Biography of Joseph E. Kirkland

JOSEPH E. KIRKLAND. – Mr. Kirkland was born in 1831 in Illinois. He was the son of a farmer who removed in 1832 to Arkansas, where he gave his children the advantages of a common-school education. In 1851 the family crossed the plains with oxen to Lane county, Oregon, the journey occupying four months. They took a Donation claim, and worked in the Southern Oregon mines from 1852 to 1857, perfecting, in the meantime, their title to their Donation. At the time of the Indian disturbance, Joseph Kirkland and his father owned pack trains; and, when the volunteers bivouacked on Table Rock, they ran the gauntlet and came through the Cow creek country in safety.

He was mining on Althouse creek when the Indian hostilities of 1855 commenced on Rogue river, and came out with John Cox from Kerbyville to Vannoy’s ferry in the night, and there found Robert Williams with a squad of miners organized but poorly armed. The next day Thomas Elef came rushing down, reporting that Flem Hill had just returned from Cow creek, where the Indians were killing and burning. Kirkland joined a squad of twenty, who went to the relief of those possibly besieged men. They found, at Smith’s on Cow creek, several families forted up; and upon the porch of the house lay the dead body of Hall Bailey, who had been killed on his wagon a mile or so from the house while enroute to Yreka with a load of chickens and a drove of hogs. The Indians killed his oxen while they were hitched to the wagon, and strewed the ground with butchered hogs.

Proceeding up the valley, they found at Bates’ farm Quartermaster Johnson lying dead on the porch of the house, while several more families were barricaded within, one man being severely wounded. That night Kirkland and William Stannos carried a message from Lieutenant Stone, who commanded the pass, back to Captain Williams on Rouge river. Not being successful in obtaining weapons, Kirkland came to the Willamette valley. The next spring he joined Keith’s company of Lane county boys, and entering stayed with the war to its close. One day, while the company was drawn up in line on the bank of Rogue river, Old John, the Indian chief, and some of his braves, saluted them from the opposite bank with a shower of bullets, severely wounding Clay Houston, and strewing a hail of lead among the party. Some of the boys soon found an old canoe, and, hurriedly crossing the river, rushed to the spot from which the fusillade had come, finding only one Indian, who rose form his hiding-place in the brush and fired upon the command at very short range. They charged upon him with shouts and yells; and when he jumped into the water they filled his body with bullets, and then drew him out of the water, awarding him to Perry Skinner, who claimed the dead shot.

In 1857 Mr. Kirkland was married to Miss Mary Standefer, a cousin of Jefferson Standefer. In 1865 they moved to the Walla Walla valley, and have made it their home to the present time. Mr. Kirkland now practices law at Milton, Oregon, and owns a nice fruit ranch on the edge of town.



History of the Pacific Northwest Oregon and Washington. 2 v. Portland, Oregon: North Pacific History Company. 1889.

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