At a time when newspapers didn’t always let facts get in the way of a good story, the San Francisco Examiner and the Roseburg Review published an interview in 1890 of fictional old miner Phil Maguire by Charles L. Mosher, grandson of Oregon’s first territorial governor, Gen. Joseph Lane.
It seems Maguire was panning gold near Roseburg when he dallied at a delicious blackberry patch also favored by a lot of bears. Suddenly, a stand of trees began swaying and rubbing together in the wind, making what Maguire called “the most unearthly squeaking, moaning and wailing notes.” Then he spied a dozen bears standing upright and square-dancing to the sound as a big grizzly called out their moves.
Enraged at being discovered, the bears chased Maguire up a tree. Failing to reach him, they roared to his camp and killed his pack mule.
Back in Roseburg, Maguire lamented, “I got eight ounces of gold dust out of my claim, but as my ticket to the ball of the bears cost me $100 – that’s what (had) been offered to me for my pack mule – you can see I didn’t come out much ahead.”
Sources: Mosher, Charles L. "The Bear Story." Southern Oregon Digital Archives. Southern Oregon University, SODA. Web. 22 Jan. 2015. <http://soda.sou.edu:8080/soda/search/browse.html?awcollection=History&awbrowse=field11|Title#metadata/2587&library1_lib>.