Reprint from the Blue Mt. Eagle 5/26/1922
IN THE CITY OF GOLD - HONEST, BIG-HEARTED MINERS LIVED
Brigham and Long Mack, well-known
When you paid a man a debt, you gave him your buckskin sack and he pinched
out gold dust enough to pay the debt and both were satisfied.
Editor of the Blue Mt. Eagle:
A little story of Canyon City in the early days: I was a small boy, but I went with my father,
William Luce, a great many times to that booming camp and city, as it was always called, and
at night the little lights from the miners' cabins and tents - from what was called "Middle Town"
at the mouth of Long Gulch to Canyon City - were hundreds twinkling away like so many stars.
Father's place, known as the Danby farm now, was where the road left the John Day River and run up what
was called Chimly Gulch, then east to Blue Gulch, then down Blue Gulch and over the ridge, and then southeast
down the hill, and crossing the Creek close to the foot of the hill and almost exactly where Wm. Gray's old
barn and slaughter house stood.
At that time you were in the city of gold and among the most noble, big hearted men and miners that could be
found in any country. Honest, and fearless always.
Canyon City and some of it's people, as they come back to my memory, of the early '60s: Merchants - I remember
on the corner where C.E. Lyon has his store was Messenger's and Coffman. Just across the street and where the
C.C.C. Co. store stands was John Stahl's brewery, restaurant, and little store. I gave Mrs. Stahl 25 cents for
one red apple, an overlarge one at that. Then came quite a good-size building and in part of it on the first
floor was Dr. Tyrney's office and they also lived in some of the back rooms. All I remember of the upper floor
was a picture gallery. Next, another restaurant, but I do not remember who owned or run it. Then almost where
the Masonic Hall stands was a large tin shop owned and run by Charles Castel and Dud Sallenstall. Castel died
afterwards in Prineville. I do not seem to remember the building that stood where the Eagle office stands, but
about where the Clark & Patterson Barber shops are, were saloons and gambling houses. Then came Wood's and
Church's Livery barn, and on the Gundlach corner was Gundlach's shoe store. Then up Town Gulch were the Sels and
Metschan residences, and where Jack Chambers now lives was Jack Phillips, then on the upper corner was a store and
post office, Major Rinehart's & Overholt's, then Wm. Stemny's residence, and then John Rhoy and Dr. Horsley's
drugstore, and across the street was David Easley's blacksmith shop. On the lower street about where that vacant
lot is between Guernsey's and the bank was another blacksmith shop at one time owned and run by old Uncle Jimmie
Hodson, and that is the shop that Peter Kuhl did his first work in when he came to Canyon City. One of the first horses
that he shod in Grant County was for my father.
Joaquin Miller: -- well, if I were only a cartoonist I could sketch him as I saw him a great many times. Rather tall,
dark, round or stooped shoulder, long hair for a man, and I never saw him dressed only in a black long coat, either a
plug hat (as we called them), or a large slouchy black hat. I remember well his very peculiar eyes. You speak of the
daughter. He also has a son and in 1878, the time of the last Indian War, he was with our outfit coming from
The Dalles to Canyon City, and he left us at Cherry Creek on the first day of July.
Coming back to the city, I want to say that it may seem strange, but most of the buildings in Canyon, Marysville, and
John Day, in the time of boom and rush, were about 1/2 glass or windows.
The Dick Clark residence, known in the early days as the Mary Ste. Clair house, and then about where the Dunavan residence is, was Phil Metschan butcher shop and then Bob Penfield's grocery store and on the opposite side of the street was Spanish Rose's house, and then several houses on around to the foot of the hill where Judge Dustin now lives. At that time this ground was comparatively level. John Long dumped many thousands of yards of gravel there so it makes it look very different. Just a little below where Dustin lives was another store and, if my memory serves me, that belonged to Frank Hacheney. Now since writing and calling first one thing to memory and then another, I am almost sure George Beeson ran one of those restaurants, and in this good-sized building I spoke of before, was the first Post Office I ever saw.
I also remember Paige. I think it was Wm. Paige, Wells Fargo Express Agent. He was a large man, fair complection, and what I would call good looking. Of course, I remember a great many of those old timers. In the saloon business and other occupations were Neil McNulty, Wm. Hall and brother Enoc, George Howsmand, Jack Woolsey, John Young. I will name two noted gamblers and they hung on for many years: Mr. Hill, commonly called "Brigham", and McCalister, known as "Long Mack". Henry Sels also ran a store in Canyon before the fire, and Mr. Moody a hotel about where Patterson's Barber shop is, and he lost a hotel in the second fire on the same lot, I think. Now I will tell you of one of the first stores, if not THE first store, that ever was in Canyon City. James Cozart, David Luce, & Wm. Luce landed in Canyon City in June and I am sure it was on the 14th, with 64 mules loaded with provisions, and until 1863 they operated the store in a tent; then they built a good sized store. I think perhaps 30 x 70 or 80. This was just about where the Leedy house is now, and they sold this store to Cap Ferring in 1864.
I remember P.T. Sharp and wife, and in fact, the family, for in early days people were more sociable in a way. They visited all up and down the valley and were all friends. When we had a celebration - say the 4th of July - I have seen many like B.C. Trowbridge, Wm. Wilson, Wm. Luce, and others all eating and drinking around one big table. Not so these days. We get off to one side, you and yours, not all alike, but just to ourselves.
Now just a line as to some of the residences of the city: On the island, as it was called those days, were James Hodson (his residence was where Mrs. Bulkley's house now stands, but his house faced up the creek). Where Lyons now live was Dr. Horsley's home and I think the Abrams family also lived on the island. Now to Rebel Hill: Millers, Powers, Laswells, Kellys, and of course many that I do not recall at this time.
As to how they made change without scales. My father always raised lots of vegetables and peddled to the miners. Those days every man had a big buckskin purse: a long straight sack, and a good stout string sewed on to tie it with. Father would sell say $1 worth of vegetables to a man. This man would get out his sack and open it, and father would do likewise; then he would take a pinch with the forefinger and thumb out of the other man's purse and put it into his. That was easy, wasn't it.
©1998 Roxann Gess Smith
All Rights Reserved
..... Return to Grant County, Oregon Home Page
..... Return to "A Place Called Oregon"