"Summersville; submitted by Dan Hill, Heritage Society; (Credit is
due the Max Brainard Collection of records of Curry County residents in
the 1930s and 1940s)"
"Summersville, Sommersville, Somersville, or Summers' Diggings...few remember the Sixes River surroundings of Ralph Erastus Summers who located 13 miles upriver in 1857."
"He came to Curry County with Capt. William Tichenor in June, 1851, landing at Battle Rock with a party of nine and married Betsy in 1856. She was born in 1839, died in 1904, and they are reported to have produced six boys and five girls. In 1902, 'Jake' was listed at age 87 in the Voter's list. He died in 1909. 'Jake' and his wife Betsy and one son, Ralph, were buried on Floras Creek, but on Decoration Day 1937, the graves were moved to Battle Rock."
"Located at the head of the Sixes River on the main stream below the South Fork, 'Jake' -'Jacob' Summers' discovery of gold in 1885 nearly decimated the population of Port Orford. A fair sized settlement developed around this site."
"Scout around the old diggings and you may find some rose bushes and fruit trees. There is still flake gold to be taken and, in season, recreational mining is allowd with pan or dredge."
"An improved Burea of Land Management (Department of the Interior) campground [Sixes River Campground] is near the site."
Port Orford News, Wednesday, June 3, 1998.
Curry County Echoes; Vol. 4: Feb.,1985.
George Washington Billings
George Washington Billings was born at Ti' Bar on the Klamath River, the son of John and Adeline Billings. In 1868, the family decided to move to the Rogue River. Their route led them from Happy Camp, up Indian Creek to Bolan Lake, to O'Brien, over Oregon Mountain to Packsaddle, to the Winchuck, to Long Ridge, then High Prairie, Mineral Hill, Cedar Camp, Wildhorse, Lawson Creek, Pebble Hill to Oak Flat. The family first settled at the confluence of the Rogue and Illinois (Rivers).
In 1899, George Billings was at Mule Creek to work at the Douglas Bar operation, where he met Sarah Ann Huntley. They were married in 1894 and lived at Big Bend for a time. They, then, went to Roseburg where their first child, Ivin, was born. In April of the next year, they came to Mule Creek and ,later, to the meadow where Elijah Price's old cabin stood.( A new son, Evered, was born in July of 1897.) George and his family built a new cabin where (Ivy) Alpine was born in 1899.
George opened a store in his cabin and started a packing operation to West Fork (Cow Creek). He sold equipment and supplies to the miners and settlers. The trip to West Fork was 22 miles by trail. He also worked on a larger home for his family. The kitchen, living area and store were on the main level. Family sleeping quarters were on the top floor where they also furnished rooms to travellers. The upper rooms also served for dances and social gatherings. George used to preach sermons in the Tabernacle (built next to the house) every Sunday and most of the people in the area attended the services. Hs was said to have been an excellent preacher. He used a red velvet stand with legs made of antlers to hold the Bible. In addition to the packing, the store, the mining, the family raised a large garden, planted an orchard and raised feed for the livestock.
In 1898 Mr. Hammond, of Portland, wrote to George offering to grubstake him for a prospect trip to Alaska. George decided to make one more trip to Mule Mountain (one of his Lode Mining Claims) and found a rich-looking quartz (vein). He located this claim, which he called the ALVA, and it proved to be a good claim. Later, Mr. Burns and George packed a shipment of forty-five tons of ore to the river and took it down the Rogue by boat to Gold Beach where it was shipped to the Tacoma (Washington) smelter in 1900. The return from the smelter was $45.00 per ton ($794.00 in today's dollars). Later, the mine was sold.
Zahne Crockett used to tell of his trips up the river when he carried the mail as a young man. One day he mentioned to the Billings how good the lights from their home looked to him as he came up the trail. They had, probably, the first electric lights in the whole area. The next time he came, they had strung lights a long ways down the trail.
The Billings Ranch (now The Rogue River Ranch) was the site of many celebrations for those living along the river. Celebrations usually lasted several days and were held wherever someone had a place large enough for the crowd. One celebration was held on Washington's Birthday, 1907. The host was John Billings. They celebrated the wedding of his daughter, Viola, to Leo Frye. Friends and relatives gathered at The Meadows. A shooting contest was held with a gold watch being the prize. George Billings won by 1/8 of an inch and handed the prize to his son, Evered. ( I was given that watch and still have it to this day, TEB)
George was also Postmaster at Marial. He died in Gold Beach and is buried in the small graveyard at Big Meadows next to John, Adeline, (Alpine) and Evered Billings.
The ranch was purchased in 1970 by the Bureau of Land Management. It is now on the National Register of Historic Places and many of the handmade tools and equipment are preserved by that agency.
References: Echoes, Kay Atwood article, Port Orford Tribune, Report on Mule Mtn. Mine Group by Kay Atwood, M. Brainard file (compiled by L. Gardner) and Tom Billings.
Scrapbook file 3, submitted by Cassie Langley Brown
Coal at Eckley
Very large deposits of lignite coal of fine quality exist at Eckley that cikes without difficulty. A 500 ft. tunnel is being run to further prospect the same. Mr. George H. Guerin of Eckley, says the ledge is 9 ft. thick, all of which is excellent coal. Mr. Guerin discovered coal near Eckley 23 years ago. San Francisco capitalists are assisting in prospecting the mine and they will, no doubt, build a railroad from the coalmine to Myrtle Point, if successful.MyrtlePointEnterprise; 3/25/1899
Scrapbook file 4, submitted by Cassie Langley Brown
George Guerin, Jr. made us a call Monday and exhibited gold dust to the amount value of over $700, which represented about two-thirds of the output of Guerin Bros. placer mine on the South Forks of the Sixes, for the summer season. In the collection it contained many nuggets ranging in value from $1 to $13. The boys took out one-half pound of gold dust or about $107 and in 8 days took out about $208. Coos County's Klondike is good enough.MyrtlePointEnterprise;10/14/1915
Scrapbook file 5, submitted by Cassie Langley Brown
First settlers to land at Port Orford, Curry Co., Oregon
July 15, 1851
A. J. Anderson
J. R. Anderson
E. W. Burns
George R. Caston
A. H. Corbilt
Thomas J. Davenport
A. S. Doughty
William N. Frazer
John P. Holland
Andrew J. Keen
A. J. Kelly
William N. Kennedy
Robert N. Lake
Henry I. Lewis
Seth N. Lount
William J. Moucrieff
Lyman B. Munson
A. J. Nickerson
J. P. Pepper
George W. See
A. R. Simens
Rowland A. Tyler
Charles S. Valleau
Joseph V. VanBussum
Lorine S. Williams
Led by James S. Gamble
Employed by Isaac W. Hubbard, Fredrick M. Smith and William Tichenor