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Which way to the treaty site?

They marked the spot where the treaty was signed, but the old-timers said they were wrong.

That's the way of history. Try as we may, sometimes it's all just a guess.

When the Crater Lake Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution dedicated a marker along Table Rock Road, commemorating a Sept. 10, 1853, treaty between American Indians and the United States, they weren't trying to deceive anyone.

The old-timers, who were protesting the location, were children of the men who were there. But even these "experts" had pointed in different directions.

"Though there is some discussion and question over the exact spot," a DAR representative told the newspapers in 1928, "the monument will be placed on the north end of the Wykoff ranch, this location believed to be the most suitable."

In 1981, John Day, a well-known Rogue Valley landowner and sportsman, took a Mail Tribune reporter to what he said was the actual treaty signing site — on a bench of land near the cliffs of Lower Table Rock and two miles south and west of the DAR marker.

Day told the reporter that John Edgar Ross had pointed out the location. Ross was the son of Col. John E. Ross, a member the 1853 U.S. treaty delegation of 10 men.

Day was hesitant to reveal the location for fear he might offend the DAR women, but finally explained why he did.

"I wanted to pinpoint the site before it is lost in history," he said.

Despite Day's effort, the exact site is still lost, but his description of the general location corresponds closely to the opinions of many local researchers.

Jeff LaLande, former historian with the Forest Service, said he was unaware of Day's visit to the site with a reporter, but LaLande's choice for the treaty signing site appears to closely match up with Day's.

"Based on the writings of subsequent U.S. Sen. James Nesmith, and others," said LaLande, "I believe it took place fairly close to the walls of Table Rock."

Nesmith was an Army captain at the time and was present at the signing.

"If you're up on Lower Table Rock, you'll notice it kind of forms a horseshoe," said LaLande. "There's a creek drainage at the southern end, between the two arms. I believe they went up into that drainage — into that area that looks like an amphitheater, and then veered off to an area of fairly flat and gentle ground."

LaLande said that's what he tells people when he takes them up to the top of Table Rock on his annual Nature Conservancy walk. The property once belonged to Day, but is now owned by the Conservancy.

Seventy-five years and 15 days after the treaty was signed, the DAR ladies unveiled the bronze plaque to an audience of more than 200 people, including Nesmith's grandson.

The location is probably wrong, but that doesn't matter. Commemorating a peace, even one like this that didn't last, is an effort that's always worthwhile.

Bill Miller is a freelance writer living in Shady Cove. Reach him at newsmiller@yahoo.com.

This marker is far off from the actual site where a temporary peace was codified between settlers and American Indians at Lower Table Rock. Bill Miller foto