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"There was a state of terror in the canyon"
During July and August, recoveries of bodies of white men floating down
the river were common at Fort Yale. There was a state of terror in the canyon.
The cause of the trouble, it was said, was a combination of influences:
the desire of the Indians to monopolize the mining, coupled with the success
of the Indian wars then raging in Washington and the arrogance of the miners
who lived by the code that "the only good Indian was a dead one."
Unfortunately, Stout and his party were prospecting far to the east of the
canyon, had been oblivious of the new developments that had taken place.
If it had not been for the friendship of McClennan and the young Indian
woman, Stout and the rest would surely have perished, as it was they faced
a dangerous and harrowing trip south, to safety.
"Stout's party lost nearly a man daily"
The miners broke camp that night, after disposing of anything and everything
that would impede there speed. Early the fol lowing day, they were attacked...
The Indians, who were concealed amongst some rocks and bushes, ambushed
the party and wounded three of the miners. The arrows were poisoned and
by the next day all who had been wounded were dead. According to Stout the
poison was made by placing the fangs of a rattlesnake in a sort of mortar,
with some deer's blood and the two were mixed together. Water was added
if necessary to dilute the solution and make it possible to coat the arrowheads.
The effect of this poison was to cause convulsions in the victim and turn
the skin black after death.
"As it was extremely dangerous to travel by day, we made our way in
the night time. As soon as the day broke we built small forts upon the bank
of the river with stones and pieces of timber. De tached parties of Indians
often hemmed us in, skulking behind low bushes, while occasionally some
of them would send a chance musket ball whistling across the rocks with
savage in terest."
Stout's party lost nearly a man daily, including their leader James McClennan;
the chance of escape became bleaker and bleaker. At Four Mile Creek Stout
and his party discovered four salmon hanging on a pole. Just before they
partook of this fish feast, Mike Mallahan, an Irishman who was with the
group, noticed several dead blue jays in the vicinity and quickly surmised
that the salmon were poisoned and laid as a trap. After reducing the fish
to small pieces they pitched them in the river and continued on.
Arriving at China Bar with only five left out of the original twenty-six
among the party, their supply of ammunition depleted, the hopes for survival
were bleak. Each of the five survivors was wounded, and so, unable to travel,
they lay in their fortifications expecting an assault at any time. But luck
or providence would be with them, and the following day a party of soldier-miners
led by Captain Schneider and Captain Graham arrived from Fort Yale some
miles below and relieved the company.
Following this narrow escape, Stout spent some time recover ing from a total
of nine arrow and bullet wounds received during the ordeal. The most serious
was a wound to the groin which had nearly severed the main artery in his
thigh. However, Stout was true to his name and by August he felt well enough
to begin min ing again.
Moving north through the canyon and eventually into Cari boo Stout met up
with William 'Dutch Bill' Dietz. The Dietz party, including Stout, made
its way up the headwaters of Antler Creek, over Bald Mountain and down into
a different watershed. The gold found by that first party of explorers was
nothing impressive but word got out to dissatis fied miners on Antler Creek
and soon they were streaming over Bald Mountain in droves. The new creek
was named after Dutch Bill, some say because he had the most luck on that
first day in panning others say that he bribed the rest of his party with
prom ises of champagne in the offing, regardless the new find became known
as William's Creek.
Jordan's partner had 50 ounces of gold in his hand ...and more to come
Initial expectations for the area were high, but for those used to the easy
finds of Antler and Keithley, William's Creek soon became 'Humbug' Creek.
Gold here was located deeper and un derneath a layer of hard blue clay that
was initially taken for the bedrock. Since gold is heavier than all other
gravel it sinks to the level of the bedrock and that is where the richest
'pay' can usually be found. Strangely, there was very little gold on this
hardpan of clay.
One day, Jordan of the Abbott & Jordan claim left to get sup plies from
town; while he was gone, Abbott, out of boredom, swung a few blows at the
'bedrock' and broke through. By the time Jordan returned, his partner had
50 ounces of gold in his hand and more to come. The rush was on!
Meanwhile, Stout had broken off from Dietz's party and had staked claims
on a tributary gulch of William's Creek. Stout's 'Gulch' was to become an
important factor in the development of Barkerville itself.
At a point between the town of Richfield and Barkerville, William's Creek
slows to a trickle. Miners of the time specu lated that all the gold would
have been deposited at or above the slowing of the creek and would never
have made it into the lower regions of the canyon. When several miners tried
the ground in the lower canyon they found nothing of interest. This was
the situation when Billy Barker showed up on the scene. Barker had mined
in the Califor nia rush of '49 and was therefore an experienced hand. He
recog nized that although the ground in the lower canyon was poor there
must be gold there somewhere because Ned Stout was doing well and he was
below the slowing of William's Creek, albeit in a tributary gulch. It was
this revelation that indirectly caused Barker to sink extensive shafts in
the lower canyon. The rest is history.
Ned Stout worked the gulch bearing his name for two years and then sold
his share and moved to Lowhee where he mined some more. When mining activity
lapsed, Stout worked as a packer for the Cariboo Co. carrying freight by
boat from New West minster to Lytton. Stout moved back to Yale, built a
house and continued to prospect near there and on Siwash Creek. In 1873,
he married Mary Thorpe of Yakima, Washington Territory and they had three
children (his descendants were still living in British Columbia as late
as 1979). Although no longer residing in Cariboo he returned every summer
to prospect and was the pic ture of vigor even into his old age; proud of
the fact that he had never taken a drop of liquor. He died in 1924 at the
age of ninety -six, a true pioneer.
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