Biography of Eli K. Anderson

ELI K. ANDERSON. – There is no pioneer of whom volumes might be written with more propriety than he whose name appears above. Miner, Indian fighter, relentless pursuer of horse thieves, pioneer of the great fruit industry of Southern Oregon, and sterling temperance man, and singular, almost passing belief, in this age of defilers of themselves of tobacco, a total abstainer his whole life long from the use of the weed, – such is our subject.

He was born in Indiana in 1826; and, after various transferences of residence in that state, during which he learned the carpenter’s trade, he came to California with the Owen’s train in 1849, – being one of the Argonauts who steered their vehicles across the seas of grass and alkali deserts. They were afflicted with cholera and lost cattle on the way, but were not otherwise annoyed. Mr. Anderson stopped near the present site of Shasta City, and made the descent of the Sacramento river the next year in a skiff constructed of lumber, whip-sawed by himself with the help of three other young men. At Sacramento, they sold their boat for five hundred dollars, and went to San Francisco, where they bought a sail boat, and returned with a cargo of flour, which they disposed of at Marysville to good advantage. Anderson thereupon began working at his trade for sixteen dollars a day.

In 1850, he came to the mines in Northern California, and was so fortunate as to be one of the original discoverers of the famous Scott bar, on Scott river, where for ten days they were unmolested by the Indians, and allowed to dig as much gold as they pleased, making as high as five hundred dollars a day. There were some twenty in this company, – that of Captain Scott. But a quarrel soon arose with the Indians; and, after killing a few Klamaths, the company broke up. Anderson went to Shasta City and formed a company of twenty to return to the same place and secure more of the gold. But the location had been betrayed by one of the original party; and the new company was followed by two squads, consisting of nine and forty men respectively, and the dust was too limited for so many.

Returning to Sacramento, Anderson was prevented from returning East only by meeting a brother there. They returned to Shasta. He succeeded here in his mining claim, and met General Lane mining on Shasta river. After this he went to Scott river, and from there to North Salmon river and mined during the summer of 1851. The following fall he made a great chase after horse thieves, following three noted roughs north of Big Klamath Lake to the head of the des Chutes river, where he found them murdered and their bodies thrown into the river and robbed by the Indians, who were piloting them through the country. Pursuing and capturing these new thieves, he made the entire circuit of the mountains, coming as far north as The Dalles, and returning to California via the Willamette valley and Southern Oregon. After a number of escapades, he delivered the thieves to the alcalde at Yreka, the point from which he started.

This introduced him to Oregon; and in 1852 he came to the Rogue river valley and immediately took up his present place near Ashland. For the sake of procuring seed in a region hitherto entirely new, he was obliged to make a trip to Yamhill county, and received eight dollars a bushel for his first crop of wheat (amounting to eight hundred bushels). He participated in the Indian war of 1853, and has held the office of county commissioner. He now owns some seven hundred acres of land in Jackson county, and has property and mill interests at Ashland. On his place two miles north of Phoenix, he has an orchard of sixty acres. He is a Republican of pronounced views, and strong for temperance. He has a family of six daughters and one son. His wife, Elizabeth, daughter of Nathaniel Myers, is a pioneer of 1853, a lady of resolution and energy, and of superior culture and refinement.


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

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