"There loomed Mount Shasta, with which my name, if remembered at all, will be remembered." So wrote Joaquin Miller in his 1873 classic Mt. Shasta novel, Life Amongst the Modocs: Unwritten History. Miller was a young gold miner in the Mt. Shasta region from 1854 until 1857. Remarkable among extant Miller materials is his 1850s diary which, among other things, records his living for an entire year in Squaw Valley on the southern flank of Mt. Shasta. It was a year in which he lived with an Indian woman among her tribe. His experience living among the Indians, mostly out of contact with white people, gave him an unprecedented sympathy for the Indian and for nature. In later life Miller wrote book after book and poem after poem utilizing the themes he had learned from experience during those early years. Several of Miller's books, including the 1873 Unwritten History..., the 1884 Memorie and Rime, and the 1900 True Bear Stories, contain considerable autobiographical material about his life at Mt. Shasta.
Note that Miller was a man far ahead of his times, and critics up until the late 20th Century did not fully appreciate his unconventional philosophy. Miller created a retreat for the homeless, spearheaded the first California Arbor Day, personally planted thousands of trees over a period of decades, founded an artistic commune based on the teachings of silence and nature, and wanted it to be known that he worked with his hands. Miller's 1885 log cabin, which still stands in Rock Creek National Park in Washington, D. C., and his Oakland, California commune grounds, now known as Joaquin Miller Park, exist together as a coast to coast testament to his philosophy. The following entries were selected because they contain material relevant to Miller's 1850s' life in the Mt. Shasta region. Miller was a prolific writer and many of his most interesting works have never been reprinted. It was in England in the 1870s that Miller first became known as the 'Poet of the Sierras,' but his 'Sierras' were really the mountains of the Mt. Shasta region.
Visit the online bibliography to search bibliographic entries or browse the entries below.
The [MS number] indicates the Mount Shasta Special Collection accession numbers
used by the College of the Siskiyous Library.
[MS764]. Conner, G. H. [notes on Joaquin Miller cabin in Squaw Valley]. no date. From the Schrader file. Concerns the location of Joaquin Miller's cabin near Squaw Valley in the 1850s. 20. Literature: Joaquin Miller. [MS764].
[MS370]. Frost, O. W. Joaquin Miller. New Haven, Conn.: College and University Press, 1967. A biography of Miller which is quite useful for its bibliography of primary sources and for its list of archives which hold Miller manuscript material (pp. 129-134). 20. Literature: Joaquin Miller. [MS370].
[MS117]. Guilford-Kardell, Margaret. Joaquin Miller: Fact and Fiction. In: The Californians: The Magazine of California History. Nov., 1991. Vol. 9. No. 3. pp. 6-13. Constitutes a serious attempt to identify the individuals who were the real Mt. Shasta region acquaintances and friends of Joaquin Miller during the 1850s. These people became the prototypes for characters in Miller's novels about the Mount Shasta region. Much original research went into the writing of this article. In the 1890s the Smithsonian's Jeremiah Curtin interviewed and collected data from informants of the McCloud River Wintu Indians, the very Indians with whom Joaquin Miller lived in the 1850s. Combining this Smithsonian data with other documents, and supplemented with personal interviews with remaining tribal members, Mrs. Guilford-Kardell has pieced together a reasonable picture of Miller's mountain life. Included in the discussion are the real life figures of Dr. Ream, Amanda Brock, 'Calla' Shasta, and Koltcululi. 20. Literature: Joaquin Miller. [MS117].
[MS2195]. Miller, Joaquin. [Indian
Tale of the Great Spirit and his Daughter on Mount Shasta; and the Origins
of the Indians]. In: Miller, Joaquin. Unwritten History: Life Amongst
the Modocs. Hartford, Conn.: American Publishing Company, 1874. The most
often told Indian tales of Mount Shasta apparently were first published in Joaquin
Miller's quintesential Mount Shasta novel, "Life Amonst the Modocs,"
first published in 1873. Miller, who in the 1850's lived for four years in the
region including a year with his Wintu Indian wife and her tribe on the south
side of the mountain, tells the story that follows. [Note that Miller does not
explicitly say from where he received this story. Most likely it is a bonafide
Wintu tale. So far as is known, this is the first telling in print of the Indian
Tale of the Great Spirit and his Daughter on Mount Shasta.
Miller writes: "There is a story published that these Indians will not ascend Mount Shasta for fear of the Great Spirit there. This is only partly true. They will not ascend the mountain above the timber line under any circumstances; but it is not fear of either good or evil spirit that restrains them. It is their profound veneration for the Good Spirit: the Great Spirit who dwells in this mountain with his people as in a tent.
This mountain, as I said before, they hold is his wigwam, and the opening at the top whence the smoke and steam escapes is the smoke-place of his lodge, and the entrance also from the earth. Another mistake, which I wish to correct, is the statement of one writer, that they claim the grizzly bear as a fallen brother, and for this reason refuse to kill or molest him. This is far from the truth. Instead of the grizzly bear being a bad Indian undergoing a sort of purgatory for his sins, he is held to be a propagator of their race.
The Indian account of their creation is briefly this. They say that one late and severe spring-time many thousand snows ago, there was a great storm about the summit of Shasta, and that the Great Spirit sent his youngest and fairest daughter, of whom he was very fond, up to the hole in the top, bidding her speak to the storm that came up from the sea, and tell it to be more gentle or it would blow the mountain over. He bade her do this hastily, and not put her head out, lest the wind would catch her in the hair and blow her away. He told her she should only thrust out her long red arm and make a sign, and then speak to the storm without.
The child hastened to the top, and did as she was bid, and was about to return, but having never yet seen the ocean, where the wind was born and made his home, when it was white with the storm, she stopped, turned, and put her head out to look that way, when lo! the storm caught in her long red hair, and blew her out and away down and down the mountain side. Here she could not fix her feet in the hard, smooth ice and snow, and so slid on and on down to the dark belt of firs below the snow rim.
Now, the grizzly bears possessed all the wood and all the land even down to the sea at that time, and were very numerous and very powerful. They were not exactly beasts then, although they were covered with hair, lived in the caves, and had sharp claws; but they walked on two legs, and talked, and used clubs to fight with, instead of their teeth and claws as they do now.
At this time, there was a family of grizzlies living close up to the snow. The mother had lately brought forth, and the father was out in quest of food for the young, when, as he returned with his club on his shoulder and a young elk in his left hand, he saw this little child, red like fire, hid under a fir bush, with her long hair trailing in the snow, and shivering with fright and cold. Not knowing what to make of her, he took her to the old mother, who was very learned in all things, and asked her what this fair and frail thing was that he had found shivering under a fir-bush in the snow. The old mother Grizzly, who had things pretty much her own way, bade him leave the child with her, but never mention it to any one, and she would share her breast with her, and bring her up with the other children, and maybe some great good would come of it.
The old mother reared her as she promised to do, and the old hairy father went out every day with his club on his shoulder to get food for his family till they were all grown up, and able to do for themselves.
"Now," said the old mother Grizzly to the old father Grizzly, as he stood his club by the door and sat down one day, "our oldest son is quite grown up, and must have a wife. Now, who shall it be but the little red creature you found in the snow under the black fir-bush." So the old grizzly father kissed her, said she was very wise, then took up his club on his shoulder, and went out and killed some meat for the marriage feast.
They married, and were very happy, and many children were born to them. But, being part of the Great Spirit and part of the grizzly bear, these children did not exactly resemble either of their parents, but partook somewhat of the nature and likeness of both. Thus was the red man created; for these children were the first Indians.
All the other grizzlies throughout the black forests, even down to the sea, were very proud and very kind, and met together, and, with their united strength, built for the lovely little red princess a wigwam close to that of her father, the Great Spirit. This is what is now called "Little Mount Shasta."
After many years, the old mother Grizzly felt that she soon must die; and, fearing that she had done wrong in detaining the child of the Great Spirit, she could not rest till she had seen him and restored him his long-lost treasure, and asked his forgiveness.
With this object in view, she gathered together all the grizzlies at the new and magnificent lodge built for the Princess and her children, and then sent her eldest grandson to the summit of Mount Shasta, in a cloud, to speak to the Great Spirit and tell him where he could find his long-lost daughter.
When the Great Spirit heard this he was so glad that he ran down the mountain-side on the south so fast and strong that the snow was melted off in places, and the tokens of his steps remain to this day. The grizzlies went out to meet him by thousands; and as he approached they stood apart in two great lines, with their clubs under their arms, and so opened a lane by which he passed in great state to the lodge where his daughter sat with her children.
But when he saw the children, and learned how the grizzlies that he had created had betrayed him into the creation of a new race, he was very wroth, and frowned on the old mother Grizzly till she died on the spot. At this the grizzlies all set up a dreadful howl; but he took his daughter on his shoulder, and turning to all the grizzlies, bade them hold their tongues, get down on their hands and knees, and so remain till he returned. They did as they were bid, and he closed the door of the lodge after him, drove all the children out into the world, passed out and up the mountain, and never returned to the timber any more.
So the grizzlies could not rise up any more, or use their clubs, but have ever since had to go on all-fours, much like other beasts, except when they have to fight for their lives, when the Great Spirit permits them to stand up and fight with their fists like men.
That is why the Indians about Mount Shasta will never kill or interfere in any way with a grizzly. Whenever one of their number is killed by one of these kings of the forest, he is burned on the spot, and all who pass that way for years cast a stone on the place till a great pile is thrown up. Fortunately, however, grizzlies are not plentiful about the mountain.
In proof of the truth of the story that the grizzly once walked and stood erect, and was much like a man, they show that he has scarcely any tail, and that his arms are a great deal shorter than his legs, and that they are more like a man than any other animal." 20. Literature: Joaquin Miller. [MS2195].
[MS207]. Miller, Joaquin 1837-1913. Unwritten
History: Life Amongst the Modocs. Hartford, Conn.: American Publishing
Company, 1874. First American edition. Illustrated edition. First published
as an unillustrated edition in England in 1873, under the reverse title of 'Life
Amongst the Modocs: Unwritten History' (see Miller 'Unwritten ...' Alan Rosenus,
editor, 1987). Miller's famous beginning sentence to this book, probably
the most often quoted passage about Mt. Shasta from any writer, actually exists
in two versions. In the 1874 first American edition he begins his book with:
'As lone as God, and white as a winter moon, Mount Shasta starts up sudden and
solitary from the heart of the great black forests of Northern California' (p.
17). However, a slightly different beginning was used for the true first edition
published the prior year (1873) in England. The 1873 edition began 'Lonely as
God, and white as a winter moon...'
This first American edition of the book contains wood-block prints of Mount Shasta, the Battle of Castle Crags, Paquita, etc.; unfortunately none of the later editions contain these illustrations. 20. Literature: Joaquin Miller. [MS207].
[MS214]. Miller, Joaquin 1837-1913. First Families of the Sierra. Chicago, Ill.: Jansen, McClurg and Company, 1876. Story about a young woman disguised as a man who hides out from religious assassins at a mining camp called the Forks. The Forks is thought to be Humbug Creek, near Yreka, California. Much of the book takes place at the "Howling Wilderness" saloon. Mount Shasta is not mentioned per se, but the story contains some descriptive material very similar to that found in Miller's Unwritten History: Life Amongst the Modocs. Miller helped make an adaptation of the First Families... book into a very successful Broadway play called the Danites in the Sierras. 20. Literature: Joaquin Miller. [MS214].
[MS213]. Miller, Joaquin 1837-1913. Mount
Shasta [poem]. In: Miller, Joaquin 1837-1913. Shadows of Shasta.
Chicago, Ill.: Jansen, McClurg and Company, 1881. p. 17. Poem is titled "Mount
Shasta." One of Miller's best Mount Shasta poems. 18 lines long.
"To lord all Godland! lift the brow/Familiar to the moon, to top/The universal world, to prop/The hollow heavens up, to vow/Stern constancy with stars, to keep/Eternal watch while eons sleep;/To tower proudly up and touch/God's purple garment-hems that sweep/The cold blue north! Oh, this were much!/Where storm-born shadows hide and hunt/I knew thee, in thy glorious youth,/And loved thy vast face, white as truth;/I stood where thunderbolts were wont/To smite thy Titan-fashioned front./And heard dark mountains rock and roll;/"I saw the lightning's gleaming rod / Reach forth and write on heaven's scroll / The awful autograph of God!" 20. Literature: Joaquin Miller. [MS213].
[MS212]. Miller, Joaquin 1837-1913. Shadows
of Shasta. Chicago, Ill.: Jansen, McClurg and Company, 1881. Fictional
novel. The setting is the Castle Crags-Mt. Shasta region. The story is a tragedy
based on the eventual death of three young half-Indians who are removed from
the Crags and sent to an ill-planned reservation in the hot Sacramento Valley
far from the cool mountain air. Miller's introduction contains a forceful presentation
of his concern for the Indian : "And yet you believe man-hunting is over
in America! It is impossible to write with composure or evenness on this subject.
One wants to rise up and crush things....Ages may roll by. We may build a city
over every dead tribe's bones. We may bury the last Indian deep as the eternal
gulf. But these records will remain, and will rise up in testimony against us
to the last day of our race" (pp. 15-16). Contains a short but vivid poem
about the mountain titled: "Mount Shasta" (p. 17) as well as several
Throughout the novel Miller manages to combines his moral message with poetic descriptions of the land, and he adds his trademark evocative theme of the natural beauty of an exotic young woman. For example, of the camp scene of the three young fugitives high in the Crags he says: "Great gnarled and knotty trees clung to the mountain side beyond, and a little to the left a long, thin cataract, which, from the valley far below, looked like a snowy plume, came pitching down through the tree tops. It had just been let loose from the hand of God-this sheen of shining water. Back and beyond all this, a peak of snow, a great pyramid and shining shaft of snow, with a crown of clouds, pierced heaven."
"Stealthily, and on tip-toe, two armed men, both deeply disguised in great black beards, and in good clothes, stepped into this empty little camp....These were manacles! Irons! Chains for human hands!...They were sent to take John Logan, Carrie and Johnny, to the Reservation--the place most hated, dreaded, abhorred of all earthly places, the Reservation! Back of these two men lay a deeper, a more damning motive for the capture of the girl than the United States was really responsible for; for the girl, as we have seen, was very beautiful. This rare wild flower had now almost matured in the hot summer sun just past" (p. 83-85). 20. Literature: Joaquin Miller. [MS212].
[MS211]. Miller, Joaquin 1837-1913. Damming the Sacramento. In: Miller, Joaquin 1837-1913. Memorie and Rime. New York: Funk and Wagnall's, 1884. pp. 59-72. Also published in The Century Ilustrated Monthly Magazine, 1882, Vol. 24 (New Series Vol. 2), pp. 396-400. Story about building a gold miner's 'wing-dam' near Portuguese Flat on the Sacramento river. Portuguese Flat is about 35 miles south of Mt. Shasta. 20. Literature: Joaquin Miller. [MS211].
[MS209]. Miller, Joaquin 1837-1913. An Elk Hunt in the Sierras. Miller, Joaquin 1837-1913. Memorie and Rime. New York: Funk and Wagnall's, 1884. pp. 72-79. Contains passages about Miller's friend Mountain Joe, elk hunting on Mount Shasta, and Miller's Indian sweetheart. Describing his time in the Redding area, Miller says : "Often and often I climbed the highest mountain looking away toward Mount Shasta to the north. Somebody was waiting up there, I knew. I knew that two dark eyes were peering through the dense wood toward the south; two soft brown hands parting the green foliage, looking out the way that I should come at last" (p. 73). The stories about the now extinguished herds of elk which roamed the base of Mount Shasta are fascinating tales, among Miller's best. 20. Literature: Joaquin Miller. [MS209].
[MS208]. Miller, Joaquin 1837-1913. Old California. In: Miller, Joaquin 1837-1913. Memorie and Rime. New York: Funk and Wagnall's, 1884. pp. 51-59. Contains statements about the "Battle of Castle Crags." Published in 1884, Miller purports that this story was a personal journal entry written in 1871 (obviously an incorrect date because of a reference to Captain Jack of 1873 Modoc war fame in the same pages). About the battle he writes: "I spent a week at Soda Springs, near Mount Shasta, in sight of our old battle ground in Castle Rocks, or Castillo del Diablo, as it was then called. I tried to find some of the men who had fought in that little battle. But one white man remained. At the time of this fight, which took place on the 15th of June, 1855 ..." (p. 55). 20. Literature: Joaquin Miller. [MS208].
[MS210]. Miller, Joaquin 1837-1913. The Pit River Massacre. In: Miller, Joaquin 1837-1913. Memorie and Rime. New York: Funk and Wagnall's, 1884. pp. 80-88. Joaquin Miller tells the story of visiting the Pit River massacre site where he narrowly missed getting killed himself. This is a more elaborate version of the story as it was told in his Unwritten History: Life Amongst the Modocs novel of 1873. 20. Literature: Joaquin Miller. [MS210].
[MS367]. Miller, Joaquin 1837-1913. Songs of the Mexican Seas. Boston, Mass.: Roberts Brothers, 1887. Book of poems about Mexico and Central America. Not about Mount Shasta, but the introductory note by Miller is dated "Mount Shasta, California, A.D. 1887." In the introductory note Miller discusses his foreign travels to Mexico and "the remoter shores of the Gulf." He then says "From the heart of the Sierra [meaning Mt. Shasta] where I once more hear the awful heart-throbs of Nature, I now intrust the first reception of these lessons entirely to my own country. And may I not ask in return, now at the last, when the shadows begin to grow long, something of that consideration which, thus far, has been accorded almost entirely by strangers?" 20. Literature: Joaquin Miller. [MS367].
[MS258]. Miller, Joaquin 1837-1913. My
Own Story. Chicago, Ill.: Belford-Clarke Co., 1890. An extensively revised
edition of Miller's 1873 book, Unwritten History: Life Amongst the Modocs. With
a new introduction by Miller, new illustrations, and all new chapter titles.
The new introduction by Miller contains the following short account: "It
is a marvel that the writer, with his impetuosity (want of common sense), survived
even a portion of those days. For example, returning weary and half-blinded
by snow from an unsuccessful hunt, a chasm was encountered. His companions picked
their way cautiously around; but he audaciously tried to leap it. By the sheerest
chance he struck a narrow ledge some twenty feet below, and was fished out by
his Indian companions. But his hat and gun are still in that bottomless chasm
of Mount Shasta" (p. v).
Miller also explains that the first edition of Unwritten History, Life Amongst the Modocs was "...the work of a few weeks. A war of extermination, it seemed to me, was being waged against my best friends, and it was imperative that I should strike hard and at once. And so, in great haste, and with a confusion of fact and fiction, a volume was brought out ..." (p. vi). The new and revised edition of 1890, under the title of My Own Story, is so extensively revised that it is essentially a different book.
Miller dedicates this book to "The Dearest Friend of My Life in the Sierras and Later Wanderings in the Old World, Colonel James Vaughn Thomas, of Leon, Nicaragua, Who is named and Known in these Pages as "THE PRINCE."
Like the 1874 first American edition this revised novel begins with the sentence "Lone as God, and white as a winter moon, Mount Shasta starts up sudden and solitary from the heart of the great black forests of Northern California." Note that the original 1873 first edition published in England began "Lonely as God..." 20. Literature: Joaquin Miller. [MS258].
[MS204]. Miller, Joaquin 1837-1913. A Bear on Fire. In: Miller, Joaquin 1837-1913. True Bear Stories. Chicago, Ill.: Rand McNally and Company, 1900. pp. 1-28. One of Miller's best bear stories. Begins with : "It is now more than a quarter of a century since I saw the woods of Mount Shasta in flames, and beasts of all sorts, even serpents, crowded together; but I can never forget, never!" (p. 13). 20. Literature: Joaquin Miller. [MS204].
[MS202]. Miller, Joaquin 1837-1913. A Fat Little Editor and Three Little 'Browns'. In: Miller, Joaquin 1837-1913. True Bear Stories. Chicago, Ill.: Rand McNally and Company, 1900. pp. 68-75. Late in his life Joaquin Miller and his friends purchased a plot of land one mile east of the upper canyon of the Sacramento River. It was near Mount Shasta. It is not known exactly where this land was located, but this story gives clues to the location of 'Mount Sinai' as he calls it : "This Mount Sinai is not a town; it is a great spring of cold water that leaps from the high, rocky front of a mountain which we have located as a summer home in the Sierras--myself and a few other scribes of California" (p. 69). In the story Miller relates the misadventures of a friend who gets beaten up by a scraggly mother bear. 20. Literature: Joaquin Miller. [MS202].
[MS90]. Miller, Joaquin 1837-1913. The Great Grizzly Bear. In: Miller, Joaquin 1837-1913. True Bear Stories. Chicago, Ill.: Rand McNally and Company, 1900. pp. 96-105. This story first appeared in Miller's 1873 Life Amongst the Modocs. Interesting and complex story of how the Great Spirit and the Grizzly bear came to create a new race, which we call Indians. Mount Shasta is created by the Great Spirit as his home lodge and 'Little Butte' (present-day Black Butte) is created by the Grizzlies as a home for the Great Spirit's lost daughter and her Grizzly husband. Unfortunately, the Great Spirit did not approve of the marriage, and the children (the Indians) from the union were sent into the wild. 20. Literature: Joaquin Miller. [MS90].
[MS205]. Miller, Joaquin 1837-1913. My First Grizzly. In: Miller, Joaquin 1837-1913. True Bear Stories. Chicago, Ill.: Rand McNally and Company, 1900. pp. 36-43. Joaquin Miller tells how he hunted his first grizzly in the upper Sacramento River canyon. Also in this story Miller mentions being wounded at the battle of 'Castle Rocks' and tells how his father came to visit him during his convalescence. 20. Literature: Joaquin Miller. [MS205].
[MS203]. Miller, Joaquin 1837-1913. Swimming with a Bear. In: Miller, Joaquin 1837-1913. True Bear Stories. Chicago, Ill.: Rand McNally and Company, 1900. pp. 56-67. Miller begins this reminiscence with the question "What made these ugly rows of scars on my left hand?" (p. 56). This autobiographical account, which takes place near Castle Crags on Soda Creek just off the Sacramento River, tells how Miller was surprised by a bear, and vice versa, the end result being a row of teeth marks on Miller's hand. 20. Literature: Joaquin Miller. [MS203].
[MS206]. Miller, Joaquin 1837-1913. Twin Babes. In: Miller, Joaquin 1837-1913. True Bear Stories. Chicago, Ill.: Rand McNally and Company, 1900. pp. 44-55. A far-fetched story about two small bears who are raised by Miller and Mountain Joe at their 'hotel' at Lower Soda Springs near Castle Crags. The bears are so well-trained that they can even wait tables for the guests. 20. Literature: Joaquin Miller. [MS206].
[MS359]. Miller, Joaquin 1837-1913. The
Story and Glory of Shasta. In: Sunset . Oct., 1903. Vol. 11. No. 6. pp.
499-504. Illustrated by A. Methfessel. Miller writes a retrospective article
about his old home area. He begins with a passage which certainly must have
helped push along the idea of a French origin to the name Shasta. He says "Shasta,
the comeliest mountain on the continent, for centuries marked the northmost
limit of the Spanish possessions and the southmost limit of the French, afterward
known as the Oregon Territory. The name is of French origin, meaning chaste,
pure. The mountain was always known in early days as Chast¸ [ˇ?] Butte. There
are 'buttes' named by the French, all along, from Montana, through Idaho, Washington,
Oregon, to Mount Shasta."
This article by Miller was the lead article in that month's Sunset which was a very popular magazine of its time published by the Southern Pacific company. No doubt Miller's wide reputation and the wide circulation of the magazine helped instill in the public mind this interpretation of the origin of the name "Shasta."
Note that it is not known if 'Chast¸' as printed in the article should have been printed as 'Chastˇ', the latter being by far historically more prevalent. Miller's idea of the French possession of the Oregon Territory is novel and incorrect. However, it is true that the Hudson's Bay Company fur trapping expeditions through the Mt. Shasta region, although led by Englishmen, were composed of mostly French-speaking personnel.
This is a beautifully illustrated article, with original art showing Mount Shasta, Miller himself, the Indians of old in their lodge, and the Indian legend of the Great Spirit and the Grizzly. Miller writes some doubtful facts about helping lead the first party of men and women to the summit in 1854. His knowledge of three different routes up the mountain is seemingly accurate. 20. Literature: Joaquin Miller. [MS359].
[MS127]. Miller, Joaquin 1837-1913. An
Introduction. In : Miller, Joaquin 1837-1913. Joaquin Miller's Poems:
Volume One. An Introduction, Etc. San Francisco, Calif.: Whitaker and
Ray Company, 1909. pp. 1-82. 'Bear Edition' Six volumes. 'An Introduction'
is actually a Joaquin Miller autobiography dated 1908 and written from his home
at 'the Hights' above Oakland, Calif. There are five separately titled short
chapters to this autobiography : I. Camps and Cabins; 2. Life Among the Indians
of Indiana; 3. Fremont and My First Shoes; 4. Papa Takes Us to the Circus; 5.
Crossing the Plains. This autobiography appears to have been written specifically
for this six volume set of Miller's poems
(and plays), and as such there may be biographical material here not found in any of the other Miller autobiographies. Included is a retelling of the story of the battle of Castle Crags (pp. 72-78) and a discussion of Yreka's Dr. Ream, who was Miller's close friend (p. 68). 20. Literature: Joaquin Miller. [MS127].
[MS1093]. Miller, Joaquin 1837-1913.
A Shasta Tale of Love [poem]. In : Miller, Joaquin 1837-1913. Joaquin
Miller's Poems. San Francisco, Calif.: Whitaker and Ray Company, 1909.
pp. 90-92. 'Bear Edition.' 88 line poem.
Poem begins: 'I heard a tale long, long ago,/Where I had gone apart to pray/By Shasta's pyramid of snow,/That touches me unto this day.'
Poem ends: 'For lost Love, laid that wintry day/To warm a hearthstone far away./Poor loveless, homeless beast, I keep/Your lost Love warm for you, and, too,/A ca–on cool and deep.' 20. Literature: Joaquin Miller. [MS1093].
[MS215]. Miller, Joaquin 1837-1913. Joaquin
Miller: His California Diary Beginning in 1855 & Ending in 1857. Seattle,
Wash.: Dogwood Press, 1936. Only 700 copies printed. Miller spent four years
as a teenager in far-northern California. During those years he kept a diary
which contained many different types of observations: purchases of food or tools,
predicaments and pleasures, poems, love letters, etc. Because many of Miller's
later autobiographical stories contain contradictions of time and place, the
original diary is an invaluable aid to determining where Miller lived during
these exciting four years from 1854 to 1857. Many of the brief accounts found
in this diary later were developed into published stories. The battles at Devil's
Castle (p. 54) and Pit River (p. 69) are mentioned here. Some of his comments
are controversial for his time. For example, while living with an Indian tribe
at Mt. Shasta's Squaw Valley, he says : "I say that in their prayers offered
up to the God of their being there is more true faith, more pure religion &
less hypocrisy than there is in the best branch of worshipers that the Christian
religion ever gave birth to" (p. 66).
This published edition of Miller's diary includes several photographs of pages from the handwritten diary itself, including a page written in 1856 at Lower Soda Springs where Miller lived with Mountain Joe. From the diary one can work out the sequence of Miller's main habitations: Humbug Creek (near Yreka); Lower Soda Springs (near Castle Crags); Squaw Town (near Redding); Squaw Valley (near McCloud); and McAdams Creek (near Yreka). 20. Literature: Joaquin Miller. [MS215].
[MS289]. Miller, Joaquin 1837-1913. Early California Mining and the Argonauts. In: Muir, John 1838-1914. Picturesque California and the Region West of the Rocky Mountains. Philadelphia, Pa.: Running Press, 1976. pp. 277-288. Story first published in 1888. Constitutes 'Chapter XII' of Picturesque California. This 1976 edition is a photographically reproduced reprint of the 1894 first abridged edition of Picturesque California. Picturesque California began as a periodical in 1887, and Miller's chapter on the Shasta Region was first printed in 1888. This chapter on mining on the Klamath River and around the hills of Yreka is an excellent recreation of the life that Miller lived while in the Mount Shasta region between 1854 and 1857. Miller mentions Mount Shasta only in passing. Miller's dramatic flair is evident in these stories. For example, Miller writes : "In the winter of 1854 I was employed to push a tub along a wooden track underground. It was a new tunnel; everything about it new, experimental. The mouth of the low, narrow tunnel opened out toward the sun and the swift, clear Klamath River. I was employed because I was so small. The two men worked on their knees and breasts. On the fifth day the hillside slid in and one of the men was crushed. The water came in. My head was caught up between two timbers, lifting my face above the water. I could hear the man groaning till the water reached where he lay ..." 20. Literature: Joaquin Miller. [MS289].
[MS220]. Miller, Joaquin 1837-1913. Game
Regions of the Upper Sacramento. In: Muir, John 1838-1914. Picturesque
California and the Region West of the Rocky Mountains. Philadelphia, Pa.:
Running Press, 1976. pp. 147-160. Story first published in 1888. Constitutes
'Chapter VII.' of Picturesque California. Excellent stories about the wild
Mt. Shasta region. Miller's familiarity of the region stems from his teenage
years, from 1854 to 1857, when he lived with miners and Indians alike about
the base of Mt. Shasta. Thus in this chapter he celebrates the region in his
singular style: "And not because the first and best years of my life lay
there, not because I owe all I hope to be to this mighty, throbbing heart of
roaring, white waters; but solely because there is gathered in and about this
preeminent place more of the great things of earth than enter into the delights
of a strong, healthful man in love with nature than can be found in any other
one part of the world" (p. 147).
Miller's enthusiasms bound, almost leap off the page. He was a born champion of the underdog, he knew the value of the freedom, and feared the demoralizing effects of civilization as it stripped away self-reliance. Thus he begins his chapter with a poem : "My mountains must be free/ They hurl oppression back;/ They keep the boon of Liberty" (p. 147).
When Miller explains the experience of meeting the grizzly bear in the Mt. Shasta woods, he does so with a style that convincingly mixes enthusiasm with excitement: "Quite often when and where you think you are alone, just when you begin to be certain that there is not a single grizzly bear in the mountains, when you begin to breathe the musky perfume of Mother Nature as she shakes out the twilight stars in her hair, and you start homeward, there stands your long lost bear in your path! And your hair stands up! And your bear stands up! And you wish you had not lost him! And you wish you had not found him! And you start home! And you go the other way, glad, glad to the heart if he does not come tearing on after you."
Miller retells a complex Mt. Shasta Indian legend. The capture and 'marriage' of the Great Spirit's daughter, whose union with her capturers, the grizzly bears, begat the Indian. Miller includes descriptive details, such as the three great black spots on the south side of the mountain created by the creator as he angrily strode down the mountain and away forever.
Miller's chapter was one of several he wrote for the Picturesque California anthology. Picturesque California's stated purpose was to be a literary and artistic showcase of California's scenic wealth. Miller's chapter about the mountain is among the best Mount Shasta articles ever produced, not only for its literary skill, but also for its art. In the original 1888 edition this chapter contained four major Mt. Shasta paintings by Thomas Hill, the renowned 19th century California painter, as well as paintings and illustrations of the region's game and scenery by other American and Californian artists. 20. Literature: Joaquin Miller. [MS220].
[MS216]. Miller, Joaquin 1837-1913. The Battle of Castle Crags. In: Rosenus, Alan. Selected Writings of Joaquin Miller. No place: Urion Press, 1977. First published as a pamphlet, circa 1894, issued as a promotional booklet for the Tavern of Castle Crags (see Blanck, Jacob., 'Bibliography of American Literature,' #13837). The 1894 booklet includes ten photographs and single page descriptions of 'The Soda Springs' by E. McD, J. and 'The Tavern of Castle Crags' which are not in the Rosenus selection. Part fiction and part fact, this account is only one of several Joaquin Miller wrote about this 1855 battle. But probably this widely distributed pamphlet rekindled local interest, for Miller's famous 'Life Among the Modocs' was most popular earlier, in the 1870s, in the now enduring legend of the Battle of Castle Crags. The pamphlet contains details of the battle itself; for example, Miller explains that the fight took place in the saddle region of a ridge between Castle Lake and Battle Rock. Battle Rock, according to Miller, is that tall spire located far in the northwest section of the Crags. It is the thumb-like spire rising above Lake Siskiyou when viewed from present-day Mount Shasta City. Miller describes how around 1892 he returned to the battle area accompanied by Gibson, who was the white leader of the fight. With them was an Indian man who had also been in the fight, on Miller's side, but at different place during the battle. This Indian's story, first published in this pamphlet, adds much to the dramatic narrative, especially the part about two bloodied enemy warriors being thrown down into Castle Lake (p. 35). 20. Literature: Joaquin Miller. [MS216].
[MS217]. Miller, Joaquin 1837-1913. Indian Tongue Spoken on (manuscript torn) of the Sacramento River. In: Rosenus, Alan. Selected Writings of Joaquin Miller. No place: Urion Press, 1977. pp. 181-187. First time published. Original manuscript is in the Special Collections department of the Honnold Library, Claremont Colleges. A long and detailed list of Wintu Indian words with Miller's English translations. Compiled by Miller himself during the mid-1850s. Also includes three paragraphs in the Wintu language with parallel translation. The paragraphs give a strong indication that Miller was living with a Wintu speaking tribe during his much discussed year spent with an Indian woman in McCloud's Squaw Valley at the base of Mt. Shasta. Consider the following: "Yapton Pakon net Wintune Pakon nish hinna"; it means "white man marry my Indian woman? me love" (p. 185). 20. Literature: Joaquin Miller. [MS217].
[MS806]. Miller, Joaquin 1837-1913. Life
Amongst the Modocs: Unwritten History. San Jose, Calif.: Urion Press, 1987.
Reprint of the first edition published by Richard Bentley and Sons in London
in 1873. The first American edition appeared in 1874 under the reversed title
'Unwritten History: Life Amongst the Modocs.' New introduction to the 1987 edition
copyright 1982 by Alan Rosenus; a 1972 edition by the Orion Press contains a
different introduction by Rosenus. "Lonely as God, and white as a winter
moon, Mount Shasta starts up sudden and solitary from the heart of the great
black forests of Northern California" (p.17). So begins the most famous
book every written about Mt. Shasta. But Miller explains that Mt. Shasta had
a deeper significance for him beyond its beauty. Referring to the decline of
the Indians he says: "Mt. Shasta was before me. For the first time I now
looked upon the mountain in whose shadows so many tragedies were to be enacted..."
Note that this important and entertaining book was based upon Miller's real life Mt. Shasta region adventures. Miller was the only one of the 19th Century's famous California authors who actually lived for an extended time in a real frontier of the West. For four years, between 1854 and 1857, Miller lived as a miner and mining camp worker in Siskiyou and Shasta counties. Part of the time was a stay of a year with an Indian wife in an Indian tribe in McCloud's Squaw Valley, cut off completely from white society. This one year especially gave him an unparalleled insight into racial relations between whites and Indians. His insights into the poetic Indian mind were a true revelation to many of his readers. He states that: "I must write of myself, because I was among these people of whom I write, though often in the background, giving place to the inner and actual lives of a silent and mysterious people, a race of prophets; poets without the gift of expression--a race that has often, almost always, mistreated, and never understood--a race that is moving noiselessly from the face of the earth..." (p. 6).
Miller may be credited with the first written statement of plans for a sort of 'national park' for Mt. Shasta. His idea was to create an Indian Republic of the area. He says: "Here for the first time a plan which had been forming in my mind ever since I first found myself among these people began to take definite shape. It was a bold and ambitious enterprise, and was no less a project than the establishment of a sort of Indian Republic-- 'a wheel within a wheel' with the grand old cone Mount Shasta for the head or centre" (p. 266).
The actual identities of the persons who served as the models for the characters of this autobiographical novel have been the object of research by scores of scholars. The main characters, besides the narrator (Miller himself), of the "Prince," "Mountain Joe," "Paquita," and "Klamat" still live on as archtypical anti-heroes of the West.
The novel would be better named as "Life Amongst the Wintu," or "Life Amongst the Shasta." The Modoc Indian wars were a front-page news story in London in 1873. Miller took advantage of the free publicity and called the Indians Modocs; his book was enormously successful in England and the United States. Joaquin Miller, perhaps more than any other writer of the 19th century, put Mt. Shasta into the world's literary landscape.
Note that the first edition of 1873 begins "Lonely as God and white as a winter moon...." In 1874 the first American edition changed the first word to "Lone..." In 1890 Miller totally revised the book and published it under the title My Own Story again beginning the story with the words "Lone as God..., " indicating that he preferred the adjective, not the adverb. 20. Literature: Joaquin Miller. [MS806].
[MS338]. [Miller, Joaquin 1837-1913. [Joaquin Miller and O.C. Applegate at Crater Lake, 1903] [photograph]. In: Table Rock Sentinel: The Magazine of the Southern Oregon Historical Society. Jan/Feb, 1990. Vol. 10. No. 1. p.12. Journal of the Southern Oregon Historical Society. SOHS photo #2630. Photograph of the two poets, O. C. Applegate and Joaquin Miller; both men with flowing beards. 20. Literature: Joaquin Miller. [MS338].
[MS1052]. Peterson, Martin Severin. Joaquin Miller: Literary Frontiersman. Stanford University, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1937. A biography of Joaquin Miller and an analysis of Joaquin Miller's contributions to American Literature, though the author places little emphasis on Miller's life with the Mt. Shasta Indians or on Miller's later humanitarian efforts. Focus is on Miller's literary techniques and sources. Contains an extensive bibliography. 20. Literature: Joaquin Miller. [MS1052].
[MS316]. Joaquin Miller Gives Lecture.
In: Rippon, Cy and Rippon, Sally. Pioneering With Electricity in Siskiyou
County. Weed, Calif.: 1985. p. 216. Volume 1. Article first published
in 1899. Newspaper article from 1899: "Joaquin Miller Gives Lecture."
" December 12, 1899 - Joaquin Miller, the distinguished poet of the Sierras,
gave a lecture in Yreka last Saturday night, under sponsorship of Yreka Grammar
School Teacher's Club, which drew a crowded house. His lecture was on "Lessons
Not Found in Books," believing in lessons learned from nature. Miller,
who cooked for 27 miners at Deadwood in this county during the 1850s, said that
whatever else he may be guilty of, it would be slander to accuse him of burning
the beans as Chef de Cuisine of the Deadwood mining camp boarding house, explaining
that the experience then as a cook was very useful to him in his sojourn a year
ago to the Klondike gold fields. Deadwood during the 1850s was the next town
in size to Yreka in this county in population and importance, located at the
junction of Deadwood and Cherry Creeks. Once a booming camp, nothing much remains
now to show that the town of Deadwood ever existed."
This newspaper article, about one of Miller's many return trips to northern California, gives clues to where and what Miller did for part of his early time in the Mount Shasta region. Note also that this article gives the title "Lessons Not Learned In Books" which is a very good way of summing up Miller's unconventional philosophy. 20. Literature: Joaquin Miller. [MS316].
[MS1185]. Rosenus, Alan. Joaquin Miller
and His Shadow. In: Western American Literature. May, 1976. Vol. 11. No.
1. pp. 51-59. Using Jungian psychological concepts, the author interprets Miller's
Mount Shasta novel, Unwritten History, as Miller's vehicle for self-revelation
and expiation. The question posed in this study is: "How does Miller's
persona in Unwritten History manage to take the paradise he has discovered in
the Mt. Shasta region and make it into a place of self-betrayal and psychological
crucifixion?" Note that Miller actually spent his teenage years in the
1850s as a Mt. Shasta region miner and lived in Mt. Shasta's Squaw Valley for
a year among the Indians there. He was an Indian sympathizer and had a child
by an Indian wife.
Rosenus states: "In his New World of complete liberty, fighting for a just cause and aided by his beautiful Indian wife, his power unlimited by law, the narrator has almost mythic status.....But...he falls victim of his 'shadow.' Willy nilly, without conscious awareness of his underside, he oscillates, first creating, then destroying, now idealizing, now undermining." 20. Literature: Joaquin Miller. [MS1185].
[MS2044]. Sullivan, William L. A Deeper Wild. Eugene, OR.: Navillus Press, 2000. 460 p.; ill., maps; 24 cm. Contains bibliography of works by Joaquin Miller (p. 482-483) and biographies of Joaquin Miller (p. 483). "William L. Sullivan's historical novel tracks down one of the frontier West's most mysterious characters - Joaquin Miller, the swashbuckling pony express rider famed as the 'Poet of the Sierras... Sullivan's retelling of Joaquin Miller's adventures blends the authenticity of a biography with the fire of a Western novel." (Book jacket) 20. Literature: Joaquin Miller. [MS2044].
[MS463]. Wagner, Harr 1857. Joaquin
Miller and His Other Self. San Francisco, Calif.: Harr Wagner Publishing
Company, 1929. Harr Wagner was Joaquin Miller's friend and editor for over 20
years. Wagner lived for many years at Miller's art colony estate called "The
Hights," in the hills behind Oakland, Calif. Together Miller and Wagner
took journeys including at least one in 1898 to the Mt. Shasta region. Wagner's
account of that Shasta journey in particular is interesting, for Miller told
a story of his youth too risquˇ and amusing to have been included in any of
Miller's books. And during the same 1898 trip, Miller revealed to Wagner the
identity of the Indian mother (Amanda Brock, and still living in McCloud in
1898), who bore Cali-Shasta, Miller's half-Indian daughter (p. 237-240).
Wagner explains in so many words that Miller was both saint and sinner, and had little connection between the two halves of his personality; hence the ...His Other Self title.
As a whole the book is not a critical biography, but the friendship of the author and Miller is apparent throughout, and glimpses of the life at Miller's famous Oakland "Hights" make the book invaluable for Miller scholars. 20. Literature: Joaquin Miller. [MS463].
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