VIII. THE KLAMATH RIVER RESERVATION1858-1894*
A. DAVID BUELL and FARMING OPERATIONS1858-1861
The Office of Indian Affairs determined to dump Subagent Heintzelman, because Superintendent Henley held that the movement of the Tolowa to the Klamath had been premature and had sparked the conspiracy that ended in the fight on Wau-Kell Flat. Heintzelman's successor, David Buell, took charge of the Klamath Indian Reservation in 1858.
*See National Register Forms, pp. 339-351.
In addition to the subagent in charge, the agency staff consisted of six positionsa physician, farmer, blacksmith, interpreter, overseer, and teacher. All of these positions except one, the overseer, were at Wau-Kell. The overseer was stationed at Kepel. The physician in 1859 was paid $1,200 per year, while the other incumbents received $900, each, per year for their services. 
Superintendent Henley resigned under fire in 1859, and he was succeeded as Superintendent of the California District by James Y. McDuffie on June 7. McDuffie in August visited the Klamath River Reservation and found that the agency at Wau-Kell was located in a beautiful valley, containing about 800 acres. Walking about the area, he was delighted to see that the land was fertile and well-adapted to the "growth of a variety of grain and vegetables." A large portion of the flat was not cultivated, and "although not densely timbered, contained considerable undergrowth which will require labor & expense in clearing." About 160 acres were under cultivation. The yield of the farm, McDuffie found, spoke well for "the industry & good management of the agent and employees & promises great success in the future." 
At Ho'pau, one mile below the agency and on the opposite side of the Klamath, a small 40-acre farm was being cultivated. Adjoining this farm, Superintendent McDuffie saw another 80 acre which could be farmed. Visiting Fort Ter-Waw, McDuffie was well received by Lieutenant Crook. The flat at the fort contained about 80 acres of ground, "unsurpassed in fertility and of easy cultivation."  At Pecwan, ten miles above the agency, he visited a small 18-acre farm, adjoining which there was about 50 acres that "could be turned to a profitable account." Kepel, 17 river miles above Wau-Kell, was a beautiful location, and it was "surrounded by a country unsurpassed for grazing purposes & is entirely isolated & protected from the invasion of white settlers." The 15 acres cultivated here, under the supervision of the agency overseer, were rich. As the country was gently undulating, it would be easy to bring additional acres under cultivation. 
In addition to these areas, McDuffie had seen other flats, which could be brought under cultivation. When they were, it would be possible for the Reservation to support at least 5,000 Indians.
At the Wau-Kell Agency there were six major buildingsa residence, mill, blockhouse, barn, stable, and granary; at Pecwan there was another residence and granary; at Kepel a second blockhouse; and at Lop-El there were three well-built houses. The residence at the agency was "commodious and comfortably arranged," while the other government buildings were frame and "sustained well the purpose for which they were designed." Also located on the Reservation and belonging to the government were two stores (one clapboard and the other log) and 39 log houses occupied by Yurok. 
The number of work animals (22 oxen, six mules, and one horse) were insufficient to meet the area's agricultural needs. One bull, 22 cows and calves, 87 hogs, and a number of chickens helped provide food to supplement the diet.
McDuffie was so impressed with what he saw on the Klamath that he dashed off a letter to Commissioner A. B. Greenwood, calling his attention to the prosperous condition of the Reservation. An incomplete census indicated that not less than "2,000 Indians were residing on & frequenting this place." Near Wau-Kell there were between 200 and 250, whose services were available for farming purposes. They appeared to be "obedient & contented, as is the case when an abundance of food & occupation is found for them." He cited conditions on the Reservation as proof of the practicality of expediting the policy of settling the California Indians in self-sufficient farming communes. 
The year 1860 was a good year on the Reservation. In June 1860 Congress had enacted legislation reorganizing the California Superintendency and dividing it into a Northern and Southern District, each to be under a superintending agent at a salary of $3,600 per year. John A. Dreibelbis was named by President James Buchanan to head the Northern District. 
Touring the Reservation and its farms with Agent Buell in the autumn of 1860, Dreibelbis was reminded of a "well regulated plantation." He complimented Buell on the efficient management of the area. Land under cultivation had been substantially increased. On one 5-acre plot, Buell boasted, 60,000 potatoes had been grown, while a perch of ground would produce 360 pounds of carrots. 
Before returning to San Francisco, Dreibelbis examined Buell's books, and reappointed all the staff, as he was assured by the agent that they were faithfully discharging their duties. He was told that $1,200, not counting the salaries, would be sufficient to fund the Reservation in Fiscal Year 1861, as the reserve was self-sufficient in foodstuffs. Unlike most Indians, the Yurok did not require beef, because the Klamath salmon runs provided them with an abundance of meat. Already, predatory whites had attempted to trespass on their fishing rights at the mouth of the river. They had been checked, however, by the "prompt & decided interference of Agent Buell." The whites, although they had been rebuffed, promised to return with their lawyers and occupy the three small islands, near the mouth of the Klamath. To checkmate this land grab, Superintendent Dreibelbis called upon Commissioner Greenwood to allot funds to survey and blaze the boundaries of the Reservation. To prevent any disputes, the point of beginning should be in mid-channel at the mouth, "thence one mile on each side thereof and parallel with the River for 20 miles," which would preclude any arguments that the islands did not belong to the Reservation. 
Another index of the success of the Reservation was the census figures, which showed 3,000 Indians in residence. And, Dreibelbis boasted, these are "healthy, well-fed, well-clad, peaceable, happy, and contented." There had been a "few-discontented spirits among those removed to the area from Eel River, but they had vanished in to the mountains." 
President Abraham Lincoln had been inaugurated in March 1861, and the officials charged with administrating the Klamath River Reservation became victims of the spoils system. George M. Hanson replaced Dreibelbis as Superintendent for the North District. Hanson was not so optimistic as his predecessor. Then he visited the Klamath in July 1861, he found about 300 acres in cropswheat, barley, corn, oats, peas, potatoes, carrots, and beans. He believed that with little additional expense another 600 acres could be brought into cultivation. The agency buildings were in tolerable condition, the teams old, and the implements "so worn as to be nearly useless." Twenty-five hundred dollars were needed to purchase younger work animals and modern farming equipment. Lieutenant Crook's company having been pulled out of Fort Ter-Waw and not knowing that Captain Hunt's unit had been ordered to the area, Hanson called for the War Department to surrender the buildings and gardens to the Office of Indian Affairs, because they were located "on the most valuable portion of the farm land." 
Last Updated: 15-Jan-2004