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Title: Discovery of the Yosemite - And the Indian War of 1851, Which Led to That Event
Author: Bunnell, Lafayette Houghton
Language: English
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[Illustration: _L. H. Bunnell_]


And the Indian War of 1851, Which Led to That Event.



Of the Mariposa Battalion, One of the Discoverers,
Late Surgeon Thirty-Sixth Regiment
Wisconsin Volunteers.

Third Edition--Revised And Corrected.

Fleming H. Revell Company,
New York:              | Chicago:
30 Union Square: East. | 148 and 150 Madison St.

Entered according to Act of Congress in the year 1880-1892, by
L. H. Bunnell,
In the office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.









      I.  MAPS                    FRONTISPIECE.


    III.  THE YOSEMITE VALLEY                13

     IV.  EL CAPITAN                         54

      V.  BRIDAL VEIL FALL                   59

     VI.  HALF DOME                          74


   VIII.  CATHEDRAL ROCKS                    77

     IX.  GLACIER FALL                       84


     XI.  NEVADA FALL                        87


          FIRE STICK                        134

   XIII.  THREE BROTHERS                    146

    XIV.  YOSEMITE FALL                     166

     XV.  MIRROR LAKE                       204

    XVI.  SENTINEL ROCK                     213

   XVII.  THE INDIAN BELLE                  219

  XVIII.  LAKE TEN-IE-YA                    236

    XIX.  LAKE STARR KING                   290

     XX.  BIG TREE                          333


          TUNNELED TREE                     340



    Incidents leading to the Discovery of the Yosemite
    Valley--Major Savage and Savages--Whiskey, Wrangling and
    War--Skinned Alive--A brisk Fight--Repulse--Another Fight, and
    Conflagration                                                    1


    The Governor of California issues a Proclamation--Formation of
    the Mariposa Battalion--The Origin and Cause of the War--New
    Material Public Documents--A Discussion--Capt. Walker--The
    Peace Commissioners’ Parley and the Indians’ Pow-wow--The
    Mysterious Deep Valley--Forward, March!                         29


  March Down the South Fork--Capture of an Indian Village--Hungry
  Men--An able Surgeon--Snow Storms--Visit of Ten-ie-ya, Chief
  of the Yosemites--Commander’s Dilemma--Unique Manner of
  Extrication--Approaching the Valley--First View--Sensations
  Experienced--A Lofty Flight Brought Down                          40


    Naming the Valley--Signification and Origin of the Word--Its
    proper Pronunciation: Yo-sem-i-ty--Mr. Hutchings and
    Yo-Ham-i-te--His Restoration of Yo-sem-i-te                     57


     Date of Discovery--First White Visitors--Captain Joe
    Walker’s Statement--Ten-ie-ya’s Cunning--Indian Tradition--A
    Lying Guide--The Ancient Squaw--Destroying Indian
    Stores--Sweat-houses--The Mourner’s Toilet--Sentiment and
    Reality--Return to Head-quarters,                               70


    Out of Provisions--A Hurried Move--Mills where Indians take
    their Grists, and Pots in which they Boil their Food--Advance
    Movement of Captain Dill--A Hungry Squad--Enjoyment--Neglect
    of Duty--Escape of Indians--Following their Trail--A
    Sorrowful Captain--A Mystery made Clear--Duplicity of the
    Chow-chillas--Vow-chester’s Good-will Offering--Return of the
    Fugitives--Major Savage as Agent and Interpreter                92


    Campaign against the Chow-chillas--The Favorite Hunting
    Ground--A Deer Hunt and a Bear _Chase_--An Accident and an
    Alarm--A Torch-light Pow-wow--Indians Discovered--Captain
    Boling’s Speech--Crossing of the San Joaquin--A Line of Battle,
    its Disappearance--Capture of Indian Village--Jose Rey’s
    Funeral-pyre--Following the Trail--A Dilemma--Sentiment and
    Applause--Returning to Camp--Narrow Escape of Captain Boling   105


    A Camp Discussion--War or Police Clubs--Jack Regrets a Lost
    Opportunity--Boling’s Soothing Syrup--A Scribe Criticises
    and Apologises--Indian War Material and its Manufacture--The
    Fire-stick and its Sacred Uses--Arrival at Head-quarters       123


    Starvation Subdues the Chow-chillas, and the Result is
    Peace--Captain Kuykendall’s Expeditions--An Attack--Rout
    and Pursuit--A Wise Conclusion--Freezing out Indians--A
    Wild Country--A Terrific View--Yosemite _versus_ King’s
    River--Submission of the Indians South of the San
    Joaquin--Second Expedition to Yosemite--Daring Scouts--Capture
    of Indians--Naming of “Three Brothers”                         135


    A General Scout--An Indian Trap--Flying Artillery--A
    Narrow Escape--A Tragic Scene--Fortunes of War--A Scout’s
    Description--Recovery from a Sudden Leap--Surrounded by
    Enemies                                                        148


    Camp Amusements--A Lost Arrow--Escape of a Prisoner--Escape
    of Another--Shooting of the Third--Indian Diplomacy--Taking
    His Own Medicine--Ten-ie-ya Captured--Grief over the Death
    of His Son--Appetite under Adverse Circumstances--Poetry
    Dispelled--Really a Dirty Indian                               160


    Bears and Other Game--Sickness of Captain
    Boling--Convalescence and Determination--A Guess at
    Heights--A Tired Doctor and a Used-up Captain--Surprising an
    Indian--Know-nothingness, or Native Americanism--A Clue and
    Discovery--A Short-cut to Camp, but an Unpopular Route         175


    The Indian Names--Difficulty of their
    Interpretation--Circumstances Suggesting Names of Vernal,
    Nevada and Bridal Veil Falls--Mr. Richardson’s Descriptions
    of the Falls and Round Rainbow--Py-we-ack Misplaced, and
    “_Illiluette_” an Absurdity--An English Name Suggested for
    Too-lool-lo-we-ack, Pohono and Tote-ack-ah-nü-la--Indian
    Superstitions and Spiritual Views--A Free National Park
    Desirable--Off on the Trail                                    198


    A Mountain Storm--Delay of Supplies--Clams and
    Ipecac--Arrival of Train--A Cute Indian--Indian Sagacity--A
    Dangerous Weapon--Capture of Indian Village--An Eloquent
    Chief--Woman’s Rights _versus_ Squaw’s Wrongs--A Disturbed
    Family--A Magnificent Sunrise--On a Slippery Slope--Sentiment
    and Poetry--Arrival at the Fresno                              222


     The Flora of the Region of the Yosemite--General
    Description of the Valley and its Principal Points of
    Interest, with their Heights 240


    A Trip to Los Angeles--Interview with Colonel McKee--A
    Night at Colonel Fremont’s Camp--Management of Cattle by
    the Colonel’s Herdsmen--Back to Los Angeles--Specimen
    Bricks of the Angel City--An Addition to our Party--Mules
    _versus_ Bears--Don Vincente--A Silver Mine--Mosquitos--A Dry
    Bog--Return to Fresno--Muster out of Battalion--A Proposition  257


    Captain Boling elected Sheriff--Appointment of Indian
    Agents--Ten-ie-ya allowed to Return to Yosemite--Murder
    of Visitors--Lieut. Moore’s Expedition and Punishment
    of Murderers--Gold Discoveries on Eastern Slope of
    Sierras--Report of Expedition, and First _Published_ Notice
    of Yosemite--Squatter Sovereignty--Assault upon King’s River
    Reservation--The supposed Leader, Harvey, Denounced by Major
    Savage--A Rencounter, and Death of Savage--Harvey Liberated
    by a Friendly Justice--An Astute Superintendent--A Mass
    Meeting--A Rival Aspirant--Indians and Indian Policy           272


    Murder of Starkey--Death of Ten-ie-ya and Extinction of his
    Band--A few Surviving Murderers--An Attempt at Reformation--A
    Failure and Loss of a Mule--Murders of Robert D. Sevil and
    Robert Smith--Alarm of the People--A False Alarm               291


    Engineering and History--Speculation and Discouragement--A
    New Deal--Wall Street--A Primitive Bridge--First Woman in
    the Yosemite--Lady Visitors from Mariposa and Lady Teachers
    from San Francisco--Measurements of Heights--First Houses and
    their Occupants--A Gay Party and a Glorious Feast              301


    Golden Theories and Glaciers 319


    Big Trees of California or Sequoia Gigantea--Their Discovery
    and Classification                                             333


    Statistics--Roads and Accommodations--Chapel and Sunday
    School--Big Farms and Great Resources--A Variety of
    Products--Long Hoped for Results 343


  By Courtesy of the Publishers.]





  _Copyrighted 1892_]


The book here presented is the result of an attempt to correct existing
errors relative to the Yosemite Valley. It was originally designed to
compress the matter in this volume within the limits of a magazine
article, but this was soon found to be impracticable; and, at the
suggestion of Gen. C. H. Berry, of Winona, Minnesota, it was decided to
“write a book.”

This, too, proved more difficult than at first appeared.

Born in Rochester, New York, in 1824, and carried to Western wilds in
1833, the writer’s opportunities for culture were limited; and in this,
his first attempt at authorship, he has found that the experiences
of frontier life are not the best preparations for literary effort.
Beside this, he had mainly to rely upon his own resources, for nothing
could be obtained in the archives of California that could aid him.
It was not deemed just that California should forget the deeds of men
who had subdued her savages, and discovered her most sublime scenery.
Having been a member of the “Mariposa Battalion,” and with it when the
Yosemite was discovered, having suggested its name, and named many of
the principal objects of interest in and near the valley, it seemed
a duty that the writer owed his comrades and himself, to give the
full history of these events. Many of the facts incident thereto have
already been given to the public by the author at various times since
1851, but these have been so mutilated or blended with fiction, that a
renewed and full statement of facts concerning that remarkable locality
seems desirable.

While engaged upon this work, the writer was aided by the scientific
researches of Prof. J. D. Whitney, and by the “acute and helpful
criticism” of Doctor James M. Cole of Winona, Minnesota.

Since the publication of the second edition of this book, and an
article from the author’s pen in the _Century_ Magazine for September,
1890, numerous letters of approval from old comrades have been
received, and a few dates obtained from old official correspondence
that will now be introduced.

In addition to what may properly belong to this history, there have
been introduced a few remarks concerning the habits and character of
the Indians. This subject is not _entirely new_, but the opinions
expressed are the results of many years acquaintance with various
tribes, and may be useful.

The incidental remarks about game will probably interest some. To the
author, the study of nature in all its aspects has been interesting.

The author’s views regarding the gold deposits and glaciers of the
Sierras are given simply as suggestions.

His especial efforts have been directed to the placing on record
events connected with the _discovery_ of the Yosemite, for description
of its scenery he feels to be impossible. In reverent acknowledgment
of this, there are submitted as a prologue, some lines written while
contemplating the grandeur of his subject.


    Hail thee, Yosemite, park of sublimity!
      Majesty, peerless and old!
    Ye mountains and cliffs, ye valleys and rifts.
      Ye cascades and cataracts bold!
    None, none can divine the wonders of thine,
      When told of the glorious view!
    The wild world of light--from “Beatitude’s” height,
      Old “Rock Chief,”[1] “El Capitan” true!

    Thy head proud and high! white brow to the sky!
      Thy features the thunderbolts dare!
    Thou o’erlookest the wall would the boldest appal
      Who enter Yosemite’s “Lair.”[2]
    Fair “Bridal Veil Fall!” the queen over all,
      In beauty and grace intertwined!
    Even now from thy height water-rockets of light
      Dart away, and seem floating in wind!

    And thou, high “Scho-look!” proud “Ah-wah-ne!” invoke
      To receive from “Kay-o-pha”[3] a boon!
    That flowing from pines, in the region of vines,
      May temper the heat of bright noon.
    “Nevada” and “Vernal,” emblems eternal
      Of winter and loveliest Spring,
    No language so bold the truth can unfold--
      No pen can thee offerings bring!

    And yet dare I say, of the cool “Vernal Spray,”
      In the flash of the bright sun’s power,
    I welcome thy “ring,”[4] though a drenching it bring,
      The smile of a god’s in the shower!
    And thou, “Glacier Fall,”[5] from thy adamant wall,
      And winter-bound lakes at thy head--
    Thy nymphs never seen, except by the sheen
      So fitful from “Mirror Lake’s” bed.

    Ye North and South Domes,[6] “Ten-ie-ya’s” lake homes,
      “Cloud’s Rest,” and high “Tis-sa-ack” lone;
    Mute “Sentinel,” “Brothers,” ye “Starr King,” ye others--
      Oh! what of the past have ye known?
    To you has been given the mission from heaven
      To watch through the ages of earth!
    Your presence sublime is the chronicled time,
      From the æon the world had birth!

[Illustration: VIEW OF THE YOSEMITE.

Looking up the valley from a height of about 1,000 feet above the
Merced River, and above sea level 5,000 feet, giving some faint idea
of the beauty, grandeur and magnitude of this magnificent work of



  Incidents leading to the discovery of the Yosemite Valley--Major
  Savage and Savages--Whiskey, wrangling and War--Skinned Alive--A
  brisk Fight--Repulse--Another Fight, and Conflagration.

During the winter of 1849-50, while ascending the old Bear Valley trail
from Ridley’s ferry, on the Merced river, my attention was attracted
to the stupendous rocky peaks of the Sierra Nevadas. In the distance
an immense cliff loomed, apparently to the summit of the mountains.
Although familiar with nature in her wildest moods, I looked upon
this awe-inspiring column with wonder and admiration. While vainly
endeavoring to realize its peculiar prominence and vast proportions,
I turned from it with reluctance to resume the search for coveted
gold; but the impressions of that scene were indelibly fixed in my
memory. Whenever an opportunity afforded, I made inquiries concerning
the scenery of that locality. But few of the miners had noticed any
of its special peculiarities. On a second visit to Ridley’s, not long
after, that towering mountain which had so profoundly interested me was
invisible, an intervening haze obscuring it from view. A year or more
passed before the mysteries of this wonderful land were satisfactorily

During the winter of 1850-51, I was attached to an expedition that made
the first discovery of what is now known as the Yosemite Valley. While
entering it, I saw at a glance that the reality of my sublime vision
at Ridley’s ferry, forty miles away, was before me. The locality of
the mysterious cliff was there revealed--its proportions enlarged and

The discovery of this remarkable region was an event intimately
connected with the history of the early settlement of that portion of
California. During 1850, the Indians in Mariposa county, which at that
date included all the territory south of the divide of the Tuolumne
and Merced rivers within the valley proper of the San Joaquin, became
very troublesome to the miners and settlers. Their depredations and
murderous assaults were continued until the arrival of the United
States Indian commissioners, in 1851, when the general government
assumed control over them. Through the management of the commissioners,
treaties were made, and many of these Indians were transferred to
locations reserved for their special occupancy.

It was in the early days of the operations of this commission that the
Yosemite Valley was first entered by a command virtually employed to
perform the special police duties of capturing and bringing the Indians
before these representatives of the government, in order that treaties
might be made with them. These wards of the general government were
provided with supplies at the expense of the public treasury: provided
that they confined themselves to the reservations selected for them.

My recollections of those early days are from personal observations
and information derived from the earlier settlers of the San Joaquin
valley, with whom I was personally acquainted in the mining camps, and
through business connections; and also from comrades in the Indian war
of 1850-51. Among these settlers was one James D. Savage, a trader,
who in 1849-50 was located in the mountains near the mouth of the South
Fork of the Merced river, some fifteen miles below the Yosemite valley.

At this point, engaged in gold mining, he had employed a party of
native Indians. Early in the season of 1850 his trading post and mining
camp were attacked by a band of the Yosemite Indians. This tribe,
or band, claimed the territory in that vicinity, and attempted to
drive Savage off. Their real object, however, was plunder. They were
considered treacherous and dangerous, and were very troublesome to the
miners generally.

Savage and his Indian miners repulsed the attack and drove off the
marauders, but from this occurrence he no longer deemed this location
desirable. Being fully aware of the murderous propensities of his
assailants, he removed to Mariposa Creek, not far from the junction
of the Agua Fria, and near to the site of the old stone fort. Soon
after, he established a branch post on the Fresno, where the mining
prospects became most encouraging, as the high water subsided in that
stream. This branch station was placed in charge of a man by the name
of Greeley.

At these establishments Savage soon built up a prosperous business. He
exchanged his goods at enormous profits for the gold obtained from his
Indian miners. The white miners and prospecting parties also submitted
to his demands rather than lose time by going to Mariposa village. The
value of his patrons’ time was thus made a source of revenue. As the
season advanced, this hardy pioneer of commerce rapidly increased his
wealth, but in the midst of renewed prosperity he learned that another
cloud was gathering over him. One of his five squaws assured him that
a combination was maturing among the mountain Indians, to kill or
drive all the white men from the country, and plunder them of their
property. To strengthen his influence over the principal tribes, Savage
had, according to the custom of many mountain men, taken wives from
among them, supposing his personal safety would be somewhat improved by
so doing. This is the old story of the prosperous Indian trader. Rumor
also came from his Indian miners, that the Yosemites threatened to come
down on him again for the purpose of plunder, and that they were urging
other tribes to join them.

These reports he affected to disregard, but quietly cautioned the
miners to guard against marauders.

He also sent word to the leading men in the settlements that
hostilities were threatened, and advised preparations against a

At his trading posts he treated the rumors with indifference, but
instructed the men in his employ to be continually on their guard in
his absence. Stating that he was going to “_the Bay_” for a stock of
goods, he started for San Francisco, taking with him two Indian wives,
and a chief of some note and influence who professed great friendship.

This Indian, Jose Juarez, was in reality one of the leading spirits in
arousing hostilities against the whites.

Notwithstanding Juarez appeared to show regard for Savage, the trader
had doubts of his sincerity, but, as he had no fears of personal
injury, he carefully kept his suspicions to himself. The real object
Savage had in making this trip was to place in a safe locality a large
amount of gold which he had on hand; and he took the chief to impress
him with the futility of any attempted outbreak by his people. He hoped
that a visit to Stockton and San Francisco, where Jose could see the
numbers and superiority of the whites, would so impress him that on his
return to the mountains his report would deter the Indians from their
proposed hostilities.

The trip was made without any incidents of importance, but, to Savage’s
disappointment and regret, Jose developed an instinctive love for
whiskey, and having been liberally supplied with gold, he invested
heavily in that favorite Indian beverage, and was stupidly drunk nearly
all the time he was in the city.

Becoming disgusted with Jose’s frequent intoxication, Savage expressed
in emphatic terms his disapprobation of such a course. Jose at once
became greatly excited, and forgetting his usual reserve, retorted in
abusive epithets, and disclosed his secret of the intended war against
the whites.

Savage also lost his self-control, and with a blow felled the drunken
Indian to the ground. Jose arose apparently sober, and from that time
maintained a silent and dignified demeanor. After witnessing the
celebration of the admission of the State into the Union--which by
appointment occurred on October 29th, 1850, though the act of admission
passed Congress on the 9th of September of that year--and making
arrangements to have goods forwarded as he should order them, Savage
started back with his dusky retainers for Mariposa. On his arrival
at Quartzberg, he learned that the Kah-we-ah Indians were exacting
tribute from the immigrants passing through their territory, and soon
after his return a man by the name of Moore was killed not far from
his Mariposa Station. From the information here received, and reported
murders of emigrants, he scented danger to himself. Learning that the
Indians were too numerous at “Cassady’s Bar,” on the San-Joaquin, and
in the vicinity of his Fresno Station, he at once, with characteristic
promptness and courage, took his course direct to that post. He found,
on arriving there, that all was quiet, although some Indians were
about, as if for trading purposes. Among them were Pon-wat-chee and
Vow-ches-ter, two Indian chiefs known to be friendly. The trader had
taken two of his wives from their tribes.

Savage greeted all with his customary salutation. Leaving his squaws to
confer with their friends and to provide for their own accommodations,
he quietly examined the memoranda of his agent, and the supply of goods
on hand. With an appearance of great indifference, he listened to the
business reports and gossip of Greeley, who informed him that Indians
from different tribes had come in but had brought but little gold. To
assure himself of the progress made by the Indians in forming a union
among themselves, he called those present around him in front of his
store, and passed the friendly pipe. After the usual silence and delay.
Savage said: “I know that all about me are my friends, and as a friend
to all, I wish to have a talk with you before I go back to my home on
the Mariposa, from which I have been a long distance away, but where I
could not stop until I had warned you.

“I know that some of the Indians do not wish to be friends with the
white men, and that they are trying to unite the different tribes for
the purpose of a war. It is better for the Indians and white men to be
friends. If the Indians make war on the white men, every tribe will be
exterminated; not one will be left. I have just been where the white
men are more numerous than the wasps and ants; and if war is made and
the Americans are aroused to anger, every Indian engaged in the war
will be killed before the whites will be satisfied.” In a firm and
impressive manner Savage laid before them the damaging effects of a
war, and the advantages to all of a continued peaceful intercourse. His
knowledge of Indian language was sufficient to make his remarks clearly
understood, and they were apparently well received.

Not supposing that Jose would attempt there to advocate any of his
schemes, the trader remarked, as he finished his speech: “A chief
who has returned with me from the place where the white men are so
numerous, can tell that what I have said is true--Jose Juarez--you all
know, and will believe him when he tells you the white men are more
powerful than the Indians.”

The cunning chief with much dignity, deliberately stepped forward,
with more assurance than he had shown since the belligerent occurrence
at the bay, and spoke with more energy than Savage had anticipated.
He commenced by saying: “Our brother has told his Indian relatives
much that is truth; we have seen many people; the white men are very
numerous; but the white men we saw on our visit are of many tribes;
they are not like the tribe that dig gold in the mountains.” He then
gave an absurd description of what he had seen while below, and said:
“Those white tribes will not come to the mountains. They will not help
the gold diggers if the Indians make war against them. If the gold
diggers go to the white tribes in the big village they give their gold
for strong water and games; when they have no more gold the white
tribes drive the gold-diggers back to the mountains with clubs. They
strike them down (referring to the police), as your white relative
struck me while I was with him.” (His vindictive glance assured Savage
that the blow was not forgotten or forgiven.) “The white tribes will
not go to war with the Indians in the mountains. They cannot bring
their big ships and big guns to us; we have no cause to fear them. They
will not injure us.”

To Savage’s extreme surprise, he then boldly advocated an immediate
war upon the whites, assuring his listeners that, as all the territory
belonged to the Indians, if the tribes would unite the whole tribe
of gold-diggers could be easily driven from their country; but, if
the gold-diggers should stay longer, their numbers will be too great
to make war upon, and the Indians would finally be destroyed. In
his speech Jose evinced a keenness of observation inconsistent with
his apparent drunken stupidity. Savage had thought this stupidity
sometimes assumed. He now felt assured that the chief had expected
thereby to learn his plans. To the writer there seems to be nothing
inconsistent with Indian craft, keenness of observation and love of
revenge in Jose’s conduct, though he was frequently drunk while at
“the bay.” While Jose was speaking other Indians had joined the circle
around him. Their expressions of approval indicated the effects of his
speech. During this time Savage had been seated on a log in front of
the store, a quiet listener. When Jose concluded, the trader arose,
and stepping forward, calmly addressed the relatives of his wives and
the Indians in whom he still felt confidence. The earnest and positive
speech of the cunning chief had greatly surprised him; he was somewhat
discouraged at the approval with which it had been received; but with
great self-possession, he replied, “I have listened very attentively to
what the chief, who went with me as my friend, has been saying to you.
I have heard all he has said. He has told you of many things that he
saw. He has told you some truth. He has told of many things which he
knows nothing about. He has told you of things he saw in his dreams,
while “strong water” made him sleep. The white men we saw there are
all of the same tribe as the gold-diggers here among the mountains.
He has told you he saw white men that were pale, and had tall hats on
their heads, with clothing different from the gold-diggers. This was
truth, but they are all brothers, all of one tribe. All can wear the
clothing of the gold-diggers; all can climb the mountains, and if war
is made on the gold-diggers, the white men will come and fight against
the Indians. Their numbers will be so great, that every tribe will be
destroyed that joins in a war against them.”

Jose observing the effects of these statements, excitedly interrupted
Savage by entering the circle, exclaiming: “He is telling you words
that are not true. His tongue is forked and crooked. He is telling lies
to his Indian relatives. This trader is not a friend to the Indians.
He is not our brother. He will help the white gold-diggers to drive
the Indians from their country. We can now drive them from among us,
and if the other white tribes should come to their help, we will go to
the mountains; if they follow after us, they cannot find us; none of
them will come back; we will kill them with arrows and with rocks.”
While Jose was thus vociferously haranguing, other Indians came into
the grounds, and the crisis was approaching. As Jose Juarez ended his
speech, Jose Rey, another influential chief and prominent leader,
walked proudly into the now enlarged circle, followed by his suite of
treacherous Chow-chillas, among whom were Tom-Kit and Frederico. He
keenly glanced about him, and assuming a grandly tragic style, at once
commenced a speech by saying: “My people are now ready to begin a war
against the white gold-diggers. If all the tribes will be as one tribe,
and join with us, we will drive all the white men from our mountains.
If all the tribes will go together, the white men will run from us, and
leave their property behind them. The tribes who join in with my people
will be the first to secure the property of the gold-diggers.”

The dignity and eloquent style of Jose Rey controlled the attention of
the Indians. This appeal to their cupidity interested them; a common
desire for plunder would be the strongest inducement to unite against
the whites.

Savage was now fully aware that he had been defeated at this impromptu
council he had himself organized, and at once withdrew to prepare for
the hostilities he was sure would soon follow. As soon as the Indians
dispersed, he started with his squaws for home, and again gave the
settlers warning of what was threatened and would soon be attempted.

These occurrences were narrated to me by Savage. The incidents of
the council at the Fresno Station were given during the familiar
conversations of our intimate acquaintanceship. The Indian speeches
here quoted are like all others of their kind, really but poor
imitations. The Indian is very figurative in his language. If a literal
translation were attempted his speeches would seem so disjointed and
inverted in their methods of expression, that their signification could
scarcely be understood; hence only the substance is here given.

The reports from Savage were considered by the miners and settlers as
absurd. It was generally known that mountain men of Savage’s class
were inclined to adopt the vagaries and superstitions of the Indians
with whom they were associated; and therefore but little attention was
given to the trader’s warnings. It was believed that he had listened
to the blatant palaver of a few vagabond “Digger Indians,” and that
the threatened hostilities were only a quarrel between Savage and
his Indian miners, or with some of his Indian associates. Cassady, a
rival trader, especially scoffed at the idea of danger, and took no
precautions to guard himself or establishment. The settlers of Indian
Gulch and Quartzberg were, however, soon after startled by a report
brought by one of Savage’s men called “Long-haired Brown,” that the
traders’ store on the Fresno had been robbed, and all connected with
it killed except himself. Brown had been warned by an Indian he had
favored, known as Polonio-Arosa, but notwithstanding this aid, he had
to take the chances of a vigorous pursuit.

Brown was a large man of great strength and activity, and as he said,
had dodged their arrows and distanced his pursuers in the race. Close
upon the heels of this report, came a rumor from the miners’ camp on
Mariposa creek, that Savage’s establishment at that place had also been
plundered and burned, and all connected with it killed. This report was
soon after corrected by the appearance of the trader at Quartzberg.
Savage was highly offended at the indifference with which his cautions
had been received at Mariposa, and by the county authorities, then
located at Agua-Fria. He stated that his wives had assured him that a
raid was about to be made on his establishment, and warned him of the
danger of a surprise. He had at once sought aid from personal friends
at Horse Shoe Bend--where he had once traded--to remove or protect
his property. While he was absent, Greeley, Stiffner and Kennedy had
been killed, his property plundered and burned, and his wives carried
off by their own people. These squaws had been importuned to leave
the trader, but had been faithful to his interests. The excitement of
these occurrences had not subsided before news came of the murder of
Cassady and four men near the San Joaquin. Another murderous assault
was soon after reported by an immigrant who arrived at Cassady’s
Bar, on the upper crossing of the San Joaquin. His shattered arm and
panting horse excited the sympathies of the settlers, and aroused the
whole community. The wounded man was provided for, and a party at once
started for the “Four Creeks,” where he had left his comrades fighting
the Indians.

The arm of the wounded man was amputated by Dr. Lewis Leach, of St.
Louis, Mo., an immigrant who had but just come in over the same
route. The name of the wounded man was Frank W. Boden. He stated that
his party--four men, I believe, besides himself--had halted at the
“Four Creeks” to rest and graze their horses, and while there a band
of Indians (Ka-we-ahs) came down from their village and demanded
tribute for crossing their territory. Looking upon the demand as a new
form of Indian beggary, but little attention was paid to them. After
considerable bantering talk, some tobacco was given them, and they went
off grumbling and threatening. Boden said: “After the Indians left we
talked over the matter for a while; none regarded the demand of the
‘Indian tax-gatherers’ but as a trivial affair. I then mounted my horse
and rode off in the direction in which we had seen some antelopes as we
came on. I had not gone far before I heard firing in the direction of
our halting-place.

“Riding back, I saw the house near which I had left my comrades was
surrounded by yelling demons. I was discovered by them at the same
instant, and some of them dashed toward me. Seeing no possibility of
joining my party, I turned and struck my horse with the spurs, but
before I could get beyond range of their arrows, I felt a benumbing
sensation in my arm, which dropped powerless. Seeing that my arm was
shattered or broken, I thought I would give them one shot at least
before I fell into their hands. Checking my horse with some difficulty,
I turned so as to rest my rifle across my broken arm, and took sight on
the nearest of my pursuers, who halted at the same time.”

At this point in his story the hardy adventurer remarked with a twinkle
of satisfaction in his bright, keen eye: “I never took better aim in my
life. That Indian died suddenly. Another dash was made for me. My horse
did not now need the spurs, he seemed to be aware that we must leave
that locality as soon as possible, and speedily distanced them all. As
soon as the first excitement was over I suffered excruciating pain in
my arm. My rifle being useless to me, I broke it against a tree and
threw it away. I then took the bridle rein in my teeth and carried the
broken arm in my other hand.”

The party that went out to the place of attack--Dr. Thomas Payn’s, now
Visalia, named for Nat. Vice, an acquaintance of the writer--found
there the mangled bodies of Boden’s four companions. One of these, it
was shown by unmistakable evidence, had been skinned by the merciless
fiends while yet alive.

These men had doubtless made a stout resistance. Like brave men they
had fought for their lives, and caused, no doubt, a heavy loss to their
assailants. This, with their refusal to comply with the demand for
tribute, was the motive for such wolfish barbarity.

It now became necessary that some prompt action should be taken
for general protection. Rumors of other depredations and murders
alarmed the inhabitants of Mariposa county. Authentic statements of
these events were at once forwarded to Governor John McDougall, by
the sheriff and other officials, and citizens, urging the immediate
adoption of some measures on the part of the State for the defense
of the people. Raids upon the miners’ camps and the “Ranch” of the
settlers had become so frequent that on its being rumored that the
Indians were concentrating for more extensive operations, a party,
without waiting for any official authority, collected and started
out to check the ravages of the marauders that were found gathering
among the foothills. With but limited supplies, and almost without
organization, this party made a rapid and toilsome march among the
densely wooded mountains in pursuit of the savages, who, upon report of
our movements, were now retreating. This party came up with the Indians
at a point high up on the Fresno. In the skirmish which followed a Lt.
Skeane was killed, William Little was seriously wounded and some others
slightly injured.

This engagement, which occurred on January 11th, 1851, was not a very
satisfactory one to the whites. The necessity of a more efficient
organization was shown. The Indians had here taken all the advantages
of position and successfully repulsed the attack of the whites, who
withdrew, and allowed the former to continue their course.

Some of the party returned to the settlements for supplies and
reinforcements, taking with them the wounded.

Those who remained, reorganized, and leisurely followed the Indians to
near the North Fork of the San Joaquin river, where they had encamped
on a round rugged mountain covered with a dense undergrowth--oaks and
digger pine. Here, protected by the sheltering rocks and trees, they
defiantly taunted the whites with cowardice and their late defeat. They
boasted of their robberies and murders, and called upon Savage to come
out where he could be killed. In every possible manner they expressed
their contempt. Savage--who had joined the expedition--became very
much exasperated, and at first favored an immediate assault, but wiser
counsels prevailed, and by Captain Boling’s prudent advice, Savage kept
himself in reserve, knowing that he would be an especial mark, and as
Boling had said, his knowledge of the Indians and their territory could
not very well be dispensed with. This course did not please all, and,
as might have been expected, then and afterwards disparaging remarks
were made.

The leaders in exciting hostilities against the whites were Jose Juarez
and Jose Rey. The bands collected on this mountain were under the
leadership of Jose Rey, who was also known by his English name of “King
Joseph.” The tribes represented were the Chow-chilla, Chook-chan-cie,
Noot-chu, Ho-nah-chee, Po-to-en-cie, Po-ho-no-chee, Kah-we-ah and
Yosemite. The number of fighting men or warriors was estimated at about
500, while that of the whites did not exceed 100.

It was late in the day when the Indians were discovered. A general
council was held, and it was decided that no attack should be made
until their position could be studied, and the probable number to be
encountered, ascertained. Captain Kuy-ken-dall, Lieutenants Doss and
Chandler, and others, volunteered to make a reconnoissance before night
should interfere with their purpose.

The scouting party was not noticed until on its return, when it was
followed back to camp by the Indians, where during nearly the whole
night their derisive shouts and menaces in broken Spanish and _native
American_, made incessant vigilance of the whole camp a necessity.
A council was again called to agree on the plan to be adopted. This
council of war was general; official position was disregarded except
to carry out the decisions of the party or command. The scouts had
discovered that this rendezvous was an old Indian village as well as

The plan was that an attack should be undertaken at daylight, and
that an effort should be made to set fire to the village, preliminary
to the general assault. This plan was strongly advocated by the more
experienced ones who had seen service in Mexico and in Indian warfare.

Kuy-ken-dall, Doss and Chandler, “as brave men as ever grew,” seemed to
vie with each other for the leadership, and at starting Kuy-ken-dall
seemed to be in command, but when the assault was made, Chandler’s
_elan_ carried him ahead of all, and he thus became the _leader_ indeed.

But thirty-six men were detached for the preliminary service.
Everything being arranged the attacking party started before daylight.
The Indians had but a little while before ceased their annoyances
around the camp. The reserve under Savage and Boling were to follow
more leisurely. Kuy-ken-dall’s command reached the Indian camp
without being discovered. Without the least delay the men dashed in
and with brands from the camp fires, set the wigwams burning, and
at the same time madly attacked the now alarmed camp. The light
combustible materials of which the wigwams were composed were soon in
a bright blaze. So rapid and so sudden were the charges made, that the
panic-stricken warriors at once fled from their stronghold. Jose Rey
was among the first shot down. The Indians made a rally to recover
their leader; Chandler observing them, shouted “Charge, boys! Charge!!”
Discharging another volley, the men rushed forward.

The savages turned and fled down the mountain, answering back the
shout of Chandler to charge by replying, “Chargee!” “Chargee!” as they

The whole camp was routed, and sought safety among the rocks and brush,
and by flight.

This was an unexpected result. The whole transaction had been so
quickly and recklessly done that the reserve under Boling and Savage
had no opportunity to participate in the assault, and but imperfectly
witnessed the scattering of the terrified warriors. Kuy-ken-dall,
especially, displayed a coolness and valor entitling him to command,
though outrun by Chandler in the assault. The fire from the burning
village spread so rapidly down the mountain side toward our camp as to
endanger its safety. While the whites were saving their camp supplies,
the Indians under cover of the smoke escaped. No prisoners were taken;
twenty-three were killed; the number wounded was never known. Of the
settlers, but one was really wounded, though several were scorched
and bruised in the fight. None were killed. The scattering flight of
the Indians made a further pursuit uncertain. The supplies were too
limited for an extended chase; and as none had reached the little army
from those who had returned, and time would be lost in waiting, it was
decided to return to the settlements before taking any other active
measures. The return was accomplished without interruption.


  The Governor of California issues a Proclamation--Formation of
  the Mariposa Battalion--The Origin and Cause of the War--New
  Material Public Documents--A Discussion--Capt. Walker--The Peace
  Commissioners’ Parley and the Indians’ Pow-wow--The Mysterious Deep
  Valley--Forward, March!

The State authorities had in the meantime become aroused. The reports
of Indian depredations multiplied, and a general uprising was for a
time threatened.

Proclamations were therefore issued by Gov. McDougall, calling for
volunteers, to prevent further outrages and to punish the marauders.
Our impromptu organization formed the nucleus of the volunteer force
in Mariposa county, as a large majority of the men at once enlisted.
Another battalion was organized for the region of Los Angelos. Our new
organization, when full, numbered two hundred mounted men. This was
accomplished in time, by Major Savage riding over to the San Joaquin,
and bringing back men from Cassady’s Bar.

The date from which we were regularly mustered into the service was
January 24th, 1851. The volunteers provided their own horses and
equipments. The camp supplies and baggage trains were furnished by
the State. This military force was called into existence by the State
authorities, but by act of Congress its maintenance was at the expense
of the general government, under direction of Indian commissioners.
Major Ben McCullough was offered the command of this battalion, but
he declined it. This position was urged upon him with the supposition
that if he accepted it the men who had once served under him would be
induced to enlist--many of the “Texan Rangers” being residents of
Mariposa county.

Major McCullough was at that time employed as Collector of “Foreign
Miners’ Tax,” a very lucrative office. As a personal acquaintance,
he stated to me that the position was not one that would bring him
honor or pecuniary advantages. That he had no desire to leave a good
position, except for one more profitable.

The officers, chosen by the men, recommended to and commissioned
by Governor McDougall, were James D. Savage, as Major; John J.
Kuy-ken-dall, John Boling, and William Dill, as Captains; M. B. Lewis,
as Adjutant; John I. Scott, Reuben T. Chandler, and Hugh W. Farrell,
as First Lieutenants; Robert E. Russell, as Sergeant Major; Dr. A.
Bronson, as Surgeon, and Drs. Pfifer and Black as Assistant Surgeons. A
few changes of Lieutenants and subordinate officers were afterward made.

Upon the resignation of Surgeon Bronson, Dr. Lewis Leach, was appointed
to fill the vacancy.

While writing up these recollections, in order to verify my dates,
which I knew were not always chronologically exact, I addressed letters
to the State departments of California making inquiries relative to
the “Mariposa Battalion,” organized in 1851. In answer to my inquiry
concerning these known facts, the following was received from Adj.
General L. H. Foot. He says: “The records of this office, both written
and printed, are so incomplete, that I am not aware from consulting
them that the organization to which you allude had existence.” It is a
matter of regret that the history of the early settlement of California
is, to so great an extent, traditionary, without public records of many
important events. It is not deemed just that the faithful services of
the “Mariposa Battalion,” should be forgotten with the fading memory
of the pioneers of that period. There is in the State, an almost
entire absence of any public record of the “Indian war,” of which the
discovery of the Yosemite valley was an important episode.

Until the publication of Mr. J. M. Hutching’s book, “In The Heart of
The Sierras, Yo Semite, Big Trees, etc.,” which contains valuable
public documents, the author of “Discovery of The Yosemite” was, as
stated on page 30, unable to obtain any official records concerning the
operations of the Mariposa battalion, or of the events which preceded
and caused the Indian War of 1851. Now that Mr. Hutching’s persistent
industry has brought light from darkness, I interrupt my narrative to
make clear the origin of the war, and to justify the early Pioneers
engaged in it. As a sample, also, of many obstructions encountered, I
insert a few extracts from letters relating to the “Date of Discovery,”
furnished the _Century_ Magazine.

The attack made upon Savage on the Merced river in 1850, had for its
object plunder and intimidation, and as an invasion of Ten-ie-ya’s
territory was no longer threatened after the removal of Mr. Savage to
the Mariposa, the Yo Semities contented themselves with the theft of
horses and clothing, but a general war was still impending, as may be
seen by reference to page 31 of “In The Heart of The Sierras,” where
appears: Report of Col. Adam Johnston, a special agent, to Gov. Peter
H. Burnett, upon his return from Mariposa county to San Jose, then the
Capital of California, and which I here present: San Jose, January 2,
1851. Sir: I have the honor to submit to you, as the executive of the
State of California, some facts connected with the recent depredations
committed by the Indians, within the bounds of the State, upon the
persons and property of her citizens. The immediate scene of their
hostile movements are at and in the vicinity of the Mariposa and
Fresno. The Indians in that portion of your State have, for some time
past, exhibited disaffection and a restless feeling toward the whites.
Thefts were continually being perpetrated by them, but no act of
hostility had been committed by them on the person of any individual,
which indicated general enmity on the part of the Indians, until
the night of the 17th December last. I was then at the camp of Mr.
James D. Savage, on the Mariposa, where I had gone for the purpose of
reconciling any difficulty that might exist between the Indians and the
whites in that vicinity. From various conversations which I had held
with different chiefs, I concluded there was no immediate danger to be
apprehended. On the evening of the 17th of December, we were, however,
surprised by the sudden disappearance of the Indians. They left in a
body, but no one knew why, or where they had gone. From the fact that
Mr. Savage’s domestic Indians had forsaken him and gone with those of
the rancheria, or village, he immediately suspected that something of a
serious nature was in contemplation, or had already been committed by

The manner of their leaving, in the night, and by stealth, induced Mr.
Savage to believe that whatever act they had committed or intended
to commit, might be connected with himself. Believing that he could
overhaul his Indians before others could join them, and defeat any
contemplated depredations on their part, he, with sixteen men, started
in pursuit. He continued upon their traces for about thirty miles, when
he came upon their encampment. The Indians had discovered his approach,
and fled to an adjacent mountain, leaving behind them two small boys
asleep, and the remains of an aged female, who had died, no doubt
from fatigue. Near to the encampment Mr. Savage ascended a mountain
in pursuit of the Indians, from which he discovered them upon another
mountain at a distance. From these two mountain tops, conversation was
commenced and kept up for some time between Mr. Savage and the chief,
who told him that they had murdered the men on the Fresno, and robbed
the camp. The chief had formerly been on the most friendly terms with
Savage, but would not now permit him to approach him. Savage said to
them it would be better for them to return to their village--that with
very little labor daily, they could procure sufficient gold to purchase
them clothing and food. To this the chief replied it was a hard way to
get a living, and that they could more easily supply their wants by
stealing from the whites. He also said to Savage he must not deceive
the whites by telling them lies, he must not tell them that the Indians
were friendly; they were not, but on the contrary were their deadly
enemies, and that they intended killing and plundering them so long as
a white face was seen in the country. Finding all efforts to induce
them to return, or to otherwise reach them, had failed, Mr. Savage and
his company concluded to return. When about leaving, they discovered a
body of Indians, numbering about two hundred, on a distant mountain,
who seemed to be approaching those with whom he had been talking.

Mr. Savage and company arrived at his camp in the night of Thursday in
safety. In the mean time, as news had reached us of murders committed
on the Fresno, we had determined to proceed to the Fresno, where the
men had been murdered. Accordingly on the day following, Friday, the
20th, I left the Mariposa camp with thirty-five men, for the camp on
the Fresno, to see the situation of things there, and to bury the dead.
I also dispatched couriers to Agua Fria, Mariposa, and several other
mining sections, hoping to concentrate a sufficient force on the Fresno
to pursue the Indians into the mountains. Several small companies of
men left their respective places of residence to join us, but being
unacquainted with the country they were unable to meet us. We reached
the camp on the Fresno a short time after daylight. It presented a
horrid scene of savage cruelty. The Indians had destroyed everything
they could not use or carry with them. The store was stripped of
blankets, clothing, flour, and everything of value; the safe was
broken open and rifled of its contents; the cattle, horses and mules
had been run into the mountains; the murdered men had been stripped of
their clothing, and lay before us filled with arrows; one of them had
yet twenty perfect arrows sticking in him. A grave was prepared, and
the unfortunate persons interred. Our force being small, we thought
it not prudent to pursue the Indians farther into the mountains, and
determined to return. The Indians in that part of the country are quite
numerous, and have been uniting other tribes with them for some time.
On reaching our camp on the Mariposa, we learned that most of the
Indians in the valley had left their villages and taken their women
and children to the mountains. This is generally looked upon as a sure
indication of their hostile intentions. It is feared that many of the
miners in the more remote regions have already been cut off, and Agua
Fria and Mariposa are hourly threatened.

Under this state of things, I come here at the earnest solicitations of
the people of that region, to ask such aid from the state government as
will enable them to protect their persons and property. I submit these
facts for your consideration, and have the honor to remain,

  Yours very respectfully,

To his excellency Peter H. Burnett.

The report of Col. Johnston to Gov. Burnett had the desired result,
for immediately after inauguration, his successor, Gov. McDougal,
on January 13, 1851, issued a proclamation calling for one hundred
volunteers, and this number by a subsequent order dated January 24th,
1851, after receipt of Sheriff James Burney’s report, bearing the same
date of the governor’s first call for one hundred men, was increased to
“two hundred able bodied men, under officers of their own selection.”

To insure a prompt suppression of hostilities, or a vigorous
prosecution of the war, on January 25th, 1851, Gov. McDougal appointed
Col. J. Neely Johnson of his staff a special envoy to visit Mariposa
county, and in an emergency, to call out additional forces if required,
and do whatever seemed best for the interests and safety of the people

Col. Adam Johnston, before leaving for San Jose, had, as he reported,
“dispatched couriers to Agua Fria, Mariposa, and several other mining
sections, hoping to concentrate a sufficient force on the Fresno to
pursue the Indians into the mountains. Several small companies of
men left their respective places of residence to join us, but being
unacquainted with the country they were unable to meet us.”

The same apparent difficulties beset Sheriff Burney, as he was able to
collect but seventy-four men, but want of knowledge of the country was
not the sole cause of delay. The Indians of the mountains at that time
having been accustomed to the occupation for many years of despoiling
the Californians, were the most expert bare back riders and horse
thieves in the world, and when many of us who had horses and mules
herding in the valley ranches of the foot-hills and Merced bottoms,
sent for them to carry us into the distant mountains of the Fresno,
where we had heard the Indians were concentrating, our messengers in
many instances found the animals stolen or stampeded, and hence the
delay in most instances, though some of the mining population who had
arrived in California by water, never seemed able to guide themselves
without a compass, and would get lost if they left a beaten trail. As
for myself, I could scarcely become lost, except in a heavy fog or snow
storm, and upon two occasions in the mountains was compelled to leave
my comrades, who were utterly and wilfully lost, but who, finding me
the most persistent, finally called to me and followed out to well
known land marks.

It will appear by the letter of Major Burney that “The different squads
from the various places rendezvoused not far from this place (Agua
Fria), on Monday, 6th, and numbered but seventy-four men.” I was at
Shirlock’s Creek on the night before, Jan. 5th, 1851, and had promised
to join the Major in the morning; but when the morning came, my animals
were gone, stolen by Indians from my Mexican herdman.

Mr. C. H. Spencer had sent his servant “Jimmy,” to Snelling’s ranche,
on the Merced River, for his animals, and after a delay of perhaps two
or three days, they were brought up for use. Mr. Spencer kindly loaned
me a mule for temporary use, but upon his having his saddle mule stolen
a few nights after, I gave back his mule and bought a fine one of Thos.
J. Whitlock, for whom Whitlock’s Creek was named. I had previously been
able to start with a small squad on the trail of Major Burney and his
brave men, but met some of them returning after the fight, among whom
I remember, were Wm. Little, shot through the lungs, but who finally
recovered, a Mr. Smith, known as “Yankee Smith,” sick, as he said,
“from a bare-footed fool exposure in the snow,” and Dr. Pfifer, who had
been given the care of the wounded and sick men. There were several
others unknown to me, or whose names I have now forgotten.

The different accounts I received from the men engaged in the fight,
were so conflicting, that in referring to it in previous editions, on
page 25, I could only say that it “was not a very satisfactory one to
the whites.” I could only state the general impression received from
Mr. Little’s account, which was that the men had been unnecessarily
exposed to cold and danger, and that only by the dash and bravery of
the officers and men engaged in the affair were they able to withdraw
into a place of temporary safety, until joined by re-inforcements.

Indian fighting was new to most of the men engaged, and, like the
soldiers on both sides at the outbreak of the Rebellion, they had been
led to expect a too easy victory.

But we have now the report of Major Burney to Gov. McDougal, and also
a letter from Mr. Theodore G. Palmer, of Newark, New Jersey, to his
father, written five days after the battle, and which has been kindly
placed at my disposal. Military men will readily perceive and enjoy the
entire artlessness and intended truthfulness of Mr. Palmer’s letter,
as well as his modest bravery. The two letters read in connection
with that of Col. Adam Johnston, are most valuable in fixing dates
and locations for any one with a knowledge of the topography of the
country, and of the events they narrate. They set at rest forever the
absurd claim that the first battle of the Indian War of 1851 was fought
in the Yosemite valley, for the battle was fought on a mountain. Mr.
Hutchings, to whose industry so much is due, has strangely overlooked
the fact, that the reference to “Monday 6th,” in Major Burney’s letter,
could only have reference to Monday, January 6th, 1851, the month in
which the letter was written, and not to December, 1850, as given by
Mr. Hutchings, in brackets. The 6th of December, 1850, occurred on
a Friday; on Tuesday, December 17, 1850, the three men were killed
on the Fresno river station of James D. Savage; on Friday, December
20th, 1850, they were buried; on Monday, January 6th, 1851, Major
Burney, sheriff of Mariposa County, assembled a strong _posse_ to
go in pursuit of the Indian murderers, and coming up with them on a
mountain stronghold on Jan. 11th, 1851, destroyed their villages, and
then retreated _down_ the mountain some four miles to _a plain_ in
the Fresno valley, where he erected a log breastwork for temporary
defense. Nothing but the most vivid imagination, coupled with an entire
ignorance of the region of the Yosemite, could liken the two localities
to each other. The Hetch Hetchy valley of the Tuolumne river and some
of the cliffs of the Tuolumne and of the King’s river, bear a general
resemblance to some of the scenery of the Yosemite, but when the
Yosemite valley itself has been seen, it will never be forgotten by the


  AGUA FRIA, January 13, 1851.

SIR: Your Excellency has doubtlessly been informed by Mr. Johnston and
others, of repeated and aggravated depredations of the Indians in this
part of the State. Their more recent outrages you are probably not
aware of. Since the departure of Mr. Johnston, the Indian agent, they
have killed a portion of the citizens on the head of the San Joaquin
river, driven the balance off, taken away all movable property, and
destroyed all they could not take away. They have invariably murdered
and robbed all the small parties they fell in with between here and
the San Joaquin. News came here last night that seventy-two men were
killed on Rattlesnake Creek; several men have been killed in Bear
Valley. The Fine Gold Gulch has been deserted, and the men came in here
yesterday. Nearly all the mules and horses in this part of the State
have been stolen, both from the mines and the ranches. And I now, in
the name of the people of this part of the State, and for the good of
our country, appeal to your Excellency for assistance.

In order to show your Excellency that the people have done all that
they can do to suppress these things, to secure quiet and safety in the
possession of our property and lives, I will make a brief statement of
what has been done here.

After the massacres on the Fresno, San Joaquin, etc., we endeavored
to raise a volunteer company to drive the Indians back, if not to
take them or force them into measures. The different squads from the
various places rendezvoused not far from this place on Monday, 6th, and
numbered but seventy-four men. A company was formed, and I was elected
captain; J. W. Riley, first lieutenant; E. Skeane, second lieutenant.
We had but eight day’s provisions, and not enough animals to pack our
provisions and blankets, as it should have been done. We, however,
marched, and on the following day struck a large trail of horses that
had been stolen by the Indians. I sent forward James D. Savage with
a small spy force, and I followed the trail with my company. About
two o’clock in the morning, Savage came in and reported the village
near, as he had heard the Indians singing. Here I halted, left a
small guard with my animals, and went forward with the balance of my
men. We reached the village just before day, and at dawn, but before
there was light enough to see how to fire our rifles with accuracy, we
were discovered by their sentinel. When I saw that he had seen us, I
ordered a charge on the village (this had been reconnoitered by Savage
and myself). The Indian sentinel and my company got to the village
at the same time, he yelling to give the alarm. I ordered them to
surrender, some of them ran off, some seemed disposed to surrender, but
others fired on us; we fired and charged into the village. Their ground
had been selected on account of the advantages it possessed in their
mode of warfare. They numbered about four hundred, and fought us three
hours and a half.

We killed from forty to fifty, but cannot exactly tell how many, as
they took off all they could get to. Twenty-six were killed in and
around the village, and a number of others in the chaparrel. We burned
the village and provisions, and took four horses. Our loss was six
wounded, two mortally; one of the latter was Lieutenant Skeane, the
other a Mr. Little, whose bravery and conduct through the battle cannot
be spoken of too highly. We made litters, on which we conveyed our
wounded, and had to march four miles down the mountain, to a suitable
place to camp, the Indians firing at us all the way, from peaks on
either side, but so far off as to do little damage. My men had been
marching or fighting from the morning of the day before, without sleep,
and with but little to eat. On the plain, at the foot of the mountain,
we made a rude, but substantial fortification; and at a late hour those
who were not on guard, were permitted to sleep. Our sentinels were (as
I anticipated they would be) firing at the Indians occasionally all
night, but I had ordered them not to come in until they were driven in.

I left my wounded men there, with enough of my company to defend the
little fort, and returned to this place for provisions and recruits.
I send them to-day re-inforcements and provisions, and in two days
more I march by another route, with another re-inforcement, and intend
to attack another village before going to the fort. The Indians are
watching the movements at the fort, and I can come up in the rear of
them unsuspectedly, and we can keep them back until I can hear from
Your Excellency.

If Your Excellency thinks proper to authorize me or any other person to
keep this company together, we can force them into measures in a short
time. But if not authorized and commissioned to do so, and furnished
with some arms and provisions, or the means to buy them, and pay for
the services of the men, my company must be disbanded, as they are not
able to lose so much time without any compensation.

  Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

In a subsequent letter of Major Burney, addressed to Hon. W. J. Howard,
occurs the following passage:

“The first night out you came into my camp and reported that the
Indians had stolen all your horses and mules--a very large number; that
you had followed their trail into the hill country, but, deeming it
imprudent to go there alone, had turned northward, hoping to strike my
trail, having heard that I had gone out after Indians. I immediately,
at sunset, sent ten men (yourself among the number) under Lieutenant
Skeane--who was killed in the fight next day--to look out for the
trail, and report, which was very promptly carried out.”

Page 35, “In Heart of S. and Legislative Journal” for 1851, page 600.

It is only required of me to say here that re-inforced by such leaders
of men as Kuykendall, Boling, Chandler and Doss, there was no delay,
and the campaign was completed at “Battle Mountain,” a water shed of
the San Joaquin.

I now introduce a letter of great value, to me, as it fixes the date
of the first battle, and disproves assertions made in the _Century_


MY DEAR FATHER: When I wrote my last letter to you I had fully
determined to take a Ranch near Pacheco’s Pass, as I informed you, but
before three days had passed the report of Jim Kennedy’s murder on the
Fresno was confirmed, and I started for the mountains in pursuit of
the Indians who were committing depredations all through the country
and had sworn to kill every white man in it. Four hundred men had
promised to go, but at the appointed time only seventy-seven made their
appearance. With these we started under the command of Major Burney,
Sheriff of Mariposa County, guided by Mr. Jas. D. Savage, who is
without doubt the best man in the world for hunting them out.

From his long acquaintance with the Indians, Mr. Savage has learned
their ways so thoroughly that they cannot deceive him. He has been one
of their greatest chiefs, and speaks their language as well as they can
themselves. No dog can follow a trail like he can. No horse endure half
so much. He sleeps but little, can go days without food, and can run a
hundred miles in a day and night over the mountains and then sit and
laugh for hours over a camp-fire as fresh and lively as if he had just
been taking a little walk for exercise.

With him for a guide we felt little fear of not being able to find them.

On Friday morning about ten o’clock, our camp again moved forward
and kept traveling until one that night, when “halt! we are on the
Indians,” passed in a whisper down the line. Every heart beat quicker
as we silently unsaddled our animals and tied them to the bushes around
us. Commands were given in whispers and we were formed in a line. Sixty
were chosen for the expedition, the balance remaining behind in charge
of camp.

Savage said the Indians were about six miles off; that they were
engaged in a feast. He pointed out their fires, could hear them sing
and could smell them, but his eyes were the only ones that could see;
his ears alone could hear, and his nose smell anything unusual. Still,
there was such confidence placed in him that not one doubted for an
instant that everything was as he said.

About two o’clock we started in Indian file, as still as it was
possible for sixty men to move in the dark, for the moon had set. For
three long hours did we walk slowly and cautiously over the rocks and
bushes, through the deepest ravines and up steep and ragged mountain,
until within a half mile of the enemy.

Here every one took off his boots, when we again pushed forward to
about two hundred yards from the camp. Another halt was called to wait
for daylight, while Savage went forward to reconnoitre. He succeeded
in getting within ten paces of the Rancharia, and listened to a
conversation among them in which his name was frequently mentioned.
He found that it was a town of the Kee-chees, but that there were
about one hundred and fifty of the Chow-chil-la warriors with them and
several of the Chu-chan-ces. Had he found only the Kee-chees as he
expected, we were to surround the Rancharia and take all prisoners,
but the presence of so many Chow-chil-las, the most warlike tribe in
California, made a change of plan necessary.

Daylight by this time began to appear. We had been lying in our
stocking-feet on the ground on the top of a mountain within a few paces
of the snow for more than an hour, almost frozen by the intense cold,
not daring to move or speak a word.

It was not yet light enough to see the sight of our rifles, when an
Indian’s head was seen rising on the hill before us. For a moment his
eyes wandered, then rested on us, and with a yell like a Coyote he
turned for the Rancharia. Never did I hear before such an infernal
howling, whooping and yelling, as saluted us then from the throats
of about six hundred savages, as they rushed down the hill into the
gim-o-sell bushes below.

Our huzzahs could, however, hardly have sounded more pleasant to them,
as when finding we were discovered, we charged on their town. Fifty
rifles cracked almost instantaneously; a dozen Indians lay groaning
before their huts, and many supposed we had undisturbed possession.
Our firing had ceased and we were looking around for plunder, when
a rifle fired from the bushes below, struck a young Texan, Charley
Huston, standing by my side. He fell with a single groan, and we all
supposed him dead. My first impression was that I was shot, for I
plainly heard the ball strike and almost felt it. This was a surprise
that almost whipped us, for not knowing that the Indians had fire-arms,
we were only expecting arrows. Before that shot was fired, I had always
entertained the idea that I could run about as fast as common men (and
I was one of the first in the charge), but by the time I had collected
my wandering senses, I was nearly alone; the majority of the party some
thirty paces ahead, and running as if they never intended to stop.

Captain Burney and Mr. Savage were on top of the hill using every
exertion to make the company halt and form. He had partly succeeded,
when a pistol ball struck a man in the face, he fell, but raising
himself up said, “if we stay here we will be all shot” and a break was
made for the trees.

Still some few remained in rank and others slowly answered to the
orders to form, when our Second Lieutenant fell mortally wounded. He
was carried off, and every man took his tree.

The Indians had again possession of their Rancharia, and of a slight
eminence to the left, and were sending showers of bullets and arrows
upon us from three sides. These two points had to be gained even if it
cost half our men. Leaving then, enough to guard our present position,
the rest of us charged on the hill, took it, stormed the Rancharia,
took and burnt it, and returned to our former position with only one
man wounded, Wm. Little, shot through the lungs.

The close fighting was now over, for we could not give chase and were
forced to lie behind trees and rocks and pick out such as exposed
themselves. It was about half past ten when, finding it useless to
remain longer, litters were made for the wounded and we started for
camp. Then again we had warm work, for all down the pass, the Indians
had stationed themselves to fire on us, forcing us to charge on them
several times, for while we were in plain sight, they were completely
hid behind the gim-o-sell brush.

In our march back, the rear guard was kept at work about as hard as at
any time during the morning, but not a single man was hurt, and only
one mule was killed.

We moved our camp that night, six miles lower down, where we laid the
foundations of a fort and left thirty men to guard it and take care of
the wounded.

The rest of us started below the next morning, after burying Lieutenant
Skeane, who died in the night.

The Indians acknowledged to eleven men killed, though fifty killed
and wounded would be a moderate estimate. Our loss was seven
wounded--two mortally (as we then supposed, but Mr. Little finally

The force of the Savages consisted of, as near as could be ascertained,
four hundred warriors. We burned a hundred wigwams, several tons of
dried horse and mule meat, a great number of bows and arrows, and took
six mules.

Several amusing incidents occurred during the fight and others of the
most heroic bravery on the part of the Indians. One old squaw was
wounded accidentally at the first charge, and was unable to get off.
One of our men was going to finish her with his knife, but seeing it
was a woman he left her. No sooner had he gone than she picked up a bow
and lodged three arrows in another man. I believe she was not touched
after that.

The whole body of Indians seemed bent on killing Mr. Savage, partly
because he would not be their chief and lead them against the whites,
and partly because he was, they knew, our greatest dependence as guide,
and their particular dread. To kill him, many of them sacrificed their
own lives. They would come one at a time and, standing in open ground,
send arrows at him until shot down; and one old chief who used to cook
for Savage, would ask him after every shot where he had hit him. They
would talk to him to find out where he was, and as soon as he would
answer, the balls and arrows would fly thick around his head: but he
escaped unhurt; but as he said, worse frightened than he ever was
before. He did not fancy such partiality.

A large party has started on a second expedition, but I believe I am
perfectly satisfied with Indian fighting.


  NOTE.--It will have been observed that especial reference has twice
  been made to Gim-o-sell brush, a shrub that grows only on warm slatey
  soil, on Southern exposures, sought by Indians for winter quarters,
  and not on the granite cliffs and mountains of the Yosemite. I had
  not thought it necessary to draw upon nature for testimony, but a new
  generation has sprung into existence, and the eternal hills may speak
  to them.

The mining camp or village of Agua Fria, at the date of the
organization of the battalion, was the county seat of Mariposa County,
and the residence of the Sheriff, Major James Burney. Whittier’s
Hotel was the head-quarters for enlistment. Finding the number called
for incomplete, while yet in daily expectation of the arrival of the
mustering officer, James D. Savage made a rapid ride to the San Joaquin
diggings, and returned with men enough to complete the organization.

We were formally reported for duty, and went into camp about two miles
below Agua Fria, on about the 10th of Feb., 1851, but when mustered
in, the rolls were dated to include service from Jan. 24th, 1851, the
date of the last order of enlistment. An informal ballot was taken to
show the preference of the men for officers to command us, Major Burney
having previously declined, and when that had been demonstrated, other
aspirants were withdrawn by their friends, a formal ballot was taken
and a regular organization of three companies completed. The Governor
was duly notified of our proceedings, and in a few days the commissions
were received by our respective officers.

After a few days in camp on Agua Fria Creek, we moved down to a camp in
the foot hills, known afterwards as Lewis Ranch, where we had abundant
grass and good water, and there was established our head-quarters,
while waiting for Col. J. Neely Johnson and the U. S. Indian
Commission, as stated in this chapter.

After instructions were given us by Col. Johnson, and the Commission
had exhausted its eloquence upon the “Children of the Great Father at
Washington,” and had started for the Fresno, we were allowed to go in
pursuit of some very sly marauders who had stolen into our camp in the
night, loosened and run off some of our animals, and taken some others
herded in the foot hills, but no extended operations were allowed, as
Major Savage ordered us to be in readiness for a campaign against the
Yosemities, when the first big storm should come, that would prevent
their escape across the Sierra Nevada. After a few days’ delay the
storm did come with continued violence, as recorded.

In view of the facts and dates here given how absurd the statement
that we did not go to the Yosemite “until about the 5th or 6th of May,
1851.” Our idleness in camp from Feb. 10th and the patient indulgence
of the Commissioners, while waiting for the results of our first
operations, surpass belief.

And now I reluctantly notice an error of statement by Mr. Julius N.
Pratt in the _Century_ Magazine for December, 1890.

Had the usual courtesy been extended of allowing me to see and answer
Mr. Pratt’s erroneous impressions in the same number, I am convinced
that he would have kindly withdrawn his article. I am led to this
belief, not alone from letters received, but from the _internal
evidence_ of an upright character conveyed by Mr. Pratt’s graphic
account of “A Trip to California by way of Panama in 1849,” in the
_Century_ for April 1891.

The _Century_ Magazine is a most powerful disseminator of truth, or
error, and though I cannot hope for a complete vindication through this
volume, its readers shall have the facts of “The Date of Discovery”
set before them, “for a truthful regard for history” and my own
self-respect require it.

In the _Century_ Magazine for September, 1890, page 795, is an article
from my pen which gives the date of discovery of the Yosemite as
March, 1851. Mr. Pratt, in the December number following, assumes,
with “a truthful regard for history,” that I was in error, and gives
about “January 10th, 1851, as the approximate, if not exact date of
discovery.” Many of the men whom Mr. Pratt supposed to have been the
discoverers, were, or became, my own comrades. When Mr. Pratt’s article
appeared, I at once sent a reply, but it received no recognition.

Knowing that Mr. Theodore G. Palmer, of Newark, New Jersey, was in
the only engagement occurring with Indians in Mariposa county at the
time given by Mr. Pratt as the date of his supposed discovery of the
Yosemite, I wrote, requesting Mr. Palmer to call on the editor of the
_Century_ in my behalf.

In a letter of January 9th, 1891, Mr. Palmer wrote: “It is the
unexpected which always happens, and your communication to the
_Century_ in response to Pratt’s ‘California,’ was never received. Mr.
Johnson, the associate editor, received me very pleasantly. He assured
me that although he sent you an advance copy of Pratt’s article,
nothing had been received in the office from you since in reply, and he
presumed you had given up the case in default.

“I so completely satisfied him that Mr. Pratt is in error, that he
requested me to express my reasons in the _Century_, and to assure you
that any communication from you will always have respectful attention.”

On January 24th, 1891, Mr. R. W. Johnson, associate editor, wrote
me, saying: “Since telling your friend, Mr. Palmer, that we had not
received an article from you in reply to Mr. Pratt, we have discovered
the manuscript. We have in type a short note from Mr. Palmer which will
be acceptable to you.”

A few days after Mr. Johnson kindly sent me the proof. On March 12th,
1891, Mr. Johnson wrote me: “Mr. Pratt, after examination of the
subject, has written us a short letter, withdrawing his contention of
your claim to the discovery of the Yosemite, the publication of which
we trust will be satisfactory to you and also to Mr. Palmer. Will you
now tell us whether there is anything in this new claim that Walker was
the discoverer of the Valley?”

I at once saw that if Mr. Pratt’s retraction was published there would
be no need of the publication of Mr. Palmer’s communication. About this
time a letter of earlier date, January 28, 1891, was sent me by Mr.
Palmer, received from Mr. Pratt, in which the latter gentleman says:
“I enclose a letter which seems to prove that the party about which I
wrote to the _Century_ was not your party. One went to the North fork,
the other (yours) to the South.” That statement left no base whatever
for Mr. Pratt’s imaginary “fight at the Yosemite, and thus of the
discovery,” for the North Fork affair was not a battle at all, but “a
scare” on a fork which enters the Merced river thirty-five miles below
the Yosemite, and as for the battle fought on the 11th of January,
1851, by Major Burney’s company, in which Mr. Palmer was engaged, it
was not fought on the South fork or in any valley, but upon a high
mountain of the Fresno river.

Mr. Palmer now felt that his note to _The Century_ was too long
delayed, and wrote asking for its withdrawal or its publication. Mr. R.
U. Johnson replied: “_The Century_ is made up two months in advance,”
but that he intended inserting it in the April number, &c. Mr. Palmer
added in his letter to me, “I think he will.”

The matter had now become not only interesting, but amusing to me;
for very soon Mr. Palmer wrote, “whether my answer to Pratt will be
published or not, is doubtful. I infer (from a letter) that Pratt will
not rest quiescent under my contradiction.” Again Mr. Palmer wrote,
enclosing copy of letter to Mr. Johnson of March 14th, 1891, answering
Mr. Johnson’s Statement, “that Mr. Pratt, while being convinced of his
injustice to Dr. Bunnell and being ready himself to withdraw his former
statement, takes issue with you as to the identity of the two parties,”
and then Mr. Johnson asks, “would it not be just as well and more
effective if we were simply to print from Mr. Pratt that he is ‘pleased
to withdraw all contention of the claim made by Dr. Bunnell that he was
the original discoverer?’” Let me here say, in passing, that I never
made such a claim.

Mr. Palmer very properly objects to becoming the “scapegoat” for me or
any one else, and replying to Mr. Johnson, says: “Whether my letter is
printed or not, is a matter of entire indifference to me, (personally)
... it was only at your desire, and to please Dr. Bunnell, that I wrote
the little I did. I left you under the impression that you desired to
get at the exact facts and would be glad to rectify the injustice done
to the doctor by the publication of Mr. Pratt’s communication.... I
believe that the publication of my letter would not only gratify him,
but also place the _Century_ right upon the record, where it surely
desires to stand.”

Mr. Palmer could say no more, but to his great chagrin, but not
surprise, on March 17th, he received a letter of _thanks_ from the
associate editor of the _Century_, in which Mr. Johnson says: “Please
accept our thanks for your letter of the 14th, and for your obliging
attitude in the matter.” Whether any retraction from Mr. Pratt will
ever appear in the _Century_ is now, in view of the long delay, a
matter of great indifference to me.[7]

Now a few facts in regard to the Discovery of the Yosemite Valley by
Capt. Joseph Reddeford Walker, for whom Walker’s river, Lake and Pass
were named. It is not a new claim, as supposed by Mr. R. U. Johnson,
but appears in the _Peoples Encyclopædia_ and was set up in the _San
Jose Pioneer_ soon after Capt. Walker’s death, and answered by me in
the same paper in 1880.

I cheerfully concede the fact set forth in the _Pioneer_ article
that, “_His were the first white man’s eyes that ever looked upon the
Yosemite_” above the valley, and in that sense, he was certainly the
original white discoverer.

The topography of the country over which the Mono trail ran, and
which was followed by Capt. Walker, did not admit of his seeing
the valley proper. The depression indicating the valley, and its
magnificent surroundings, could alone have been discovered, and in
Capt. Walker’s conversations with me at various times while encamped
between Coultersville and the Yosemite, he was manly enough to say so.
Upon one occasion I told Capt. Walker that Ten-ie-ya had said that,
“A small party of white men once crossed the mountains on the north
side, but were so guided as not to see the valley proper.” With a smile
the Captain said: “That was my party, but I was not deceived, for the
lay of the land showed there was a valley below; but we had become
nearly bare-footed, our animals poor, and ourselves on the verge of
starvation, so we followed down the ridge to Bull Creek, where, killing
a deer, we went into camp.”

The captain remained at his camp near Coultersville for some weeks,
and disappeared as suddenly as he came. He once expressed a desire to
re-visit the region of the Yosemite in company with me, but could fix
no date, as he told me he was in daily expectation of a government
appointment as guide, which I learned was finally given him.

Captain Walker was a very eccentric man, well versed in the vocal
and sign languages of the Indians, and went at his will among them.
He may have visited the Yosemite from his camp before leaving. I was
strongly impressed by the simple and upright character of Captain
Walker, and his mountain comrades spoke in the highest praise of his
ability. Fremont, Kit Carson, Bill Williams, Alex Gody, Vincenthaler
(not Vincent Haler, as erroneously appeared in the March number of
the _Century_), Ferguson and others, all agreed in saying that as a
mountain man, Captain Walker had no superior.

Rev. D. D. Chapin, of Maysville, Kentucky, formerly rector of Trinity
Church, San Jose, and of St. Peter’s Church, San Francisco, as well as
editor of _Pacific Churchman_, kindly called my attention to a seeming
neglect of the claim for Captain Walker as the discoverer of the
Yosemite. All that I have ever claimed for myself is, that I was _one_
of the party of white men who first _entered_ the Yosemite valley, as
far as known to the Indians.

The fact of my naming the valley cannot be disputed. The existence of
some terribly yawning abyss in the mountains, guarded at its entrance
by a frightful “Rock Chief,” from whose head rocks would be hurled down
upon us if we attempted to enter that resort of demons, was frequently
described to us by crafty or superstitious Indians. Hence the greater
our surprise upon first beholding a fit abode for angels of light. As
for myself, I freely confess that my feelings of hostility against
the Indians were overcome by a sense of exaltation; and although I
had suffered losses of property and friends, the natural right of the
Indians to their inheritance forced itself upon my mind.

The Mariposa Battalion, was assigned by Governor McDougall to the duty
of keeping in subjection the Indian tribes on the east side of the
San Joaquin and Tulare valleys, from the Tuolumne river to the Te-hon
Pass. As soon as the battalion was organized, Major Savage began his
preparations for an expedition. There was but little delay in fitting
out. Scouting parties were sent out, but with no other effect than
to cause a general retreat of the Indians to the mountains, and a
cessation of hostilities, except the annoyances from the small bands
of thieving marauders. No Indians were overtaken by those detachments,
though they were often seen provokingly near. When about to start on
a more extended expedition to the mountains, Major Savage received an
order from the Governor to suspend hostile operations until he should
receive further instructions. We learned at about the same time through
the newspapers, as well as from the Governor’s messenger, that the
United States Commissioners had arrived in San Francisco. Their arrival
had for some time been expected.

Up to this period the Indian affairs of California had not been
officially administered upon. Public officers had not before been
appointed to look after the vast landed estates of the aboriginal
proprietors of this territory, and to provide for their heirs. After
some delay, the commissioners arrived at our camp, which was located
about fifteen miles below Mariposa village. Here the grazing was
most excellent, and for that reason they temporarily established
their head-quarters. These officials were Colonels Barbour and McKee,
and Dr. Woozencroft. They were accompanied by Col. Neely Johnson,
the Governor’s aid, and by a small detachment of regulars. The
commissioners at once proceeded to make a thorough investigation into
the cause of the war, and of the condition of affairs generally. Having
secured the services of some of the Mission Indians, these were sent
out with instructions to notify all the tribes that the commissioners
had been directed by the President to make peace between them and the
white settlers; and that if they would come in, they should be assured

The so-called Mission Indians were members of different tribes who
had been instructed in the belief of the Catholic Church, at the old
Spanish Missions. These Indians had not generally taken part in the war
against the white settlers, although some of them, with the hostiles,
were the most treacherous of their race, having acquired the vices and
none of the virtues of their white instructors.

During this period of preliminaries a few Indians ventured in to have
a talk with the commissioners. They were very shy and suspicious, for
all had been more or less implicated in the depredations that had been
committed. Presents were lavishly distributed, and assurances were
given that all who came in should be supplied with food and clothing
and other useful things. This policy soon became generally known to the

Among the delegations that visited the commissioners were
Vow-ches-ter,[8] chief of one of the more peaceful bands, and Russio,
a Mission Indian from the Tuolumne, but who in former years had
belonged to some of the San Joaquin tribes. These chiefs had always
appeared friendly, and had not joined in the hostile attitude assumed
by the others. At the outbreak on the Fresno, Vow-ches-ter had been
temporarily forced into hostilities by the powerful influence of Jose
Rey, and by his desire to secure protection to his relative, one of
Savage’s squaws. But with the fall of Jose Rey, his influence over
Vow-ches-ter declined, and he was once more left free to show his
friendship for the whites. As for Russio, his intelligent services
were secured as peace-maker and general Indian interpreter by the
commissioners, while a much less competent Mission Indian, Sandino,
served in the capacity of interpreter during expeditions into the

Having been assured of safety, these two chiefs promised to bring in
their people and make peace with the whites. All that came in promised
a cessation, on the part of their tribes, of the hostilities begun, for
which they were rewarded with presents.

Vow-chester when questioned, stated “that the mountain tribes would
not listen to any terms of peace involving the abandonment of their
territory; that in the fight near the North Fork of the San Joaquin,
Jose Rey had been badly wounded and probably would die; that his tribe
were very angry, and would not make peace.” We had up to this time
supposed Jose Rey had been killed at “Battle Mountain.” Russio said:
“The Indians in the deep rocky valley on the Merced river do not wish
for peace, and will not come in to see the chiefs sent by the great
father to make treaties. They think the white men cannot find their
hiding places, and that therefore they cannot be driven out.” The other
Indians of the party confirmed Russio’s statements. Vow-chester was the
principal spokesman, and he said: “In this deep valley spoken of by
Russio, one Indian is more than ten white men. The hiding places are
many. They will throw rocks down on the white men, if any should come
near them. The other tribes dare not make war upon them, for they are
lawless like the grizzlies, and as strong. We are afraid to go to this
valley, for there are many witches there.”

Some of us did not consider Vow-chester’s promise of friendship as
reliable. We regarded him as one of the hostile mountain Indians. He,
however, was never again engaged in hostilities against the whites.
I afterwards learned that Vow-chester and Savage had once professed a
strong friendship for each other. The trader at that time had taken a
bride who was closely allied to the chief. After the destruction of
Savage’s trading posts, in which Vow-chester had taken an active part
in procuring a forcible divorce and division of property (though the
murders were ascribed to the Chow-chillas), all forms of friendship
or relationship had ceased. At this interview no sign of recognition
passed. After listening to this parley between the Commissioners and
the Indians, I asked Major Savage, who had been acting as interpreter,
if he had ever been into the deep valley the Indians had been speaking
of. He at first replied that he had, but on a subsequent conversation
he corrected this statement by saying, “Last year while I was located
at the mouth of the South Fork of the Merced, I was attacked by the
Yosemites, but with the Indian miners I had in my employ, drove them
off, and followed some of them up the Merced river into a canon, which
I supposed led to their stronghold, as the Indians then with me said
it was not a safe place to go into. From the appearance of this rocky
gorge I had no difficulty in believing them. Fearing an ambush, I did
not follow them. It was on this account that I changed my location
to Mariposa creek. I would like to get into the den of the thieving
murderers. If ever I have a chance I will smoke out the Grizzly Bears
(the Yosemites) from their holes, where they are thought to be so

No peace messengers came in from the mountain Indians, who continued
to annoy the settlers with their depredations, thieving from the
miner’s camps, and stealing horses and mules from the ranches. While
we were awaiting the action of the commissioners, we lost some horses
and mules, which were stolen from the vicinity of our camp. After
the commissioners had decided upon the measures to be adopted, our
battalion was ordered into line and we were then officially informed
by Col. Johnson, that our operations as a military organization, would
henceforth be under the direction of the United States Commissioners.
That by their order we were now assigned to the duty of subduing such
Indian tribes as could not otherwise be induced to make treaties
with them, and at once cease hostilities and depredations. “Your
officers will make all reports to the commissioners. Your orders and
instructions will hereafter be issued by them.” The colonel then
complimented the soldierly appearance of the battalion (very customary
in later years) and then said: “While I do not hesitate to denounce
the Indians for the murders and robberies committed by them, we should
not forget that there may perhaps be circumstances which, if taken
into consideration, might to some extent excuse their hostility to
the whites. They probably feel that they themselves are the aggrieved
party, looking upon us as trespassers upon their territory, invaders of
their country, and seeking to dispossess them of their homes. It may
be, they class us with the Spanish invaders of Mexico and California,
whose cruelties in civilizing and christianizing them are still
traditionally fresh in their memories,” etc. In conclusion the colonel
said: “As I am about to leave, I will now bid you ‘good bye,’ with
the hope that your actions will be in harmony with the wishes of the
commissioners, and that in the performance of your duties, you will in
all cases observe mercy where severity is not justly demanded.”

Colonel Johnson gave us a very excellent little speech; but at that
time we were not fully impressed with the justness of the remarks which
had been made from kindness of heart and sincerely humane feelings.
Many of us had lost--some heavily--by the depredations of the Indians.
Friends and relatives had been victims of their atrocities. Murders and
robberies had been committed without provocations then discernible to
us. Many of us would then have been willing to adopt the methods of the
old Spanish missionaries, who, it was said, sometimes brought in their
converts with the lasso. However, these orders and the speech from Col.
Johnson were received with cheers by the more impatient and impulsive
of the volunteers, who preferred active service to the comparative
quiet of the camp.

The commissioners selected a reservation on the Fresno, near the
foot-hills, about eighteen or twenty miles from our camp, to which the
Indian tribes with whom treaties had been made were to be removed,
and at this locality the commissioners also established a camp, as

The deliberative action on the part of the commissioners, who were very
desirous of having the Indians voluntarily come in to make treaties
with them, delayed any active co-operation on the part of our battalion
until the winter rains had fully set in. Our first extended expedition
to the mountains was made during the prevailing storms of the vernal
equinox, although detachments had previously made excursions into
the country bordering upon the Sierras. This region, like parts of
Virginia, proved impassable to a mounted force during the wet season,
and our operations were confined to a limited area.

It was at last decided that more extended operations were necessary
to bring in the mountain tribes. Although there was no longer unity
of action among them, they refused to leave their retreats, and had
become even suspicious of each other. The defeat of Jose Rey, and the
desertion of the tribes who had made, or had promised to make, treaties
with the commissioners, and had ceased from all hostile demonstrations,
had caused jealousies and discontent to divide even the most turbulent
bands. For the extended operations of the battalion among the
mountains, it was decided that Major Savage, with the companies of
Captains Boling and Dill, should make expeditions which would require
him to traverse the regions of the San Joaquin and Merced rivers.
Captain Kuy-ken-dall with his company were to be detached to operate
for the same purpose in the regions of the Kings and Kah-we-ah rivers.
The Indians captured were to be escorted to the commissioners’ camp on
the Fresno. Notwithstanding a storm was gathering, our preparations
were cheerfully made, and when the order to “form into line” was given,
it was obeyed with alacrity. No “bugle call” announced orders to us;
the “details” were made quietly, and we as quietly assembled. Promptly
as the word of command “mount,” was given, every saddle was filled.
With “forward march,” we naturally filed off into the order of march so
readily assumed by mounted frontiersmen while traveling on a trail.

We left our camp as quietly and as orderly as such an undisciplined
body could be expected to move, but Major Savage said that we must all
learn to be as still as Indians, or we would never find them.

This battalion was a body of hardy, resolute pioneers. Many of them had
seen service, and had fought their way against the Indians across the
plains; some had served in the war with Mexico and been under military

Although ununiformed, they were well armed, and their similarities of
dress and accoutrements, gave them a general military appearance.

The temperature was mild and agreeable at our camp near the plain,
but we began to encounter storms of cold rain as we reached the more
elevated localities.

Major Savage being aware that rain on the foot-hills and plain at
that season of the year indicated snow higher up, sent forward scouts
to intercept such parties as might attempt to escape, but the storm
continued to rage with such violence as to render this order useless,
and we found the scouts awaiting us at the foot of a mountain known
as the Black Ridge. This ridge is a spur of the Sierra Nevada. It
separates the Mariposa, Chow-chilla, Fresno and San Joaquin rivers on
the south from the Merced on the north. While halting for a rest, and
sipping his coffee, Savage expressed an earnest desire to capture the
village he had ascertained to be located over the ridge on the south
fork of the Merced. He was of the opinion that if it could be reached
without their discovery of us, we should have no fighting to do there,
as that band would surrender at once rather than endanger their women
and children, who would be unable to escape through the snow. Toward
this village we therefore marched as rapidly as the nature of the
steep and snow-obstructed trail would permit us to travel. An Indian
that answered to the name of “Bob,” an _attaché_ of the Major, serving
as guide. Climbing up this steep black mountain, we soon reached the
region of snow, which at the summit, was fully four feet deep, though
the cold was not intense. By this time, night was upon us. The trail
led over the ridge at a point where its tabled summit was wooded with
a forest of pines, cedars and firs, so dense as almost to exclude the
light of the stars that now and then appeared struggling through the

We laboriously followed our guide and file leader, but this trail
was so indistinctly seen in the darkness, that at intervals deep
mutterings would be heard from some drowsy rider who missed the beaten
path. As we commenced the descent of the ridge, the expressions became
more forcible than polite when some unlucky ones found themselves
floundering in the snow below the uncertain trail. If left to their own
sagacity, a horse or mule will follow its leader; but if a self-willed
rider insists upon his own judgment, the poor animal has not only
to suffer the extra fatigue incurred by a mis-step, but also the
punishment of the spur, and hear the explosive maledictions of the
master. The irritating responses of his comrades that “another fool has
been discovered,” was not then calculated to sooth the wrath that was
then let loose.

With short halts and repeated burrowings in the deep, damp snow, the
South Fork of the Merced was at length reached about a mile below what
is now known as Clark’s, or Wah-wo-na, from Wah-ha wo-na, a Big Tree.
We here made a halt, and our weary animals were provided with some
barley, for the snow was here over a foot deep. The major announced
that it was but a short distance below to the Indian village, and
called for volunteers to accompany him--it might be for a fight or
perhaps only a foot-race--circumstances would determine which. The
major’s call was promptly and fully answered, although all were much
fatigued with the tedious night march. The animals were left, and a
sufficient number was selected to remain as a reserve force and camp
guard. At daylight we filed away on foot to our destination, following
the major who was guided by “Bob.”


  March Down the South Fork--Capture of an Indian Village--Hungry
  Men--An able Surgeon--Snow Storms--Visit of Ten-ie-ya, Chief
  of the Yosemites--Commander’s Dilemma--Unique Manner of
  Extrication--Approaching the Valley--First View--Sensations
  Experienced--A Lofty Flight Brought Down.

There was a very passable trail for horses leading down the right bank
of the river, but it was overlooked on the left bank by the Indian
village, which was situated on a high point at a curve in the river
that commanded an extensive view up and down. To avoid being seen, the
Major led us along down the left bank, where we were compelled, at
times, to wade into the rushing torrent to avoid the precipitous and
slippery rocks, which, in places, dipped into the stream. Occasionally,
from a stumble, or from the deceptive depths of the clear mountain
stream, an unfortunate one was immersed in the icy fluid, which seemed
colder than the snow-baths of the mountain. With every precaution, some
became victims to these mischances, and gave vent to their emotions,
when suddenly immersed, by hoarse curses, which could be heard above
the splash and roar of the noisy water. These men (headed by Surgeon
Bronson) chilled and benumbed, were sent back to the camp to “dry their
ammunition.”(?) After passing this locality--our march thus far having
alternated in snow and water--we arrived, without being discovered, in
sight of the smoke of their camp-fires, where we halted for a short

Major Savage gave some orders to Captain Boling which were not then
understood by me. On again resuming our march, the Major, with “Bob,”
started at a rapid step, while the others maintained a slow gait.

I followed the Major as I had been accustomed during the march. I soon
heard an _audible smile_, evidently at my expense. I comprehended that
I had somehow “sold” myself, but as the Major said nothing, I continued
my march. I observed a pleased expression in the Major’s countenance,
and a twinkle of his eyes when he glanced back at me as if he enjoyed
the fun of the “boys” behind us, while he increased his speed to an
Indian jog-trot. I determined to appear as unconscious, as innocent
of my blunder, and accommodate my gait to his movements. My pride or
vanity was touched, and I kept at his heels as he left the trot for a
more rapid motion. After a run of a mile or more, we reached the top
of a narrow ridge which overlooked the village. The Major here cast a
side glance at me as he threw himself on the ground, saying: “I always
prided myself on my endurance, but somehow this morning my bottom
fails me.” As quietly as I could I remarked that he had probably been
traveling faster than he was aware of, as “Bob” must be some way behind
us. After a short scrutiny of my unconcerned innocence, he burst into
a low laugh and said: “Bunnell, you play it well, and you have beaten
me at a game of my own choosing. I have tested your endurance, however;
such qualifications are really valuable in our present business.”
He then told me as I seated myself near him, that he saw I had not
understood the order, and had increased his speed, thinking I would
drop back and wait for the others to come up, as he did not wish to
order me back, although he had preferred to make this scout alone with
“Bob,” as they were both acquainted with the band and the region they
occupy. While we were resting “Bob” came up. The Major gave him some
direction in an Indian dialect I did not understand, and he moved on to
an adjoining thicket, while the Major and myself crawled to the shelter
of a bunch of blue brush (California lilac), just above where we had

After obtaining the desired information without being seen, Bob was
sent back to Captain Boling to “hurry him up.” While awaiting the
arrival of our command, I, in answer to his inquiries, informed the
Major that I had come to Detroit, Michigan, in 1833, when it was
but little more than a frontier village; that the Indians annually
assembled there and at Malden, Canada, to receive their annuities. At
that time, being but nine years of age, and related to Indian traders,
I was brought in contact with their customers, and soon learned their
language, habits and character, which all subsequent attempts to
civilize me had failed entirely to eradicate. This statement evidently
pleased the Major, and finding me familiar with frontier life, he
continued his conversation, and I soon learned that I was acquainted
with some of his friends in the Northwest. I have related this incident
because it was the beginning of an intimate friendship which ever
afterward existed between us.

On the arrival of Captains Boling and Dill with their respective
companies, we were deployed into skirmish line, and advanced toward
the encampment without any effort at concealment. On discovering us
the Indians hurriedly ran to and fro, as if uncertain what course
to pursue. Seeing an unknown force approaching, they threw up their
hands in token of submission, crying out at the same time in Spanish,
“_Pace! pace!_” (peace! peace!) We were at once ordered to halt while
Major Savage went forward to arrange for the surrender. The Major was
at once recognized and cordially received by such of the band as he
desired to confer with officially. We found the village to be that of
Pon-wat-chee, a chief of the Noot-chü tribe, whose people had formerly
worked for Savage under direction of Cow-chit-ty, his brother, and
from whose tribe Savage had taken Ee-e-ke-no, one of his former wives.
The chief professed still to entertain feelings of friendship for
Savage, saying that he was now willing to obey his counsels. Savage, in
response, lost no time in preliminary affairs.

He at once told the chief the object of the expedition, and his
requirements. His terms were promptly agreed to, and before we had time
to examine the captives or their wigwams, they had commenced packing
their supplies and removing their property from their bark huts. This
done, the torch was applied by the Indians themselves, in token of
their sincerity in removing to the Reservations on the Fresno.

By the Major’s orders they had at once commenced their preparations for
removal to a rendezvous, which he had selected nearly opposite this
encampment, which was accessible to horses. This plateau was also the
location designated for our camp. This camp was afterwards used by an
employé at the agency, whose name was Bishop, and was known as Bishop’s
Camp. It is situated on an elevated table, on the right side of the
valley of the South Fork.

While the Indians were preparing for their transfer to the place
selected, our tired and hungry men began to feel the need of rest and
refreshments. We had traveled a much longer distance since the morning
before than had been estimated in expectation of a halt, and many of
the men had not tasted food since the day before.

John Hankin told Major Savage that if a roast dog could be procured,
he would esteem it an especial favor. Bob McKee thought this a capital
time to learn to eat acorn bread, but after trying some set before him
by “a young and accomplished squaw,” as the Major cynically termed
her, concluded he was not yet hungry enough for its enjoyment.

A call was made for volunteers to go back to bring up the reserve
and supplies, but the service was not very promptly accepted. McKee,
myself and two others, however, offered to go with the order to move
down to the selected rendezvous. Three Indians volunteered to go with
us as guides; one will seldom serve alone. We found the trail on the
right bank less laborious to travel than was expected, for the snow
had mostly disappeared from the loose, sandy soil, which upon this
side of the river has a southwesterly exposure. On our arrival in camp
preparations were begun to obey the order of the Major. While coffee
was being prepared Doctor Bronson wisely prescribed and most skillfully
administered to us a refreshing draught of “_Aqua Ardente_.”

After a hasty _breakfast_, we took to our saddles, and taking a supply
of biscuits and cold meat, left the train and arrived at the new camp
ground just as our hungry comrades came up from the Indian village. The
scanty supplies, carried on our saddles, were thankfully received and
speedily disposed of. The Indians had not yet crossed the river. We
found that we had traveled about twelve miles, while our comrades and
the captives had accomplished only three.

From this camp, established as our headquarters, or as a base of
operations while in this vicinity, Major Savage sent Indian runners
to the bands who were supposed to be hiding in the mountains. These
messengers were instructed to assure all the Indians that if they
would go and make treaties with the commissioners, they would there be
furnished with food and clothing, and receive protection, but if they
did not come in, he should make war upon them until he destroyed them

Pon-wat-chee had told the Major when his own village was captured,
that a small band of Po-ho-no-chees were encamped on the sunny slope
of the divide of the Merced, and he having at once dispatched a runner
to them, they began to come into camp. This circumstance afforded
encouragement to the Major, but Pon-wat-chee was not entirely sanguine
of success with the Yosemites, though he told the Major that if the
snow continued deep they could not escape.

At first but few Indians came in, and these were very cautious--dodging
behind rocks and trees, as if fearful we would not recognize their
friendly signals.

Being fully assured by those who had already come in, of friendly
treatment, all soon came in who were in our immediate vicinity. None
of the Yosemites had responded to the general message sent. Upon a
special envoy being sent to the chief, he appeared the next day in
person. He came alone, and stood in dignified silence before one of
the guard, until motioned to enter camp. He was immediately recognized
by Pon-wat-chee as Ten-ie-ya, the old chief of the Yosemites, and was
kindly cared for--being well supplied with food--after which, with the
aid of the other Indians, the Major informed him of the wishes of the
commissioners. The old sachem was very suspicious of Savage, and feared
he was taking this method of getting the Yosemites into his power for
the purpose of revenging his personal wrongs. Savage told him that
if he would go to the commissioners and make a treaty of peace with
them, as the other Indians were going to do, there would be no more
war. Ten-ie-ya cautiously inquired as to the object of taking all the
Indians to the plains of the San Joaquin valley, and said: “My people
do not want anything from the ‘Great Father’ you tell me about. The
Great Spirit is our father, and he has always supplied us with all we
need. We do not want anything from white men. Our women are able to do
our work. Go, then; let us remain in the mountains where we were born;
where the ashes of our fathers have been given to the winds. I have
said enough!”

This was abruptly answered by Savage, in Indian dialect and gestures:
“If you and your people have all you desire, why do you steal our
horses and mules? Why do you rob the miners’ camps? Why do you murder
the white men, and plunder and burn their houses?”

Ten-ie-ya sat silent for some time; it was evident he understood what
Savage had said, for he replied: “My young men have sometimes taken
horses and mules from the whites. It was wrong for them to do so. It is
not wrong to take the property of enemies, who have wronged my people.
My young men believed the white gold-diggers were our enemies; we now
know they are not, and we will be glad to live in peace with them.
We will stay here and be friends. My people do not want to go to the
plains. The tribes who go there are some of them very bad. They will
make war on my people. We cannot live on the plains with them. Here we
can defend ourselves against them.”

In reply to this Savage very deliberately and firmly said: “Your people
must go to the Commissioners and make terms with them. If they do not,
your young men will again steal our horses, your people will again kill
and plunder the whites. It was your people who robbed my stores, burned
my houses, and murdered my men. If they do not make a treaty, your
whole tribe will be destroyed, not one of them will be left alive.”
At this vigorous ending of the Major’s speech, the old chief replied:
“It is useless to talk to you about who destroyed your property and
killed your people. If the Chow-chillas do not boast of it, they are
cowards, for they led us on. I am old and you can kill me if you will,
but what use to lie to you who know more than all the Indians, and can
beat them in their big hunts of deer and bear. Therefore I will not
lie to you, but promise that if allowed to return to my people I will
bring them in.” He was allowed to go. The next day he came back, and
said his people would soon come to our camp; that when he had told them
they could come with safety they were willing to go and make a treaty
with the men sent by the “Great Father,” who was so good and rich.
Another day passed, but no Indians made their appearance from the “deep
valley,” spoken of so frequently by those at our camp. The old chief
said the snow was so deep that they could not travel fast, that his
village was so far down (gesticulating, by way of illustration, with
his hands) that when the snow was deep on the mountains they would be
a long time climbing out of it. As we were at the time having another
storm Ten-ie-ya’s explanation was accepted, but was closely watched.

The next day passed without their coming, although the snow storm had
ceased during the night before. It was then decided that it would be
necessary to go to the village of the Yosemites, and bring them in; and
in case they could not be found there, to follow to their hiding-places
in the deep cañon, so often represented as such a dangerous locality.
Ten-ie-ya was questioned as to the route and the time it would take his
people to come in; and when he learned we were going to his village,
he represented that the snow was so deep that the horses could not
go through it. He also stated that the rocks were so steep that our
horses could not climb out of the valley if they should go into it.
Captain Boling caused Ten-ie-ya’s statements to be made known to his
men. It was customary in all of our expeditions where the force was
divided, to call for volunteers. The men were accordingly drawn up
into line, and the call made that all who wished to go to the village
of the Yosemites were to step three paces to the front. When the
order to advance was given, to the surprise of Captains Boling and
Dill, each company moved in line as if on parade. The entire body had
volunteered. As a camp-guard was necessary, a call was then made for
volunteers for this duty. When the word “march” was again repeated, but
a limited number stepped to the front. Captain Boling, with a smile on
his good-natured face, said: “A camp-guard will have to be provided
in some way. I honor the sentiment that prompted you all to volunteer
for the exploration, and I also appreciate the sacrifice made by those
who are willing to stay; but these are too few. Our baggage, supplies
and Indian captives must be well guarded. I endeavored to make the
choice of duty voluntary, by representing the difficulties that might
reasonably be expected, and thus secure those best suited for the
respective duty of field and camp. I am baffled, but not defeated, for
I have another test of your fitness; it is a foot-race. You know it has
been represented to us by Ten-ie-ya that the route to his village is an
extremely difficult one, and impassable for our horses. It may not be
true, but it will be prudent to select men for the expedition who have
proved their endurance and fleetness. I now propose that you decide
what I have found so difficult.”

This proposition was received with shouts of laughter, and the
arrangements for the contest were at once commenced, as it afforded a
source of frolicsome amusement. A hundred yards were paced off, and the
goal conspicuously marked. A distance line was to determine who should
constitute the camp-guard. I doubt if such boisterous hilarity and
almost boyish merriment was ever before seen while making a detail from
any military organization.

The Indians were at first somewhat alarmed at the noisy preparations,
and began to be fearful of their safety, but on learning the cause
of the excitement, they, too, became interested in the proceedings,
and expressed a desire to participate in the race. Two or three were
allowed to join in as proxies for the _“heavy ones”_ who concluded not
to run, though willing to pay the young Indians to represent them in
the race, provided they came out ahead. One young Indian did beat every
man, except Bob McKee, for whom he manifested great admiration. Many
anxious ones ran bare-footed in the snow. The Indian’s motions were
not impeded by any civilized garments; a modest waist cloth was all
they had on. In subsequent races, after a long rest, several of our
men demonstrated that their racing powers were superior to the fastest
of the Indian runners. Captain Boling’s racing scheme brought out the
strong points of the runners. Enough were distanced in both companies
to secure an ample camp-guard. The envious guard raised the point that
this method of detail was simply a proof of legs, not brains. It was
reported in camp that Captain Boling had kept a record of the speedy
ones which he had filed away for future use in cases where fleetness of
foot would be required for extra duties.

Preparations were made for an early start the next morning. The officer
to be left in charge of the camp was instructed to allow the Indians
all liberty consistent with _safety_, and to exercise no personal
restraint over them unless there should be an evident attempt to
leave in a body; when, of course, any movement of the kind was to
be defeated. The Major said: “I deem the presence of the women and
children a sufficient hostage for the peaceful conduct of the men,
but do not allow _any of them_ to enter our tents, or we may lose

This last injunction was to guard against annoyance from vermin. The
_pediculi_ of the Indian race have an especial affinity for them. White
people have but little to fear from Indian vermin except the temporary
annoyance that is experienced from some species that infest animals and
birds. They do not find the transfer congenial, and soon disappear.
This fact may not be generally known, but I believe it to be a normal
arrangement for the exclusive _comfort_ of the Indian.

To me this is quite suggestive, when considered as evidence of a
diversity of origin of the races. I have been very particular in
my observations in this matter, and have compared my own with the
experiences of others, and have been led to the conclusion that each
separate race has parasites indigenous to that race, although the genus
may be common to each.

This reluctant adaptability of these “entomological inconveniences”
saved us from one of the curses of the ancient Egyptians, when contact
was unavoidable.

As no information had been received from the camp of the Yosemites,
after an early breakfast, the order was passed to “fall in,” and when
the order “march” was given, we moved off in single file, Savage
leading, with Ten-ie-ya as guide.

From the length of time taken by the chief to go and return from his
encampment, it was supposed that with horses, and an early start, we
should be able to go and return the same day, if for any cause it
should be deemed desirable, although sufficient supplies were taken, in
case of a longer delay.

While ascending to the divide between the South Fork and the main
Merced we found but little snow, but at the divide, and beyond, it was
from three to five feet in depth, and in places much deeper. The sight
of this somewhat cooled our ardor, but none asked for a “_furlough_.”

To somewhat equalize the laborious duties of making a trail, each man
was required to take his turn in front. The leader of the column was
frequently changed; no horse or mule could long endure the fatigue
without relief. To effect this, the tired leader dropped out of line,
resigning his position to his followers, taking a place in the rear,
on the beaten trail, exemplifying, that “the first shall be last, and
the last shall be first.” The snow packed readily, so that a very
comfortable trail was left in the rear of our column.

Old Ten-ie-ya relaxed the rigidity of his bronze features, in
admiration of our method of making a trail, and assured us, that,
notwithstanding the depth of snow, we would soon reach his village. We
had in our imaginations pictured it as in some deep rocky canon in the

While in camp the frantic efforts of the old chief to describe the
location to Major Savage, had resulted in the unanimous verdict among
the “boys,” who were observing him, that “it must be a devil of a
place.” Feeling encouraged by the hope that we should soon arrive
at the residences of his Satanic majesty’s subjects, we wallowed
on, alternately becoming the object of a joke, as we in turn were
extricated from the drifts. When we had traversed a little more than
half the distance, as was afterwards proved, we met the Yosemites on
their way to our rendezvous on the South Fork.

As they filed past us, the major took account of their number, which
was but seventy-two. As they reached our beaten trail, satisfaction
was variously expressed, by grunts from the men, by the low rippling
laughter from the squaws, and by the children clapping their hands in
glee at the sight. On being asked where the others of his band were,
the old Sachem said, “This is all of my people that are willing to
go with me to the plains. Many that have been with me are from other
tribes. They have taken wives from my band; all have gone with their
wives and children to the Tuolumne and to the Monos.” Savage told
Ten-ie-ya that he was telling him that which was not true. The Indians
could not cross the mountains in the deep snow, neither could they go
over the divide of the Tuolumne. That he knew they were still at his
village or in hiding places near it. Ten-ie-ya assured the major he was
telling him the truth, and in a very solemn manner declared that none
of his band had been left behind--that all had gone before his people
had left. His people had not started before because of the snow storm.

With a belief that but a small part of Ten-ie-ya’s band was with
this party, Major Savage decided to go on to the Indian village and
ascertain if any others could be found or traces of them discovered.
This decision was a satisfactory one and met with a hearty approval as
it was reported along the line.

This tribe had been estimated by Pon-wat-chee and Cow-chit-tee,
as numbering more than two hundred; as about that number usually
congregated when they met together to “_cache_” their acorns in the
valley, or for a grand annual hunt and drive of game; a custom which
secured an abundant supply for the feast that followed.

At other times they were scattered in bands on the sunny slopes of the
ridges, and in the mountain glens. Ten-ie-ya had been an unwilling
guide thus far, and Major Savage said to him: “You may return to camp
with your people, and I will take one of your young men with me. There
are but few of your people here. Your tribe is large. I am going to
your village to see your people, who will not come with you. They
_will_ come with me if I find them.”

Savage then selected one of the young “braves” to accompany him.
Ten-ie-ya replied, as the young Indian stepped forward by his
direction, “I will go with my people; my young man shall go with you to
my village. You will not find any people there. I do not know where
they are. My tribe is small--not large, as the white chief has said.
The Pai-utes and Mono’s are all gone. Many of the people with my tribe
are from western tribes that have come to me and do not wish to return.
If they go to the plains and are seen, they will be killed by the
friends of those with whom they had quarreled. I have talked with my
people and told them I was going to see the white chiefs sent to make
peace. I was told that I was growing old, and it was well that I should
go, but that young and strong men can find plenty in the mountains;
therefore why should they go? to be yarded like horses and cattle. My
heart has been sore since that talk, but I am now willing to go, for it
is best for my people that I do so.”

The Major listened to the old Indian’s volubility for awhile, but
interrupted him with a cheering “Forward march!” at which the impatient
command moved briskly forward over the now partly broken trail, leaving
the chief alone, as his people had already gone on.

We found the traveling much less laborious than before, and it seemed
but a short time after we left the Indians before we suddenly came
in full view of the valley in which was the village, or rather the
encampments of the Yosemities. The immensity of rock I had seen in
my vision on the Old Bear Valley trail from Ridley’s Ferry was here
presented to my astonished gaze. The mystery of that scene was here
disclosed. My awe was increased by this nearer view. The face of the
immense cliff was shadowed by the declining sun; its outlines only had
been seen at a distance. This towering mass

    “Fools our fond gaze, and greatest of the great,
    Defies at first our Nature’s littleness,
    Till, growing with (to) its growth, we thus dilate
    Our spirits to the size of that they contemplate.”

That stupendous cliff is now known as “El Capitan” (the Captain), and
the plateau from which we had our first view of the valley, as Mount

[Illustration: EL CAPITAN.

(3,300 feet in height.)]

It has been said that “it is not easy to describe in words the precise
impressions which great objects make upon us.” I cannot describe how
completely I realized this truth. None but those who have visited
this most wonderful valley, can even imagine the feelings with which
I looked upon the view that was there presented. The grandeur of the
scene was but softened by the haze that hung over the valley,--light as
gossamer--and by the clouds which partially dimmed the higher cliffs
and mountains. This obscurity of vision but increased the awe with
which I beheld it, and as I looked, a peculiar exalted sensation seemed
to fill my whole being, and I found my eyes in tears with emotion.

During many subsequent visits to this locality, this sensation was
never again so fully aroused. It is probable that the shadows fast
clothing all before me, and the vapory clouds at the head of the
valley, leaving the view beyond still undefined, gave a weirdness to
the scene, that made it so impressive; and the conviction that it
was utterly indescribable added strength to the emotion. It is not
possible for the same intensity of feeling to be aroused more than once
by the same object, although I never looked upon these scenes except
with wonder and admiration.

Richardson, in his admirable work, “Beyond the Mississippi,” says:
“See Yosemite and die! I shall not attempt to describe it; the subject
is too large and my capacity too small.... Painfully at first these
stupendous walls confuse the mind. By degrees, day after day, the
sight of them clears it, until at last one receives a just impression
of their solemn immensity.... Volumes ought to be and will be written
about it.”

Mr. Richardson has expressed in graphic language the impressions
produced upon nearly all who for the first time behold this wonderful
valley. The public has now, to a certain degree, been prepared for
these scenes.

They are educated by the descriptions, sketches, photographs and
masterly paintings of Hill and Bierstadt; whereas, on our first visit,
our imagination had been misled by the descriptive misrepresentations
of savages, whose prime object was to keep us from their safe retreat,
until we had expected to see some terrible abyss. The reality so little
resembled the picture of imagination, that my astonishment was the more

To obtain a more distinct and _quiet_ view, I had left the trail and my
horse and wallowed through the snow alone to a projecting granite rock.
So interested was I in the scene before me, that I did not observe that
my comrades had all moved on, and that I would soon be left indeed
alone. My situation attracted the attention of Major Savage,--who was
riding in rear of column,--who hailed me from the trail below with,
“you had better wake up from that dream up there, or you may lose
your hair; I have no faith in Ten-ie-ya’s statement that there are no
Indians about here. We had better be moving; some of the murdering
devils may be lurking along this trail to pick off stragglers.” I
hurriedly joined the Major on the descent, and as other views presented
themselves, I said with some enthusiasm, “If my hair is now required,
I can depart in peace, for I have here seen the power and glory of a
Supreme being; the majesty of His handy-work is in that ‘Testimony of
the Rocks.’ That mute appeal--pointing to El Capitan--illustrates it,
with more convincing eloquence than can the most powerful arguments of
surpliced priests.” “Hold up, Doc! you are soaring too high for me; and
perhaps for yourself. This is rough riding; we had better mind this
devilish trail, or we shall go _soaring_ over some of these slippery
rocks.” We, however, made the descent in safety. When we overtook the
others, we found blazing fires started, and preparations commenced to
provide supper for the hungry command; while the light-hearted “boys”
were indulging their tired horses with the abundant grass found on the
meadow near by, which was but lightly covered with snow.

Mr. J. M. Hutchings has recently cited Elliott’s History of Fresno
County and dispatches from Major Savage as proof that it was May 5th
or 6th, 1851, that the Mariposa Battalion first entered the Yosemite.
As a matter of fact, our adjutant was not with us when the discovery
was made in March, nor was there ever but two companies in the Yosemite
at any time, Boling’s and part of Dill’s. Captain Dill himself was
detailed for duty at the Fresno, after the expedition in March, as
was also the adjutant. In making out his report, Mr. Lewis must have
ignored the first entry of the valley by the few men who discovered it,
and made his first entry to appear as the date of the discovery. This
may or may not have been done to give importance to the operations of
the battalion. I have never seen the report.


  Naming the Valley--Signification and Origin of the Word--Its proper
  Pronunciation: Yo-sem-i-ty--Mr. Hutchings and Yo-Ham-i-te--His
  Restoration of Yo-sem-i-te.

My devout astonishment at the supreme grandeur of the scenery by which
I was surrounded, continued to engross my mind. The warmth of the fires
and preparations for supper, however, awakened in me other sensations,
which rapidly dissipated my excitement. As we rode up, Major Savage
remarked to Capt. Boling, “We had better move on up, and hunt out the
“Grizzlies” before we go into camp for the night. We shall yet have
considerable time to look about this hole before dark.” Captain Boling
then reported that the young guide had halted here, and poured out a
volley of Indian lingo which no one could understand, and had given a
negative shake of his head when the course was pointed out, and signs
were made for him to move on. The Captain, not comprehending this
performance, had followed the trail of the Indians to the bank of the
stream near by, but had not ventured further, thinking it best to wait
for Major Savage to come up. After a few inquiries, the Major said
there was a ford below, where the Indians crossed the Merced; and that
he would go with the guide and examine it. Major Savage and Captains
Boling and Dill then started down to the crossing. They soon returned,
and we were ordered to arrange our camp for the night. Captain Boling
said the Merced was too high to ford. The river had swollen during the
day from the melting of the snow, but would fall again by morning.

The guide had told the Major there was no other way up the valley, as
it was impossible to pass the rocks on the south side of the stream.
From this, it was evident the Major had never before seen the valley,
and upon inquiry, said so. One of our best men, Tunnehill, who had been
listening to what the Captain was saying, very positively remarked: “I
have long since learned to discredit everything told by an Indian. I
never knew one to tell the truth. This imp of Satan has been lying to
the Major, and to me his object is very transparent. He knows a better
ford than the one below us.” A comrade laughingly observed: “Perhaps
you can find it for the Major, and help him give us an evening ride; I
have had all the exercise I need to-day, and feel as hungry as a wolf.”
Without a reply, Tunnehill mounted his little black mule and left at a
gallop. He returned in a short time, at the same rapid gate, but was
in a sorry plight. The mule and rider had unexpectedly taken a plunge
bath in the ice-cold waters of the Merced. As such mishaps excited but
little sympathy, Tunnehill was greeted with: “Hallo! what’s the matter,
comrade?” “Where do you get your washing done?” “Been trying to cool
off that frisky animal, have you?” “Old Ten-ie-ya’s Cañon is not in as
hot a place as we supposed, is it?” “How about the reliability of the
Indian race?” To all these bantering jokes, though in an uncomfortable
plight, Tunnehill, with great good nature, replied: “I am all right!
I believe in orthodox immersion, but this kind of baptism has only
_confirmed_ me in previous convictions.” The shivering mule was rubbed,
blanketed, and provided for, before his master attended to his own
comfort, and then we learned that, in his attempt to explore a way
across the Merced, his mule was swept off its feet, and both were
carried for some distance down the raging torrent.

[Illustration: BRIDAL VEIL FALL.

(630 feet in height.)]

After supper, guards stationed, and the camp fires plentifully provided
for, we gathered around the burning logs of oak and pine, found near
our camp. The hearty supper and cheerful blaze created a general good
feeling. Social converse and anecdotes--mingled with jokes--were
freely exchanged, as we enjoyed the solace of our pipes and warmed
ourselves preparatory to seeking further refreshment in sleep. While
thus engaged, I retained a full consciousness of our locality; for
being in close proximity to the huge cliff that had so attracted my
attention, my mind was frequently drawn away from my comrades. After
the jollity of the camp had somewhat subsided, the valley became the
topic of conversation around our camp fire. None of us at that time,
surmised the extreme vastness of those cliffs; although before dark,
we had seen El Capitan looking down upon our camp, while the “Bridal
Veil” was being wafted in the breeze. Many of us _felt_ the mysterious
grandeur of the scenery, as defined by our limited opportunity to study
it. I had--previous to my descent with the Major--observed the towering
height above us of the old “Rock Chief,” and noticing the length of the
steep descent into the valley, had at least some idea of its solemn

It may appear _sentimental_, but the coarse jokes of the careless,
and the indifference of the practical, sensibly jarred my more devout
feelings, while this subject was a matter of general conversation; as
if a sacred subject had been ruthlessly profaned, or the visible power
of Deity disregarded. After relating my observations from the “Old Bear
Valley Trail,” I suggested that this valley should have an appropriate
name by which to designate it, and in a tone of pleasantry, said to
Tunnehill, who was drying his wet clothing by our fire, “You are the
first white man that ever received any form of baptism in this valley,
and you should be considered the proper person to give a baptismal name
to the valley itself.” He replied, “If whisky can be provided for such
a ceremony, I shall be happy to participate; but if it is to be another
cold water affair, I have no desire to take a hand. I have done enough
in that line for to-night.” Timely jokes and ready repartee for a time
changed the subject, but in the lull of this exciting pastime, some one
remarked, “I like Bunnell’s suggestion of giving this valley a name,
and to-night is a good time to do it.” “All right--if you have got one,
show your hand,” was the response of another. Different names were
proposed, but none were satisfactory to a majority of our circle. Some
romantic and foreign names were offered, but I observed that a very
large number were canonical and Scripture names. From this I inferred
that I was not the only one in whom religious emotions or thoughts had
been aroused by the mysterious power of the surrounding scenery.

As I did not take a fancy to any of the names proposed, I remarked
that “an American name would be the most appropriate;” that “I could
not see any necessity for going to a foreign country for a name for
American scenery--the grandest that had ever yet been looked upon. That
it would be better to give it an Indian name than to import a strange
and inexpressive one; that the name of the tribe who had occupied it,
would be more appropriate than any I had heard suggested.” I then
proposed “that we give the valley the name of Yo-sem-i-ty, as it was
suggestive, euphonious, and certainly _American_; that by so doing,
the name of the tribe of Indians which we met leaving their homes in
this valley, perhaps never to return, would be perpetuated.” I was
here interrupted “Devil take the Indians and their names! Why should
we honor these vagabond murderers by perpetuating their name?” Another
said: “I agree with Tunnehill;----the Indians and their names. Mad
Anthony’s plan for me! Let’s call this Paradise Valley.” In reply, I
said to the last speaker, “Still, for a young man with such _religious
tendencies_ they would be good objects on which to develop your
Christianity.” Unexpectedly, a hearty laugh was raised, which broke up
further discussion, and before opportunity was given for any others to
object to the name, John O’Neal, a rollicking Texan of Capt. Boling’s
company, vociferously announced to the whole camp the subject of our
discussion, by saying, “Hear ye! Hear ye! Hear ye! A vote will now be
taken to decide what name shall be given to this valley.” The question
of giving it the name of Yo-sem-i-ty was then explained; and upon
a _viva voce_ vote being taken, it was almost unanimously adopted.
The name that was there and thus adopted by us, while seated around
our camp fires, on the first visit of a white man to this remarkable
locality, is the name by which it is now known to the world.

At the time I proposed this name, the signification of it (a grizzly
bear) was not generally known to our battalion, although “the
grizzlies” was frequently used to designate this tribe. Neither was it
pronounced with uniformity. For a correct pronunciation, Major Savage
was our best authority. He could speak the dialects of most of the
mountain tribes in this part of California, but he confessed that he
could not readily understand Ten-ie-ya, or the Indian guide, as they
appeared to speak a Pai-ute jargon.

Major Savage checked the noisy demonstrations of our “Master of
Ceremonies,” but approvingly participated in our proceedings, and
told us that the name was Yo-sem-i-ty, as pronounced by Ten-ie-ya, or
O-soom-i-ty, as pronounced by some other bands; and that it signified a
full-grown grizzly bear. He further stated, that the name was given to
old Ten-ie-ya’s band, because of their lawless and predatory character.

As I had observed that the different tribes in Mariposa County differed
somewhat in the pronunciation of this name, I asked an explanation of
the fact. With a smile and a look, as if he suspected I was quizzing
him, the Major replied: “They only differ, as do the Swedes, Danes and
Norwegians, or as in the different Shires of England; but you know
well enough how similar in sound words may be of entirely different
meaning, and how much depends on accent. I have found this to be the
greatest difficulty a learner has to contend with.”

After the name had been decided upon, the Major narrated some of his
experiences in the use of the general “sign language”--as a Rocky
Mountain man--and his practice of it when he first came among the
California Indians, until he had acquired their language. The Major
regarded the Kah-we-ah, as the parent language of the San-Joaquin
Valley Indians, while that in use by the other mountain tribes in their
vicinity, were but so many dialects of Kah-we-ah, the Pai-ute and more
Northern tribes. When we sought our repose, it was with feelings of
quiet satisfaction that I wrapped myself in my blankets, and soundly

I consider it proper, to digress somewhat from a regular narrative of
the incidents of our expedition, to consider some matters relative to
the name “Yosemity.” This was the form of orthography and pronunciation
originally in use by our battalion. Lieutenant Moore, of the U. S. A.
in his report of an expedition to the Valley in 1852, substituted
_e_ as the terminal letter, in place of _y_, in use by us; no doubt
thinking the use of _e_ more scholarly, or perhaps supposing Yosemite
to be of Spanish derivation. This orthography has been adopted, and is
in general use, but the proper pronunciation, as a consequence, is not
always attainable to the general reader.

Sometime after the name had been adopted, I learned from Major Savage
that Ten-ie-ya repudiated the name for the Valley, but proudly
acknowledged it as the designation of his band, claiming that “when he
was a young chief, this name had been selected because they occupied
the mountains and valleys which were the favorite resort of the Grizzly
Bears, and because his people were expert in killing them. That his
tribe had adopted the name because those who had bestowed it were
afraid of ‘the Grizzlies’ and feared his band.”

It was traditionary with the other Indians, that the band to which the
name Yosemite had been given, had originally been formed and was then
composed of outlaws or refugees from other tribes. That nearly all were
descendants of the neighboring tribes on both sides of “Kay-o-pha,” or
“_Skye Mountains_;” the “High Sierras.”

Ten-ie-ya was asked concerning this tradition, and responded rather
loftily: “I am the descendant of an Ah-wah-ne-chee chief. His people
lived in the mountains and valley where my people have lived. The
valley was then called Ah-wah-nee. Ah-wah-ne-chee signifies the
dwellers in Ahwahnee.”

I afterwards learned the traditional history of Ten-ie-ya’s ancestors.
His statement was to the effect, that the Ah-wah-ne-chees had many
years ago been a large tribe, and lived in territory now claimed by
him and his people. That by wars, and a fatal black-sickness (probably
smallpox or measles), nearly all had been destroyed. The survivors
of the band fled from the valley and joined other tribes. For years
afterward, the country was uninhabited; but few of the extinct tribe
ever visited it, and from a superstitions fear, it was avoided. Some of
his ancestors had gone to the Mono tribe and been adopted by them. His
father had taken a wife from that tribe. His mother was a Mono woman,
and he had lived with her people while young. Eventually, Ten-ie-ya,
with some of his father’s tribe had visited the valley, and claimed it
as their birth-right. He thus became the founder of the new tribe or
band, which has since been called the “Yosemite.”

It is very probable that the statement of Major Savage, as to the
origin of the name as applicable to Ten-ie-ya’s band; was traditional
with his informants, but I give credit to Ten-ie-ya’s own history of
his tribe as most probable.

From my knowledge of Indian customs, I am aware that it is not uncommon
for them to change the names of persons or localities after some
remarkable event in the history of either. It would not, therefore,
appear strange that Ten-ie-ya should have adopted another name for
his band. I was unable to fix upon any definite date at which the
Ah-wah-ne-chees became extinct as a tribe, but from the fact that some
of the Yosemites claimed to be direct descendants, the time could not
have been as long as would be inferred from their descriptions. When
these facts were communicated to Captain Boling, and Ah-wah-ne was
ascertained to be the _classical_ name, the Captain said that name
was all right enough for history or poetry, but that we could not
now change the name Yosemite, nor was it desirable to do so. I made
every effort to ascertain the signification of Ah-wah-ne, but could
never fully satisfy myself, as I received different interpretations
at different times. In endeavoring to ascertain from Ten-ie-ya his
explanation of the name, he, by the motion of his hands, indicated
depth, while trying to illustrate the name, at the same time plucking
grass which he held up before me. From these “_signs_” I inferred that
it must mean the deep grassy valley. Still, it may not mean that.
Sandino was unable to give its true signification, saying by way of
explanation that Ah-wah-ne was a name of the old tribe, that he did
not know how to translate. Major Savage also said that Ten-ie-ya and a
few of the old Indians in his band used words which he did not fully
understand, and which the others could neither use nor explain.

The dialect of the Yosemites was a composite of that of almost every
tribe around them; and even words of Spanish derivation were discovered
in their conversations.

It is not uncommon for the mountain men and traders, to acquire a mixed
jargon of Indian dialects, which they mingle with Spanish, French or
English in their talk to an extent sometimes amusing. The Indians
readily adopt words from this lingo, and learn to Anglicize Indian
names in conversation with “Americans.” This, when done by the Mission
Indians, who perhaps have already made efforts to improve the Indian
name with Mission Spanish, tends to mislead the inquirer after _“pure”
Indian names_.

The Mission Indians after deserting, introduced and applied Spanish
names to objects that already had Indian designations, and in this way,
new words are formed from corrupted Mission Spanish, that may lead to
wrong interpretations. I learned from Russio, the chief interpreter,
that sometimes more than one word was used to express the same object,
and often one word expressed different objects. As an illustration of
corrupted Spanish that passes for Indian, the words Oya (olla) and
Hoya, may be taken. Oya signifies a water pot, and Hoya, a pit hole.
From these words the Mission Indians have formed “Loya,” which is used
to designate camp grounds where holes in the rocks may be found near,
in which to pulverize acorns, grass seeds, &c., as well as to the
“Sentinel Rock,” from its fancied resemblance to a water pot, or long
water _basket_. Another source of difficulty, is that of representing
by written characters the echoing gutteral sounds of some Indian words.
While being aware of this, I can safely assert that Yosemite, is purer
and better Indian than is Mississippi, (“Me-ze-se-be,” the river that
runs every where; that is, “Endless river”) or many other names that
are regarded as good if not _pure Indian_.[9]

Our interpreters were, or had been, Mission Indians, who rendered
the dialects into as good Spanish as they had at command, but rather
than fail in their office, for want of words, they would occasionally
insert one of their own coining. This was done, regardless of the
consequences, and when chided, declared it was for our benefit they had
done so.

Attempts were made to supersede the name we had given the valley, by
substituting some fancied improvements. At first, I supposed these to
be simply changes rung on Yosemite, but soon observed the earnestness
of the sponsors in advocating the new names, in their magazine and
newspaper articles. They claimed to have acquired the _correct name_
from their Indian guides, employed on their visits to the Yosemite.

In 1855 Mr. J. M. Hutchings, of San Francisco, visited the Yosemite,
and published a description of it, and also published a lithograph of
the Yosemite Fall. Through his energetic efforts, the valley was more
fully advertised. He ambitiously gave it the name of Yo-Hamite, and
tenaciously adhered to it for some time; though Yosemite had already

The Rev. Doctor Scott, of San Francisco, in a newspaper
article--disappointing to his admirers--descriptive of his travels and
sojourn there, endeavored to dispossess both Mr. Hutchings and myself
of our names, and _named_ the valley Yo-Amite: probably as a _peace_
offering to us both.

I did not at first consider it good policy to respond to these
articles. I had no desire to engage in a newspaper controversy with
such influences against me; but after solicitations from Mr. Ayers, and
other friends, I gave the facts upon which were based editorials in
the “California Chronicle,” “Sacramento Union,” the Mariposa and other

By invitation of Mr. Hutchings, I had a personal interview with him in
San Francisco, relative to this matter, and at his request furnished
some of the incidents connected with our expedition against the
Indians, as hereinbefore narrated. These he published in his magazine,
and afterwards in his “Scenes of Wonder and Curiosity in California.”

This statement of facts was signed by myself, and certified to by
two members of the State legislature--James M. Roan and George H.
Crenshaw--as follows: “We, the undersigned, having been members of
the same company, and through most of the scenes depicted by Doctor
Bunnell, have no hesitation in saying that the article above is

Mr. Hutchings says: “We cheerfully give place to the above
communication, that the public may learn how and by whom this
remarkable valley was first visited and named; and, although we have
differed with the writer and others concerning the name given, as
explained in several articles that have appeared at different times in
the several newspapers of the day, in which Yo-Hamite was preferred;
yet as Mr. Bunnell was among the first to visit the valley, we most
willingly accord to him the right of giving it whatsoever name he

Mr. Hutchings then goes on to explain how he obtained the name
Yo-Hamite from his Indian guide Kos-sum; that its correctness was
affirmed by John Hunt, previous to the publication of the lithograph
of the great falls, etc., and during this explanation, says: “Up to
this time we have never heard or known any other name than Yosemite;”
and farther on in a manly way says: “Had we before known that Doctor
Bunnell and his party were the first whites who ever entered the valley
(although we have the honor of being _the first in later years to
visit it and call public attention to it_), we should long ago have
submitted to the name Doctor Bunnell had given it, as the discoverer of
the valley.”

After my interview with Mr. Hutchings--for I had never heard the
word Yo-Hamite until it was published by him--I asked John Hunt, the
Indian trader referred to, where he had got the word furnished to Mr.
Hutchings. John, with some embarrassment, said, that “Yo-Hem-i-te was
the way his Indians pronounced the name.” I asked what name? “Why,
Yosemite,” said John. But, I replied, you know that the Indian name
for the valley is Ah-wah-ne! and the name given by us was the name
of Ten-ie-ya’s band? “Of course, (said John,) but my Indians now
apply the word Yo-Hemite to the valley or the territory adjacent,
though their name for a bear is Osoomity.” John Hunt’s squaw was
called, and asked by him the meaning of the word, but confessed her
ignorance. Mr. Cunningham was also consulted, but could give us no
certain information; but surmised that the word had been derived from
“Le-Hamite ‘The Arrowwood.’” Another said possibly from “Hem-nock,” the
Kah-we-ah word for God. As to Yo-Amite, insisted on by Doctor Scott, I
made no effort to find an interpretation of it.


  Date of Discovery--First White Visitors--Captain Joe Walker’s
  Statement--Ten-ie-ya’s Cunning--Indian Tradition--A lying Guide--The
  Ancient Squaw--Destroying Indian Stores--Sweat-houses--The Mourner’s
  Toilet--Sentiment and Reality--Return to Head-quarters.

The date of our discovery and entrance into the Yosemite was about
the 21st of March, 1851. We were afterward assured by Ten-ie-ya and
others of his band, that this was the first visit ever made to this
valley by white men. Ten-ie-ya said that a small party of white men
once crossed the mountains on the North side, but were so guided as not
to see it; Appleton’s and the People’s Encyclopedias to the contrary

It was to prevent the recurrence of such an event, that Ten-ie-ya had
consented to go to the commissioner’s camp and make peace, intending to
return to his mountain home as soon as the excitement from the recent
outbreak subsided. The entrance to the Valley had ever been carefully
guarded by the old chief, and the people of his band. As a part of its
traditionary history, it was stated: “That when Ten-ie-ya left the
tribe of his mother and went to live in Ah-wah-ne, he was accompanied
by a very old Ah-wah-ne-chee, who had been the great ‘medicine man’ of
his tribe.”

It was through the influence of this old friend of his father that
Ten-ie-ya was induced to leave the Mono tribe, and with a few of
the descendants from the Ah-wah-nee-chees, who had been living with
the Monos and Pai-Utes, to establish himself in the valley of his
ancestors as their chief. He was joined by the descendants from the
Ah-wah-ne-chees, and by others who had fled from their own tribes to
avoid summary Indian justice. The old “medicine man” was the counselor
of the young chief. Not long before the death of this patriarch, as
if endowed with prophetic wisdom, he assured Ten-ie-ya that while he
retained possession of Ah-wah-ne his band would increase in numbers
and become powerful. That if he befriended those who sought his
protection, no other tribe would come to the valley to make war upon
him, or attempt to drive him from it, and if he obeyed his counsels he
would put a spell upon it that would hold it sacred for him and his
people alone; none other would ever dare to make it their home. He then
cautioned the young chief against the horsemen of the lowlands (the
Spanish residents), and declared that, should they enter Ah-wah-ne, his
tribe would soon be scattered and destroyed, or his people be taken
captive, and he himself be the last chief in Ah-wah-ne.

For this reason, Ten-ie-ya declared, had he so rigidly guarded his
valley home, and all who sought his protection. No one ventured to
enter it, except by his permission; all feared the “witches” there, and
his displeasure. He had “made war upon the white gold diggers to drive
them from the mountains, and prevent their entrance into Ah-wah-ne.”

The Yo-sem-i-tes had been the most warlike of the mountain tribes in
this part of California; and the Ah-wah-ne-chee and Mono members of
it, were of finer build and lighter color than those commonly called
“California Digger Indians.” Even the “Diggers” of the band, from
association and the better food and air afforded in the mountains, had
become superior to their inheritance, and as a tribe, the Yosemites
were feared by other Indians.

The superstitious fear of annihilation had, however, so depressed the
warlike ardor of Ten-ie-ya, who had now become an old man, that he
had decided to make efforts to conciliate the Americans, rather than
further resist their occupancy of the mountains; as thereby, he hoped
to save his valley from intrusion. In spite of Ten-ie-ya’s cunning,
the prophecies of the “old medicine” man have been mostly fulfilled.
White horsemen have entered Ah-wah-ne; the tribe has been scattered and
destroyed. Ten-ie-ya was the last chief of his people. He was killed by
the chief of the Monos, not because of the prophecy; nor yet because of
our entrance into his territory, but in retribution for a crime against
the Mono’s hospitality. But I must not, Indian like, tell the latter
part of my story first.

After an early breakfast on the morning following our entrance into the
Yosemite, we equipped ourselves for duty; and as the word was passed to
“fall in,” we mounted and filed down the trail to the lower ford, ready
to commence our explorations.

The water in the Merced had fallen some during the night, but the
stream was still in appearance a raging torrent. As we were about to
cross, our guide with earnest gesticulations asserted that the water
was too deep to cross, that if we attempted it, we would be swept down
into the cañon. That later, we could cross without difficulty. These
assertions angered the Major, and he told the guide that he lied;
for he knew that later in the day the snow would melt. Turning to
Captain Boling he said: “I am now positive that the Indians are in the
vicinity, and for that reason the guide would deceive us.” Telling the
young Indian to remain near his person, he gave the order to cross at

The ford was found to be rocky; but we passed over it without serious
difficulty, although several repeated their morning ablutions while
stumbling over the boulders.

The open ground on the north side was found free from snow. The trail
led toward “El Capitan,” which had from the first, been the particular
object of my admiration.

At this time no distinctive names were known by which to designate the
cliffs, waterfalls, or any of the especial objects of interest, and
the imaginations of some ran wild in search of _appropriate_ ones.
None had any but a limited idea of the height of this cliff, and but
few appeared conscious of the vastness of the granite wall before us;
although an occasional ejaculation betrayed the feelings which the
imperfect comprehension of the grand and wonderful excited. A few of us
remarked upon the great length of time required to pass it, and by so
doing, probably arrived at more or less correct conclusions regarding
its size.

Soon after we crossed the ford, smoke was seen to issue from a cluster
of manzanita shrubs that commanded a view of the trail. On examination,
the smoking brands indicated that it had been a picket fire, and we
now felt assured that our presence was known and our movements watched
by the vigilant Indians we were hoping to find. Moving rapidly on, we
discovered near the base of El Capitan, quite a large collection of
Indian huts, situated near Pigeon creek. On making a hasty examination
of the village and vicinity, no Indians could be found, but from
the generally undisturbed condition of things usually found in an
Indian camp, it was evident that the occupants had but recently left;
appearances indicated that some of the wigwams or huts had been
occupied during the night. Not far from the camp, upon posts, rocks,
and in trees, was a large _caché_ of acorns and other provisions.




(4,737 feet in height.)]

As the trail showed that it had been used by Indians going up, but a
short halt was made. As we moved on, a smoke was again seen in the
distance, and some of the more eager ones dashed ahead of the column,
but as we reached the ford to which we were led by the main trail
leading to the right, our dashing cavaliers rejoined us and again took
their places. These men reported that “fallen rocks” had prevented
their passage up on the north side, and that our only course was to
cross at the ford and follow the trail, as the low lands appeared too
wet for rapid riding. Recrossing the Merced to the south-side, we found
trails leading both up and down the river. A detachment was sent down
to reconnoitre the open land below, while the main column pursued its
course. The smoke we had seen was soon discovered to be rising from
another encampment nearly south of the “Royal Arches;” and at the forks
of the Ten-ie-ya branch of the Merced, near the south-west base of the
“Half Dome,” still another group of huts was brought to view.


(3,568 feet in height.)]

These discoveries necessitated the recrossing of the river, which
had now again become quite swollen; but by this time our horses and
ourselves had become used to the icy waters, and when at times our
animals lost their footing at the fords, they were not at all alarmed,
but vigorously swam to the shore.

Abundant evidences were again found to indicate that the huts here
had but just been deserted; that they had been occupied that morning.
Although a rigid search was made, no Indians were found. Scouting
parties in charge of Lieutenants Gilbert and Chandler, were sent out
to examine each branch of the valley, but this was soon found to be an
impossible task to accomplish in one day. While exploring among the
rocks that had fallen from the “Royal Arches” at the southwesterly
base of the North Dome, my attention was attracted to a huge rock
stilted upon some smaller ones. Cautiously glancing underneath, I was
for a moment startled by a living object. Involuntarily my rifle was
brought to bear on it, when I discovered the object to be a female; an
extremely old squaw, but with a countenance that could only be likened
to a vivified Egyptian mummy. This creature exhibited no expression of
alarm, and was apparently indifferent to hope or fear, love or hate. I
hailed one of my comrades on his way to camp, to report to Major Savage
that I had discovered a peculiar living ethnological curiosity, and to
bring something for it to eat. She was seated on the ground, hovering
over the remnants of an almost exhausted fire. I replenished her supply
of fuel, and waited for the Major. She neither spoke or exhibited any
curiosity as to my presence.

[Illustration: CATHEDRAL ROCKS

(2,660 feet in height.)]

Major Savage soon came, but could elicit nothing of importance from
her. When asked where her companions were, she understood the dialect
used, for she very curtly replied “You can hunt for them if you want
to see them”! When asked why she was left alone, she replied “I am
too old to climb the rocks”! The Major--forgetting the gallantry
due her sex--inquired “How old are you?” With an ineffably scornful
grunt, and a coquettish leer at the Major, she maintained an indignant
silence. This attempt at a smile, left the Major in doubt as to her
age. Subsequently, when Ten-ie-ya was interrogated as to the age
of this old squaw, he replied that “No one knows her age. That when
he was a boy, it was a favorite _tradition_ of the _old_ members of
his band, that when she was a child, the peaks of the Sierras were
but little hills.” This free interpretation was given by the Major,
while seated around the camp fire at night. If not _reliable_, it was
excessively amusing to the “Boys,” and added to the Major’s popularity.
On a subsequent visit to the Valley, an attempt was made to send the
old creature to the commissioner’s camp; she was placed on a mule and
started. As she could not bear the fatigue, she was left with another
squaw. We learned that she soon after departed “to _the happy land in
the West_.”

The detachment sent down the trail reported the discovery of a small
rancheria, a short distance above the “Cathedral Rocks,” but the huts
were unoccupied. They also reported the continuance of the trail down
the left bank. The other detachments found huts in groups, but no
Indians. At all of these localities the stores of food were abundant.

Their _cachés_ were principally of acorns, although many contained
bay (California laurel), Piñon pine (Digger pine), and chinquepin
nuts, grass seeds, wild rye or oats (scorched), dried worms, scorched
grasshoppers, and what proved to be the dried larvæ of insects, which
I was afterwards told were gathered from the waters of the lakes in
and east of the Sierra Nevada. It was by this time quite clear that
a large number of Ten-ie-ya’s band was hidden in the cliffs or among
the rocky gorges or cañons, not accessible to us from the knowledge
we then had of their trails and passes. We had not the time, nor had
we supplied ourselves sufficiently to hunt them out. It was therefore
decided that the best policy was to destroy their huts and stores, with
a view of starving them out, and of thus compelling then to come in and
join with Ten-ie-ya and the people with him on the reservation. At this
conclusion the destruction of their property was ordered, and at once
commenced. While this work was in progress, I indulged my curiosity
in examining the lodges in which had been left their home property,
domestic, useful and ornamental. As compared with eastern tribes, their
supplies of furniture of all kinds, excepting baskets, were meagre

These baskets were quite numerous, and were of various patterns and
for different uses. The large ones were made either of bark, roots of
the Tamarach or Cedar, Willow or Tule. Those made for gathering and
transporting food supplies, were of large size and round form, with
a sharp apex, into which, when inverted and placed upon the back,
everything centres. This form of basket enables the carriers to keep
their balance while passing over seemingly impassable rocks, and along
the verge of dangerous precipices. Other baskets found served as water
buckets. Others again of various sizes were used as cups and soup
bowls; and still another kind, made of a tough, wiry grass, closely
woven and cemented, was used for kettles for boiling food. The boiling
was effected by hot stones being continually plunged into the liquid
mass, until the desired result was obtained.

The water baskets were also made of “wire-grass;” being porous,
evaporation is facilitated, and like the porous earthen water-jars of
Mexico, and other hot countries, the water put into them is kept cool
by evaporation. There were also found at some of the encampments, robes
or blankets made from rabbit and squirrel skins, and from skins of
water-fowl. There were also ornaments and musical instruments of a rude
character. The instruments were drums and flageolets. The ornaments
were of bone, bears’ claws, birds’ bills and feathers. The thread used
by these Indians, I found was spun or twisted from the inner bark of
a species of the asclepias or milk-weed, by ingeniously suspending a
stone to the fibre, and whirling it with great rapidity. Sinews are
chiefly used for sewing skins, for covering their bows and feathering
their arrows. Their fish spears were but a single tine of bone, with a
cord so attached near the centre, that when the spear, loosely placed
in a socket in the pole, was pulled out by the struggles of the fish,
the tine and cord would hold it as securely as though held by a barbed

There were many things found that only an Indian could possibly use,
and which it would be useless for me to attempt to describe; such,
for instance, as stag-horn hammers, deer prong punches (for making
arrow-heads), obsidian, pumice-stone and salt brought from the eastern
slope of the Sierras and from the desert lakes. In the hurry of their
departure they had left everything. The numerous bones of animals
scattered about the camps, indicated their love of horse-flesh as a

Among these relics could be distinguished the bones of horses and
mules, as well as other animals, eaten by these savages. Deers and
bears were frequently driven into the valley during their seasons
of migration, and were killed by expert hunters perched upon rocks
and in trees that commanded their runways or trails; but their chief
dependence for meat was upon horseflesh.

Among the relics of stolen property were many things recognized by
our “boys,” while applying the torch and giving all to the flames.
A comrade discovered a bridle and part of a riata or rope which was
stolen from him with a mule _while waiting for the commissioners to
inquire into the cause of the war with the Indians_! No animals of any
kind were kept by the Yosemites for any length of time except dogs, and
they are quite often sacrificed to gratify their pride and appetite, in
a dog feast. Their highest estimate of animals is only as an article
of food. Those stolen from the settlers were not kept for their
usefulness, except as additional camp supplies. The acorns found were
alone estimated at from four to six hundred bushels.

During our explorations we were on every side astonished at the
colossal representations of cliffs, rocky cañons and water-falls which
constantly challenged our attention and admiration.

Occasionally some fragment of a garment was found, or other sign of
Indians, but no trail could be discovered by _our_ eyes. Tired and
almost exhausted in the fruitless search for Indians, the footmen
returned to the place at which they had left their horses in the
cañons, and in very thankfulness caressed them with delight.

In subsequent visits, this region was thoroughly explored and names
given to prominent objects and localities.

While searching for hidden stores, I took the opportunity to examine
some of the numerous sweat-houses noticed on the bank of the Merced,
below a large camp near the mouth of the Ten-ie-ya branch. It may
not be out of place to here give a few words in description of these
conveniences of a permanent Indian encampment, and the uses for which
they are considered a necessity.

The remains of these structures are sometimes mistaken for Tumuli.
They were constructed of poles, bark, grass and mud. The frame-work of
poles is first covered with bark, reeds or grass, and then the mud--as
tenacious as the soil will admit of--is spread thickly over it. The
structure is in the form of a dome, resembling a huge round mound.
After being dried by a slight fire, kindled inside, the mud is covered
with earth of a sufficient depth to shed the rain from without, and
prevent the escape of heat from within. A small opening for ingress
and egress is left; this comprises the extent of the house when
complete, and ready for use. These sweat-baths are used as a luxury, as
a curative for disease, and as a convenience for cleansing the skin,
when necessity demands it, although the Indian race is not noted for

As a luxury, no Russian or Turkish bath is more enjoyed by civilized
people, than are these baths by the Mountain Indians. I have seen a
half dozen or more enter one of these rudely constructed sweat-houses,
through the small aperture left for the purpose. Hot stones are taken
in, the aperture is closed until suffocation would seem impending,
when they would crawl out reeking with perspiration, and with a shout,
spring like acrobats into the cold waters of the stream. As a remedial
agent for disease, the same course is pursued, though varied at times
by the burning and inhalation of resinous boughs and herbs.

In the process for cleansing the skin from impurities, hot air alone is
generally used. If an Indian had passed the usual period for mourning
for a relative, and the adhesive pitch too tenaciously clung to his no
longer sorrowful countenance, he would enter, and re-enter the heated
house, until the cleansing had become complete.

The mourning pitch is composed of the charred bones and ashes of their
dead relative or friend. These remains of the funeral pyre, with the
charcoal, are pulverized and mixed with the resin of the pine. This
hideous mixture is usually retained upon the face of the mourner until
it wears off. If it has been well compounded, it may last nearly a
year; although the young--either from a super-abundance of vitality,
excessive reparative powers of the skin, or from powers of will--seldom
mourn so long. When the bare surface exceeds that covered by the pitch,
it is not a scandalous disrespect in the young to remove it entirely;
but a mother will seldom remove pitch or garment until both are nearly
worn out.

In their camps were found articles from the miners’ camps, and from the
unguarded “ranchman.” There was no lack of evidence that the Indians
who had deserted their villages or wigwams, were truly entitled to the
_soubriquet_ of “the Grizzlies,” “the lawless.”

Although we repeatedly discovered fresh trails leading from the
different camps, all traces were soon lost among the rocks at the
base of the cliffs. The debris or talus not only afforded places for
temporary concealment, but provided facilities for escape without
betraying the direction. If by chance a trail was followed for a while,
it would at last be traced to some apparently inaccessible ledge, or to
the foot of some slippery depression in the walls, up which we did not
venture to climb. While scouting up the Ten-ie-ya cañon, above Mirror
Lake, I struck the fresh trail of quite a large number of Indians.
Leaving our horses, a few of us followed up the tracks until they were
lost in the ascent up the cliff. By careful search they were again
found and followed until finally they hopelessly disappeared.

Tiring of our unsuccessful search, the hunt was abandoned, although we
were convinced that the Indians had in some way passed up the cliff.

During this time, and while descending to the valley, I partly realized
the great height of the cliffs and high fall. I had observed the
height we were compelled to climb before the Talus had been overcome,
though from below this appeared insignificant, and after reaching the
summit of our ascent, the cliffs still towered above us. It was by
instituting these comparisons while ascending and descending, that I
was able to form a better judgment of altitude; for while entering the
valley,--although, as before stated, I had observed the towering height
of El Capitan,--my mind had been so preoccupied with the marvelous,
that comparison had scarcely performed its proper function.

The level of the valley proper now appeared quite distant as we looked
down upon it, and objects much less than full size. As night was fast
approaching, and a storm threatened, we returned down the trail and
took our course for the rendezvous selected by Major Savage, in a grove
of oaks near the mouth of “Indian Cañon.”

While on our way down, looking across to and up the south or Glacier
Cañon, I noticed its beautiful fall, and planned an _excursion_ for
the morrow. I almost forgot my fatigue, in admiration of the solemn
grandeur within my view; the lofty walls, the towering domes and
numerous water-falls; their misty spray blending with the clouds
settling down from the higher mountains.

[Illustration: GLACIER FALL.

(550 feet in height.)]

The duties of the day had been severe on men and horses, for beside
fording the Merced several times, the numerous branches pouring over
cliffs and down ravines from the melting snow, rendered the overflow
of the bottom lands so constant that we were often compelled to splash
through the water-courses that later would be dry. These torrents
of cold water, commanded more especial attention, and excited more
_comment_ than did the grandeur of the cliffs and water-falls. We
were not a party of tourists, seeking recreation, nor philosophers
investigating the operations of nature. Our business there was to
find Indians who were endeavoring to escape from our _charitable_
intentions toward them. But very few of the volunteers seemed to have
any appreciation of the wonderful proportions of the enclosing granite
rocks; their curiosity had been to see the stronghold of the enemy, and
the _general_ verdict was that it was gloomy enough.

Tired and wet, the independent scouts sought the camp and reported
their failures. Gilbert and Chandler came in with their detachments
just at dark, from their tiresome explorations of the southern
branches. Only a small squad of their commands climbed above the
Vernal and Nevada falls; and seeing the clouds resting upon the
mountains above the Nevada Fall, they retraced their steps through
the showering mist of the Vernal, and joined their comrades, who had
already started down its rocky gorge. These men found no Indians, but
they were the first discoverers of the Vernal and Nevada Falls, and the
Little Yosemite. They reported what they had seen to their assembled
comrades at the evening camp-fires. Their names have now passed from my
memory--not having had an intimate personal acquaintance with them--for
according to my recollection they belonged to the company of Capt. Dill.

While on our way down to camp we met Major Savage with a detachment
who had been burning a large _caché_ located in the fork, and another
small one below the mouth of the Ten-ie-ya branch. This had been held
in reserve for possible use, but the Major had now fired it, and the
flames were leaping high. Observing his movements for a few moments
we rode up and made report of our unsuccessful efforts. I briefly,
but with some enthusiasm, described my view from the cliff up the
North Cañon, the Mirror Lake view of the Half Dome, the Fall of the
South Cañon and the view of the distant South Dome. I volunteered a
suggestion that some new tactics would have to be devised before we
should be able to corral the “Grizzlies” or “smoke them out.” The Major
looked up from the charred mass of burning acorns, and as he glanced
down the smoky valley, said: “This affords us the best prospect
of any yet discovered; just look!” “Splendid!” I promptly replied,
“Yo-sem-i-te must be beautifully grand a few weeks later, when the
foliage and flowers are at their prime, and the rush of water has
somewhat subsided. Such cliffs and water-falls I never saw before, and
I doubt if they exist in any other place.”

[Illustration: VERNAL FALL.

(350 feet in height.)]

I was surprised and somewhat irritated by the hearty laugh with which
my reply was greeted. The Major caught the expression of my eye and
shrugged his shoulders as he hastily said: “I suppose that is all
right, Doctor, about the water-falls, &c., for there are enough of them
here for one locality, as we have all discovered; but my remark was not
in reference to the scenery, but the _prospect_ of the Indians being
starved out, and of their coming in to sue for peace. We have all been
more or less wet since we rolled up our blankets this morning, and this
fire is very enjoyable, but the prospect that it offers to my mind of
_smoking out_ the Indians, is more agreeable to me than its warmth or
all the scenery in creation. I know, Doc., that there is a good deal of
iron in you, but there is also considerable sentiment, and I am not in
a very sentimental mood.” I replied that I did not think that any of us
felt very much like making love or writing poetry, but that Ten-ie-ya’s
remark to him about the “Great Spirit” providing so bountifully for
his people, had several times occurred to me since entering here, and
that no doubt to Ten-ie-ya, this was a veritable Indian paradise.
“Well,” said the Major, “as far as that is concerned, although I have
not carried a Bible with me since I became a mountain-man, I remember
well enough that Satan entered paradise and did all the mischief he
could, but I intend to be a bigger devil in this Indian paradise than
old Satan ever was; and when I leave, I don’t intend to _crawl_ out,
either. Now Doc. we will go to camp but let me say while upon the
subject, that we are in no condition to judge fairly of this valley.
The annoyances and disappointments of a fruitless search, together with
the certainty of a snow-storm approaching, makes all this beautiful
scenery appear to me gloomy enough. In a word, it is what we supposed
it to be before seeing it, a h---- of a place. The valley, no doubt,
will always be a wonder for its grouping of cliffs and water-falls, but
hemmed in by walls of rock, your vision turned in, as it were, upon
yourself--a residence here would be anything but desirable for me. Any
one of the Rocky Mountain parks would be preferable, while the ease
with which buffalo, black-tail and big-horn could be provided in the
“Rockies” would, in comparison, make your Indian paradise anything but
desirable, even for these Indians.”

[Illustration: NEVADA FALL.

(600 feet in height.)]

The more practical tone and views of the Major dampened the ardor of my
fancy in investing the valley with all desirable qualities, but as we
compared with each other the experiences of the day, it was very clear
that the half had not yet been seen or told, and that repeated views
would be required before any one person could say that he had seen the
Yosemite. It will probably be as well for me to say here that though
Major Savage commanded the first expedition to the valley, he never
revisited it, and died without ever having seen the Vernal and Nevada
Falls, or any of the views belonging to the region of the Yosemite,
except those seen from the valley and from the old Indian trail on our
first entrance.

We found our camp had been plentifully supplied with dry wood by the
provident guard, urged, no doubt, by the threatening appearances of
another snow-storm. Some rude shelters of poles and brush were thrown
up around the fires, on which were placed the drying blankets, the
whole serving as an improvement on our bivouac accomodations. The night
was colder than the previous one, for the wind was coming down the
cañons of the snowy Sierras. The fires were lavishly piled with the dry
oak wood, which sent out a glowing warmth. The fatigue and exposure of
the day were forgotten in the hilarity with which supper was devoured
by the hungry scouts while steaming in their wet garments. After supper
Major Savage announced that “from the very extensive draft on the
commissary stores just made, it was necessary to return to the ‘South
Fork.’” He said that it would be advisable for us to return, as we were
not in a condition to endure delay if the threatened storm should prove
to be a severe one; and ordered both Captains Boling and Dill to have
their companies ready for the march at daylight the next morning.

While enjoying the warmth of the fire preparatory to a night’s rest,
the incidents of our observations during the day were interchanged.
The probable heights of the cliffs was discussed. One _official_
estimated “El Capitan” at 400 feet!! Capt. Boling at 800 feet; Major
Savage was in no mood to venture an opinion. My estimate was a sheer
perpendicularity of at least 1500 feet. Mr. C. H. Spencer, son of Prof.
Thomas Spencer, of Geneva, N. Y.,--who had traveled quite extensively
in Europe,--and a French gentleman, Monsieur Bouglinval, a civil
engineer, who had joined us for the sake of adventure, gave me their
opinions that my estimate was none too high; that it was probable that
I was far below a correct measurement, for when there was so much
sameness of height the judgment could not very well be assisted by
comparison, and hence instrumental measurements alone could be relied
on. Time has demonstrated the correctness of their opinions. These
gentlemen were men of education and practical experience in observing
the heights of objects of which measurement had been made, and quietly
reminded their auditors that it was difficult to measure such massive
objects with the eye alone. That some author had said: “But few persons
have a correct judgment of height that rises above sixty feet.”

I became somewhat earnest and enthusiastic on the subject of the
valley, and expressed myself in such a positive manner that the
“_enfant terrible_” of the company derisively asked if I was given to
exaggeration before I became an “Indian fighter.” From my ardor in
description, and admiration of the scenery, I found myself nicknamed
“Yosemity” by some of the battalion. It was customary among the
mountain men and miners to prefix distinctive names. From this hint
I became less _expressive_, when conversing on matters relating to
the valley. My self-respect caused me to talk less among my comrades
generally, but with intimate friends the subject was always an open
one, and my estimates of heights were never reduced.

Major Savage took no part in this camp discussion, but on our
expressing a design to revisit the valley at some future time, he
assured us that there was a probability of our being fully gratified,
for if the renegades did not voluntarily come in, another visit would
soon have to be made by the battalion, when we could have opportunity
to measure the rocks if we then desired. That we should first escort
our “captives” to the commissioners’ camp on the Fresno; that by the
time we returned to the valley the trails would be clear of snow, and
we would be able to explore to our satisfaction. Casting a quizzing
glance at me, he said: “The rocks will probably keep, but you will not
find all of these immense _water-powers_.”

Notwithstanding a little warmth of discussion, we cheerfully wrapped
ourselves in our blankets and slept, until awakened by the guard; for
there had been no disturbance during the night. The snow had fallen
only to about the depth of an inch in the valley, but the storm still

By early dawn “all ready” was announced, and we started back without
having seen any of the Indian race except our useless guide and the
old squaw. Major Savage rode at the head of the column, retracing our
trail, rather than attempt to follow down the south side. The water was
relatively low in the early morning, and the fords were passed without
difficulty. While passing El Capitan I felt like saluting, as I would
some dignified acquaintance.

The _cachés_ below were yet smouldering, but the lodges had disappeared.

At our entrance we had closely followed the Indian trail over rocks
that could not be re-ascended with animals. To return, we were
compelled to remove a few obstructions of poles, brush and loose rocks,
placed by the Indians to prevent the escape of the animals stolen and
driven down. Entire herds had been sometimes taken from the ranches or
their ranges.

After leaving the valley, but little difficulty was encountered. The
snow had drifted into the hollows, but had not to any extent obscured
the trail, which we now found quite hard. We reached the camp earlier
in the day than we had reason to expect. During these three days of
absence from headquarters, we had discovered, named and partially
explored one of the most remarkable of the geographical wonders of the


  Out of Provisions--A hurried Move--Mills where Indians take Their
  Grists, and Pots in which they Boil their Food--Advance Movement of
  Captain Dill--A Hungry Squad--Enjoyment--Neglect of Duty--Escape
  of Indians--Following their Trail--A Sorrowful Captain--A Mystery
  made Clear--Duplicity of the Chow-chillas--Vow-chester’s Good-will
  Offering--Return of the Fugitives--Major Savage as Agent and

On our arrival at the rendezvous on the South Fork the officer in
charge reported; “We are about out of grub.” This was a satisfactory
cause for a hurried movement; for a short allowance had more terrors
for men with our appetites than severe duties; and most of us had
already learned that, even with prejudice laid aside, our stomachs
would refuse the hospitalities of the Indians, if it were possible
for them to share with us from their own scanty stores. The Major’s
experience prompted him at once to give the order to break camp and
move on for the camp on the Fresno.

Our mounted force chafed at the slowness of our march; for the Indians
could not be hurried. Although their cookery was of the most primitive
character, we were very much delayed by the time consumed in preparing
their food.

While traveling we were compelled to accommodate our movements to the
capacities or inclinations of the women and children. Captain Dill,
therefore, with his company was sent on ahead from the crossing of the
South Fork, they leaving with us what food they could spare. When Dill
reached the waters of the Fresno about one hundred “_captives_” joined
him. These Indians voluntarily surrendered to Captain Dill’s company,
which at once hurried them on, and they reached the commissioners at
the Fresno.

Captain Boling’s company and Major Savage remained with the “Grand
Caravan,” keeping out scouts and hunters to secure such game as might
be found to supply ourselves with food. We had no anxiety for the
safety or security of our “captives;” our own subsistence was the
important consideration; for the first night out from Bishop’s camp
left us but scanty stores for breakfast. Our halting places were
selected from the old Indian camping grounds, which were supplied
with hoyas (holes or mortars). These permanent mortars were in the
bed-rock, or in large detached rocks that had fallen from the cliffs or
mountains. These “hoyas” had been formed and used by past generations.
They were frequent on our route, many of them had long been abandoned;
as there was no indications of recent uses having been made of them.
From their numbers it was believed that the Indians had once been much
more numerous than at that date.

By means of the stone pestles with which they were provided, the squaws
used these primitive mills to reduce their acorns and grass seeds to
flour or meal. While the grists were being ground, others built the
fires on which stones were heated.

When red hot, these stones were plunged into baskets nearly filled
with water; this is continued until the water boils. The stones are
then removed and the acorn meal, or a cold mixture of it, is stirred
in until thin gruel is made; the hot stones are again plunged into
the liquid mass and again removed. When sufficiently cooked, this
“Atola” or porridge, was poured into plates or moulds of sand, prepared
for that purpose. During the process of cooling, the excess of
water leaches off through the sand, leaving the woody fibre tannin
and unappropriated coarse meal in distinctive strata; the edible
portion being so defined as to be easily separated from the refuse
and sand. This preparation was highly prized by them, and contrary to
preconceived ideas and information, all of the Indians I asked assured
me that the _bitter_ acorns were the best when cooked. This compound
of acorn meal resembles corn starch blanc mange in color, but is more
dense in consistency. Although it was free from grit, and comparatively
clean, none of us were able to eat it, and we were quite hungry. From
this, I was led to conclude that to relish this Indian staple, the
taste must be acquired while very young.

Old Ten-ie-ya’s four wives, and other squaws, were disposed to be
quite hospitable when they learned that our supply of provisions was
exhausted. None of the command, however, ventured to sample their
acorn-jellies, grass-seed mush, roasted grasshoppers, and their other
delicacies; nothing was accepted but the Piñon pine nuts, which were
generally devoured with a relish and a regret for the scarcity.

Certain species of worms, the larvæ of ants and some other insects,
common mushrooms and truffles, or wood-mushrooms, are prized by the
Indian epicure, as are eels, shrimps, oysters, frogs, turtles, snails,
etc., by his white civilized brother. Are we really but creatures of

The _baskets_ used by the Indians for boiling their food and other
purposes, as has been before stated, are made of a tough mountain
bunch-grass, nearly as hard and as strong as wire, and almost as
durable. So closely woven are they, that but little if any water can
escape from them. They are made wholly impervious with a resinous
compound resembling the vulcanized rubber used by dentists. This
composition does not appear to be in the least affected by hot water.
The same substance, in appearance at least, is used by Mountain Indians
in attaching sinews to bows, and feathers and barbs to arrows.

I endeavored to ascertain what the composition was, but could only
learn that the resin was procured from small trees or shrubs, and
that some substance (probably mineral) was mixed with it, the latter
to resist the action of heat and moisture. I made a shrewd guess that
pulverized lava and sulphur (abundant east of the High Sierras) was
used, but for some cause I was left in ignorance. The Indians, like all
ignorant persons, ascribe remarkable virtues to very simple acts and to
inert remedies. Upon one occasion a doctor was extolling the virtues
of a certain root, ascribing to it almost miraculous powers; I tried
in vain to induce him to tell me the name of the root. He stated that
the secret was an heir-loom, and if told, the curative power of the
plant would disappear; but he kindly gave me some as a preventive of
some imaginary ill, when lo! I discovered the famous remedy to be the

After a delayed and hungry march of several days, we halted near
sundown within a few miles of the Commissioner’s headquarters, and
went into camp for the night. The Indians came straggling in at will
from their hunts on the way, their trophies of skill with their bows
being the big California squirrels, rabbits or hares and quail. Our
more expert white hunters had occasionally brought in venison for our
use. We had ceased to keep a very effective guard over our “captives;”
none seemed necessary, as all appeared contented and satisfied, almost
joyous, as we neared their destination on the Fresno.

The truth is, we regarded hostilities, so far as these Indians were
concerned, as ended. We had voted the peace policy a veritable success.
We had discussed the matter in camp, and contrasted the lack of spirit
exhibited by these people with what we knew of the warlike character
of the Indians of Texas and of the Northwestern plains. In these
comparisons, respect for our captives was lost in contempt. “The noble
red man” was not here represented. The only ones of the Pacific Slope,
excepting the Navahoes, Pimas and Maricopahs, that bear any comparison
with the Eastern tribes for intelligence and bravery, are the You-mahs
of the Colorado river, the Modocs, and some of the Rogue and Columbia
river tribes, but none of these really equal the Sioux and some other
Eastern tribes.

Hardly any attention had been paid to the captives during the preceding
night, except from the guard about our own camp; from a supposition
that our services could well be spared. Application was therefore
made by a few of us, for permission to accompany the Major, who had
determined to go on to the Fresno head-quarters. When consent was
given, the wish was so generally expressed, that Captain Boling with
nine men to act as camp guard, volunteered to remain, if Major Savage
would allow the hungry “boys” to ride with him. The Major finally
assented to the proposition, saying: “I do not suppose the Indians
can be driven off, or be induced to leave until they have had the
feast I promised them; besides, they will want to see some of the
commissioner’s finery. I have been delighting their imaginations with
descriptions of the presents in store for them.”

When the order was passed for the hungry squad to fall in, we mounted
with grateful feelings towards Captain Boling, and the “boys” declared
that the Major was a trump, for his consideration of our need. With the
prospect of a good “square” meal, and the hope of a genial “smile” from
our popular commissary, the time soon passed, and the distance seemed
shortened, for we entered the Fresno camp before our anticipations were
cloyed. Head-quarters was well supplied with all needful comforts,
and was not totally deficient in luxuries. Our Quarter-Master and
Commissary was active in his duties, and as some good women say of
their husbands, “He was a good provider.” We had no reason to complain
of our reception; our urgent requirements were cheerfully met. The
fullness of our entertainment did not prevent a good night’s rest,
nor interfere with the comfortable breakfast which we enjoyed. While
taking coffee, the self denial of Captain Boling and his volunteer
guard was not forgotten. Arrangements were made to furnish the best
edible and potable stores, that could be secured from our conscientious
and prudent commissary. We were determined to give them a glorious
reception; but--the Captain did not bring in his captives! Major Savage
sent out a small detachment to ascertain the cause of the delay.
This party filled their haversacks with comforts for the “Indian
guard.” After some hours of delay, the Major became anxious to hear
from Captain Boling, and began to be suspicious that something more
serious than the loss of his animals, was the cause of not sending in a
messenger, and he ordered out another detachment large enough to meet
any supposed emergency. Not far from camp, they met the Captain and his
nine men (the “_Indian guard_”) and _one_ Indian, with the relief party
first sent out. Our jovial Captain rode into “Head-quarters” looking
more crest fallen than he had ever been seen before. When asked by the
Major where he had left the Indians, he blushed like a coy maiden and
said: “They have all gone to the mountains, but the one I have with me.”

After Captain Boling had made his report to the Major, and made all
explanations to the commissioners, and when he had refreshed himself
with an extra ration or two of the potable liquid, that by special
stipulation had been reserved for the “Indian Guard,” something of
his old humor returned to him, and he gave us the details of his
annoyances by the breach of trust on the part of “our prisoners.”

The Captain said: “Soon after you left us last night, one of my men,
who was out hunting when we camped, came in with a deer he had killed
just at the dusk of the evening. From this we made a hearty supper,
and allowed the youth who had helped to bring in the deer to share
in the meat. The Indian cooked the part given to him at our fire,
and ate with the avidity of a famished wolf. This excited comment,
and anecdotes followed of the enormous appetites displayed by some
of them. The question was then raised, ‘how much can this Indian eat
at one meal?’ I suggested that a fair trial could not be had with
only one deer. Our hunter said he would give him a preliminary trial,
and when deer were plenty we could then test his full capacity, if
he should prove a safe one to bet on. He then cut such pieces as we
thought would suffice for our breakfast, and, with my approval, gave
the remainder to his boy, who was anxiously watching his movements. I
consented to this arrangement, not as a test of his capacity, for I
had often seen a hungry Indian eat, but as a reward for his services
in bringing in the deer on his shoulders. He readily re-commenced his
supper, and continued to feast until every bone was cracked and picked.
When the last morsel of the venison had disappeared he commenced a
doleful sing-song, ‘Way-ah-we-ha-ha, Wah-ah-we-ha-ha’ to some unknown
deity, or, if I was to judge from my ear of the music, it must have
been his prayer to the devil, for I have heard that it is a part of
their worship. His song was soon echoed from the camp where all seemed
contentment. After _consoling_ himself in this manner for some time he
fell asleep at our fire.

“The performance being over, I told my men to take their sleep and
I would watch, as I was not sleepy; if I wanted them I would call
them. I then thought, as Major Savage had declared, the Indians could
scarcely be driven off, until they had had their feast and the presents
they expected to have given them. I sat by the fire for a long time
cogitating on past events and future prospects, when thinking it
useless to require the men to stand guard, I told them to sleep. Moving
about and seeing nothing but the usual appearance, I decided it to be
unneccessary to exercise any further vigilance, and told one of the
men, who was partially aroused by my movements, and who offered to get
up and stand guard, that he had better lie still and sleep. Toward
morning I took another round, and finding the Indian camp wrapped in
apparently profound slumber, I concluded to take a little sleep myself,
until daylight. This now seems unaccountable to me, for I am extremely
cautious in my habits. Such a breach of military discipline would have
subjected one of my men to a court-martial. I confess myself guilty of
neglect of duty; I should have taken nothing for granted.

“No one can imagine my surprise and mortification when I was called and
told that the Indian camp was entirely deserted, and that none were
to be seen except the one asleep by our camp fire. My indifference to
placing a guard over the Indian camp will probably always be a mystery
to me, but it most likely saved our lives, for if we had attempted to
restrain them, and you know us well enough to believe we would not have
let them off without a fight; they would probably have pretty well used
us up. As it was, we did not give them up without an effort. We saddled
our horses and started in chase, thinking that as while with us, their
women and children would retard their progress, and that we would soon
overtake them. We took the young brave with us, who had slept by our
fire. He knew nothing of the departure of his people, and was very much
alarmed, as he expected we would at once kill him. I tried to make him
useful in following their trail; he by signs, gave me to understand
he did not know where they had gone, and seemed unwilling to take the
trail when I pointed it out to him. He evidently meant to escape the
first opportunity. I kept him near me and treated him kindly, but gave
him to understand I should shoot him if he tried to leave me.

“We pursued until the trail showed that they had scattered in every
direction in the brushy ravines and on the rocky side of a mountain
covered with undergrowth, where we could not follow them with our
animals. Chagrined and disgusted with myself for my negligence, and my
inability to recover any part of my charge, and considering farther
pursuit useless, we turned about and took the trail to head-quarters
with our one captive.”

Major Savage took the youngster under his charge, and flattered him by
his conversations and kindly treatment. The Commissioners lionized him
somewhat; he was gaily clothed and ornamented, loaded with presents
for his own family relations, and was given his liberty and permitted
to leave camp at his leisure, and thus departed the last of the “grand
caravan” of some three hundred and fifty “captives,” men, women and
children, which we had collected and escorted from the mountains.

The sight of the one hundred brought to them by Captain Dill, and his
report that we were coming with about three hundred and fifty more,
aroused sanguine hopes in the commission that the war was over, and
that their plans had been successful. “Now that the _prisoners_ have
fled,” we asked, “What will be done?”

To a military man, this lack of discipline and precaution--through
which the Indians escaped--will seem unpardonable; and an officer
who, like our Captain, should leave his camp unguarded, under any
circumstances, would be deemed disgracefully incompetent. In
palliation of these facts, it may not occur to the rigid disciplinarian
that Captain John Boling and the men under him--or the most of them,
had not had the advantages of army drill and discipline. The courage of
these mountain-men in times of danger was undoubted; their caution was
more apt to be displayed in times of danger to others, than when they
themselves were imperiled.

In this case Captain Boling was not apprehensive of danger to those
under his charge. His excessive good nature and good will toward his
men prompted him to allow, even to command them, to take the sleep and
rest that an irregular diet, and the labor of hunting while on the
march, had seemed to require. No one had a keener sense of his error
than himself. The whole command sympathized with him--notwithstanding
the ludicrous aspect of the affair--their finer feelings were aroused
by his extreme regrets. They determined that if opportunities offered,
he should have their united aid to wipe out this stigma. Major Savage
was deceived by the child-like simplicity with which the Indians had
been talking to him of the feast expected, and of the presents they
would soon receive from the commissioners. He did not suppose it
possible that they would make an attempt to escape, or such a number
would not have been left with so small a guard. We had men with us
who knew what discipline was, who had been trained to obey orders
without hesitation. Men who had fought under Col. Jack Hays, Majors Ben
McCullough and Mike Chevallia, both in Indian and Mexican warfare, and
they considered themselves well posted. Even these men were mistaken in
their opinions. The sudden disappearance of the Indians, was as much a
surprise to them as to our officers.

With a view to solving this mystery Vow-ches-ter was sent for from his
camp near by, where all the treaty tribes were congregated, and when
questioned the Chief said that during the night Chow-chilla runners
had been in the camp, and to him in person with their mouths filled
with lies; they had probably gone to the camp of those who were coming
in, and they were induced to leave. Evidently he felt assured of the
fact; but until questioned, his caution, Indian-like, kept him silent.
Vow-ches-ter’s sincerity and desire for peace was no longer doubted.
Those who were suspicious of his friendship before were silenced, if
not convinced, when he volunteered to go out and bring in such of the
fugitives as he could convince of the good will of the commissioners.
The young Indian had not yet left the camp, but was found relating his
adventures and good fortune, and was directed to accompany Vow-ches-ter
on his mission of good will. The Chief was instructed to give positive
assurances of protection against hostilities, if any were threatened
by the Chow-chillas. He was also instructed to dispatch runners to
aid his efforts, and was told to notify all that the commissioners
would not remain to be trifled with; if they wished peace they must
come in at once. That if the commissioners should go away, which they
soon would do on their way south, no further efforts for peace would
be made. That the mountain men and soldiers of the whites were angry,
and would no longer take their word for peace, but would punish them
and destroy their supplies. After a few days Vow-ches-ter came back
with about one hundred of the runaways; these were followed by others,
until ultimately, nearly all came back except Ten-ie-ya and his people.
All then in camp expressed a readiness to meet for a grand council and

The reasons given by those who returned for their flight, were that
just before daylight on the morning of their departure Chow-chilla
runners (as had been surmised by Vow-ches-ter) came to their camp with
the report that they were being taken to the plains, where they would
all be killed in order to evade the promises to pay for their lands,
and for revenge.

In reply to the statements that they had been treated by the whites
as friends, the Chow-chillas answered sneeringly that the whites were
not fools to forgive them for killing their friends and relatives,
and taking their property, and said their scouts had seen a large
mounted force that was gathering in the foot-hills and on the plains,
who would ride over them if they ventured into the open ground of the
reservation, or encampment at the plains. This caused great alarm. They
expected destruction from the whites, and in the excitement caused by
the Chow-chillas, threatened to kill Captain Boling and his men, and
for that purpose reconnoitered the Captain’s camp. The Chow-chillas
dissuaded them from the attempt, saying: “The white men always sleep
on their guns, and they will alarm the white soldiers below by their
firing, and bring upon you a mounted force before you could reach a
place of safety.”

The young fellow that was asleep in Boling’s camp was not missed
until on the march; his appearance among them gaily clothed, after
being kindly treated, very much aided Vow-ches-ter in his statement
of the object of the council and treaty to be held. The runaways told
the commissioners that they felt very foolish, and were ashamed that
they had been so readily deceived; they also expressed a wish that we
would punish the Chow-chillas, for they had caused all the trouble.
The reception they received soon satisfied them that they had nothing
to fear. They were given food and clothing, and their good fortune
was made known to other bands, and soon all of the tribes in the
vicinity made treaties or sent messengers to express their willingness
to do so, excepting the Chow-chillas and Yosemites. Even Ten-ie-ya
was reported to have ventured into the Indian quarter, but taking a
look at the gaudy colored handkerchiefs and shirts offered him in
lieu of his ancient and well-worn guernsey that he habitually wore,
he scoffingly refused the offers. Turning towards his valley home,
he sorrowfully departed; his feelings apparently irritated by the
evidences of vanity he saw in the gaudy apparel and weak contentment
of those he was leaving behind him. Major Savage, who it was supposed
would be the Indian agent at the end of the war, was absent at the time
of Ten-ie-ya’s visit, but “the farmer” showed the old chief all proper
respect, and had endeavored to induce him to await the Major’s return,
but failed.

Major Savage, though still in command of the battalion, now devoted
most of his time to the commissioners; and the energy with which our
campaigns had opened, seemed to be somewhat abating. The business
connected with the treaties was transacted principally through his
interpretation, though at times other interpreters were employed. The
mission interpreters only translated the communications made in the
Indian dialects into Spanish; these were then rendered into English by
Spanish interpreters employed by the commission.

A pretty strong detail of men was now placed on duty at head-quarters
on the Fresno, principally drawn from Captain Dill’s Company. Adjutant
Lewis had really no duties in the field, nor had he any taste or
admiration for the snowy mountains--_on foot_. His reports were written
up at head-quarters, as occasion required, and often long after the
events had transpired to which they related. I was an amused observer
upon one occasion, of Major Savage’s method of making out an _official_
report, Adjutant Lewis virtually acting only as an amanuensis.


  Campaign against the Chow-chillas--The Favorite Hunting Ground--A
  Deer Hunt and a Bear _Chase_--An Accident and an Alarm--A Torch-light
  Pow-wow--Indians Discovered--Captain Boling’s Speech--Crossing of
  the San Joaquin--A Line of Battle, its Disappearance--Capture of
  Indian Village--Jose Rey’s Funeral-pyre--Following the Trail--A
  Dilemma--Sentiment and Applause--Returning to Camp--Narrow Escape of
  Captain Boling.

Major Savage now advised a vigorous campaign against the Chow-chillas.
The stampeding of our captives was one of the incentives for this
movement; or at least, it was for this reason that Captain Boling and
his company most zealously advocated prompt action. The commissioners
approved of the plan, and decided that as the meddlesome interference
of these Indians prevented other bands from coming in, it was
necessary, if a peace policy was to be maintained with other tribes,
that this one be made to feel the power they were opposing; and that
an expedition of sufficient strength to subdue them, should be ordered
immediately to commence operations against them. Accordingly, a force
composed of B. and C. companies, Boling’s and Dill’s, numbering about
one hundred men, under command of Major Savage, started for the San
Joaquin River. The route selected was by way of “Coarse Gold Gulch,” to
the head waters of the Fresno, and thence to the North Fork of the San

The object in taking this circuitous route, was to sweep the territory
of any scattered bauds that might infest it. We made our first camp on
the waters of “Coarse Gold Gulch,” in order to allow the scouts time to
explore in advance of the command. No incident occurred here to claim
especial notice, but in the morning, while passing them, I made a hasty
examination of one of the “Figured Rocks” to the left of the trail.

I saw but little of interest, for at the time, I doubted the antiquity
of the figures. Subsequently, in conversation with Major Savage he said
that the figures had probably been traced by ancient Indians, as the
present tribes had no knowledge of the representations. I afterwards
asked Sandino and other Mission Indians concerning them, but none
could give me any information. The scouts sent out were instructed to
rendezvous near a double fall on the north fork of the San Joaquin in a
little valley through which the trail led connecting with that of the
north fork, as grass would there be found abundant.

Major Savage was familiar with most of the permanent trails in this
region, as he had traversed it in his former prospecting tours. As we
entered the valley selected for our camping place, a flock of sand-hill
cranes rose from it with their usual persistent yells; and from this
incident, their name was affixed to the valley, and is the name by
which it is now known.

The scouts, who were watching on the trail below, soon discovered and
joined us. “It is a little early for camping,” the Major said; “but at
this season, good grass can only be found in the mountains in certain
localities. Here there is an abundance, and soap root enough to wash a

We fixed our camp on the West side of the little valley, about half
a mile from the double falls. These falls had nothing peculiarly
attractive, except as a designated point for a rendezvous.

The stream above the falls was narrow and very rapid, but below, it ran
placidly for some distance through rich meadow land. The singularity
of the fall was in its being double; the upper one only three or four
feet, and the lower one, which was but a step below, about ten or
twelve feet. In my examination of the locality, I was impressed with
the convenience with which such a water-power could be utilized for
mechanical purposes, if the supply of water would but prove a permanent

From this camp, new scouts were sent out in search of Indians and their
trails; while a few of us had permission to hunt within a mile of camp.
While picketing our animals, I observed the flock of sand-hill cranes
again settling down some way above us, and started with Wm. Hays to get
a shot at them. We were not successful in getting within range; having
been so recently alarmed, they were suspiciously on the look out, and
scenting our approach, they left the valley. Turning to the eastward,
we were about entering a small ravine leading to the wooded ridge on
the Northwest side of the Fork, when we discovered two deer ascending
the slope, and with evident intention of passing through the depression
in the ridge before us.

They were looking _back_ on their trail, assurance enough that we had
not been seen. We hurriedly crept up the ravine to head them off,
and waited for their approach. Hays became nervous, and as he caught
a glimpse of the leader, he hastily said, “Here they come--both of
them--I’ll take the buck!” Assenting to his arrangement, we both fired
as they rose in full view. The doe fell almost in her tracks. The
buck made a bound or two up the ridge and disappeared. While loading
our rifles Hays exclaimed, as if in disgust, “A miss, by jingoes!
that’s a fact.” I replied, “not so, old fellow, you hit him hard; he
switched his tail desperately; you will see him again.” We found him
dead in the head of the next ravine, but a few rods off. Hanging up
our game to secure it until our return with horses, we started along
the slope of the ridge toward camp. Hays was in advance, stopping
suddenly, he pointed to some immense tracks of grizzlies, which in the
soft, yielding soil appeared like the foot prints of huge elephants,
and then hastily examining his rifle and putting a loose ball in his
mouth (we had no fixed ammunition in those days, except the old paper
cartridges), started on the tracks. At first I was amused at his
excited, silent preparations and rapid step, and passively accompanied
him. When we had reached a dense under-growth, into which the trail
led, and which he was about to enter, I halted and said: “I have
followed this trail as far as I design to go. Hays, it is madness for
us to follow grizzlies into such a place as that.” Hays turned, came
back, and said in an excited manner, “I didn’t suppose you would show
the white feather with a good rifle in your hands; Chandler gives you
a different character. You don’t mean to say you are afraid to go in
there with me; we’ll get one or two, sure.”

I was at first inclined to be angry, but replied, “Hays, I am much
obliged to you for the good opinion you have had of me, but I know what
grizzlies are. _I am afraid of grizzlies unless I have every advantage
of them_; and don’t think it would be any proof of courage to follow
them in there.” Hays reached out his hand as he said: “If that is
your corner stake, we will go back to camp.” We shook hands, and that
question was settled between us. Afterwards Hays told of his experience
among Polar bears, and I rehearsed some of mine among cinnamon and
grizzly bears, and he replied that after all he thought “we had acted
wisely in letting the latter remain undisturbed. When in the brush they
seemed to know their advantage, and were more likely to attack, whereas
at other times, they would get out of your way, if they could.” I
replied by asking: “Since you know their nature so well, why did you
want to follow them into the brush?” He retorted, “Simply because I was
excited and reckless, like many another man.”

Taking the back trail, we soon reached camp, and with our horses
brought in the game before dark. While entering camp, several of our
men rushed by with their rifles. Looking back across the open valley on
our own trail, I saw a man running toward us as if his life depended
on his speed. His long hair was fairly streaming behind as he rushed
breathless into camp, without hat, shoes or gun. When first seen,
the “boys” supposed the Chow-chillas were after him, but no pursuers
appeared in sight. As soon as he was able to talk, he reported that
he had left the squad of hunters he had gone out with, and was moving
along the edge of a thicket on his way to camp, when he struck the
trail of three grizzlies. Having no desire to encounter them, he left
their trail, but suddenly came upon them while endeavoring to get out
of the brush.

Before he could raise his rifle, they rushed toward him. He threw his
hat at the one nearest, and started off at a lively gait. Glancing
back, he saw two of them quarreling over his old hat; the other was so
close that he dare not shoot, but dropped his gun and ran for life.

Fortunately, one of his shoes came off, and the bear stopped to examine
and tear it in pieces, and here no doubt discontinued the chase, as he
was not seen afterwards, though momentarily expected by the hunter in
his flight to camp.

The hero of this adventure was a Texan, that was regarded by those who
knew him best as a brave man, but upon this occasion he was without
side arms, and, as he said, “was taken at a disadvantage.” The Major
joked him a little upon his _continued_ speed, but “Texas Joe” took it
in good part, and replied that the Major, “or any _other_ blank fool,
would have run just as he did.” A few of us went back with Joe, and
found his rifle unharmed. The tracks of his pursuers were distinctly
visible, but no one evinced any desire to follow them up.

We considered his escape a most remarkable one.

A little after dark all the scouts came in, and reported that no
Indians had been seen, nor very fresh signs discovered, but that a few
tracks were observed upon the San Joaquin trail.

The news was not encouraging, and some were a little despondent, but as
usual, a hearty supper and the social pipe restored the younger men to
their thoughtless gayety. My recollections bring to mind many pleasant
hours around the camp-fires of the “Mariposa Battalion.” Many of the
members of that organization were men of more than ordinary culture and
general intelligence; but they had been led out from civilization into
the golden tide, and had acquired a reckless air and carriage, peculiar
to a free life in the mountains of California.

The beauty of the little valley in which we were camped had so
attracted my attention, that while seated by the camp-fire in the
evening, enjoying my meal, I spoke of it in the general conversation,
and found that others had discovered a “claim” for a future rancho,
if the subjection of the Indians should make it desirable. The scouts
mentioned the fact of there being an abundance of game as far as they
had been, but that of course they dare not shoot, lest the Indians
might be alarmed. These men were provided with venison by Hays and
myself, while many a squirrel, jack rabbit, quail and pigeon was
spitted and roasted by other less fortunate hunters. Our deer were
divided among immediate friends and associates, and Captain Boling
slyly remarked that “the Major’s appetite is about as good as an
Indian’s.” Major Savage seemed to enjoy the conversation in praise
of this region, and in reply to the assertion that this was the best
hunting ground we had yet seen, said: “Where you find game plenty, you
will find Indians not far off. This belt of country beats the region
of the Yosemite or the Poho-no Meadows for game, if the Indians tell
the truth; and with the exception of the Kern River country, it is the
best south of the Tuolumne River. It abounds in grizzlies and cinnamon
bears, and there are some black bears. Deer are very plenty, and a
good variety of small game--such as crane, grouse, quail, pigeons,
road-runners, squirrels and rabbits--besides, in their season, water
fowl. This territory of the Chow-chillas has plenty of black oak acorns
(their favorite acorn), and besides this, there are plenty of other
supplies of bulbous roots, tubers, grasses and clover. In a word, there
is everything here for the game animals and birds, as well as for the

I now thought I had a turn on the Major, for he was quite enthusiastic,
and I said: “Major, you have made out another Indian Paradise; I
thought you a skeptic.” With a smile as if in remembrance of our
conversation in the Yosemite, he replied: “Doc, I don’t believe these
Chow-chilla devils will leave here without a fight, for they seem to
be concentrating; but we are going to drive them out with a ‘flaming
brand.’ I think we shall find some of them to-morrow, if we expect good
luck.” Turning to Captain Boling he continued, “Captain, we must make
an early move in the morning; and to-morrow we must be careful not to
flush our game before we get within rifle-shot. You had better caution
the guards to be vigilant, for we may have a visit from their scouts
to-night, if only to stampede our horses.”

Taking this as a hint that it was time to turn in, I rolled myself in
my blankets. My sleep was not delayed by any thoughts of danger to the
camp,--though I would have admitted the danger of loss of animals--but
I was awakened by a stir in camp, and from hearing the Major called.

Sandino, the Mission Indian interpreter, had just come in from
head-quarters, guiding an escort that had been sent for the Major. The
Sergeant in command handed a letter to Savage, who, after reading it at
the camp fire, remarked to Captain Boling, “the commissioners have sent
for me to come back to head-quarters; we will talk over matters in the
morning, after we have had our sleep.” He was snoring before I slept

In the morning Major Savage stated that he had been sent for by the
Commissioners to aid in treating with a delegation of Kah-we-ah Indians
sent in by Capt. Kuykendall, and regretted to leave us just at that
time, when we were in the vicinity of the game we were after. That
we would now be under the command of Captain Boling, etc. The Major
made us a nice little speech. It was short, and was the only one he
ever made to us. He then drew an outline map of the country, and
explained to Captain Boling the course and plans he had adopted, but
which were to be varied as the judgment of the Captain should deem to
his advantage. He repeatedly enjoined the Captain to guard against
surprise, by keeping scouts in advance and upon flank.

He then said he should leave Sandino with us, and told me that Spencer
and myself would be expected to act as interpreters, otherwise Captain
Boling could not make Sandino available as a guide or interpreter, as
he cannot speak a word of English.

“As surgeon to the expedition, I will see that you are paid extra.
The endurance of those appointed, has been tried and found wanting;
therefore I preferred to leave them behind.” The Major then left us for
head-quarters, which he would reach before night.

Captain Boling crossed the North Fork below the falls, but after a
few horses had passed over the trail, the bottom land became almost
impassable. As I had noticed an old trail that crossed just above
the falls, I shouted to the rear guard to follow me, and started for
the upper crossing, which I reached some little distance in advance.
Spurring my mule I dashed through the stream. As she scrambled up the
green sod of the slippery shore I was just opening my mouth for a
triumphant whoop, when the sod from the overhanging bank gave way under
the hind feet of the mule, and, before she could recover, we slipped
backwards into the stream, and were being swept down over the falls.
Comprehending the imminent peril, I slipped from my saddle with the
coil of my “riata” clasped in hand (fortunately I had acquired the
habit of leaving the rope upon the mule’s neck), and, by an effort, I
was able to reach the shore with barely length of rope enough to take
one turn around a sappling and then one or two turns around the rope,
and by this means I was able to arrest the mule in her progress, with
her hind legs projecting over the falls, where she remained, her head
held out of the water by the rope. I held her in this position until my
comrades came up and relieved me, and the mule from her most pitiable
position. This was done by attaching another rope, by means of which
it was drawn up the stream to the shore, where she soon recovered her
feet and was again ready for service. Not so my medicines and surgical
instruments, which were attached to the saddle.

While Captain Boling was closing up his scattered command, I took the
opportunity to examine my damaged stores and wring out my blankets.
Being thus engaged, and out of sight of the main column, they moved on
without us. I hastily dried my instruments, and seeing that my rifle
had also suffered, I hastily discharged and reloaded it. We passed
over the stream below the falls, and were galloping to overtake the
command, when I discovered a detachment with Captain Boling at the
head, riding rapidly up the trail toward us. As we met, the Captain
returned my salutation with “Hallo, Doc., what the devil is the
matter?” I explained the cause of our delay and the reason for the
discharge of my rifle, when the Captain said: “We heard the report of
your rifle, and I thought you were about to have a quilting party of
your own, for I knew you would not waste lead foolishly, so came back
to have a hand in the game.” I apologized for firing without orders and
for causing anxiety; but said, that to be frank, I had thought that my
rifle being so wet, would only “squib.” He good humoredly replied, “I
am glad I found nothing worse, for you have had a narrow escape, and I
think we had now better keep closed up.”

We soon overtook the command which was following the main trail to
the upper San Joaquin. Crossing the affluent tributaries of the North
Fork, we finally reached a branch now known as the Little San Joaquin.
Here we again camped for the third time since leaving head-quarters.
Lieutenant Chandler and a few of our most experienced scouts were
detailed and sent out on duty. Captain Boling with a small guard
accompanied Chandler for some distance out on the trail, and after
exploring the vicinity of the camp and taking a look at “Battle
Mountain” to the westward of us, returned without having discovered
any fresher signs than had been seen by the scouts. That night the
camp-guard was strengthened and relieved every hour, that there might
be no relaxation of vigilance. A little before daybreak, Lieutenant
Chandler and his scouts came in, and reported that they had discovered
a number of camp fires, and a big pow-wow, on the main San Joaquin
river. Satisfied that Indians were there assembled in force, and that
they were probably holding a war-dance, they returned at once to report
their discovery.

The camp was quietly aroused, and after a hasty breakfast in the early
dawn, we mounted. Before giving the order to march, Captain Boling
thought it advisable to give us a few words of caution and general
orders in case we should suddenly meet the enemy and engage in battle.
Thinking it would be more impressive if delivered in a formal manner,
he commenced: “Fellow citizens!” (a pause,) “fellow soldiers!” (a
longer pause,) “comrades,” tremulously; but instantly recovering
himself, promptly said: “In _conclusion_, all I have to say, boys, is,
that I hope I shall fight better than I speak.” The Captain joined with
his “fellow citizens” in the roar of laughter, amidst which he gave the
order “march,” and we started for the San Joaquin at a brisk trot.

No better or braver man rode with our battalion. His popularity was
an appreciation of his true merit. On this occasion he was conscious
of the responsibility of his position, and, for a moment his modesty
overcame him. Although his _speech_ lacked the ready flow of language,
it eloquently expressed to his men the feelings of their Captain, and
we comprehended what he designed to say.[11] A short ride brought us
in sight of the main river. As we drew near to it a party of about one
hundred Indians were discovered drawn up as if to give us battle, but
we soon found their line had been established on the _opposite_ side of
the stream! while the swelling torrent between us seemed impassable.
Our scouts discovered a bark rope stretched across the river, just
above the mouth of the South Fork, which had been quite recently used.
Their scouts had undoubtedly discovered our rapid approach, and in
their haste to report the fact, had neglected to remove this rope, by
means of which, the crossing was made. The Indians of Northern climes
are equally expert in crossing streams. In winter, they sprinkle
sand upon the smooth ice, in order to cross their unshod ponies. The
discovery of the rope being reported to Captain Boling, he proposed to
utilize it by establishing a temporary ferry of logs. On examination,
the rope was found to be too slender to be of practical use, but was
employed to convey across a stronger one, made from our picket ropes or
“riatas,” tied together and twisted.

Two of our best swimmers crossed the river above the narrows, and
pulled our rope across by means of the bark one. To protect the men on
the opposite side, Captain Middleton, Joel H. Brooks, John Kenzie and
a few other expert riflemen, stood guard over them. A float was made
of dry logs while the rope was being placed in position, and this was
attached to the one across the stream by means of a rude pulley made
from the crotch of a convenient sapling. By this rude contrivance, we
crossed to and fro without accident. The horses and baggage were left
on the right bank in charge of a small but select camp guard. As we
commenced the ascent of the steep acclivity to the table above, where
we had seen the Indians apparently awaiting our approach, great care
was taken to keep open order. We momentarily expected to receive the
fire of the enemy. The hill-side was densely covered with brush, and
we cautiously threaded our march up through it, until we emerged into
the open ground at the crest of the hill. Here, not an Indian was in
sight to welcome or threaten our arrival. They had probably fled as
soon as they witnessed our crossing. Captain Boling felt disappointed;
but immediately sent out an advance skirmish line, while we moved in
closer order upon the village in sight, which we afterwards found to
be that of Jose Rey. Arrived there, we found it forsaken. This village
was beautifully situated upon an elevated table lying between the South
Fork and the main river. It overlooked the country on all sides except
the rear, which could have only been approached through the rugged
cañons of the forks. It would therefore have been impossible for us to
surprise it. We found that the Indians had left nothing of value but
the stores of acorns near by. Captain Boling’s countenance expressed
his feelings, with regard to our lack of success. He ordered the lodges
to be destroyed with all the supplies that could be discovered.

While entering the village, we had observed upon a little knoll,
the remnant of what had been a large fire; a bed of live coals and
burning brands of manzanita-wood still remained. The ground about it
indicated that there had been a large gathering for a burial-dance and
feast, and for other rites due the departed; and therefore, I surmised
that there had been a funeral ceremony to honor the remains of some
distinguished member of the tribe. I had the curiosity to examine the
heap and found that I was correct. On raking open the ashes of the
funeral-pyre, the calcined bones were exposed, along with trinkets and
articles of various kinds, such as arrow-heads of different shapes
and sizes, for the chase and for warfare; a knife-blade, a metal
looking-glass frame, beads and other articles melted into a mass. From
these indications--having a knowledge of Indian customs--I inferred
that the deceased was probably a person of wealth and distinction in
Indian society. Calling Sandino to the spot, I pointed out to him
my discoveries. Devoutly crossing himself, he looked at the mass I
had raked from the ashes, and exclaimed: “Jose Rey, ah! he is dead!”
I asked how he knew that it was the body of Jose Rey that had been
burned. He said: (picking up the knife-blade) “This was the knife of
Jose Rey.” He then told me “that a chief’s property was known to all of
his people and to many other tribes. That many had been here to take
part in the funeral ceremonies, and only a great chief would have so
many come to do honor to his remains; besides we have known for a long
time that he would die.” I reported this statement to Captain Boling,
who thought it was correct. It was afterwards confirmed by some of the
followers of the dead chief.

Sandino was or had been a Mission Indian, and prided himself on being
a good Catholic. I asked him why the Indians burnt the bodies of their
dead. He replied after devoutly crossing himself, for no Indian will
willingly speak of their dead. “The Gentiles (meaning the wild Indians)
burn the bodies to liberate the spirit from it.” After again crossing
himself, “We being Christians by the favor of God, are not compelled
to do this duty to our dead. They enter into the spirit-world through
the virtue of the blood of Christ;” then with his face gleaming with
religious fervor, he said, “Oh! is not this a great blessing--_no
labor, no pain, and where all have plenty_.” On a more intimate
acquaintance with Sandino, I found that he had an implicit belief in
all the superstitions of his race, but that the saving grace of the
blood of Christ was simply superior to their charms and incantations.

My experience among other Indians, particularly the Sioux, Chippewa,
and other tribes that have long had missionaries among them, leads me
to the conclusion that Sandino’s views of Christianity will not be
found to differ materially from those of many others _converted_. I
afterwards had a much more satisfactory conversation with “Russio,”
who verified Sandino’s statement concerning their belief, and object
in burning their dead. This Chief also gave me in detail some of
their traditions and mythologies, which I shall reserve for future

Our scouts reported that the fresh trails followed by them led to the
main trail up the cañon of the river. Everything having been set on
fire that would burn, we followed in pursuit toward the “High Sierras.”
Before starting the scouts that had gone up the South Fork cañon were
called in, and we lightened our haversacks by taking a hasty but
hearty lunch. We followed the trail continuously up, passed a rocky,
precipitous point, that had terminated in a ridge at the rear of the
village, and pursuing it rapidly for several miles, we suddenly found
that the traces we had been following disappeared. We came to a halt,
and retracing our steps, soon found that they had left the trail at
some bare rocks, but it was impossible to trace them farther in any
direction. Sandino expressed the opinion that the Indians had crossed
the river; and pointing across the foaming rapids said: “They have gone
there!” He was denounced by the scouts for this assertion, and they
swore that “an otter would drown if he attempted to swim in such a
place.” Captain Boling asked: “Is he a coward afraid of an ambush, or
is he trying to shield his people by discouraging our advance?” After
Spencer and myself had talked with him a few moments, we both expressed
our faith in his loyalty, and told the Captain that we thought he was
sincere in the opinion expressed, that the Indians had crossed to the
other side. I stated that I did not think it impossible for them to do
so, as they were all most excellent swimmers. That I had seen the Yumas
of the Colorado river dive, time after time, and bring up fish caught
with their bare hands, and perform other seemingly impossible feats. I
would not, therefore, denounce Sandino without some proof of treachery.
Captain Boling was not convinced, however, by my statements. It was
decided that the Chow-chil-las had not crossed the river, and that we
should probably find their trail further on.

With scouts in advance, we resumed our march up the cañon. The trail
was rough, and, in places, quite precipitous; but we followed on until
reaching a point in the cañon where we should expect to find “_signs_,”
for there was no choice of routes, but this only trail up the cañon
had not been used by any one; and the advance were found awaiting the
Captain’s arrival at the gorge. The Captain was puzzled, and ordered a
halt. A council was held, about as satisfactory as the other had been,
but all agreed in the conclusion that the Indians had beaten us in wood
craft, and had artfully thrown us from their trail; though their signal
fires were still to be seen at intervals on the high rocky points of
the river. This was a common mode of communication among them. By
a peculiar arrangement of these fires during the night, and by the
smoke from them during the day, they are able to telegraph a system of
secret correspondence to those on the look out. An arrow, shot into the
body of a tree at a camp ground, or along a trail; or the conspicuous
arrangement of a bent bush or twig, often shows the direction to be
traveled. A bunch of grass, tied to a stick and left at the fork of a
stream or trail, or at a deserted camp, performed the same service.
Upon the treeless deserts or plains, a mark upon the ground, by camp or
trail, gave the required information; thus proving that these people
possess considerable intelligent forethought.

After looking at the signal fires for some time, Captain Boling said:
“Gentlemen, there is one thing I can beat these fellows at, and that
is in building fires. We will go back to the crossing, and from there
commence a new campaign. We will build fires all over the mountains, so
that these Indians will no longer recognize their own signals. We will
make ours large enough to burn all the acorns and other provender we
can find. In a word, we are forced into a mode of warfare unsuited to
my taste or manhood, but this campaign has convinced me of the utter
folly of attempting to subdue them unless we destroy their supplies of
all kinds. Gentlemen, you can take my word for it, they do not intend
to fight us, or they would have tried to stop us at the crossing, where
they had every advantage.”

There is no point in the mountains more easy to defend than their
village. It was located most admirably. If they had the fight in them,
that was claimed by Major Savage and the Indians at head-quarters,
we could never have crossed the river or approached their village.
Their courage must have died with Jose Rey. His courage must have
been supposed to be that of the tribe. They have become demoralized,
being left without the energy of the chief. Their warlike nature is
a humbug. Talk about these Indians defeating and driving back the
Spanish Californians, after raiding their ranches, as has been told! If
they did, they must have driven back bigger cowards than themselves,
who have run away without even leaving a trail by which they can be
followed. I don’t believe it.” The Captain delivered this serio-comic
discourse while seated on a rock, with most inimitable drollery; and
at my suggestion that they might perhaps yet show themselves, he
replied rather impatiently: “Nonsense, they will not exhibit themselves
to-day!” and with this convincing remark, he ordered our return.

As we filed away from the narrow gorge, those left in rear reported
“Indians!” Instinctively turning, we discovered on the _opposite_
side of the river, a half dozen or more, not encumbered with any kind
of garment. A halt was called, and Chandler and a number of others
instantly raised their rifles for a shot. They were within range, for
the cañon was here quite narrow, but the Captain promptly said: “No
firing, men! I am anxious for success, but would rather go back without
a captive, than have one of those Indians killed, unless,” he added
after a moment’s pause, “they are fools enough to shoot at us.” Just
at the conclusion of this order, and as if in burlesque applause of
the sentiment expressed by the Captain, the savages commenced slapping
their naked swarthy bodies in a derisive manner.

The laugh of our men was parried by the Captain, and although annoyed
by this unexpected demonstration, he laughingly remarked that he had
never before been so _peculiarly_ applauded for anything he had ever
said. The absurdity of the scene restored us all to a better humor.
Again the order was given to march, and we resumed our course down
the cañon, with the renewed demonstrations of the Indians. The orders
of the Captain alone prevented a return _salute_, which would have
promptly checked their offensive demonstrations.

At the precipice, which we had so guardedly passed on our way up the
cañon, we came near losing our Captain. In passing this locality he
made a mis-step, and slipped towards the yawning abyss at the foot
of the cliff; but for a small pine that had been “moored in the
rifted rock,” no earthly power could have saved him from being dashed
to the bottom. He fortunately escaped with some severe bruises, a
lacerated elbow and a sprained wrist. This accident and our tired and
disappointed condition, gave a more serious appearance to our line,
and a more sombre tone to our conversations than was usual. We reached
camp in a condition, however, to appreciate the supper prepared by our


  A Camp Discussion--War or Police Clubs--Jack Regrets a Lost
  Opportunity--Boling’s Soothing Syrup--A Scribe Criticises and
  Apologises--Indian War Material and its Manufacture--The Fire-stick
  and its Sacred Uses--Arrival at Head-quarters.

It was not until after we had partaken of a hearty supper and produced
our pipes, that the lively hum of conversation and the occasional
careless laughter indicated the elastic temperament of some of the
hardy, light-hearted, if not light-headed, “boys,” while in camp. The
guard was duly detailed, and the signal given to turn in, but not
authoritatively; and tired as we were, many of us sat quite late around
the camp-fires on that evening. The excitements and disappointments
of our recent excursion did not prove to be promoters of sleep; some
of us were too tired to sleep until we had somewhat rested from our
unusual fatigue. The events of the day--the _true method of subduing
Indians_, and the probable results of the plans proposed by Captain
Boling for future operations in this vicinity, were the general topics
of conversation among the different groups. This general inclination
to discuss the “peace policy” of the commissioners and the plans of
our officers, did not arise from anything like a mutinous disposition,
nor from any motives having in view the least opposition to any of the
measures connected with the campaign in which we were then engaged.

We had expected that this tribe would resist our invasion of their
territory and show fight. In this we had been disappointed. The
self-confident and experienced mountain men, and the ex-rangers
from the Texan plains, felt annoyed that these Indians had escaped
when almost within range of our rifles. Our feelings--as a military
organization--were irritated by the successful manner in which they
had eluded our pursuit, and thrown us from their trail. _We had been
outwitted by these ignorant Indians_; but as individuals, no one seemed
inclined to acknowledge it; our lack of success was attributed to the
restraints imposed on the free movements of our organization by orders
of the commissioners. Although none designed to censure our Captain
for his failure, the free speech intimations, that we might have been
successful, if Major Savage had remained to aid us with his knowledge,
was not soothing to the Captain’s already wounded pride. The popularity
of Captain Boling was not affected by our camp-fire discussion. Had
a charge, or intimation even, been made by any one of incapacity or
neglect of duty in our free expressions, the personal safety of the
individual would have been immediately endangered; although no excess
of modesty was observed in expressing opinions. Lieut. Chandler was at
our own fire, and our officers talked over the solution of the enigma
in a quiet conversational tone. The usual cheerful countenance of
the Captain had a more serious expression. His attention was as much
attracted to the groups around us, as to the remarks of Lt. Chandler.

The energetic Lieutenant was our most rigid disciplinarian when on
duty. His fearless impetuosity in the execution of all his duties,
made him a favorite with the more reckless spirits; his blunt and
earnest manner excited their admiration; for, though possessed of a
sublime egotism, he was entirely free from arrogance. Instead of his
usual cheerful and agreeable conversation, he was almost morosely
taciturn; he refilled his capacious mouth with choice Virginia, and
settled back against the wood-pile. After listening to us for a while,
he said: “I am heartily sick of this Quaker-style of subduing Indians.
So far,--since our muster-in--we have had plenty of hard work and
rough experience, with no honor or profit attending it all. We might
as well be armed with clubs like any other police.” There was none in
our group disposed to dispute the assertion of Chandler. As a body, we
were anxiously desirous of bringing the Indian troubles to a close as
soon as it could be practically accomplished. Many of us had suffered
pecuniarily from the depredations of these Mountain tribes, and had
volunteered to aid in subduing them, that we might be able to resume
our mining operations in peace. Many of us had left our own profitable
private business to engage in these campaigns for the public good,
expecting that a vigorous prosecution of the war would soon bring it to
a close. I will here say that some sensational newspaper correspondents
took it upon themselves to condemn this effort made by the settlers
to control these mountain tribes, which had become so dangerous;
charging the settlers with having excited a war, and to have involved
the government in an unneccessary expense, for the purpose of reaping
pecuniary benefits; and that our battalion had been organized to afford
occupation to adventurous idlers, for the pay afforded. Knowing the
ignorance that obtains in regard to real Indian character, and the
mistaken philanthropy that would excuse and probably even protect and
lionize murderers, because they were _Indians_; but little attention
was at first paid to these falsely slanderous articles, until one was
published, so personally offensive, and with such a false basis of
statement, that Captain Boling felt it his duty to call for the name of
its author. His name was given by the editor of the paper on a formal
demand being made. The Captain then _intimated_ through a friend, that
a public retraction of the article was desirable. In due time, the
Captain received a very satisfactory apology, and a slip of a published
retraction of the offensive correspondence. The investigation developed
the fact that the writer--who was an Eastern philanthropist--had been
played upon by certain parties in Stockton, who had failed to get the
contract to supply the battalion.

At an adjoining fire a long-haired Texan was ventilating his professed
experience in the management of Indians “down thar.” Observing that
Captain Boling was within hearing of his criticism, he turned, and
without any intentional disrespect, said: “Cap., you orter a let me
plunk it to one o’ them red skins up in the cañon thar. I’d a bin good
for one, sure; and if I’d a had my way o’ treatin’ with Injuns, Cap., I
reckon I’d a made a few o’ them squawk by this time.”

Captain Boling was suffering from his bruises and sprained wrist, and
he evidently was not pleased to hear these liberal criticisms, but
knowing the element by which he was surrounded, he did not forget
the policy of conciliating it in order to prevent any feelings of
discontent from arising so soon after having assumed full command.
He therefore quickly replied: “I have no especial regard for these
Chow-chillas; you are probably aware of that, Jack; but the orders and
instructions of the Commissioners will have to be disregarded if we
shoot them down at sight. It would have been almost like deliberate
murder to have killed those naked Indians to-day, because, Jack, you
know _just_ what you can do with that rifle of yours. If you had fired
you knew you was sure to kill; but the Indians did not know the danger
there was in coming inside your range. It was lucky for the cowards
that you did not shoot.” This allusion to the Texan’s skill with
his rifle disposed of the subject as far as he was concerned, for he
“turned in,” while a broad grin showed his satisfaction as he replied,
“I reckon you’re about on the right trail now, Cap,” and disappeared
under his blanket.

Captain Boling sat for some time apparently watching the blazing logs
before him. He took no part in the discussion of Indian affairs, which
continued to be the engrossing subject among the wakeful ones, whose
numbers gradually diminished until Spencer and one or two others beside
myself only remained at our fire. The Captain then said: “I do not
despair of success in causing this tribe to make peace, although I
cannot see any very flattering prospects of our being able to corral
them, or force an immediate surrender. They do not seem inclined to
fight us, and we cannot follow them among the rocks in those almost
impassable cañons with any probability of taking them. Bare-footed they
rapidly pass without danger over slippery rocks that we, leather-shod,
can only pass at the peril of our lives. My mishap of to-day is but a
single illustration of many that would follow were we to attempt to
chase them along the dizzy heights they pass over. Being lightly clad,
or not at all, they swim the river to and fro at will, and thus render
futile any attempt to pursue them up the river, unless we divide the
force and beat up on both sides at the same time. I have thought this
matter over, and have reached the conclusion that, unless some lucky
accident throws them into our hands, I see but one course to pursue,
and that is to destroy their camps and supplies, and then return to

After having had the bandages arranged on his swollen arm he bade
us good night, and sought such repose as his bruised limbs and
disappointed ambition would permit. Having ended our discussions,
we came to the sage conclusion that Captain Boling was in command,
and duty required our obedience to his orders. Satisfied with this
decision, we readily dropped off to sleep.

The next morning the usual jocular hilarity seemed to prevail in camp.
A refreshing slumber had seemingly given renewed vigor to the tired
explorers of the rough trail up the cañon. The camp guard assigned
to duty at “our ferry” were on duty during the night, so that the
breakfast call was promptly responded to with appetites unimpaired.
Captain Boling’s arm was dressed and found to be somewhat improved in
appearance, though very sore. He would not consent to remain in camp,
and ordered his horse to be saddled after breakfast. Before the morning
sun had risen we were in our saddles, endeavoring to explore the region
north of the San Joaquin. Small detachments were detailed from both
companies to explore, on foot, up the South Fork, and the territory
adjacent. Upon the return of this command, their report showed that
quite a large number of Indians had passed over that stream, though
none were seen. A considerable supply of acorns was found and destroyed
by this expedition; but after they left the oak table-land, near the
fork, they reported the country to the east to be about as forbidding
as that on the main river. Captain Boling detailed a few footmen to
scatter over the country on the north side, to burn any _cachés_ they
might find, while we on horseback swept farther north, towards the
Black Ridge. We found the soil soft and yielding, and in places it
was with difficulty that our weak, grass-fed animals could pass over
the water-soaked land, even after we had dismounted. I thought this
boggy ground, hard enough later in the season, another obstacle to a
successful pursuit, and so expressed myself to the Captain. I told him
that in ’49 I stayed over night with Mr. Livermore of the Livermore
Pass, and that now I fully comprehended why he thought the mountain
tribes could not be entirely subdued, because, as he said, “they will
not fight except sure of victory, and cannot be caught.”

Mr. Livermore said he had followed up several raiding parties of
Indians who were driving off stock they had stolen from the Ranchos,
but only upon one occasion did they make a bold stand, when his party
was driven back, overcome by numbers. Captain Boling was silent for
some time, and then said: “Perhaps after all I have done these Indians
injustice in calling them cowards; probably they feel that they are not
called upon to fight and lose any of their braves, when by strategy
they can foil and elude us. Human nature is about alike in war as in
other things; it is governed by what it conceives to be its interest.”


There were in the country we passed over, some beautiful mountain
meadows and most luxuriant forests, and some of the sloping table lands
looked like the ornamental parks of an extensive domain. These oak-clad
tables and ridges, were the harvest fields of the San Joaquin Indians,
and in their vicinity we found an occasional group of deserted huts.
These, with their adjacent supplies of acorns, were at once given to
the flames. The acorns found and destroyed by the scouting parties,
were variously estimated at from eight hundred to one thousand
bushels; beside the supply of Piñon pine-nuts and other supplies
hoarded for future use. The pine-nuts were not all destroyed by fire;
most of them were confiscated, and served as a dessert to many a roast.

From the total amount of acorns estimated to have been destroyed, their
supplies were comparatively small, or the number of Indians on the San
Joaquin had been, as in other localities, vastly overrated. Our search
was thoroughly made--the explorations from day to day, extending from
our camps over the whole country to an altitude above the growth of
the oaks. During these expeditions, not an Indian was seen after those
noticed on the upper San Joaquin; but fresh signs were often discovered
and followed, only to be traced to the rocky cañons above where, like
deceptive “_ignes fatui_,” they disappeared.

Being allowed the largest liberty as surgeon to the expedition, I had
ample time to examine the various things found in their camps, and
obtain from Sandino all the information I could concerning them. The
stone arrow-heads and their manufacture, especially interested me. I
found considerable quantities of the crude material from which they
were made, with many other articles brought from other localities,
such as resin, feathers, skins, pumice-stone, salt, etc., used in the
manufacture of their implements of war, and for the chase as well as
for domestic uses.

At this time but few guns were in the possession of these mountain
tribes. Their chief weapons of war and for the chase were bows and
arrows. With these they were very expert at short range, and to make
their weapons effective were disposed to lay in ambush in war, and
upon the trails of their game. Their bows were made from a species of
yew peculiar to the West, from cedar and from a spinated evergreen
tree, rare in Southern California, which, for want of scientific
classification, I gave the name of “nutmeg pine.” It bears a nut
resembling in general appearance that agreeable spice, while the
covering or pulpy shell looks very much like mace. The nut is, however,
strongly impregnated with resin. The leaves are long, hard, and so
sharp that the points will pierce the flesh like sharp steel. The wood
is stronger and more elastic than either the yew, cedar or fir. It is
susceptible of a fine polish. I made a discovery of a small cluster
of this species of tree at the foot of the cascades in the cañon, two
miles below the Yosemite valley, while engaged in a survey of that

The shafts of their arrows are made of reeds, and from different
species of wood, but the choicest are made of what is called Indian
arrow-wood (Le Hamite). This wood is only found in dark ravines and
deep rocky cañons in the mountains, as it seems to require dampness and
shade. Its scarcity makes the young shoots of a proper growth a very
valuable article of barter between the mountain tribes and those of the
valleys and plains. A locality in the Yosemite valley once famous for
its supply of this arrow-wood, was the ravine called by the Yosemites
“Le Hamite,” (as we might say “the oaks,” or “the pines,”) but which is
now designated as “Indian Cañon.”

Their arrow-shafts are first suitably shaped, and then polished between
pieces of pumice stone. This stone was also used in fashioning and
polishing their bows, spear-shafts and war clubs. Pumice stone is
found in abundance in the volcanic regions of California and Oregon,
and east of the Sierra Nevada. The quality of the best observed by me,
was much finer and lighter than that seen in the shops as an article
of commerce. The arrow heads are secured to the shaft by threads of
sinew, and a species of cement used for that and other purposes. The
arrow-heads made and in most common use by the California Indians, as
well as by many other tribes in the mountain ranges of the West and
Southwest, are of the same shape and general appearance, and of similar
material, with the exception of obsidian and old junk bottles, as the
arrow heads found in all parts of the United States. They have been
generally supposed to have been made and used by the pre-historic races
that once inhabited this continent. The bow and arrows were in common
use by the aborigines when America was first discovered, and their use
has been continued to the present time among the tribes whose limited
territories were not to any extent intruded upon by the whites.

The Indians of California, unlike those of Southern Mexico and South
America, who use the woorara (strychnos toxifera), poison their
arrow-heads with the poison of the rattlesnake. Some animal’s liver is
saturated with the poison and left until it reaches a state of thorough
decomposition, when the barbs are plunged into the festering mass,
withdrawn and dried. The gelatinous condition of the liver causes the
poison to adhere to the stone, and the strength of the poison is thus
preserved for some days. Only those arrow-heads that are inserted into
a socket, and held in place by cement, are thus poisoned. These are
easily detached after striking an object (the concussion shattering the
cement, and the play of the shaft loosening the barb), and are left to
rankle in the wound.

According to Russio, however, this practice is now seldom resorted to,
except in revenge for some great or fancied injury, or by the more
malignant of a tribe, Indian policy seeming to discountenance a former

The introduction of fire arms among them, has been from the frontiers
of civilization. The “_flint_,” or more properly cherty rock, when
first quarried, is brittle and readily split and broken into the
desired shapes required, even with the rude implements used by the
Indians; though it is not probable that any but themselves could use
them, as considerable skill seems to be required. The tool commonly
used in the manufacture of arrow-heads, is a species of hammer or pick,
made by fastening the sharp prong of a deer’s horn to a long stick.

With these instruments of various sizes laminated pieces of rock are
separated, such as slate, with quartz in filtrations, and scales
are chipped from rocks, volcanic and other glass, with a skill that
challenges admiration. Stone hammers, or pieces of hard stone, were
secured by withes and used in some of the processes of flaking; and
I have been assured that steel implements have been stolen from the
miners and used for the same purpose, but I never saw them used.
Arrow-heads were found, made from bones, from chert, obsidian or
volcanic glass, and even old junk bottles, obtained for the purpose,
during their gushing days, from the deserted camps of the libative

The most approved fire-arms are now found among many of the western
tribes, where but a few years ago bows and arrows were in common use.
Although these hereditary implements of war and of the chase are almost
wholly discarded, occasionally an old-fashioned Indian may be seen,
armed with his bow and arrows, his fire-stick a foot long, occupying
the hole punctured in the lobe of one ear, and his reed-pipe filling
the like position in the other, while his skunk-skin pouch contained
his kin-ne-kin-nick, a piece of spunk and dry charred cedar, on which a
light was obtained by rapid friction with his fire-stick. This method
of procuring fire, has, even among the Indians, been superseded by the
flint and steel, and they in turn by the labor-saving friction matches.

I have, however, recently witnessed the process of lighting a fire by
this primitive process, among the priests of the Winnebago and other
eastern tribes, who still use and preserve the fire-stick in making
fire for their sacred rites, during which they chant in a traditionary
Indian dead language, an interpretation of which they do not pretend
they are able to make. The priests told me that bad spirits would
interfere with their ministrations if they did not preserve the customs
of their fathers, and that the dead language made their ceremonies all
the more impressive and awe-inspiring to their auditors.

During our explorations up the San Joaquin and branches, the rapidly
melting snow on the mountains above flooded the streams which we were
required to cross in our excursions, and we were often compelled from
this cause to leave our horses and proceed on foot; hence our work was
toilsome and slow.

[Illustration: FIRE STICK AS USED.]

As soon as Captain Boling was satisfied that we had accomplished, in
this locality, all that could be expected of his command, we started
for head-quarters. The route selected for our return was by way of
“Fine Gold Gulch,” and down the San Joaquin to a camp opposite the site
of Fort Miller, that was about being established for the protection of
the settlers. This was done upon recommendation of the commissioners.


  Starvation subdues the Chow-chillas, and the Result is Peace--Captain
  Kuykendall’s Expeditions--An Attack--Rout and Pursuit--A Wise
  Conclusion--Freezing out Indians--A wild Country--A terrific
  View--Yosemite _versus_ King’s River--Submission of the Indians
  South of the San Joaquin--Second Expedition to Yosemite--Daring
  Scouts--Capture of Indians--Naming of “Three Brothers.”

A few days after our return from the campaign against the
Chow-chil-las, a small delegation from a Kah-we-ah band on King’s river
was sent in by Captain Kuykendall, whose energy had subdued nearly
all of the Indians in his department. The chief of this band informed
Major Savage that Tom-kit and Frederico, successors in authority to
Jose Rey, had visited his camp, and had reported that they were very
hungry. They came, they said, to hold a council. The chief told the
Major that he had advised them to come in with him and make a treaty,
but they refused. They said the white man’s “medicine” was too powerful
for them; but if their great chief had not died, he would have driven
the white men from the mountains, for he was “a heap wise.” The white
soldiers had killed their great chief; they had killed many of their
best warriors; they had burned up their huts and villages and destroyed
their supplies, and had tried to drive their people from their
territory, and they would kill their women and children if they did not
hide them where they could not be found; and much more in a similar

A small supply of acorns had been given these fugitives, and when the
chief left, they had promised to return and hear what the commissioners
had said. Major Savage reported this, and with the commissioners’
approval, decided to return with the Kah-we-ah chief and meet in
counsel with the Chow-chil-las. He took with him sufficient “beef” on
foot to give the Indians a grand feast, which lasted several days;
during which time arrangements were completed for treaties with all of
the remaining bands of the Kah-we-ah tribe, and with the Chow-chillas.
The result of the Major’s negotiations were in the highest degree
satisfactory. Captain Boling, however, claimed some of the honor, for,
said he, I defeated the Chow-chillas by _firing at long range_.

This once turbulent and uncompromising tribe became the most tractable
of the mountain Indians. They were superior in all respects to those of
most other tribes. They had intimate relations with the Monos, a light
colored race as compared with the Valley or Kah-we-ah tribe, and were
very expert in the manufacture and use of the bow and arrow. The Mono’s
had intermarried with the Chow-chil-las, and they aided them in their
intercourse with the Pah-u-tes in their barter for salt, obsidian, lava
and other commodities. The Chow-chil-las now being disposed of, and a
treaty signed by the other tribes, it was decided by the commissioners
that our next expedition should be against the Yo-sem-i-tes. This
had been recommended by Major Savage as the only practical method of
effecting any terms with their old Chief. Every inducement had been
offered them that had been successful with the others; but had been
treated with contempt. The liberal supplies of beef they refused,
saying they preferred horse-flesh. The half-civilized garbs and gaudy
presents tendered at the agency were scorned by Ten-ie-ya as being no
recompense for relinquishing the freedom of his mountain home. Major
Savage announced that the expedition would start as soon as the floods
had somewhat subsided, so that the streams could be crossed. As for
ourselves, we had learned to take advantage of any narrow place in a
stream, and by means of ropes stretched for feet and hands, we crossed
without difficulty streams that we could not ford with horses. As this
delay would allow an opportunity for some of the battalion to see to
such private business as required their attention, short furloughs were
granted to those most anxious to improve this occasion.

While the companies of Captains Boling and Dill were exploring the
vicinities of the Merced and San Joaquin in search of Indians, Captain
Kuykendall, with the able support of his Lieutenants and his company,
were actively engaged in the same duties south of the San Joaquin.
Captain Kuykendall vigorously operated in the valleys, foot-hills and
mountains of the King’s and Kah-we-ah rivers, and those of the smaller
streams south. The Indians of Kern river, owing to the influence of a
mission Chief, “Don-Vincente,” who had a plantation at the Tehon pass,
remained peaceful, and were not disturbed. The success of Captain
Kuykendall’s campaigns enabled the commissioners to make treaties with
all the tribes within the Tulare valley, and those that occupied the
region south of the San Joaquin river.

Owing to lapse of time since these events, and other causes, I am
unable to do justice to him, or the officers and men under him. My
personal recollections of the incidents of his explorations, were
acquired while exchanging stories around camp fires. Operating as they
did, among the most inaccessible mountains in California, with but one
company, they successfully accomplished the duties assigned them.

It was supposed that some of the tribes and bands among whom they
were sent were extremely hostile to the whites, and that they would
combine and resist their approach; but after a single engagement on
King’s river, the Indians were put to flight without the loss of a
man, and could not be induced to hazard another like encounter. The
plans of operation were similar to those of Captains Boling and Dill:
the destruction of the camps of all who refused to come in and have a
talk with the commissioners. Captain Kuykendall’s company found these
people almost without fire-arms and civilized clothing of any kind, and
depending wholly on their bows and arrows. Except in the vicinity of
King’s and Kah-we-ah rivers, the savages were scattered over a large
range of country. Their camps were generally in the valleys and among
the foot-hills; when alarmed, they fled to the rocky cañons among the
mountains. In one of our conversations, during a visit of Captain
Kuykendall to the Fresno, he said: “When we first started out, we
learned from our scouts and guides, that a large body of Indians had
collected well up on King’s river. Making a rapid march, we found, on
arriving in sight, that they were inclined to give us battle. We at
once charged into their camp, routed and killed a number, while others
were ridden down and taken prisoners. We followed the fugitives, making
a running fight, until compelled to leave our horses, when they eluded
pursuit. Not yet discouraged, we followed on toward the head waters
of the Kah-we-ah, seeing occasionally, upon a ridge just ahead of us,
groups of Indians; but upon our reaching _that_ locality, they were
resting on the _next ridge_; and as we came into view, turned their
backs upon us, applauding our efforts to overtake them, in a very
_peculiar_ manner. They fled into a worse country than anything before
seen in our explorations, and I soon perceived the folly of attempting
to follow them longer. As to this region east and southeast of the
termination of our pursuit, I have only this to say, that it is simply
indescribable. I did not see any ‘_dead Indians_’ after leaving the
village, and during the pursuit, although some of the boys were sure
they had ‘fetched their man.’ It is certain that a number were killed
in the assault, but how many, we were unable to ascertain, for upon our
return, as usual, the dead had been carried off. We lost no men in the
fight, and had but one wounded. The wound was very painful, having been
inflicted by one of the glass arrow-heads that it is designed shall be
left rankling in the wound; but after that was extracted, the wound
soon healed without serious results.”

After this chase on foot into the “High Sierras,” the operations of
Capt. Kuykendall were more limited, for, as he had stated, he regarded
it as the height of folly to attempt to follow the lightly-armed
and lighter clad “hostiles” with cavalry, into their rocky mountain
retreats. In the saddle, except a few sailors in his company, his men
felt at home, and were willing to perform any amount of severe duty,
however dangerous or difficult it might be, but on foot, the Texans,
especially, were like “Jack ashore, without anything to steer by.”
When required to take a few days, provisions and their blankets on
their backs, their efforts, like those of our command, were not very
effective, so far as catching the natives was concerned. These foot
expeditions were designed by the officers to keep the enemy alarmed,
and in the cold regions, while their supplies were being destroyed by
the mounted force ranging below. By this strategy, Captain Kuykendall
kept his men constantly occupied, and at the same time displayed his
genius as a soldier.

His foot expeditions were generally made by a few enthusiastic scouts,
who were as much induced to volunteer to perform this duty from a love
of nature as from a desire to fight. Here were found

      “The palaces of Nature, whose vast walls
       Have pinnacled in clouds their snowy scalps,
       And throned eternity in icy halls
       Of cold sublimity, where forms and falls
       The avalanche--the thunderbolt of snow!
       All that expands the spirit, yet appals,
       Gather around these summits, as to show
    How earth may pierce to Heaven, yet leave vain man below.”

The stories told by the men in Kuykendall’s command were received with
doubts, or as exaggerations. Their descriptions represented deeper
valleys and higher cliffs than had been seen and described by scouts
of the other companies. It was intimated by us, who had previously
described the region of the Yosemite, “that the man who told the first
story in California stood a poor chance.” Having read Professor J. D.
Whitney’s reports of that region, I can better appreciate the reports
of Captain Kuykendall and those under him, of the character of the
mountain territory to which they had been assigned. Mr. Whitney, State
Geologist, in speaking of the geological survey of this vicinity, says:
“Of the terrible grandeur of the region embraced in this portion of
the Sierra, it is hardly possible to convey any idea. Mr. Gardner,
in his notes of the view from Mount Brewer, thus enumerates some of
the most striking features of the scene: ‘Cañons from two to five
thousand feet deep, between thin ridges topped with pinnacles sharp as
needles; successions of great crater-like amphitheatres, with crowning
precipices, over-sweeping snow-fields and frozen lakes, everywhere
naked and shattered granite without a sign of vegetation, except where
a few gnarled and storm-beaten pines ... cling to the rocks in the
deeper cañons; such were the elements of the scene we looked down upon,
while cold gray clouds were drifting overhead.’”

This description applies more properly to the territory east of any
point reached by Captain Kuykendall, but it verifies the statements
made by him and those of some of his men.

While on our second expedition to the Yosemite, some of Captain
Kuykendall’s company, who had come to headquarters and had been
allowed the privileges, volunteered to accompany our supply train,
as they said: “To see what kind of a country we were staying in.”
One, an enthusiastic lover of nature, said on his return: “The King’s
river country, and the territory southeast of it, beats the Yosemite
in terrific grandeur, but in sublime beauty you have got us.” As the
furloughs granted to the members of B. and C. companies expired, all
promptly reported for duty, and preparations were completed for another
campaign against the Yosemites.

Captain Dill, with part of his company, was retained on duty at
headquarters, while Lt. Gilbert with a detachment of C. Company, was
ordered to report for duty to Captain Boling. Dr. Pfifer was placed in
charge of a temporary hospital, erected for the use of the battalion.
Surgeon Bronson had resigned, preferring the profits received from
his negro slaves, who were then mining on Sherlock’s creek to all
the romance of Indian warfare. The doctor was a clever and genial
gentleman, but a poor mountaineer. Doctor Lewis Leach was appointed to
fill the vacancy. Doctor Black was ordered to duty with Captain Boling.
Major Savage offered me a position, and it was urged upon me by Captain
Boling, but having a number of men engaged in a mining enterprise, in
which Spencer and myself were interested, we had mutually agreed to
decline all office. Beside this, when Mr. Spencer and myself entered
into service together, it was with the expectation that we would soon
be again at liberty. But once in the service, our personal pride
and love of adventure would not allow us to become _subordinate_ by
accepting office.

As it was the design of Major Savage to make a thorough search in the
territory surrounding the Yosemite, if we failed in surprising the
inhabitants in their valley, a few scouts and guides were provided
for the expedition to aid in our search among the “High Sierras,” so
distinctively named by Prof. Whitney. Among our ample supplies ropes
were furnished, by order of Major Savage, suitable for floats, and for
establishing bridges where needed. These bridges were suggested by
myself, and were useful as a support while passing through swift water,
or for crossing narrow but rushing torrents. This was accomplished
expeditiously by simply stretching “_taut_” two ropes, one above the
other, the upper rope, grasped by the hands, serving to secure the safe
passage of the stream. Where trees were not found in suitable position
to make the suspension, poles were lashed together so as to form
_shears_, which served for trestles. I also suggested that snow-shoes
could probably be used with advantage on our mountain excursions. The
use of these I found entirely unknown, except to Major Savage and a
few other eastern men. My experience favored their use, as I had often
found it easier to travel _over_ deep snow than to wallow through it.
My suggestion caused a “_heap_” of merriment, and my friend Chandler
laughed until he became “_powerful weak_,” and finally “I was assailed
by so many shafts of witty raillery from my southern comrades, that I
was willing to retreat, and cry out, ‘hold, enough!’”

The services of Major Savage being indispensable to the Commissioners,
it was decided that the expedition would be under the command of
Captain Boling. In making this announcement, the Major said: he
expected Ten-ie-ya and his people would come in with us if he was
formally invited, and a sufficient escort provided. Captain Boling
very seriously assured the Major, that if the Yosemites accepted the
invitation, he should endeavor to make the trip a _secure_ one; there
should be no neglect on the part of the escort if suitable _supplies_
were provided for subsistence. Major Savage laughingly replied that as
the expedition would be under the especial command of Captain Boling,
he had no fears that ample supplies would not be provided.

Our preparations being made, we again started for the Merced in search
of the Yosemites. It was the design of Capt. Boling to surprise the
Indians if possible, and if not, to cut off the escape of their women
and children, the capture of whom, would soon bring the warriors to
terms. With this plan in view, and leaving Chandler virtually in
command of the column, we made a rapid march direct for their valley,
crossing the streams without much difficulty, and without accident.

The advance, consisting of Captain Boling with a small detachment,
and some of the scouts, quietly entered the valley, but no Indians
were seen. A few new wigwams had been built on the south side near
the lower ford, to better guard the entrance as was supposed. Without
halting, except to glance at the vacant huts, the advance rode rapidly
on, following a trail up the south side, which our Pohonochee guide
informed the captain was a good trail.

On entering the valley and seeing the deserted wigwams I reached the
conclusion that our approach had been heralded. As my military ardor
subsided, my enthusiastic love of the beautiful returned to me, and I
halted a moment to take a general view of the scenery; intending also
to direct the column up the south side. While waiting for Chandler, I
examined the huts, and found several bushels of scorched acorns that
had been divested of their covering, as if for transportation. I knew
that the natives had no more fondness for burnt acorns than Yankees
have for burnt beans, and the interpreter Sandino, who was with me at
this moment, muttered in Indian Spanish, “Yosemite very poor--no got
much eat; acorns, fire burn--pull ’em out.” In one of the huts we found
a young dog, a miserable cur that barked his affright at our approach,
and fled into the brush near by. I told Lt. Chandler of the directions
left for his guidance, and as he expressed his intention to bring up
the rear of the column into closer order, I received permission to move
slowly on with his advance, consisting of Firebaugh, Spencer, French,
Fisher, Stone, a few others and myself. We were soon overtaken by
Chandler, who had given his orders to the rear-guard. As we rode along,
I reported the conclusions of Sandino and my knowledge of the fact that
nearly all the acorns had been burnt. I also told him what Sandino
had previously said, that the Indians took the shells off the acorns
they carried over the mountains, and from this cause, thought the
hulled acorns found were designed for a distant transportation. Again
referring the matter to Sandino, who was called up for the purpose,
he said, “No fire when take off skin; no like ’em; Yosemite close by,
want ’em acorn.” Upon telling Chandler that Sandino’s opinion was that
the acorns found were saved from some of the burning supplies fired at
our first visit, and that the Yosemites were transporting them to some
mountain retreat, the Lieutenant could not credit it, and said that
“Sandino’s opinions are unreliable.”

Sandino was not popular, either with our officers or with the “boys.”
Captain Boling doubted his integrity, while Chandler said he was a most
arrant coward and afraid of the wild Indians. Chandler was right; but,
nevertheless, Sandino told us many truths. At times his timidity and
superstition were very annoying; but if reproved, he became the more
confused, and said that many questions made his head ache; _a very
common answer to one in search of knowledge among Indians_. Sandino
had been sent along by the Major as our interpreter, but a Spanish
interpreter was necessary to make him of any use. As a scout he was
inferior--almost useless. We afterwards found that Sandino’s surmises
were true. It was evident that the fire had been extinguished at
some of the large heaps, and many acorns saved, though in a damaged

As we rode on up the valley, I became more observant of the scenery
than watchful for signs, when suddenly my attention was attracted by
shadowy objects flitting past rocks and trees on the north side, some
distance above El Capitan. Halting, I caught a glimpse of Indians
as they passed an open space opposite to us. Seeing that they were
discovered, they made no further efforts to hide their movements, but
came out into open view, at long rifle range. There were five of them.
They saluted us with taunting gestures, and fearlessly kept pace with
us as we resumed our march. The river was here a foaming impassable
torrent. The warriors looked with great indifference on our repeated
efforts to discover a fording place. As we approached a stretch of
comparatively smooth water, I made known to Chandler my intention
of swimming the stream to capture them. His answer was: “Bully for
you, Doc; take ’em, if you can, alive, but take ’em _anyhow_.” I
started with Spencer, Firebaugh, French, young Stone and two others,
for a sloping bank where our animals would most willingly enter the
stream; but Stone spurred passed me as we reached the bank, and when
Firebaugh’s mulish mustang refused the water, though given the spur,
and all the other mules refused to leave the horse, Stone backed his
mule over the bank, and we swam our mules after the “boy leader” across
the Merced.




(3,850 feet in height.)]

The Indians, alarmed by this unexpected movement, fled up the valley
at the top of their speed. By the time we had crossed, they had nearly
reached a bend in the river above on the north side. We followed
at our best gait, but found the trail obstructed by a mass of what
then appeared to be recently fallen rocks. Without hesitation, we
abandoned our mules, and continued the pursuit on foot, up to the rocky
spur known as the “Three Brothers,” where entering the Talus, they
disappeared. Find them, we could not. The obstructing rocks on the old
north side trail were known as “We-äck,” “The Rocks,” and understood
to mean the “fallen rocks,” because, according to traditions they
had fallen _upon_ the old trail. The modern trail for horses crossed
the stream a short distance below, where there was a very good ford
in a lower stage of water, but at this time, the early part of May,
the volume of water rushing down the Merced was astonishing. We had
crossed readily enough in the heat of excitement; but it was with
feelings of reluctance that we re-entered the cold water and swam our
mules back to where a few of our comrades had halted on the south side.

Mr. Firebaugh, having failed to get his mustang to follow us, had run
him up on the south side as if to cut off the fugitives, and saw them
hide behind a ledge of rocks.

When informed of the situation, Capt. Boling crossed to the north
side and came down to the ledge where the scouts were hidden; but the
Captain could scarcely at first credit Firebaugh’s statement, that he
had seen them climb up the cliff. Our Indian scouts were sent up to
hunt out the hidden warriors, and through the means of fair promises,
if they came down voluntarily, Captain Boling succeeded in bringing in
the five Indians. Three of the captives were known to us, being sons of
Ten-ie-ya, one of whom was afterwards killed; the other two were young
braves, the wife of one being a daughter of the old chief. The Indian
name for the three rocky peaks near which this capture was made was not
then known to any of our battalion, but from the strange coincidence
of three brothers being made prisoners so near them, we designated the
peaks as the “Three Brothers.” I soon learned that they were called by
the Indians “Kom-po-pai-zes,” from a fancied resemblance of the peaks
to the heads of frogs when sitting up _ready to leap_. A fanciful
interpretation has been given the Indian name as meaning “mountains
playing leap-frog,” but a literal translation is not desirable.

    They hear the plaintive bull-frog to his mistress trilling sweet;
    They see the green-robed sirens plunge down in waters deep.
    But leap these mountains may not; they watch, with clouded brow,
    Return of young Ten-ie-ya--heard not his death’s pow-wow.


  A General Scout--An Indian Trap--Flying Artillery--A Narrow Escape--A
  Tragic Scene--Fortunes of War--A Scout’s Description--Recovery from a
  Sudden Leap--Surrounded by Enemies.

While Captain Boling was engaged in capturing the Indians we had
“treed” on the north side of the valley, scouting parties were sent
out by Lieut. Chandler. They spread over the valley, and search was
made in every locality that was accessible. Discovering fresh signs
on a trail I had unsuccessfully followed on my first visit, I pursued
the traces up to a short distance below Mirror Lake. Being alone I
divided my attention between the wonders of the scenery and the tracks
I was following, when suddenly I was aroused by discovering a basket of
acorns lying by the trail. Seeing that it was a common carrying basket,
such as was generally used by the squaws in “packing,” I at first came
to the conclusion that it had been thrown off by some affrighted squaw
in her haste to escape on my approach. Observing another on a trail
leading toward the Talus, I felt confident that I had discovered the
key to the hiding-place of the Indians we were in search of. Securing
my mule with the “riata” I continued the search, and found several
baskets before reaching the walls of the cliff, up which, in a kind
of groove, the trail ascended. By this time I began to be suspicious,
and thought that there was too much method in this distribution of
acorns along the trail for frightened squaws to have made, and it
now occurred to me what Sandino had said of acorns being hulled for
transportation up the cliffs; and these _had not been hulled_!

Before reaching the Talus, I observed that the foot-prints were large,
and had been made by the males, as the toes did not turn in, as was
usual with the squaws; and it now began to appear to me, that the
acorns were only left to lead us into some trap; for I was aware that
“warriors” seldom disgraced themselves by “packing,” like squaws.
Taking a look about me, I began to feel that I was venturing too
far; my ambitious desire for further investigation vanished, and I
hastened back down the trail. While descending, I met Lt. Gilbert of
C company, with a few men. They too had discovered baskets, dropped
by the “_scared Indians_,” and were rushing up in hot pursuit, nearly
_capturing_ me. I related my discoveries, and told the Lieutenant of
my suspicions, advising him not to be too hasty in following up the
“_lead_.” After I had pointed out some of the peculiarities of the
location above us, he said with a sigh of disappointment, “By George!
Doc. I believe you are right--you are more of an Indian than I am any
way; I reckon we had better report this to the Captain before we go
any further.” I replied, “I am now going in to report this strategy
to Captain Boling, for I believe he can make some flank movement and
secure the Indians, without our being caught in this trap.” But while
we were descending to the trail, I seriously thought and believed, that
Lt. Gilbert and his men as well as myself, had had a narrow escape.
The bit of history of the rear guard of Charlemagne being destroyed
by the Pyrenians flashed through my mind, and I could readily see how
destructive such an attack might become.

After taking the precaution to secrete the baskets on the main trail,
Lt. Gilbert, with his scouts, continued his explorations in other
localities, saying as he left that he would warn all whom he might
see “not to get into the trap.” I mounted my mule and rode down the
valley in search of Captain Boling, and found him in an oak grove near
our old camp, opposite a cliff, now known as “Hammo” (the lost arrow).
I here learned the particulars of his successful capture of the five
scouts of Ten-ie-ya’s band, and at his request asked them, through
Sandino, who had come over with the “_kitchen mules_,” why they had so
exposed themselves to our view. They replied that Ten-ie-ya knew of our
approach before we reached the valley. That by his orders they were
sent to watch our movements and report to him. That they did not think
we could cross the Merced with our horses until we reached the upper
fords; and therefore, when discovered, did not fear. They said that
Ten-ie-ya would come in and “have a talk with the white chief when he
knows we are here.”

After repeated questioning as to where their people were, and where the
old chief would be found if a messenger should be sent to him, they
gave us to understand that they were to meet Ten-ie-ya near To-co-ya,
at the same time pointing in the direction of the “North Dome.” Captain
Boling assured them that if Ten-ie-ya would come in with his people he
could do so with safety. That he desired to make peace with him, and
did not wish to injure any of them. The young brave was the principal
spokesman, and he replied: “Ten-ie-ya will come in when he hears what
has been said to us.”

Having acquired all the information it was possible to get from
the Indians, Capt. Boling said that in the morning he would send a
messenger to the old chief and see if he would come in. When told
this the young “brave” appeared to be very anxious to be permitted to
go after him, saying: “He is there now,” pointing towards the “North
Dome,” “another day he will be on the ‘Skye Mountains,’ or anywhere,”
meaning that his movements were uncertain.

Capt. Boling had so much confidence in his statements, that he decided
to send some of the scouts to the region of the North Dome for
Ten-ie-ya; but all efforts of our allies and of ourselves, failed to
obtain any further clue to Ten-ie-ya’s hiding-place, for the captives
said that they dare not disclose their signals or countersign, for
the penalty was death, and none other would be answered or understood
by their people. I here broke in upon the captain’s efforts to obtain
_useful knowledge_ from his prisoners, by telling him of the discovery
of baskets of acorns found on the trail; and gave him my reasons for
believing it to be a design to lead us into an ambush--that the Indians
were probably on the cliff above. I volunteered the suggestion that a
movement in that direction would surprise them while watching the trap
set for us.

Captain Boling replied: “It is too late in the day for a job of that
kind; we will wait and see if Ten-ie-ya will come in. I have made up
my mind to send two of our prisoners after him, and keep the others as
hostages until he comes. To make a sure thing of this, Doctor, I want
you to take these two,” pointing to one of the sons and the son-in-law
of Ten-ie-ya, “and go with them to the place where they have said a
trail leads up the cliff to Ten-ie-ya’s hiding place. You will take
care that they are not molested by any of our boys while on this trip.
Take any one with you in camp, if you do not care to go alone.”

Taking a small lunch to break my fast since the morning meal, I
concluded to make the trip on foot; my mule having been turned loose
with the herd. Arming myself, I started alone with the two prisoners
which Capt. Boling had consigned to my guardianship. I kept them ahead
of me on the trail, as I always did when traveling with any of that
race. We passed along the westerly base of the North Dome at a rapid
gait, without meeting any of my comrades, and had reached a short
turn in the trail around a point of rocks, when the Indians suddenly
sprang back, and jumped behind me. From their frightened manner, and
cry of terror, I was not apprehensive of any treachery on their part.
Involuntarily I cried out, “Hallo! what’s up now?” and stepped forward
to see what had so alarmed them. Before me, stood George Fisher with
his rifle leveled at us. I instantly said: “Hold on George! these
Indians are under my care!” He determinedly exclaimed without change of
position, “Get out of the way, Doctor, those Indians have got to die,”
Just behind Fisher was Sergeant Cameron, with a man on his shoulders.
As he hastily laid him on the ground, I was near enough to see that his
clothing was soiled and badly torn, and that his face, hands and feet
were covered with blood. His eyes were glazed and bloodshot, and it
was but too evident that he had been seriously injured. From the near
proximity of the basket trail, I instantly surmised they had been on
the cliff above. The scene was one I shall long remember.

It seemed but a single motion for Cameron to deposit his burden and
level his rifle. He ordered me to stand aside if I valued my own
safety. I replied as quietly as I could, “Hold on, boys! Captain Boling
sent me to guard these Indians from harm, and I shall obey orders.”
I motioned the Indians to keep to my back or they would be killed.
Cameron shouted: “They have almost killed Spencer, and have got to
die.” As he attempted to get sight, he said: “Give way, Bunnell, I
don’t want to hurt you.” This I thought _very condescending_, and I
replied with emphasis: “These Indians are under my charge, and I shall
protect them. If you shoot you commit murder.” The whole transaction
thus far seemingly occupied but a moment’s time, when to the surprise
of us all, Spencer called my name. I moved forward a little, and said
to them, “Throw up your rifles and let me come into to see Spencer.”
“Come in! _you_ are safe,” replied Fisher--still watching the Indians
with a fierce determination in his manner. Spencer raised himself in a
sitting position, and at a glance seemed to take in the situation of
affairs, for he said: “Bunnell is right; boys, don’t shoot; mine is but
the fortune of war;” and telling Cameron to call me, he again seemed to
fall partly into stupor. As I again moved towards them with the Indians
behind me, they with some reluctance, put up their rifles. Fisher
turned his back to me as he said with sarcasm, “Come in with your
friends, Doctor, and thank Spencer for their safety.” They relieved
their excitement with volleys of imprecations. Cameron said that I
“was a ---- sight too high-toned to suit friends that had always been
willing to stand by me.”

This occurrence did not destroy good feeling toward each other, for we
were all good friends after the excitement had passed over.

I examined Spencer and found that, although no bones were broken,
he was seriously bruised and prostrated by the shock induced by his
injuries. Fisher started for camp to bring up a horse or mule to carry
Spencer in. I learned that they had fallen into the trap on the “basket
trail,” and that Spencer had been injured while ascending the cliff as
I had suspected. He had, unfortunately, been _trailed in_, as I had
been. The particulars Cameron related to me and in my hearing after we
had arrived in camp. As the Indians represented to me that the trail
they proposed to take up the cliff was but a little way up the north
branch, I concluded to go on with them, and then be back in time to
accompany Spencer into camp. Speaking some cheering words to Spencer
I turned to leave, when Cameron said to him: “You ain’t dead yet, my
boy.” Spencer held out his hand, and as he took it Cameron said, with
visible emotion, but emphatic declaration: “We will pay them back for
this if the chance ever comes; Doc. is decidedly too conscientious in
this affair.” I escorted the Indians some way above “Mirror Lake,”
where they left the trail and commenced to climb the cliff.

On my return I found that Cameron had already started with Spencer;
I soon overtook them and relieved him of his burden, and from there
carried Spencer into camp. We found Fisher vainly trying to catch his
mule. The most of the horses were still out with the scouts, and all
animals in camp had been turned loose. Sergt. Cameron, while Fisher
was assisting me in the removal of Spencer’s clothing aid dressing
his wounds, had prepared a very comfortable bed, made of boughs, that
the kind-hearted boys thoughtfully brought in; and after he was made
comfortable and nourishment given him, the Sergeant related to Captain
Boling the details of their adventure, which were briefly as follows:
Cameron and Spencer while on their way back to camp discovered the
baskets on the trail. Feeling certain that they had discovered the
hiding-place of the Indians, as we had done, they concluded to make
a reconnoissance of the vicinity before making a report of their
discovery. Elated at their success, and unsuspicious of any unusual
danger, they followed the trail that wound up the cliff, along jutting
rocks that in places projected like cornices, until the converging
walls forced them to a steep acclivity grooved in the smooth-worn rock.
Not daunted by the difficult assent, they threw off their boots and
started up the slippery gutter, when suddenly a huge mass of granite
came thundering down towards them. But for a fortunate swell or
prominence just above they would both have been swept into eternity;
as it was, the huge rock passed over their heads; a fragment, however,
struck Spencer’s rifle from his hand and hurled him fifty feet or more
down the steep wall, where he lay, entirely senseless for a time, while
a shower of rocks and stones was passing over him, the shape of the
wall above sending them clear of his body.

Cameron was in advance, and fortunately was able to reach the shelter
of a projecting rock. After the discharge, an Indian stretched himself
above a detached rock, from which he had been watching his supposed
victims. Cameron chanced to be looking that way, and instantly firing,
dropped his man. No doubt he was killed, for the quantity of blood
found afterward on the rock, was great. The echoing report of Cameron’s
rifle, brought back howls of rage from a number of rocks above, as if
they were alive with demons. Anticipating another discharge from their
battery, Cameron descended to the spot where Spencer had fallen, and
taking him in his arms, fled out of range.

After supper, the explorers having all come in, the boys gathered
around the Sergeant and importuned him to give the history of his
adventures. After reflectively bringing up the scene to view, he began:
“We got into mighty close quarters! Come to think of it, I don’t see
how we happened to let ourselves be caught in that dead-fall. I reckon
we must have fooled ourselves some. The way of it was this. We went up
on the south side as far as we could ride, and after rummaging around
for a while, without finding anything, Spencer wanted to go up the
North Cañon and get a good look at that mountain with one side split
off; so I told the boys to look about for themselves, as there were no
Indians in the valley. Some of them went on up the South Cañon, and the
rest of us went over to the North Cañon. After crossing the upper ford,
Spencer and I concluded to walk up the cañon, so we sent our animals
down to graze with the herd. Spencer looked a good long while at that
split mountain, and called it a ‘half dome.’ I concluded he might
name it what he liked, if he would leave it and go to camp; for I was
getting tired and hungry and said so. Spencer said ‘All right, we’ll go
to camp.’

On our way down, as we passed that looking-glass pond, he wanted to
take one more look, and told me to go ahead and he’d soon overtake
me; but that I wouldn’t do, so he said: “No matter, then; I can come
up some other time.” As we came on down the trail below the pond, I
saw some acorns scattered by the side of the trail, and told Spencer
there were Indians not far off. After looking about for a while Spencer
found a basket nearly full behind some rocks, and in a little while
discovered a trail leading up towards the cliff. We followed this up a
piece, and soon found several baskets of acorns. I forgot about being
hungry, and after talking the matter over we decided to make a sort of
reconnoissance before we came in to make any report. Well, we started
on up among the rocks until we got to a mighty steep place, a kind
of gulch that now looked as if it had been scooped out for a stone
battery. The trail up it was as steep as the roof on a meeting-house,
and worn so slippery that we couldn’t get a foot-hold. I wanted to see
what there was above, and took off my boots and started up. Spencer did
the same and followed me. I had just got to the swell of the steepest
slope, where a crack runs across the face of the wall, and was looking
back to see if Spencer would make the riffle, when I heard a crash
above me, and saw a rock as big as a hogshead rolling down the cliff
toward us. I sprang on up behind a rock that happened to be in the
right place, for there was no time to hunt for any other shelter.

I had barely reached cover when the bounding rock struck with a crash
by my side, and bounded clear over Spencer, who had run across the
crevice and was stooping down and steadying himself with his rifle. A
piece of the big rock that was shattered into fragments and thrown
in all directions, struck his rifle out of his hands, and sent him
whirling and clutching down a wall fifty feet. He lodged out of sight,
where in going up we had kicked off our leathers. I thought he was
killed, for he did not answer when I called, and I had no chance then
to go to him, for a tremendous shower of stones came rushing by me. I
expected he would be terribly mangled at first, but soon noticed that
the swell in the trail caused the rocks to bound clear over him onto
the rocks in the valley. I looked up to see where they came from just
as an Indian stuck his head above a rock. My rifle came up of its own
accord. It was a quick sight, but with me they are generally the best,
and as I fired that Indian jumped into the air with a yell and fell
back onto the ledge. He was hit, I know, and I reckon _he went west_.
Every rock above was soon a yelling as if alive. As I expected another
discharge from their stone artillery, I slid down the trail, picked up
Spencer, and “vamoosed the ranche,” just as they fired another shot
of rocks down after us. I did not stay to see where they struck after
I was out of range, for my rifle and Spencer took about all of my
attention until safely down over the rocks. While I was there resting
for a moment, Fisher came up the trail. He heard me fire and had heard
the rocks tumbling down the cliff. Thinking some one was in trouble, he
was going to find out who it was.

“We concluded at first that Spencer was done for; for his heart beat
very slow and he was quite dumpish. We had just started for camp with
him, and met Bunnell going out with the two Indians. I reckon we would
have sent them on a trip down where it is warmer than up there on the
mountains, if Spencer hadn’t roused himself just then. He stopped
the game. He called for the Doctor; but Bunnell was as stubborn as
Firebaugh’s mustang and would not leave the Indians. We had to let
them pass, before he would take a look at Spencer. Doc. is generally
all right enough, but he was in poor business to-day. When I told him
it was his own messmate, he said it didn’t matter if it were his own
brother. If Captain Boling will make a shooting match and put up the
other three, I’ll give my horse for the first three shots. Shooting
will be cheap after that.”

I have given the substance only of Sergt. Cameron’s talk to the group
around him, though but poorly imitating his style, in order to show the
feeling that was aroused by Spencer’s misfortune. Spencer’s uniformly
quiet and gentlemanly manners, made no enemies among rough comrades,
who admired the courageous hardihood of “the little fellow,” and
respected him as a man. Many expressions of sympathy were given by the
scouts who gathered around our tent, on learning of his injury. For
some days after the event, he could scarcely be recognized, his face
was so swollen and discolored. But what Spencer seemed most to regret,
was the injury to his feet and knees, which had been cruelly rasped by
the coarse granite in his descent.

The injury from this cause was so great, that he was unable to make
those explorations that footmen alone could accomplish. He was an
enthusiastic lover of nature, an accomplished scholar and man of the
world. Having spent five years in France and Germany in the study of
modern languages, after having acquired a high standing here in Latin
and Greek.

We thought him peculiarly gifted, and hoped for something from his
pen descriptive of the Yosemite that would endure; but he could never
be induced to make any effort to describe any feature of the valley,
saying: “That fools only rush in where wise men stand in awe.” We were
bed-fellows and friends, and from this cause chiefly, perhaps, all the
incidents of his accident were strongly impressed on my memory. After
his full recovery his feet remained tender for a long time, and he made
but one extended exploration after his accident while in the battalion.

During the camp discussion regarding my course in saving the two
captives, Captain Boling and myself were amused listeners. No great
pains were taken as a rule to hide one’s light under a bushel, and we
were sitting not far off. The Captain said that he now comprehended
the extreme anxiety of the captives to see Ten-ie-ya, as doubtless
they knew of his intentions to roll rocks down on any who attempted to
follow up that trail; and probably supposed we would kill them if any
of us were killed. As he left our tent he remarked: “These hostages
will have to stay in camp. They will not be safe outside of it, if some
of the boys chance to get their eyes on them.”


  Camp Amusements--A Lost Arrow--Escape of a Prisoner--Escape of
  Another--Shooting of the Third--Indian Diplomacy--Taking His
  Own Medicine--Ten-ie-ya Captured--Grief over the Death of His
  Son--Appetite under Adverse Circumstances--Poetry Dispelled--Really a
  Dirty Indian.

Although our camp was undisturbed during the night, no doubt we were
watched from the adjacent cliffs, as in fact all our movements were.
The captives silently occupied the places by the camp fire. They
were aware of Spencer’s mishap, and probably expected their lives
might be forfeited; for they could see but little sympathy in the
countenances of those about them. The reckless demonstrations of the
more frolicksome boys were watched with anxious uncertainty. The sombre
expressions and _energetic_ remarks of the sympathizers of Spencer
induced Captain Boling to have a special guard detailed from those
who were not supposed to be prejudiced against the Indians, as it was
deemed all-important to the success of the campaign that Ten-ie-ya
should be conciliated or captured; therefore, this detail was designed
as much for the protection of the hostages as to prevent their escape.
The messengers had assured the Captain that Ten-ie-ya would be in
before noon, but the hostages told Sandino that possibly the messengers
might not find him near To-co-ya, where they expected to meet him,
as he might go a long distance away into the mountains before they
would again see him. They evidently supposed that the chief, like
themselves, had become alarmed at the failure of his plan to draw us
into ambush, and had fled farther into the Sierras; or else doubted
his coming at all, and wished to encourage the Captain to hope for the
coming of Ten-ie-ya that their own chances of escape might be improved.

Sandino professed to believe their statement, telling me that
they--the five prisoners--expected to have trailed us up to the scene
of Spencer’s disaster; failing in which--owing to our having forced
them to hide near the “Frog Mountains”--they still expected to meet
him on the cliff where the rocks had been rolled down, and not at
To-co-ya. In this conversation, the fact appeared--derived as he said
indirectly from conversations with the prisoners--that there were
projecting ledges and slopes extending along the cliff on the east
side of Le-hamite to To-co-ya, where Indians could pass and re-pass,
undiscovered, and all of our movements could be watched. The substance
of this communication I gave to Captain Boling, but it was discredited
as an impossibility; and he expressed the belief that the old chief
would make his appearance by the hour agreed upon with his messengers,
designated by their pointing to where the sun would be on his arrival
in camp. Accordingly the Captain gave orders that no scouts would be
sent out until after that time. Permission, however, was given to those
who desired to leave camp for their own pleasure or diversion.

A few took advantage of this opportunity and made excursions up the
North Cañon to the “basket trail,” with a view of examining that
locality, and at the same time indulging their curiosity to see the
place where Cameron and Spencer had been trailed in and entrapped by
the Indians. Most of the command preferred to remain in camp to repair
damages, rest, and to amuse themselves in a general way. Among the
recreations indulged in, was shooting at a target with the bows and
arrows taken from the captured Indians. The bow and arrows of the
young brave were superior to those of the others, both in material
and workmanship. Out of curiosity some of the boys induced him to
give a specimen of his skill. His shots were really commendable. The
readiness with which he handled his weapons excited the admiration
of the lookers on. He, with apparent ease, flexed a bow which many
of our men could not bend without great effort, and whose shots were
as liable to endanger the camp as to hit the target. This trial of
skill was witnessed by Captain Boling and permitted, as no trouble was
anticipated from it.

After this exercise had ceased to be amusing, and the most of those in
camp had their attention engaged in other matters, the guard, out of
curiosity and for pastime, put up the target at long range. To continue
the sport it was necessary to bring in the arrows used, and as it
was difficult to find them, an Indian was taken along to aid in the
search. The young brave made a more extended shot than all others. With
great earnestness he watched the arrow, and started with one of the
guard, who was unarmed, to find it. While pretending to hunt for the
“lost arrow,” he made a dash from the guard toward “Indian Cañon,” and
darted into the rocky Talus, which here encroached upon the valley. The
guard on duty hearing the alarm of his comrade and seeing the Indian
at full speed, fired at him, but without effect, as the intervening
rocks and the zig-zag course he was running, made the shot a difficult
one, without danger of hitting his comrade, who was following in close

This aggravating incident greatly annoyed Capt. Boling, who was
peculiarly sensitive on the subject of escaped prisoners. The verdant
guard was reprimanded in terms more expressive than polite; and
relieved from duty. The remaining Indians were then transferred to the
special care of Lt. Chandler, who was told by Capt. Boling to “keep
them secure if it took the whole command to do-it.” The Indians were
secured by being tied back to back, with a “riata” or picket rope,
and then fastened to an oak tree in the middle of the camp, and the
guard--a new one--stationed where they could constantly watch. The
morning passed, and the hour of ten arrived, without Ten-ie-ya. Capt.
Boling then sent out Sandino and the scouts to hunt for him, and if
found, to notify him that he was expected. Sandino soon came back, and
reported that he had seen Ten-ie-ya and talked with him; but that he
was unable to reach him from below, on account of the steepness of the
ledge. Sandino reported that Ten-ie-ya was unwilling to come in. That
he expressed a determination not to go to the Fresno. He would make
peace with the white chief if he would be allowed to remain in his own
territory. Neither he nor his people would go to the valley while the
white men were there. They would stay on the mountains or go to the

When this was communicated to Capt. Boling, he gave orders for a select
number of scouts to make an effort to bring in the old malcontent,
_alive if possible_. Lt. Chandler, therefore, with a few Noot-chü
and Po-ho-no-chee scouts, to climb above the projecting ledge, and a
few of our men to cut off retreat, started up the Ten-ie-ya branch,
led by Sandino as guide. After passing the “Royal Arches,” Sandino
let Chandler understand that he and his scouts had best go up by the
Wai-ack or Mirror Lake trail, in order to cut off Ten-ie-ya’s retreat;
while he went back to the rock he pointed out as the place where he
had seen and talked with Ten-ie-ya; and which commanded a view of our
camp. This was distasteful to Chandler; but after a moment’s reflection
said: “Let the converted knave go back to camp; I’ll act without him,
and catch the old chief if he is on the mountain, and that without
resorting to Indian treachery.”

While in camp Sandino had seemed to convey some message to the
hostages, and when asked the purport of it had answered evasively.
This had prejudiced Chandler, but it had not surprised me, nor did it
appear inconsistent with Sandino’s loyalty to Captain Boling; but the
Indian was unpopular. As to his code of honor and his morality, it was
about what should have been expected of one in his position, and as a
frequent interpreter of his interpretations and sayings, I finally told
the Captain and Chandler that it would be best to take Sandino for what
he might be worth; as continued doubt of him could not be disguised,
and would tend to make a knave or fool of him. On one occasion, he was
so alarmed by some cross looks and words given him, that he fell upon
his knees and begged for his life, thinking, as he said afterward, that
he was to be killed.

During the night, and most of the time during the day, I was engaged in
attendance on Spencer. Doctor Black understood it to be Spencer’s wish
that I should treat him. I gave but little attention to other matters,
although I could see from our tent everything that was going on in
camp. Not long after the departure of Chandler and his scouts, as I was
about leaving camp in search of balsam of fir and other medicinals, I
observed one of the guard watching the prisoners with a pleased and
self-satisfied expression. As I glanced toward the Indians I saw that
they were endeavoring to untie each other, and said to two of the
detail as I passed them, “That ought to be reported to the officer of
the guard. They should be separated, and not allowed to tempt their
fate.” I was told that it was “already known to the officers.” I was
then asked if I was on guard duty. The significance of this I was fully
able to interpret, and passed on to the vicinity of “The High Falls.”

On my return an hour afterwards, I noticed when nearing camp, that the
Indians were gone from the tree to which they were tied when I left.
Supposing that they had probably been removed for greater security, I
gave it no further thought until, without any intimation of what had
occurred during my short absence, I saw before me the dead body of old
Ten-ie-ya’s youngest son. The warm blood still oozing from a wound in
his back. He was lying just outside of our camp, within pistol range of
the tree to which he had been tied.

I now comprehended the action of the guard. I learned that the other
Indian had been fired at, but had succeeded in making his escape
over the same ground and into the cañon where the other brave had
disappeared. I found on expressing my unqualified condemnation of
this cowardly act, that I was not the only one to denounce it. It was
a cause of regret to nearly the whole command. Instead of the praise
expected by the guard for the dastardly manner in which the young
Indian was killed, they were told by Captain Boling that they had
committed murder. Sergeant Cameron was no lover of Indians, but for
this act his boiling wrath could hardly find vent, even when aided by
some red hot expressions. I learned, to my extreme mortification, that
no report had been made to any of the officers. The Indians had been
permitted to untie themselves, and an opportunity had been given them
to attempt to escape in order to fire upon them, expecting to kill them
both; and only that a bullet-pouch had been hung upon the muzzle of one
of the guard’s rifles while leaning against a tree (for neither were
on duty at the moment), no doubt both of the captives would have been

[Illustration: YOSEMITE FALLS.

(2,634 feet in height.)]

Upon investigation, it was found that the fatal shot had been fired
by a young man who had been led by an old Texan sinner to think that
killing Indians or Mexicans was a duty; and surprised at Captain
Boling’s view of his conduct, declared with an injured air, that
he “would not kill another Indian if the woods were full of them.”
Although no punishment was ever inflicted upon the perpetrators of
the act, they were both soon sent to coventry, and feeling their
disgrace, were allowed to do duty with the pack-train. Captain Boling
had, before the occurrence of this incident, decided to establish his
permanent camp on the south side of the Merced. The location selected
was near the bank of the river, in full view of, and nearly opposite,
“The Fall.” This camp was head-quarters during our stay in the valley,
which was extended to a much longer time than we had anticipated. Owing
to several mountain storms, our stay was prolonged over a month. The
bottoms, or meadow land, afforded good grazing for our animals, and we
were there more conveniently reached by our couriers and supply-trains
from the Fresno.

From this point our excursions were made. All Indians attach great
importance to securing the bodies of their dead for appropriate
ceremonials, which with these was “cremation.” They with others of
the mountain tribes in this part of California, practiced the burning
of their dead in accordance with their belief in a future state of
existence, which was that if the body was burned, the spirit was
released and went to “the happy land in the west.” If this ceremony
was omitted, the spirit haunted the vicinity, to the annoyance of the
friends as well as the enemies of the deceased. Knowing this, Captain
Boling felt a desire to make some atonement for the unfortunate killing
of the son of Ten-ie-ya, the chief of the tribe with whom he was
endeavoring to “make peace,” and therefore made his arrangements to
take advantage of this custom to propitiate the Indians by giving them
an opportunity to remove the body of the youth. Accordingly, the order
was at once given to break camp.

While the pack animals were being loaded, Lt. Chandler with his party
brought in Ten-ie-ya. The Indian scouts, who were first sent out with
Sandino and who knew where the talk with the chief had been held,
passed on in advance and saw that he was still at his perch, watching
the movements below him. Some of those out on leave discovered him
also, seated on a ledge that appeared only accessible from above. The
Pohonochee scouts, thinking to capture him by cutting off his retreat,
followed an upper trail and reached the summit of the wall, while a
few of Chandler’s men, who were apprized of the situation by some
of the pleasure-seekers whom they met, took a lower trail, and thus
were in advance of the Indian scouts when Ten-ie-ya’s retreat was
reached. To their disappointment, the old chief could not be found,
though at intervals fresh signs and heaps of stones were seen along the
south-western slope of the mountain.

The sequel to the disappearance of Ten-ie-ya, as explained by Sandino,
was simply as follows: When sent back by Chandler, Sandino resolved
to make another effort to induce Ten-ie-ya to come in, lest Chandler
should kill him if found. Accordingly he again climbed to the foot of
the old chief’s perch, and was talking with him, when some small loose
stones came rolling down towards them. Seeing that his retreat above
had been cut off, Ten-ie-ya at first ran along westerly, on the slope
of the mountain towards Indian Cañon; but finding that he was cut off
in that direction also, by the Neut-chü and Po-ho-no-chee scouts, he
turned and came down a trail through an oak tree-top to the valley,
which Sandino had by this time reached, and where he had been attracted
by the noise made in the pursuit. Lt. Chandler had not climbed up the
trail, and hearing Sandino’s cry for help, and the noise above him, he
was able to reach the place when Ten-ie-ya descended, in time to secure
him. Ten-ie-ya said the men above him were rolling stones down, and
he did not like to go up, as they broke and flew everywhere; for that
reason he came down.

Ten-ie-ya accompanied his captors without making any resistance,
although he strongly censured the Indians for being instrumental in
his capture. They did not reach the valley in time to take part in the
capture, but as Ten-ie-ya had said: “It was their cunning that had
discovered the way to his hiding place.”

None of the party of explorers or those under Chandler were aware of
the event that had occurred during their absence. As Ten-ie-ya walked
toward the camp, proudly conscious of being an object of attention from
us, his eye fell upon the dead body of his favorite son, which still
lay where he had fallen, without having been disturbed. He halted for a
moment, without visible emotion, except a slight quivering of his lips.
As he raised his head, the index to his feelings was exhibited in the
glaring expression of deadly hate with which he gazed at Capt. Boling,
and cast his eyes over the camp as if in search of the remains of the
other son, the fellow captive of the one before him. Captain Boling
expressed his regret of the occurrence, and had the circumstances
explained to him, but not a single word would he utter in reply; not a
sound escaped his compressed lips. He passively accompanied us to our
camp on the south side of the river. It was evident that every movement
of ours was closely scrutinized. Sandino was instructed to notify the
chief that the body could be taken away. This permission was also
received in silence.

Upon riding over to the camp ground the next morning, it was found that
the body had been carried up or secreted in Indian Cañon; as all of
the tracks led that way. This ravine became known to _us_ as “Indian
Cañon,” though called by the Indians “Le-Hamite,” “the arrow wood.” It
was also known to them by the name of “Scho-tal-lo-wi,” meaning the
way to “_Fall Creek_.” The rocks near which we were encamped, between
“Indian Cañon” and “The Falls,” were now called by the Po-ho-no-chee
scouts who were with us, “Hammo” or “Ummo” “The Lost Arrow,” in
commemoration of the event. On the morning following the capture of
Ten-ie-ya, Capt. Boling tried to have a talk with him; but he would not
reply to a question asked through the interpreter; neither would he
converse with Sandino or the Indians with us. He maintained this moody
silence and extreme taciturnity for several days afterwards.

Finding that nothing could be accomplished through the old chief,
Captain Boling gave orders to re-commence our search for his people.
Scouting parties were started on foot to explore as far as was
practicable on account of the snow. Although it was now May, the snow
prevented a very extended search in the higher Sierras. On the first
day out these parties found that, although they had made a faithful and
active search, they had not performed half they had planned to do when
starting. Distances were invariably under-estimated. This we afterward
found was the case in all of our excursions in the mountains, where we
estimated distance by the eye; and calling attention to the phenomena,
I tried to have the principle applied to heights as well. The height of
the mountainous cliffs, and the clear atmosphere made objects appear
near, but the time taken to reach them convinced us that our eyes had
deceived us in our judgment of distance. To avoid the severe labor
that was imposed upon us by carrying our provisions and blankets, an
attempt was made to use pack-mules, but the circuitous route we were
compelled to take consumed too much time; besides the ground we were
desirous of going over was either too soft and yielding, or too rocky
and precipitous. We were compelled to leave the mules and continue our
explorations on foot. Later in the season there would have been no
difficulty in exploring the mountains on horse-back, if certain well
established routes and passes were kept in view; but aside from these
our Indian guides could give us little or no information. This we
accounted for upon the theory that, as there was no game of consequence
in the higher Sierras, and the cold was great as compared with the
lower altitudes, the Indians knowledge of the “Higher Sierras” was
only acquired while passing over them, or while concealed in them from
the pursuit of their enemies. All scouting parties were, therefore,
principally dependent upon their own resources, and took with them
a supply of food and their blankets for a bivouac. In this way much
time and fatigue of travel was saved. Some were more adventurous
than others in their explorations. These, on returning from a scout
of one or more days out, would come in ragged and foot-sore, and
report with enthusiasm their adventures, and the wonders they had
seen. Their descriptions around the camp fire at night were at first
quite exciting; but a few nights’ experience in the vicinity of the
snow-line, without finding Indians, soon cooled down the ardor of all
but a very few, who, from their persistent wandering explorations, were
considered somewhat eccentric.

Through our Indian scouts, we learned that some of the Yosemites had
gone to the Tuolumne. These were Tuolumne Indians who had intermarried
with the Yosemites, and had been considered as a part of Ten-ie-ya’s
band. Taking their women and children, they returned to the Tuolumne
tribe as soon as it was known that Ten-ie-ya had been captured; fearing
he would again promise to take his band to the Fresno. Our orders
prohibited us from disturbing the Tuolumne Indians; we therefore
permitted them to return to their allegiance without attempting to
follow them.

Ten-ie-ya was treated with kindness, and as his sorrow for the loss of
his son seemed to abate, he promised to call in some of his people, and
abide by their decision, when they had heard the statements of Capt.
Boling. At night he would call as if to some one afar off. He said his
people were not far from our camp and could hear his voice. We never
heard a reply, although the calls were continued by order of Capt.
Boling for many nights.

Although he was closely watched by the camp guard, he made an attempt
to escape while the guard’s back was momentarily turned upon him.
Sergt. Cameron, who had especial charge of him at the time, saw his
movement, and as he rushed from his keeper, Cameron dashed after and
caught him before he was able to plunge into and swim the river.

As Ten-ie-ya was brought into the presence of Capt. Boling by Sergt.
Cameron, after this attempt to escape, he supposed that he would now he
condemned to be shot. With mingled fear of the uncertainty of his life
being spared, and his furious passion at being foiled in his attempt
to regain his liberty, he forgot his usual reserve and shrewdness. His
grief for the loss of his son and the hatred he entertained toward
Capt. Boling, who he considered as responsible for his death, was
uppermost in his thoughts, and without any of his taciturn, diplomatic
style he burst forth in lamentations and denunciations, given in a loud
voice and in a style of language and manner of delivery which took
us all by surprise. In his excitement, he made a correct use of many
Spanish words, showing that he was more familiar with them than he had
ever admitted even to Sandino; but the more emphatic expressions were
such as may often be heard used by the muleteers of Mexico and South
America, but are not found in the Lexicons. As he approached Capt.
Boling, he began in a highly excited tone: “_Kill me_, sir Captain!
Yes, _kill me_, as you killed my son; as you would kill my people if
they were to come to you! You would kill all my race if you had the
power. Yes, sir, American, you can now tell your warriors to kill the
old chief; you have made me sorrowful, my life dark; you killed the
child of my heart, why not kill the father? But wait a little; when I
am dead I will call to my people to come to you, I will call louder
than you have had me call; that they shall hear me in their sleep,
and come to avenge the death of their chief and his son. Yes, sir,
American, my spirit will make trouble for you and your people, as you
have caused trouble to me and my people. With the wizards, I will
follow the white men and make them fear me.” He here aroused himself
to a sublime frenzy, and completed his rhapsody by saying: “You may
kill me, sir, Captain, but you shall not live in peace. I will follow
in your foot-steps, I will not leave my home, but be with the spirits
among the rocks, the water-falls, in the rivers and in the winds;
wheresoever you go I will be with you. You will not see me, but you
will fear the spirit of the old chief, and grow cold.[13] The great
spirits have spoken! I am done.”

Captain Boling allowed the old orator to finish his talk without
interruption. Although he did not fully understand him, he was amused
at his earnest style and impetuous gestures. On hearing it interpreted,
he humorously replied: “I comprehended the most of what he said. The
old chief has improved. If he was only reliable he would make a better
interpreter than Sandino. As for speech-making, Doc., I throw up. The
old Pow-wow can beat me all hollow.” Ten-ie-ya earnestly watched the
countenance of the good natured Captain, as if to learn his decision in
the matter. The Captain observing him, quietly said: “Sergeant Cameron!
the old sachem looks hungry, and as it is now about supper time, you
had better give him an extra ration or two, and then see that he is so
secured that he will not have a chance to escape from us again.”

I watched the old incorrigible while he was delivering this eloquent
harangue (which, of course, is necessarily a free translation) with
considerable curiosity. Under the excitement of the moment he appeared
many years younger. With his vigorous old age he displayed a _latent_
power which was before unknown to us. I began to feel a sort of
veneration for him. My sympathies had before been aroused for his
sorrow, and I now began to have almost a genuine respect for him;
but as I passed him half an hour afterwards, the poetry of his life
appeared changed. He was regaling himself on fat pork and beans from
a wooden dish which had been brought to him by order of Cameron. This
he seemed to enjoy with an appetite of a hungry animal. His guard had
provided his wooden bowl and ladle by chipping them out of an alder
tree, but failing to finish them smoothly, they could not be _properly_
washed; but this fact seemed not to disturb his relish for the food.
As I looked at his enjoyment of the loaded dish, I now saw only a
dirty old Indian. The spiritual man had disappeared. I addressed him
in Spanish, but not a word of reply; instead he pointed to his ear,
thereby indicating that he was deaf to the language. Afterwards he even
repudiated his “_Medicineship_.”


  Bears and Other Game--Sickness of Captain Boling--Convalescence
  and Determination--A Guess at Heights--A Tired Doctor and a
  Used-up Captain--Surprising an Indian--Know-nothingness, or Native
  Americanism--A Clue and Discovery--A Short-cut to Camp, but an
  Unpopular Route.

Considerable hilarity has been exhibited by modern visitors when told
that the Yosemite and its environs were once the favorite resort of
the grizzly bear. After these visitors have returned to New York or
Boston, they tell the public not to be afraid of bears, as they were
quite harmless; rather inclined to become domestic, etc. That is well
enough now, perhaps, although grizzlies may yet be found; but at the
date of the discovery; their trails were as large and numerous, almost,
as cow-paths in a western settlement. Several bears were seen by us,
and one was killed. The Yo-sem-i-tes used to capture these monsters
by lying in wait for them on some rock or in some tree that commanded
their thoroughfare, and after the bear had been wounded, all the dogs
in the village were turned loose upon him. After being brought to bay,
he was dispatched with arrows or the spear. A medium sized terrier
or two will so annoy a large grizzly, keeping out of his way in the
meantime, that he is apt to become stubborn and stand his ground.

In such cases, there is less danger to the hunter. I have known of two
being killed in this way at short range. The approach of the hunter
was disregarded by the bear. Their hams had been so bitten by the
dogs that they dared not run, for fear of a fresh attack. I killed a
large one as he came out of the Merced river, a little above where
the town of Merced has since been built, and the same day, being in
a whale-boat, I had to back from an old she-bear and her two cubs,
encountered in a short turn of the river. I tried to kill these also,
but my rifle had got soaked in the rain that was pouring at the time;
as for the pistol shots, fired by some of the oarsmen, they only seemed
to increase her speed, and that of her cubs, as they reached the shore
and plunged through the willows. I had, previous to the killing of
the grizzly, killed a large black bear with a rifle of small calibre,
and gaining confidence, I attacked the grizzly, and was fortunate in
cutting a renal-artery, from which the bear soon bled to death; but
upon viewing the huge monster, I fully realized the folly of an open
attack upon this kind of game, and ever afterwards, so far as I could,
when alone, avoided their noted haunts. With all my caution and dread
of an unexpected encounter with them, I met several face to face during
mountain explorations; but invariably, they seemed as anxious to get
away from me as I was that they should do so. Once while manœuvering to
get a shot at a deer, a grizzly came out in full view but a few yards
in advance of me. I was tempted to give him a shot, but as I had no
refuge of dog or tree, if I made a poor shot, and knowing that I was
not seen by the bear, I did not molest him, but felt relieved as he
entered a chinquepin thicket, and if there had been _fifty of them_, no
doubt they might have all gone without my _saying a word_.

I have seen a good deal of nonsense in print about bears, but will
venture to give these incidents. Joel H. Brooks and John Kenzie,
ex-members of “The Battalion,” were the least susceptible to fear
of them, of any persons I ever knew. Their skill as marksmen, was
something wonderful. They used to go through a drill on foot, firing
at some imaginary grizzly, then with a representative shot, the bear
was wounded, and pursuing them; they would turn and flee, loading their
rifles as they ran, and then turn and fire with deliberation at the
imaginary bear in pursuit.

This theory of bear hunting, they determined to put into practice, and
after the close of the Indian war, and the disbanding of the battalion,
they established themselves in a camp near the Tehon Pass, a locality
even more famous for bears than the Yosemite. They were successful,
killed a number, and were daily acquiring more confidence in the
practicability of their theory and plans of attack; when one day, while
Kenzie was out hunting by himself, he unexpectedly met a huge grizzly
face to face; both were for a moment startled.

Contrary to the usual, and almost invariable, habit of the bear when
surprised or about to attack, he did not rise upon his hind feet; but
instead of affording Kenzie the advantage of the usual opportunity
to aim at the small, light-colored spot on his neck, which, if
centered, is instant death to the animal, the bear made a direct dash
for the hunter. Seeing his peril, Kenzie at once fired with all the
deliberation the urgency of the occasion would permit. The shot proved
a fatal one, but before Kenzie could avoid the furious charge of the
animal, he was fatally injured by blows from the terrible monster. His
bowels were literally torn out; he was unfortunate in being tripped
by the tangled brush, or he might have escaped, as the bear fell dead
with his first charge, Kenzie succeeded in dragging himself to their
camp. He described the locality of the adventure, and requested Brooks
to go and bring in the liver of the bear. He said it would afford him
some consolation to eat more of the bear than the bear had been able
to eat of him. Brooks brought in and cooked some of the liver, fully
gratifying Kenzie’s whim; but it was the hunter’s last poor triumph--he
died soon after. Brooks swore off from this method of hunting, at least
for a season, and accepted a position offered him at the Indian Agency.

Another member of our battalion killed a grizzly that for a time
made him quite famous as a bear-fighter. As this man was an Indian,
an attempt has been made to weave the incident into a legend, giving
the honor of the combat to one of the Yosemites. The truth is, that
a full-blooded Cherokee, known as “Cherokee Bob,” or Robert Brown,
wounded a grizzly, and to keep the bear from entering a thicket, set
his dog on the game. While “Bob” was re-loading his rifle, and before
he could get the cap on, the bear, disregarding the dog, charged upon
Bob, and bore him to the ground. The dog instantly attacked the bear,
biting his hams most furiously. The grizzly turned from Brown and
caught the dog with his paw, holding him as a cat would hold a mouse.
By this means Bob was released, and but slightly bruised. In an instant
he drew his hunting knife and plunged it to the heart of the bear, and
ended the contest. The dog was seriously injured, but Bob carried him
in his arms to camp, and attended his wounds as he would a comrade’s
or as he might have done his own. As “Cherokee Bob’s” bear fight was a
reality known to his comrades, I have noticed it here.

The various routes to the Yosemite are now so constantly traveled that
bears will rarely be seen. They possess a very keen scent, and will
avoid all thoroughfares traveled by man, unless very hungry; they are
compelled to search for food. Strange as it may appear to some, the
ferocious grizzly can be more reliably tamed and domesticated than
the black bear. A tame grizzly at Monterey, in 1849, was allowed the
freedom of the city. Capt. Chas. M. Webber, the original proprietor
of the site of Stockton, had two that were kept chained. They became
very tame. One of these, especially tame, would get loose from time to
time and roam at will over the city. The new inhabitants of Stockton
seemed not to be inspired by that faith in his docility and uprightness
of character that possessed the owner, for they found him ravenously
devouring a barrel of sugar that belonged to one of the merchants,
and refused to give up any portion of it. This offended the grocer,
and he sent word to Mr. Webber to come and remove his truant thief.
The Captain came, paid for the damaged sugar, and giving him, like a
spoiled child, some of the sweets he had confiscated to induce him to
follow, led the bear home. But bruin remembered his successful foray,
and breaking his chain again and again, and always returning to the
merchant’s premises for sugar, Mr. Webber rid himself and the community
of the annoyance by disposing of his grizzlies.

During a hunt in company with Col. Byron Cole, Messrs. Kent, Long and
McBrien of San Francisco, I caught a good sized cub, and Mr. Long, with
a terrier dog, caught another; the mother of which was killed by the
unerring aim of McBrien. These cubs were taken by Cole and McBrien to
San Francisco on their return, and sent to New York. I was told that
they became very tame. I hope they did, for the comfort and security
of their keepers; for in my first efforts to tame a grizzly, I became
somewhat prejudiced against bear training as an occupation. Not long
after my experience, I heard of poor Lola Montez being bitten by one
she was training at Grass Valley for exhibition in Europe; and I now
lost all faith in their reported docility and domestic inclinations.
The California lion, like the wolf, is a coward, and deserves but
little notice. Among the visitors to the Yosemite, some will probably
be interested in knowing where to find the game: fish, birds and
animals, that may yet remain to gratify the sportsmen’s love of the rod
and the chase. Most of the game has been killed or driven off by the
approach of civilization. Deer and occasionally a grizzly, cinnamon or
black bear may be found on the slopes of the Tuolumne, Merced, Fresno
and San Joaquin, and on all the rivers and mountains south of these
streams. The cinnamon bear of California is much larger than the common
brown bear of the Rocky Mountains.

The _blue_ black-tailed deer of California are distinct from the black
tuft-tailed deer of the eastern ranges; a very marked difference will
be observed in their horns and ears. This distinction has been noticed
by naturalists; but the species are often confounded in newspaper
correspondence. The habits of the California deer are more goat-like;
they are wilder, and more easily startled than the “mule-eared” deer
of the Rockies, and when alarmed, they move with the celerity of the
white-tailed Virginia deer. The bare, tuft-tailed and big-eared Rocky
Mountain deer, seem but little alarmed by the report of a gun; and
their curiosity is nearly equal to that of the antelope.

The California deer are still abundant upon the spurs of the Sierras
during their migrations to and from the foot-hills. These migrations
occur during the Autumn and Spring. As the rainy season sets in, they
leave the higher mountains for the foot-hills and plains, keeping
near the snow line, and as the Spring advances, they follow back the
receding snow to the high Sierras and the Eastern Slope, but seldom or
never descend to the plain below. On account of these migratory habits,
they will most likely endure the assaults of the sportsmen. The haunts
of the grizzly are the same as those of the deer, for they alike prefer
the bushy coverts to the more open ground, except when feeding. The
deer prefer as food the foliage of shrubs and weeds to the richest
grasses, and the bear prefers clover, roots, ants and reptiles; but
both fatten principally on acorns, wild rye and wild oats.

California grouse are found in the vicinity of the Yosemite. During
the months of July and August they were formerly found quite numerous
concealed in the grass and sedges of the valley and the little
Yosemite; but as they are much wilder than the prairie chicken, they
shun the haunts of man, and are now only found numerous in mid-summer
upon or bordering on the mountain meadows and in the timber, among the
pine forests, where they feed upon the pine seeds and mistletoe, which
also afford them ample concealment. Their ventriloquial powers are
such that while gobbling their discordant notes, they are likely to
deceive the most experienced ear. It is almost impossible to feel quite
sure as to which particular tree the grouse is in without seeing it.
He seems to throw his voice about, now to this tree and now to that,
concealing himself the while until the inexperienced hunter is deluded
into the belief that the trees are full of grouse, when probably there
is but one making all the noise. His attention having been diverted,
the hunter is left in doubt from sheer conflicting sounds as to which
particular tree he saw a bird alight in. It is generally pretty sure to
“_fetch the bird_,” if you shoot into the bunch of mistletoe into which
you _supposed_ you saw the grouse alight.

Beside the mountain grouse and mountain quail, among the most beautiful
of birds, that afford the sportsman a diversity of sport, an occasional
flock of pigeons, of much larger size than those of the Atlantic
States, will attract attention; though I have never seen them in very
large flocks. In most of the mountain streams, and their branches,
brook trout are quite abundant. They are not, however, so ravenously
accommodating, as to bite just when they are wanted. I learned from
the Indians that they would bite best in foaming water, when they
were unable to see the angler, or the bait distinctly; their curiosity
stimulating their appetites. It is important that the trout do not see
the angler, and when very wary, the rod even should not be conspicuous.
Below the cañon of the Yosemite, young salmon were once abundant. The
Indians used to catch fish in weirs made of brush and stones; but
during the extensive mining operations on the Merced and other rivers,
the salmon seemed to have almost abandoned their favorite haunts, for
the mud covered spawn would not hatch. Large salmon were speared by the
Indians in all the rivers, with a curious bone spear of but one tine,
while the smaller fry were caught in their weirs. In the Tulare lakes
and in the San Joaquin, King’s, Kern and other rivers, fish, frogs and
turtle are abundant, and water fowl literally swarm during the winter
months in many parts of California.

Among the foot-hills of the Sierra Nevada, as well as in all the lesser
mountain ranges, may be found the common California blue quail, and a
very curious brush or chapparel cock, known to the Spanish residents
of California and Mexico as “El Paisano” (The Countryman), and as the
“Correo Camino” (Road-runner), and to ornithologists as the _Geo-coc
cyx Californicus_.[14] They have received the name of “_countryman_”
because of their inclination to run like country children at the sight
of strangers, and that of “road-runner” from the habit of frequenting
roads and trails, for the purpose of wallowing in the dust, and when
alarmed darting off along the road with the speed of an ostrich or wild
turkey. The object they have in wallowing in the dust is like that
of the ruffled grouse, which indulge in the same practice--they sun
themselves and at the same time are rid of vermin. Trusting to their
legs to escape when alarmed, they take the open ground--the road--until
outrunning pursuit they hide in the chapparel, and thus acquire the
name of “road-runner” or “chapparel cock.”

I have never seen any ruffled grouse in the Sierra Nevada, but
a species of these fine birds, are quite abundant in Oregon and
Washington territory. I have been able to solve a question regarding
them, upon which naturalists have disagreed, that is, as to how they
drum. Whether the sound is produced by the wings in concussive blows
upon their bodies, the air, logs or rocks? I am able to say from
personal and careful observation, that the sound of “_drumming_,” is
made, like the sound of the “_night jar_,” exclusively by a peculiar
motion of the wings _in the air_. It is true, the American “pheasant”
or American “partridge,” commonly stands upon a log while drumming, but
I have watched them while perched upon a dry small branch or twig, drum
for hours most sonorously, calling upon their rivals to encounter them,
and their mistresses to come and witness their gallantry. Darwin has
aptly said: “The season of love, is that of battle.” Notwithstanding
the acuteness of observation of Mr. Darwin, he has been led into error
in his statement that wild horses “do not make any danger signals.”
They snort and paw the earth with impatience, when they cannot discover
the cause of their alarm, and almost invariably circle to the leeward
of the object that disturbs them. A mule is the best of sentinels to
alarm a camp on the approach of danger. Deer and elk whistle and strike
the earth perpendicularly with their feet when _jumping up_ to discover
the cause of alarm. Deer and antelope are both so inquisitive, that
if the hunter has not been seen, or has been but imperfectly seen, by
dropping into the grass or brush, and raising some object to view and
suddenly withdrawing it, the deer or antelope will frequently come up
within a few feet of the object. Antelope are especially curious to
know what disturbs them.

The coyotes, or small wolves, and the grey or tree climbing foxes of
California, make a kind of barking noise, more like the bark of a small
dog than the howl of a wolf; and therefore barking is not so much of
“_an acquired_” art as has been supposed, though the “laughter” of dogs
is more or less acquired.

The whistle of the elk is as complete a call to his mistress, and is
as well understood, as though the female had said, “Whistle and I’ll
come to you.” Elk and antelope are still to be found in California,
as well as wild horses, but they are now quite timid, and resort to
unfrequented ranges. The best hunting now to be found in California,
except for water-fowl, is in the region of Kern River. Near its source
big-horn or mountain sheep may be killed, and from along the base of
the eastern slope, antelope range into the desert. Deer and bear may be
found on either slope of the range, and among the broken hills south of
the head of Tulare valley.

Wolves, foxes, badgers, coons, and other fur-clothed animals, are also
quite numerous. I have _dared_ to question some of Mr. Darwin’s facts,
and as I expect this to be my last literary effort (oh, ye reviewers!),
I wish to remind the publishers of Webster’s Dictionary that a beaver
is not an “_amphibious_” animal, neither is a muscalonge “an overgrown

A few days after we had moved camp to the south side of the Merced,
Captain Boling was prostrated with an attack of pneumonia. From
frequent wettings received while crossing the ice-cold torrents, and a
too free use of this snow-water, which did not agree with many, he had
for some days complained of slight illness, but after this attack he
was compelled to acknowledge himself sick. Although the severe symptoms
continued but a few days, his recovery was lingering, and confined him
to camp; consequently he knew but little of his rocky surroundings.
Although regular reports were made to him by the scouting parties, he
had but an imperfect conception of the labors performed by them in
clambering over the rocks of the cañons and mountains. He would smile
at the reports the more enthusiastic gave of the wonders discovered;
patiently listen to the complaints of the more practical at their
want of success in, what they termed, their futile explorations; and
finally concluded to suspend operations until the fast-melting snow had
so disappeared from the high mountain passes as to permit our taking
a supply-train, in order to make our search thorough. The winter had
been an unusually dry and cold one--so said the Indians--and, as a
consequence, the accumulations of snow in the passes and lake basins
had remained almost intact. A succession of mountain storms added to
the drifts, so that when the snow finally began to melt, the volume of
water coming from the “High Sierras” was simply prodigious--out of all
proportion to the quantity that had fallen upon the plains below.

Sandino persisted in trying to make the Captain believe that most of
the Yosemites had already gone through the Mono Pass, and that those
remaining hidden, were but the members of Ten-ie-ya’s family. This
theory was not accepted by Capt. Boling, and occasional scouting
parties would still be sent out. A few of us continued to make short
excursions, more for adventure and to gratify curiosity, than with the
expectation of discovering the hiding places of the Indians; although
we kept up the form of a search. We thus became familiar with most of
the objects of interest.

The more practical of our command could not remain quiet in camp during
this suspension of business. Beside the ordinary routine of camp
duties, they engaged in athletic sports and horse-racing. A very fair
race track was cleared and put in condition, and some of the owners of
fast horses were very much surprised, to see their favorites trailing
behind some of the fleet-footed mules. A maltese Kentucky blooded mule,
known as the “Vining Mule,” distanced all but one horse in the command,
and so pleased was Capt. Boling with its gracefully supple movements,
that he paid Vining for it a thousand dollars in gold.

For a change of amusement, the members of our “Jockey Club” would
mount their animals and take a look at such points of interest as had
been designated in our camp-fire conversations as most remarkable.
The scenery in the Yosemite and vicinity, which is now familiar to so
many, was at that time looked upon with varied degrees of individual
curiosity and enjoyment, ranging from the enthusiastic, to almost a
total indifference to the sublime grandeur presented. It is doubtful
if any of us could have given a very graphic description of what we
saw, as the impressions then received were so far below the reality.
Distance, height, depth and dimensions were invariably under-estimated;
notwithstanding this, our attempts at descriptions after our return to
the settlements, were received as exaggerated “yarns.”

While in Mariposa, upon one occasion not very long after the discovery
of Yosemite, I was solicited by Wm. T. Whitachre, a newspaper
correspondent from San Francisco, to furnish him a written description
of the Valley. This, of course, was beyond my ability to do; but I
disinterestedly complied with his request as far as I could, by giving
him some written details to work upon. On reading the paper over, he
advised me to reduce my estimates of heights of cliffs and waterfalls,
at least fifty per centum, or my judgment would be a subject of
ridicule even to my personal friends. I had estimated El Capitan at
from fifteen hundred to two thousand feet high; the Yosemite Fall at
about fifteen hundred feet, and other prominent points of interest in
about the same proportion.

To convince me of my error of judgment, he stated that he had
interviewed Captain Boling and some others, and that none had estimated
the highest cliffs above a thousand feet. He further said that he
would not like to risk his own reputation as a correspondent, without
considerable modification of my statements, etc. Feeling outraged at
this imputation, I tore up the manuscript, and left the “newspaper man”
to obtain where he could such data for his patrons as would please him.
It remained for those who came after us to examine scientifically,
and to correctly describe what we only observed as wonderful natural
curiosities. With but few exceptions, curiosity was gratified by but
superficial examination of the objects now so noted. We were aware
that the valley was high up in the regions of the Sierra Nevada, but
its altitude above the sea level was only guessed at. The heights
of its immense granite walls was an uncertainty, and so little real
appreciation was there in the battalion, that some never climbed above
the Vernal Fall. They knew nothing of the beauties of the Nevada Fall,
or the “Little Yosemite.” We, as a body of men, were aware that the
mountains, cañons and waterfalls were on a grandly extensive scale, but
of the proportions of that scale we had arrived at no very definite

During our explorations of the Sierras, we noticed the effects of the
huge avalanches of snow and ice that had in some age moved over the
smooth granite rocks and plowed the deep cañons. The evidences of
past glacial action were frequently visible; so common, in fact, as
hardly to be objects of special interest to us. The fact that glaciers
in motion existed in the vast piles of snow on the Sierras, was not
dreamed of by us, or even surmised by others, until discovered, in
1870, by Mr. John Muir, a naturalist and most persistent mountain
explorer, who by accurate tests verified the same, and gave his facts
to the world. Mr. Muir has also brought into prominent notice, by
publications in “Scribner’s Monthly Illustrated Magazine,” some of the
beautiful lakes of the Sierras, having discovered many unknown before.
Mr. Muir’s descriptions combine the most delightful imagery with the
accuracy of a true lover of nature. His article upon the water-auszel,
“The humming-bird of the California waterfalls,” in the same magazine,
proves him a most accomplished observer.

All of the smaller streams that pour their tribute into the valley
during the melting of the snow, become later in the season but dry
ravines or mere rivulets, but the principal tributaries, running up,
as they do, into the lake and snow reservoirs, continue throughout
the dry season to pour their ample supply. After returning from my
mountain explorations, I freely questioned Ten-ie-ya of the places we
had visited. The old chief had gradually assumed his customary manner
of sociability, and if convinced by outline maps in the sand that we
were familiar with a locality, he would become quite communicative, and
give the names of the places described in distinct words. Our English
alphabet utterly fails to express the sounds of many of them, for they
were as unpronounceable as Apache. This difficulty is owing more or
less to the guttural termination given by the Indians.

Another important fact which causes a confusion of these names is, that
owing to the poverty of their language, they use the same word, or what
seems to be the same, for several objects, which by accent, comparison
and allusion, or by gestures, are readily understood by them, but which
it is difficult for one not familiar with the dialect to comprehend,
and still more difficult to illustrate or remember. This I shall
endeavor to demonstrate in giving the names applied to different
localities in the valley and vicinity.

While I was endeavoring to ascertain the names of localities from
Ten-ie-ya, he was allowed some privileges in camp, but was not
permitted to leave his guard. The cunning old fellow watched his
opportunity, and again made an attempt to escape by swimming the
river; but he was again foiled, and captured by the watchfulness and
surprising strength of Sergeant Cameron.

From this time Ten-ie-ya was secured by a rope which was fastened
around his waist. The only liberty allowed was the extent of the rope
with which he was fastened. He was a hearty feeder, and was liberally
supplied. From a lack of sufficient exercise, his appetite cloyed, and
he suffered from indigestion. He made application to Captain Boling
for permission to go out from camp to the place where the grass was
growing, saying the food he had been supplied with was too strong; that
if he did not have grass he should die. He said the grass looked good
to him, and there was plenty of it. Why then should he not have it,
when dogs were allowed to eat it?

The Captain was amused at the application, with its irony, but surmised
that he was meditating another attempt to leave us; however, he good
humoredly said: “He can have a ton of fodder if he desires it, but I
do not think it advisable to turn him loose to graze.” The Captain
consented to the Sergeant’s kindly arrangements to _tether_ him, and
he was led out to graze upon the young clover, sorrel, bulbous roots
and fresh growth of ferns which were then springing up in the valley,
one species of which we found a good salad. All of these he devoured
with the relish of a hungry ox. Occasionally truffles or wood-mushrooms
were brought him by Sandino and our allies, as if in kindly sympathy
for him, or in acknowledgment of his rank. Such presents and a slight
deference to his standing as a chief, were always received with grunts
of satisfaction. He was easily flattered by any extra attentions to his
pleasure. At such times he was singularly amiable and conversational.
Like many white men, it was evident that his more liberal feelings
could be the easiest aroused through his stomach.

Our supplies not being deemed sufficient for the expedition over the
Sierras, and as those verdureless mountains would provide no forage for
our animals, nor game to lengthen out our rations unless we descended
to the lower levels, Capt. Boling sent a pack train to the Fresno
for barley and extra rations. All of our Indians except Sandino and
Ten-ie-ya were allowed to go below with the detachment sent along as
escort for the train. While waiting for these supplies, some of the
command who had been exploring up Indian Cañon, reported fresh signs
at the head of that ravine. Feeling somewhat recovered in strength,
Captain Boling decided to undertake a trip out, and see for himself
some of our surroundings. Accordingly, the next morning, he started
with some thirty odd men up Indian Cañon. His design was to explore the
Scho-look or Scho-tal-lo-wi branch (Yosemite Creek) to its source, or
at least the Southern exposures of the divide as far east as we could
go and return at night. Before starting, I advised the taking of our
blankets, for a bivouac upon the ridge, as from experience I was aware
of the difficult and laborious ascent, and intimated that the excursion
would be a laborious one for an invalid, if the undertaking was
accomplished. The Captain laughed as he said: “Are your distances equal
to your heights? If they correspond, we shall have ample time!” Of
course, I could make no reply, for between us, the subject of heights
had already been exhausted, although the Captain had not yet been to
the top of the inclosing walls.

Still, realizing the sensitive condition of his lungs, and his
susceptibility to the influences of the cold and light mountain air, I
knew it would not be prudent for him to camp at the snow-line; and yet
I doubted his ability to return the same day; for this reason I felt
it my duty to caution him. A few others, who had avoided climbing the
cliffs, or if they had been upon any of the high ridges, their mules
had taken them there, joined in against my suggestion of providing
for the bivouac. I have before referred to the Texan’s devotion to
the saddle. In it, like Comanche Indians, he will undergo incredible
hardships; out of it, he is soon tired, and waddles laboriously like
a sailor, until the unaccustomed muscles adapt themselves to the
new service required of them; but the probabilities are against the
new exercise being continued long enough to accomplish this result.
Understanding this, I concluded in a spirit of jocularity to make light
of the toil myself; the more so, because I knew that my good Captain
had no just conception of the labor before him. By a rude process of
measurement, and my practical experience in other mountains in climbing
peaks whose heights had been established by measurements, I had
approximately ascertained or concluded that my first estimate of from
fifteen hundred to two thousand feet for the height of El Capitan, was
much below the reality. I had so declared in discussing these matters.
Captain Boling had finally estimated the height not to exceed one
thousand feet. Doctor Black’s estimate was far below this. I therefore
felt assured that _a walk up_ the cañon, would practically improve
their judgments of height and distance, and laughed within myself in
anticipation of the fun in store. On starting, I was directed to take
charge of Ten-ie-ya, whom we were to take with us, and to keep Sandino
near me, to interpret anything required during the trip. As we entered
Indian Cañon, the old chief told the Captain that the ravine was a bad
one to ascend. To this the Captain replied, “No matter, we know this
ravine leads out of the valley; Ten-ie-ya’s trail might lead us to a
warmer locality.”

Climbing over the wet, mossy rocks, we reached a level where a halt was
called for a rest. As Doctor Black came up from the rear, he pointed to
a ridge above us, and exclaimed, “Thank God, we are in sight of the top
at last.” “Yes, Doctor,” said I, “that is one of the first tops.” “How
so?” he inquired; “Is not that the summit of this ravine?” To this I
cheerfully replied, “You will find quite a number of such tops before
you emerge from this cañon.” Noticing his absence before reaching
the summit, I learned he took the trail back, and safely found his
weary way to camp. Captain Boling had over-estimated his strength and
endurance. He was barely able to reach the table land at the head of
the ravine, where, after resting and lunching, he visited the Falls, as
he afterwards informed me. By his order I took command of nine picked
men and the two Indians. With these I continued the exploration, while
the party with the Captain _explored_ the vicinity of the High Fall,
viewed the distant mountains, and awaited my return from above.

With my energetic little squad, I led the way, old Ten-ie-ya in front,
Sandino at his side, through forest openings and meadows, until we
reached the open rocky ground on the ridge leading to what is now known
as Mt. Hoffman. I directed our course towards that peak. We had not
traveled very far, the distance does not now impress me, when as we
descended toward a tributary of Yosemite creek, we came suddenly upon
an Indian, who at the moment of discovery was lying down drinking from
the brook. The babbling waters had prevented his hearing our approach.
We hurried up to within fifty or sixty yards, hoping to capture him,
but were discovered. Seeing his supposed danger, he bounded off, a
fine specimen of youthful vigor. No racehorse or greyhound could have
seemingly made better time than he towards a dense forest in the valley
of the Scho-look. Several rifles were raised, but I gave the order
“don’t shoot,” and compelled the old chief to call to him to stop. The
young Indian did stop, but it was at a safe distance. When an attempt
was made by two or three to move ahead and get close to him, he saw the
purpose and again started; neither threatening rifles, nor the calls of
Ten-ie-ya, could again stop his flight.

As we knew our strength, after such a climb, was not equal to the chase
of the fleet youth, he was allowed to go unmolested. I could get no
information from Ten-ie-ya concerning the object of the exploration;
and as for Sandino, his memory seemed to have conveniently failed him.
With this conclusion I decided to continue my course, and moved off
rapidly. Ten-ie-ya complained of fatigue, and Sandino reminded me that
I was traveling very fast. My reply to both cut short all attempts to
lessen our speed; and when either were disposed to lag in their gait, I
would cry out the Indian word, “We-teach,” meaning hurry up, with such
emphasis as to put new life into their movements.

We soon struck an old trail that led east along the southern slope
of the divide, and when I abandoned my purpose of going farther
towards the Tuolumne, and turned to the right on the trail discovered,
Ten-ie-ya once more found voice in an attempt to dissuade me from this
purpose, saying that the trail led into the mountains where it was very
cold, and where, without warm clothing at night, we would freeze. He
was entirely too earnest, in view of his previous taciturnity; and I
told him so.

The snow was still quite deep on the elevated portions of the ridge and
in shaded localities, but upon the open ground, the trail was generally
quite bare. As we reached a point still farther east, we perceived
the trail had been recently used; the tracks had been made within
a day or two. From the appearances, we concluded they were made by
Ten-ie-ya’s scouts who had followed down the ridge and slope west of
the North Dome to watch our movements. The tracks were made going and
returning, thus showing a continued use of this locality. As the tracks
diverged from the trail at this point, they led out of the direct
line of any communication with the valley, and after some reflection,
I was satisfied that we had struck a clue to their hiding place, and
realizing that it was time to return if we expected to reach the valley
before dark, we turned about and started at once on the down grade.

We found the Captain anxiously awaiting our return. He was pleased
with our report, and agreed in the conclusion that the Indians were
encamped not very far off. Captain Boling had suffered from fatigue and
the chill air of the mountains. In speaking of a farther pursuit of
our discoveries, he said: “I am not as strong as I supposed, and will
have to await the return of the pack train before taking part in these

I told Captain Boling that upon the trip, Sandino had appeared
willfully ignorant when questioned concerning the country we were
exploring, and my belief that he stood in fear of Ten-ie-ya; that
as a guide, no dependence could be placed upon him, and that his
interpretations of Ten-ie-ya’s sayings were to be received with caution
when given in the old chief’s presence, as Ten-ie-ya’s Spanish was
about equal to his own. Captain Boling instructed me to tell Sandino,
that in future, he need only act as interpreter. He seemed satisfied
with this arrangement, and said that the country appeared different
from what it was when he was a boy and had been accustomed to traverse

When we commenced our descent into the valley Ten-ie-ya wanted us to
branch off to the left, saying he was very tired, and wanted to take
the best trail. Said he, “There is a good trail through the arrow-wood
rocks to the left of the cañon.” I reported this to the Captain, and
expressed the opinion that the old chief was sincere for once; he had
grumbled frequently while we were ascending the cañon in the morning,
because we were compelled to climb over the moss covered bowlders,
while crossing and re-crossing the stream, and he told Sandino that
we should have taken the trail along the cliff above. Captain Boling
replied: “Take it, or it will be long after dark before we reach
camp.” Accordingly I let Ten-ie-ya lead the way, and told him to
travel fast. He had more than once proved that he possessed an agility
beyond his years. As his parole was at a discount, I secured a small
cord about his chest and attached the other end to my left wrist to
maintain _telegraphic_ communication with him; but as the hidden trail
narrowed and wound its crooked way around a jutting point of the cliff
overlooking the valley and ravine, I slipped the loop from my wrist and
ordered a halt.

Captain Boling and the men with him came up and took in the view before
us. One asked if I thought a bird could go down there safely. Another
wanted to know if I was aiding “Old Truthful” to commit suicide.
The last question had an echo of suspicion in my own thoughts. I
immediately surmised it possible the old sachem was leading us into
another trap, where, by some preconcerted signal, an avalanche of rocks
would precipitate us all to the bottom. I asked Ten-ie-ya if this trail
was used by his people; he assured me it was, by women and children;
that it was a favorite trail of his. Seeing some evidences of it having
been recently used, and being assured by Sandino that it was somewhere
below on this trail that Ten-ie-ya had descended to the valley when
taken a prisoner, a few of us were shamed into a determination to make
the attempt to go where the old chief could go.

Most of the party turned back. They expressed a willingness to fight
Indians, but they had not, they said, the faith requisite to attempt
to walk on water, much less air. They went down Indian Cañon, and some
did not reach camp until after midnight, tired, bruised and footsore.
We who had decided to take our chances, re-commenced our descent. I
told Ten-ie-ya to lead on, and to stop at the word “halt,” or he would
be shot. I then dispatched Sandino across the narrow foot-way, which,
at this point was but a few inches in width, and which was all there
was dividing us from Eternity as we passed over it. Telling them both
to halt on a projecting bench in view, I crossed this yawning abyss,
while Sandino, aided by a very dead shot above, held the old man as if
petrified, until I was able once more to resume my charge of him.

This I found was the only really dangerous place, on what was
facetiously called, by those who were leaving us, “a very good trail.”
The last fifty or sixty feet of the descent was down the sloping side
of an immense detached rock, and then down through the top of a black
oak tree at the south-westerly base of the vast cliff or promontory
known as the “Arrow-wood Cliff.” The “Royal Arches,” the “Washington
Column,” and the “North Dome,” occupy positions east of this trail, but
upon the same vast pile of granite.

I sometime afterward pointed out the trail to a few visitors that I
happened to meet at its foot. They looked upon me with an incredulous
leer, and tapped their foreheads significantly, muttering something
about “Stockton Asylum.” Fearing to trust my amiability too far, I
turned and left them. Since then I have remained cautiously silent.
Now that the impetuosity of youth has given place to the more
deliberative counsels of age, and all dangers to myself or others are
past, I repeat, for the benefit of adventurous tourists, that on the
southwesterly face of the cliff overlooking the valley and Indian
Cañon, there is a trail hidden from view, that they may travel if they
will, and experience all the sensations that could ever have been felt,
while alive, by a Blondin or LaMountain.

This portion of the cliff we designated as Ten-ie-ya’s Trail, and it
accords well with the scene in the Jungfrau Mountains, where Manfred,
alone upon the cliffs, says:

    “And you, ye craigs, upon whose extreme edge
    I stand, and on the torrent’s brink beneath
    Behold the tall pines dwindled as to shrubs,
    In dizziness of distance; when a leap,
    A stir, a motion, even a breath, would bring
    My breast upon its rocky bosom’s bed
    To rest forever--wherefore do I pause?
    I feel the impulse--yet I do not plunge;
    I see the peril--yet do not recede;
    And my brain reels--and yet my foot is firm:
    There is a power upon me which withholds,
    And makes it my fatality to live.”


  The Indian Names--Difficulty of their Interpretation--Circumstances
  Suggesting Names of Vernal, Nevada and Bridal Veil Falls--Mr.
  Richardson’s Descriptions of the Falls and Round Rainbow--Py-we-ack
  Misplaced, and “_Illiluette_” an Absurdity--An English Name Suggested
  for Too-lool-lo-we-ack, Pohono and Tote-ack-ah-nü-la--Indian
  Superstitions and Spiritual Views--A Free National Park
  Desirable--Off on the Trail.

During our long stay in the Yosemite, I discovered that almost every
prominent object and locality in and about it, had some distinctive
appellation. Every peak and cliff, every cañon or ravine, meadow,
stream and waterfall, had a designation by which it could be
distinguished by the Yosemites. I made considerable effort to acquire
these names in their native purity. Although I did not at that time
learn all of them, I did in subsequent visits to the valley and to
the camps of the remnants of the tribes, acquire, as I then believed,
a very nearly correct pronunciation of most of them. I used all the
advantages afforded by my position as one of the Spanish interpreters,
and applied myself perseveringly to the task of preserving these names;
for even at that early day I realized that public interest would, in
time, be attached to that wonderful locality. I was ridiculed for
the idea, or at least for the supposition that it probably would be
awakened during my life-time.

I obtained many of the names of objects and locations from old
Ten-ie-ya himself, whenever I could find him in a communicative mood.
As he was reputed to be quite a linguist, speaking, besides his
native Ah-wah-ne-chee, the Pai-ute, and other dialects, I regarded
his authority as superior to that of either the Po-ho-no or Noot-chü
Indians, who differed from him in the pronunciation of some of the

I was unable to converse with Ten-ie-ya except through an interpreter,
but the words I noted down from the old chief’s lips as they sounded
to my ear at the time, getting the signification as best I could, or
not at all. There is really no more sentiment or refined imagery of
expression among Indians than will be found among ignorant people of
any kind. But living as they do in close affinity with nature, natural
objects first attract their attention, and the dominant characteristics
of any object impress themselves upon their language. Hence many of
their words are supposed to be representative of natural sounds. Our
Po-ho-no-chee and Noot-chü scouts were familiar with the dialect in
common use by the Yosemites, and they also aided me, while at times
they confused, in acquiring the proper names. The territory claimed by
the Po-ho-no-chees, joined that of the Yosemites on the south. During
the Summer months, they occupied the region of the Po-ho-no Meadows,
and the vicinity of the Pohono Lake. Their territory, however, extended
to the right bank of the South Fork of the Merced. It was there we
found a little band on our first expedition. Some of this band were
quite intelligent, having with the Noot-chüs, worked for Major Savage.
It was from them that the Major first learned that the Yosemites were a
composite band, collected from the disaffected of other bands in that
part of California, and what is now Nevada; and as the Major said, the
dialect in common use among them was nearly as much of a mixture as the
components of the band itself, for he recognized Pai-ute, Kah-we-ah and
Oregon Indian words among them.

Major Savage was intimately familiar with the dialects of his
Indian miners and customers, and was probably at that time the best
interpreter in California of the different mountain dialects.

I consulted him freely as to the pronunciation of the names, and
learned his interpretation of the meaning of them. These names, or most
of them, were first given for publication by myself, as received from
the Yosemites and Po-ho-no-chees; together with English names which had
been given to some of the same points by the battalion. I purposely
avoided all attempts at description, giving instead, a few estimates of
heights. The data then furnished by myself was published in editorials,
and has been mostly preserved, though in an imperfect state, from some
fault in my writing or that of the proof-reader. Reference to old files
of the “California Chronicle,” “Sacramento Union,” “California Farmer”
and the Mariposa papers, will show a somewhat different orthography
from that now in use.[15]

While in the valley I made memoranda of names and important events,
which I have preserved, and which, with interpretations kindly
furnished me by Mr. B. B. Travis, an excellent _modern_ interpreter,
I am now using to verify my recollections and those of my comrades.
While acquiring these names, I employed every opportunity to make
them familiar, but this proved to be a thankless task, or at least
it was an impossible one. The great length of some of the names, and
the varied pronunciations, made the attempt an impracticable one. I
then gave attention to the substitution of suitable English names
in place of the Indian words, and to supersede the fantastic and
absurd ones already suggested and affixed by some of the command. It
is so customary for frontiersmen to give distinctive names of their
own coinage, that we had great difficulty in getting any of the
Indian names adopted; and considerable judgment had to be exercised
in selecting such English names as would “stick”--as would displace
such names as the “Giant’s Pillar,” “Sam Patch’s Falls,” “The Devil’s
Night-Cap,” etc., etc. Many English names were given because they
were thought to be better than the Indian names, which could not be
remembered or pronounced, and the meaning of which was not understood.
The English names agreed upon and adopted at that time have since
been retained, notwithstanding some adverse criticisms and efforts
to supersede them by some fancied Indian or mythological substitute.
Some of these names were the selection of my comrades--“Cloud’s Rest,”
for one; because upon our first visit the party exploring the “Little
Yosemite” turned back and hastened to camp upon seeing the clouds
rapidly settling down to rest upon that mountain, thereby indicating
the snow storm that soon followed.

The most of the names were however, selected by myself, and adopted by
our command. This deference was awarded to my selections because I was
actively interested in acquiring the Indian names and significations,
and because I was considered the most interested in the scenery.

I have related in a previous chapter the incident of selecting the
name “Yosemite” for the valley, not then knowing its Indian name.
As the “High Fall,” near which we were encamped, appeared to be the
principal one of the Sierras, and was the fall _par excellence_, I
gave that the name of “Yosemite Falls,” and in so naming it I but
followed out the idea of the Indians who called it “Choolook” or
“Scholook,” which signifies in this case “The Fall.” A comparison of
the Yosemite Falls with those known in other parts of the world, will
show that in elements of picturesque beauty, height, volume, color
and majestic surroundings, the Yosemite has no rival upon earth. The
Zambesi and Niagara are typical of volume, but the Yosemite is sixteen
times greater in height than Niagara, and about eight times that of
the Victoria Falls. The upper part of the Yosemite is more than twice
the height of the Svoringvoss, of Norway, and lacks but thirty feet of
being twice as high as the highest of the Southerland waterfalls, of
New Zealand. The three falls of the Southerland aggregate but 1,904
feet, 730 less than the Yosemite.

The Ribbon Fall of the El Capitan has a sheer descent of 2,100 feet,
but its beauty disappears with the melting snow. The other falls
were only designated by the names of the streams upon which they are
situated. The river Merced was spoken of as the river of Ah-wah-ne;
but the three principal branches were variously designated; the main,
or middle, up to the Vernal Fall, as “Yan-o-pah,” the “Water Cloud”
branch, and above the Vernal, as “Yo-wy-we-ack,” “the twisting rock

The north and south branches had their distinctive names; the north,
Py-we-ack, meaning the branch of the “Glistening Rocks,” and the
south, Too-lool-we-ack, or more definitely, Too-lool-lo-we-ack. The
modern interpretations of some of these names may be regarded as quite
fanciful, though Major Savage would declare that Indian languages were
so full of figures of speech that without imagination they could not be

The strictly literal interpretation of this name would be inadmissable,
but it is well enough to say, that to the unconscious innocence of
their primitive state, the word simply represented an effort of nature
in the difficult passage of the water down through the rocky gorge.
It is derived from Too-lool and We-ack, and means, ὁ ποταμὸς, ὃς
διὰ πέτρας οὐρεῖ. This name has been published as if by authority to
signify. “_The Beautiful_”--how beautiful, the learned in Greek may

This really beautiful fall was visited by few of our battalion, and
owing to the impracticability of following up the cañon above the
fall, and the great difficulty of access to it, it was left neglected;
the command contenting itself with a distant view. In view of the
discoveries of Mr. Muir that there were glaciers at its source, and
that the cliff now known as “Glacier Point” may be said to mark the
entrance to this “South Cañon,” a name often confounded with “South
Fork,” and especially because of the impropriety of translating this
Indian name, I think it advisable to call this the Glacier Fall, and,
therefore, give it that name in this volume. The name of “Illeuette” is
not Indian, and is, therefore, meaningless and absurd. In accordance
with the customs of these mountain people of naming their rivers
from the most characteristic features of their source, the North or
Ten-ie-ya branch of the Merced, which comes down the North Cañon from
the glistening glacial rocks at its source, was called Py-we-ack,
“the river of glistening rocks,” or more literally, perhaps, “the
river-smoothed rocks.” Whether from Pai, a river, or from Py-ca-bo, a
spring, I am in doubt. If the first syllable of the name Py-we-ack be
derived from Py-ca-bo, then, probably, the name signified to them “the
glistening rock spring branch,” as the ice-burnished rocks at the head
of Lake Ten-ie-ya stand at the source of the river.

I have never been satisfied with the poetical interpretation given the
name, nor with its transfer to “Yan-o-pah,” the branch of the “little
cloud,” as rendered by Mr. Travis. But as Py-we-ack has been displaced
from Lake Ten-ie-ya and its outlet, it is proper and in accordance with
the custom to call the branch Ten-ie-ya also. The name of Ten-ie-ya
was given to the lake at the time of its discovery. It was there we
captured the remnant of the Yosemite band, as will be explained in
the next chapter. The name of Ten-ie-ya Cañon, Ten-ie-ya Fork and
Lake Ten-ie-ya, has for this reason superseded the original name of
Py-we-ack; but in naming the lake, I preserved an Indian name that
represented the central figure in all of our operations.

Wai-ack was the name for “Mirror Lake,” as well as for the mountain it
so perfectly reflected. The lake itself was not particularly attractive
or remarkable, but in the early morning, before the breeze swept up
the cañon, the reflections were so perfect, especially of what is now
known as Mt. Watkins, that even our scouts called our attention to it
by pointing and exclaiming: “Look at Wai-ack,” interpreted to mean the
“Water Rock.” This circumstance suggested the name of “Mirror Lake.”
The name was opposed by some, upon the ground that all still water was
a mirror. My reply established the name. It was that other conditions,
such as light and shade, were required, as when looking into a well,
the wall of the Half Dome perfecting the conditions, and that when
shown another pool that was more deserving, we would transfer the name.
Captain Boling approved the name, and it was so called by the battalion.

The middle or main branch was designated by the Yosemites--from the
fork of the Glacial Branch up to the Vernal Fall--as Yan-o-pah, because
they were compelled to pass through the spray of the Vernal, to them
a “little cloud,” while passing up this cañon. The Indian name of the
Nevada Fall, “Yo-wy-we,” or Yo-wy-ye, and that of Too-lool-lo-we-ack,
afforded innumerable jests and amusing comments, and when the
suggestion of naming these falls was made, it was received with rude
hilarity. Names without number were presented as improvements on
the originals. These names were indeed more than my own gravity would
endure; Yo-wy-we being represented at first to signify the “wormy”
water, from the twist or _squirm_ given to the water in falling upon an
obstructing rock; and therefore, after consultation with a few of my
personal friends, I suggested Vernal, as an English name for Yan-o-pah,
and Nevada, for that of Yo-wy-we. The Nevada Fall was so called because
it was the nearest to the Sierra Nevada, and because the name was
sufficiently indicative of a wintry companion for our spring.


It would be a difficult task to trace out and account for all of our
impressions, or for the forms they take; but my recollection is that
the cool, moist air, and newly-springing Kentucky blue-grass at the
Vernal, with the sun shining through the spray as in an April shower,
suggested the _sensation_ of spring before the name of Vernal occurred
to me; while the white, foaming water, as it dashed down Yo-wy-we from
the snowy mountains, represented to my mind a vast avalanche of snow.
In concluding my advocacy of these names, I represented the fact that
while we were enjoying the vernal showers below, hoary-headed winter
was pouring his snowy avalanches above us. Then, quoting from Byron, I

    The Vernal “... mounts in spray the skies, and thence again
    Returns in an unceasing shower, which round
    With its unemptied cloud of gentle rain,
    Is an eternal April to the ground,
    Making it all one emerald.”

These names were given during our long stay in the valley, at a time

    “The fragrant strife of sunshine with the morn
     Sweeten’d the air to ecstasy!”

It is agreeably complimentary for me to believe that our motives in
giving English names were comprehended, and our action in the matter
appreciated by others. Mr. Richardson, in “Beyond the Mississippi,”
shows an almost intuitive perception of our reasons for adopting
the English names given to the principal falls in the Yosemite. He
says: “These names are peculiarly fitting--Bridal Veil indeed looks
like a veil of lace; in summer when Bridal Veil and Yosemite dwarf,
Vernal still pours its ample torrent, and Nevada is always white
as a snow-drift. The Yosemite is height, the Vernal is volume, the
Bridal Veil is softness, but the Nevada is height, volume and softness
combined. South Fork cataract, most inaccessible of all, we did not
visit. In spring each fall has twenty times as much water as in summer.
On the whole Yosemite is incomparably the most wonderful feature on
our continent.” Speaking of the Vernal Fall, Mr. Richardson says: “I
saw what to Hebrew prophet had been a vision of heaven, or the visible
presence of the Almighty. It was the round rainbow--the complete
circle. There were two brilliant rainbows of usual form, the crescent,
the bow proper. But while I looked the two horns of the inner or lower
crescent suddenly lengthened, extending on each side to my feet, an
entire circle, perfect as a finger ring. In two or three seconds it
passed away, shrinking to the first dimensions. Ten minutes later it
formed again and again, and again as suddenly disappeared. Every sharp
gust of wind showering the spray over me, revealed for a moment the
round rainbow. Completely drenched, I stood for an hour and a half
and saw fully twenty times that dazzling circle of violet and gold
on a ground-work of wet, dark rocks, gay dripping flowers and vivid
grasses. I never looked upon any other scene in nature so beautiful and
impressive.” Mr. Richardson has with a great deal of enthusiasm given
a vivid description of what appeared to me as a glowing representation
of youthful spring; and to which the name of “vernal” was, I think,
consistently and appropriately applied.

Mr. Hutchings, in criticising the name Vernal, has mis-stated the
Indian name for this fall, furnished him by myself, and published in
his magazine and his “Scenes of Wonder;” and while neglecting to speak
in terms of the vivid green of the yielding sod that “squirts” water,
he eloquently describes the characteristics of a _vernal_ shower; or
the Yosemites “little water cloud,” Can-o-pah; or, if it pleases him
better, Yan-o-pah. The name given by the Yosemites to the Ten-ie-ya
branch of the Merced was unmistakably Py-we-ack. This name has been
transferred from its original locality by some _romantic_ preserver of
Indian names. While passing over to Yan-o-pah, it was provided with an
entirely new signification. It is indeed a laughable idea for me to
even suppose that a worm and acorn-eating Indian would ever attempt
to construct a name to mean “_a shower of sparkling crystals_;” his
diet must have been improved by _modern_ intelligent culture. The
signification is certainly poetical, and is but _one step_ removed
from the sublime. One objection only can be raised against it; it is
a little too romantic; something after the style of the tradition
furnished Mr. Bancroft.[16]

Names were given to the numerous little streams that poured into the
valley during the melting of the snow, and formed many beautiful
water-falls and cascades, but I shall not attempt to describe them, as
it would serve no useful purpose to give the common-place, and in some
instances, very _primitive_ names of these ephemeral streams. In any
other mountains, in any other country, great interest would attach to
them; but in the Yosemite, they are but mere suggestions to the grander
objects that overshadow them.

Another witness to the propriety of the English names is Professor J.
D. Whitney, State Geologist. In his admirable “Yosemite Guide Book” he
says: “The names given by the early white visitors to the region, have
entirely replaced the native ones; and they are, in general, quite
sufficiently euphonious and proper, some of them, perhaps slightly
inclined to sentimentality; for if we recognize the appropriateness of
the ‘Bridal Veil’ as a designation for the fall called Po-ho-no by the
Indians, we fail to perceive why the ‘Virgin’s Tears’ should be flowing
on the opposite side of the valley.”

This criticism is undoubtedly just. It seems as if some one had made
an enormous stride across from the poetically sublime to ridiculous
sentimentality. It is fortunate that the fall dries up early in the

The name of “Bridal-Veil” was suggested as an appropriate English name
for the Fall of the Pohono by Warren Bær, Esq., at the time editor of
the “Mariposa Democrat,” while we were visiting the valley together.
The appropriateness of the name was at once acknowledged, and adopted
as commemorative of his visit. Mr. Bær was a man of fine culture, a son
of the celebrated Doctor Bær of Baltimore.

The Pohono takes its rise in a small lake known as Lake Pohono, twelve
or fifteen miles in a southernly direction from the Fall. The stream is
fed by several small branches that run low early in the season.

The whole basin drained, as well as the meadows adjacent, was known to
us of the battalion, as the Pohono branch and meadows.

The band who inhabited this region as a summer resort, called
themselves Po-ho-no-chee, or Po-ho-na-chee, meaning the dwellers in
Po-ho-no, as Ah-wah-ne-chee was understood to indicate the occupants of
Ah-wah-nee. This delightful summer retreat was famous for the growth
of berries and grasses, and was a favorite resort for game. The black
seeds of a coarse grass found there, were used as food. When pulverized
in stone mortars, the meal was made into mush and porridge. I found it
impossible to obtain the literal signification of the word, but learned
beyond a doubt that Po-ho-no-chee was in some way connected with the
stream. I have recently learned that Po-ho-no means a daily puffing
wind, and when applied to fall, stream, or meadow, means simply the
fall, stream, or meadow of the puffing wind, and when applied to the
tribe of Po-ho-no-chees, who occupied the meadows in summer, indicated
that they dwelled on the meadows of that stream.

Mr. Cunningham says: “Po-ho-no, in the Indian language, means a belt
or current of wind coming in puffs and moving in one direction.” There
is such a current, in its season, on the Old Millerton Road, where
the dust is swept off clean. The Chow-chilla Indians call that the
Po-ho-no. The Po-ho-no of the Yosemite makes its appearance where the
two cascade creeks enter the canon, and this air current is daily swept
up the canon to the Bridal Veil Fall, and up its stream, in puffs of
great power. The water is thrown back and up in rocket-like jets, far
above the fall, making it uniquely remarkable among the wonders of the

Mr. Hutching’s interpretation is entirely fanciful, as are most of his
Indian translations.”

The name for the little fall to which the name of “Virgin’s Tears” has
been applied, was known to us as “Pigeon Creek Fall.” The Indian name
is “Lung-yo-to-co-ya”; its literal meaning is “Pigeon Basket,” probably
signifying to them “Pigeon Nests,” or _Roost_. In explanation of the
name for the creek, I was told that west of El Capitan, in the valley
of the stream, and upon the southern slopes, pigeons were at times
quite numerous. Near the southwest base of the cliff we found a large
_caché_. The supplies were put up on rocks, on trees and on posts.
These granaries were constructed of twigs, bark and grass, with the
tops covered in and rounded like a large basket.

If this _caché_ had any connection with the name of “Pigeon Baskets,”
Lung-yo-to-co-ya would probably designate “The Pigeon Creek _Caché_.”

After a reverential salutation, “El Capitan” must now receive my

It has been stated in print that the signification of
Tote-ack-ah-noo-la was “Crane Mountain,” and that the name was
given because of the habit sand-hill cranes had of entering the
valley over this cliff. I never knew of this habit. Many erroneous
statements relating to the Yosemite have appeared--some in Appleton’s
Encyclopædia, and one very amusing one in Bancroft’s Traditions--but
none appear to me more improbable.

During our long stay at our second visit, this cliff was invariably
called by our scouts Tote-ack-ah-noo-la, and with some slight
difference in the terminal syllable, was so called by Ten-ie-ya. This
word was invariably translated to mean the “Rock Chief,” or “The

Upon one occasion I asked, “Why do you call the cliff
Tote-ack-ah-noo-la?” The Indian’s reply was, “Because he looks like
one.” I then asked, “What was meant by _he_?” at the same time saying
that the cliff was not a man, to be called “he.” His reply was, “Come
with me and see.” Taking Sandino with me, I went, and as the Indian
reached a point a little above and some distance out from the cliff,
he triumphantly pointed to the perfect image of a man’s head and face,
with side whiskers, and with an expression of the sturdy English type,
and asked, “Does he not look like Tote-ack-ah-noo-la?” The “Rock
Chief,” or “Captain,” was again Sandino’s interpretation of the word
while viewing the likeness.

This was the first intimation that any of us had of the reason why the
name was applied, and it was _shown_ in response to the question asked,
why the rock had been personified.

To-tor-kon, is the name for a sand-hill crane, and ni-yul-u-ka, is
the Pai-ute for head; but “crane-head” can scarcely be manufactured
out of Tote-ack-ah-noo-la. It appears to me most probable that
Tote-ack-ah-noo-la is derived from “ack,” a rock, and To-whon-e-o,
meaning chief. I am not etymologist enough to understand just how
the word has been constructed, but am satisfied that the primates of
the compound are rock and chief. If, however, I am found in error, I
shall be most willing to acknowledge it, for few things appear more
uncertain, or more difficult to obtain, than a complete understanding
of the _soul_ of an Indian language; principally because of the
ignorance and suspicion with which a persistent and thorough research
is met by the sensitively vain and jealous savages.

In leaving this subject, I would say that before it be too late, a
careful and full collection of vocabularies of _all_ the tongues should
be made. I am aware of what has already been done by the labors of
Schoolcraft, and the officers of the army in more modern times; but
there is yet left a large field for persistent labor, that should be
worked by the Smithsonian Institute or ethnological societies.

In adopting the Spanish interpretation, “El Capitan,” for
Tote-ack-ah-noo-la, we pleased our mission interpreters and conferred
upon the majestic cliff a name corresponding to its dignity. When this
name was approved it set aside forever those more numerous than belong
to royal families. It is said by Mr. Hutchings that a profile likeness
is readily traced on the angle of the cliff. The one pointed out to
me was above the pine tree alcove on the southern face of the cliff,
half way up its wall. It appeared to have been formed by the peculiar
conformation of the rock and oxidation. The chemical stain of iron, or
other mineral substance, had produced this representation, which was
looked upon with superstitious awe.

“The Fallen Rocks,” “The Frog Mountains,” or “Three Brothers,” the
“Yosemite Falls,” “The Lost Arrow,” “Indian Cañon” and “The Arrow-wood
Rocks” have already been noticed in these pages. It remains for me
to briefly notice a few more objects and close this chapter. The
names “North Dome,” “South Dome” and “Half Dome” were given by us
during our long stay in the valley from their localities and peculiar
configuration. Some changes have been made since they were adopted.
The peak called by us the “South Dome” has since been given the name
of “Sentinel Dome,” and the “Half Dome,” Tis-sa-ack, represented as
meaning the “Cleft Rock,” is now called by many the “South Dome.”[17]
The name for the “North Dome” is To-ko-ya, its literal signification
“The Basket.” The name given to the rocks now known as “The Royal
Arches” is Scho-ko-ya when alluding to the fall, and means the “Basket
Fall,” as coming from To-ko-ya, and when referring to the rock itself
it was called Scho-ko-ni, meaning the movable shade to a cradle, which,
when in position, formed an arched shade over the infant’s head. The
name of “The Royal Arch” was given to it by a comrade who was a member
of the Masonic Fraternity, and it has since been called “The Royal
Arches.” The “Half Dome” was figuratively spoken of as “The Sentinel”
by our mission Indians, because of its overlooking the valley. The
present “Sentinel” they called “Loya,” a corruption of Olla (Oya),
Spanish for an earthen water-pot. The mountain tribes use, instead, a
long-pointed basket, shaped somewhat like that rock, which the basket
is supposed to resemble.

[Illustration: SENTINEL ROCK.

(3,043 feet in height.)]

The name of “Glacier Point” is said to be Pa-til-le-ma, a translation
of which I am unable to give. Ho-yas, and not Lo-ya, as has been
stated by some, referred to certain holes in detached rocks west of
the Sentinel, which afforded “milling privileges” for a number of
squaws, and hence, the locality was a favorite camp ground. “The
Sentinel” or “Loya,” simply marked the near locality of the Ho-yas or
mortars, or “_The_ camp ground;” as it does now _The Hotels_. It was
a common practice for visitors to confer new names on the objects of
their enthusiastic admiration, and these were frequently given to the
public through letters to newspapers, while others may be found in the
more enduring monuments of literature. It is a matter of no surprise
that so few of them ever _stuck_. But little change has really been
made in the English names for the more important objects within the
valley and in its immediate vicinity. The Cathedral Rocks and spires,
known as Poo-see-na-chuc-ka, meaning “Mouse-proof Rocks,” from a
fancied resemblance in shape to their acorn magazines or _cachés_, or
a suitability for such use, have been somewhat individualized by their
English names.

Of Ko-sü-kong, the name of the “Three Graces,” I never learned the
meaning. Ta-pun-ie-me-te is derived from Ta-pun-ie, meaning the toes,
because of walking on tip-toes across, and referred to the “stepping
stones” that were at the lower ford. Mr. Travis’ “succession of rocks”
simply indicated the _turning-off_ place. There are other names that it
appears unimportant for me to notice. They have been sufficiently well
preserved in Professor Whitney’s valuable Guide Book.

Some romantic believers in the natural tendencies of the Indians to
be poetical in their expressions, twist the most vulgar common-place
expressions and names into significations poetically refined, and of
devotional sincerity.

Others have taken the same license in their desire to cater to the
taste of those credulous admirers of the NOBLE RED MAN, the ideal
of romance, the reality of whom is graded low down in the scale
of humanity. Mr. Hutchings, who, were it not for his exuberant
imagination, might have learned better, gives the signification of
“Lung-oo-to-koo-ya” as “Long and Slender,” and applies it to what he
calls the Ribbon Fall. His name is better than his interpretation.
Mr. H. also says that the signification of To-toc-ah-nü-la is “a
Semi-Deity;” that of “Tissa-ack” “Goddess of the Valley,” and that
Po-ho-no means “The Spirit of the Evil Wind.”

These interpretations, like the “sparkling shower of crystals” are
more artistically imaginative than correct. The Pai-ute for wind, is
Ni-gat, and the Kah-we-ah, is Yah-i, one or the other of which tongues
were used by the Yosemites; though the Pai-ute, or a dialect of it, was
given the preference.

The savages _have_ a crude, undefinable idea of a Deity or Great
Spirit, a Spirit of Good, who never does them harm, and whose home is
in the happy land they hope to reach after death. This happy hereafter,
is supposed by most on the western slope of the Sierras to be located
in the West, while those on the eastern slope or within the Colorado
Basin, in Arizona and in Mexico, locate it in the East. They all have a
superstitious fear of evil spirits, which they believe have the power
to do them great harm, and defeat their undertakings.

They do not as a rule look to the Great Spirit for immediate protection
from evil, but instead, rely upon amulets, incense and charms, or
“_medicine_” bags. Through these and certain ceremonies of their
priests or “mediums,” they endeavor to protect themselves and their
families from the evil influence of spirits in and out of the flesh.

They believe that the spirits of the dead who have not, through proper
ceremonies, been released from the body and allowed at once to go to
the happy land, were evil spirits that were doomed to haunt certain
localities. They looked with superstitious awe upon objects and
localities, which to them were of mysterious character. Even familiar
objects were sometimes looked upon as having been taken possession of
by spirits. These spirits it was supposed could do injury to those
who might venture near them without the protection afforded by their
charms, or certain offerings to their priests for indulgences from the
spiritual inhabitants. Streams were often said to be controlled by
spirits, and for this reason, offerings of tobacco and other substances
were at times thrown in as a propitiation for past offenses, or as an
offering for something in expectancy. They believe that the elements
are all under control, or may be used by the more powerful spirits,
and, owing probably to its infrequency in California, lightning seemed
to be an especial object of awe and wonder to them.

Waterfalls seemed not to engage their attention for their beauty, but
because of the power they manifested; and in none of their objections
made to the abandonment of their home, was there anything said to
indicate any appreciation of the scenery. Their misfortunes, accidents
and failures were generally believed to have resulted from evil
spiritual interference, and to insure success in any undertaking, these
dark or evil spirits must first be conciliated through their “medicine
men,” from whom they obtain absolution.

All spirits that had not been released and taken their flight to their
happy Western spirit-land were considered as evil; and only the Great
Spirit was believed to be very good. The Indians of the Yosemite
Valley did not look upon Tote-ack-ah-nü-lah as a veritable Deity or
“semi-Deity.” They looked upon this cliff, and the representation
of the likeness of a human face, with the same mysterious awe and
superstitious feeling that they entertained for some other objects;
though perhaps their reverence was in a somewhat higher degree
stimulated by this imposing human appearance; and their ability,
therefore, the better to personify it. They regarded this vast mountain
as an emblem of some mysterious power, beyond their comprehension.
From my knowledge of their _religious belief_, I have come to the
conclusion that their ideas in this direction are wholly spiritual,
without material representation, except as stated, through symbolic
ideas, growing out of their superstitious ignorance, like some ignorant
Christians. They have in imagination peopled the rocks and mountains,
woods and valleys, streams and waterfalls with innumerable spiritual
occupants, possessed of supernatural or spiritual powers, none of which
are believed by them to equal the power of the Great Spirit whose home
is in the West, and who prohibits the return of the evil ones, until a
probationary existence here upon this earth shall have given them such
knowledge of and disgust with evil as will fit them for the enjoyment
of good.

The special inconsistency of this belief seems to be, that if one
of these demons can lure any one to destruction, the victim will be
compelled to take the place and occupation of the evil spirit, who
is at once liberated and takes its flight to join its family or such
members of it, as are already with the blessed. This idea seemed to be
based upon the natural selfishness of human nature, that would gladly
fix its responsibilities and sufferings upon another. A writer in
his descriptions of the Yosemite says: “The savage lowers his voice
to a whisper, and crouches tremblingly past Po-ho-no, while the very
utterance of the name is so dreaded by him, that the discoverers of the
valley obtained it with difficulty.” These statements were prefaced
by the assertion that “Po-ho-no is an evil spirit of the Indians’
mythology.” On our second visit to the valley, it will be remembered,
we found huts built by the Yosemites not far from the Po-ho-no Fall.

I never found any difficulty in learning the name of this fall, or
observed any more fear of spirits exhibited at this fall than at the
Yosemite fall; but in later years, for causes that will appear in the
course of this narrative, the little meadow and detached rocks west of
Po-ho-no, and near to the foot of the Mariposa trail; became haunted
ground to the remnant of the band, for disaster and death followed the
commission of crime at that locality.

Savages are seldom able to trace to themselves the cause of misfortune,
and hence evil spirits must bear the burden of their complaint. For
this service they are well paid through their representatives, the
“medicine men.” I have often been amused, and agreeably entertained
while listening to their traditionary literature.

Among the Chippewa and Dahcota tribes, my likeness to a brother,
who was a trader, was recognized, and many times I was honored by a
prominent place being given me in their lodges and at their dances.
Some of their mysteries I was not permitted to witness, but the
consecration of the ground for the dance, which is performed with great
ceremony, I have several times seen, and had its signification fully
explained to me. The ceremony differs but little among the different
tribes, and consists of invocations, burning incense, scattering
down, feathers and evergreens upon the pathway or floor of the dance,
lighting of the sacred fires with their ancient fire-sticks, which are
still preserved among the priests, and repeating certain cabalistic
words, the meaning of which they do not even pretend to understand,
but which are supposed to have a most potent influence. They also
have their pantomimes and romances, which they repeat to each other
like children. This legendary literature is largely imaginative, but
I found the California Indians less poetical in thought and feeling
than eastern tribes, and less musical, though perhaps as primitively
figurative in expression.

Though seemingly unimpressed by their sublime surroundings, their
figures and comparisons, when not objectionable, were beautiful,
because natural. The Pai-ute and Mono Colony originally established
by Ten-ie-ya, was the result of a desire to improve their physical
condition. They were attached to this valley as a home. The
instinctive attraction that an Indian has for his place of nativity
is incomprehensible; it is more than a religious sentiment; it is a
passion. Here, sheltered in a measure from the storms of winter, and
the burning heat of summer, they met as in an earthly paradise, to
exchange the products of either side of the Sierras, to engage in a
grand hunt and festival offer up religious sacrifices, and awaken the
echoes of the valley with their vociferous orations. Should their skill
fail them in the chase, and the mountain or brook refuse their luscious
offerings, they had a never-failing resource in the skill with which
they could dispossess the native Californian, or the newly arrived
immigrant of his much prized herds, and _translate_ them to their
mountain home. Nor was there need of herd-men to guard their fleecy
flocks or roving herds, for the prancing horse or gentle kine, having
once been slid over the slippery gateway, avoided the obstruction ever
after; and remained contented in their fields of blue grass and clover.

[Illustration: THE INDIAN BELLE.]

But, when the influence of the “golden era” finally reached this once
blissfully ignorant people, and wants were created that their belles
and beaux had never known before, their imaginations excited by the
superfluities of civilization, their natural cunning came at once to
their aid, and lo! the “honest miner” or timid Chinaman contributed
from their scanty stores and wardrobes, or the poorly sheltered goods
of the mountain trader opened their canvas walls to the keen arguments
of their flinty knives, and wants real or fancied were at once supplied.

What then was there lacking, to make the Yosemites a happy people,
removed as they were from the bad influences of whiskey and the white
man’s injustice? Only this: “the whites would not let them alone.” So
Ten-ie-ya had said, as if aggrieved. Like all his race, and perhaps
like all ignorant, passionate and willful persons, he appeared
unconscious of his own wrong-doing, and of the inevitable fate that he
was bringing upon himself and his people.

In his talk with Major Savage, he had spoken of the verdure clothing
the valley, as sufficient for his wants, but at the time, knowing that
acorns formed the staple of their food, and that clover, grass, sorrel
and the inner bark of trees were used to guard against biliousness
and eruptive diseases, little heed was given to his declaration. Now,
however, that we saw the valley clothed with exquisite and useful
verdure, for June was now at hand, Ten-ie-ya’s remarks had a greater
significance, and we could understand how large flocks and herds had
been stolen, and fattened to supply their wants. The late claimants to
this lovely locality, “this great moral show,” have been relieved of
their charge by act of Congress, and fifty thousand dollars given them
for their claims. It will probably now remain forever free to visitors.
The builders of the toll roads and trails should also receive fair
compensation for their pioneer labors in building them, that they may
also be free to all. When this is done, this National Park will be
esteemed entirely worthy of this great republic and of the great golden
State that has accepted its guardianship.[18]

Perhaps no one can better than myself realize the value of the labors
performed by the early pioneers, that has made it possible for tourists
to visit in comfort some of the most prominent objects of interest; but
“_a National Park_” should be entirely free. In suggesting a new name
for the fall of Too-lool-lo-we-ack, or the absurd “Illiluette,” I wish
to honor Mr. Muir for his intelligent explorations and discoveries, and
at the same time feel that the word glacier is the most appropriate. Of
this, however, the residents of the valley will judge.

The names of the different objects and localities of especial interest
have now become well established by use. It is not a matter of so
much surprise that there is such a difference in the orthography of
the names. I only wonder that they have been retained in a condition
to be recognized. It is not altogether the fault of the interpreters
that discrepancies exist in interpretation or pronunciation, although
both are often undesignedly warped to conform to the ideality of the
interpreter. Many of the names have been modernized and adorned with
_transparencies_ in order to illuminate the subject of which the
parties were writing. Those who once inhabited this region, and gave
distinctive appellations, have all disappeared. The names given by
them can be but indifferently preserved or counterfeited by their camp
followers, the “California Diggers;” but June is now with us, and we
must hasten on to our work of following up the trail.


  A Mountain Storm--Delay of Supplies--Clams and Ipecac--Arrival of
  Train--A Cute Indian--Indian Sagacity--A Dangerous Weapon--Capture of
  Indian Village--An Eloquent Chief--Woman’s Rights _versus_ Squaw’s
  Wrongs--A Disturbed Family--A Magnificent Sunrise--On a Slippery
  Slope--Sentiment and Poetry--Arrival at the Fresno.

A mountain storm raged with such violence as to stampede the mules
of the pack-train while the escort were encamped on the South Fork.
The mules were not overtaken until they reached the foot-hills of the
Fresno. In the meantime, while impatiently awaiting their return, our
rations gave out. In order to somewhat appease our hunger, Dr. Black
distributed his hospital stores among us. There were some canned fruits
and meats, and several cans of oysters and clams. The southerners of
the command waived their rights to the clams, but cast lots for the
oysters. Thinking we had a prize in the clams, we brought to bear our
early recollections of Eastern life, and compounded a most excellent
and, what we supposed would be, a most nourishing soup. Our enjoyment,
however, of this highly prized New England dish was of short duration;
for from some cause, never satisfactorily explained by Dr. Black, _or
other eminent counsel_, our Eastern mess, as if moved by one impulse
of re-gurgitation, _gave up their clams_. Fortunately for us our
supplies arrived the next morning; for the game procurable was not
sufficient for the command. Major Savage sent Cow-chitty, a brother
of Pon-wat-chee, the chief of the Noot-choo band, whose village we
surprised before we discovered the valley, as chief of scouts. He was
accompanied by several young warriors, selected because they were
all familiar with the Sierra Nevada trails and the territory of the
Pai-utes, where it was thought probable the expedition would penetrate.

Captain Boling had in his report to Major Savage, complained of
the incapacity of Sandino as guide, and expressed the opinion that
he stood in awe of Ten-ie-ya. By letter, the Major replied, and
particularly advised Captain Boling that implicit confidence could
be placed in Cow-chitty and his scouts, as the sub-chief was an old
enemy of Ten-ie-ya, and was esteemed for his sagacity and wood-craft,
which was superior to that of any Indian in his tribe. Captain Boling
had improved in health and strength, and concluded to venture on
his contemplated expedition over the mountains. He at once ordered
preparations to be made. A camp-guard was detailed, and a special
supply train fitted out. All was ready for a start in the morning.
During the evening Captain Boling consulted our new guide as to what
trail would be best to follow to the Mono pass and over the mountains.
Cow-chitty had already learned from our Po-ho-no scouts and those of
his own tribe, the extent of our explorations, and had had a long talk
with Sandino as well as with Ten-ie-ya. The mission Indian and the
old chief tried to make the new guide believe that the Yosemites had
gone over the mountains to the Monos. Indian-like, he had remained
very grave and taciturn, while the preparations were going on for the
expedition. Now, however, that he was consulted by Captain Boling, he
was willing enough to give his advice, and in a very emphatic manner
declared his belief to the Captain that Ten-ie-ya’s people were not far
off; that they were either hiding in some of the rocky cañons in the
vicinity of the valley, or in those of the Tuolumne, and discouraged
the idea of attempting the expedition with horses. Although this
did not coincide with the views of our Captain, the earnestness of
Cow-chitty decided him to make another attempt in the near vicinity
before crossing the mountains. The horses and supply-train were
accordingly left in camp, and we started at daylight on foot, with
three days’ rations packed in our blankets. We left the valley this
time by way of the Py-we-ack cañon, and ascended the north cliff trail,
a short distance above “Mirror Lake.” Soon after reaching the summit,
Indian signs were discovered near the trail we were on. The old trail
up the slope of the cañon, was here abandoned, and the fresh trail
followed up to and along the ridges just below the snow line. These
signs and the tortuous course pursued, were similar to the tracks
followed on our trip up Indian Cañon, and were as easily traced until
we reached an elevation almost entirely covered with snow from five to
ten feet deep, except on exposed tops of ridges, where the snow had
blown off to the north side or melted away.

I had accompanied our guide in advance of the command, but observing
that our course was a zig-zag one, some times almost doubling on our
trail, I stopped and told the guide to halt until the Captain came
up. He had been following the ridges without a sign of a trail being
visible, although he had sometimes pointed to small pieces of coarse
granite on the rocky divides, which he said had been displaced by
Ten-ie-ya’s scouts. That in going out or returning from their camps,
they had kept on the rocky ridges, and had avoided tracking the snow or
soft ground, so as to prevent the Americans from following them. As we
stopped, he called me a little out of hearing of those with me, and by
pantomime and a few words indicated his belief in the near presence of

When the Captain came up he said: “The hiding-place of the Yosemites
is not far off. If they had crossed the mountains their scouts would
not be so careful to hide their trail. They would follow the old trail
if they came to watch you, because it is direct, and would only hide
their tracks when they were again far from the valley and near their
rancheria.” This was, in part, an answer to Captain Boling’s inquiry
as to why we had left the old trail, and gone so far out of our way.
I explained to him what Cow-chitty had stated, and pointed out what
the guide or scout said was a fresh trail. The Captain looked tired
and disheartened, but with a grim smile said: “That may be a fresh
Indian track, but I can’t see it. If left to my own feelings and
judgment, I should say we were on another wild-goose chase. If the
guide can see tracks, and thinks he has got ’em this time, I reckon
it is better to follow on; but if there is any short-cut tell him to
give us some landmarks to go by; for I find I am not as strong as I
thought. Let us take another look at this _fresh_ trail, and then
you may get Cow-chitty’s idea as to the probable course this trail
will take further on.” As we moved up the trail a little farther, the
expert scout pointed out more fresh signs, but Captain Boling failed to
discern a trail, and gave up the examination, and as he seated himself
for a momentary rest, said: “I reckon it is all right, Doc. The Major
says in his letter that I can bet on Cow-chitty every time. But I can’t
see any more of a trail on this rocky ridge than I can see the trail of
that wood-pecker as he flies through the air, but I have some faith in
instinct, for I reckon that is what it is that enables him to follow a
trail that he imagines should be there. We shall have to trust him to
follow it, and let him have his own way as you would a fox-hound; if he
don’t, puppy-like, take the back track, or run wild with us over some
of these ledges.” Old Ten-ie-ya was now appealed to for information
concerning the fresh signs, but he only reiterated his former statement
that his people had gone over the mountains to the Monos, and the signs
he said were those of Tuolumne Indians. Captain Boling had taken the
old chief along with us on this trip, hoping to make him of some use,
if not directly as guide, indirectly; it was thought he might betray
his people’s hiding-place. But the Captain was disappointed in this,
for no finished gamester ever displayed a more immovable countenance
than did Ten-ie-ya when questioned at any time during the expedition. A
cord had again been placed around his waist to secure his allegiance,
and as we were about to move ahead once more, he very gravely said that
if we followed the signs, they would take us over to the Tuolumne.

Before this Sandino had professed to agree with Ten-ie-ya, but now he
carefully withheld his own opinions, and as carefully rendered his
interpretations. He feared Cow-chitty more than Ten-ie-ya; and he was
frequently seen to cross himself while muttering his prayers. Spencer
and myself re-assured the timid creature, and made him quite happy
by telling him that we would guard him against the “Gentiles,” as he
called the natives.

I explained to Cow-chitty our inability to follow the tracks as he
did over the bare granite. This flattered him, and he then pointed
out his own method of doing so, which was simple enough with one of
keen sight. It consisted entirely in discovering fragments of stone
and moss that had been displaced, and broken off and scattered upon
the ground. The upper surface of the broken fragments of stone were
smooth and bleached, while the under surface was dark or colored. It
was impossible to walk over these stony ridges without displacing
some of the fragments, and these the quick eye of Cow-chitty was sure
to discover. Cow-chitty was pleased when told of Captain Boling’s
appreciation of his sagacity, and honored by the confidence the
Captain began to show him. He expressed his gratification by being
more communicative than he had been before. He said, “These signs tell
me that the Yosemite scouts have been watching all the movements of
the Americans, and the trails that will take you to their camps. They
will not look for you on this trail. They are watching for you from
the ridges nearer the valley. We will not have to go far to find their
camps. This trail will lead us to the head of the Py-we-ack, where the
Pai-ute or Mono trail crosses into the upper valley of the Tuolumne;
and if we don’t find them at the lake, we will soon know if they have
crossed the mountains.”

He then proposed that Captain Boling send out scouts to intercept
and capture the Yosemite scouts, who might be below us watching the
valley. This being interpreted to Captain Boling, he at once adopted
the suggestion of the scout. He selected three of our best runners,
and directed Cow-chitty to select three of his. These were sent out
in pairs--an Indian and a white man. The scouts were placed under
direction of the sub-chief, who followed the trail, and indicated to
the Captain the most direct route for the main body to follow. In
health Captain Boling was athletic and ambitious on the march. He had
now, however, over-estimated his strength, and suffered considerably
from fatigue; but the halt afforded him a rest that very much refreshed
him. I traveled with him during the remainder of the march, so as to
be near him as interpreter, and took charge of Ten-ie-ya. The Captain,
Ten-ie-ya, Sandino and myself traveled together. Our march was more
leisurely than in the earlier part of the day. This allowed Captain
Boling to somewhat recover from his fatigue.

On an ascending spur that ran down to the Py-we-ack, we found
Cow-chitty quietly awaiting our approach. As we halted, he pointed out
to Captain Boling a dim circle of blue smoke, that appeared to eddy
under the lee of a large granite knob or peak, and said, “Rancheria.”
Old Ten-ie-ya was standing in front of me, but exhibited no interest in
the discovery. As I lowered my line of vision to the base of the cliff,
to trace the source of the smoke, there appeared the Indian village,
resting in fancied security, upon the border of a most beautiful
little lake, seemingly not more than a half mile away. To the lake I
afterwards gave the name of Ten-ie-ya. The granite knob was so bare,
smooth and glistening, that Captain Boling at once pointed it out, and
selected it as a landmark. He designated it as a rallying point for his
men, if scattered in pursuit, and said that we should probably camp
near it for the night.

While the Captain was studying the nature of the ground before us,
and making his arrangements to capture the village, our scouts were
discovered in full chase of an Indian picket, who was running towards
the village as if his life depended upon his efforts. In the excitement
of the moment Captain Boling ordered us to double-quick and charge,
thinking, as he afterwards said, that the huts could not be much more
than half a mile away. Such a mistake could only originate in the
transparent air of the mountains. The village was fully two miles or
more away. We did, however, double-quick, and I kept a gait that soon
carried Ten-ie-ya and Sandino, with myself, ahead of our scattering
column. Finding the rope with which I held Ten-ie-ya an encumbrance in
our rapid march, I wound it round his shoulder and kept him in front of
me. While passing a steep slope of overlapping granite rock, the old
chief made a sudden spring to the right, and attempted to escape down
the ragged precipice. His age was against him, for I caught him just
as he was about to let himself drop from the projecting ledge to the
ground below; his feet were already over the brink.

I felt somewhat angered at the trick of the old fellow in attempting to
relieve himself from my custody, and the delay it had occasioned me;
for we had taken the most direct although not the smoothest course.
I resumed our advance at a gait that hurried the old sachem forward,
perhaps less carefully and more rapidly than comported with the dignity
of his years and rank. I was amused at the proposition of one of the
“boys” who had witnessed the transaction, to “shoot the old devil, and
not be bothered with him any more.” I of course declined this humane
proposition to relieve me of further care, and at once became the
chief’s most devoted defender, which observing, he afterwards told
Captain Boling that I was “very good.” As we reached the more gently
descending ground near the bottom of the slope, an Indian came running
up the trail below us that led to the Rancheria. His course was at an
acute angle to the one pursued by us toward the village, which was
now but a few rods off. I ordered Sandino to cut him off and capture
him before he should reach the camp. This was accomplished with great
energy and a good degree of pride.

The Yosemites had already discovered our approach, but too late for
any concerted resistance or for successful escape, for Lt. Crawford at
the head of a portion of the command, dashed at once into the center
of the encampment, and the terror-stricken Indians immediately threw
up their bare hands in token of submission, and piteously cried out
“pace! pace!” (peace, peace). As I halted to disarm the scout captured
by Sandino, I was near enough to the camp to hear the expressions of
submission. I was compelled to laugh at the absurd performances of
Sandino, who to terrify his prisoner, was persistently holding in
his face an old double-barreled pistol. I was aware the weapon was a
harmless one, for one hammer was gone, and the other could not be
made to explode a cap. I took the bow and arrows from the frightened
savage, and as Captain Boling came up I reported the capture, telling
him at the same time of the surrender of the village or Rancheria to
Lt. Crawford. Seeing some of the Indians leaving the camp, and running
down the lake to a trail crossing its outlet, the Captain and the men
with him sprang forward through the grove of pines near the crossing,
and drove them back. No show of resistance was offered, neither did any
escape from us.

While Captain Boling was counting his prisoners and corralling them
with a guard, I, by his previous order, restrained Ten-ie-ya from any
communication with his people. The chief of this village was a young
man of perhaps thirty years of age. When called upon by the Captain to
state how many were under his command, he answered that those in the
encampment were all that was left; the rest had scattered and returned
to the tribes they sprung from. Ten-ie-ya seemed very anxious to answer
the interrogations made to the young chief, but Captain Boling would
not allow his farther interference, and jokingly told me to send him
over among the women who were grouped a little aside, as he was now
about as harmless. I acted upon the suggestion, and upon his being told
that he had the liberty of the camp if he made no further attempts to
escape, the old fellow stepped off briskly to meet his four squaws,
who were with this band, and who seemed as pleased as himself at their

Captain Boling felt satisfied that the answer given by this
half-starved chief, and the few braves of his wretched looking band,
were as truthful as their condition would corroborate. Finding
themselves so completely surprised, notwithstanding their extreme
vigilance, and comparing the well kept appearance of their old chief
with their own worn out, dilapidated condition, they with apparent
anxiety expressed a willingness for the future to live in peace with
the Americans. All hopes of avoiding a treaty, or of preventing their
removal to the Reservation, appeared to have at once been abandoned;
for when the young chief was asked if he and his band were willing
to go to the Fresno, he replied with much emotion of gesture, and as
rendered by Sandino to Spencer and myself: “Not only willing, but
anxious;” for, said he: “Where can we now go that the Americans will
not follow us?” As he said this, he stretched his arms out toward the
East, and added: “Where can we make our homes, that you will not find
us?” He then went on and stated that they had fled to the mountains
without food or clothing; that they were worn out from watching our
scouts, and building _signal-fires_ to tire us out also.

They had been anxious to embroil us in trouble by drawing us into the
cañons of the Tuolumne, where were some Pai-utes wintering in a valley
like Ah-wah-ne. They had hoped to be secure in this retreat until the
snow melted, so that they could go to the Mono tribe and make a home
with them, but that now he was told the Americans would follow them
even there, he was willing, with all his little band, to go to the
plains with us. After the young chief had been allowed full liberty of
speech, and had sat down, Ten-ie-ya again came forward, and would have
doubtless made a _confession of faith_, but his speech was cut short
by an order from Captain Boling to at once move camp to a beautiful
pine grove on the north side of the outlet to the lake, which he had
selected for our camping-place for the night. By this order he was able
to have everything in readiness for an early start the next morning.
There was an abundance of dry pine, convenient for our camp fires, and
as the night was exceedingly cold, the glowing fires were a necessity
to our comfort. The Indians were told to pack such movables as they
desired to take with them, and move down at once to our camp-ground.

The scene was a busy one. The squaws and children exhibited their
delight in the prospect of a change to a more genial locality, and
where food would be plenty. While watching the preparations of the
squaws for the transfer of their household treasures and scanty stores,
my attention was directed to a dark object that appeared to be crawling
up the base of the first granite peak above their camp. The polished
surface of the gleaming rock made the object appear larger than the
reality. We were unable to determine what kind of an animal it could
be; but one of our scouts, to whom the name of “Big Drunk” had been
given, pronounced it a papoose, although some had variously called it
a bear, a fisher or a coon. “Big Drunk” started after it, and soon
returned with a bright, active boy, entirely naked, which he coaxed
from his slippery perch. Finding himself an object of curiosity his
fright subsided, and he drew from its hiding-place, in the bushes near
by, a garment that somewhat in shape, at least, resembled a man’s
shirt. “_The Glistening Rocks_” had rendered us all oblivious to the
color, and that was left undetermined. This garment swept the ground
after he had clothed himself with it. His ludicrous appearance excited
our laughter, and as if pleased with the attentions paid to him, the
little fellow joined heartily in the merriment he occasioned. It will
not be out of place to here relate the sequel of this boy’s history.
Learning that he was an orphan and without relatives, Captain Boling
adopted him, calling him “Reube,” in honor of Lt. Reuben Chandler, who
after Captain Boling was the most popular man in the battalion.

Some three or four years afterward, the boy, as if to illustrate the
folly of the Captain in trying to civilize and educate him, ran away
from his patron, taking with him two valuable, thorough-bred Tennessee
horses, much prized by the Captain; besides money, clothing and arms
belonging to the Captain’s brother-in-law, Col. Lane, of Stockton,
in whose charge Captain Boling had placed him, that he might have
the advantages of a good school. After collecting together all the
Indians found in this encampment; the total number was found to be but
thirty-five, nearly all of whom were in some way a part of the family
of the old patriarch, Ten-ie-ya. These were escorted to our camp, the
men placed under guard, but the women and children were left free.

This was accomplished before sun down, and being relieved of duty, a
few of us ran across the outlet of the lake, and climbing the divide
on the south side of the lake, beheld a sunset view that will long
be remembered. It was dark when we reached camp, and after a scanty
repast, we spread our blankets, and soon were wrapped in slumber sweet.

We were awakened by the cold, which became more uncomfortable as night
advanced, and finding it impossible to again compose ourselves to
sleep, Captain Boling aroused the camp, and preparations were made by
the light of the blazing camp-fires for an early start for the valley.
Desiring some clean, fresh water, I went to the lake as the nearest
point to obtain it, when, to my surprise, I found that the new ice
formed during the night and connecting the old ice with the shore of
the lake, was strong enough to bear me up. At a point where the old ice
had drifted near, I went out some distance upon it, and it appeared
strong enough to have borne up a horse. This was about the 5th of June,
1851. The change of temperature from summer in the valley to winter
on the mountains, without shelter, was felt by us all. After a hasty
breakfast, the word was passed to assemble, and we were soon all ready
for the order to march. All at once there was turmoil and strife in
camp, and what sounded to my ears very much like a Chinese concert.
Captain Boling was always a man of gallantry, and in this instance
would not allow the squaws to take the burden of the baggage. Hence the
confusion and delay. He ordered the Indians to carry the packs--burdens
they had imposed on their women. This order brought down upon him
the vituperations of the squaws and sullen murmurs from the “noble
red men;” as often happens in domestic interference, _the family was
offended_. Ten-ie-ya rose to explain, and waxed eloquent in his protest
against this innovation on their ancient customs.

As soon as the Captain was made aware of the old fellow’s object
in having “a talk,” he cut short the debate by ordering one of the
lieutenants to see that every Indian, as well as squaw, was properly
loaded with a just proportion of their burdens. The real object of the
Captain was to facilitate the return to the valley, by making it easy
for the squaws and children to accompany us through without delays.
One amusing feature in this arrangement was, that long after the men
had been silenced, their squaws continued to murmur at the indignity
practiced on their disgraced lords. I have my doubts, even to this
day, whether the standard of women’s rights was ever again _waved_
among the mountain tribes after this “special order” was issued by our
good-hearted Captain.

In order to take the most direct route to the valley, Captain Boling
selected one of the young Yosemite Indians to lead the way with our
regular guide. Being relieved of the charge of Ten-ie-ya, I took my
usual place on the march with the guide. This position was preferred
by me, because it afforded ample opportunity for observation and time
for reflection; and beside, it was in my nature to be in advance.
The trail followed, after leaving the lake, led us over bare granite
slopes and hidden paths, but the distance was materially shortened. A
short distance below the bottom land of the lake, on the north side
of the cañon and at the head of the gorge, the smooth, sloping granite
projects like a vast roof over the abyss below. As we approached this,
our young guide pointed toward it.

By close observation I was able to discover that the trail led up its
sloping surface, and was assured by the guide that the trail was a
good one. I felt doubtful of the Captain’s willingness to scale that
rocky slope, and halted for him to come up. The Captain followed the
trail to its termination in the soil, and saw the cause of my having
halted. Upon the discoloration of the rock being pointed out as the
continuation of the trail, he glanced up the granite slope and said,
“Go on, but be watchful, for a slide into the gorge would bring as
certain death as a slide from that San Joaquin trail, which I have not
yet forgotten.” Some of the command did not fancy this any more than
they did the Ten-ie-ya trail down “Indian Cañon.” We all pulled off
our hoots and went up this slope bare-footed. Seeing there was no real
danger, the most timid soon moved up as fearless as the others. I, with
the advance, soon reached the soil above, and at the top halted until
the Indians and our straggling column closed up. As I looked about me,
I discovered, unfolding to my sight, one of the most charming views
in this sublimest scenery of nature. During the day before, we had
looked with astonishment on the almost boundless peaks, and snow-capped
mountains, to be seen from the Mt. Hoffman divide. But here some of the
same views appeared illuminated. In our ascent up the mountain, we had
apparently met the rising sun. The scene was one long to be remembered
for its brilliancy, although not describable.

Mr. Addison, in the _Spectator_, says: “Our imagination loves to be
filled with an object, or to grasp at anything that is too big for its
capacity. We are flung into a pleasing astonishment at such unbounded
views, and feel a delightful stillness and amazement in the soul.” Mr.
Addison has here expressed the feelings entertained by some of us, as
the view met our gaze while looking out to the east, the south and the
west. Although not sufficiently elevated to command a general outlook,
the higher ridges framing some of the scenery to the north and eastward
of us, the westerly view was boundless. The transparency of the
atmosphere was here extreme, and as the sun illumined the snow-clad and
ice-burnished peaks, the scene aroused the enthusiasm of the command to
a shout of glad surprise.

The recollections of the discomforts of the night were banished by
the glory of the morning as here displayed. Even the beauties of the
Yosemite, of which I was so ardent an admirer, were for the moment
eclipsed by this gorgeously grand and changing scene. The aurora that
had preceded the rising sun was as many-hued, and if possible more
glorious, than the most vivid borealis of the northern climes. But when
the sun appeared, seemingly like a sudden flash, amidst the distant
peaks, the climax was complete. My opportunities for examining the
mountain scenery of the Sierra Nevada above the immediate vicinity of
the Yosemite, were such as to only enable me to give a somewhat general
description, but the views that I had during our explorations afforded
me glimpses of the possibilities of sublime mountain scenery, such
as I had never before comprehended, although familiar with the views
afforded from some of the peaks of Mexico and of the Rocky Mountains.
I doubt even if the Yellow Stone, supreme in some of its attractions,
affords such varied and majestic beauty.

Looking back to the lovely little lake, where we had been encamped
during the night, and watching Ten-ie-ya as he ascended to our group, I
suggested to the Captain that we name the lake after the old chief, and
call it “Lake Ten-ie-ya.” The Captain had fully recovered from his
annoyance at the scene in camp, and readily consented to the name, but
added that I had evidently mistaken my vocation.


Noticing my look of surprise, he jokingly said that if I had only
studied divinity instead of medicine, I could have then fully gratified
my passion for christening. This, of course, brought out a general
guffaw, and thinking me annoyed, he said: “Gentlemen, I think the name
an appropriate one, and shall use it in my report of the expedition.
Beside this, it is rendering a kind of justice to perpetuate the name
of the old chief.”

When Ten-ie-ya reached the summit, he left his people and approached
where the Captain and a few of us were halting. Although he had been
snubbed by the Captain that morning, he now seemed to have forgotten
it, and his rather rugged countenance glowed with healthful exercise
in the sunlight. I had handled him rather roughly the day before, but
as he now evidently wished to be friendly, I called him up to us, and
told him that we had given his name to the lake and river. At first, he
seemed unable to comprehend our purpose, and pointing to the group of
Glistening peaks, near the head of the lake, said: “It already has a
name; we call it Py-we-ack.” Upon my telling him that we had named it
Ten-ie-ya, because it was upon the shores of the lake that we had found
his people, who would never return to it to live, his countenance fell
and he at once left our group and joined his own family circle. His
countenance as he left us indicated that he thought the naming of the
lake no equivalent for the loss of his territory.

I never at any time had real personal dislike for the old sachem.
He had always been an object of study, and I sometimes found in him
profitable entertainment. As he moved off to hide his sorrow, I pitied
him. As we resumed our march over the rough and billowy trail, I was
more fully impressed with the appropriateness of the name for the
beautiful lake. Here, probably, his people had built their last wigwams
in their mountain home. From this lake we were leading the last remnant
of his once dreaded tribe, to a territory from which it was designed
they should never return as a people. My sympathies, confirmed in my
own mind, a justness in thus perpetuating the name of Ten-ie-ya. The
Indian name for this lake, branch and cañon, “Py-we-ack” is, although a
most appropriate one, now displaced by that of the old chief Ten-ie-ya.
Of the signification of the name Ten-ie-ya, I am uncertain; but as
pronounced by himself, I have no doubt of its being pure Indian.

The whole mountain region of the water-sheds of the Merced and Tuolumne
rivers afford the most delightful views to be seen anywhere of
mountains, cliffs, cascades and waterfalls, grand forests and mountain
meadows, and the Soda Springs are yet destined to become a favorite
summer resort. Mr. Muir has well said that the “upper Tuolumne valley
is the widest, smoothest, most serenely spacious, and in every way the
most delightful summer pleasure park in all the High Sierras.”

Now that it has become a part of the new National Park surrounding the
old grant (see new map), and good trails reach it, wagon roads will
soon be extended into the very “heart of the Sierras.”

We reached our camp in the valley without accident. Captain Boling at
once gave orders to make preparations for our return to the Fresno. The
next day we broke camp and moved down to the lower end of the valley
near where we camped on the first night of our discovery, near the
little meadow at the foot of the Mariposa Trail.

At sunrise the next morning, or rather as the reflections on the cliffs
indicated sunrise, we commenced our ascent of the steep trail. As I
reached the height of land where the moving column would soon perhaps
forever shut out from view the immortal “Rock Chief,” my old sympathies
returned, and leaving the command to pursue its heedless way, I climbed
to my old perch where Savage had warned me of danger. As I looked back
upon El Capitan, his bald forehead was cooling in the breeze that swept
by me from the “_Summer land_” _below_, and his cheerful countenance
reflected back the glory of the rising sun. Feeling my own inferiority
while acknowledging the majesty of the scene, I looked back from Mt.
Beatitude, and quoting from Byron, exclaimed:

    “Thy vale(s) of evergreen, thy hills of snow
    Proclaim thee Nature’s varied favorite now.”

We reached the Fresno without the loss of a captive, and as we turned
them over to the agent, we were formally commended for the success of
the expedition.


  The Flora of the Region of the Yosemite--General Description of the
  Valley and its Principal Points of Interest, with their Heights.

A marked and peculiar feature observed in the landscape of the
Merced River slopes, while going to the Yosemite, especially on the
Coultersville route, is the dense growth of the chamiso and the
manzanita. These shrubs are found most abundant below the altitude
of the growth of sugar-pine, upon dry, slaty ground; though a larger
variety of manzanita, distinguishable by its larger blossoms and fruit,
and its love of shade and moist clay-slate soil, may be found growing
even among the sugar-pine. A peculiarity of this shrub is, that like
the Madroña and some trees in Australia, it sheds a portion of its
outer bark annually, leaving its branches beautifully bright and clean.
The manzanita, when in full bloom, is one of the most beautiful of
shrubs; its delicately tinted and fragrant blossoms filling the air
with the perfume of an apple-orchard, while its rich evergreen leaves
are only shed as others put forth. The name, manzanita, is Spanish,
signifying little apple--the fruit in flavor, but more especially in
smell, resembling the apple.

These chamiso and manzanita thickets are almost impenetrable to large
animals, except the California lion and grizzly bear. At certain
seasons of the year, during their trips to and from the High Sierras,
when the berries are ripe, these coverts are the resort of such
visitors. The grizzly comes to indulge his fondness for the little
apples, and the lion (how hath the mighty fallen!) to feed upon the
wood-rats, mice and rabbits that he surprises in these furzy thickets.
Occasionally a deer, as he comes along unconscious of danger, but too
near the feline lair, is pounced upon by the lion, or perhaps a stray
horse or mule may fall a victim; but in no case dare the lion attack
his savage associate the bear, or any of his progeny.

In going to the Yosemite by way of the Mariposa route, after reaching
the summit of the gap or pass in the “Black Ridge” or Chow-chilla
mountain, over which the Mariposa route passes, to the South Fork of
the Merced River, the yellow pine, the sugar pine, the Douglass fir
and two other species of fir, are seen in all their glory. Here, too,
is to be found the variety of white or yellow cedar (_Libo cedrus
decurrens_), growing to a size not seen at a less altitude, unless
perhaps on the north side of some spur from these mountains. If the
ridge be followed to the right as far as the Big Trees, instead of
descending the road to the South Fork, some very large pine, cedar
and fir trees will be seen, in addition to the great attraction, the

At the time I first passed over this route there was but a dim Indian
trail; now, a very good stage or wagon-road occupies it. As the descent
to the South Fork is commenced, dogwood will be observed growing at
the head of a little mountain brook that has its source in the pass,
together with willows and other small growths of trees and shrubs. The
“bush-honeysuckle,” when in bloom, is here especially beautiful; and
several fragrant-blossomed shrubs will attract attention--the kalmia,
especially. The forest on this route is equaled by few in California,
and it extends to the Yosemite almost uninterrupted, except by the
river and a few mountain meadows. The Coultersville route also affords
like views of uninterrupted forest, even to the verge of the valley,
but confined as the trail was when it was first made to the narrow
divide, one could not so well appreciate the beauty of the trees while
looking down upon their tops as he would while riding among them. A few
sequoias can be seen on this route, near Hazel Green and near Crane

Mr. Greeley says: “The Sierra Nevadas lack the glorious glaciers, the
frequent rains, the rich verdure, the abundant cataracts of the Alps,
but they far surpass them; they surpass any other mountains I ever saw,
in wealth and grace of trees. Look down from almost any of their peaks,
and your range of vision is filled, bounded, satisfied, by what might
be termed a tempest-tossed sea of evergreens, filling every upland
valley, covering every hillside, crowning every peak but the highest
with their unfading luxuriance.

“That I saw, during this day’s travel, many hundreds of pines eight
feet in diameter, with cedars at least six feet, I am confident; and
there were miles of such and smaller trees of like genus, standing as
thick as they could grow. Steep mountain sides, allowing these giants,
to grow rank above rank, without obstructing each other’s sunshine,
seem peculiarly favorable to the production of these serviceable
giants. But the summit meadows are peculiar in their heavy fringe of
balsam fir of all sizes, from those barely one foot high to those
hardly less than two hundred; their branches surrounding them in
collars, their extremities gracefully bent down by weight of winter
snows, making them here, I am confident, the most beautiful trees on
earth. The dry promontories which separate these meadows are also
covered with a species of spruce, which is only less graceful than the
firs aforesaid. I never before enjoyed such a tree-feast as on this
wearying, difficult ride.”

Had Mr. Greeley taken more time, it would not have been so wearying to
himself or mule. He rode sixty miles, on one mule the day he went to
the Yosemite, but his observations of what he saw are none the less
just and valuable, though but few of the pine trees will measure eight
feet in diameter. It is true, probably, that few forests in the United
States are so dense and beautiful in variety as those seen on the old
Mariposa route to the Yosemite by way of the meadows of the Pohono
Summit. About these meadows the firs especially attract attention,
from the uniform or geometrical regularity their branches assume.
No landscape gardener could produce such effects as are here freely
presented by the Great Architect of the universe for the admiration
of his wayward children. Here in this region will also be found the
California tamarack pine, and a variety of pine somewhat resembling
the Norway pine, called Pinus Jeffreyi. There is still another pine,
to be found only on the highest ridges and mountains, that may be said
to mark the limit of arbol vegetation; this dwarf is known as _pinus
albicaulis_, and could it but adapt itself to a lower altitude, and
retain its dense and tangled appearance, it would make good hedge-rows.

Professor Whitney speaks of still another one of the pine family,
growing about the head of King’s and Kern Rivers, which he calls
_pinus aristata_, and says it only grows on those highest peaks of the
Sierras, although it is also found in the Rocky Mountains. Of the more
noticeable undergrowth of these mountain forests and their borders,
besides grasses, sedges, ferns, mosses, lichens, and various plants
that require a better knowledge of botany than I possess to describe
properly, may be mentioned the California lilac and dogwood, the latter
of which is frequently seen growing along the mountain streams, and in
the Yosemite. It grows in conjunction with alder, willow, poplar, or
balm of Gilead, and a species of buckthorn. In isolated patches the
Indian arrow-wood is found. This wood is almost without pith, and warps
but little in drying. For these qualities and the uniformity of its
growth, it was especially esteemed for arrow-shafts; although sprouts
from other shrubs and trees were also used.

It will have been observed, while going to the Yosemite, that the
chimaso, white-oak and digger-pine are upon the southern slopes,
while the thickets of mountain-ash, shrub or Oregon maple, and shrub
live-oak, chinquepin and trailing blue and white ceanothus and snow
plant are found upon the north side of the ridges, except when found at
a greater altitude than is usual for their growth. On descending into
the Yosemite, the visitor will at once notice and welcome the variety
of foliage.

Upon the highest lands grow pine, fir, cedar, spruce, oak and shrubs.
In the meadows and upon open ground, according to the richness of the
soil and moisture, will be seen flowers and flowering shrubs of great
brilliancy and variety.

The whole valley had the appearance of park-like grounds, with trees,
shrubbery, flowers and lawns. The larger trees, pines, firs, etc., are
of smaller growth than are usually found on the mountain slopes and
tables. Still, some are of fair dimensions, rising probably to the
height of one hundred and fifty feet or more. One large pine, growing
in an alcove upon the wall of Tote-ack-ah-noo-la,--apparently without
soil--is quite remarkable. The balm of gilead, alder, dogwood, willow
and buck-thorn, lend an agreeable variety to the scenery along the
river. Their familiar appearance seem, like old friends, to welcome the
eastern visitor to this strange and remarkable locality. The black-oak
is quite abundant in the valley and upon the slopes below. It was
the source of supply of acorns used by the Yosemites as food, and as
an article of traffic with their less favored neighbors east of the

Along the river banks and bordering the meadows are found the wild
rose, and where the soil is rich, dry and mellow, the wild sunflower
grows luxuriantly. Of wild fruits, the red raspberry and strawberry are
the only ones worthy of mention, and these are only found in limited
quantities. A thornless red raspberry grows upon the mountains, but its
blossoms are apt to be nipped by frosts and the plant is not a prolific

The meadows of the valley are generally moist, and in the springtime
boggy. Later in the season they become firmer, and some parts of them
where not in possession of sedges, afford an abundant growth of “wild
Timothy;” blue joint, Canada red-top and clover. In addition to these
nutritious meadow-grasses, there is growing on the coarse granite,
sandy land, a hard, tough wire bunch grass unfit for grazing except
when quite young. This grass is highly prized by the Indians for
making baskets and small mats. Its black seeds were pulverized and
used as food, by being converted into mush, or sometimes it was mixed
with acorn meal and was then made into a kind of gruel. The common
“brake” and many beautiful species of rock ferns and mosses are quite
abundant in the shady parts of the valley, and in the cañons, and
more especially are they found growing within the influence of the
cool, moist air near the falls. Growing in the warm sunlight below
El Capitan, may be seen plants common among the foot hills and slaty
mountains. Of these plants, the manzanita, the bahia confertiflora and
the California poppy are the most conspicuous.

The climatic and geologic or local influences upon vegetation in this
part of California, is so remarkable as to continually claim the notice
of the tourist, and induce the study of the botanist. So peculiar are
the influences of elevation, moisture, temperature and soil, that if
these be stated, the flora may be determined with almost unerring
certainty, and _vice versa_, if the flora be designated, the rock’s
exposure and mineral character of the soil will be at once inferred.
The extreme summer temperature of the valley rises but little over 80°
Fahrenheit, during the day, while the nights are always cold enough to
make sleeping comfortable under a pair of blankets.

Thus far in narrating the incidents connected with the discovery of the
Yosemite, I have not been particularly definite in my descriptions of
it. Unconsciously I have allowed myself to assume the position, that
this remarkable locality was familiarly known to every one.

From the discovery of the valley to the present day, the wonders
of this region of sublimity, have been a source of inspiration to
visitors, but none have been able to describe it to the satisfaction
of those who followed after them. The efforts that are still made
to do so, are conclusive evidences that to the minds of visitors,
their predecessors had failed to satisfactorily describe it to their
comprehensions; and so it will probably continue, as long as time shall
last, for where genius even, would be incompetent, egotism may still
tread _unharmed_.

Realizing this, and feeling my own utter inability to convey to another
mind any just conception of the impressions received upon first
beholding the valley, I yet feel that a few details and figures should
be given with this volume. Prof. J. D. Whitney in his “Yosemite Guide
Book” says, in speaking of the history of the discovery and settlement
of the Yosemite Valley: “The visit of the soldiers under Captain Boling
led to no immediate results in this direction. Some stories told by
them on their return, found their way into the newspapers; but it was
not until four years later that so far as can be ascertained, any
persons visited the valley for the purpose of examining its wonders,
or as regular pleasure travelers. It is, indeed, surprising that
so remarkable a locality should not sooner have become known; one
would suppose that accounts of its cliffs and waterfalls would have
spread at once all over the country. Probably they did circulate about
California, and were not believed but set down as “travelers’ stories.”
Yet these first visitors seem to have been very moderate in their
statements, for they spoke of the Yosemite Fall as being “more than a
thousand feet high,” thus cutting it down to less than half its real

At the time of our discovery, and after the subsequent lengthy visit
under Captain Boling, our descriptions of it were received with doubt
by the newspaper world, and with comparative indifference by the
excited and overwrought public of the golden era. The press usually
more than keeps pace with public opinion. Although height and depth
were invariably under-estimated by us, our statements were considered
“too steep” even for the sensational correspondents, and were by them
pronounced exaggerations. These autocrats of public opinion took the
liberty to dwarf our estimates to dimensions more readily swallowed by
their patrons.

I have made many visits to the Yosemite since “our” long sojourn in it
in 1851, and have since that time furnished many items for the press
descriptive of that vicinity. My recollections of some of these will
be given in another chapter. Although many years have rolled off the
calendar of time since the occurrences related in these chapters, no
material change has affected that locality. Human agency can not alter
the general appearance of these stupendous cliffs and waterfalls.

The picturesque wildness of the valley has since our first visits been
to a certain degree toned down by the _improvements_ of civilization.
The regions among the foot-hills and mountains that serve as
approaches to the valley, where we hunted for savages to _make peace
with our National Government_, now boasts of its ranchos and other
improvements. The obscure trails which we followed in our explorations,
and on which we first entered, have long since been abandoned, or
merged into roads or other trails used by the proprietors of the
territory in the vicinity. The white man’s civilized improvements
have superseded them. Instead of the stormy bivouacs of our first
visits, or the canvas of our longer stay, the visitor now has the
accommodations of first-class hotels with modern improvements. The
march of civilization has laid low many of the lofty pines and shady
oak trees that once softened the rough grandeur and wildness of
the scenery. Stumps, bridges and ladders now mark the progress of
improvements. These, however, only affect the ornamental appendages of
the scenery--the perishable portion of it alone. The massive granite
walls are invulnerable to modern ingenuity of adornment. The trail over
which we approached the valley on our first visit was below the more
modern trails, and its general course has now been appropriated by the
stage road over which the tourist visits the Yosemite. The rocky slabs
and stretches down which we then slid and scrambled, have since been
graded and improved, so that the descent is made without difficulty.

The “Mariposa Trail” first approached the verge of the cliffs forming
the south side of the valley, near what is known as “Mount Beatitude,”
or, as the first full view above has been designated, “Inspiration
Point”; which is about 3,000 feet above the level of the valley. In
a direct line from the commencement of the first descent, to where
the trail reaches the valley, the distance is probably less than a
mile, but by the trail, it is nearly four miles in a circuitous zigzag
westerly course. The vertical descent of the trail in that distance is
2,973 feet.[19]

I have adopted the statistics of measurements given by Prof. Whitney
in his “Yosemite Guide Book” as my standard, so as to be modernly
correct. These statistics were from the State Geological Survey, and
are scientifically reliable. From a point on this descending trail, my
most impressive recollections of a general view were first obtained. My
first sight of the Yosemite was suddenly and unexpectedly unfolded from
its junction with the old Indian trail; the view was made complete by
ascending to a granite table. The first object and the principal point
of attraction to my astonished gaze was “El Capitan,” although its
immensity was far from comprehended, until I became familiar with the
proportions of other prominent features of the valley. After passing it
close to its base, on the next day, I made up my mind that it could not
be less than 1,500 or 2,000 feet above the level of the valley.

Prof. Whitney in speaking of this object of grandeur and massiveness,
says: “El Capitan is an immense block of granite, projecting squarely
out into the valley, and presenting an almost vertical sharp edge,
3,300 feet in elevation. The sides or walls of the mass are bare,
smooth, and entirely destitute of vegetation. It is almost impossible
for the observer to comprehend the enormous dimensions of this rock,
which in clear weather can be distinctly seen from the San Joaquin
plains at a distance of fifty or sixty miles. Nothing, however, so
helps to a realization of the magnitude of these masses about the
Yosemite as climbing around and among them. Let the visitor begin to
ascend the pile of _debris_ which lies at the base of El Capitan, and
he will soon find his ideas enlarged on the point in question. And yet
these _debris_ piles along the cliffs, and especially under El Capitan,
are of insignificant size compared with the dimensions of the solid
wall itself. They are hardly noticeable in taking a general view of the
valley. El Capitan imposes on us by its stupendous bulk, which seems as
if hewed from the mountain on purpose to stand as the type of eternal

“It is doubtful if any where in the world there is presented so
squarely cut, so lofty and so imposing a face of rock.” The foregoing
is the most concise and best description of El Capitan I have ever
seen, and yet, it cannot impart the ecstacy of reverence for the
sublime one feels in its presence.

Another peculiarity of El Capitan, is one that belongs to headlands
that are designated points-no-point; that is the apparent difficulty of
passing them. While passing at a distance, the convexity of the wall
seems to remain immediately opposite the observer.

From the Mariposa trail as it descends, can be seen most of the
prominent cliffs which form its massive side walls. This trail reaches
the bottom of the valley near its lower extremity. Below this trail,
it narrows to a rocky cañon, almost impassable except for the Merced
river, which leaves the valley through this gorge. I shall again refer
to this cañon in another chapter.

The valley is about six miles long and from half a mile to over a mile
in width at the head of the valley proper. It is irregular in shape,
but its general direction is nearly east towards its upper end. Its
outlines will be better understood from a view of the accompanying
map, which has been mostly copied from that of the State Geological
Survey--Prof. Whitney’s. The three cañons which open into the valley
at its upper end, are so intimately connected with it that a general
description will include them all, particularly the parts of them in
close proximity to the valley. They will be specially described when

The sides of the valley are walls of a grayish-white granite, which
becomes a dazzling white in a clear sunlight. This intensity of
reflection is, however, toned to a great extent by the varying haze
which permeates the upper atmosphere of the valley for most of the
time. This haze has sometimes the appearance of a light cloud of
blue smoke, with its borders fringed with a silvery vapor. At other
times--during August and September--the tint is enriched, and at
sunrise and sunset for the valley the golden light seems to permeate
the haze, and lend its charm to the gossamer film that shields the
sight from the glare of the reflecting granite.

The walls on each side are in many places perpendicular, and are, from
the level of the valley to the top of the cliffs, from 2,660 to 4,737
feet in height, or, as they are generally described, from half a mile
to a mile in height. Prof. Whitney, however, says: “The valley is sunk
almost a mile in perpendicular depth below the general level of the
adjacent region.” This is undoubtedly correct, for in his description,
he says: “The Yosemite Valley is nearly in the center of the State,
north and south, and just midway between the east and west bases of the
Sierras; here a little over seventy miles wide.”

Prof. Whitney’s estimate of the depth of the valley must be literally
correct, for the general slope of that region is toward the valley,
except from the west, its lower end.

At the base of these cliffs is a comparatively small amount of
_debris_, consisting of broken rocks which have fallen from above. A
kind of soil has accumulated on this talus, which is generally covered
with vegetation. Trees of considerable size--oaks, pines, firs, cedars,
maples, bay and dwarf oak, and lesser shrubs, are frequent. Although
this _debris_ is scarcely observed in a general view, its height above
the bottom of the valley is in many places from three hundred to five
hundred feet next to the cliff, from which it slopes some distance
into the valley. In a few places the bases of the cliffs appear as
if exposed nearly to the level of the valley. The valley proper is
generally level through its entire length. The actual slope given is
“only thirty-five feet between the junctions of the Ten-ie-ya Fork
and the Bridal Veil Creek with the main river, four miles and a half
in a straight line.” The elevation of the valley above the sea level
is 3,950 feet. The Merced River, which is about seventy feet wide in
an ordinary stage of water, courses down through the middle cañon,
meanders through the valley, being restrained or confined to near the
centre of it by the sloping talus at its sides--the sloping _debris_
piles occupying nearly one-half of the bottom of the valley.

Although the soil is principally of a sandy character, the marshy land
subject to overflow, and some of the dry bottom land, have a deep, rich
alluvial soil.

The two beautiful little meadows in the lower section of the valley,
afford forage for animals. On the slope above, not far from the Pohono
Falls, the Yosemities built their huts, as if unconscious of “The
Spirit of the Evil Wind,” near their habitations.

Not far from the foot of the descent of the Mariposa trail, the
original trail branched; one trail continuing on up the south side of
the valley, the other crossing the Merced toward El Capitan. Another
original trail came up on the north side from the gorge below. A small
foot-trail entered this from the northern summit of the Coultersville
trail, but it was purposely left so obscure by the Indians, as to
lead to the belief that it was impassable for horses. This trail was
modernized, and is now known as the “Coultersville Trail.” On angle of
El Capitan is “Ribbon Falls.” The cliff over which the water pours is
nearly 3,000 feet high, but the perpendicular height of the fall is but
little over a thousand feet. This fall is “a beauty” while it lasts,
but it is as ephemeral as a spring shower, and this fact must have been
known to the sponsors at the baptism.

Just above El Capitan are the Three Brothers, the highest peak of these
rocks is 3,830 feet.

Next above these is the Yosemite Fall. The verge of the cliff over
which this fall begins its descent is 2,600 feet above the level of
the valley. Prof. Whitney in describing this fall, says: “The fall is
not in one perpendicular sheet. There is first a vertical descent of
1,500 feet, when the water strikes on what seems to be a projecting
ledge; but which, in reality, is a shelf or recess, almost a third of a
mile back from the front of the lower portion of the cliff. From here
the water finds its way, in a series of cascades, down a descent equal
to 626 feet perpendicular, and then gives one final plunge of about
400 feet on to a low _talus_ of rocks at the base of the precipice.”
He also “estimates the size of the stream at the summit of the fall,
at a medium stage of water, to be twenty feet in width and two feet
in average depth.” The upper portion of the full spread of its base
is estimated to be a width of from one hundred to three hundred feet
at high water. The wind gives this fall a vibratory motion; sometimes
equal to the width of the column of water itself at the base of the
perpendicular descent.

The ravine called Indian Cañon is less than a mile above the Yosemite
Fall; between the two, is the rocky peak called the “Lost Arrow,”
which, although not perpendicular, runs up boldly to a height of 3,030
feet above the level of the Merced.

The Indian name for the ravine called Indian Cañon was Lehamite, and
the cliff extending into the valley from the East side of the Cañon
is known as the “Arrow-wood Rocks.” This grand wall extends almost
at a right angle towards the East, and continues up the Ten-ie-ya
Cañon, forming the base of the North dome (To-co-ya) which rises to an
elevation of 3,568 feet above the valley.

In the cliff which forms the base of this dome-shaped mass of rocks,
are the “Royal Arches,” an immense arched cavity evidently formed by
portions of the cliff becoming detached from some cause, and falling
out in sections to the depth of seventy-five or one hundred feet from
the face of the cliff. The top of the arch appears to be 1,200 feet or
more above the valley. The extreme width of the cavity is about the
same, or perhaps a little more than the height. Adjoining the “Royal
Arches” on the East, is what is called the “Washington Column.” This
projecting rounded mass of rock, may be said to mark the boundary of
the valley proper and the Ten-ie-ya Cañon, which here opens into the
valley from a Northeasterly direction.

On the opposite side of Ten-ie-ya Cañon is the Half Dome (Tis-sa-ack)
the loftiest peak of the granite cliffs that form a part of the walls
of the Yosemite Valley. Its height above the valley is 4,737 feet. On
the side next to Ten-ie-ya Cañon this cliff is perpendicular for more
than 1,500 feet from its summit, and then, the solid granite slopes at
about an angle of 60 degrees to its base. The top of this mass of rock
has the appearance of having been at one time a dome-shaped peak, now
however, but half remains, that portion split off has by some agency,
been carried away. At its Northerly base is Mirror Lake, and farther up
the Cañon is Mt. Watkins, Cloud’s Rest, a cascade, and Lake Ten-ie-ya.

This brief outline of description includes the principal points of
interest on the north side of the valley. From the lower part of the
valley, the first prominent object reached on the south side, is
the Bridal Veil Fall. The water of the “Po-ho-no” here falls over a
cliff from a perpendicular height of 630 feet, onto a sloping pile of
_debris_, about 300 feet above the level of the Merced, in reaching
which it rushes down the slope among the rocks in cascades and
branching outlets. The total height of the cliff over which the water
falls is about 900 feet. The trees on the slope below conceal the lower
part of the fall, so that at a distance it appears as if reaching to
the bottom of the valley. Just above the Bridal Veil are what have
been termed the “Three Graces,” and not far above these, are the
peculiar appearing pinnacles of rocks to which the names of Cathedral
Rock and Cathedral Spires have been given. Cathedral Rock is 2,660
feet high. The spires just beyond are about the same height from the
level of the valley. They are pointed columns of granite 500 feet high,
attached at their base with the cliff forming the side of the valley.
The next prominent object on the south side is Sentinel Rock, 3,043
feet high. This pinnacle of granite is on the extremity of a point of
rocks extending into the valley. For a thousand feet or more, it has
the form of an obelisk, below which it forms a part of the projecting
rocks. The next object is the massive point projecting into the valley,
and which here forms an angle towards the south; it is called Glacier
Point. This has an elevation of 3,200 feet above the valley. From this
point some of the finest views of the vicinity can be seen. Behind
Glacier Point and Sentinel Rock, appearing as if these cliffs formed a
part of its base, is the South Dome, known also as the Sentinel Dome.
The name of “South Dome” was originally given to this dome-shaped mass
of granite by our battalion. It is 4,150 feet above the valley. The
South or Glacier Cañon is just above Glacier Point. At the head of this
rocky impassable cañon, is the beautiful fall I have named “Glacier
Fall.” This fall is about 600 feet high. The middle cañon, Yanopah,
opens from the east. The Merced river comes down this cañon into the

In a distance of two miles, a descent from over 2,000 feet of
perpendicular height is made. This includes the Vernal and Nevada
Falls. The Vernal is about 350 feet high; the Nevada something over 600
feet. The rapids between the falls have a descent of about 300 feet.
The Vernal and Nevada are about one mile apart. On the north side of
the middle cañon is the Cap of Liberty, rising to a height of 2,000
feet above its base near the foot of the Nevada Fall. This stupendous
mass of rock stands nearly perpendicular on all sides but one. Farther
up, on the south side of Ten-ie-ya Cañon, is Clouds Rest, which is
6,000 feet above the bottom of the Yosemite. Between Glacier Cañon and
Yanopah is the Noble Starr King. The immense cliff forming the extreme
westerly point of the divide between Ten-ie-ya Cañon and the Yanopah
branch, has had various names affixed to it, none of which seems to
have been satisfactory. It was between the lower face of this wall and
Glacier Point that Capt. Boling laid off and had cleared for use his
race-course; and hence, in speaking of the locality, it was sometimes
designated as Boling’s Point, as the starting place for the race.


  A Trip to Los Angelos--Interview with Col. McKee--A Night at Col.
  Fremont’s Camp--Management of Cattle by the Colonel’s Herdsmen--Back
  to Los Angelos--Specimen Bricks of the Angel City--An Addition to our
  Party--Mules Versus Bears--Don Vincente--A Silver Mine--Mosquitos--A
  Dry Bog--Return to Fresno--Muster out of Battalion--A Proposition.

On arriving at head-quarters on the Fresno, with the remnant of the
once numerous and defiant band of Yosemite Indians, whose thieving
propensities and murderous attacks had made them a dread to miners
and “ranche” men; we found a general feeling of confidence that the
“Indian war” was ended. The commissioners, with a special escort of U.
S. soldiers which had accompanied them from San Francisco, had gone
to King’s River to treat with the bands collected for that purpose;
and were then to visit the region farther South on their way to Los
Angelos, where they expected to meet and co-operate with Gen. Bean, who
was stationed with his volunteer force at the Cahon Pass. Major Savage
had learned from his Indians, who once more seemed to idolize him, that
all the bands in the vicinity of the Kings and Kah-we-ah rivers, had
“made peace,” and that the commissioners had started for Te-jon Pass.

Considering the Indian outbreak as completely suppressed, the major at
once reported the condition of affairs to the governor, and recommended
that the “Mariposa Battalion” be mustered out and honorably discharged
from further service. He sent Captain Boling to report in person to
the commissioners. I was detailed as one of the Captain’s escort, and
Mr. Winchester, a newspaper correspondent, accompanied us. Captain
Boling expected to overtake the commissioners at Te-hon Pass.

This trip was in no way objectionable to me, for I was desirous to
visit that part of the country with a view of selecting a location, if
I found my plans to be practicable. Through the advice of Major Savage,
I had in contemplation a design to establish a trading post in the
vicinity of Te-hon Pass. In this project, I was assured of the Major’s
friendship and co-operation as soon as the battalion was mustered out.
He designed to extend his trading operations, and thought that a post
in the vicinity of the pass would control the trade destined to spring
up on both sides of the mountains. I was provided with recommendations
to the commissioners, to use in case I desired a trader’s permit on
one of the reservations. The commissioners were while _en route_
prospecting for locations and selections of public lands for the
Indians. The object of these selections, was to make the experiment
of engaging them in agricultural pursuits under the management of the
general government. I had but little confidence that the latter could
be made self-supporting wards of the nation; but I was willing in
political as in religious affairs, that each zealot should believe that
he had discovered a sovereign balm for the wants of humanity. However,
self-interest prompted me to be observant of passing events.

I was aware, even at that early day, that the California Indians had
become objects of speculation to the “rings” that scented them as
legitimate prey. The trip to the Te-jon Pass was made without incident
or accident to delay our movements, but on our arrival it was found
that the Commissioners had been gone several days, and were probably
then in Los Angelos. This we learned from an Indian styled by his
“_christian name_” Don Vincente. This chief was a Mission Indian, and
spoke some Spanish. His people, although in appearance hardly equal to
the mountain tribes, provided themselves with fruit and vegetables of
their own raising.

From “Senor Don Vincente” we obtained roasting ears of corn, melons,
etc., which were an agreeable surprise. While on the trip we had found
game in abundance, and, surfeited with fresh meat, the vegetables
seemed better than any we had ever before eaten. Vincente’s system of
irrigation was very complete.

Captain Boling was not anxious to follow the trail of the Commissioners
beyond this camp. I had already informed him of my desire to see the
Commissioners and make some examination of that locality before our
return. He therefore decided to retrace his own steps, but to send me
on as a special messenger to the Commissioners.

He instructed me to make all possible despatch to deliver his report
and messages, but on my return trip I had liberty to make such delays
as suited my convenience. He also wished me to convey a verbal message
from Major Savage to Colonel Fremont, to the effect that the Indians
congregated at the Fresno were anxiously awaiting the arrival of
some of his cattle. Col. Fremont had already made a large contract
for supplying them with beef, and was supposed to be in Los Angelos
or vicinity, buying up animals for the agencies. My arrangements for
following the Commissioners were hardly commenced, before Col. William
T. Henderson, a ranchman from near Quartzberg, rode up to our camp. He
was an acquaintance, and was on his way to Los Angelos with a King’s
River Indian guide. I at once saddled my mule, and taking an extra
animal furnished for the occasion, joined Henderson, making the trip a
more agreeable and pleasant one than I had anticipated.

Col. Henderson afterwards became famous, at least among his friends,
as chief instrument under Captain Harry Love, of causing the death
of “Joaquin Muriata” and “Three fingered Jack,” and in capturing two
or three of Muriata’s band of robbers. On entering the city of Los
Angelos, I found Col. McKee at his hotel. Neither Col. Barbour nor Col.
Fremont were in the city. Doctor Woozencroft was in San Francisco.
I was cordially received and hospitably entertained by Col. McKee
while I made my report, and answered his questions. At his request, I
stated a few facts relating to the Yosemite Valley, and he appeared an
interested listener; but distinguishing a look of incredulity, when
I gave him my estimates of heights, I made the interview as brief as
possible. Ascertaining that Col. Fremont was only a few miles from
the city, I rode out to his camp, delivered my message, and gave him
a general view of the situation in Mariposa county, where his famous
estate is situated. I staid over night with him and was hospitably
provided for.

The Colonel’s whole bearing was that of an accomplished man of the
world, and I felt that I was in the presence of a gentleman of
education and refinement. During the morning I watched his vaqueros or
herdsman training the cattle preparatory to starting north for their
destination. This breaking-in process was accomplished by driving them
in a circle over the plain near the camp, and was done to familiarize
them with each other, and with the commands of the herdsmen, before
attempting to drive them from their native grazing grounds.

On my return to the city I again called on Colonel McKee to see if he
had any return message to Major Savage. On my first visit the subject
of reservations was not presented. Upon this occasion it was naturally
brought up by an allusion to the Colonel’s plan of “_christianizing the
poor Indians_.” My doubt of the feasibility of this work was better
concealed than were his doubts of my heights of the Yosemite, and with
considerable fervor the good old gentle man unfolded his plans for the
christianizing of the Indians. His estimate of the number in Mariposa
county was simply fabulous, and when I quietly asked him if he supposed
there were really so many, he, with some choler, answered, “Why, sir,
these figures are official.”

During this conversation, I was informed that the Fresno, King’s River
and Te-jon Pass selections would be recommended, although it appeared
that the latter was claimed as an old and long disputed Spanish grant.
On stating that I had had some idea of locating in the vicinity of the
Te-jon Pass as soon as that selection was decided upon, I was advised
by Colonel McKee to be in no haste to do so, but was assured of his
good will in any application I might make after their policy was
established; for, added the Colonel, “Major Savage has already spoken
of you as an energetic and efficient person, and one calculated to
materially aid us in future work with these Indians.”

Let it suffice here to say, that I never made application for a permit
as a licensed trader on any Indian reservation; and I am not yet aware
that any of these reservations have afforded the Indians means of
self-support. I was somewhat familiar with the management of the Fresno
agency, and do not hesitate to say that it was not wholly commendable.
I was not personally familiar with that of the Te-jon Pass agricultural
management. This was one of the most delightful regions of California;
and the region covered by the Mexican or Spanish grant was, in my
opinion, intrinsically more valuable than the whole of the celebrated
Mariposa estate of Col. Fremont, which had “millions in it.” After
a vast amount of money had been expended on this reservation by the
general government, I believe it was confirmed as a Spanish or Mexican
grant, and finally passed into the possession of General Beal, who was
for some years Superintendent of Indian Affairs in California. I never
saw General Beal, and therefore was only able to judge of him or his
management through his official reports and letters relating to the
Indian Affairs of California. These will receive some special notice
further on.

My recollections of the interviews with Colonel McKee, are of a most
agreeable character. The sincerity with which he advised me with regard
to my individual affairs, and the correctness of his representations of
the prospective condition of the Tejon Pass, if it should prove a valid
Mexican grant, was serviceable to me, and subsequent events verified
his judgment. Colonel McKee was a high-minded christian gentleman, but
really unsuited to deal with the political element then existing on the
Pacific-coast. The other two commissioners, Colonel Barbour and Dr.
Woozencroft, I never became acquainted with, though upon one occasion
I met Colonel Barbour at head-quarters, and received a very favorable
impression of his character. In leaving Colonel McKee after my second
interview, I could not at once relinquish my design of ultimately
establishing myself near the Tejon. Having completed my business, I
reported myself to Henderson as ready, and found that he also had
been able to despatch his affairs, and had no business to detain him
longer. Together we took a stroll through the principal street, and
visited some popular resorts. However angelic the unseen portion of
this city--of then less than two thousand inhabitants--may have been,
it appeared to us as a city of fallen angels with their attendant
satellites. Although our observations were made in a dull portion of
the day, we witnessed on the street one pugilistic encounter, two
shooting affrays, and a reckless disregard of life, and property
rights generally, never allowed in a civilized community. We soon
discovered that good arms and a firm demeanor were the only passports
to respectful consideration.

The authorities seemed too indifferent or too timid to maintain order,
or punish the offenders against law. Satisfied that the “City of
Angels” could exhibit more unadulterated wickedness than any other town
in the State at that time, we shook the dust from our feet, and in
order to get an early start the next morning, rode out to the vicinity
of Col. Fremont’s camp. Our party was increased by the addition of
two gentlemen, who joined us for protection and guidance. The name
of one of them has escaped my memory; the other was Doctor Bigelow,
of Detroit, Michigan, a geologist, who at one time was engaged in a
geological survey of a portion of Lake Superior; We left our camp
before sunrise, Henderson and myself riding in advance; our guests,
Indian and pack-mule bringing up the rear. This order of traveling
was maintained as a matter of convenience, for being well mounted,
Henderson and myself were able to secure deer, antelope and a supply of
smaller game, without hardly leaving the trail or delaying our progress.

Among the foot-hills of the mountain slopes we saw several black bears
cross the trail ahead, but not being out of meat, we did not urgently
solicit their company. We did, however, once have our appetite aroused
for “bar meat,” but failed to supply the material for the feast.
Halting for a rest at the foot of a ravine, and being very thirsty, we
followed the indications to water exhibited by our mules. These were
secured while we explored the brushy ravine for the water-hole. As we
reached the desired water, two fat cubs came waddling out of the pool,
and ran into a clump of dwarf willow.

Congratulating each other on the prospect of roast cub for supper, we
tried to get a shot with our revolvers, but a rousing demonstration
from the parental bear, which suddenly appeared, alarmed our
cautiousness, and we retreated hurriedly, but in good order, to the
place where we had carelessly left our rifles. Hastily mounting, we
returned the compliment by at once charging on the bear and her cubs,
which were now endeavoring to escape.

As we approached near enough for the mules to see and scent the game,
they halted, and commenced _marking time_. Neither spurs or the butts
of our rifles could persuade them to make a forward movement. Thinking
I might secure a cub that stood temporarily in sight, I raised my
rifle, but in so doing slackened the reins, when with the ease and
celerity of a well-drilled soldier, my mule came to an “_about face_,”
and instantly left that locality. Henderson’s mule became unmanageable,
and after a lusty “we-haw! we-haw!” followed me, while the affrighted
bear family scrambled off in search of a place of security. Pulling
up as soon as we could control our frightened animals, Henderson
congratulated me on possessing one so active on a retreat, while I
complimented the intelligence of his own, which would not voluntarily
endanger his master.

After a hearty laugh at our comic illustration of a bear hunt, it was
mutually agreed that a mule was not reliable in a charge upon bruin.

A mule may be the equal of a horse in intelligence, but his inferiority
of spirit and courage in times of danger prevents his becoming a
favorite, except as a beast for work or mountain travel.

On arriving at the rancheria of the chief Vincente, I induced Henderson
to stop and explore the country. The luscious watermelons and abundant
supplies of vegetables were strong arguments in favor of a few days’
rest for our animals and recreation for ourselves. In the meantime
Doctor Bigelow had told us of a traditional silver mine that he had
been informed existed somewhere in the locality of the Te-jon. I found
the pompous old chief fond of displaying his knowledge of agriculture,
which was really considerable, and I complimented him upon his success,
as was deserved.

After paying him for the things liberally supplied our party, and which
with a show of Spanish courtesy he intimated he had given us because
he was “a good Christian”--though he frequently crossed himself while
expressing his fear of “witches” or demons--I opened up the subject of
the old silver mine. I designated it as some kind of a mine that had
once been worked by an Englishman. We were told by “Don Vincente” that
such a mine had been discovered many years before, by white men, who,
after working it for awhile, had been driven off or killed; “but for
the love of God” he could not tell which. We expressed a wish to visit
the old mine, and asked permission of the chief. He told us it was not
in the territory claimed by him, and he was thankful that it was not,
as the location was haunted. When asked if he would furnish us a guide,
who should be well paid for his service, he answered, “Go, and God go
with you, but none of my people shall go, for it would bring upon us
evil.” We were shown the mouth of the ravine, after some persuasion,
but no argument or inducement could procure a guide to the mine.

“Don Vincente,” like all the Mission Indians of California, I found to
be strongly imbued with the superstitions of the _wild tribes_, and
a firm believer in the power of human departed spirits to harm the
living. Many, like those of the east, believed that the wizards or
sorcerers could put a spell upon a victim, that if not disenchanted
would soon carry him to his grave.

Leaving our extra animals in the care of Vincente, we took our course
towards the mouth of the ravine pointed out to us, southwest of the
Tejon. After a tedious and difficult search, a discovery of some
_float_ mineral was made, and following up these indications, we found
some very rude furnaces, and a long distance above discovered the mine,
which had evidently been abandoned for years. We procured some of the
best _specimens_ of the ore, and being unable to determine its value,
forwarded some to assayers in San Francisco. Doctor Bigelow pronounced
the mineral to be that of antimony, but said that it might possibly
contain some of the precious metals, but it was quite evident that he
placed but little commercial value upon the mine. The reports finally
received from the assayers were very unfavorable, and our visions of
untold wealth vanished with the smoke of the assay.

On our return from the exploration of the “_Silver Mine_,” we carefully
concealed our discovery from Vincente and his people, and avoided
exciting their curiosity. Our animals were rested, and in an improved
condition, for the grass was rich and abundant. Don Vincente was as
much delighted with our presents of tobacco and trinkets, which we
had carried with us for such occasions, as any of the “_Gentile_”
nations would have been. We took our departure from the hospitalities
of the Mission Chief without having had any occurrence to divert the
mutually friendly feelings that had been fostered in our intercourse.
We had designed, on starting from the rancheria of Don Vincente, to
leave the direct trail to Mariposa, and explore the lake region of
the Tulare valley. Unfortunately for the success of this undertaking,
we made our first camp too near the marshy shore of Kern Lake. We had
selected the camp ground for the convenience of water and fresh grass
for our animals, but as night closed in, the mosquitoes swarmed from
the surrounding territory, making such vigorous charges upon us and our
animals, that we were forced to retreat from their persistent attacks,
and take refuge on the high land away from the vicinity of the Tule
or Bullrush marshes. Having no desire to continue the acquaintance of
the inhabitants who had thronged to welcome our approach, our ambition
for making further exploration was so much weakened, that we silently
permitted our mules to take their course towards the direct trail. Col.
Henderson declared that the mosquitoes on these lakes were larger, more
numerous, and in greater variety, than in the swamps of Louisiana, and
Doctor Bigelow said that hitherto he had rather prided himself, as
a Michigander, on the _earnest_ character of those of Michigan, but
that in future, he should be willing to accept as a standard of all
the possibilities of mosquito growth, those that had _reluctantly_
parted with us at Kern Lake. Keeping the rich alluvial low lands on our
left, we crossed a strip of alkali plain, through which our animals
floundered as if in an ash heap. This Henderson designated as a “_dry
bog_.” Deviating still farther to the right to avoid this, an old trail
was struck, either Indian or animal, which led us into the main trail
usually traveled up and down the valley. At the crossing of one of the
numerous mountain streams, we found a good camping place on a beautiful
table overlooking this rich territory, where we would be secure from
the assaults of _enemies_.

After a refreshing bath in the cool waters of the stream, we slept the
sleep of the blessed, and mosquitoes once more became to us unknown
objects of torture. The next morning we found ourselves refreshed and

Our animals, like ourselves, seemed to feel in elevated spirits, and
as we vaulted into our saddles at an early hour, they moved rapidly
along in the cool and bracing air. As we rode, drove after drove of
antelope and elk were seen, and one small band of mustangs approached
from the west, when, after vainly neighing to our mules, they turned
and galloped back toward their favorite resort, the west side of the
valley. Sometimes, with a halting look of scrutiny, a coyote would
cross our trail, but their near vicinity was always recognized by our
vigilant mules with a snort and pause in their gait, that was probably
designed to intimate to us that it might be another bear. We beguiled
the time in discussing the amazing fertility of the country we were
traversing, and the probability of its future occupancy. At the present
time, thriving cities and immense wheat fields occupy localities where
in 1851 game and wild mustangs roamed almost undisturbed by the white
man’s tread, or the flash or gleam of his unerring rifle. There is
still room for the enterprising settler, and the upper end of the San
Joaquin Valley may yet be called the sportsman’s paradise. The lakes
and streams swarm with fish, and are the resort of water-fowl, and
deer, elk and antelope are still plentiful in secluded localities.

We reached the Fresno in safety without interrupting incidents, and
without further attempt at exploration. Colonel Henderson, Doctor
Bigelow, and his companion _du voyage_, after a short halt passed on
to Quartzberg, while I stopped over to make my report to the Major. To
my extreme surprise, Major Savage questioned me as to the cause of my
tardiness, saying he had been expecting me for two or three days past,
and that the cattle were now within the valley and would in a short
time be at the reservation. After sufficiently enjoying my astonishment
at his knowledge of my movements and those of Fremont’s herders, he
informed the that his old power and influence over the Indians had
been re-established, and that reports came to him from the different
chiefs of all important events transpiring in their territory. He
soon satisfied me that through a judicious distribution of presents
to the runners, and the esteem in which he was held by the chiefs, he
was able to watch the proceedings of strangers, for every movement
of our party had been reported to him in detail. I was cordially
received by the Major, as a guest in his new trading house, which he
had erected during our absence. We discussed the probable future of
the management of Indian affairs in California, and the incidents of
my trip to Los Angelos. The Major informed me that the battalion had
been mustered out of service during my absence (on July 25th, 1851),
but that my interests had been properly represented and cared for, as
far as he had been able to act without my presence. But in order to
receive compensation as interpreter and for extra medical services, it
was discovered that separate accounts and vouchers would be required,
which he and Captain Boling would at any time certify. The major then
informed me that he had made his arrangements to recommence his trading
operations on as large a scale as might be required. That he could make
more as a trader than as an employe of government, and at the same
time be free from their cares and anxieties. He advised me to take a
subordinate position until I should be able to decide upon a better
location. He said he could make my position a profitable one if I
desired to remain with him.

The major gave me a general insight into his future plans, and some of
the sources of his expected profits. After this conversation, I gave up
all idea of establishing at the Tejon or any where else as a government
trader. Having been so long absent from my private business, which I
had left under the management of a partner; I made this a sufficient
excuse for my departure the next morning and for my inability to accept
the major’s kindly offer. As I was leaving, the major said: “I was in
hopes to have secured your services, and still think you may change
your mind. If you do, ride over at once and you will find a place open
for you.”

This confidence and friendship I felt demanded some return, and I
frankly said; “Major Savage, you are surrounded by combinations that
I don’t like. Sharp men are endeavoring to use you as a tool to work
their gold mine. Beside this, you have hangers-on here that are capable
of cutting your throat.” Contrary to my expectation the Major was not
in the least offended at my frankness; on the contrary, he thanked me
for my interest and said: “Doc, while you study books, I study men.
I am not often very much deceived, and I perfectly understand the
present situation, but let those laugh who win. If I can make good my
losses _by_ the Indians _out_ of the Indians, I am going to do it. I
was the best friend the Indians had, and they would have destroyed me.
Now that they once more call me “Chief,” they shall build me up. I
will be just to them, as I have been merciful, for after all, they are
but poor ignorant beings, but my losses must be made good.” Bidding
the Major good morning, I left him with many kindly feelings, and as
I rode on my solitary way to Mariposa, I thought of his many noble
qualities, his manly courage, his generous hospitality, his unyielding
devotion to friends, and his kindness to immigrant strangers. These all
passed in review before my mind, and then, I reversed the picture to
see if anything was out of proportion; in the picture I had drawn of
my hero. There were very serious defects, but such as would naturally
result from a misdirected education, and a strong will, but they were
capable of becoming virtues. As to the Major’s kindly offer, although I
appreciated his feeling’s towards me, I could not accept it.

With many others, I had joined in the operations against the Indians
from conscientious motives and in good faith to chastise them for the
numerous murders and frequent robberies they were committing. Our
object was to compel them to keep the peace, that we might be permitted
to live undisturbed by their depredations. We had sufficient general
intelligence and knowledge of their character to know that we were
looked upon as trespassers on their territory, but were unwilling to
abandon our search for gold, or submit to their frequent demands for
an ever-increasing tribute. Beside other property, I had lost four
valuable horses, which were taken to satisfy their appetites. Neither
Bonner’s nor Vanderbilt’s love for horses, was ever greater than was
that of those mountain Indians. No horse was considered too valuable
for them to eat. Notwithstanding all this sense of injury done to my
personal interests, I could not justify myself in joining any scheme
to wrong them, or rather, the government; and it was too plainly
evident that no damages could be obtained for losses, except through
the California Indian Ring that was now pretty well established. During
the operations of the Battalion, the plans of the Ring were laid, and
it was determined that when the war should be ended, “a vigorous peace
policy” should be inaugurated. Estimates of the probable number of
Indians that it would be necessary to provide for in Mariposa county
alone, accidentally fell under my observation, and I at once saw
that it was the design to deceive the government and the people in
regard to the actual number, in order to obtain from Congress large
appropriations. These estimates were cited as official by Col. McKee,
and were ten times more than the truth would warrant. Major Savage
justified his course in using the opportunity to make himself whole
again, while acting as a trader, and in aiding others to secure “a good
thing,” by the sophism that he was not responsible for the action of
the commissioners or of Congress.


  Captain Boling elected Sheriff--Appointment of Indian
  Agents--Ten-ie-ya allowed to return to Yosemite--Murder of
  Visitors--Lt. Moore’s Expedition and Punishment of Murderers--Gold
  Discoveries on Eastern Slope of Sierras--Report of Expedition, and
  first _Published_ Notice of Yosemite--Squatter Sovereignty--Assault
  upon King’s River Reservation--The Supposed Leader, Harvey, Denounced
  by Major Savage--A Rencounter and death of Savage--Harvey Liberated
  by a Friendly Justice--An Astute Superintendent--A Mass Meeting--A
  Rival Aspirant--Indians and Indian Policy.

After being mustered out, the members of the battalion at once returned
to their various avocations. I was fully occupied with mining and
trading operations, and hence gave little heed to affairs at the
Fresno. Through Captain Boling, however, who was elected Sheriff of the
county, and whose business carried him to all parts of the country, I
learned of the appointment of Col. Thomas Henly as agent for the tribes
of Mariposa county, and as sub-agents M. B. Lewis for the Fresno and
Wm. J. Campbell for the King’s River Agencies. I afterwards met Col.
Henly and Mr. Lewis in Mariposa, and was much pleased with the Colonel.
Both of these gentlemen were kind and genial; but Mr. Lewis soon tired
of his office as unsuited to his taste, and accepted a position in the
State Government under Major Roman. His successor, I believe, was Capt.
Vincinthalor. Old Ten-ie-ya, and his band, were never recipients of
friendly favors from Savage, nor was he in very good standing with the
agent. This was known to the other chiefs, and they frequently taunted
him with his downfall. The old chief chafed under the contemptuous
treatment of those who had once feared him and applied to the sub-agent
or farmer for permission to go back to his mountain home. He claimed
that he could not endure the heat at the agency, and said he preferred
acorns to the rations furnished him by the Government.

To rid itself of the consequences engendered by these petty squabbles
with the old chief, the management at the Fresno consented to a
short absence under restrictions. Ten-ie-ya promised to perform all
requirements, and joyfully left the hot and dry reservation, and
with his family, took the trail to the Yosemite once more. As far
as is known, Ten-ie-ya kept faith and disturbed no one. Soon after
his departure, however, a few of his old followers quietly left the
Fresno as was supposed to join him, but as no complaints were made by
their chiefs, it was understood that they were glad to be rid of them;
therefore no effort was made to bring them back. During the winter
of 1851-52 a considerable number of horses were stolen, but as some
of them were found in the possession of Mexicans, who were promptly
executed for the theft, no charge was preferred against the Yosemites.

Early in May, 1852, a small party of miners from Coarse Gold Gulch,
started out on a prospecting tour with the intention of making a visit
to the Yosemite Valley.

The curiosity of some of these men had been excited by descriptions of
it, made by some of the ex-members of the Battalion who had gone to
Coarse Gold Gulch, soon after their discharge. This party spent some
little time prospecting on their way. Commencing on the south fork of
the Merced, they tested the mineral resources of streams tributary to
it; and then, passing over the divide on the old trail, camped for the
purpose of testing the branches leading into the main Merced. While at
this camp, they were visited by begging Indians; a frequent occurrence
in the mining camps of some localities. The Indians appeared friendly,
and gave no indications of hostile intentions. They gave the party to
understand, however, that the territory they were then in, belonged to
them, although no tribute was demanded. The miners comprehended their
intimations, but paid no attention to their claim, being aware that
this whole region had been ceded to the Government by treaty during the
year before.

Having ascertained that they were a part of the Yosemite Band, the
miners by signs, interrogated them as to the direction of the valley,
but this they refused to answer or pretended not to understand.
The valley however, was known to be near, and no difficulty was
anticipated, when the party were ready to visit it, as an outline
map, furnished them before starting, had thus far proved reliable.
Unsuspicious of danger from an attack, they reached the valley, and
while entering it on the old trail, were ambushed by the Indians from
behind some rocks at or near the foot of the trail, and two of the
party were instantly killed. Another was seriously wounded, but finally
succeeded in making his escape. The names of the two men killed were
Rose and Shurbon; the name of the wounded man was Tudor.

The reports of these murders, alarmed many of the citizens. They
were fearful that the Indians would become excited and leave the
reservations, in which case, it was thought, a general outbreak would
result. The management of the Fresno agency was censured for allowing
Ten-ie-ya to return to the valley, and for allowing so considerable
a number of his followers to again assemble under his leadership.
Among the miners, this alarm was soon forgotten, for it was found that
instead of leaving the reservations, the Indians camped outside, fled
to the agencies for protection, lest they should be picked off in
revenge for the murders perpetrated by the Yo-sem-i-tes. The officer in
command at Fort Miller, was notified of these murders, and a detachment
of regular soldiers under Lt. Moore, U. S. A., was at once dispatched
to capture or punish the red-skins. Beside the detachment of troops,
scouts and guides, and a few of the friends of the murdered men
accompanied the expedition. Among the volunteer scouts, was A. A. Gray,
usually called “Gus” Gray. He had been a member of Captain Boling’s
company and was with us, when the valley was discovered, as also on our
second visit to the valley under Captain Boling. He had been a faithful
explorer, and his knowledge of the valley and its vicinity, made his
services valuable to Lt. Moore, as special guide and scout for that
locality. The particulars of this expedition I obtained from Gray. He
was afterward a Captain under Gen. Walker, of Nicaragua notoriety.
Under the guidance of Gray, Lt. Moore entered the valley in the night,
and was successful in surprising and capturing a party of five savages;
but an alarm was given, and Ten-ie-ya and his people fled from their
huts and escaped. On examination of the prisoners in the morning, it
was discovered that each of them had some article of clothing that had
belonged to the murdered men. The naked bodies of Rose and Shurbon were
found and buried. Their graves were on the edge of the little meadow
near the Bridal Vail Fall.

When the captives were accused of the murder of the two white men, they
did not deny the charge; but tacitly admitted that they had done it to
prevent white men from coming to their valley. They declared that it
was their home, and that white men had no right to come there without
their consent.

Lieutenant Moore told them, through his interpreter, that they had
sold their lands to the Government, that it belonged to the white men
now; that the Indians had no right there. They had signed a treaty
of peace with the whites, and had agreed to live on the reservations
provided for them. To this they replied that Ten-ie-ya had never
consented to the sale of their valley, and had never received pay for
it. The other chiefs, they said, had no right to sell their territory,
and no right to laugh at their misfortunes.

Lieutenant Moore became fully satisfied that he had captured the real
murderers, and the abstract questions of title and jurisdiction, were
not considered debatable in this case. He promptly pronounced judgment,
and sentenced them to be shot. They were at once placed in line, and by
his order, a volley of musketry from the soldiers announced that the
spirits of five Indians were liberated to occupy ethereal space.

This may seem summary justice for a single individual, in a republic,
to meet out to fellow beings on his own judgment; but a formal judicial
killing of these Indians could not have awarded more summary justice.
This prompt disposition of the captured murderers, was witnessed by a
scout sent out by Ten-ie-ya to watch the movements of Lieutenant Moore
and his command, and was immediately reported to the old chief, who
with his people at once made a precipitate retreat from their hiding
places, and crossed the mountains to their allies, the Pai-utes and
Monos. Although this was in June, the snow, which was lighter than
the year before at this time, was easily crossed by the Indians and
their families. After a short search, in the vicinity of the valley,
Lieutenant Moore struck their trail at Lake Ten-ie-ya, and followed
them in close pursuit, with an expressed determination to render as
impartial justice to the whole band as he had to the five in the
valley. It was no disappointment to me to learn from Gray, that when
once alarmed, old Ten-ie-ya was too much for Lieutenant Moore, as he
had been for Major Savage and Captain Boling. Lieutenant Moore did
not overtake the Indians he was pursuing, neither was he able to get
any information from the Pai-utes, whom he encountered, while east of
the Sierras. Lieutenant Moore crossed the Sierras over the Mono trail
that leads by the Soda Springs through the Mono Pass. He made some
fair discoveries of gold and gold-bearing quartz, obsidian and other
minerals, while exploring the region north and south of Bloody Cañon
and of Mono Lake. Finding no trace whatever of the cunning chief, he
returned to the Soda Springs, and from there took his homeward journey
to Fort Miller by way of the old trail that passed to the south of the

Lieutenant Moore did not discover the Soda Springs nor the Mono Lake
country, but he brought into prominent notice the existence of the
Yosemite, and of minerals in paying quantities upon the Eastern Slope.
Mr. Moore made a brief descriptive report of his expedition, that found
its way into the newspapers. At least, I was so informed at the time,
though unable to procure it. I saw, however, some severe criticisms of
his display of autocratic power in ordering the five Yosemites shot.

After the establishment of the “Mariposa Chronicle” by W. T. Witachre
and A. S. Gould, the first number of which was dated January 20, 1854.
Lieutenant Moore, to more fully justify himself or gratify public
curiosity, published in the “Chronicle” a letter descriptive of the
expedition and its results. In this letter he dropped the terminal
letter “y” in the name “Yosemity,” as it had been written previously
by myself and other members of the battalion, and substituted “e,” as
before stated. As Lieutenant Moore’s article attracted a great deal of
public attention at that time, the name, with its present orthography,
was accepted. A copy of the paper containing Moore’s letter was in my
possession for many years, but, finally, to my extreme regret, it was
lost or destroyed.

To Lieutenant Moore belongs the credit of being the first to attract
the attention of the scientific and literary world, and “The Press”
to the wonders of the Yosemite Valley. His position as an officer of
the regular army, established a reputation for his article, that could
not be expected by other correspondents. I was shown by Gray, who was
exhibiting them in Mariposa, some very good specimens of gold quartz,
that were found on the Moore expedition. Leroy Vining, and a few chosen
companions, with one of Moore’s scouts as guide, went over the Sierras
to the place where the gold had been found, and established themselves
on what has since been known as Vining’s Gulch or Creek.

On the return of Lieutenant Moore to Fort Miller, the news of his
capture of the Indians, and his prompt execution of them as the
murderers of Rose and Shurbon, occasioned some alarm among the timid,
which was encouraged and kept alive by unprincipled and designing
politicians. All kinds of vague rumors were put in circulation. Many
not in the secret supposed another Indian war would be inaugurated.
Political factions and “Indian Rings” encouraged a belief in the most
improbable rumors, hoping thereby to influence Congressional action,
or operate upon the War Department to make large estimates for the
California Indian Service.

This excitement did not extend beyond the locality of its origin, and
the citizens were undisturbed in their industries by these rumors.
During all this time no indications of hostilities were exhibited
by any of the tribes or bands, although the abusive treatment they
received at the hands of some, was enough to provoke contention. They
quietly remained on the reservations. As far as I was able to learn
at the time, a few persons envied them the possession of their King’s
river reservation, and determined to “_squat_” upon it, after they
should have been driven off. This “border element” was made use of by
an unprincipled schemer by the name of Harvey, whom it was understood
was willing to accept office, when a division of Mariposa county
should have been made, or when a vacancy of any kind should occur. But
population was required, and the best lands had been reserved for the
savages. A few hangers-on, at the agencies, that had been discharged
for want of employment and other reasons, made claims upon the King’s
river reservation; the Indians came to warn them off, when they were at
once fired upon, and it was reported that several were killed.

These agitations and murders were denounced by Major Savage in
unsparing terms, and he claimed that Harvey was responsible for them.
Although the citizens of Mariposa were at the time unable to learn the
details of the affair at King’s river, which was a distant settlement,
the great mass of the people were satisfied that wrong had been done to
the Indians. There had been a very decided opposition by the citizens
generally to the establishment of two agencies in the county, and the
selection of the best agricultural lands for reservations. Mariposa
then included nearly the whole San Joaquin valley south of the Tuolumne.

The opponents to the recommendations of the commissioners claimed
that “The government of the United States has no right to select
the territory of a sovereign State to establish reservations for
the Indians, nor for any other purpose, without the consent of the
State.” The State Legislature of 1851-52, instructed the Senators
and Representatives in Congress to use their influence to have the
Indians removed beyond the limits of the State. These views had been
advocated by many of the citizens of Mariposa county in good faith;
but it was observed that those who most actively annoyed and persecuted
those located on King’s river reservation were countenanced by those
who professed to advocate opposite views. These men were often to be
seen at the agency, apparently the welcome guests of the employes of

It soon became quite evident, that an effort was being made to
influence public opinion, and create an impression that there was
imminent danger; in order that the general government would thereby
be more readily induced to continue large appropriations to keep in
subjection the comparatively few savages in the country.

It was a well known fact that these people preferred horse-flesh and
their acorn jelly to the rations of beef that were supposed to have
been issued by the Government. During this time, Major Savage was
successfully pursuing his trade with the miners of the Fresno and
surrounding territory, and with the Indians at the agency. Frequently
those from the King’s River Agency, would come to Savage to trade,
thereby exciting the jealous ire of the King’s river traders.
Self-interest as well as public good prompted Savage to use every means
at his disposal to keep these people quiet, and he denounced Harvey
and his associates as entitled to punishment under the laws of the
Government. These denunciations, of course, reached Harvey and his
friends. Harvey and a sub-agent by the name of Campbell, seemed most
aggrieved at what Savage had said of the affray, and both appeared
to make common cause in denouncing the Major in return. Harvey made
accusations against the integrity of Savage, and boasted that Savage
would not dare visit King’s river while he, Harvey, was there. As soon
as this reached the Major’s ears, he mounted his horse and at once
started for the King’s River Agency.

Here, as expected, Harvey was found, in good fellowship with Marvin,
the quartermaster, and others connected with the agency. Walking up
to Harvey, Major Savage demanded of him a retraction of his offensive
remarks concerning himself. This Harvey refused to do, and said
something to the effect that Savage had talked about Harvey. “Yes,”
replied Major Savage, “I have said that you are a murderer and a
coward.” Harvey retreated a pace or two and muttered that it was a lie.
As quick as the word was uttered, Savage knocked Harvey down. Harvey
appeared to play ’possum and made no resistance. As Savage stooped
over the prostrate Harvey, a pistol fell from Savage’s waist, seeing
which, Marvin picked it up and held it in his hand as the Major walked
off. Harvey rose to his feet at this moment, and seeing Marvin with
the pistol in his hand exclaimed, “Judge, you have got my pistol!”
Marvin replied, “No! I have not. This belongs to Major Savage.” When,
instantly, Harvey commenced firing at Major Savage, who, though
mortally wounded by the first shot, and finding his pistol gone, strove
hard to once more reach Harvey, whom he had scorned to further punish
when prostrate before him.

This was in August, 1852. Harvey was arrested, or gave himself up, and
after the farce of an examination, was discharged. The justice, before
whom Harvey was examined, was a personal friend of the murderer, but
had previously fed upon the bounty of Savage. Afterwards, he commenced
a series of newspaper articles, assailing the Indian management of
California, and these articles culminated in his receiving congenial
employment at one of the agencies. Harvey, having killed his man, was
now well calculated for a successful California politician of that
period, and was triumphantly elected to office; but the ghost of Major
Savage seemed to have haunted him, for ever after, he was nervous and
irritable, and finally died of paralysis. The body of Major Savage was
afterwards removed to the Fresno, near his old trading post. A monument
was there erected to his memory by Dr. Leach, his successor in business.

I was in San Francisco at the time of these troubles at the agencies;
but upon my return, obtained the main facts as here stated, from one of
the actors in the tragedy.

At about this time, the management of California Indian affairs, became
an important stake in the political circles of Mariposa. I took but
little interest in the factions that were assaulting each other with
charges of corruption. Notwithstanding my lack of personal interest, I
was startled from my indifference by the report of the Superintendent
dated February, 1853. His sweeping denunciations of the people of
Mariposa county was a matter of surprise, as I knew it to be unjust.
This report was considered in a general mass meeting of the best
citizens of the county, and was very properly condemned as untrue.
Among those who took an active part in this meeting were Sam Bell (once
State Comptroller), Judge Bondurant, Senator James Wade, and other
members of the State Legislature, and many influential citizens, who
generally took but a minor interest in political affairs.

The records of the meeting, and the resolutions condemning the
statements of the Superintendent of Indian Affairs, which were
unanimously adopted, and were published in the “Mariposa Chronicle”
after its establishment, I have preserved as a record of the times.
The meeting expressed the general sentiment of the people, but it
accomplished nothing in opposition to the Superintendent’s policy,
for the people soon discovered that the great “_Agitator_” at these
meetings was a would-be rival of the Superintendent. We therefore bowed
our heads and thought of the fox in the fable. I never chanced to meet
the gentleman who was at that time Superintendent of Indian Affairs,
and know nothing of him personally, but upon reading an official
letter of his dated at Los Angeles, August 22nd, 1853, in which he
speaks of “The establishment of an entire new system of government,
which is to change the character and habits of a hundred thousand
persons.” And another letter dated San Francisco, September 30th, 1853,
saying that his farm agent, Mr. Edwards, “Had with great tact and with
the assistance of Mr. Alexander Gody, by traveling from tribe to tribe,
and talking constantly with them, succeeded in preventing any outbreak
or disturbance in the San Joaquin Valley.” I came to the conclusion
that the Superintendent of Indian Affairs was under astute management,
or that he was one of the _shrewdest_ of the many _shrewd operators_ on
the Pacific Coast. The schemes of the _Indian Ring_ were not endorsed
by Governor Weller, but were practically condemned in a public letter.
The charges against the people of Mariposa by the Superintendent of
Indian Affairs were absurd and grossly insulting to their intelligence.
There had been no assault upon the Indians, except that at King’s
river, led by the hangers-on at one of his own agencies. These men
continued to be honored guests at the tables of his employes, and one
of his most vigorous assailants was given employment that silenced him.

The estimates made by him in his letters and report, were on an assumed
probability of a renewal of Indian hostilities. It was true, murders
were occasionally committed by them, but they were few as compared
with those committed by the Mexicans and Americans among themselves.
The estimate of a hundred thousand Indians in California, was known by
every intelligent man who had given the subject any attention, to be
fabulous. There was probably not a fifth of the number. But that was
of no consequence, as the schemes of the “Ring” were successful. Large
appropriations were made by Congress in accordance with stipulations
of the treaty made between these ignorant tribes, and the Republic
of the United States of America. The recommendations were generally
carried out _in Washington_.

The making of a treaty of peace with Indian tribes, may be correctly
defined as procuring a release of all claims of certain territory
occupied by them. Congress may make appropriations to provide for the
promises made, but it is a well known fact that these appropriations
are largely absorbed by the agents of the government, without the
provisions being fulfilled. The defrauded victims of the _treaty_ are
looked upon as pauper wards of a generous nationality; and the lavish
expenditure of the Government, is mostly consumed by the harpies who
hover around these objects of national charity. This farce of making
treaties with every little tribe as a distinct nationality, is an
absurdity which should long ago have been ended. With formal ceremony,
a treaty of peace is made with people occupying territory under the
jurisdiction of our national organization. A governmental power is
recognized in the patriarchal or tribal representatives of these
predatory bands, and all the forms of a legal and national obligation
are entered into, only to be broken and rebroken, at the will of some
succeeding administration.

An inherited possessive right of the Indians to certain territory
required for their use, is acknowledged, and should be, by the
Government, but to recognize this as a tribal or national right, is but
to continue and foster their instinctive opposition to our Government,
by concentrating and inflaming their native pride and arrogance.

The individual, and his responsibilities, become lost in that of his
tribe, and until that power is broken, and the individual is made to
assume the responsibilities of a man, there will be but little hope
of improvement. The individual is now scarcely recognized by the
people (except he be representative); he is but an integral number
of a tribe. He has a nationality without a country, and feels that
his people have no certain home. He knows that he has been pauperized
by contact with the whites and the policy pursued by the Government
towards him, and he scorns, while he accepts its bounty. These
native-born residents of our common country, are not citizens; their
inherent rights are not sufficiently protected, and, feeling this, they
in turn, disregard the law or set it at defiance. The best part of my
life has been spent upon the frontiers of civilization, where ample
opportunities have been afforded me to observe our national injustice
in assuming the guardianship and management of the Indian, without
fulfilling the treaty stipulations that afford him the necessary
protection. The policy of the Government has seemed to be to keep them
under restraint as animals, rather than of protective improvement as
rational human beings. What matters it, though the National Government,
by solemn treaty, pledges its faith to their improvement, if its
agents do not fulfill its obligations. I am no blind worshipper of
the romantic Indian, nor admirer of the real one; but his degraded
condition of pauperism, resulting from the mismanagement of our Indian
affairs, has often aroused in me an earnest sympathy for the race. They
are not deficient in brain-power, and they should rise from degradation
and want, if properly managed. I am not classed as a radical reformer,
but I would like to see a _radical_ change in their management.

I would like to see the experiment tried by the Government and its
agents of dealing justly with them, and strictly upon honor. I would
like to see those who have the management of Indian affairs selected
because of their fitness for their positions, without making political
or religious considerations pre-requisite, qualifications. Morality and
strict integrity of character, should be indispensable requirements
for official positions; but a division of patronage, or of Indian
_souls_ among the various religious sects or churches, is contrary to
the spirit, if not the letter, of our Federal Constitution, and the
strife this policy has already engendered among the various sects, is
not calculated to impress even the savage with a very high estimate
of Christian forbearance and virtue. The cardinal principles of
Christianity should be taught the children by _example_, while teaching
them the necessity of obeying God’s moral and physical laws. I would
like to see the Indian individually held responsible for all his acts,
and as soon as may be, all tribal relations and tribal accountability
done away with, and ignored by the Government.

The question of a transfer of the Indian Bureau to the War Department,
has been for some time agitated, but it seems to me that some facts
bearing on the subject have not been, sufficiently discussed or
understood. These are that the various tribes are warlike in their
habits and character, and have been engaged in wars of conquest among
themselves ever since they first became known to the white settlers of
the country. Their _immediate_ right to the territory they now occupy
is derived from the dispossession of some other tribe. They recognize
the _lex talionis_ as supreme, and their obedience to law and order
among themselves is only in proportion to their respect for the chief,
or power that controls them. Hence, for the Sioux and other unsubdued
tribes, military control, in my opinion, would be best suited to their
war-like natures and roving habits. The objection that their management
by the War Department had proved a failure, is not a valid one, as when
formerly the Bureau was under its nominal control, all appointments
of agents were made from civil life, as political rewards from those
in power. The political kites, scenting the fat things hidden away in
the office of an agent, pounced down upon them, exclaiming: “To the
victors belong the spoils.” The title of “Major” given the agent was
due to courtesy and the legitimate pay afforded, being that of a major
in the army.

The duties of the office are anything but agreeable to an officer who
has been educated for the profession of a soldier. Few are disposed to
do the incessant drudgery required of an effective agent. As a rule,
the permanency of office, the education and _amour propre_ of military
life, raises the army officer above the temptations of the ordinary
politician; therefore, the _chances_ of an honest administration of
affairs are very much in favor of the War Department. To make that
management more effective, reasonable pay should be given competent
men, as the expenses of frontier life are usually considerable. Years
are required to comprehend and order, a practical management of people
who are, in one sense, but overgrown, vicious children. Such agents
should be retained as long as they remain honest and effective,
regardless of church or political creeds.

As the wild tribes recognize no authority but that of the
_lex-taliones_; by this law they should be governed. _Any attempt
to govern or civilize them without the power to compel obedience,
will be looked upon by barbarians with derision_, and all idea of
Christianizing _adult_ Indians, while they realize the injustice done
them by the whites, will prove impracticable. The children may be
brought under some moderate system of compulsory education and labor,
but the adults never can be. _Moral suasion_ is not comprehended as
a _power_, for the Indian’s moral qualities seem not to have been

The savage is naturally vain, cruel and arrogant. He boasts of his
murders and robberies, and the tortures of his victims very much in the
same manner that he recounts his deeds of valor in battle, his prowess
in killing the grizzly, and his skill in entrapping the beaver. His
treachery, is to him but cunning, his revenge a holy obligation, and
his religion but a superstitious fear. The Indians that have resorted
to labor as a means of future support, should be encouraged and
continued under the care of civilians. Their religious instruction,
like that of the whites, may safely be left to their own choice; but
for the _wild_ savage a just and humane control is necessary for their
own well-being, as well as that of the white people; for even in this
nineteenth century, life is sometimes sacrificed under some religious

The war between different tribes is a natural result of their efforts
to maintain _independent_ sovereignties. The motives that influence
them are not very unlike those that operate upon the most highly
favored _Christian nations_, except that religion, as a rule, has but
little to answer for, as they are mostly of one religious faith. All
believe in the influence of and communion with departed spirits. The
limited support afforded by the game of a given territory, frequently
compels encroachments that result in war. Ambition for fame and
leadership prompts young aspirants for the honors awarded to successful
warriors, and they bear an initiatory torture in order to prove their
fortitude and bravery, that would almost seem beyond human endurance.
After a reputation has been acquired as a successful leader, old feuds
must be maintained and new wars originated to gratify and employ
ambitious followers, or the glory and influence of the successful
chieftain will soon depart or be given to some new aspirant for the
leadership of the tribe. In their warlike movements, as in all their
private affairs, their “medicine men” are important personages. They
are supposed to have power to propitiate evil spirits or exorcise
them. They assume the duties of physicians, orators and advisers in
their councils, and perform the official duties of priests in their
religious ceremonies. In my inquiries concerning their religious faith,
I have sometimes been surprised, as well as amused, at the grotesque
expressions used in explanations of their crude ideas of theology. With
their mythology and traditions, would occasionally appear expressions
evidently derived from the teachings of Christianity, the origin of
which, no doubt, might have been traced to the old Missions. The
fugitive converts from those Missions being the means of engrafting
the Catholic element on to the original belief of the mountain tribes.
Their recitations were a peculiar mixture, but they vehemently claimed
them as original, and as revealed to them by the Great Spirit, through
his mediums or prophets (their “medicine men”), in visions and trances.
These “mediums,” in their character of priests, are held in great

They are consulted upon all important occasions, let it be of war, of
the chase, plunder or of marriage. They provide charms and amulets
to protect the wearer from the evil influence of adverse spirits and
the weapons of war, and receive for these mighty favors donations
corresponding to the support afforded Christian priests and ministers.
The sanctification of these relics is performed by an elaborate
mysterious ceremony, the climax of which is performed in secret by the
priestly magnate. The older the relic, the more sacred it becomes as an

Marriage among the Indians is regarded from a business standpoint.
The preliminaries are usually arranged with the parents, guardians
and friends, by the patriarch of the family, or the chief of the
tribe. When an offer of marriage is made, the priest is consulted, he
generally designates the price to be paid for the _bride_. The squaws
of these mountain tribes are not generally voluptuous or ardent, and
notwithstanding their low and degraded condition, they were naturally
more virtuous, than has been generally supposed.

Their government being largely patriarchal, the women are subjects of
the will of the patriarch in all domestic relations. The result is,
that they have become passively submissive creatures of men’s will.
Believing this to be the natural sphere of their existence, they hold
in contempt one who performs menial labor, which they have been taught
belongs to their sex alone.

The habits of these mountain tribes being simple; their animal passions
not being stimulated by the condiments and artificial habits of
civilized life; they, in their native condition, closely resembled the
higher order of animals in pairing for offspring. The spring time is
their season of love. When the young clover blooms and the wild anise
throws its fragrance upon mountain and dell, then, in the seclusion of
the forest are formed those unions which among the civilized races are
sanctioned by the church and by the laws of the country.

[Illustration: LAKE STAR KING.]


  Murder of Starkey--Death of Ten-ie-ya and Extinction of his Band--A
  few Surviving Murderers--An Attempt at Reformation--A Failure and
  loss of a Mule--Murders of Robert D. Sevil and Robert Smith--Alarm of
  the People--A False Alarm.

During the winter of 1852-3, Jesse Starkey and Mr. Johnson, comrades of
the Mariposa battalion and expert hunters, were engaged in supplying
miners along the Mariposa Creek with venison and bear meat. They were
encamped on the head waters of the Chow-chilla and fearing no danger,
slept soundly in their encampment. They had met Indians from time to
time, who seemed friendly enough, and even the few escaped Yosemites
who recognized Starkey, showed no sign of dislike; and hence no proper
precautions were taken against their treachery.

A few days only had passed in the occupation of hunting, when a night
attack was made upon the hunters. Starkey was instantly killed, but
Johnson, though wounded, escaped to Mariposa on one of their mules.

James M. Roan, Deputy Sheriff under Captain Boling, took direction of
the wounded man, and with a posse of but 15 miners, went out to the
Chow-chilla, where they found the naked and mutilated remains of poor
Starkey, which they buried uncoffined at the camp.

After that sad duty was accomplished, the little party of brave men
pursued the trail of the savages into the Snowy Mountains, where they
were overtaken and given merited chastisement. Three Indians fell dead
at the first fire, while others were wounded and died afterwards.

No united effort was made to repel the whites, and panic-stricken, the
renegade robbers fled into their hidden recesses. Cossom, an Indian
implicated, confessed, long afterwards, that their loss in the attack
was at least a dozen killed and wounded, and that the robber murderers
of Starkey were renegade Yosemite and other Indians who had refused
to live at the reservation. It was several months after Mr. Roan’s
encounter with those Indians before I learned the full particulars, and
when any of the remnants of the band of Yosemites appealed to me for
aid, I still gave them relief.

DURING the summer of 1853, Mr. E. G. Barton and myself were engaged in
trading and mining on the Merced. We had established a station on the
north side of the river, several miles above the mouth of the North
Fork. We here had the patronage of the miners on the river and its
branches above, as well as in our own vicinity, and from the North
Fork. From some of the miners who visited our store from the vicinity
of the South Fork, I learned that a short time before, a small party
of the Yosemities had come to their diggings and asked for food and
protection from their enemies, who, they said, had killed their chief
and most of their people, and were pursuing themselves. The affrighted
and wounded wretches reported to them that they had been attacked while
in their houses by a large party of Monos from the other side of the
mountains, and that all of their band had been killed except those who
had asked protection.

The miners had allowed the Indians to camp near by, but refused to give
them any but a temporary supply of food.

Knowing that I was familiar with the Valley, and acquainted with the
band, they asked my advice as to what they ought to do with their

Feeling some sympathy for the people who had made their homes in the
Yosemite, and thinking that I might aid and induce them to work as
miners, I sent them word to come down to our store, as there were
plenty of fish and acorns near by. A few came, when I told them that if
in future they were _good Indians_, the whites would protect them from
their enemies, and buy their gold. They expressed a willingness to work
for food and clothing if they could find gold.

I furnished them some tools to prospect, and they came back sanguine of
success. A Tu-ol-um-ne Indian named “Joe,” and two or three families
of Yosemities came down and camped on Bull Creek and commenced to
gather acorns, while “Joe” as head miner, worked with the others in the
gulches and on the North Fork. This experiment of working and reforming
robbers soon proved a failure, for upon the death of one of them who
had been injured, they could not be induced to remain or work any
longer, and “Joe,” and his new followers stampeded for the Hetch-Hetchy

From these Indians, and subsequently from others, I learned the
following statements relative to the death of Old Ten-ie-ya. After the
murder of the French miners from Coarse Gold Gulch, and his escape from
Lieut. Moore, Ten-ie-ya, with the larger part of his band, fled to the
east side of the Sierras. He and his people were kindly received by the
Monos and secreted until Moore left that locality and returned to Fort

Ten-ie-ya was recognized, by the Mono tribe, as one of their number, as
he was born and lived among them until his ambition made him a leader
and founder of the Pai-Ute colony in Ah-wah-ne. His history and warlike
exploits formed a part of the traditionary lore of the Monos. They were
proud of his successes and boasted of his descent from their tribe,
although Ten-ie-ya himself claimed that his father was the chief of an
independent people, whose ancestors were of a different race. Ten-ie-ya
had, by his cunning and sagacity in managing the deserters from other
tribes, who had sought his protection, maintained a reputation as a
chief whose leadership was never disputed by his followers, and who
was the envy of the leaders of other tribes. After his subjugation by
the whites, he was deserted by his followers, and his supremacy was no
longer acknowledged by the neighboring tribes, who had feared rather
than respected him or the people of his band. Ten-ie-ya and his refugee
band were so hospitably received and entertained by the Monos that they
seemed in no hurry to return to their valley.

According to custom with these mountaineers, a portion of territory
was given to them for their occupancy by consent of the tribe;
for individual right to territory is not claimed, nor would it be
tolerated. Ten-ie-ya staid with the Monos until late in the summer
or early autumn of 1853, when he and his people suddenly left the
locality that had been assigned to them, and returned to their haunts
in the Yosemite valley, with the intention of remaining there unless
again driven out by the whites. Permanent wigwams were constructed by
the squaws, near the head of the valley, among the rocks, not readily
discernable to visitors. Not long after Ten-ie-ya had re-established
himself in his old home, a party of his young men left on a secret
foraging expedition for the camp of the Monos, which was then
established at or near Mono Lake. According to the statement made to
me, there had just been a successful raid and capture of horses by the
Monos and Pai-Utes from some of the Southern California ranchos, and
Ten-ie-ya’s men concluded, rather than risk a raid on the white men, to
steal from the Mono’s, trusting to their cunning to escape detection.

Ten-ie-ya’s party succeeded in _recapturing_ a few of the stolen
horses, and after a circuitous and baffling route through the pass at
the head of the San Joaquin, finally reached the valley with their

After a few days’ delay, and thinking themselves secure, they killed
one or more of the horses, and were in the enjoyment of a grand feast
in honor of their return, when the Mono’s pounced down upon them.
Their gluttony seemed to have rendered them oblivious of all danger
to themselves, and of the ingratitude by which the feast had been
supplied. Like sloths, they appear to have been asleep after having
surfeited their appetites. They were surprised in their wig-wams by the
wronged and vengeful Monos and before they could rally for the fight,
the treacherous old chief was struck down by the hand of a powerful
young Mono chief. Ten-ie-ya had been the principal object of attack
at the commencement of the assault, but he had held the others at bay
until discovered by the young chief, who having exhausted his supply of
arrows, seized a fragment of rock and hurled it with such force as to
crush the skull of “the old grizzly.” As Ten-ie-ya fell, other stones
were cast upon him by the attacking party, after the Pai-ute custom,
until he was literally stoned to death. All but eight of Ten-ie-ya’s
young braves were killed; these escaped down the valley, and through
the cañon below.

The old men and women, who survived the first assault, were permitted
to escape from the valley. The young women and children were made
captives and taken across the mountains to be held as slaves or drudges
to their captors. I frequently entertained the visitors at our store on
the Merced with descriptions of the valley. The curiosity of some of
the miners was excited, and they proposed to make a visit as soon as it
could be made with safety. I expressed the opinion that there would be
but little danger from Indians, as the Mono’s and Pai-utes only came
for acorns, and that the Yo-sem-i-ties were so nearly destroyed, that
at least, while they were mourning the loss of their chief, and their
people, no fear need be entertained of them.

Three of these miners, from the North Fork of the Merced, visited the
valley soon after this interview. These men were from Michigan. Their
glowing descriptions on their return, induced five others from the
North Fork to visit it also. On their return trip they missed the trail
that would have taken them over the ridge to their own camp and kept
on down to the path which led to our establishment. While partaking of
our hospitalities, they discussed the incidents of their excursion, and
I was soon convinced that they had been to the Yosemite. They spoke
of the lower and the high fall rather disparagingly, and expressed
disappointment, when told of the existence of cascades and cataracts,
that they had not known of or seen. I questioned them as to Indians,
and learned that they had not seen any on the trip, but had seen
deserted huts below the cañon.

I learned soon after, from some miners from the mouth of the “South
Fork,” that all of the Yosemites who had camped on the flats below the
cañon, had left suddenly for the Tuolumne. These two parties were the
first white men that visited the Yosemite Valley after the visit of
Lieut. Moore, the year before (1852). The names of these miners have
now passed from my memory, but I afterwards met one of these gentlemen
at Mr. George W. Coulter’s Hotel, in Coultersville, and another at Big
Oak Flat, and both seemed well known to Lovely Rogers and other old
residents. I was shown, by the first party, some good specimens of gold
quartz that had been found on the north side of the Merced below the
cañon. Late in the fall of this year (1853), three of the remnant of
Ten-ie-ya’s band came to our store. They did not offer to trade, and
when questioned, told me that they had been camping on the Tuolumne,
and had come down to the Merced to get some fish. I gave them some
provisions, and they left, apparently satisfied if not thankful. A
few nights afterwards, one of our best mules disappeared. This mule
was a favorite mountain animal, sure footed and easy gaited under the
saddle. In following up its tracks, I discovered that it had been
stolen by Indians, and my suspicions were that my Yosemite friends were
the culprits. I made every effort to recover the animal, but without

After the close of the mining season in the fall of 1853, we left our
trading establishment and mining works in charge of two men in our
employ, Robt. D. Sevil, of Smyrna, Delaware, and Robt. Smith, a Dane.
The establishment was visited from time to time, by either Barton or
myself during the winter of 1853-54, when upon one occasional visit,
it was found by Mr. Barton to have been plundered. With Nat. Harbert,
a brave Texan, I at once started for the establishment, only to find
it a scene of desolation. I was informed by some miners who had been
out prospecting, that the body of Smith had been found on a slaty
point in the river below, but that nothing could be discovered of
Sevil, or the murderers. We found the tracks of Indians and traced
them to the mountains, but failed to find their hiding places. We lost
their trail over the bare, slaty ground above the river. The tracks
had indicated to us that Indians were the murderers, before we had
learned from the miners the circumstances connected with the finding
of Smith’s body. It had been pierced by nine arrows, five of which
were still found quivering in his flesh. Upon the discovery of the
body by the miners, a burial party was led by Doctor Porter, from the
North Fork, to the scene of the murders; and with the assistance of his
associates, Mr. Long, and others, it was given proper burial. The body
of Sevil was not found until long afterwards. When discovered, it was
undistinguishable, but from the location in the river, we had no doubt
of its identity. I reported the murders and robbery to the authorities
of Mariposa county. Captain Boling was sheriff; but having business
that required his urgent attention, deputized me to act for him in
the matter. He expressed a decided belief that the murders had been
committed by the Yosemities. He recommended me to take a strong posse
with me, and to be cautious and guarded against treachery; saying:
“You know as well as I do, that all of the Yosemities are murderers
and thieves.” In reply, I informed him of the killing of Ten-ie-ya
and nearly all of his band by the Monos; and told him that I had
ridden alone through the country wherever business called me, and that
whenever I had met any of the old band they seemed quite friendly. The
Captain said he would not visit the valley without sufficient force to
protect himself. Upon telling him of the encampment on the Tuolumne,
Captain Boling said that was beyond his jurisdiction.

Mr. Harbert and myself concluded to make a thorough exploration for the
murderers, and with this object in view, rode to Marble Springs, and
commenced our search along the Tuolumne divide, hoping to find some
place where the tracks would be found once more concentrated. After a
tiresome search, without success or encouragement, we went down to the
camp of the miners, on the North Fork, to consult with them. We found
old acquaintances among these gentlemen, and Dr. Porter and Mr. Long
were especially hospitable. It was the opinion of these intelligent
gentlemen, that the murderers had gone to the Upper Tuolumne river and
were banded with the renegades of the Tuolumne tribe that had once been
under Ten-ie-ya. They expressed the belief that not less than twenty
men should undertake an expedition against them. As the principal
articles stolen from our store were clothing and blankets, it was
supposed the murderers would probably be found near some of the acorn
_caches_ in the mountain cañons.

Feeling it would be useless to attempt anything further without an
authorized expedition, we left the North Fork and our hospitable
friends, and at once returned to Mariposa, where I reported to Sheriff
Boling and Judge Bondurant the result of our trip. These officials
decided that the territory which it would be necessary to explore, was
not within their jurisdiction. That they had no authority to declare
war against the Tuolumne Indians, but said that they would report the
circumstances of the murders and robberies to the military authorities,
to the Governor, and to the officials of Tuolumne county. Here the
matter rested, and nothing more was ever done by public authority. I
was afterwards advised to put in a claim on the two hundred and fifty
thousand dollars voted by Congress for the Indians of California; but
after some consideration of this advice, my conclusion was that the
original claimants to this money would scarcely be willing to make any
division of their legitimate spoils.

Although no action had been taken by the authorities, the murders of
Sevil and Smith soon became generally known, and the inhabitants of
Mariposa became alarmed from the rumors in circulation, of another
general outbreak. I visited the Fresno Agency and found that the
Indians there had heard of the raid on our establishment, and, on
interrogating them, they expressed the opinion that the Yosemites were
the ones who had murdered the men. Their theory of the attack was,
that they had first killed the men for the sake of the clothing on
their persons, and afterwards had robbed the store of the clothing and
blankets, because they were cold in their mountain retreat, and yet
dared not live among other people. Some of these, at the Fresno, said
that if the whites would fit out an expedition, they would go and help
_kill_ the murderers; “for,” said they, “those are bad Indians. They
dare not visit the reservation, for we know that they would steal from
us and the white people, and then we would all be made to suffer from
their misconduct. We are now afraid to leave the reservation to hunt,
lest we be mistaken and killed for what they have done.”

I was convinced by my visit to the agency, that there was no grounds
for fear of another outbreak among the Indians. I traveled about as I
had usually done before. I was cautious in out-of-the-way places, but
I cannot say that I hesitated at any time to prospect. When I heard
people express an opinion that it would be dangerous to enter the
Yosemite Valley without a strong escort, I refrained from expressing my
convictions. I felt unwilling to publicly oppose the opinions of some
of my late comrades, more especially after my recent experience with
the Yosemites. During the summer of 1854 no visits were made to the
valley, as far as I know, and if there had been, I was so situated as
likely to have been acquainted with the fact. Many of my old companions
in the battalion, never shared my admiration for the Yosemite. Their
descriptions were so common-place as to lead the people of the village
of Mariposa to suppose that, as a curiosity, the scenery would scarcely
repay the risk and labor of a visit. The murders of Smith and Sevil
deterred some who had designed to visit the valley that season. The
nervous ones were still further alarmed by a general stampede of the
miners on the South Fork of the Merced, which occurred in the summer of
that year (1854). This was caused by a visit to their neighborhood of
some Pai-Utes and Monos, from the east side of the Sierras, who came to
examine the prospects for the acorn-harvest, and probably take back
with them some they had _cached_.

This visit of strange Indians to some of the miners’ camps, was not at
first understood and a wild alarm was raised without a comprehension of
the facts of the case. Captain Boling, as sheriff, summoned to his aid
a number of the old members of his company. I was one of the number.
We made a night ride to the place of alarm, and on arriving, found
that we had been sold. We felt chagrined, although it was gratifying
to learn that alarm had been made without a cause. An old ’49er, that
we found, apologized for the verdants. He said: “Probably, as long as
men continue about as they now are, we must expect to find fools in
all communities; but, if a premium for d---- fools should be offered
by any responsible party, you will see a bigger stampede from these
diggings than these Indians have made.” The whiskey was ordered for the
old stager, and the apology considered as acceptable. We returned to
Mariposa wiser, if not _better_ men.


  Engineering and History--Speculation and Discouragement--A
  New Deal--Wall Street--A Primitive Bridge--First Woman in the
  Yosemite--Lady Visitors from Mariposa and Lady Teachers from
  San Francisco--Measurements of Heights--First Houses, and their
  Occupants--A Gay Party and a Glorious Feast.

Although no visits were made during the year 1854 to the Yosemite
Valley, it was at this time that the existence of such a locality began
to be generally known outside of the limits of Mariposa county. Many of
the inhabitants of that county, however, were still incredulous of its
being any more remarkable than some other localities among the Sierras.
As a matter of early history, I will give a few details of occurrences
indirectly connected with the bringing of this valley to the attention
of the public as a wonderful natural curiosity.

During the year 1854 an effort was made by a party of engineers from
Tuolumne county, to explore a route by which water could be brought
from the South Fork of the Merced river into the “dry diggings.”
After a reconnoissance, the route was pronounced too expensive to be
profitable, as the supply of water would be insufficient, unless the
ditch should be extended to the main river, which was not considered

Notwithstanding this adverse report, the Mariposa “Chronicle” continued
to advocate the practicability of the proposed plan, and made some
effort to induce capitalists to take an interest in the enterprise,
claiming that like investments had proved profitable in the northern
mines. To test the feasibility of such a project, Colonel Caruthers and
Angevine Reynolds, then of Stockton, came up to explore and run a line
of levels over the route. They brought with them, as engineer, Capt.
Kiel, a practical surveyor, and a most accomplished mathematician.
Captain Boling, having referred these gentlemen to me as one most
likely to aid in their undertaking, and practically familiar with that
part of the country, I joined them in their enterprise. We started our
survey at the “Snow Creek” divide. Col. Caruthers was enthusiastic over
the prospect of success, as we advanced, but after rounding the point
at “Devil’s Gulch,” and while Mr. Reynolds and myself were establishing
a flag station on the opposite side, the Colonel collapsed and ordered
a discontinuance of the survey.

Not feeling satisfied with this decision, Mr. Reynolds and myself,
mutually agreed to complete the survey. Reynolds was a man of energy
and indomitable perseverance. He was the first to establish an
express to the Southern mines, and afterwards was for fourteen years
successively elected to responsible offices in Mariposa county. I
handled the instrument, and Mr. Reynolds acted as rodman. We continued
the line up, passed all real obstacles, and then Captain Kiel, who was
quite an old gentleman, completed the survey and mapped out the route.
During this survey, Mr. Reynolds and myself crossed the South Fork
and explored along the divide. We were within six or seven miles of
the Yosemite, but did not go to it. _This was the only year since its
discovery, that it was not visited by white men._ No Indians were seen
by our party, during the time of this survey.

The next season, 1855, the survey began by Caruthers, Reynolds and
myself, was pushed with vigor, and although the subject matter of
extending the ditch to the main stream was freely discussed and
advocated by the _Chronicle_, no action was taken. Up to this time, the
Yosemite was scarcely thought of by the generality of gold hunters and
denizens of Mariposa county; that is, in connexion with its stupendous
cliffs and wonderful scenery. The solemn grandeur of the locality, and
the immensity of the rocks which formed the sides of its inclosing
walls, as well as its lofty water-falls, were but barely noticed by
Lt. Moore in his report, to which allusion has been made in a previous

Lt. Moore made no measurements, nor attempted to give any specific
descriptions. He only stated unadorned facts and practical impressions.
These, however, had in 1854 gone out into the world, and the wonders
of the place were more generally known and appreciated by the literary
and scientific, than by those in its more immediate vicinity. During
the summer of 1855, Mr. J. M. Hutchings, editor and publisher of
“Hutchings’ California Magazine,” conceived the idea of visiting the
Calaveras “Big Trees” and the Yosemite Valley. As a literary man he
was aware that these objects of wonder and curiosity would provide
many interesting articles for his periodical. He engaged the services
of a well-known artist of San Francisco, Mr. Thomas Ayres, to provide
sketches for his descriptive articles. He first visited “The Big Trees”
of Calaveras; at Coultersville and Horse Shoe Bend, Mr. Alex. Stair
and Wesley Millard joined his party. Mr. Hutchings’ announcement at
Mariposa that he was on his way to visit “_their wonderful valley_,”
was considered as an indifferent joke by some; others, who had heard of
it in connection with the “Indian war,” asked him if he was not afraid
of the Indians; if it was worth the risk to go there. Mr. Hutchings
failed to get much information from those of whom he made inquiries at
Mariposa. He finally interviewed Captain Boling, who told him where he
could procure a guide.

In anticipation of meeting with numerous difficulties on the way, or
for other reasons, he hired two guides and started for the valley. The
difficulties of the journey vanished as he approached. The excitement
of the trip made the party forgetful of the fatigue and roughness of
the mountain journey.

I met Stair and Millard,--who were especial friends of mine,--not long
after their return from this trip. They were very enthusiastic on the
subject of the Yosemite. The enthusiastic descriptions given by the
Hutchings party, on its return, aroused the curiosity of the people,
staggered the skeptics, and silenced the croakers. Not long afterwards,
two parties visited it; one from Sherlocks and the other from Mariposa.
With the party from Sherlocks, were the Mann brothers, who afterwards
built a trail from Mariposa to the valley. They commenced it in the
fall of that year, 1855. Mr. Hutchings’ publications and lithographic
illustration of the Yosemite, or highest fall, served to advertise the
attractions. From this period may be dated the commencement of the
visits of tourists. His influence has aided materially in affording
improved facilities of access to it, and in providing for the comfort
of visitors. The interest growing out of Mr. Hutchings’ visit to the
Yosemite, together with the rumored prospect that Fremont & Co. were
about to do something with the “Mariposa Estate,” aroused the energy of
local capitalists, and encouraged the advent of settlers and miners.
Another company was organized to bring water from the foot of the
valley into the “dry diggings.” The limited supply from the South Fork,
it was thought, would be insufficient for the prospective demand.
Sufficient inducements having been offered to warrant the undertaking,
Mr. George K. Peterson, an engineer by profession, and myself, joined
in making the necessary survey. We leveled two lines down through the
cañon, below the Yosemite, on to the divide of the South Fork. To
cross the South Fork without expending too much altitude, we found a
long tunnel would be required, besides a suspension of over 800 feet.

This, for a time, discouraged a continuance of the survey. We returned
to Mariposa and frankly reported the results of our work and explained
the difficulties of the route to those who were most interested in the
project. For certain reasons it was deemed advisable to complete the
survey between the branches of the river; when it was thought that some
equitable arrangement could be made with the South Fork Company for
a union of interests in case of sale. The Yosemite Company proposed
to convey water over or near the same route as the other, and also to
supply water to the miners on the north side of the Merced. By this
stroke of policy, it was supposed that a _legal_ division of water
could be obtained, that the New Yorkers (Fremont & Co.) would only
be too glad to pay for. I did not feel sanguine in the success of
this scheme, and so expressed myself. My experience in the cañon with
Peterson taught me that an equivalent in cash, which was offered for
my services (and which I accepted), was better than any speculative
interest _in Spain_, or even New York. The survey was accordingly
recommenced. Four of the company put up the body of a house in the
valley. This was the first house ever erected there. It was of white
cedar “_puncheons_,” plank split out of logs. The builders of it
supposed that a claim in the valley would doubly secure the water
privileges. We made this building our headquarters; covering the
roof with our tents. We continued work on this survey until late in
November; and until the falling snow rendered the hillside work most
difficult; we then returned to Mariposa.

During this survey, while exploring the dividing ridges of the Merced
river and the South Fork, our party ran on to an encampment of the
wretched Yosemites; mostly old men and women. They had gone out on the
extreme southwestern point of the divide on the slope of the South Fork.

As Peterson planted his instrument for an observation, the Indians
cried out in alarm, thinking no doubt that he was aiming some infernal
machine to destroy them. I approached to see if I could recognize any
of them as those who had visited our store, before the murders of our
men. I also scrutinized their clothing; but their ragged garments would
not admit of even a surmise as to their quality or pattern.

Although I failed to recognize our visitors among these miserable
people; it was quite evident that I was known to them. I asked “who
it was that had killed the men at our store?” They at first pretended
not to understand me; but seeing that they were not believed, one came
forward, and in a mixture of Spanish and Indian informed me that it was
the Tuolume Indians that were the criminals; while they themselves (if
not the cleanest) were certainly the best Indians in the mountains.
Upon being asked why they were camped in such a place--without water,
they said they were at first afraid of our party and the glistening
instrument that had been aimed at them; but, that when they saw we
were measuring the ground, and marking the trees, they were no longer
alarmed, but were afraid of the Monos, whom they said were still angry
with them. I told them that it was because of their treachery and
dishonesty that they had been made to suffer, and then left them in
their wretchedness.

Quite early in the next year (1856), the survey for the water supply
was recommenced under instructions from Colonel Fremont, and, under
direction of his chief engineer, Mr. J. E. Clayton, Mr. Peterson was
placed in charge of the field-work. This work was executed with great
care, as on its accuracy the estimates depended. They were to be made
by a very eminent engineer of the Erie Canal, upon whose report, it was
supposed, Wall street would be governed. Peterson engaged me as his
assistant in this survey. During this season the Mann Brothers finished
their trail to the Yosemite, so that it was used by visitors. Hearing
that they had felled some immense trees and bridged the South Fork,
Mr. Peterson had hopes to reach the valley earlier in the season by
crossing the river at that place.

On reaching the South Fork, where we supposed the bridge to be we
found that a large tree had been felled across the stream with the
design of forming the foundation of a bridge, but it had fallen so
low, or so near the water on the opposite side, that a flood would be
likely to sweep it away, and it had, therefore, been abandoned. This
was a great disappointment to Mr. Peterson. As we could not ford the
stream, we would have to go into camp or wait for the water to fall or
go back, for the snow-clad ridges were impassable. While Peterson was
considering the matter, I took an axe and sloped and notched the butt
of the tree so that I was able to get my horse, an intelligent animal,
to clamber up on the prostrate trunk; when, without difficulty, I led
him safely across and landed him on the other side of the stream. We
had two mules, whose natural timidity caused them to hesitate before
attempting to climb the log, but their attachment for the horse, which
they had seen safely cross, with some _persuasion_ effected with a
stout cudgel counteracted their fears, and they too were safely led

The tree was about six feet in diameter. Its cork-like bark afforded
sure footing for the animals. Peterson--very much pleased--pronounced
this the most primitive bridge ever crossed by a pack-train, and
declared that it should be recorded as an original engineering feat.

While we were re-loading our animals the Mann Brothers came down to
us, as they said to learn how we had crossed the rushing torrent; and
were surprised to hear that we had utilized the tree abandoned by them.
They informed us that they were constructing a bridge further up the
stream, which would be ready for crossing in a week or two. We found no
further difficulty in reaching the valley. Not long after we had gone
into camp, and commenced our survey again, visitors began to come into
the valley. Several gentlemen from San Francisco visited our camp, one
of whom I remember was the Rev. Doctor Spier, of the Chinese Mission,
in San Francisco. Mr. Peterson had, upon my solicitation, “roded up”
to the level of the Pohona Fall, and made as accurate an estimate of
the probable height of El Capitan as could be done without the aid of
his transit. Mr. Peterson was therefore able to enlighten some of the
gentlemen from “the Bay,” as to the approximate height of El Capitan
and other prominent objects. Mr. Peterson afterwards made more accurate
measurements of heights.

I have no doubt that the four gentlemen referred to as living in
the valley, noticed in the note on page 18, in “Whitney’s Yosemite
Guide Book,” were of our party, who had notified the public of their
claim and intention to make that their residence. The house erected,
however, was never honored with a roof, and the material of which it
was composed, soon disappeared, after we ceased to occupy it. The
difficulties developed by our survey, disheartened the claimants. The
claim rights, as well as the claim shanty were alike abandoned.

The first white woman that ever visited the Yosemite was a Madame
Gautier, the housekeeper at the Franklin House, Mariposa. A few days
afterwards Mrs. Johnny Neil, of Mariposa, and Mrs. Thompson, of
Sherlocks, came up. Their courage and endurance should certainly be
made a matter of record. The next ladies to visit the place were of the
party with Mr. Denman, of “Denman’s High School,” in San Francisco.
After this it ceased to be a novelty to see ladies in the Yosemite.
Mr. Denman published an account of his trip. His communication was a
well written and instructive article. It was the _first_ description
that gave the public any definite idea of the magnitude of the scenery,
or any accuracy of measurements of the heights of the cliffs and
water-falls. I was present when Mr. Peterson gave to Mr. Denman the
results of his observations, and consequent estimate of heights. I
was amused at Mr. Denman’s expressions of surprise, and his anxious
but polite inquiries of Mr. Peterson if he was _sure_ his angles had
been correctly marked. Peterson colored slightly at the doubt implied
of his professional skill, but with unusual politeness and apparent
cheerfulness offered to make a resurvey of El Capitan or any other
prominent cliff that Mr. Denman would select for measurement.

The offer was quickly accepted, and a new determination of several
points of interest were made.

From the notes taken, each of the gentlemen computed the heights.

Mr. Peterson soon figured up the result of his work, and patiently
awaited the result of Mr. Denman’s, before he announced his own.

After figuring for sometime, Mr. Denman expressed a belief that
he had made a grand mistake somewhere in his calculations, for he
had made the result more than the previous estimates and above all
seeming probabilities. They then compared figures and found but little
difference in their heights. Mr. Denman again worked up the notes, and
was convinced of their correctness and reported his conclusions in
his descriptions. The first house erected in the valley for the
accommodation of visitors was _commenced_ in 1856, by Mr. Walworth and
Mr. Hite. It, was made of “boards” rived out of pine logs. The site was
that of our old camp-ground of 1851, or a little above it, and nearly
opposite the Yosemite Fall.

The next season a blue canvas-covered building was put up just above.
In 1858, Mr. Beardsley joined with Mr. Hite, and erected a wooden
house. This was afterwards kept by Mr. Peck, Mr. Longhurst, and after
1864, by Mr. Hutchings. Other accommodations for the public were also
opened, a popular one of which was a house kept by G. F. Leidig, known
to tourists as “Leidig’s Hotel.” The first permanent resident, was J.
C. Lamon, who made a claim in the upper part of the valley in 1860,
and who occupied it both summer and winter for many years. The other
residents in the valley only remaining during the season of tourists
visits. Before hotel accommodations were provided for the public,
visitors to the valley carried with them camp equipage and supplies
according to the necessities and inclinations of the parties interested.

In order to dispense with a retinue of camp followers, and the expense
of numerous employees, the duties of camp life were ordinarily divided
among the party, without regard to wealth, rank, or station in life.
It was usually made a point of honor, to at least try to share in
the necessary laborious requirements of their associates; although
the various duties were not always assigned to the capacity of the
individual, or to his adaptation to the position. The blunders were as
often sources of amusement, as serious inconveniences. As illustration,
I will narrate an incident with a party of excursionists in those early

By invitation, I met and accompanied a party from San Francisco on a
visit to the Yosemite. The gentlemen composing the party, were Mr.
Thomas Ayers, Mr. Forbes, of the firm of Forbes & Babcock, agents of
Pacific Mail S. S. Co.; Mr. Holladay, of same company; Mr. Easton,
of San Francisco, and Col. Riply, of the Commodore Perry expedition,
who, I believe, afterwards became General Riply, Chief of Ordinance,
U. S. A. Mr. Ayers was the artist who accompanied Mr. Hutchings on
his first visit to the valley. He was the first to sketch any of the
scenery of the Yosemite. He was afterwards employed in sketching by the
Harpers, of New York. While so employed, he was lost off the Farrilones
Islands by the capsizing of the schooner “Laura Beven.” Mr. Ayers was
a gentleman in feeling and manners. His ingenuity and adaptability to
circumstances, with his uniform kindness and good nature, made him the
very soul of the party.

This party spent several days in the valley. On the last day, it was
proposed to have a grand dinner. To make the event a memorable one,
it was decided that each one should have a representative dish of
his own individual preparation. We had a plentiful supply of canned
meats, fruits, etc., but it was proposed that our bill of fare should
consist of game and fish. Trout, grouse and quail, were then tolerably
abundant. To guard against a possibility of failure to supply a full
variety, Colonel Riply volunteered to provide a dish of beans of
his own cooking, which he thought he was prepared to furnish. The
cooking of beans was theoretically familiar to him, the Colonel said,
from having frequently observed the process among his soldiers. He
admitted that, practically, he had never tested the theory, but he
felt confident that he would not disgrace his position as a soldier
in the cooking of such a prominent army dish. From my knowledge of
their haunts, it was assigned to me to provide the game, while Messrs.
Easton, Ayers and Holladay, engaged to supply the spread with trout.
Mr. Forbes engaged to perform the duty of supplying wood and water,--a
very important office, he claimed, the very foundation of all our
endeavors. I left the Colonel busy on his part of the programme, and
soon acquired a liberal supply of grouse and quail.

As I came into camp from my hunt, my nostrils were saluted with the
smell of burnt beans. Mr. Forbes had supplied the fire most liberally,
and was resting from his labors to the _windward_. I removed the kettle
and inquired for the Colonel. Mr. Forbes replied that “Col. Riply
went down where the fishermen are engaged, and has been gone an hour
or more; no doubt he has forgotten his beans.” I hastened to repair
damages as far as I was able by removing those not scorched from off
the burnt ones. After scouring the kettle with sand, I succeeded in
getting them over a slow fire before Col. Riply returned. He soon came
hurriedly into camp, and after taking a look at his cookery, pronounced
them all right, but said he had _almost_ forgotten that he was on duty
as cook.

Observing that he was about to charge the kettle with an undue
proportion of salt pork, I again saved the beans, this time from
petrifaction, by remarking that their _delicacy_ would be enhanced by
parboiling the pork.

With my guardianship, the Colonel’s dish was brought on to the board in
a very good condition for eating, and all united in bestowing upon him
unstinted praise for providing so palatable an addition to our feast.
Col. Riply regretted that he had not provided _more_, but explained by
saying that he had supposed _they would swell more while cooking_.

The secret of the _burnt beans_, was known to all the others, but was
kept inviolate from the Colonel. He was unconscious of the joke, and
bestowed more attention on this standard New England dish than he did
upon the delicious trout and game. Our dinner was finished in bumpers
to Colonel Riply as _chef de cuisine_.

During the survey of the year, in addition to measurements, we gave
some attention to the geological features of the country we were
passing over. We found that the cañon below the Yosemite is about six
miles long, and so filled with vast granite bowlders and talus, that
it is impossible for any but the agile and sure-footed to pass safely
through. The river has to be crossed and recrossed so many times, by
jumping from bowlder to bowlder, where the water goes whirling and
dashing between--that if the rocks be moss-grown or slimy, as they may
be outside of continuous current--one’s life is endangered. During our
survey through this cañon, in the month of November, 1855, we failed to
get through in one day on our preliminary survey, and were compelled to
camp without food or blankets, only sheltered from a storm--half snow,
half rain--by an overhanging rock. The pelting mountain storm put out
our fires, as it swept down the cañon, and baffled all our attempts to
kindle a new flame.

The fall through the cañon is so great, that none but the largest
bowlders remain in the current. Some of these immense rocks are so
piled, one upon another, as to make falls of nearly one hundred feet.
The fall for the entire distance is about fifteen hundred feet.
Notwithstanding the fall is so great in so short a distance, advantage
may be taken of the configuration of the walls on either side to
construct a railroad up through the cañon into the valley, upon a
grade and trestle, that may be made practicable. This will, of course,
cost money, but it will probably be done. By tunneling the divide and
spanning the South Fork with a bridge, a narrow-gauge road could very
readily be built that would avoid the necessity of going _entirely_
through the cañon. This could be accomplished most economically by
trestling over the talus--at a favorable point--high enough to obtain
and preserve a suitable grade, until the sloping mountains below can
be reached, when the line can be run without difficulty to the most
favorable point of crossing the divide and the South Fork.

The obstructions from snow, encountered in a winter trip to the valley,
would by this route, be entirely avoided. Beside, the distance would be
somewhat lessened. By rail and stage it is now about 225 miles from San

After emerging from the cañon, with its precipitous granite cliffs and
water falls, the entire character of the river’s bed and banks are
changed. The cliffs have now all disappeared with the granite, and
although the steep high mountain divides encroach hard upon the river;
high bars or low flats continue on down to the mouth of the South Fork
on one side or the other, and then the flats rise higher to the plains.

The fall of the Merced river from the foot of the cañon to the valley
of the San Joaquin, averages about thirty-five feet to the mile as
estimated by Mr. Peterson.

The outcroppings from the rocky divides below the cañon, are
porphyritic, metamorphic, and trappean rocks, silicious limestone,
gneiss, green stone, quartz and several varieties of slate. At a point
on the left bank of the Merced, near the plain, there is an outcropping
of very good limestone, and it is also found, at one point in the

The quartz lodes drained by the Merced river, especially those of
Marble Springs, Gentry’s gulch and Maxwells creek, bore a good
reputation in early days; and as the drainage may be made complete, no
difficulty in working them need be encountered. In some cases, the more
prominent lodes, maintain their general direction and thickness (seldom
richness) on both sides of the Merced; as, for instance, the celebrated
Carson vein. This vein outcrops at the Peña Blanca, near Coultersville,
and again south of the Merced river, on a spur running down from Mount
Bullion. Here the vein is known as the Johnson Lode, and is divided
into the Pine Tree and Josephine sections. These were made famous as
the subject of a legal dispute, and were occupied by opposing and armed
forces in the interest of “The Merced Mining Company,” on the one side,
and Col. Fremont and his associates on the other.

This lode was discovered in the winter of 1850-’51, by a progressive
Virginia liberal, named B. F. Johnson, familiarly known as “Quartz

His discoveries led to the investment of millions of capital in mining
enterprises, and if the share-holders of Mariposa Stock have not yet
realized upon their investments, it cannot be for want of material;
but, I must return to my subject. After having completed the survey of
this year, 1856, and having interests at Marble Springs, I joined with
George W. Coulter, of Coultersville, and other citizens in constructing
what became known as “_The Coultersville Free Trail_.” We thought the
scheme advisable, but the “_general public_” thought the trail a little
too progressive for the wants of Coultersville, and the burden of
construction was left to be borne by a few. I never realized any return
from this investment. This trail was well located, and considering the
amount expended, a comparatively easy one, for the trip to and from the
valley was made with comfortable ease.

The trail completed this year by the Mann brothers required greater
labor, and was not as good a route, but the views of the Yosemite from
their trail, were the best. The Mann brothers did not find theirs
a paying investment. They never realized their expenditures, and
eventually sold the trail at a loss.

In locating the Coultersville trail, little or no aid was afforded me
by the Indian trails that existed at that time; for horses had not
seemingly been taken into the valley on the north side, and the foot
trails used by the Indians left no traces in the loose granite soil
of the higher ridges, but what were soon obliterated by the wash from
the melting snow. Where trails were found, they had been purposely
run over ground impassable to horses, and they were, consequently,
unavailable for our use. Through liberal aid from the “Empire State
Mining Company,” located at their quartz lode near the Marble Springs,
Mr. Barton and myself had built a wagon road from Coultersville to Bull
Creek. This road afforded a good commencement for the Yosemite trail.

The first encampment reached after leaving Bull creek, was “Deer Flat,”
so named by us from having startled a small drove, as we went into camp
here. One of the deer was shot, and afforded an addition to our camp

The next camp named was “Hazel Green,” from the number of hazel bushes
growing near a beautiful little meadow.

Our next move was to “Crane Flat.” This name was suggested by the
shrill and startling cry of some sand-hill cranes we surprised as they
were resting on this elevated table. Going from this camp, we came to
what I finally called “Tamarack Flat,” although the appealing looks of
the grizzlies we met on their way through this pass to the Tuolumne,
caused me to hesitate before deciding upon the final baptism; the
Grizzlies did not stay to urge any claim, and being _affectionately_
drawn to the trees, we named the camp “Tamarack Flat.” From this flat
I blazed out two trails, the lower one for early, the upper for later
use; as from this point the snow remains upon the upper trail until
quite late; and although much nearer, the snow renders it difficult
to travel in the early part of the season. From “Tamarack Flat” to
the edge of the valley is but little more than three miles. The whole
distance from Coultersville being 41½ miles as stated by Prof. Whitney.

With but little fatigue to one accustomed to the saddle, the trip
_down_ to Coultersville or to Mariposa was made in a day.

The wagon roads now opened, are calculated to avoid the deep snow that
delays the use of higher trails, or roads, until later in the season;
but one traveling by these routes, loses some of the grandest views to
be had of the High Sierras and western ranges of hills and mountains;
on the old Coultersville Trail, or by way of the old Mariposa Trail.
In winter or early spring, in order to avoid the snow, visitors are
compelled to take the route of the lowest altitude. The route by Hite’s
cove is called but thirty-two miles from Mariposa to the valley; while
that by Clark’s, on the South Fork, has been usually rated at about
forty-two miles. Where the time can be spared, I would suggest that
what is called “the round trip” be made; that is, go by one route and
return by another; and a “_Grand Round_” trip will include a visit to
the “High Sierra:” going by one _divide_ and returning by another.

As to guides and accommodating hosts, there will always be found a
sufficient number to meet the increasing wants of the public, and the
enterprise of these gentlemen will suggest a ready means of becoming
acquainted with their visitors. Soon, no doubt, a railroad will be laid
into the valley, and when the “_iron horse_” shall have ridden over
all present obstacles, a new starting point for summer tourists will
be built up in the Yosemite; that the robust lovers of nature may view
the divine creations that will have been lost to view in a Pullman.
The exercise incident to a summer _lounge_ in the “High Sierras,” will
restore one’s vigor, and present new views to the eyes of the curious;
while those with less time or strength at their disposal, will content
themselves with the beauties and pleasures of the valley.

The passes and peaks named in Prof. Whitney’s guide-book are only the
more prominent ones; for turn the eyes along the course of the Sierra
Nevada in a northerly or southerly direction at the head of Tuolumne,
Merced, San Joaquin, King’s, Kah-we-ah or Kern rivers, and almost
countless peaks will be seen, little inferior in altitude to those
noted in his table.

The highest of these peaks, Mount Whitney, is, according to Prof.
Whitney, at least 200 feet higher than any measured in the Rocky
Mountains by the topographers of the Hayden survey. A writer in the
Virginia (Nevada) _Enterprise_ says: “Whitney stands a lordly creation
amid a rugged and grand company of companion peaks, for his nearest
neighbor, Mount Tyndall, rises 14,386 feet, and Mount Kah-we-ah, but a
few miles off, is 14,000 feet.” Whitney affords “the widest horizon in
America; a dome of blue, immeasurable, vast sweeps of desert lowlands,
range on range of mighty mountains, grand and eloquent; grace,
strength, expansion, depth, breadth, height, all blended in one grand
and awful picture. And as the eye takes in these features, a sense of
soaring fills the mind, and one seems a part of the very heavens whose
lofty places he pierces. The breadth and compass of the world grows
upon the mind as the mighty distances flow in upon the view like waves
of the sea.... The best that can be said or written but suggests; the
eye alone can lead the mind up to a true conception of so mighty and
marvelous a group of wonders.”

It is true that one standing upon the dividing ridges of the Rio
Grande, Arkansas, Colorado or Platte, is charmed by the views presented
of far reaching plains and noble mountains, but it is doubtful if
any one view can be found in North America so grand and thrillingly
sublime as may be seen in the Sierra Nevadas. The scenery of the Yellow
Stone and of the Colorado canyon have characteristic wonders that are
_sui generis_; but those localities are not desirable for continuous


Golden Theories and Glaciers.

The many inquiries that the author has received concerning his views
upon the gold deposits of California, has induced him to add this
chapter to his work.

It has been said by an earnest and astute observer, that “The cooled
earth permits us no longer to comprehend the phenomena of the primitive
creation, because the fire which pervaded it is extinguished,” and
again that “There is no great foundation (of truth), which does not
repose upon a legend.” There has been a tradition among the California
Indians, that the Golden Gate was opened by an earthquake, and that
the waters that once covered the great plain of the Sacramento and San
Joaquin basins were thus emptied into the ocean. This legendary geology
of the Indians is about as good and instructive as some that has been
taught by professors of the science, and as scarcely any two professors
of geology agree in their theories of the origin and distribution
of the gold in California, I have thought it probable that a few
_unscientific_ views upon the subject will interest my readers.

The origin of the gold found in California seems to me to have been
clearly volcanic. The varying conditions under which it is found may
be accounted for by the varying heat and force of the upheaval, the
different qualities of the matrix or quartz that carried the gold
and filled the fissures of the veins or lodes, the influence that
resistance of the inclosing walls may have exerted when it was slight
or very great, and finally the disintegrating influences of air, water,
frost and attrition of the glaciers, and the deposition in water.

The theories of aqueous deposit (in the lodes) and of electrical
action, do not satisfy my understanding, and I go back in thought to
the ten years of observation and practical experience in the gold
mines, and to the problems that were then but partially solved. Looking
at California as it is to-day, it will be conceded that its territory
has been subjected to distinct geological periods, and those periods
greatly varying in their force in different parts of the State. Within
the principal gold-bearing region of California, and especially along
the line of or near the Carson vein or lode, coarse gold has been
found, and in such large masses, free of quartz, as to force the
conviction upon the mind that the gold so found had been thrown out
_through_ and _beyond_ its matrix into a bed of volcanic ashes, very
nearly assuming the appearance that lead might assume when melted
and thrown in bulk upon an ash heap. Where the resistance was great,
as when thrown through wall rocks of gneiss, or green stone, the
liquefaction of the quartz seems to have been more complete, and the
specific gravity of the gold being so much greater than that of the
quartz, its momentum, when in large quantities, carried it out beyond
its matrix, leaving the more diffused particles to be held suspended in
the fast cooling quartz, or to settle into “pockets,” or small fissures.

Prof. Le Conte says: “The invariable association of metaliferous veins
with metamorphism demonstrates the agency of heat.” Experiments of
Daubre and others prove that water at 750° Fahr. reduces to a pasty
condition nearly all rocks. Deposits of silica in a gelatinous form,
that hardens on cooling, may be seen at some of the geysers of the
Yellowstone; the heat, no doubt, being at a great depth. Quartz, like
glass and lava, cools rapidly _externally_ when exposed to air, or
a cool surface, and would very readily hold suspended any substance
_volatilized_, or crudely mixed into its substance. Its difficult
_secondary_ fusion is no obstacle to a belief in the capacity of heat
under great pressure, to account for the phenomena that may be observed
in the gold mines. Ashes derived from lavas have been found rich in
crystalline substances. Crystals and microliths, and pyrites in cubes
are, no doubt, of volcanic origin. The eruptions of moderate character
seem to be the result of igneous fusion, while those of an explosive
type are probably aquæ-igneous.

It is altogether probable from experiments tried by Stanislas Muenier
and others, that the sudden removal of pressure is a sufficient cause
of superheated water and mineral substances flashing into steam and
lava. The geysers are evidently formed by varying temperature and
interruption of flow by removal of pressure. Mr. Fanques, in an article
in the _Popular Science Monthly_ for August, 1880, says: “Discovery of
microliths enclosed in volcanic rocks is a proof of immediate formation
of crystals.”

The phenomena attending the recent eruptions in Java demonstrate the
incredible force and chemical effects of superheated steam. Modern
researches and experiments in mechanical and chemical forces have
greatly modified the views once entertained by geologists, and I think
that it will now be conceded that repeated volcanic disturbances,
taken in connection with the action of glaciers, will account for
most, if not all, the phenomena discoverable in the gold fields and
mountains of California. As a rule, gold-bearing veins in clay or
talcose slates have the gold more evenly diffused than those found in
the harder rocks, where pockets of crystals, pyrites and gold will
most likely be found. If gold is found in seams or masses it will be
very free from impurities, and the quartz itself will be most likely
white and vitreous. When gold is found in or near to a lode that has
been decomposed, it will be found porous and ragged, but if it has
been deposited some distance from its source it will be more or less
rounded and swedged by contact with the stones and gravel that were
carried with it by the stream of water or ice that conveyed it to its
placer. In the beds of the ancient and more modern rivers the gold
is much more worn than that found in the ravines or gulches, and the
coarser gold will be found at the bottom, the scale gold in the gravel
above, and the fine or flour gold in the mixture of clay, gravel and
sand nearer the surface. The scale gold, no doubt, has been beaten by
repeated blows of stones brought in contact with it while moving in the
bed of the stream, and the flour gold is that reduced by the continual
attrition of the moving mass upon the gold.

Prof. Le Conte says: “There are in many parts of California two systems
of river beds--an old and a new.... The old, or dead, river system runs
across the present drainage system in a direction far more southerly;
this is especially true of northern members of the system. Farther
south the two systems are more nearly parallel, showing less movement
in that region. These old river beds are filled with drift gravel, and
often covered with lava.” The lava referred to is relatively of modern
origin, and the molten streams have in many instances covered the
ancient streams, and in others cut them in twain. The “Blue Lead” is a
very old river bed that has been the principal source of supply of the
placer gold of the northern mines, and it must have existed as a river
long anterior to the more modern upheavals that disturbed its course
by forming mountain torrents to rend its barriers and cut across its
channel. That channel crosses some of the present tributaries of the
Sacramento and San Joaquin and contains fossil remains of trees, plants
and fruits not now indigenous to California.

The well rounded boulders and pebbles found in the beds of these
ancient rivers render it probable that they were of considerable
length, and that they may have been the channels of very ancient
glaciers. It is also probable that the region covered by glaciers
at different epochs is much more extensive than has been generally
supposed. To me it appears probable, that during some of the eras of
formation, they may have stretched across the entire continent. I have
not space to give in detail the evidences of glacial action, but will
simply state that _remains_ of glaciers may be seen by an observing
eye at intervals from the Atlantic to the Pacific; in Minnesota and
in the Rocky Mountains, they are especially abundant. Prof. Le Conte
says: “The region now occupied by the Sierra range was a marginal sea
bottom, receiving abundant sediments from a continent to the east.
At the end of the Jurassic, this line of enormously thick off-shore
deposits yielded to horizontal thrust, was crushed together and swollen
up into the Sierra range. All the ridges, peaks and canyons, all that
constitutes the grand scenery of these mountains are the result of an
almost inconceivable subsequent erosion.”

I have no doubt of the truth of this theory of formation as it relates
to the Sierra Nevada ranges as they exist to-day, for the intrusion
of the granite into the slate formations suggests a force far greater
than can be ascribed to volcanic action alone. The _previous_ condition
of the “continental mass” can not be so well imagined; yet reasoning
from what we know of the present condition of the Sierras we may with
propriety assume that great changes had occurred in the territory
embracing the Sierras Nevada long prior to their upheaval. The changes
that have occurred since are too abundant and enduring to require more
than a reference to the localities. The “glacier pavements” of the
Sierras are so conspicuous that, as Mr. John Muir says: “Even dogs and
horses gaze wonderingly at the strange brightness of the ground, and
smell it, and place their feet cautiously upon it, as if afraid of
falling or sinking.” These glacier-smoothed rocks “are simply flat or
gently undulating areas of solid granite which present the unchanged
surface upon which the ancient glaciers flowed, and are found in the
most perfect condition in the sub-alpine region, at an elevation of
from 8,000 to 9,000 feet. Some are miles in extent, only interrupted
by spots that have given way to the weather, while the best preserved
portions are bright and stainless as the sky, reflecting the sunbeams
like glass, and shining as if polished every day, notwithstanding they
have been exposed to corroding rains, dew, frost and snow for thousands
of years.”

This statement of Mr. Muir will especially apply to the “glistening
rocks” at the sources of the Merced and Tuolumne rivers, in view on
this trail through the Mono Pass. The evidences of past glacial action
in polishing the domes, mountains and valleys _above_ the Yosemite
valley, are too undeniable for controversy, but how much of the
Yosemite itself may have been produced by glacial action will probably
always remain a theme for discussion among geologists.

Prof. Samuel Kneeland, the well known author of “Wonders of the
Yosemite,” in a letter to me upon the subject, says: “I think there
can be no doubt that the valley was filled, and 1,000 feet above, by
ice--that while the _mass above_, moved, that in the valley, conforming
to its configuration, was comparatively stationary, lasting much
longer than the first, gradually melting to a lake, now represented by
the Merced river.

“I agree with Prof. Whitney that the valley was the result of a
subsidence, long anterior to the glacial epoch, and that the valley
itself, except upon its edges and upper sides, has not been materially
modified by the glacier movement.” Prof. J. D. Whitney, in his
geological report says: “The Yosemite valley is a unique and wonderful
locality; it is an exceptional creation; ... cliffs absolutely
vertical, like the upper portions of the Half Dome and El Capitan, and
of such immense height as these, are, so far as we know, to be seen
nowhere else.... How has this unique valley been formed, and what are
the geological causes which have produced its wonderful cliffs, and all
the other features which combine to make this locality so remarkable?
These questions we will endeavor to answer, as well as our ability
to pry into what went on in the deep-seated regions of the earth in
former geological ages will permit.” Mr. Whitney explicitly states his
belief that most of the great canyons and valleys have resulted from
aqueous denudation and erosion and cites the cutting through the lava
of Table Mountain at Abbey’s Ferry on the Stanislaus river as proof,
and, continuing, to the exception, says: “It is sufficient to look for
a moment at the vertical faces of El Capitan and the Bridal Veil Rock
turned down the valley, or away from the direction in which the eroding
forces must have acted, to be able to say that aqueous erosion could
not have been the agent employed to do any such work.... Much less can
it be supposed that the peculiar form of the Yosemite is due to the
erosive action of ice.... Besides, there is no reason to suppose, or
at least no proof, that glaciers have ever occupied the valley, or any
portion of it.... So that this theory, based on entire ignorance of the
whole subject, may be dropped without wasting any more time upon it.

“The theory of erosion not being admissible to account for the
formation of the Yosemite valley, we have to fall back on some one
of those movements of the earth’s crust to which the primal forms
of mountain valleys are due. The forces which have acted to produce
valleys are complex in their nature, and it is not easy to classify
the forms, which have resulted from them, in a satisfactory manner.”
After describing the generally received theories of mountain and valley
formations, Mr. Whitney says: “We conceive that, during the process
of upheaval of the Sierra, or possibly at some time after that had
taken place, there was at the Yosemite a subsidence of a limited area,
marked by lines of ‘fault’ or fissure crossing each other somewhat
nearly at right angles. In other and more simple language, the bottom
of the valley sank down to an unknown depth, owing to its support being
withdrawn from underneath, during some of those convulsive movements
which must have attended the upheaval of so extensive and elevated a
chain, no matter how slow we may imagine the process to have been.
Subsidence over extensive areas of portions of the earth’s crust is not
at all a new idea in geology, and there is nothing in this peculiar
application of it which need excite surprise. It is the great amount
of vertical displacement for the small area implicated which makes
this a peculiar case; but it would not be easy to give any good reason
why such an exceptionable result should not be brought about amid the
complicated play of forces which the elevation of a great mountain
chain must set in motion. By the adoption of the subsidence theory for
the formation of the Yosemite, we are able to get over one difficulty
which appears insurmountable to any other. This is the very small
amount of debris at the base of the cliffs, and, even at a few points,
its entire absence.” In the space allotted to this chapter, I am able
only to quote a few passages from Prof. Whitney, but refer the curious
to his recent work, “Climatic Changes of Later Geological Times.”

In contrast to the conclusions arrived at by Prof. Whitney, I extract
from Prof. Le Conte’s Elements of Geology, pages 526 and 527, the
following: “1st. During the epoch spoken of (the glacial) a great
glacier, receiving its tributaries from Mount Hoffman, Cathedral Peaks,
Mount Lyell and Mount Clark groups, filled Yosemite valley, and passed
down Merced canyon. The evidences are clear everywhere, but especially
in the upper valleys, where the ice action lingered longest. 2nd.
At the same time tributaries from Mount Dana, Mono Pass, and Mount
Lyell met at the Tuolumne meadows to form an immense glacier which,
overflowing its bounds a little below Soda springs, sent a branch down
the Ten-ie-ya canyon to join the Yosemite glacier, while the main
current flowed down the Tuolumne canyon and through the Hetch-Hetchy
valley. Knobs of granite 500 to 800 feet high, standing in its pathway,
were enveloped and swept over, and are now left round and polished
and scored in the most perfect manner. This glacier was at least 40
miles long and 1,000 feet thick, for its stranded lateral-moraines may
be traced so high along the slopes of the bounding mountains.” In an
article by John Muir, published in the New York _Tribune_, and kindly
furnished me by Prof. Kneeland, will be seen views differing from those
of Prof. Whitney, but Mr. Muir has spent long years of study upon the
glacial summits of the Sierras, and if an enthusiast, is certainly a
close student of nature. The paper was written to his friend Prof.
Kunkle, of Boston, who had views similar to his own. Mr. Muir says:
“I have been over my glacial territory, and am surprised to find it
so small and fragmentary. The work of ancient ice which you and I
explored, and which we were going to christen ‘Glacial System of the
Merced’ is only a few tiny topmost branches of one tree, in a vast
glacial forest.

“All of the magnificent mountain truths that we read together last
Autumn are only beginning sentences in the grand Sierra Nevada volume.
The Merced ice basin was bounded by the summits of the main range and
by the spurs which once reached to the summits, viz.: the Hoffman
and Obelisk ranges. In this basin not one island existed; all of its
highest peaks were washed and overflowed by the ice--Starr King, South
Dome and all. Vast ice currents broke over into the Merced basin, and
most of the Tuolumne ice had to cross the great Tuolumne canyon.

“It is only the vastness of the glacial pathways of this region that
prevents their being seen and comprehended at once. A scholar might
be puzzled with the English alphabet if it was written large enough,
and, if each letter was made up of many smaller ones. The beds of those
vast ice rivers are veiled with forests and a network of tiny water
channels. You will see by the above sketch that Yosemite was completely
overwhelmed with glaciers, and they did not come squeezing, groping
down to the main valley by the narrow, angular, tortuous canyons of
the Ten-ie-ya, Nevada or South canyons, but they flowed grandly and
directly above all of its highest domes, like a steady wind, while
their lower currents went mazing and swedging down in the crooking and
dome-blocked channels of canyons.

“Glaciers have made every mountain form of this whole region; even the
summit mountains are only fragments of their pre-glacial selves.

“Every summit wherein are laid the wombs of glaciers is steeper on
its north than its south side, because of the depth and duration
of sheltered glaciers, above those exposed to the sun, and this
steepness between the north and south sides of summits is greater in
the lower summits, as those of the Obelisk group. This tells us a
word of glacial climate. Such mountains as Starr Ring, Cloud’s Rest,
and Cathedral Peak do not come under this general law because their
contours were determined by the ice which flowed about and above them,
but even among these inter-basin heights we frequently find marked
difference of steepness between their north and south sides, because
many of the higher of these mountains and crests extending east and
west, continued to shelter and nourish fragmentary glacierets long
after the death of the main trunk to which they belonged.

“In ascending any of the principal streams of this region, lakes in
all stages of decay are found in great abundance, gradually becoming
younger until we reach the almost countless gems of the summits
with basins bright as their crystal waters. Upon the Nevada and its
branches, there are not fewer than a hundred of these lakes, from a
mile to a hundred yards in diameter, with countless glistening pondlets
about the size of moons. Both the Yosemite and the Hetch-Hetchy valleys
are lake basins filled with sand and the matter of morains easily and
rapidly supplied by their swift descending rivers from upper morains.
The mountains above Yosemite have scarce been touched by any other
denudation but that of ice. Perhaps all of the post glacial denudation
of every kind would not average an inch in depth for the whole region.

“I am surprised to find that water has had so little to do with the
mountain structure of this region. None of the upper Merced streams
give record of floods greater than those of to-day. The small water
channel, with perpendicular walls, is about two feet in depth a few
miles above the Little Yosemite. The Nevada here, even in flood, never
was more than four or five feet in depth. Glacial striæ and glacial
drift, undisturbed on banks of streams but little above the present
line of high water mark, is sufficient proof.”

The views entertained by Mr. Muir are, for the most part, in consonance
with my own. That the valley was originally formed as supposed by
Prof. Whitney I do not doubt, but to suppose that the vast bodies
of ice, stated by Mr. Whitney to have existed at the sources of
the Merced river, could have halted in their glacial flow down the
steep declivities of its canyons, seems as absurd as to suppose one
entertaining opposite views “ignorant of the whole subject.” As a
matter susceptible of eternal proof, I will state that in the canyon
below the Yosemite there are existing to-day, large, well rounded
bowlders that I think a geologist would say had been brought from above
the valley; and if so, water alone could scarcely have brought them
over the sunken bed of the valley, or if filled to its present level
of about thirty-five feet descent to the mile, the laws that govern
aqueous deposits would have left those huge masses of rock far above
their present location in the canyon. Some of the bowlders referred
to will weigh twenty tons or more, and, in connection with flat or
partially rounded rocks fallen, probably, from the adjacent cliff, form
waterfalls in the middle of the canyon, of from fifty to one hundred
feet of perpendicular height. The fall through the canyon averages over
two hundred feet to the mile. Well rounded bowlders of granite and
other hard stones may be seen for long distances below the Yosemite,
on hillsides and flats far above the present bed of the river, and, in
some instances, deposited with those bowlders, have been found well
rounded and swedged masses of gold. The experiments and observations
of Agassiz, Forbes and others, render it probable that the valley of
the Yosemite was filled with ice, but that the upper surface moved more
rapidly, carrying down most of the material brought from mountains
above the valley. The observations of Prof. Tyndall render it almost
certain that a glacier does not move as a rigid mass or on its bed, but
as a plastic substance, as asphalt for instance.

Partial liquefaction by pressure would enable a glacier in the Yosemite
to conform to the inequalities of its configuration, and regelation
would perhaps retard its flow sufficiently to enable the more rapid
moving surface and center of the glacier to carry its burden on from
above without marking the lower portion of the inclosing walls, as
for instance, may be seen at Glacier Point. It has been suggested
that “the immense weight of ice that once filled the Yosemite had
an important part in the formation of it.” This idea is untenable,
because the valley must have already been formed, in order for space to
have existed for “the immense weight of ice;” and unless the earth’s
crust under the valley was previously broken as suggested in the able
theory of Prof. Whitney, no possible weight of any kind could exert a
depressing influence upon the surface.

If it were possible, for the reconciliation of geologists, to believe
that the subsidence in the valley occurred at about the close of
the glacial flow, thereby changing the appearance of the inclosing
walls, yet still leaving material to fill the chasm, a great part of
the mystery that will always remain as one of the “Wonders of the
Yosemite,” would then disappear. As it is, we are compelled to believe,
not in miracles, but that the glacier that flowed over the Yosemite was
so great in depth as to leave, like some deep sea or ocean, its bottom
undisturbed by the tumultuous aerial strife upon its surface.

Now, those glacial heights have, at times, a solitude unutterly
profound! Not a bird or beast to break the stillness, nor disturb the
solemn charm. Nor does the Indian, even, loiter on his way, but hastens
on down to his mountain meadows or wooded valleys. There, if anywhere,
the poet’s idea can be realized, that:

    “Silence is the heart of all things; sound the fluttering of its
    Which the fever and the spasm of the universe convulse.
    Every sound that breaks the silence only makes it more profound,
    Like a crash of deafening thunder in the sweet, blue stillness
    Let thy soul walk softly in thee, as a saint in heaven unshod,
    For to be alone with silence, is to be alone with God.”

[Illustration: BIG TREE

(Height, 325 feet; circumference, 100 feet.)]


Big Trees of California or Sequoia Gigantea--Their Discovery and

In speaking of the discovery of the “_Big Trees_” of Calavaras, Mr.
Hutchings, in his “Scenes of Wonder and Curiosity,” says that: “In
the spring of 1852 Mr. A. T. Doud, a hunter, was employed by the
Union Water Company of Murphy’s camp, Calavaras county, to supply the
workmen with fresh meat from the large quantity of game running wild
on the upper portion of their works. Having wounded a bear, and while
industriously following in pursuit, he suddenly came upon one of those
immense trees that have since become so justly celebrated throughout
the civilized world.

“So incredulous were Doud’s employers and companions, when told of his
discovery, that a ruse had to be resorted to, to get men to go and view
the trees.”

Big trees in Mariposa county, were _first_ discovered by Maj. Burney,
of North Carolina, first sheriff of Mariposa county (after its
organization), John Macauly of Defiance, Ohio, and two others, whose
names I have now forgotten. The discovery was made in the latter part
of October, 1849, while in pursuit of some animals stolen by the

The trees seen and described by Major Burney and his party, were only
a few scattering ones on the Fresno and South Fork divide. The major
spoke of the trees as a new variety of cedar, and when he gave the
measurements that he claimed the party had made with their picket-ropes
tied together, his auditors thought he was endeavoring to match some
“big yarns” told around our camp fire at the mouth of the Merced river.
Afterwards, while sheriff, the Major indicated the locality and size of
the trees, in reply to some one’s description of the big yellow pine
that lay prostrate on what became the Yosemite trail, and when rallied
a little for his extravagance of statement, declared that though true,
he should not speak of the big trees again, for it was unpleasant to be
considered an habitual _joker_, or something worse.

I asked the major, seriously, about the trees he had described, and he
as seriously replied that he measured the trees as stated, but did not
regard them as very remarkable, for he had seen accounts of even taller
ones, if not larger, that were growing in Oregon.[20] In referring to
these large trees, they were spoken of as being on the ridge known to
us afterwards as the Black Ridge. The big trees of the Kah-we-ah and
Tu-le river regions, were first noticed by a party of miners returning
from the “_White River_” excitement of 1854, but as these men were
uncultured, and the Calavaras grove was already known, no notice
was taken by “_The Press_” of the reports of these miners, who were
regarded by their friends as entirely truthful.

It has been thought strange that no member of the “Mariposa battalion”
should have discovered any of the big trees, but they did not.

Among forests of such very large pines, cedar and fir trees, as grow
adjacent to and among the sequoia, an unusually large tree would not
probably have attracted much attention. Had a grove of them, however,
been discovered, the fact would have been spoken of in the battalion.
As the species was not known to any of us at the time, even had any
been seen, and even the pendant character of their branches noticed,
doubtless they would have been classed and spoken of as “_cedar_.” I do
not believe, however, that any of the battalion ever _noticed_ these
trees, for the reason that strict orders were given against straggling,
and our explorations were, for the most part, in the mountains _above_
the line of growth of the sequoia. While hunting for game, during our
first expeditions, the depth of snow forced the hunt below.

A few of the Mariposa big trees were first brought into notice by the
discoveries of Mr. Hogg in the summer of 1855. The year previous, Mr.
Hogg was in the employ of Reynolds, Caruthers and myself, and proving
an able assistant and expert hunter, he was employed by our successors,
the “South Fork Ditch Company,” to supply them with game. During one of
his hunting expeditions, Mr. Hogg discovered some sequoia on a branch
of “Big Creek,” and relating his discoveries to Mr. Galen Clark, Mr.
Mann and others, the exact locality was indicated, and became known.
During the autumn of this year (1855), other trees were discovered
by Mr. J. E. Clayton, while exploring and testing, by barometrical
measurements, the practicability of bringing water from the branches
of the San Joaquin to increase the supply from the South Fork of
the Merced. Upon Mr. Clayton’s second visit, a few days later, I
accompanied him, and was shown his discoveries.

About the first of June, 1856, Galen Clark and Milton Mann discovered
what has now become famous as the “Mariposa Grove.” The next season Mr.
Clark came upon two smaller groves of sequoia in the near vicinity of
the big grove. Not long after, he discovered quite a large collection
at the head of the Fresno. This grove was visited two days after
its discovery by L. A. Holmes, of the “Mariposa Gazette,” and Judge
Fitzhugh, while hunting; and afterwards by Mr. Hutchings in 1859,
accompanied by the discoverer, Mr. Clark.

The groves of big trees on the North and South Tule rivers, said to
contain thousands, were discovered in 1867, by Mr. D’Henreuse, of
the State Geological Survey. From the foregoing statement concerning
the _Sequoia_, or Big Trees, and the well known fact of their easy
propagation and distribution over the whole civilized world, it is no
longer feared that the species is in any _immediate_ danger of becoming

Upon the tributaries of the Kah-we-ah river, these trees are converted
by the mills into lumber, which is sold about as cheap as pine. The
lumber is much like the famous red-wood of California, and is equally
durable, though perhaps not so easily worked. Although of the same
genus as the red-wood, the _species_ is distinct, the “Big Trees”
being known as the Sequoia Gigantea, while the California red-wood is
known as the Sequoia Sempervirens. This statement may seem unnecessary
to the botanist, but the two species are so frequently confounded in
respectable eastern periodicals, that the statement here is deemed
proper. Besides this, absurd fears have been expressed by those
uninformed of the facility with which these trees have been cultivated
in Europe and in this country, that the species will soon become
extinct.[21] Professor Whitney says: “It is astonishing how little that
is really reliable is to be found in all that has been published about
big trees. No correct statement of their distribution or dimensions
has appeared in print; and if their age has been correctly stated in
one or two scientific journals, no such information ever finds its
way into the popular descriptions of this tree, which are repeated
over and over again in contributions to newspapers and in books of
travel.... No other plant ever attracted so much attention or attained
such a celebrity within so short a period.... Seed were first sent to
Europe and to the Eastern States in 1853, and since that time immense
numbers have found their way to market. They germinate readily, and it
is probable that hundreds of thousands of the trees (millions it is
said) are growing in different parts of the world from seed planted.
They flourish with peculiar luxuriance in Great Britain, and grow with
extraordinary rapidity.... The genus were named in honor of Sequoia
or Sequoyah, a Cherokee Indian of mixed blood, better known as George
Guess, who is supposed to have been born about 1770, and who lived in
Wills Valley, in the extreme northeastern part of Alabama, among the
Cherokees. He became known to the world by his invention of an alphabet
and written language for his tribe....

The big tree is extremely limited in its range, even more so than its
twin brother, the red-wood. The latter is strictly a coast-range or
sea-board tree; the other, inland or exclusively limited to the Sierra.
Both trees are also peculiarly Californian. A very few of the red-wood
may be found just across the border in Oregon, but the big tree has
never been found outside of California, and probably never will be.” In
a note Prof. Whitney says:

“There are several _fossil_ species of the _genus sequoia_.” Also,
“that the Calavaras Grove contains, as will be seen in the table on
page 125 (Whitney’s Yosemite Guide Book), four trees over 300 feet
high, the highest one measured in the Mariposa Grove being 272 feet.
The published statements of the heights of these trees are considerably
exaggerated, as will be noticed, but our measurements can be relied on
as being correct. The Keystone State has the honor of standing at the
head, with 325 feet as its elevation, and this is the tallest tree yet
measured on this continent, so far as our information goes.”

“When we observe how regularly and gradually the trees diminish in
size from the highest down, it will be evident that the stories told
of trees having once stood in this grove over 400 feet in height, are
not entitled to credence. It is not at all likely that any one tree
should have overtopped all the others by seventy-five feet or more. The
same condition of general average elevation and absence of trees very
much taller than any of the rest in the grove will be noticed among the
trees on the Mariposa grant, where, however, there is no one as high as
300 feet.”

The average height of the Mariposa trees is less than that of the
Calavaras Grove, while the circumference of the largest is greater.
Prof. Whitney measured the annual growths of one of the largest of the
Calavaras group that had been felled, which he made out to be only
about 1,300 years old. The Professor says:

“The age of the big trees is not so great as that assigned by the
highest authorities to some of the English yews. Neither is its height
as great, by far, as that of an Australian species, the _eucalyptus
amygdalina_, many of which have, on the authority of Dr. Müller, the
eminent government botanist, been found to measure over 400 feet; one,
indeed, reaches the enormous elevation of 480 feet, thus overtopping
the tallest sequoia by 155 feet.

“There are also trees which exceed the big trees in diameter, as, for
instance, the baobab (adansonia digitata), but this species is always
comparatively low, not exceeding sixty or seventy feet in height, and
much swollen at the base.”

Mr. Whitney concludes his chapter on the sequoia by saying:

“On the whole, it may be stated, that there is no known tree which
approaches the sequoia in grandeur; thickness and height being both
taken into consideration, unless it be the _eucalyptus_. The
largest Australian tree yet reported, is said to be eighty-one feet in
circumference at four feet from the ground. This is nearly, but not
quite, as large as some of the largest of the big trees of California.”


Prof. Whitney gives the measurement of the largest tree in the Mariposa
Grove as ninety-three feet seven inches, at the ground, and sixty-four
feet three inches at eleven feet above. This tree is known as the
“Grizzly Giant;” its two diameters were, at the base, as near as could
be measured, thirty and thirty-one feet. This tree has been very much
injured by fire, no allowance for which was made. It is probable that
could the tree--and others like it--have escaped the fires set by the
Indians, to facilitate the gathering of their annual supplies and the
pursuit of game, exact measurements would show a circumference of
over 100 feet. But, even as large as it is, its size does not at once
impress itself upon the understanding.

There are nine or ten separate groves of “Big Trees,” in California,
and all lie upon the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada at an altitude
of from five to seven thousand feet above the sea. Mr. A. B. Whitehall
has given a very interesting account of these in the Chicago _Tribune_,
from which I extract such portions as will best serve to interest my

“The wood is soft, light, elastic, straight grained, and looks like
cedar. The bark is deeply corrugated, longitudinally, and so spongy
as to be used for pin cushions. The branches seldom appear below 100
feet from the ground, and shoot out in every direction from the trunk.
The leaves are of two kinds--those of the younger trees and the lower
branches of the larger set in pairs opposite each other on little
stems, and those growing on branches which have flowered, triangular in
shape, and lying close down to the stem. The cones are remarkable for
their diminutive size, being not much larger than a hen’s egg, while
the cones of much smaller conifers are larger than pine-apples. The
seeds are short and thin as paper.... The magnificent proportions of
the trees and the awful solitude of the forest gives an almost sublime
grandeur to this part of the Sierra. The Tuolumne grove is situated
almost due north of the Merced, and is on the Big Oak Flat trail to
the Yosemite. There are about thirty trees in the group, and they are
excellent representatives of the sequoia family. The Siamese Twins,
growing from the same root and uniting a few feet above the base, are
thirty-eight feet in diameter and 114 feet in circumference at the
base. A unique piece of road making is here seen. In the construction
of the highway for coaches and wagons to the Yosemite, the engineers
suddenly found themselves face to face with one of these monster trees,
and not choosing to build around it, they cut through it, thus forming
a tunnel, the like of which can only be found in the Mariposa grove.
The diameter of the tree being over thirty feet, there remained an
abundance of material on each side of the cut to retain the tree in a
standing position, and the hole ten feet high and twelve feet wide is
sufficiently large to allow the passage of any coach or team.”

“In the South Park and Calaveras groves there are some remarkable
trees. One tree in the South Park grove will hold forty persons in
the hollow of its trunk; another has sheltered sixteen horses. The
four highest trees in the Calaveras grove, are the Keystone State,
325 feet high, Gen. Jackson, 319 feet, Mother of the Forest, 315
feet, and the Daniel Webster of 307 feet high. The Husband and Wife
are a pair of trees gracefully leaning against each other, 250 feet
high, and each sixty feet in circumference. The Hermit is a solitary
specimen of great proportions; the Old Maid, a disconsolate looking
spinster, fifty-nine feet around, and the Old Bachelor, a rough,
unkempt old fellow nearly 300 feet in height. The Father of the Forest
is prostrate, hollow, limbless and without bark; yet across the roots
the distance is twenty-eight feet.... Into the tree a tourist can ride
ninety feet on horseback. One of the largest trees of the Calaveras
grove was bored down with pump augurs, and the stump smoothed off and
converted into a floor of a dancing hall. Thirty-two persons, or four
quadrille sets, have ample room to dance at one time, and yet leave
room for musicians and spectators.”

[Illustration: THE TUNNELLED TREE.]

I can give my readers no better idea of the solemn immensity of the
trees, than by again quoting Mr. Whitehall. He says in conclusion:
“Although it was then June, yet the eternal snows of the mountains
were everywhere around us, and, as the huge banks and drifts stretched
away off in the distance, the melting power of heat and the elements
was on every side defied. Not a weed or blade of grass relieved the
monotony of the view; not the chirping of an insect or the twittering
of a bird was heard. The solemn stillness of the night added a weird
grandeur to the scene. Now and then a breath of wind stirred the
topmost branches of the pines and cedars, and as they swayed to and fro
in the air the music was like that of Ossian, ‘pleasant but mournful
to the soul.’ There were sequoias on every side almost twice as high
as the falls of Niagara; there were pines rivaling the dome of the
capitol at Washington in grandeur; there were cedars to whose tops
the monument of Bunker Hill would not have reached. There were trees
which were in the full vigor of manhood before America itself was
discovered; there were others which were yet old before Charlemagne
was born; there were others still growing when the Savior himself
was on the earth. There were trees which had witnessed the winds and
storms of twenty centuries; there were others which would endure long
after countless generations of the future would be numbered with
the past. There were trees crooked and short and massive; there were
others straight and tall and slender. There were pines whose limbs were
as evenly proportioned as those of the Apollo Belvedere; there were
cedars whose beauty was not surpassed in their counterparts in Lebanon;
there were firs whose graceful foliage was like the fabled locks of
the gods of ancient story. It was a picture in nature which captivated
the sense at once by its grandeur and extent; and, as we drove back to
Clark’s through six miles of this forest luxuriance, with the darkness
falling about us like a black curtain from the heavens, and the mighty
canyons of the Sierra sinking away from our pathway like the openings
to another world, then it was not power, but majesty, not beauty but
sublimity, not the natural but the supernatural, which seemed above us
and before us.”


Statistics--Roads and Accommodations--Chapel and Sunday School--Big
Farms and Great Resources--A Variety of Products--Long Hoped for Results

Records of the number of visitors to the Yosemite down to and inclusive
of 1875, show that in 1852 Rose and Shurban were murdered by the
savages, while their companion, Tudor, though wounded, escaped. The
next year, 1853, eight men from the North Fork of the Merced, visited
the valley, returning unharmed. Owing to murders of Starkey, Sevil and
Smith, in the winter of 1853-’4, as it was believed, by the Yosemites,
no visitors entered the valley during the summer of 1854. In 1855
Messrs. Hutchings, Ayers, Stair and Milliard, visited it without being
disturbed by the sight of any of the original proprietors, either
Indians or grizzlies. Mr. Hutchings, on his return to San Francisco,
began to draw the attention of the public to the Yosemite, through his
magazine and otherwise. Notwithstanding the ample means afforded by
his magazine, and his facilities as a writer, Mr. Hutchings found it
difficult to bring the valley into prominent and profitable notice, and
few Californians could be induced to make it a visit. A peculiarity of
those days was a doubt of the marvelous, and a fear of being “_sold_.”
Any statements of travelers or of the press, that appeared exaggerated,
were received by the public with extreme caution. Not more than
twenty-five or thirty entered during that year, though Mr. Hutchings’
efforts were seconded by reports of other visitors.

The following season, 1856, it was visited by ladies from Mariposa and
San Francisco, who safely enjoyed the pleasures and _inconveniences_
of the trip; aroused and excited to the venture, no doubt, by their
traditional curiosity. The fact being published that ladies could
safely enter the valley, lessened the dread of Indians and grizzlies,
and after a few _brave reports_ had been published, this fear seemed to
die away completely.

From this time on to 1864, a few entered every season; but during
these times California had a _wonder_ and interest in its population
and their enterprises, greater than in any of its remarkable scenery.
Everything was at high pressure, and the affairs of business and the
war for the Union were all that could excite the common interest. In
1864, there were only 147 visitors, including men, women and children.
The action of Congress this year, in setting the Yosemite and big trees
apart from the public domain as national parks, attracted attention to
them. The publicity given to the valley by this act, was world-wide,
and since 1864 the number visiting it has steadily increased.

According to the _Mariposa Gazette_, an authentic record shows that in
the season of 1865 the number was 276, in 1866, 382, in 1867, 435, in
1868, 627, and increasing rapidly; in 1875 the number for that year
had reached about 3,000. The figures are deemed reliable, as they were
obtained from the records of toll-roads and hotels. They are believed
to be very nearly correct.

The _Gazette_ “estimates the proportion of eastern and European in
the total number to be at least nine-tenths,” and says: “It is safe
to place the Atlantic and European visitors for the next ten years at
2,000 per annum.”

I have no doubt the number has been greater even than was estimated,
for improved facilities for entering the valley have since been
established. Seven principal _routes_ have been opened, and a post
office, telegraph and express offices located. A large hotel has been
built by the State, the trails have been purchased and made free, and
the management is now said by travelers to be quite good. There is no
reason why still further improvements should not be made. A branch
railroad from the San Joaquin Valley could enter the Yosemite by way of
the South Fork, or by the Valley of the Merced river. Mineral ores and
valuable lumber outside and below the valley and grant, would pay the
cost of construction, and no defacement of the grand old park or its
additions would be required, nor should be allowed.

With cars entering the valley, thousands of tourists of moderate wealth
would visit it; and then on foot, from the hotels, be able to see most
of the sublime scenery of the mountains.

If horses or carriages should be desired, for the more distant points
of interest, they may readily be obtained in the valley at reasonable
rates. At present, the expense of travel by stage, carriage and
horseback, is considerable, and many visiting California, do not feel
able to incur the extra expense of a visit to the Yosemite.

Visitors intending to see both the big trees and the Yosemite Valley,
should visit the trees first, as otherwise the forest monarchs will
have lost a large share of their interest and novelty.

The hotel charges are not much higher than elsewhere in the State, and
the fare is as good as the average in cities. If extras are required,
payment will be expected as in all localities. There is more water
falling in the spring months, but the water-falls are but fractions of
the interest that attaches to the region. Yosemite is always grandly
beautiful; even in winter it has attractions for the robust, but
invalids had better visit it only after the snow has disappeared from
the lower levels, generally, from about the first of May to the middle
of June.

From that date on to about the first of November, the valley will
be found a most delightful summer resort, with abundant fruits and
vegetables of perfect growth and richest flavor.

All modern conveniences and many luxuries of enlightened people are now
to be found, gathered in full view of the great fall and its supporting
scenery. The hotels, telegraph, express and post offices are there, and
a Union Chapel dedicated at a grand gathering of the National Sunday
School Union, held during the summer of 1879, is regularly used for
religious services. Those who may wish to commune with Nature’s God
alone while in the Yosemite, will be in the very innermost sanctuary
of all that is Divine in material creation for the valley is a holy
Temple, and if their hearts are attuned to the harmony surrounding
them, “the testimony of the Rocks” will bring conviction to their souls.

The unique character of Mirror Lake will leave its indelible
impressions upon the tourist’s mind, and residents of the Yosemite
will gladly inform him of the varying proper time in the morning when
its calm stillness will enable one to witness its greatest charm, the
“_Double Sunrise_.” That phenomena may be ascribed to the lake’s
sheltered closeness to the perpendicular wall of the Half Dome (nearly
5,000 feet high), and the window-like spaces between the peaks East and
South, looked through by the sun in his upward, westward flight.

As a matter of fact, differing according to the seasons of the year,
“sunrise on the lake” may be seen in its reflections two or more times
in the same morning, and, if the visitor be at the lake when the breeze
first comes up on its daily appearance from the plains, shattering the
lake mirror into fragments, innumerable suns will appear to dazzle and
bewilder the beholder.

The wonderful scenery and resources of California are becoming known
and appreciated. A large addition has been made to, and surrounding
the Yosemite and Big Tree Parks, which in time may become one (see
map); and another very large National Park has been established in
Tulare County, to be known as the _Sequoia_ Park, which includes most
of the Big Trees of that entire region; but it is not so generally
known in the Eastern States that there are such vast landed estates,
such princely realms of unbroken virgin soil awaiting the developments
of industry. Official reports of the California State Board of
Equalization show that there are 122 farms of 20,000 acres each and
over. Of these there are 67 averaging 70,000 acres each, and several
exceed 100,000 acres.

These figures are published as official, and were well calculated to
make the small farmers of the east open their eyes; they will yet open
the eyes of the land owners themselves to the importance of bringing
their estates under successful and remunerative cultivation. This
will have to be done in order that these acres may be made to pay
a just taxation. Thousands of acres that are of little use to the
owners or the public--of no value to the state--can, by the judicious
introduction of water, be made to pay well for the investment.
Irrigating ditches or canals from the Merced, one on the north side
and the other on the south, a short distance above Snelling, in Merced
county, were located by the writer, and soon after completion, the
arid and dusty land was transformed into blooming gardens and fertile
vineyards. These were the first irrigating ditches of any considerable
magnitude, constructed in Mariposa or Merced counties, though
irrigation was common enough in other parts of the state. The advance
that has since been made in California agriculture is wonderful. New
methods adapted to the peculiarities of soil and climate have been
introduced, and new machinery invented and applied that cheapen the
cost of production and lessen manual labor to a surprising degree: for
instance, machinery that threshes and cleans ready for the market, over
5,000 bushels of wheat to the machine per day. Capital is still being
largely invested in railroads, and in reclaiming the Tule (Bull Rush)

These lands are among the richest in the world. They grow cotton,
tobacco, rice and other southern staples, equal to the best of the
Southern States, with much less danger from malaria. The valleys of
the San Joaquin and Sacramento, which are simply _local_ divisions
of the same great valley, produce according to altitude, moisture
and location, all the cereals, fruits and vegetables of a temperate
clime, as well as those of semi-tropical character; even the poorest
hill-side lands grow the richest wine and raisin grapes. The yield is
so astonishing, as to appear incredible.

The raisins grown and cured in California are said to be equal to the
best Malaga; while the oranges, lemons, olives, figs, almonds, filberts
and English walnuts, command the highest prices in the market. Peaches,
pears, grapes and honey, are already large items in her trade; and her
wheat crops now reach a bulk that is simply enormous.

The grade of horses, cattle, swine, sheep and wool, are being brought
to a high degree of perfection; for the climate is most salubrious and
invigorating. Her gifts of nature are most bountiful and perfect. No
wonder, then, that the Californian is enthusiastic when speaking of his
sublime scenery, salubrious climate and surprising products.

But I must no longer dwell upon my theme, nor tell of the fruitful
Fresno lands, redeemed from savage barbarity. Those scenes of beauteous
enchantment I leave to those who may remain to enjoy them. And yet--

    El Capitan, I turn to gaze upon thy lofty brow,
    With reverent yearnings to thy Maker bow.
      But now farewell, Yosemite;
        If thou appears not again in sight,
      Thou’lt come, I know, in life’s extremity
        While passing into realms of light.



[1] “Rock Chief,” a literal translation of “Tote-ack-ah-noo-la,”
rendered “El Capitan” in Spanish, from the likeness of a man’s head
upon the wall.

[2] The Yosemites were known as the “Bear tribe.” “Ten-ie-ya” was chief.

[3] “Scho look” is the Indian name for the “High Fall;” “Ah-wah-ne,”
the _old_ name of Valley, and “Kay o pha” (the sky), the name of
highest or snow-clad peaks.

[4] At intervals at the Vernal a _round_ rainbow is formed, perfect as
a finger-ring.

[5] “Glacier Fall,” in place of “Too-loo lo-we ack.”

[6] “Sentinel Dome” was known to the discoverers as the “South Dome,”
and “Tis sa ack,” meaning cleft-rock, as the “Half Dome.”

[7] Mr. Pratt’s retraction has finally appeared in the June number for

[8] An Indian corruption of Bautista.

[9] According to the Rev. S. G. Wright, of Leach Lake, Minnesota
Reservation, and “_Wain-ding_” (the source of the wind), the best
interpreters of the Chippewa perhaps now living, but few, if any, of
the Chippewa names for our lakes and rivers have been preserved in
their purity.

[10] Captain Joe Walker, for whom “Walker’s Pass” is named, told me
that he once passed quite near the valley on one of his mountain trips;
but that his Ute and Mono guides gave such a dismal account of the
canons of both rivers, that he kept his course near to the divide until
reaching Bull Creek, he descended and went into camp, not seeing the
valley proper.

[11] In some way unaccountable to me, this speech appears in my article
in Hutching’s work, as if delivered before the fight at “Battle

[12] I have learned through the kindness of Dr. A. Kellogg, of the
California Academy of Sciences, that this tree is now known as the
“_Torreya Californica_.”

[13] It is claimed by all Indian “Medicine Men” that the presence of a
spirit is announced by a _cool_ breeze, and that sometimes they turn
cold and shake as with an ague.

[14] Known as the Mexican Pheasant, though not very good to eat.

[15] Mr. Winchester, connected with some eastern publication,
accompanied Captain Boling and myself, in the latter part of June,
1851, as far as the Tehon Pass. During the trip I gave him a full
account of the operations of the battalion, which he took notes of, and
said he should publish on arriving home. His health was very poor, and
I doubt if his manuscript was ever published. I never heard from him

[16] From an elaboration of legend interpreted by Stephen M.
Cunningham, in 1857.

[17] This cliff was climbed for the first time by Mr. George G.
Anderson, on October 12th, 1875. It has now a stair-way running over
the difficult part of the ascent.

[18] All trails within the original grant have now been made free.

[19] A wagon road now enters upon a lower level.

[20] See Gen. John Bidwell’s account in Century magazine for Nov. 1890.

[21] Most of the Big Trees of Tulare County are within the new “Sequoia

      *      *      *      *      *      *

Transcriber’s note:

List of Illustrations entry “Fire Stick, page 134" moved to correct
position; List of Illustrations entry “Riding through a Tree, Page 325”
changed to read “Riding through a Tree, Page 339”

Obvious printer errors corrected silently.

Some unpaired double quotation marks could not be corrected.

Inconsistent spelling and hyphenation are as in the original.

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