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As It Was: Visitor Comments on “Handsome” Modocs

William Hoffman celebrated his 72nd birthday with a companion near Fort Klamath, Ore., on Sept. 7, 1873, after making a memorable trip to Crater Lake.  They took the freight-train route to Fort Klamath via the Rogue River, camped about three miles below Crater Lake, and hiked up to see it. 

“I am now viewing one of the grandest scenes of nature—magnificent beyond description, exhibiting the wonderful works of God,” Hoffman wrote in his journal.

On their return to Fort Klamath, they met with Gen. Frank Wheaton to ask two favors.  They wanted their buggy fixed and asked to see Capt. Jack and others waiting to be executed for their role in the Modoc War.  The general granted both requests. They visited the cell of the Modoc leader and others in captivity and said they found them well treated. They also saw other Modoc warriors in Jamison’s fruit and vegetable store.  They remarked on how handsome the Modocs were.

This remarkable birthday trip included great fishing, meetings with old friends, rough roads and cold campsites.

Source: “Mountain Excursion 1873”, William Hoffman’s Diary Transcript, MS 323 Folder 2 of 6, Southern Oregon Historical Society Research Library.

Alice Mullaly is a graduate of Oregon State and Stanford University, and taught mathematics for 42 years in high schools in Nyack, New York; Mill Valley, California; and Hedrick Junior High School in Medford. Alice has been an Southern Oregon Historical Society volunteer for nearly 30 years, the source of many of her “As It Was” stories.