April 16, 1952
A visit with Donald MacLennon, at his home in Dayville, Oregon.
Present also were his wife, and Mrs. Theda Damon Weatherford.
Mr. MacLennon: My name is Donald MacLennan and I was born in
Scotland in 1875.
I came by myself in 1890; I crossed the Atlantic to Philadelphia
and took the cars from there to the Dalles, Oregon. I had an
uncle here whose name was Duncan MacRao, and my cousin was Kenneth
H. MacRae-you see, some spell it MacCrea.
It was a good deal like it is now, only there was more grass and
not so many houses or people; when I came to Dayville it took me
the third day at noon to get to Dayville on horse stage from the
Dalles- the third day at noon. We stopped at Antelope and then
we stopped at Mitchell and then made the trip from Mitchell to
I went to work for MacRae, he was living over there from where
Throop lives now, that was his headquarters. He owned that place
where Robinson is, up the South Fork, and up where I was- MacRae
owned it before Dexter did. He ran sheep and catttle and horses and
I worked for him- everything that had to be done.
I was only 14 years old when I left Scotland. Malcolm came in
'94- that was my brother, he is older than I am. He came out
Things are altogether different than what they were then; there
were no cars and no airplanes. There were lots of sheep and cattle
in the country at that time; there is none to speak of right now.
The Indian War was in '78. William Aldrich was killed in 1878;
he is buried up here at the Aldrich place up on the hill. He is
buried - you know where the Aldrich house is, this side of the
river, the old Thorp place, the Aldriches were living there at
that time. The Indians were on the warpath at that time and they
was a bunch of them fellows went over to fight them. This Aldrich
was married to Casey Officer's daughter and Uncle Casey and
Aldrich and Joe Combs, a fellow by the name of Burnham, and Clark,
and Joe Combs he took off up the river, you know, to tell them
the Indians were coming and to be getting out and said, "There
were thousands of them, and they were all big sons of _"
That is what he told them. (Laughing) Well, the oldest boy
stopped to take a shot at an Indian and the Indian shot him in the back of the head. Uncle Casey Officer held him on the horse but
he had to let him off or they would kill him too. They buried him
until the Indians went off and then got him and reburied him.
Jim Small- when you come along the highway and come around a
rocky point this side of Dr. Jerry's-well, right up that ridge-
they killed these two sheepherders, and of course they had to bury
them until the Indians went out and quieted down and then took
them to Canyon City to bury them.
Aldrich was taken up, I think it must have been up in the Moon
Creek district- and buried up there, and, his people were
spiritualists and they called his spirit up one night and talked
with him and he said he wanted to be buried close to home and
that is where Aldriches lived now, called the Thorp place; so they
dug him up and brought him down there and buried him on the hill
and there is a nice headstone and a picket fence. You can see it
from the house where we lived up on the ranch, but it got in bad
shape. A badger or something got in there. It had a little pen
and something was digging and the rock was tipped and I told Reno-
that was Reno's brother- and he came down and fixed it.
The Indians shot Clark's horse. There is a spring up there on the South Fork called Mark's Spring. He hid until dark and hit down
to the place where Wayne Stewart lives, that was Uncle Casey
Officer's place now. Then they went on up and the Indians came
across and went to Cummingsville and burnt a house-Jim Cummings.
Archie Black's mother was a Cummings before she was married, a
sister to Jim Cummings, and Jim Cummings was Ernest's uncle.
Ernest's father was A.C. Cummings and Jim Cummings was a brother
They burnt his house and Archie Black was living up there at
that time- just a big kid. I have heard him tell it and he was
the one who told me where these boys were buried. Archie's mother
was married after that and Jim just took him to raise. There was
another boy, Billy Black, he stayed with his mother for a long time.
She was around here, she married a fellow by the name of George
Baker and Rubfelder.
The Indians killed several head of cattle and some horses for
Billy Stewart, at Murderer's Creek. Outside of that they didn't
do too much damage.
But, Aldrich was to blame; if he had kept going instead of
stopping to get an Indian he would have got away. They beat him
to it. They buried him in Aldrich gulch and then when they thought
it was safe they took him up the river, I think it was, in at
Moon Creek, where they buried him. Then they called his spirit up
and talked with it and he said he wanted to be buried at home and they brought him back and buried him on that hill. That gulch-
when you are going up, you go over what is called Jackass Draw;
it comes down two little gulches and right on that point they
killed him. That is where he was buried until the Indians went
out. There is a monument- a pile of rock monument, and right on
top of it is a flat rock with his name and date of his death.
I don't know whether Billie Stewart or some of the Officers put it
there- probably some of his own family, there were a lot of them
Aldriches. I think the mountain had been named probably long
before that and the Aldrich Creek came down this side of the house;
I think they named the mountain when they lived there, because
of the Aldrich home.
The Indians came across Flat Creek mountain, they didn't come
down the river, they came over the mountain. There are not too
many people in the country who do know where they were buried.
In those days people got syrup in barrels and there was a feather-
bed and the Indians got a cat and rolled him in the syrup and
then rolled him in the featherbed and turned him loose. That
happened up at the Flat Creek ranch.
The people were cautioned on the Indians and Jim Small told
his sheepherders that if it got dangerous he would come and
notify them. Instead of doing that, when Joe Combs came along, he
went to the tunnels at Canyon City. He never told them. I don't
see why they stayed there, they could see the Flat Creek ranch
and the Indians from where they were killed and on the slope there.
These boys could see the Indians, undoubtedly, because they could
look back and see the Flat Creek house from where they were buried.
It was a piece of carelessness on their part, and Jim was to blame,
really. We should have notified them, but they outht to have been
on the lookout-but, both were Englishmen and hadn't been in the
country too long and didn't realize the danger. They took some of
their clothes. And, I think they had a big mirror and they broke
that up, if I remember right. They scalped Aldrich, yeah, they
scalped him. It was wild times in those days, that was 12 years before my time.
There used to be an oldtimer here, Andrew Litch was his name,
and Wayne (Stewart) father, they wanted them to go up the mountain and get
up on the rims this side of the Murder's Creek, at the rim rocks,
and go up there and locate the Indians. Instead of that, they
were bound to go up the river. But Litch and Stewart went up and
got on the rim and watched the performance. The Indians would
round up Billy's cattle and horses, charge in and shoot and hollar (sic)
The Indians let the fellows come down until they thought they
were surrounded and naturally tried to outrun them, but the other
fellows were too well mounted, they couldn't do it, but they thought
sure there was going to be more killed, but, they spotted them and
They had another little skirmish in '98, the Ize?(e?) people and
the Indians, and a white man was killed. That was uncalled for.
It was the 26th day of October 1898, they had the battle. We was
camped up there not too far from where they had the battle, but
didn't know it.
The next day Clint Roe and I went up Main Murderers Creek and
came back, and there is a creek comes into Murderer's Creek just
before the ranger station, called Dam Creek- named after a
sheepherder. I told Clint, "if you go down to the Shull camp,
I will go down to the meadow." So I started up the creek and ran
on to a moccasin track, and I didn't think much about it when I
first saw it. I kept going up the trail and the further I went
the more aroused my suspicions what could happen; the Indian is
not much to walk. I went back down the creek and couldn't find
him and I couldn't pick up his track any more- I think he spotted
me. He was shot in the heel and I didn't see him, but the
sheepherder saw him and the bone in the heel was sticking out thru
his moccasin, and that Indian walked plumb into Cummingsville.
So, I kept going on up the creek and that moccasin track, but
instead of going down the gulch when I got on top, I went down
the river and through the John Down meadows, coming on down the
creek and saw a little smoke up the gulch, and I stopped my horse
and by standing up in the stirrups I could see the Indian's
pony; I could see the cripple on the saddle. And, of course, I
went up, like anybody else would, because I didn't know anything
about the battle. There was an Indian sitting there. He had a
little fire built and he had a gun there. I tried to talk to him,
but he wouldn't talk to me- I couldn't get a word out of him.
So, I kept quizzing him and he kept looking to the horse, you know,
and of course after he found out I wasn't going to hurt him, he
talked good English. After we came out I knew what was the reason
he wouldn't talk, he was trying to see if I had a gun. I talked
with him quite awhile and I told him to come on down to camp and
I helped him on his horse. The horse was crippled, and that Indian
was too, he was shot. He was shot through the leg there. It
didn't hit the bone, it was shot on the fleshy part and through the
front part of the saddle and lodged in the pony's shoulder and the
pony was lame. I helped him on and started down the creek and
the old pony couldn't walk as fast as my horse and I fooled around
and got down about half or three-quarter of a mile and he told me
to go ahead, he would be there bye and bye. When I got to camp,
these other boys were all there, and I had this gun and they kept
asking why I packed a gun and I told them I robbed a sheep camp
so they said, "Ah, you am lying." I told them I might be , but I
got a gun anyway. So, I finally told them the truth and then
they wouldn't believe me! So I finally told them, " I will produce
the evidence pretty soon." After awhile, my horse looked up, and
I said, "Coming there, that is the evidence." So, we kept him
there for two or three days with us and we give him a horse and
he left. He give us the gun and we give him a little pony we had
and he struck out and he came in up at Cummings. The other Indian
was waiting there. They killed one Indian. George Cutting was
the white man they killed. They shot him, but he bled to death
before they got him in.
But, they killed one Indian- Old Albert. The Indian who came
into our camp talked about Old Albert and cried, "Poor Old Albert,
Albert," and cried and cried. We went over the next morning after
I found the Indian, put in all day where they had the fight.
They found where they had made a stretcher to carry the white man
out on, but he died before they could. They figured a whiteman was
hurt because they found empty cartriges (sic) all over it, and figured
someone was hurt.
The Indians buried Old Albert there. They rolled him in a piece
of canvas. You know how when a pine tree blows down, it tears
up a big slab of dirt in the ground? Well, there was quite a hole
in the ground and they buried him there and the Indians came in
next summer and packed him out.
©1998 Roxann Gess Smith
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