Following the first discovery of gold in Oregon on Josephine Creek, in late December of 1851 or early January of 1852, packers John R. Poole and James Cluggage who owned a company called Jackass Freight, were packing supplies from the Willamette Valley to Sacramento, California. The two men decided to camp near the present site of Jacksonville, Oregon. Needing water for their animals, the two men headed up the gulch (a tributary of Daisy Creek) and choosing a likely looking place, began digging a hole in the hope that it would fill with enough water to give their mules a drink. Having moved a little bit of material, they spotted pieces of color in the hole that were large enough to be visible to the eye. The two men had accidentily stumbled into one of the largest gold strikes in Oregon history.
They called their find Rich Gulch and soon extended their search to nearby Jackson Creek, where they found extensive amounts of course placer gold throughout its gravels. With great foresight, the two men filed on the land adjoining their find, laid out a townsite and both became wealthy, influential men in the brand new community of Table Rock City, Oregon Territory. Today, we know the town that they founded by its current name: Jacksonville.
Miners flocked into the area and Jacksonville promptly grew into the largest community north of San Francisco, its size soon exceeding that of Oregon’s Territorial Capital of Salem. Jacksonville was named the county seat of Jackson County. Major gold strikes were made throughout the area surrounding Jacksonville, most notably on Jackson and Daisy Creeks and thousands of ounces of gold, in both nugget and dust form flowed into town, bringing instant wealth to both miners and merchants alike. One resident who became very wealthy indeed was local banker C.C. Beekman, who’s Beekman Bank held the distinction of being the only bank in United States that charged its clients for the privelage of banking and did not pay interest on accounts. It is said, that during their time, Beekman’s scales weighed over ten million dollars worth of gold.
At today’s gold prices, this would be nearly three-quarters of a billion dollars worth of gold!
~ Kerby Jackson, Josephine County, Oregon