sexton, only child of David and Caroline Sexton.
Courtesy of the Josephine County Historical Society
Re-typed without any corrections by Karen Rose


An early pioneer of Josephine Co Ore and her experience in the Rogue River Indian war of 1853-1855   Mrs Caroline Sexton's name was Caroline Stumbo.  Born in Ohio the first of May 1826.  At the age of 18 was married to Hiram Niday.  Crosses the plains with ox trains in 1852 arriving in the Willamette Valley at the old Foster place.   In the spring of 1853 came south to Applegate Josephine Co and located a farm.   In October 1853 the Rogue River Indians under the leadership of Chiefs John Sam and Simpy went on the war path.  Mr Niday and her family got away from the Indians and ran to Fort Varroy on Rogue River, a distance of 3 miles and arrived safely.  The next morning three men went out a short distance from the fort to get some horses.   One by the name of Tour Frazell and Tom Mungo and the other a friendly Indian the Indians attached them killing Frazell, wounding Mungo and the friendly Indian slightly.   Mungo was fately wounded but suceeded in crawling in to the Bushes and fought the Indians off untill the friendly Indian ran to the fort wounded as he was and sent a company who rescued Mungo from the Indians and brought him to the fort.  There being no doctor at the fort my mother took charge of Mungo dressed his wounds and cared for him.   He died the next morning at daylight after staying at fort Vanoy two days it became unsafe to stay longer on account of not having men enough to defend the fort.  Mr. Niday took his family on horse back the night being dark and rainy he sliped by the Indians and raced to Fort Ben Halstead on Rogue River just above where Grants Pass now stands and arrived in safety.  The next day after arriving there the volunteers captured a young Indian Chief by the name of Taylor who together with his band who had murdered seven white men on Galice Creek.  He was tried by the volunteers and condemed to die and was taken out back of the fort and tied to a sarrel and while holloring to his Indians to rescue him was shot by the volunteers.  My mother witnessed this execution.  In 1854 Mr. Niday located a donation claim near the present site of Hugo.  In April 1855 Mr Niday died leaving my mother in an unsettled wild Indian country with three small children, one a baby eight days old.  On the morning of October 5, 1855 the Rogue River Indians again went on the war path.  On that day occured the greatest mruder and butchering of the early Pioneers that Southern Oregon ever knew.  The details I do not care to enter into at this time.  My mother and family had just finished their breakfast.  Mother came to the door loking south along the Jump off Joe valley.  She saw smoke arrising from the scattered farm houses and knew the Indians had broken out and were killing the settlers and burning their property.  She commenced immediately to prepare for defence, gathering together her guns and baring the doors and preparing to sell her life as dearly as possiable.  About the time she had every thing completed four men who had botten away from the Indians came running by and she asked them to help her away.  The indians had shot ones hat off and anothers bridle reins into.  One of the mens name was Judge Walton of Eugene the other men I do not know their names.  Mr Walton said to my mother have you any way to get away from here, and whe said no all I have is my race mare in the barn.  So he said to her so much the better you will need a race horse to out run those Red Devils.  The other three men began to get uneasy and scared and started to go on.  Mr Walton seeing this drew his six shooter and told them to halt.  I will shoot the first man who attempts to leave.  Now there is three of you and here are three little children, each one of you take a child and go and it will not be good for the man who fails to take the child to the fort I will bring the woman with me or the Indians will get my scalp.  By this time everybody had left the place except my mother and Mr. Walton.  He said to her have you any money in the house.  Yes I have two thousand dollars in buckskin sacks in the trunk.  He said go and get your money.  She went into the house but the trunk was locked and she could not find the key.  She came out of the house again and Walton said to her did you get the money now. I can't find the key.  Get that ax laying there and break open the trunk.   I will watch if I hollor you come.  They expected the Indians any minute.   With the aid of the ax she broke the trunk open and got the two bags of gold dust and ran out of the house and gave them to Walton.  He said now get on that horse and we will go.  Don't attempt to ride sideways, get on there squaw fashion.  As they left the house Walton looked down the road and said here come the Indians I think about two or three hundred as near as I can guess.  Now came the ride for life to fort Leland, a distance of 5 miles over a rough mountain trail.  Now my mother and her family that escaped being murdered by the Indians went from fort Ben Halstead above where Grants Pass now stands to her place near Hugo.  The fact that my mother was on a race horse it ran away with her and Walton was soon left behind.  She passed the other 3 men that had the 3 children about where Mr. Ward lives.  The man said to her can't you stop that horse she said no it is running away with me and they replied keep her in the trail and when you get to the fort tell them we are coming, and that they are close after us but after she reached the top of the Grave Creek hill she succeeded in getting the horse stopped and jumped off to tighten the saddle and in doing so she broke it.  She waited till the men came up and told them that they would have to fix her saddle.   They said to her no the Indians are to close.  Throw that saddle off and jump on there bare back and come on.  She threw the saddle to one side climbed on the mare bare back and took off after the men down the mountain just as she started the Indians fired upon her but luckly did not hit her.  The Indians fired on them several times during the chase down the mountain but did not succeed in hitting any of them and they reached Fort Leland in safety.  The Indians surrounded fort Leland and fired on the fort all day and all night.  Just at daylight a company of volunteers came from Jacksonville and drove the Indians from fort Leland.  With the volunteers was an Indian scout by the name of Hank Brown.  He walked into the fort and said to my mother were you scared yesterday when the indians were after you.  She said yes Hank I wish they were all dead.  Just then he threw seven long haired Indian scalps into her lap saying there are seven good Indians, my part of last nights fight.  After staying at Ft Leland a few days my mother and her children were taken to Ft Elliff on Cow Creek.  The Indians came on Cow Creek valley and began to murder the settlers. Only a few men beign at Ft Elliff, Mr. Elliff took his family and my mothers family and ran to Ft Levens a distance of about three miles.  They just got there as the Indians began firing on the fort.  There being only twelve men at the fort, I will not go into the details of the murders of this night, but will say one of the men was a minister by the name of Miller who got so scared he could not shoot at the Indians.  My mother took his gun from him and helped the men defend the fort.  While she was fighting the Indians her little daughter Mary took suddenly sick and died in the same room that her mother was defending.  The Indians fired on the Fort all night untill just before daylight.  Finding they could not take the fort by shooting at it they commenced throwing fire brands upon it.  Trying to burn them out and no doubt would have succeeded but just as it was getting daylight a company of volunteers came from Rogue River Valley and drove them away, and helped to bury the dead and also my little half sister.  After this fight my mother returned to Ft Elliff and remained there untill the war was over.  In the spring of 1856 she returned to her farm near Hugo and when she got there she found the indians had stolen and killed all her stock, burned her building and nothing was left but the bare ground.  But it seemed nothing could discourage her.  She had new buildings errected and the farm replinished and commenced life over again.  In 1857 she married my father David H. Sexton and resided near her old home place near Hugo untill her death May the 20th, 1911 at the age of 85 years and twemty days.

 

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