I offer thanks to
relatives, and ancestors whose strength of purpose
led me to my own. A special thanks to my co-author,
Rev. Marilyn A. Riedel, for her deep love and dedication to me and this project.
Without her tireless effort and selfless interest,
this liberating history of Oregon would never have been written.
Chapter 52: Fort Yamhill 1856
By a perverse quirk of history, Fort Yamhill, the most important of the military posts associated with the Coast Reservation, has in all printed sources been incorrectly located. The only existing plan of the fort (which was named for the Yamel, who, along with the Atfalati, belonged to the northern dialect division of the Kalapooian linguistic stock) drawn in 1856, and the only census which enumerated the garrison, 1860, support this view. A letter written in 1856 by Cpt. Andrew Jackson Smith furnishes another clue:
The post is located, just within the reservation on the road from the settlements at the only point of ingress and egress on this portion of the reservation for teams and horsemen.
The route of this road from the Grand
Agency to Willamina
has changed. It is now Highway 22, winding through the gorge of
Creek to Yamhill River. When Fort Yamhill flourished, the road
the range of hills between the Grand Ronde and the Yamhill
a mile northeast of Valley Junction. Gen. Oliver Otis Howard
traveled the road in 1876 from Willamina to the Grand Ronde
"strong, high, two-seated wagon" reached the site of Fort
Yamhill "by a
mile of ascent at the close of a long and hard road..." The map
Grand Ronde Agency in the Annual Report of the Commissioner of
for 1879 shows this old route. Remnants of it are preserved on
Mountain quadrangle map of 1941, in the form of a
in two unconnected sections.
The old route of the road establishes the site of Fort Yamhill. A marker placed on the Three Rivers Highway in 1926 located the site through a liberal display of imagination. Nothing is left of this attempt of the Yamhill Chapter of the DAR except "Kissin' Rock," a seven ton boulder situated half a mile north of Valley Junction.
The disappearance of the tablet may have been a blessing in disguise. Sheridan (1831-1888) did not arrive at Fort Yamhill before April 25, 1856. To reach the site, which is about 300 yards east of the monument, it is necessary to descend into the gorge, cross Cosper Creek, and climb 200 feet up the steep, densely covered eastern side of the gorge. Obviously Cosper Creek gorge was not the route from the Grand Ronde Agency to the Yamhill Valley until modern construction methods opened a path for the highway.
Valley Junction on Highway 18, is the best point of departure from which to locate the site. Twelve hundred yards north an unimproved road enters Highway 22 from the right. It is the remnant of the old road formerly connecting the agency and the settlements. Two hundred yards east-southeast on this dry-weather road two houses and several farm buildings occupy the approximate area where the sutler's store stood. The "gentle western slope" which the fort commanded had not changed. The old road, roughly the northern boundary of the camp, crosses the mountain ridge in the form of a cow path. The highest point offers a magnificent view into "a small, somewhat circular valley, called the Grand Ronde" (northwest) and into the Yamhill Valley in the direction of Willamina and Sheridan (east-southeast). Sheridan might have stood here when he went "out early in the morning to a commanding point above the post," from which he "could see a long distance down the road as it ran through the valley of the Yamhill..."
Furthermore, no sketches or photographs of Fort Yamhill have been found, and the few reports of eyewitnesses fail to convey a clear picture of the post. One description, combining imagination with reality, embedded in a saccharine love tale of the 1890s by Samuel L. Simpson, testifies to the "antebellum gaiety and folly" at the fort. Simpson, the son of postmaster and sutler Ben Simpson, clerked as a youth in his father’s store at the post:
The fort, young Simpson recalled, occupied the sloping top of a great hill which, standing at the gateway of the Grand Ronde Valley, was naturally adapted for military occupation. The crest of the hill made a semi-circular sweep in the east and south, the found falling away abruptly from its clear-cut rim to the winding course of Yamhill River, far below. On the east, too, a phalanx of firs, scaling the rugged heights, waved their green plumes over their morning shadows across the smooth plateau of the parade grounds. The other buildings of the post, soldiers' quarters, mess room, hospital, commissary, guard room, etc. occupied the remaining sides of the quadrangle, all marvelously white in their constantly refreshed coasts of whitewash. On the western side of the quadrangle, with fine oaks flanking it on the north, stood the regulation blockhouse, strong, dark, menacing. A stately flagstaff, supported by two gleaming brass field pieces, stood in the center of the parade ground.
Reportedly the buildings at the fort were crude structures of log and rough sawed lumber. In 1888, Sheridan in his Personal Memoirs,
In those days, the government didn't provide very liberally for sheltering its soldiers and officers, and men were frequently forced to eke out parsimonious appropriations by toilsome work, or go without shelter in most in hospitable regions. Of course this post was no exception to the general rule, and as all hands were occupied in its construction, and I the only officer present, I was kept busily employed in supervising matters, both as a commandant and quartermaster until July, when Sgt. D. A. Russell... was ordered to take command, and I was retired from the first part of my duties.
The plan of 1856, with the help of a few
locates the various buildings. The officers' quarters occupied
desirable site, far off from the noisy blacksmith shop.
laundress' quarters, bakery, stable, and granary were scattered
area of approximately 1,300 square feet below the officers'
barracks were cluttered about a central parade ground, with a
and flagpole in the center. This area is now a grain field. The
a power line traversing it are numbered ST 27 2A, B and ST 26
rim above the grain field is—for eyes accustomed to waste and
natural resources—still "thickly timbered." Maple, wild cherry,
and white oak are "to be found at a few points." Grass and
feet high during the summer, gently veil the remnants of logging
In the distance stumps and fallen logs are hidden from view by
and scrub trees.
With the prosaic facts about Fort Yamhill buried in military archives, the memories of the survivors grew richer with the passing years, and Simpson's "regulation blockhouse" became a symbol. Today, the old stockade possesses all the requisites of a venerable historic relic. Its structure is, in fact, unique among the blockhouses on the Pacific Coast:
The upper block is of the same size as the lower, but turned on a true diagonal, with small hipped roofs on three corners of the lower part of the entrance platform ... on the fourth.
The Fighting Joes
Even before it became a museum piece,
blockhouse accumulated legends. Inevitably, because of his
career, the name of Sheridan dominates the fable of Fort
the most illustrious of a group of officers who, through their
at the post in Polk
helped to further the slogan of Yamhill County, "Where all great
He lost subsequently to pioneers and settlers who supposedly built Fort Yamhill as protection against the Tillamook in the winter of 1855, on the western slope of the mountain range between Grand Ronde and Yamhill Valley. Both stories are highly suggestive, but neither is persuasive.
There is no evidence to support the old view; Sheridan himself never claimed any credit for a blockhouse at Grand Ronde. And there is no evidence to support the new view; squatters built strong-holds against the Indians in the winter of 1855, but hardly at Grand Ronde, though Warren Vaughn locates a blockhouse at Eldridge Trask's land in Tillamook County, about 20 miles north-northeast of the agency. Palmer's employees, who established the agency at Grand Ronde in the winter of 1855-1856, did not mention a blockhouse in their reports. And the settlers of Yamhill County did not mention a blockhouse as their defense contribution when they protested against incarcerating Indians at Grand Ronde and demanded protection.
The gallery of legitimate heroes includes also 2nd Lt. William B. Hazen, Cpt. A. J. Smith, and Sgt. D. A. Russell. But in its diligent acquisition of suitable celebrities, the fable of Fort Yamhill has also usurped two "Fighting Joes," major generals Joseph Hooker (1814-1879) and Joseph Wheeler (1836-1906), who never served at the fort. The post returns do not mention any officer named Hooker; Joseph Hooker resigned his commission as lieutenant colonel on February 21, 1853, and did not return to the army until May 17, 1861, with the opening of the Civil War. He did, however, work as superintendent of military roads in Oregon from 1858 to 1859. Joseph Wheeler certainly never saw Fort Yamhill; the fable evidently substitutes him for 2nd Lt. James Wheeler, Company C, 1st Dragoons, who served from August 1856 to March 1857 and from April to June, 1857 as post adjutant; but Wheeler is not heroic material, having been cashiered on May 20, 1862.
Hazen Erects Blockhouse 1856
A fable is necessary if the ten painfully plain years of Fort Yamhill are to acquire glamour. Evidence indicates that 2nd lt. Hazen, commander of a detachment of Company D, 4th California Infantry, erected the blockhouse on March 25, 1856, and that it was located half a mile within the northern boundary of Polk County. "I shall proceed at once to build a blockhouse," Hazen informed the adjutant general in Washington DC on March 31, 1856, six days after establishing the camp at Grand Ronde,
as cases are now of frequent occasion, showing the treachery of Indian character and the necessity of such works of defense.
The memories of the Rogue River War were
in his mind. At Star Gulch on Applegate Creek he had observed
of blockhouses when his mountain Howitzer failed to subdue
log houses" fortified by Indians. He found no blockhouse at
he built one. But this achievement was not sufficiently
inclusion in the eight-page appendix of his Civil War memoirs,
In Indian Warfare. The accounts of Fort Yamhill in Sheridan's
Memoirs (1888) and Dr.
Rodney Glisan's Journal of Army Life also ignore the
Glisan arrived at the fort early in September 1856, and his
through February 10, 1865. Had its origin been unusual, these
would probably have commented on the fact. Even Simpson, with
interest in pioneers, saw in this structure no object of
In September, Cpt. Smith, following custom, chose the name for the post because it "is on the south fork of Yamhill River." Lt. Hazen supervised the erection of quarters and barracks. Three months later the commanding officer submitted a plan of the fort to the Department of the Pacific. Smith wrote:
The buildings are frame; weathered vertically with projecting roof, cottage style. It is intended that the kitchens, mess rooms, etc. in the soldiers' quarters shall be in the basement... Owing to the lateness of the season the quarters could not be finished inside this autumn.
Completion of the company quarters and the hospital was not reported until more than a year later. "To Lt. Sheridan," Cpt. Russell informed San Francisco on January 22, 1856,
in bringing the work at this post to this early completion, great credit is due, and I hardly know which is the more commendable, the energy, zeal, and uniform good judgment which he has carried on his work or the rigid economy he has exercised in all his expenditures.
That summer the garrison consisted of
men. The census of 1860 enumerated two commissioned officers and
men stationed at Fort Yamhill. During the Civil War the fort
character as a one company post. Three months after Appomatox,
its largest number of soldiers, 128 men of Company
D, 4th California Infantry, and Company A, First
Infantry. Eleven months later, in June, 1866, Fort
ceased to exist.
Sheridan served at Fort Yamhill under Sgt. Russell until Russell was called east in 1861, when Sheridan assumed full command.
Sheridan Crestfallen at Fort Yamhill
Sheridan had a particularly hard difficult time with the Indians during his stay at Fort Yamhill, although he spoke Chinook "fluently" by his own testimony in his Memoirs. After 16 Indians once shot an Indian "doctress" nearly at his feet, he went to deal with them in their own village. While he was explaining that the guilty persons must be delivered up for punishment, the situation grew sticky:
The conversation waxing hot and the Indians gathering close in around me, I unbuttoned the flap of my pistol holster, to the ready for any emergency. When the altercation became most bitter I put my hand to my hip to draw my pistol, but discovered it was gone—stolen by one of the rascals surrounding me. Finding myself unarmed, I modified my tone and manner to correspond with my helpless condition... As soon as an opportunity offered, and I could, without too much loss of self-respect, and without damaging my reputation among the Indians, I moved out to where the sergeant held my horse, mounted, and crossing the Yamhill River close by, called back in Chinook from the farther bank that "the 16 men who killed the woman must be delivered up, and my six-shooter also." This was responded to by contemptuous laughter, so I went back to the military post somewhat crestfallen...
A deal was made later with one of the Indian
who said Sheridan could kill one of the 16 men who had probably
fatal bullet, although 16 bullets were in the victim's body.
fellow was considered a bad Indian the tribe wanted to get rid
The other 15 surrendered to the army, and were made to work at
but eventually went back to farm their own land.
Sheridan remained in charge until September 1861, chafing under the enforced absence from fighting. He wrote,
On the day of the week our courier or messenger was expected back from Portland, I would go out early in the morning to a commanding point above the post, from which I could see a long distance down the road as it ran through the valley of the Yamhill, and there I would watch with anxiety for his coming, longing for good news.
When he was finally called he told his men he was going into war "to win a captain's spurs, or die with my boots on. Goodbye, boys, I may never see you again."
Blockhouse Moved to Dayton 1910
For ten years the dark hand hewn logs
the bulwark presented a striking contrast to the whitewashed
the army post. At noon, August 20, 1866, seven weeks after the
of Cpt. Charles Lafollett's company of the First Oregon Infantry
Fort Yamhill, Gilbert K. Litchfield, the last post sutler,
government property, netting $1,200 in greenbacks. He personally
the old blockhouse, paying $2.50 for it." Lafollett passed the
on to Grand Ronde Agency, while he was employed as agent from
to August 1871. The structure was used first for a jail for
and served later as a warehouse. It stood about where the Agency
Hall stood in 1944. For 40 years it was occasionally mentioned
of the Grand Ronde agents. Now and then rotten logs were
In December 1910, the Secretary of the Interior gave the blockhouse to the City of Dayton, whose interest in it was supported by the influence of Sen. George Earle Chamberlain, who was governor of Oregon 1903-1919. The townsfolk of Willamina and Sheridan and the Indians at Grand Ronde now became concerned about the "treasure," but were too late. A long procession of teamsters carried the dismantled relic into Dayton on June 9, 1911, unmolested by citizens of Sheridan who, a few weeks earlier, determined to prevent the disgrace. On Sheridan Day, Aug. 23, 1912, during the DAR reunion, the blockhouse was dedicated to Gen. Joel Palmer, first superintendent of Indian affairs in the Oregon Territory (1848-1858). and an address was given by Judge M . C. George.
The large Palmer House in Dayton was built in 1852. To this place came many notables of pre-Civil War times, including Cpt. U. S. Grant, who later became an general and the 18th president of the US (1869-1877), and Lt. Sheridan, who also became a famous general. In the house are various relics, including an autographed photograph of Dr. John McLoughlin (1784-1857), chief factor for the Hudson's Bay Company.
Royal A. Bensell
It is an unavoidable fact, however, that many of the army's worst troubles were caused by its own unbelievable red tape, its gross remissness and bungling. Moreover, the army contained officers, some in the highest ranks, and countless soldiers, who were hardly qualified for inclusion in the lowest order of homo sapiens. They were men without a redeeming quality, who had no more compunction about murdering an Indian than about shooting a rabbit. They left a record of barbarism that outshone any savagery displayed by their red adversaries. The army's job in the West would have been difficult without these psychopaths in uniform.
The life of Royal
Bensell (1838-1921) is in the tradition of the
Published accounts of his career underline such attributes as
delighted to glorify—the young student in the log school house,
homesteader, the farsighted railroad builder, the faithful
and the associate of celebrities. But, ironically, no reference
to what is probably Bensell's most original and permanent
to the new America in the West—his military journal. Though it
the activities of only 31 months from a life of 83 years, it
a facet of Western history otherwise known only through a
of newspaper accounts, latter-day reminiscences, and scanty
Judge Royal A. Bensell, as the chronicles of his time liked to call him, was born in Cassville, Wisconsin Territory (1836-1848), on June 4, 1838. This date, from the Portrait and Biographical Record of Western Oregon (1904), confirmed for the year by Bensell's obituary in the Newport Yaquina Bay News, appears acceptable. It agrees with the information furnished to the enumerator of the census of 1870, the first Oregon census in which Bensell's name appears. But to fix 1838 as the year of his birth is to question the convenient legend created (probably during one of the election campaigns in the 1870s) that Bensell was born in 1835 and "voted first vote for Fremont." Of course, if one recalls Bayard Taylor's allusions to the voting procedures in California mining camps, the 18-year-old Bensell might have voted for "The Pathfinder" in 1856.
Charles E. Bensell, MD
Dr. Charles E. Bensell, his father,
back on an eventful life in 1837 when he married Juliet Cottle
Grant County, Wisconsin—or Belmont, Lafayette County, if one
obituary. He was born in Germantown, Pennsylvania on July 4,
for some years on a whaling vessel, land saw the Pacific Coast.
studied medicine (following the example of his father, an
lived in Philadelphia and served in the Revolutionary Army as a
and may have earned a medical degree from the University of
The New Jersey town where Charles Bensell started to practice his profession could not hold the restless sailor. He migrated to Saint Louis and joined Gen. William Henry Ashley's (1778-1838) expedition into the Rockies to the mouth of Yellowstone River in 1822. After sailing the seas again for four years, he served in the Black Hawk War and fought with the Illinois militia under Gen. Henry Atkinson (1782-1842) at the Battle of Bad Axe, on August 2, 1832. For a number of years he was engaged in lead mining in Northwestern Illinois at Galena.
The Bensells Move to Prairie La Porte 1839
In 1839, Charles Bensell moved with his family from Cassville across the Mississippi into the adjacent part of Wisconsin Territory, and located on a claim in the newly established Clayton County, in what became the state of Iowa in December 1846. His farm was in the vicinity of Prairie La Porte six miles south of Jacksonville, county seat after 1843, and six miles north of Turkey River. Prairie La Porte, one of the villages hugging the western bank of the Mississippi, sheltered by high bluffs from the cold winds that sweep the prairies, had its name changed to Guttenberg by a predominantly German population in 1847.
Barefoot Boy With Cheek
Royal Bensell proudly related his hard
on the farm in a series of nostalgic articles which he wrote for
Yaquina Mail half a century later. His "Reminiscence of Happy
Days Gone By" describes boyhood incidents, enchanted by
northeastern portion of the Hawkeye State, a section he
to as northwestern or western Iowa. Barefoot, he planted corn
ten cents, and on one occasion plowed and harrowed behind his
oxen two long weeks in exchange for "a new chip hat worth 37
was "thick" with a little, freckled-faced girl, and in his
a doubt that "anything since has given me more pleasure than I
eating a piece of her folks' cornbread after she had licked the
In the "good old-times," cornmeal mush in milk was Bensell's regular diet. "Two coon skins, two dozen eggs, a pound of butter, and a few twists of wool" were traded for groceries in Guttenberg. "Cash and Barter" were the favorite modes of exchange, "and the hogs driven to Dubuque and sold were the only way to get money to pay taxes."
Bensell "Spells Down" Entire School in Garnavillo
Young Bensell attended school in Garnavillo, the county seat, which had changed its designation from Jacksonville to honor the Irish village of that name. "Garnavillo is... a lovely village of about 300 inhabitants." Editor Jesse Clement informed the readers of the Dubuque Weekly Times in the early spring of 1859, "and is dotted all over with farm houses, many of which are surrounded by a profusion of shade trees and other indices of enterprise and taste." Clement mentions three schools in Garnavillo; and it appears doubtful that Bensell went to school in a log schoolhouse as the Portrait (1940) chronicled. At the end of the second term he was in the highest class in "Websters Fourth Reader," and could "spell down the whole school..."
Printer’s Devil for Clayton County Herald 1853
However limited his formal education might have been, Bensell had a good chance to broaden it while working as printer's devil for the Garnavillo Clayton County Herald, the first newspaper in Clayton County. It is very unlikely that he started this career in 1851, as the portrait states. The first number of the Herald, an independent weekly published by Henry S. Granger, did not appear before January 28, 1853. Bensell's connection with the paper ended in 1854. In that year, Charles Bensell, whose wife, Julia Cottle, had died in 1849, emigrated to California with his son Royal and daughters Mary (1841-1936) and Marguerite (1844-1942).
Bensells Emigrate to California 1854
Bensell's reminiscences contain no allusion to the crossing of the plains, though they were written in a period when all settlers were eager to be recognized as members of the elite who had actually lived the saga of the covered wagons and the Western trails. His obituary in the Newport paper refers briefly to "six long weary months" during which the family was "en route from Independence, Missouri, to San Jose, California." A typewritten copy of the "Reminiscences of Margaret Bensell" in the University of Oregon Library adds a few details. At the age of 96, the diarist's youngest sister, Marguerite, dictated these reminiscences to a relative. In April 1854, she recalled 96 years later, the Bensells left Iowa for "Capa Gray, Missouri," where they formed a traveling company with other members of the family under the leadership of John Cottle, a cousin of Juliet's. On a stern wheeler, the group went down the Missouri to Saint Joseph, 63 miles north-northwest of Kansas City. In May, 41 men, women and children were on their way to California.
Bensells Moil for Gold in Volcano
During the next two years the Bensells
on John Cottle's ranch near San Jose in the Santa Clara Valley,
miles southeast of San Francisco. Father and son worked on farms
they had enough money to follow the lure of the goldfields to
in the foothills of the Sierras east-southeast of Sacramento.
the goldrush town, was their home for a decade. The menfolk
hot ravines at gulch or placer mining, the womenfolk washed for
and got a "good reputation as seamstresses." The chapter on
Vicinity" in The
History of Amadore County, with its scattered
does not mention the Bensells.
Father and son probably shared the dreams of all miners during these years; they certainly shared the misfortune of most of them. The decline of placer mining which came soon in Amadore County—as everywhere—may have been one of the incentives which made the elder Bensell remember his medical training and the younger responsive to the call for volunteers after the firing at Fort Sumter. Royal Bensell was 16 years old when the family arrived in the Golden State; he left El Dorado at the age of 23, a Union soldier. During these seven years he seems to have acquired the foundation of his political and economic credo, and formed the opinions that made him the "stanch Republican" so conspicuous in the Oregon election campaigns of the 1870s and 1880s. His contempt for "bosses" may have been the outgrowth of impressions he gained while seeing the California democracy in operation. At the age of 18 he could have followed at close range the reign of the second vigilance committee in San Francisco and listened to the reports about scandals in the bay city, which no doubt reached the mining settlements as distorted as rumors concerning new gold discoveries reached the bay.
Bensell Nettled by "Fling of Inferiority"
The years in California also shaped
conscience. An unsuccessful miner, Bensell was surely aware of
in which the merchants held his class, and the contempt and fear
the farming population felt for the entire mining society. A
inferior social position in California may underlie the
the "palpable extravagance ever noticeable" in California women,
have influenced his decision not to return to "the very small
California at the end of his military service. It probably
outspoken contempt for superiors which he showed all his life
so often in the army.
Bensell's class consciousness apparently fed his insatiable desire to rise and be the first in the limited field which life had reserved for him—a character trait already evident in the young farm lad in northeastern Iowa who was "nettled" by the "fling of inferiority" before entering grammar school. The remnant of the collections of the short-lived Miner's Library Association at Volcano would have been a greater attraction for Bensell than saloons and fandango halls. Yearning for self-improvement was reflected also in a high standard of "penmanship." In noting the receipt of a letter from his sister Marguerite, he took immense satisfaction in her improved hand. The thespian societies flourishing in the town and in Amadore County among the miners may have awakened his interest in the stage and may have influenced him to join the "Nouvelle Troupe," the group of performers entertaining the soldiers of Company D in the Oregon settlements.
The mining camp environment—Bensell's high school and college—evidently increased his understanding of and his ability to judge human nature. The lessons during these years formed his outlook on life. The scenes he viewed made him an opinionated adversary of liquor and tobacco. Since he never hid his convictions, this meant for him three years of constant battling against the excesses of alcohol among his hard-drinking army comrades.
In his journal he wrote:
April 26, 1862: Cpl. Erwin drunk, drew a bayonet on Jordan 2nd. Jordan gave him a plug in the face (Cpl. Redding placed Erwin under arrest). He then drew a knife and defied any damned son-of-a-bitch to fight.
"Bold and decided in his manner," was the verdict of a political writer in an Oregon newspaper during the 1870s "swerving neither to the right nor to the left from his convictions of duty. What he lacks in beauty is made up for by habits of industry and scholarly attainments." The only extant photograph of Bensell from the Civil War period, taken at Albany in the summer of 1863, shows a young man, of medium height, in his mid-20s, whose features are dominated by a well-developed nose. His pose and civilian attire may be well-described as conveying something of the "steady arm of agricultural politeness" which he regarded so highly in some members of his company. With his remarkable sense of sly humor, his insight into human affairs, his intelligence and learning, he effectively underlined in his own manners the peculiar charm which rustic ways have for a society that worships individuals.
Bensell Enrolls in Company D September 28, 1861
Four months after the beginning of the war between the states, Bensell enrolled as a volunteer in Company D, Fourth California Infantry. He was mustered into the service by Cpt. Henry Moses Judah at Placerville in El Dorado County on September 28, 1861. Sixty-six men had enlisted with him at Volcano in Cpt. Lyman S. Scott’s company ten days earlier. General Orders No. 25, headquarters, Department of the Pacific, October 9, 1861, called on "Judah's California Volunteer Infantry" to be "in readiness to embark" for Fort Vancouver, Washington Territory (1853-1889), at San Francisco on October 17.
Volcano Blues Garrison Fort Yamhill 1861
The company marched 25 miles from Placerville to Auburn on October 13 and reached Camp Sigel on the next day. Fifteen days later, on October 29, Company D passed the Golden Gate on the steamer Cortes and arrived at Fort Vancouver on November 1. On the following day Scott's company was assigned to garrison Fort Yamhill in the Oregon Coast Range. Company D relieved Company I, 9th Infantry, which had been ordered east with the units of the regular army. For the next three years Bensell served as corporal at Fort Yamhill, Fort Hoskins, and Siletz Blockhouse, and kept a daily journal reporting the life of Company D until October 16, 1864, when the 37 members of his company were discharged at Fort Vancouver.
Siletz Agency Farmer 1864
After his discharge, the former corporal laid the foundation for his business activities and public career as Indian farmer on the Coast Reservation. For 57 years he lived and worked close to the scenes so frequently scorned in his war journal. The "farmer of Chasta Scoton and Superintendent of Farming" at the Siletz Agency under Agent B. F. Simpson quickly established himself in Western Oregon.
Charles E. Bensell Resident Physician 1864-1866
His father, Charles E. Bensell, joined him at the Coast Reservation and was for four years resident physician at Siletz. His sisters, Mary (1841-1936 WI) and Marguerite, married to Joseph Skaggs (1829-1916) and William J. Dunn (1835-1887), moved to Benton County.
Bensell, Meggison and Copeland File Claims at Depot Slough 1866
On January 8, 1866, the same day on which Sen. James W. Nesmith succeeded in his efforts to open the Indian land of the Coast Reservation between Cape Foulweather and Alsea River for settlement, Royal A. Bensell, George R. Meggison, and Josiah Copeland (the last a former member of Company D) located the first claim at Yaquina Bay, at Depot Slough, where they built a steam sawmill. Two years later Bensell and Meggison acquired the Premier Steam Mills, and shipped lumber directly to San Francisco; the census of 1870 registers Bensell as a lumberman. In 1870, at the Yaquina shipyard, he started building the three-masted schooner Elinorah, 200 tons, named for Ben Simpson's daughter, which was sold by Simpson at San Francisco for $10,000 in 1874.
Bensell Urges Construction of Yaquina Railroad
Yaquina Bay and the town of Newport—located party on the land claim of Samuel Case, at one time first sergeant in Company D—formed the center of Bensell's enterprises. He was one of the first to urge the construction of the Yaquina railroad, the Willamette Valley & Coast. The section of the road connecting Corvallis and Newport was completed on December 31, 1884. The trains (the first locomotive did not succeed in making the trip over the whole line before March 1885) gradually replaced the stage that had run through the Coast Range along Yaquina River since May 1866. Bensell's contributions to the Willamette Valley & Coast Railroad seems to have been restricted to publicity articles [under the pseudonyms "Rialto" and "Avalo”" for the Corvallis Gazette, the Portland Oregonian, the Newport Yaquina Post and Yaquina Mail, and newspapers in San Francisco.
Fagan's 1877 History of Benton County Based Partly on Bensell's Account
The History of Benton County, based partly on Bensell's information, does not mention his name in the chapter on the building of the Yaquina Railroad. Randall V. Mills's caustic report on the construction and operation of the "Frustration Route" reviews dreams and unpleasant realities with the impractical idea, reveals dubious schemes and lists the men behind the scene—without any reference to Bensell. Hand in hand with his campaign for the railroad went the advertising of Yaquina Bay as "harbor of refuge" for boats operating between San Francisco and Puget Sound and as ocean outlet for the agricultural wealth of the Willamette Valley.
Bensell Holds Elective Office 1868
Judge Royal A. Bensell held his first elective office for seven days. He was a member of the Oregon legislature as representative from Benton County from September 15 50 22, 1868, when he was ousted by the Democratic majority, which decided a dispute over the legality of contested votes in Benton County in favor of his Democratic opponent, Charles B. Bellinger. In 1876 he served a full term as representative from Benton County in the new, uncompleted capitol, having been elected as a Republican with Democratic support on purely local issues; he was the candidate identified with improvements at Yaquina Bay. Bensell was a member of the Committee on Federal Relations, submitted memorials advocating the further development of Yaquina Bay, and cast his vote with his Republican colleagues for Jesse Applegate in the "Old Roman's" unsuccessful attempt to succeed James K. Kelly in the US Senate. In 1882, he ran as Republican candidate for the State Senate in the district composed of Polk and Benton counties, but failed by a narrow margin. He was Justice of the Peace at Newport and Collector of Customs for the Yaquina District under the Hayes and Harrison administrations.
Bensell Marries Mary Sturdevant 1868
In Newport, in 1868, Bensell married Mary Elizabeth Hall Sturdevant, who had come from Illinois to Oregon with her first spouse, Clark M. Sturdevant, in the spring of 1865. For two years she was "the only white woman living on Yaquina Bay." Bensell supported his wife with counsel in law suits and as a real estate agent; he is thus listed in the census of 1880. He served his community as school director and member of the city council. Four times he held the office of mayor of Newport. He was agent for the steamer Alexander Duncan, had a captain's commission for 17 years (and a title for life), and at one time owned a steamboat [Pioneer?] which plied between Elk City and Newport.
Chapter 53: Grand Ronde Agents
The early agents at Grand Ronde dealt
the Indians there in terms of three great valleys from which
Within those valleys there were distinctions of language and
quite radical, but the whole thrust of government policy was to
the differences between the Indians, and so the grouping by
The three valleys were the Willamette, the Umpqua and the Rogue. The Willamette, bounded on the east by the Cascade Mountains and on the west by the Coast Range, was for Oregon what the Sacramento Valley was for California. Both paralleled the coast; both were desire by non-indian settlers. In between them, at right angles to the coast, were three more rugged valleys, the Umpqua, the Rogue and the Klamath, where life was quite different from that of the heartland valleys. The three could well have been made a separate territory or state, but the diplomats preferred an arbitrary line, the 42nd parallel, which had been used back East for several boundaries. Thus, when the California Gold Rush overflowed from the Sacramento into the Klamath and Rogue valleys, its lawlessness brought woe, not only to the Rogue Rivers but also to the noncombatant Umpquas and the remnants on the Willamette.
There was a motivation for choosing the Grand Ronde as a reservation. The whites would have preferred to see the Indians all sent east of the Cascades, and the Indians begged for tiny reservations with each band in a pocket of its ancestral land. It was the practical and noble-minded Joel Palmer of Dayton who rapidly engineered the compromise: west of the Cascades, but also west of the Coast Range—with one exception. The great bulk of the land reserved for the Indians of Western Oregon would be along the coast, but there is one point at which the crest of the Coast Range swings dramatically west, and spurs sweep down to enclose a natural circle of ten square miles of prairie land, aptly named "the Grand Ronde." Palmer bought this up from the whites who had settled it and made it first a temporary reserve for those destined to the rugged land along the coast, and then the permanent home of the more peaceful bands of all three valleys. The local anglos resisted and asked for soldiers, but Palmer's brilliant compromise prevailed.
To give an overview of the history of Grand Ronde Reservation, it is necessary to line up a cavalcade of its chief officers throughout its existence. None of these portraits is exhaustive, and they are based primarily on the study of each agent's annual reports.
John F. Miller 1856-1861
The first 12 months at Grand Ronde
by the comings and goings of several subagents, with the real
falling back on to Superintendent Joel Palmer. By the summer of
population was about 1,200 and the prospects for the coming
grim indeed. A large construction force of whites was on the
fact which did much to reconcile the local farmers to the
Indians, but a strong hand was going to be needed to dismiss
when the winter put a stop to their construction jobs. Already
were crying out for a halt. Palmer found the man he wanted in
F. Miller, a 28-year-old of firm character and keen business
that tough era, it also meant much that Miller was of imposing
and had much military and legislative experience behind him.
and self-educated, he had easily won the hand of a governor's
in Missouri, and he would keep his family of five girls safely
20 miles from the agency—none of that shabby living for them!
His own reports, of course, give a glowing picture, but his successor, understandably, charges him with gross neglect. He did drastically reduce expenses from $500 a day to $65—ruthless, perhaps, but largely a clearing up of inefficiencies and corruption. Being self-made, Miller saw little point in any schooling or even in doctoring, but he claimed to have given both such programs a fair trial.
Miller's macho bearing made it easy for him to dismiss employees who would not accept a reduction in salary, but he found it harder to deal with those who smuggled liquor to the Indians; in this he needed help from the military at the fort.
Miller parcels out praise and blame in terms of industriousness and the virtues of the self-made man. He speaks politely of religion, along with education, as an aid to the supreme goal of "civilization," but finds both of those aids proven useless in Oregon's experience. He is ever ready to recognize the worthwhile individual even in the midst of tribal groups he despises. He repeatedly pleads for fair play in regard to Chief Louis Nespussing of the Umpquas—another self made man.
In his later years, Miller refused to plant grain on the government acres; this seems to have been in order to force the Indians into self-reliance, but it also occurred in a context of neglect of the buildings and equipment, which suggests a lack of dedication. His successor seems to have understood Miller's while corps of employees as thus lacking in dedication in the Indians' needs. In later years, the Indians, very rightly, would attribute the progress they made in these earlier years, not to the agents, nor even to the federal funds that trickled down to them, but to the lessons and wages acquired when working for local whites.
In later years, Miller was a very rich man, but he lost the elections in which he ran for Governor and for US Senator.
James B. Condon 1861-1864
The election of Pres.
Lincoln led to the replacement of the Democrat
a Republican: James B. Condon, an Irishman who had come to the
the age of five and was currently a lawyer with experience in
legislature. Aged 34, he was still a city man, but was now
the rural problems of Grand Ronde.
Arriving in the midst of the harvest, Condon was shocked to find that Miller had left him no written records to guide him and not even an office to work in. Moreover, Miller's employees almost all abandoned their posts immediately. Condon managed to gather a new team and to formulate far-seeing plans, including those for a fishery and for grazing grounds across the pass in the Salmon River Valley, but his first winter, one of the coldest and wettest ever, forced him into short-range rescue operations. First the mill had to be put into operation, to produce the lumber for repairing the buildings. Then he set up a model farm, on which he gave the Indians agricultural instruction and employment at the same Condon was also very concerned about white contamination of the Indians through liquor and prostitution, and presented a stern face to the solders at the fort. He once gave a drunken corporal a black eye and a thorough thrashing.
Condon seems to have undergone a change after his initial successes. The Civil War was in progress, and Oregon was suffering from monetary inflation, which greatly lessened the value of fixed salaries, such as those at Indian agencies. In the strife that resulted, Condon was vindicated but seems to have lost heart and to have avoided making any decisions in his last months. On leaving Grand Ronde, Condon practiced law at The Dalles, where he was honored by many friends until his death. He was replaced by the temporary appointment of another man who had been having other troubles elsewhere.
Benjamin Simpson 1864
Condon's immediate successor, Benjamin
served as agent from February to June 1864, but his stay is
Simpson, the 46-year-old jack-of-all-trades, was agent at Siletz
of the decade, and retained that position while filling in at
In 1856, Simpson had been at Grand Ronde to build its mill, and had stayed on as owner-manager of the store and post office at the fort. He had even been elected to the legislature from there.
In 1864, as agent at Siletz, he had been responsible for the defense of the Indians' fishing rights against the bullying poacher from California, and served on trouble-shooting missions throughout Western Oregon. Possibly, the legal actions resulting from this were a motive in removing him from that scene. His troubles at Siletz brought him accusations of "dabbling" in politics, and indeed, politics and journalism were important in his later years.
A dynamic man, he rapidly took up the major problems left Condon left behind. His report indicates that he put everything into good order, except for the reservation school.
Amos Harvey 1864-1869
The 65-year-old Amos Harvey was born
With plenty of experience behind him—especially in the milling
of wool—he crossed the Plains when he was 46. Harvey was a man
and immediately involved himself in school teaching. On his
land, in Bethel,
he set up a plant nursery which became famous and led to his
a horticultural society.
Bethel, located in a little vale called Plum Valley, was named in 1846 by the Rev. Glen O. Burnett for Bethel Church in Missouri where he served as pastor. Dr. Nathaniel Hudson settled nearby in 1851 and in 1852 opened Bethel Academy, a private undertaking. Bethel Academy was short lived. In 1854 Hudson moved to a new claim west of Dallas. In 1855 Burnett and Harvey organized a new school called Bethel Institute. A building was erected and the institute opened in October of that year. In January 1856, the legislature officially chartered the school with the name Bethel Institute and it operated with that name until October 1860, when the legislature granted a new charter with the name Bethel College. The college failed financially in 1861, and efforts to turn it over to the Christian Church were unsuccessful. Bethel Institute and Bethel College seem to have been community affairs and while the Christian Church gave moral support, it does not appear that the church actually furnished funds.
Harvey also took a lead in organizing the Republican party in Polk County, but this political merit was probably less important to his appointment to the Indian Department than was his ability as a horticulturalist. His first appointment, in fact, was to the subagency near the Alsea River, where it was imperative to determine promptly what drops could be grown for subsistence of the Indians there. Serving well at that post, he was promoted to fill the vacancy at Grand Ronde, where he would be reappointed until reaching the age of 70.
One problem that faced him at Alsea was that of Indians escaping down the coast to their old hunting and fishing grounds. Complaints were lodged by the anglo settlers, and it became Harvey's duty to retrieve them, at minimum cost to the government and with minimum loss of efficiency at the agency.
In his journal, Bensell reports decision after decision on the part of Harvey and interprets each in a sense of unfeeling sternness, almost of self-interest. He wrote:
Amos Harvey proves himself an old fogy. We have taken among the rest several infirm squaws which the agent proposes leaving behind to die because he says "it will cost so for transportation." [Louis] Herzer informed the agent if the squaws were left he (Herzer) would report him. This was the last thing desired by Harvey, and he is now making preparations to take the old ladies.
But Harvey knew the limits of the available funds and the available time; he aired proposals for dealing with the older squaws and for making side trips to further possible hideouts, and these met with the disapproval of the lieutenant. Possibly, the lieutenant distorted Harvey's proposals when informing Bensell about them, but there is no denying the fact that the feet of the old squaws were leaving trails of blood on sharp rocks near the journey's end. On May 5 and 10, Bensell wrote of the distressing march of the old squaws back to Alsea:
By four o'clock the advance reached Winchester Bay and from that time 'till dark they came in by twos and threes, there are guards bringing in Old Fatty and Amanda... Amanda, who is blind, tore her feet horribly over these ragged rocks, leaving blood sufficient to track her by. One of the boys led her around the dangerous places.
Harvey, tough on himself, was even tougher
under his charge.
The problem of runaways plagued him again at Grand Ronde, more especially after the garrison at Fort Yamhill was removed and the agent had to provide a retrieving squad from his own personnel. To Harvey's surprise, the Indians themselves now rallied around him, for they recognized in his firm but fair manner something of the John McLoughlin they had earlier admired. Thus, with regard to the liquor traffic, and with no soldiers to scout for smugglers, it was the Indians themselves who gave information on the offenders and led to the prolonged elimination of the problem. When their mill dam broke, the Indians followed the lead of their 69-year-old agent, through snow and freezing water, to repair it, and demanded no pay beyond fodder for the horses they lent to the project.
Beneath the surface of this unusual man lay his religious commitment. He had been reared a Pennsylvania Quaker, and would have remained such, had he not married Jane Rammage, who was not of that religious persuasion. Harvey found himself excommunicated, and was led to admire the newly founded Christian Church of the Campbellites, the Disciples of Christ. He was promptly made an elder of their church, and remained such all his life. Arriving in Oregon in 1855 and first settling on the North Yamhill River, Harvey promptly organized the first assembly of his adopted church west of the Rocky Mountains.
Harvey gave, even beyond his means, to "help those who help themselves," and Bethel College and his fellow preachers were judged worthy recipients. For instance, when a winter supply of blankets went astray in San Francisco, Harvey bought replacements locally for those who would otherwise go cold. He did, however, take occasion of the blunder to unbraid the poor organization which had led to the fiasco.
Agent Harvey felt the obligation to inculcate the virtues of foresight and self-reliance, and he strove to ensure that each farming group would retain seed grain for the next year's crop. He went further and lobbied for family farms, on which the head of each family would be directly responsible for its subsistence. For all his keenness on education, Harvey was fully aware of the futility of the day school; however, where others were content to lodge formal complaints, Harvey stepped in with a fait accomple, transferring the day teacher to a role of instructing the adults in methods of farming—an initiative which no one was to gainsay.
Harvey no doubt was glad to see frustrated the plans for bringing nuns into his school in 1863, although it was Indian Affairs Superintendent J. W. Perit Huntington in Portland who was ruling out the use of nuns. A married man and a schoolteacher himself, he surely subscribed to the current enthusiasm for the manual labor model for Indian schools, with a married couple totally responsible for the children. Quite some months would pass however, before he would be able to engage other teachers—a couple highly recommended to him, the J. B. Clarks, who had pioneered well in the Siletz School.
Charles Lafollett 1869-1871
The election of 1868 did not bring a
of party in the presidency, but it did bring an old soldier, Ulysses
S. Grant, into the White House, who wished to make
Indians by enlisting the aid of the churches. This policy was
however, until late in 1870, and even then there was prolonged
as to which church should have the right to nominate the agent
Ronde. Harvey might have been left in office until these matters
but age and the onset of his handicaps seem to have dictated
The place was therefore filled in 1866 by Charles Lafollett, the
had captained the garrison of Fort Yamhill in its final days. An
motive seems to have lain in that Lafollett had recently served
by running for a senatorship, which he had failed to win, and so
this job instead. He brought with him to the job at least one of
cronies, Lt. W. R. Dunbar, who would be teacher of his boarding
Dunbar, had earlier taught at Siletz and elsewhere.
Lafollett, one of the least attractive of the agents, had been the greatest adventurer among them. Of the same age as Miller and Condon, he had crossed the Plains in fear and dread of the Mormons, for his kin had had a hand in the murder of their prophet, Joseph Smith (1805-1844). Arriving in California, he promptly made a fortune on lumber and lost it on onions. He was a self-made school teacher and taught penmanship at college level, but his favorite occupation was Phrenology, the study of the bumps on the skull. He spent alternate seasons studying and lecturing on this fad of his day.
He was also a self-taught lawyer. A strong stand for Prohibition won him three terms in the Oregon legislature. He was then given a mandate to raise a company of soldiers—which he did, by use of a $50 brass band. His military exploits were considered a success, at least by the mothers of the recruits, and his company was given further employment at Fort Yamhill.
When made agent for the Indians, Lafollett was aware how tenuous was his hold on the office, and so he made no private expenditures even on his own home. But, with his rhetorical style or writing, his reports roll off estimates for needed repairs, quite oblivious that the federal government is severely cutting back on funds for the Indians, in view of the transfer of responsibility to the Indians themselves and to the churches. His was really a caretaker regime; indeed, with the deadlock in Washington, which assigned Grand Ronde to the Methodists but "left the Catholic mission undisturbed," Lafollett was allowed to stay on as an explicit compromise.
Lafollett saw himself, however, as only answerable to the Catholics, whereas it was the Methodists of Oregon who began to make demands upon him. He refused outright to cooperate and had to resign. However, the Indians superintendent for Oregon at the time, Alfred B. Meacham, had strong belief in letting the Indians determine their own direction; still, a strongly anti-Catholic officer was sent from Washington to press the Methodist cause.
Patrick B. Sinnott (1872-1885)
Patrick B. Sinnott, Grand Ronde's
agent, was 43 years old at the time he accepted the post. Like
he was Irish-born, but unlike the Congregationalists, he had
for the Catholic priesthood and would have been sent to Saint
college in Wexford County had it not been for the Potato Famine,
had begun in 1845.
Arriving in New York in his late teens, Sinnott followed up opportunities in Chicago and then in California and Southern Oregon. He was unusually successful in seeking gold, and was able to stay at that task for more than a decade, though it involved abandonment of on site during the Indian Wars and also some personal involvement in the fighting. One source refers to him as "Major" Sinnott, a rank that would not be surprising in a man of his stature and personality, for he was tall and lanky, sociable, not too easily excited, and gifted with a dry humor.
Bridget Moran Sinnott
In 1861, Sinnott sought out his
Illinois, who had experience in the hotel business, and he
earnings of his goldmining in a hotel partnership in Portland.
year, he married Bridget Moran. Years later, after retirement
Ronde, Sinnott is said to have personally collected some moneys
him and to have set out on a visit to Ireland, only informing
the fact by postcard later. Bridget served as house mother to
girls before the arrival of Catholic nuns, but it is not Sinnott
her with that in his reports. Bridget was a little taken aback
when she heard that the Coastal Indians had been generous to a
of artifacts, for she had previously sent them a personal
and had it denied. She nevertheless found her place of honor
nuns and white women of the area and was considered a charming
Sinnott well understood that the government intended to cut back on his budget so as to force the Indians into self-reliance in preparation for citizenship. Thus there are none of Lafollett's unrealistic pleas for building funds. He does, however, keep a keen eye out for any revenue from owners of livestock that intrude on to their land, tolls from travelers to the coast who use the roads the Indians maintain, and proceeds from the lumber or flour produced at the mill.
The Indians seemed to be at home with the former hotel keeper. What had attracted them to McLoughlin now attracted them to Sinnott—integrity and practicality, and were glad to have him host their Fourth of July celebrations and ceremonial receptions of guests.
Sinnott's administration was not, however, without its opponents. Like his fellow Irishman, Condon, he found that a pouting predecessor had destroyed all records that could have guided his early administrative decisions.
As for complaints against Sinnott stemming from the Indians, it is true that many had conceived hopes under the leadership of Meacham, which Sinnott found technically impossible, and so there was some measure of disappointment. There was general enthusiasm, however, over Sinnott's allotting of the land on a family basis instead of a tribal basis, but this led to a physical removal of many adult Indians from the direct influence of the old tribal chiefs, causing the prestige of the latter to wane and that of the elected representatives to become greater. Other agents were glad thus to weaken the chiefs, but Sinnott saw the matter differently: not a weakening of "corrupt" chiefs so much as a defusing of pointless intertribal rivalries. The new system made for a united Indian population at Grand Ronde as a whole.
In his reports, Sinnott's Victorian English is rather wordy: he uses turns of phrase based on Latin syntax, but he gets them inside out—easy enough to follow, but grammatically incorrect. More importantly, Sinnott is fully aware of the nature of these public reports, and so he uses them largely for the correcting of rumors. There is none of Lafollett's nagging rhetoric when Sinnott pleads anew each year for some basic matters as the rights of the Coastal Indians, but he accommodates to what is forced upon him—for example, the removal, and later the restoration, of a resident physician, the denial of valid land titles to the Indian allottees, the ultimate forced dissolution of his esteemed Indian Court and the imposition of an Indian Police Force. He readily acknowledges that the Police Force, which he had long resisted, is of real help in prosecuting liquor smugglers, and he sees the Indians's ability to cope with alcohol as their one remaining obstacle to full citizenship.
Further points of policy include the way in which he helped the Indians to make capital improvements on their allotted farms. He takes pride in their greater stability, and in their trips outside, on which they earn money to invest by improving their livestock and machinery. In 1878, he regretfully denies them passes for such work, since war is raging east of the Cascades and also Chinese laborers are getting the jobs the Indians would normally fill.
The mills, put into good order by the Indians' volunteer labor under Meacham in 1871, remained productive throughout Sinnott's term, impeded only when funds were not enough to employ a miller fulltime. It was, however, Sinnott's policy to insist on non-indian control of the mills. Indeed, he even contemplated selling them off to individual whites, who would assume the "headaches" of keeping them in repair and would force the Indians to buy their services, just as ordinary citizens had to do.
Sister Mary Runs Dispensary
The statistics are vague, but decline
population at Grand Ronde seems to have slowed down during
It is interesting to note that the withdrawal of a resident
and the later installation of another, seem to have made little
to the general health. Gradual improvement of sanitation, along
spirit of optimism generated by the new policies of the early
to have been the best medicine all around. Sinnott himself, and
Sister Mary of the Infant Jesus, filled in by running a
shamans were still well to the fore.
Sinnott's eventual resignation, after 14 years of service and at the age of 56, stemmed not from lobbyists opposed to him but from the 1884 election of a Democratic president, Grover Cleveland (1837-1908). Even so, Sinnott continued on until the end of 1885. He was then given a four-year term as deputy marshall in the federal court system and, after that, he gave his full attention to managing his extensive real estate in the booming city of Portland. His surviving sons likewise went into real estate or law, and two of his descendants became priests.
John B. McClane 1886-1889
By 1886, agents were no longer being
by the churches, but the one chosen for Grand Ronde 14 months
resignation would still cooperate wholeheartedly with the
and sisters. This as 65-year-old John B. McClane, who had
almost without interruption, for the past 42 years and who was
almost as the city's founder.
In Salem he had operated mills, stores, and the first post office, the state library, and the county treasury. He had married into one of the early Salem missionary families and raise nine children there. At Grand Ronde he would befriend an Indian couple whom he had known as children at the Salem Mission in 1843-1844.
McClane regretted not being able, for lack of time, to mingle with the Indians more, but did go to very house for the annual census, and was unstintingly in his praise of the fences and vegetable gardens. There were some 400 persons when he took over, divided into 85 or 90 farming families. About 20 percent were half-bloods, and there were a number of absentees. There was no longer any way to force the absentees to return, but McClane was very concerned for the welfare of those who were out in the valley on temporary jobs, least they lose their wages on drink and gambling. He was gratified that, before the end of the term, new land allotments were made, with a fairer chance for the individual Indians to profit by the improvements they made on their own initiative.
McClane's esteem and friendship for his Indian police, who doubled as an informal court, and some of whom held the key jobs in the shops, lend color to all his written reports. Although he needs an interpreter, McClane does communicate well with the ordinary Indians, thanks to the backing of this elite which surrounds him. Thus he is able to put a stop to many of the abuses surrounding deaths and inheritance and to much of the drinking and gambling.
Funds were available to him, not only to supply food once when the hop picking had been unusually low, but also to do an almost complete rebuilding of the agency structures and fences, even providing boardwalks. Much of this work was done for the school, which he enlarged considerably.
In his final report, McClure lavishes praise upon the newly arrived physician, Dr. Andrew Kershaw, a man of political views differing from his own, but most competent in his profession. Kershaw was later to succeed McClane at the head of affairs in Grand Ronde, using, indeed, a different style, but still admirable in his competence.
Thomas N. Faulconer 1889-1891
The election of 1888 brought the
Harrison (1773-1841) to power, with apparently a
budget for the Indian Department. In the following September,
old McClane was therefore replaced by a local farmer and
N. Faulconer. Faulconer also served as postmaster in 1866.
Aged 59 and a resident in the Sheridan area for most of the previous 22 years, Faulconer stepped in quietly, acknowledged the value of McClane's improvements and apparently did nothing unusual on his own. His main praise is for Andrew Kershaw, who is thoroughly "ingratiating himself" with the Indians. Kershaw was living in the newly built physicians quarters, but one may well suppose that Faulconer continued to reside at his own farm, as Miller had done decades before. This would explain his seemingly minimal involvement at the reservation.
Edward F. Lamson 1891-1893
The motives for Faulconer's withdrawal
no been published, but they may have been connected with the
sickness" suffered at Grand Ronde in the winter of 1890-1891.
brought Dr. Kershaw ever more to the fore, to the neglect of the
and perhaps to the embarrassment of an agent scarcely able to
bureaucratic problems of obtaining emergency supplies.
The choice for a substitute, however, was again to fall upon a local farmer—in fact, upon one locally born. This was Edward F. Lamson, the son of Jeremiah Lamson, who had taken up land in the Willamina Valley at a very early date, and served as postmaster in 1863.
This is the family which the younger R. W. Summers encountered in 1853, whose fascinating story he tells in his journal:
When Jeremiah was in California for gold, and failed to return for the winter, his young wife was informed that he was dead; but the winter was already too far advanced for her to move out to live with relatives; to her horror, she was approached by Tillamook braves, which used to winter in that valley; but, lo and behold, their only intention was to provide the little family with Indian food throughout the winter; then, in the spring, to the mother’s delight, Jeremiah, never really dead, returned. The family lived in the area ever since.
Edward F. Lamson married young and had
children when, at the age of 40, he took over at the agency. He
basic workforce, established by Meacham and Sinnott and
quite satisfactory, and so he gave his attention to his own
which was farming. He, like Sinnott, was much vexed by rumors
Indians that their titles were not valid; also, blame was laid
any complaints the whites had about the Indians' conduct; but,
he made a thorough, independent inventory of the land. He
and got the Indians, almost for the first time, to fallow some
He taught them to choose the seed to suit each piece of ground.
them to phase out the ponies and to build up their 400 horses,
many pigs, sheep, chickens, ducks, geese and turkeys.
Lamson paired up with Dr. Kershaw in much the same way as McClane had teamed up with his elite Indian Police Force, or even as Sinnott had paired up with the Catholic priest.
An early crisis regarded the manual labor teacher for the boys, who was an Indian. Lamson demanded that he take a more aggressive role, and so precipitated his resignation. Then he appealed to higher authority to have the position reserved for a man by the name of Whitman. Six months dragged by without a male teacher, and it seems the older boys took occasion to quit school. But Lamson was content with the eventual appointee, John Callaghan. What made matters worse was that Washington had just then imposed a new curriculum, which itself demanded the Sisters' full attention.
To his credit, Lamson provided the school with a much needed new laundry building, but funds failed for other needed improvements.
Lamson's term came to an end because of the reelection of Grover Cleveland in 1892.
John F. Theodore Brentano 1893-1896
When the Democrats won the 1892
another Catholic, John F. Theodore Brentano, was chosen as
expert in law had been Saint Paul's first postmaster in 1874.
Brentano's father, who was from the northernmost part of The Netherlands, practiced medicine and obstetrics in his homeland and then in Kansas and California, and delivered most of the infants in the Saint Paul area until the turn of the century. They were a happy, dependable family, fond of practical jokes, ready to forgive debts and fervent in parish life.
Brentano took up his duties in August 1893, but it is not clear when his term ended. Government policy had been changing rapidly, and the lands were being parceled out in preparation for opening the rest of the reservation to anglo settlement. The duties of the agent at Grand Ronde were thus shrinking, and it was decided to create a new office, that of superintendent of the school, which would involve a few additional duties around the remaining lands. This new position was given to Dr. Andrew Kershaw, a highly educated man, well accepted by the Indians.
Like his immediate predecessors, Brentano had at first felt happy with the existing corps of employees, but he soon had to dismiss two of the policemen, for illness or neglect. Unfortunately, Washington did not recognize the value of the Court of Indian Offences and so, instead of helping it as Brentano had wished, they suppressed it altogether.
To Brentano, a self-made expert in the law, this suppression was doubly tragic, for he found the outside courts inadequate. These argued that the Indians with allotted lands were citizens and could, for instance, drink what they wished and not be prosecuted for drunkenness or liquor smuggling. What the courts really meant was that, since the Indians did not yet pay taxes, they would not yet enjoy protection by way of the public prosecution of crimes against them. The same held for an adulterer. His case was declared merely civil, to be prosecuted only at the victim's expense. At Siletz, even murder of an Indian by an Indian was likewise dismissed. Divorce lawyers wrought havoc on the rights of abandoned wives, and Brentano incurred much odium for his prosecution of the worst bigamists.
Already in Brentano's time the ambiguities of family ties among those allotted land were causing disputes over inheritance. Added to this, the elderly, some of whom had the best and, were refusing to lease it to the more able bodied. In addition to the elderly, there was a class which Brentano refers to as loafers and drunkards, who hung around the agency idle. He is glad to report that they are a minority, but he regrets to report the factionalism of another minority, the half-bloods. The old clans were forgotten, but fullbloodedness was still a thing of pride and a bargaining point in seeking employment. Then too, there was a resurgence of the shamans, and the only disciplinary action Brentano could against them was to threaten not to issue them any supplies.
Perhaps most symptomatic of the changing times, the Indians refused to take Brentano's advice against going to fairs to perform their ancient dances for a fee. To modern minds, this is a debasing of a noble heritage, while to Brentano it was a risk of falling back into Old Beliefs. This entire backfiring of the policy of allotment had been foreseen by Meacham years before, but it was Brentano who had to bear the odium of struggling to offset its worst ills.
Brentano's term ended not with his resignation, but with the phasing out of his job in 1896.
Dr. Andrew Kershaw 1896-1909
Andrew Kershaw was originally
superintendent of the school, some time in 1896, with only minor
in regard to the reservation as a whole. In 1899, however,
to report also on the agency in general, and therefore takes his
among the cavalcade of agents.
Kershaw, a Congregationalists, was born near Manchester, England, but migrated at the age of four and had his first memories amid the martial music of the Civil War. Soldiering was his only interest until, at the age of nine, a troop train injured his leg, which had to be amputated just below the knee. This tragic accident prompted his change of interests to the study of medicine, though he married a Civil War general's daughter.
At the age of 30, Kershaw joined the Indian Department and served for three years around Tulalip, Washington, coming from there in 1889 to replace an impractical physician at Grand Ronde. His prestige as a healer among the Indians, along with the respect shown him by the agents, led to his ever greater identification with the welfare of the reservation. Moreover, from 1891 onwards he began to invest his money around nearby Willamina in a store, timberland, the railroad and a brickworks—all of which rendered him immensely rich in later years.
His reports, written in 1906, which such details as population, crop yields, and care of the sick and elderly. Occasionally new matters came up that disturbed him.
Some of the new matters were connected with the ceding of large tracts of land to the federal government in 1901. Many of the elderly also wished to sell their own lots so as to have money for their final years, and they accused the Indian Department of avarice in refusing to allow it. When white families did thus buy, however, Kershaw optimistically hoped that their settling amid the Indians would provide good example of family farming.
Without any Court of Indian Offences to rely upon, the doctor himself amicably settled most squabbles, but the smuggling of whiskey was still hard to deal with. Generally, however, there is much progress to mention, such as new houses built or a new resource to exploit in the selling of cascara bark or of basketry. Although in 1899, the doctor proudly announces that an Indian man has taken over the old anglo stronghold at the famous mill, and that he is reputed to get more flour per bushel of wheat than any miller before him. As for the roads, subject to much injustice in Brentano's day, a new law made it possible for Kershaw to run an election—with Republicans, Democrats, but excluding tribal factions—to elect a surveyor and district manager of the road repair.
In 1909, aged only 54, Kershaw went into retirement at Willamina, but remained active in civic affairs. He identified strongly with the IOOF and with the Elks.
Chapter 54: Mission Grand Ronde
Fourteen years after his ordination in
the brilliant Fr. Adrian Joseph Croquette (1818-1902) was
he would be promoted to some prestigious job. It was the year
he began to hear that a college had been founded at his old
for preparing priests to go and serve in America. He applied and
After a few months of studying English and learning about New World culture, he was tentatively assigned to Mississippi. He was glad to see this soon changed to the even needier Oregon. Then came a message to hasten his departure, for his archbishop was to be in New York with a group of Canadian recruits, priests, Sisters and lay servants, and he was to go West in their company.
Tender concern for his family's grief made him fill this period with letters home, most of which survive. His Atlantic crossing was slow and he had time only to say mass in New York before setting out with the other recruits for Panama.
On board with them was the nation's highest military officer, Gen. Winfield Scott (1786-1866), familiarly known as "Old Fuss and Feathers." Scott made much of the sisters, coaxing them to give concerts and to accept tropical drinks at is expense. He finally revealed that a daughter of his had shared their way of life. On deck kin the evenings, Fr. Croquette heard him tell of his old Mexican War, but also of the more recent Rogue River Wars of Oregon, and of the reservations set up after them.
The archbishop too had his deck-chair stories: how in the 1830s, Rocky Mountain Indians had sent to Saint Louis for Blackrobes, and Canadian ex-trappers in Oregon had sent home for himself. He told of his thrill as he crossed the crest of the Rockies and offered the first mass in the Oregon Country. What most impressed Fr. Croquette was the role of Fr. Pierre Jean De Smet (1801-1873) and the Jesuits in the tribes beyond white contact, and the present needs of Oregon's own Snake River bands.
Fr. Brouillet, another pioneer, was also with them, and told of the Whitman Massacre and the setbacks it had brought. As for the three orders of nuns on board, all founded by the bishop of Montreal, Fr. Croquette was so retiring that their printed account of the trip does not mention him. Of course, they had an assigned chaplain, who saw to their needs.
Of the priests coming with him, he saw the most of Fr. Fabian Malo. The others had been given to understand they would be working with the whites, but Fr. Malo's heart was with the Indians. In the early 1860s, these two would see much of each other, for Fr. Malo would be stationed at Saint Paul, where Fr. Croquette could make a monthly visit to him. The two would also join forces for the early missionary expeditions along the coast. Years later, Fr. Malo left to do the full time work with the Indians of the Dakotas.
Entering the tropics, the menfolk slept on the open deck. It was a restful month for the archbishop, who could lean back and dream of a brighter future, like the prophets of the Babylonian Exile. And all of the joys of that long voyage, one of the greatest was his discovery of his little recruit from Belgium. For more than 20 years to come, the two would be joined in an unclouded friendship, not intimate in a personal sense, but with unbounded mutual trust in things divine.
Aground at Key West
The missionary band on the steamer was
Catholic Church of Oregon in nucleus. It told its story and
deck-chair dreams, but its fervor needed another form of
of its God.
The ship’s captain and his wife, who were both Catholic, arranged for the Sisters to sing their hearts out each evening. On Sunday, the deck was cleared for the archbishop to say mass and for Fr. Brouillet to give a sermon.
But no liturgical expression on the trip equaled that of the coaling station of Key West—a mass at the tip of the continent. All passengers were looking forward to an afternoon on this tropical island. Gen. Scott, of course, had to parade off to the fort. His agust presence dampened those who looked forward mainly to the saloons. Children would romp and adults would tour, but the missionary band would head for Star of the Sea Church.
Such plans took a jolt at 3am, for the ship ran aground. Some were terrified; others, furious. The captain took soundings; the wind dropped; they found a way out. Arriving at 5pm, most found their plans all ruined. But for the missionaries, it was ideal.
As soon as the brass bands marched the general's suite away, the missionaries strolled up the street to the church. Of the 3,000 inhabitants of the town, many—including some of 600 Spanish-speaking Africans—were Catholic, but had not had a priest for six months. Spotting the motley procession amid the waving palm branches, these welcomed them, gave them gifts of tropical fruit, and spread word of their arrival.
Evening masses were not allowed in those days, but the missionaries had no trouble spending the hours in church, and local Catholics eagerly joined them.
Meanwhile, the family that kept the sacred vessels send maids—slave and free—scurrying to gather up enough cups and saucers to serve everyone tea. An evening lecture about their guests’ missionary goals was scheduled, and men of the parish hastened to invite a myriad of people, including the Methodist minister. They came undistracted by the general's fanfare.
Many lingered devoutly in church, and the priests heard confessions and offered individual consolation. Only at 11pm did they leave, and they were back at 3:30am for mass.
African boys set candles to flicker in the breeze until the tropical sunrise lit the windows up. An awesome hush prevailed, though one could hear a few skirts swish or a rosary rattle. There was the rumble of the priest's Latin; there were outbursts of song from the nuns; but then the little bell, and all dove to their knees. Further tinklings, then came communion at last.
At 7am, the ship's whistle blew, and missionaries scurried back on board for her departure.
Apprenticeship in the Oregon Country 1859
Even though he was 41 years old and 15
a priest on his arrival in Oregon, Fr. Croquette had another
to serve: he had to be initiated to the Oregon Country.
Based in Oregon City with the archbishop, he was sent for weeks on end to Saint Paul, Vancouver and The Dalles, catering to those who preferred an outside priest for their yearly confessions and learning the needs of all.
The California Gold Rush drew away most of Oregon's Catholic clergy, and in 1853, it reached its lowest ebb. But Fr. Croquette was stepping into a new springtime. One link with old-times, however, was his part at the funeral of Marguerite Wadin McKay McLoughlin, widow of Fort Vancouver's chief factor. She had many injustices to forgive, and the tact of the nursing Sisters won her heart to forgive all before she died.
Fr. Croquette's heart lay with the Indians and he was assigned to care for such as came to Willamette Falls at Oregon City to fish. After Easter, he went to The Dalles and made a long Indian tour with veteran Fr. Toussaint Mesplie as his guide.
Fr. Mesplie was popular with the braves and with the army. He reminded the apprentice priest that there was no etiquette for Indian lodges: no knock on the door, no being told where to sit, but just to take one's turn at the calumet and "be at home."
Their visit to each lodge was necessarily brief, since most of their time was spent locating individual Indians. A word or two about raids by hostile Indians, or about the salmon run was followed by the hurried baptism of infants and a moment with the dying before departure.
A Hanging in Lafayette
In September 1860, Fr. Croquette
his definitive assignment: residing at Grand Ronde Agency, he
the Indians of that Reservation, of its neighbor Siletz, and of
as far as he could reach; in addition he would serve the
Polk and Yamhill counties.
Lafayette in 1863 was still the seat of Yamhill County, and it was there that the strong-armed blacksmith, John Zebulon Griffin, was tried and hanged for killing a man, allegedly in self defense.
Griffin was of no particular religion, and though the local minister visited him, he specifically asked for a Catholic priest. Fr. Croquette came and loaned him literature, which convinced the convict to embrace the faith. Fr. Malo of Saint Paul was enlisted to alternate in visiting and instructing Griffin for baptism. On Sunday, June 7, 1863, both priests joined forces to be with their "dead man walking" almost constantly until the appointed hour of execution.
The final morning, Fr. Croquette said mass in prison, gave Griffin first communion and, delegated by the archbishop, confirmed him. Both priests accompanied him to the scaffold, where he eagerly joined them in prayer.
The crowd was impressed by the worship going on between the two shabby priests and their prisoner, some declaring they must study a religion as effective as that.
Early Contacts in Tillamook County
When the Indians of Western Oregon
on reservations, the Coastal Indians of the Tillamook, Nestucca
rivers remained free. Soon, however, anglos encroached and these
who had often wintered in the tributaries of the Yamhill, looked
Ronde for help. Records of Tillamook baptisms are found in the
Register from 1861, and from 1865, Fr. Croquette, via a variety
traveled to Tillamook Bay to visit them.
The Salmon Rivers were easy to access, but Fr. Croquette found it harder to reach the Nestuccas. Old Chief Kiwanda's family, for whom the cape is named, appears in 1868. Only in the 1890s do whites replace Indians in that area, and the name Woods replaces Nestucca. But Tillamook is a settlement from the start, and whites are mingled with Indians. In 1874, Fr. Croquette travels his furthest north, blessing a marriage at Garibaldi.
Netarts Bay comes on to his agenda in 1876, with Elizabeth and Patrick Moore as his hosts. Next year Elizabeth Moore lay dying and the family called him over to give her the last rites and bury her. Six years later, he did the same for the son of William C. O'Hara, for whom O'Hara Creek is named.
The first mass in Tillamook County took place Sunday, October 20, 1867, following the baptism of Indian Cecile and the regularizing of her union with Portuguese Joe Thompson. This occurred on Joe Creek, at present-day Pleasant Valley. Formerly called Nestocton, Fr. Croquette identifies the place as Natach. Also present were Josephine Deschamps, the Indians Betsy and James, Jenny and Timothy Goodall, and a person named Provost.
Salmon River Visits 1871-1872
In 1871-1872, when the Methodist veto
first excluding Fr. Croquette from the Siletz Reservation
change came about in the nature of his visits to the Salmon
did he have to scramble from lodge to lodge so as to reach off
babies and instruct any adults who were dangerously ill. By now
personally acquainted with the various families within reach,
existed a firm bond of mutual trust. Back at Grand Ronde, he was
to have his old leaders receive the sacrament of confirmation;
on the coast, he could now spare the time to instruct and
more stable couples, especially the chiefs. Moreover, as
Grand Ronde were often on hand at the mouth of the Salmon, he
them act as godparents. Thus, in August 1872, he baptized Indian
who was a pillar of the faith. Setting this event for the Feast
Lady's Assumption, and having on hand quite a crowd from Grand
a representative of the Catholic Sentinel, Fr. Croquette decided
great "tufty" tree on Devils
Lake, close to the beach, was a worthy site, and so
an altar of cedar planks split with stone wedges and had the
reed mats and don their best ornaments of shell and bartered
probably pulled his canoe ashore to enrich the scene; it meant
him to renounce the old custom of being buried in his canoe,
in the branches of a tree.
Skyller's wife Charlotte was not ready for baptism until October, but their adopted daughter shared the rite this day. There was nothing very original in the ceremony; the beautiful lake was not used for the baptism, but a dirty old basin carried in Fr. Croquette's grubby mass kit. But they enjoyed the bell and joined with gusto in the singing of hymns.
Around Christmas of 1875, he baptized the chiefs of the Salmon Rivers and Nestuccas, when these were visiting Grand Ronde. In the meantime, a biracial community of Catholics was forming around Tillamook Bay, and adult baptisms there became quite usual. With the new policy on baptism came a new one also on the mass: The holy sacrifice now became the regular climax of any coastal visit.
Fr. Croquette Revisits Joe Thompson 1877
In 1877, Fr. Croquette, having lost his way to Netarts Bay, happened upon the small clearing where Joe Thompson lived. His nephew, Francis Mercier, was with him and left a description of the event. Thompson, then 41, rushed to kneel and kiss his pastor's hand. Finding his uncle from the Azores boring, Mercier compares Fr. Croquette to Robinson Crusoe for the oddity of his garb, and his language barrier that probably left him psychologically marooned. Mercier and a newly arrived priest who had accompanied the old priest, did not bother to ride on to the store and inn that then constituted the town of Tillamook, but caught up on lost sleep and planned for an early departure home.
Tillamook Bay Visits 1890
In 1889, Fr. Croquette took his long deserved vacation in Belgium, and while he was away another priest took over at Siletz. In 1890, the northern communities around Tillamook Bay were visited by the archbishop, accompanied by Fr. Croquette. Confirmations were conferred and the decision was made to assign them a resident pastor. In 1892, a similar visit paid to the Siletz Reservation, where eight men and nine women were confirmed. This was Fr. Croquette's last visit, and he made it via the inland route, in order to meet up with the archbishop’s party at the train. Somehow it was learned that, when the 74-year-old missionary had stopped at a farmhouse en route to ask for lodgings, he was refused, as being a foreigner. Thus, as on so many earlier trips, a spreading tree was his roof for the night.
Grand Ronde Schools 1862-1908
Education for the children was one of
needs provided for in the treaties with the tribes, and so Grand
was entitled to one boarding school, with emphasis on manual
and one day school. In practice, however, both schools faced
which no one took a lasting interest in solving until Fr.
his convent school.
The fact is that, despite enormous odds, most of the Indians were undergoing a rapid learning process, which was equipping them for a new way of life, but this learning was occurring not in the classroom but in the casual contacts with off reservation employers.
Children and parents alike were eager to have the teachers take the pupils in and spruce them up in "Boston" clothing, but once the novelty had worn off, attendance would drop dramatically. Moreover, any new behavior patterns acquired at school would be discarded as soon as the children got home in the evening. Thus the authorities unanimously declared that the boarding school, with emphasis on manual labor skill building, was the only practical program for Grand Ronde, and that the funds of both schools should be consolidated to that end.
But to run a boarding school called for a decent building, and that needed an appropriation by Congress, which was not forthcoming. Year after year, agents would patch up the only available dwelling and use an old lean-to as a classroom. The teachers deplored the leaking roof, the "see-through" walls and the rotting foundations, but the Indians' objection was even stronger: the old building had once served as a hospital and it was irreverent to those who had died there that it be used to other ends and not burned to the ground.
Failing to secure a new building, each poor teacher had to begin anew to win the confidence of a few parents. He or she had to assure them that, though many children had died at earlier mission schools, this school need not bring death to theirs. And though it was well known that alumni of those old schools had become notorious as villains, such need not happen at Grand Ronde.
Perhaps the biggest obstacle to educating young Indians was the language barrier. They were very gifted at manual crafts and at memorization of English texts and music, but they had difficulty expressing themselves on a theoretical level in the language of their conquerors. Most teachers regarded the Chinook jargon they spoke as something quite as barbaric as the flea-ridden rags in which they were first brought to school.
The very first teachers at Grand Ronde, Mary and John Ostrander, who were probably engaged by Joel Palmer, taught amidst great frustration in 1856-1857. They did not have the advantage of boarding the children, but taught in two separate day schools near temporary encampments. The transfer of whole tribes out of immediate reach of the schools made for dramatic drops in attendance. The couple had the highest motivation and Mary labored ceaselessly to provide garments as inducements for the children to attend, but student motivation flagged more and more. Eventually there occurred an epidemic, and the medicine women diagnosed it as stemming from the bugle John had been using as a sporting gesture in place of a bell to call classes in session. The Ostranders express their defeat with touching meekness.
The C. M. Sawtelles, who taught at the school from 1862-1863, broke through the bigoted white prejudice. Brilliant educators, they were perfectly content to speak to the children in English and allow them to reply in Chinook jargon.
The Sawtelles appointed one of the mothers to act as teaching assistant in domestic skills. Not only did they win the confidence of children and parents alike, but the families left the reservation for food gathering trips, the students gladly stayed on and finished up the term. Under the Sawtelles, new applications were more numerous than space allowed.
In 1866-1867, after some difficulty in finding teachers, agent Amos Harvey (1864-1869) engaged the J. B. Clarks, who had shown resourcefulness in the very primitive conditions at Siletz.
Around 1870, the school was abandoned most of the time, possibly on account of the new federal policy, in which reservations were to be assigned to churches and there was dispute as to which church should have Grand Ronde. Nevertheless, the W. R. Dunbars did their best to salvage the situation for 1869-1870, gathering 14 students into the boarding school and ten into the day school.
After the Dunbars, came the resignation of agent Charles Lafollett (1869-1871), and the appointment of a Catholic agent, Patrick B. Sinnott (1872-1785). Very shortly, an Irish bachelor, James Donnelly, and the role of house mother was filled by Bridget Sinnott. A break was made with the old "embarrassing" classroom, and the new, purpose-built one soon attracted all it could hold—about 50 students. And then, in April 1874, came the nuns.
Convent School 1872-1900
A Convent School was agreed upon in
but local forces managed to block it. The resistance in 1871 was
by superintendent Alfred B. Meacham's removal from office in
by archbishop Bertrand Blanchet’s vigorous lobbying through Frs.
and Mesplie in Washington.
The nuns successively serving at Grand Ronde were from several distinct orders of nuns, the first being the Holy Names Sisters, founded in French Canada for the education of city girls. From their first arrival in 1874, these Sisters had pressed the need for a more healthy building for the girls and themselves, and also a building for the boys.
Most of the things looked for by Meacham and Brunot were efficiently provided by the Sisters: the children were trained in the habits of cleanliness and thrift that would be essential if they were to mix as citizens with white society. Visitors, and most notably the Protestant general, O. O. Howard, expressed admiration also for the classroom work, noting that the boys did better in academics but were inferior to the girls in deportment.
What the Indians looked for in the school was a little different. They were keen on manual training for the boys, but the Sisters were never able to retain a male instructor to give the boys consistently the same standard of service as the girls. More significant is what the Indians dreaded in a boarding school: epidemics of psychosomatic illness. The parents of prospective pupils took up the question on the morrow of the Sisters' arrival, and their broken English was not adequately reassuring. The illnesses did occur; the Indians laid the blame on factors envisaged by native medicine, but the Sisters blamed it on the poor insulation and inadequate heating of the living quarters. Each year would see fewer freshmen join them.
Washington DC was deaf to requests for a new building, and the Sisters' superiors gave an ultimatum: without a new school building, they would withdraw their services. Fr. Croquette took a two-year advance on his $100 annual salary and begged the rest from the only source responsive to him, his former confessor, past of Salem, Fr. Goens, now back in Belgium.
No sooner was the new building in use than the excellent Holy Names Sisters were withdrawn, for health or for pressing needs elsewhere.
Fortunately, by this time, Fr. Brouillet, who had been on the ship with Fr. Croquette's party in 1859, was in charge of the Bureau of Indian Missions in Washington DC, where he was in a position to contact other nuns who could help. He first obtained a group of five from Minnesota, who arrived in April 1881, and gathered 35 pupils, aged five through 26. They were under the jurisdiction of an abbot near Saint Cloud, and when this prelate saw the harsh conditions in which they were working, he broke off the contract and withdrew them, at the beginning of January 1882. The abbot's intention had been to found twin monasteries in the West, one of monks and one of nuns, and these Sisters at Grand Ronde were to have been something of a spearhead for that; but the buildings, the climate, with its rain, and the coming of other Benedictines to Gervias and Mount Angel, prompted him to change his plans and withdraw the spearhead.
Archbishop Seghers then made a dramatic plea to prior Adelhelm, founder of Mount Angel, who was about to leave for Europe, that he should find some other Benedictine Sisters to fill the gap. He stopped off in Missouri and first obtained some of his own Swiss compatriots residing there. The exact sequence of events is hard to reconstruct from the surviving records, but it seems that three Sisters were sent at once, led by Sister Mary Agnes Dali, who had been stationed at Maryville, Missouri.
Sister Agnes, in her early 40s, had earlier been given special opportunities for higher studies in drawing, painting and needlework while still in Switzerland and had, during her six or seven years in America, gained much practical experience in pioneering convent schools. In later years she would do outstanding work on every level, from menial chores and running a free school for African Americans (which was threatened with arson) to being the first elected superior of her kind in the country and taking charge of the training of young nuns. Apart from this artistic and administrative talent, she was a woman after Fr. Croquette's own heart; small in stature and robust in health, stinting herself in food and sleep but lavishing her goods on the poor and her leisure time on prayer.
Records of her stay are few, but two details are known: The Sisters obtained new horses and cows for the school farm, run by the boys, and obtained the services of a former companion of Fr. Croquette, Marcus Richard, who later became a lay Benedictine brother, to refurnish the chapel.
When prior Adelhelm returned from Europe, he brought two other groups of nuns from Switzerland: those intended for Gervias and Mount Angel, and those who end up in Cottonwood, Idaho. These latter lingered in Oregon for a while, to learn the language, and so he sent relays of them to Grand Ronde to help Sister Agnes' group with the manual labor. A layman was provided for the boys. By the fall of 1884, the Mount Angel Sisters were ready to take over from Sister Agnes' team, and the school got properly under way. Sister Agnews served thereafter in Oklahoma.
Nuns Provide Stability for Students
In contrast with earlier teachers, the
provided a stability of personnel and a determination to obtain
building; but they also brought with them a handicap in regard
and in caring for the male students. Their annual reports have
published, and their own Journals are mainly anonymous in regard
children. In fact, not many regular families persevered in
children to the Sisters, but those which did, including the
saw their children grow into an elite.
For the Sisters brought reforms into the children's lives which there would be no going back upon. These were the nonverbal lessons, stressed in Sinnott's reports: habits of neatness and courtesy, skills with vocal and instrumental music. Artwork is not much mentioned, but decoration is, and at least the girls would have become tasteful adorners of their homes.
True, this is the kind of "cleanliness" that colonialism thought "next to godliness," and the nuns were to joke that Fr. Croquette's rooms and clothing showed no more interest in it than did the grubbiest of the Indian families, but it would have been unauthentic in the nuns to try to initiate the children into their own spiritual world without all this earnest investment in grooming.
The Sisters’ world of the convent, unfenced though it was, existed in isolation from the public. Their days were filled with the chores modern conveniences have long since eliminated—fetching water from the well, splitting wood, laundering by hand, sewing each stitch by the dim light of a window. Highlights there were, which are mentioned in the convent Journal, but there is also a dull daily background, taken for granted but seeping into the child's soul: the Angelus bell, the rattling rosary, the grace before meals, the morning and evening prayers. There is the hush in passing by the chapel door, the fetching of a hat in order to enter, the genuflection before taking one's spot to kneel.
But how much of this hothouse piety could the children be expected to take home? That depended on how deeply they make it their own school and also on what kind of foundation existed at home upon which they could graft their new measure of fervor. The Journal has a keen eye to distinguish those devotions that grip the children and those that do not.
Above all, the children took home the liturgical calendar by which the nuns had lived. There were "countdowns" to the big feasts, though, oddly, little was made of Lent and Advent.
The Indians had to build their own Christian spirituality; it was not for the nuns to hazard connections between the Old Religion and the new, between the ancestral landmarks and the new house of prayer, between the native sense of seasons and the Christian feasts. Thus we do not find the nuns leading the children on pilgrimages to set up a cross atop Spirit Mountain, or attempting to connect the berry season with some patron saint. They leave it to the Indians to discover such connections for themselves later on. In the meantime, they do not even teach them American civil history: the officialdom of the agency undertakes that, with plenty of expenditure and fanfare, on the Fourth of July.
What the Nuns do offer, or rather, what the communicate by osmosis, is not so much a new patriotism as a new sense of belonging to the little convent community, to the parish, to the archdiocese, to the Catholic church. Officialdom seeks to detribalize the Indians; the Sisters give them, not a new tribal loyalty, but an integration into a loving community. When the leave school, the same bonds of love will grow within the families they will found, and between the families within the parish. The hospitality the Sisters show the visiting clergy and superiors teaches the children to add an openness to their warmth. The care the Sisters lavish on the children in illness teaches them the measure for future family commitment.
The imparting of these values by the Sisters was not jeopardized by the poor quality of their English or their lack of Chinook, and there is no evidence that any harm came to the boys. A renowned visitor, Gen. O. O. Howard, remarked that the boys were less neat than the girls, but that the boys were scholastically more advanced. They did, at times under the Sisters, have male instruction in manual skills, especially from Patrick Lynch of Willamina, and the daily chores then learned were carried on at all times. Nor was the element of sport lacking, for the sons of agent Sinnott made a lifelong boast of the scars left by games of "co-ho" or "shinney," a kind of hockey played with the Indian boys. Several male pupils, permitted to use a nearby barn as sleeping quarters in order to attend school, prized their schooling too much to abandon it even in the severest winter. Long decades later, old men around the parish boasted of their early privilege of going to the "Sister's School."
1884 Election Brings in More Generous Funds
Much as the Indians loved the nuns,
of personnel had made them dubious about sending their children
and the enrollment was rebuilt only slowly. A major change came,
with the presidential election of 1884, which brought in a
more generous with funds for Indians. The election also prompted
of agent Sinnott by John B. McClane, who served from January
1889. This gentleman was apparently not Catholic, but was very
with the nuns. By this time, the principal was American born, as
More generous federal funds were soon followed by federal regulations, made in a secularist direction. At first the changes were only by way of material improvements, but in 1891 the new agent, T. N. Faulconer, who served from September 1889 to January 1891, took it upon himself to dismiss an Indian overseer of the boys for a lack of leadership. The management of the boys did remain a problem for most of this period, and at one stage there was no male teacher for months on end, and the principal had to cope with 60 pupils in a single room. One Benedictine lay brother proved incompetent outside the classroom, but John Callahan was found satisfactory for some time.
In the early days of the Mount Angel nuns, the freshmen students still had difficulty with English, just as the parents still dealt somewhat with the medicine men. Manual skills and memorization still outweighed abstract thinking. The strong points in the classroom were the less linguistic ones: penmanship, drawing and music (both vocal and instrumental). The boys had a brass band; some girls played the organ.
The election of 1892 again went to the Democrats, and Fr. Croquette took occasion to lobby for a Catholic agent. It took some months, but his candidate, John F. Brentano (1893-1896) of Saint Paul, was eventually appointed and gave his utmost support to the Sisters and to Fr. Croquette. Unfortunately there then existed some loopholes in the legal system, which frustrated his efforts at reform in such matters as sales of liquor and bigamy. It is not indicated in published documents how or exactly when Brentano’s term came to an end, but he was out of office by April 1896.
Already congress had decided to phase out the "sectarian" school system on the reservations, and, in the case of Grand Ronde, to phase out the agency altogether. Thus Brentano's successor, Dr. Andrew Kershaw (1896-1909), was not strictly an agent, but his jurisdiction over the school was greater than in the past, on account of the repeal of the church's control.
The new administrator was chosen with great care: A Republican, a Protestant, one employed already for quite some years at Grand Ronde as its physician. His competence and dedication had been praised by successive agents before him, including Brentano.
The immediate changes made by Kershaw in the school were the replacement of two of the nuns by protestant teachers. One of these, Eugenie M. Edwards, at least in 1897 and for the next several years, acted as matron, with charge of all household arrangements. Another change was the sending of half a dozen senior students each year to Chemawa Indian School in Salem. A major change in Kershaw's second year was to combine the boys' and girls' dining rooms and to set them up in what one parent called "hotel" style. Meanwhile, the Sisters retained the two posts for teaching the girls in the classrooms and remained responsible for the major entertainments.
Sisters Replaced by Protestant Principal 1899-1900
Throughout the 1890s, the average
was increasing, from 60 to 90 students, but, given the yearly
to Chemawa, the number soon began to decrease, and so did the
With these large numbers of mouths to feed, the number of
increased—until there were 11.
At the end of the 1899-1900 school year, the teaching Sisters were replaced by Cora B. Egeler as principal and Luther Parker as second teacher. Dr. Kershaw, conforming to the official hush of secularizing policy, doesn't mention the Sisters' going, as was the case with Fr. Croquette's departure two years before. He mentions an improvement in the teaching in the latter half of 1899-1900, and the following year he names the new teachers as responsible for the improvement.
The loss of the Sisters brought an immediate drop in enrollment, which continued to dwindle. A 12-day inspection in June 1904, elicited criticisms and the next year, the Indians pressed to have the boarding school made a day school, ostensively to have the benefit of their children's weekend labor. In 1905, Kershaw hoped that recent legislation would boost it the following year. The new team was praised for harmony in its first year, when it was able to throw itself into a few building projects.
Boarding School System Starts Phase Out 1906
By 1906, there was a national trend away from reservation boarding schools towards day schools or regular public schools or centralized Indian schools, as at Chemawa. A first step at Grand Ronde, in 1907, was to introduce six Indians among the eight employees of the school. The next step, in 1908, was to close the Indian school altogether and to send the children either to the local public school or to Chemawa.
Father Felix Bucher 1898
The aged missionary, Msgr. Adrian
had refused to retire from his parish until he was assured that
priest would be sent to take his place. When he was told that a
was to be sent he resigned his position, having administered the
of baptism for the last time at Grand Ronde in October 1898.
he returned to his old home in Belgium.
After the departure of Msgr. Croquette, Fr. Felix Bucher continued his custom of riding in from Siletz from time to time in order to administer to the Catholic Indians at Grand Ronde. The parish records of the latter parish show his first baptism there on December 10, 1898, a private ceremony for Clara, daughter of Victoria Sill and Dan Wocchino. Though he may have visited the parish in succeeding months there was no new entry by him until July 16, 1899. However, the pastor of Corvallis, Fr. Severin Jurek, visited the Grand Ronde Mission in March of that year, as well as in May and August.
The absence of a resident priest at Grand Ronde was a hardship not only for the faithful of the mission but especially for the Benedictine Sisters who were helping conduct the agency school. Consequently, the Sisters' Superior to the Mount Angel mother house petitioned the archbishop for a resident priest so that the members of her community at Grand Ronde might have daily mass and the sacraments, telling him that unless a priest was sent the Sisters would be recalled to Mount Angel.
Father Charles Moser Arrives September 1899
In his pressing need Archbishop Alexander
who was new to the archdiocese, turned to the Benedictine abbot
Angel and begged for a priest for Grand Ronde "until Christmas."
consented and toward the end of September 1899, sent a young
priest, Fr. Charles Moser. Fr. Charles, one year ordained and
of age, concealed his youthful appearance behind a manly black
his abundant energy and enthusiasm he tried to keep the parish
vigorous. Things went smoothly enough for the young pastor
except for a
period of conflict with the school superintendent, Mr. Kershaw,
a schedule of classes for the teaching of religion to the
children. Fr. Charles remained at the Grand Ronde parish until
of April 1900. He was then sent to the Benedictine Indian
BC. He remained active in substitute parish work around Mount
Fr. Charles' leaving Grand Ronde coincided with, though was not prompted by, the dismissal of Sister Margaret O'Brien by the school superintendent. Sister Margaret, who had been one of the teachers, lost the good graces of the superintendent and was relieved of her position because she was considered too independent and too strict in discipline.
Another Benedictine, Fr. Berchtol Durer, helped out at the parish until the end of the school year, at which time the two remaining Sisters, Sister Walburga and Sister Clara, were recalled to their Mount Angel mother house.
After the short period with a resident pastor, Saint Michael's Parish, Grand Ronde, again returned to the status of mission, with but occasional visits by priests of neighboring parishes. The Saint Michael's Parish Register gives the best insight to the parochial of this period, though not a complete picture.
Interim Priests at Grand Ronde 1900-1903
From May 17 through October 24, 1900,
entries in the Parish Register were by Fr. George Berthiaume.
of the mission next passed into the hands of Fr. M. J. Hickey,
just a single visit in 1902 is recorded. In the Spring of that
through the summer months several visits to the Grand Ronde
made by Fr. J. J. Burri. Fr. Lee Miller is noted to have helped
two different periods these mission-status years, for the first
June 1901, and again in August 1903.
The relatively small number of baptisms during the years when no priest resided at Grand Ronde indicates that the missionary priests had little time for seeking out the children for baptism. It is likely that they baptized only those who were brought to them by the more conscientious parents. Again, the records show that there were often many baptisms on the same date, thus attesting to the not-too-frequent visits by the priest. That not all the children were brought for baptism during these years becomes apparent from an examination of the baptismal records in the period immediately following the assignment of a resident pastor. There were many more baptisms and not a few of the children baptized were five and six years of age.
After his entry of baptism on July 16, 1899, the name of Fr. Felix Bucher does not appear in the Saint Michael's parish records until February 12, 1905. In the course of that year there are records for six different visits to the mission by him, with a total of 22 baptisms.
Father Felix Assigned To Grand Ronde 1907
Early in 1907 Fr. Felix Bucher
that he was to transfer from Saint Mary's Parish in Siletz, to
Parish, in Grand Ronde. The people of Grand Ronde Reservation
to have again a resident priest, just as in the old days of
Croquette, and especially happy to have with them the missionary
already knew and revered, who had many times traveled the road
Coast Range from Siletz to bring them spiritual assistance.
Once he had taken up his post at Grand Ronde, Fr. Felix, like his predecessor, would never be away from his spiritual charges for any length of time. A couple of years before moving to the mission he had made his only visit to his homeland of Germany and to Rome, where he had an audience with Pope Pius X. After his one trip abroad, the missionary left Grand Ronde for only short periods, such as when he collected funds for his mission or be forced to take time to recuperate from illness.
Not only the parishioners of Saint Michael's, but all the people of the area, soon came to know the energetic new missionary pastor of Grand Ronde. His rather small stature gained for him the fond reference of "Our Little Father Felix." On assuming the pastorate of Grand Ronde he was already a man of 45 years of age and a priest for 15 years, but he was still extremely agile and seemed to possess abundant energy. People noted that he was always in a hurry as he went about his duties. Until the purchase in 1914 of his first car, a Model-T Ford, he did not bother with a rig or any type of carriage. Being a good horseman, he preferred the saddle and could be seen dashing down the open roads or wooded trails astride his favorite mount, a little bay called Gale—so named because of its speed.
Fr. Felix himself lived rather simply. In describing the rectory at Grand Ronde, Fr. Hildebrand, OSB, recalled:
...The rectory table seldom knew anything more than bread and milk. The room in which the pastor lived was connected to the old church. Furnishings were simple and few—a couple of wooden benches, a kerosene lamp, sometimes a stove...
Changing Times and World War I
Even while the people of Saint
were observing their jubilee year the signs of changing times
seen in their community. The historic military blockhouse, which
built in the early days of the Grand Ronde Reservation, was
from their town to the city park at Dayton, to be preserved
there as a
A new town two miles south of the Indian Mission showed promises of growth. The New Grand Ronde, as the town was called, was awaiting connections with the railroad which was being extended into several areas of Yamhill County to reach the rich timberland there. The Grand Ronde region really was coming into its own, for it had been pointed out years before that the area was more suited to timber than to agriculture. Within a year or so, the people hoped, logging and sawmill operations, which were the heart of the lumber industry, would begin to bring prosperity to them. The realization of these hopes, however, were due to be delayed. Domestic concerns at home were affected by the world tension which had already been released in armed conflict. WWI had begun in Europe and was soon to involve the US.
The coming of WWI greatly disturbed Fr. Felix, the pastor of the Grand Ronde Mission. When writing to his provincial in the Spring of 1917, the war was uppermost in this thoughts:
For the approaching feast of Easter,
felicitations. In contrast with the cold political stream of the
feels good to chat with the holy Easter angel about the
of Jesus towards his holy church and her faithful and devoted
I think there will be a bloody Easter for 1917. The hatred
and boiling over and the cover will certainly fly off and then
see what kind of master they are able to celebrate without God
How sad must be the condition of the prisoners, and here I think
in Russia, where most probably some of our confreres are among
Perhaps the war between American and Germany will already be in progress when my letter arrives in Saint Nazianz. Everywhere secret agents are looking around for anyone who is not convinced of the serious situation and who might say something that can be held against him by the suspicious minded.
The Indians here have a hard time making a living because everything is so high-priced and they have many little children, but also those without children are no better off. I have again to visit a sick person, the mother of seven children, the youngest only a few months old. I provided her with a doctor and medicine. Her husband has nothing and the doctor would not sent medicine without money.
While it is apparent that the war and its effects were much in the thoughts of Fr. Felix, it is no less certain that sickness and death became his preoccupation in his pastoral work among his Indians. The dedication of the zealous missionary towards the sick can be seen in the many references by him to that part of his pastoral work. During and after the war, of course, the epidemic of influenza rampant throughout the world was likewise felt among his people at Grand Ronde. At the end of January 1920, he wrote:
There is much sickness here; I already had three funerals this year and six persons are still very sick. In one family there are three and all three have typhoid pneumonia. I just received the message that the head of the family had turned worse. It is an Indian, the father of eight children. The smallest, three years old, will also die, and a small seven-year-old is also very sick. He has already made his first Holy Communion. Then there is also an Indian mother of five children, whose recovery cannot be expected. My pony and I are very much on the road, that is, in the mud. It is good that the Indians have a priest.
Writing in a similar vein a couple of months later, Fr. Felix gave more insight to the sufferings of his Indians, as well as his concern for the spiritual welfare of the sick and dying:
The time is long since I last wrote,
today I shall take a little time I have at my disposal. Almost
dependents are more or less sick, five and six in a single
returned from visiting a home where the father and mother are
and where the baby died, and where eight other little ones are
baby was buried this afternoon. Tomorrow we will have the
old Indian woman whom I visited two days ago. Five in the family
sick. The daughter already up in age was too weak to bring food
own mother. It was ten o'clock in the morning. "Oh," I said, "I
that." So I brought her tea and crackers. First I gave her Holy
When I entered the little room she moaned feverishly, but my
her. After I refreshed her in soul and body she fell into a
sleep like a child and this morning when I removed the cover
she had passed away in sleep with the same happy look.
It is difficult to get help since the influenza has taken hold on almost everyone. The day before yesterday I also had a funeral. The Good Lord has always kept me strong enough so that I can visit my sheep. For the time being I have two ponies because one could not do the work.
I ask you, Rev. Fr. Provincial, for your holy blessing for myself and the many sick Indians.
A further account of the ravages of the flu epidemic is continued in yet another letter written during the same month:
...The flu this year is a very deadly sickness. I had three funerals during the past week and many are still sick. I brought 38 holy communions to the sick. A mother left nine children behind. She was well prepared and I had the happiness to be present at the end. I gave a young woman a cross of a happy death which Pius X blessed in 1904 during my visit to Rome. It was one o;clock in the afternoon and at six in the evening she forgot all pain. The heat of the fever was very great, so that her hands were like glowing iron. If this young woman did not have a priest she certainly would have gone out of her mind. On the last day of her life I wished her good-night and good-bye and I said to her that the good Jesus was with her now, since I had to go. At four in the morning she slipped away. Holy rest comforted her the whole night, since she knew it was her last night.
The high mortality rate from the tuberculosis among the young people of the Grand Ronde Reservation greatly disturbed the sympathetic missionary, but he was quick to point out how much the consolation of the faith meant to the suffering victims of the disease:
The Indian children of the reservations of Siletz and Grand Ronde are sickly. A beautiful spring day is turned into a desolate dreary misty one, bare of any flower of delight. At the age of 12 an insidious caught is molesting the little ones. From now on the shadow of the angel of death is never receding from the path of life. The angel of paradise then is approaching the little Indian boy or girl and speaking of a God in heaven who awaits his beloved children in the realm of bliss and happiness. The Earth holding out no loving cup to them, they appreciate the deep thought hidden in the truth of everlasting life. They find a pearl now they do not want to exchange for the riches and emoluments of the children of the world. Whilst the shadows of the approaching death are becoming more dense, the glory of heaven appears more pronounced. A complete resignation to the will of God begins. It does not mean the abandonment of medical help, by any means, but where science has to confess its inability to do anything to save the life, that resignation gives supernatural joy, coupled with a peace that surpasses all understanding...
In another place Fr. Felix illustrates the appreciation the Indian had for the ministrations of their priest. He likewise notes the various diseases which ravaged the Native American population:
God is good to my poor Indians. A
young Indian said to his mother as he was dying, "I never knew
had so much power." I had stayed close to his bedside until the
was over. One Indian woman shouted in her last struggle,
my soul." An Indian whom I baptized before he died turned to me
with his last breath, "Father, I thank you." The little Indian
with their beautiful confidence in their spiritual friend have
a great consolation to me. In their sickness they have asked
to read to them out of their prayerbooks. A small boy begged his
to get the priest for his little sister who was sick. "The
than the doctor," the little fellow said.
Of 27 whom I baptized in one year, 26 died of whooping cough, black measles, pneumonia or smallpox. Among them was a nine-year-old Indian orphan girl who was a cripple. Her love for Jesus, whom she received frequently in holy communion, was very great and very touching. I trust she is in heaven now, and we are richer by her faith, by her beautiful example of patience and love of her eucharistic friend.
Fr. Felix wrote in his letters and Memoirs many of his pastoral experiences, especially those which occurred in connection with his visits to the sick. He expressed frequently the joy of conquest in relating how some who first opposed religion finally asked to be baptized or who called for the priest when in danger of death. The following is a good example of this:
Lost in the woods on the Grand Ronde
I walked in the direction from which I heard the barking of two
where there were dogs, there must be a house, I thought. And so
As I approached, two dogs, thin and hungry-looking, barked
me but retreated until they led me to an Indian hut. The master
house, an old Indian, told me in Chinook that white folks were
They killed his only horse the day before. It seemed that I
old man with the golden opportunity to vent his wrath on my
He roared on and I waited for him to stop. From glaring and
me, he turned to his wife, an Amazon six feet in height and of
girth. "Put him in the gunny sack," the old man commanded. The
in my direction and, stooping, began to rummage under the bed
sack. Amused, I watched her and presently caught her eye and saw
was just as amused as I. She continued to bat around under the
under her fiery consort's orders until he told her to let it go
me to sit down.
After the stormy ordeal was over the old man told me of a visit he had made to heaven in his dreams. He had stayed three days, he said. While there he saw many people, some dressed as cougars, others as bears and the like. We parted in peace and remained good friends for the rest of the old man's life. Despite his dislike for white folks, my good friend asked for and received baptism from me before he died. Some time after I received his old wife into the church before her death. God is good to my poor Indians.
Father Felix Dead at Age 76
Although his health had been failing slowly, Fr. Felix's death came suddenly of a heart attack on the Wednesday of holy week, April 13, 1938, at the age of 76. Funeral services were held for him on Easter Monday, and his body was laid at rest in the Salvatorian Community Cemetery on Loretto Hill, not far from the seminary buildings. Upon receiving the news of Fr. Felix's death, The Catholic Sentinel carried a front page story and a picture of the deceased. The news article said in part:
According to advice from the East, Fr.
Bucher, SDS, passed away on April 13 at the Salvatorian
Fr. Felix, as he was affectionately called, had worked tirelessly among the Indians at Grand Ronde and other places for nearly 45 years. He was a priest of extraordinary self-sacrifice and devotion to the poor and the little ones of his master's flock. No effort was too great or sacrifice too hard to undertake in the service of his beloved Indians. After ending 40 years or more hardships in his missionary field, his one great regret in returning to the motherhouse of his order, was that he had to leave his beloved charges behind...
The Sentinel had the following editorial the week later:
Fr. Felix is dead! That may mean very
to most of the Catholics in Oregon. But it means more than words
to his former Indian charges at Siletz and Grand Ronde. To them
they have lost a priest who was to them a real father in Christ.
it means that a saint of this earth has gone to join the saints
A many of many virtues, Fr. Felix was particularly known for his charity. His kindness knew no bounds. More than once he took the coat from off his back, and the stove from out of his livingroom, so that some poor bedraggled persons might have warmth, or some sick person a little more comfort in his home.
His kindness may at times have been abused. For his rooms were always bare, and his larder always empty. No doubt there were times when he stood in greater need than those who came to him in their want. But he never turned them away—at least not until he himself had parted with his last dollar. And because he always gave in the spirit of Christ, the recording angel, surely, never failed to take note of his kindness.
Few priests of Oregon have ever lived in surroundings that offered such scant comforts. However, his church in its interior furnishings bespoke care and solicitude. He would not allow the poverty of his living quarters to invade the sanctuary. He had a genuine concern for his father's house, even though he felt no concern for himself.
He was a visionary, in the sense that he always looked beyond the trying and disheartening conditions in which his life was placed, to a time when better things would be in store—not for himself, but for his mission. He never thought in terms of self. Money meant but one thing to him: A means of helping the poor and of rebuilding and enlarging the mission he loved.
He invariably ascribed everything that happened—particularly to himself, to the hand of divine providence. He walked in God's presence always, and saw good in everything that God provided. Perhaps that is why he was always cheerful. His vision was never so clouded but that he saw a ray of hope somewhere. Nothing could daunt his optimism. Yet, as a matter of fact, he hardly ever had the least occasion for optimism...
There is no reason to mourn the passing of Fr. Felix. For truly a saint of this Earth has gone to join the saints in heaven...
Father Charles Raymond 1923
The ninth of 12 children, Charles
Raymond was born in Aurora, Illinois, September 15, 1875 of
Quebecois" parents. His talent and love of singing developed
school; his spiritual upbringing in French-speaking parishes was
influenced by the Saint Viatorian Order which seminary he
near Kankakee, Illinois, days before his 18th birthday.
While still a novice, he was given teaching assignments at Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago where his musical talent was recognized and established his experience as a choir director and singer in his school and active with the school drama group.
Although he left Saint Viator for unknown reasons before ordination, he did answer an invitation from archbishop Alexander Christie of Oregon whose good word allowed Raymond to shorten his studies at the Major Seminary in Montreal joining his parents who had previously moved to Quebec. He received minor orders in 1906 and ordination that summer after spending 14 years in religious houses.
Upon arriving at Siletz in 1923, Fr. Raymond quickly won the hearts of all parishioners. Frs. Croquette and Bucher were remembered mainly for generously sharing with their flock every penny and every thread of clothing that came their way, and also for their consoling presence at many a deathbed. Fr. Raymond seems to have been remembered more for his practical skills, such as those two men never possessed.
Fr. Raymond had always made it a point to welcome homeless men into his rectory, offering them dignified work in return for their board. At Siletz, he is known to have gone a step further, and to have made himself the regular nurse for ailing men in cottages near the church. As soon as the roads became fit for his automobile, he was ever available to convey anyone to the nearest hospital.
His lack of eloquence was no impediment, and they would have loved him even without his magnificent singing. Again, with so small and impoverished a population, fund-raising was hardly a theme of his tenure, and, without a parish school, sacred concerts hardly had a place. It was his homely skills that made the people comfortable in teaming up with him as a parish.
In 1924-1925, while stationed at Siletz, Fr. Raymond founded a small resort town on 80 acres of land, between Devils Lake and the Pacific Ocean, a little to the north of D River. He gave it his own family name—Raymond Town—but it was afterwards known as Oceanlake. It has long since become a part of Lincoln City. Fr. Raymond's departure, in 1926, would break their hearts.
Mysterious Years of Exile: 1926-1928
Very soon a new archbishop, Edward
would replace Fr. Raymond's patron, Alexander Christie. Fr.
many another homely priest, would soon feel the effects of this.
Archbishop Howard, who was to live to the age of 105, was already 48 when he was appointed to Oregon at the end of April 1926. His whole career had been as a school teacher and administrator, with a short stint at the end as an auxiliary bishop. He must have been puzzled about this former Viatorian who had suddenly come up with a dream of being a missionary, and was now down on the beach, singing duets of "Old Man River" with personal friends from parishes in which he had earlier served. He summoned Fr. Raymond to his office, late in 1926, and, as the result of their conference, Fr. Raymond returned to the Viatorian headquarters at Bourbonnais, some 50 miles south of Chicago.
Saint Viator’s, a comprehensive educational institution run by that Order, had just suffered a disastrous fire, and so parishioners welcomed their former choir director back with open arms. One of the men recalled the general belief that he had returned to Saint Viator's for "reasons of health." In reality, however, it was a leave of absence, and in the course of 1928 a letter arrived from Archbishop Howard with an ultimatum: he could either return to Oregon and take whatever jobs were assigned him, or else he was on his own. He did return and, perhaps because his replacement at Siletz had caused considerable scandal, he was reassigned there, to help heal the wounds. But he was ordered to move his residence to Newport and to drop all pretense of being a missionary to the Indians. Fr. Raymond rose to the occasion, and it seems he now loyally broke off contact with the Viatorian Order. At least, the Raymond dossier in the Order's archives confesses a lack of further data on him, even for his eventual death.
It was on August 5, 1928, that he became pastor of Newport, Toledo, Oceanlake, and Siletz as missions, and he served there for over three more years.
Around that time, Shakerism emerged as a "naughty contender" to the Indians' missionary training. In 1957, Homer G. Barnett, author of Indian Shakers: A Messianic Cult of the Pacific Northwest wrote:
A large number of the Siletz Indians
in the next few years; so many, in fact that their desertion
churches alarmed the missionaries.
In 1928, Rev. Charles Raymond was appointed to undertake a preaching mission at Siletz because of "the deplorable fact that the Catholic Siletz Indians have joined the Shakers..."
Despite his failing health, Fr. Raymond was assigned to Silverton on October 31, 1931. He would serve there for just over a year. After that, he was assistant pastor in Milwaukie for eleven months, and was sent to Seaside for almost five years. In September 1940, following a period of hospitalization, Archbishop Howard, finally convinced of the limits of his strength, gave him the small adjacent parishes of Monroe and Junction City in the Upper Willamette Valley. On July 1, 1942, he left Monroe to become chaplain at the Provincial House of the Holy Names Sisters, at Marylhurst, just south of Portland. This was to be his last appointment. Fr. Charles Raymond died in Chicago on March 20, 1943.
Chapter 55: Berdache
Over 133 North American tribes have been documented to have berdache, or two-spirit, roles in their societies. Derived from a Persian word referring to a young male sex slave, French explorers used the word berdache to describe individuals with alternative gender roles, involving cross-gender behavior or same-sex relationships, an example of this being men who did traditional women's work or women who engaged in hunting and warfare. It should be noted that some anthropologists, including Walter L. Williams, reserve “Berdache” to describe biological males, preferring "Amazon" for biological females. Amazons were identified in almost half of the 133 indigenous societies studied.
Berdache varied widely from one people
another, but they most commonly: wore all or most of the items
associated with the opposite sex; performed the social and
of the opposite sex; were inspired to change their gender role
from the spirits communicated in a dream or a sacred ceremony;
but not always, had sexual relations with "conventional" members
own biological sex. Berdaches also frequently took spouses of
While some tribes gave no formal name to this behavior, an equal number formalized the two-spirit roles within their cultures.
Berdaches were treated with respect by most Native American societies. In some groups, they were revered as shamans or healers. Some documentation exists for Amazons who became leading lady warriors.
Columbus Encounters Berdache 1494
On his second voyage to the New World
1494, Christopher Columbus' (1451-1506) physician wrote that it
Nauseating! Disgusting!" In 1513, the adventurer Vasco Nunez de
(1475-1519), while exploring what is now Panama, described what
as "abominable." Most early observers of the Amerindian cultures
Western Hemisphere noted the prevalence of homosexual practices,
only confirmed their view of these people as primitive heathens
to be conquered.
One cynical theologian, Francisco de Victoria, countered with the argument that if homosexual practices justified conquest, France was indeed "holy" by trying to conquer the Italians. His statements were ignored.
Although there were homosexual elements in Amerindian societies, the European horror stories were a mixture of truth and fantasy. Among the Carib on the island of Hispaniola—whose behavior had inspired the disgust of Columbus' physician—there was widespread acceptance of a certain kind of homosexual act. It was customary for warriors to castrate boys that were captured from enemy villages and keep them as lovers until they were about 18; they were then killed and eaten.
In 1526, a Spanish historian wrote that some Carib men also had lovers that they did not intend to smother in butter and spices. These lovers were distinguished by wearing naguas, or short skirts. They also wore jewelry that their lovers had given them.
While the Caribs were a relatively poor and unsophisticated people, the Mayans, who occupied the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, were a wealthy and advanced civilization. Although their culture was declining when the Spanish arrived, there are accounts that they had accepted and even institutionalized homosexual relationships.
When a Mayan boy reached puberty, his parents asked him whether he wished to have a boy or a girl for a companion and sexual partner. Most boys were expected to choose another boy, because it was thought that boys preferred each other. At about the age of 18, upon entering manhood, the young man again could choose between the two. If the youth chose a man, the relationship had to be permanent and monogamous. If he chose a woman, the relationship had to be permanent, but not necessarily monogamous.
Despite what the Spanish conquistadores wrote, not all Amerindian cultures accepted same-sex relationships. The Aztecs of Central Mexico, for instance, required the death penalty for both male and female homosexuality. The methods for execution were brutal and were enforced. The Incas, in South America, burned men suspected of homosexual activity. Shortly after they were conquered by the Spanish in 1530, one observer wrote that in a town in Northern Peru there were 15 women for every man when the Incas finished burning homosexuals. By 1580, when another visitor wrote, the area was still known for its gaiety.
After conquering the native population, the Spanish set about the task of converting them, with an amusing result. A pious priest, Fr. Jose del Valle y Araujo, composed a novena to Saint Boniface to help those trying to overcome their homosexuality. Instead of praying to the saint for a "cure," many gay Indians prayed to him for help against heterosexuals, making Boniface the "Patron of Homosexuals." The novena was popular for centuries; in fact, there was a woodprint dated 1821 with the caption "Patron of Homosexuals" which shows a handsome, muscular man dressed in a loincloth and praying before a slightly bemused Boniface.
North American Indians also shared mixed opinions regarding same-sex relations. In 1542, one explorer discovered a tribe in Texas that went so far as to allow men to marry other men.
Anthropologist Ruth Benedict Defines Berdache
The first Europeans to write about
were French and Spanish missionaries in the 17th Century. Unused
people in their own societies, most Europeans and, later,
Canadians, conflated them with "sodomites" or, in some cases,
believed male berdache to be biological females. Historian Rudi
hypothesizes that the European "discovery" of berdache may have
contributing factor in the association, common in the West by
the 18th Century, of same-sex eroticism with cross-gender social
When missionaries or government officials discovered berdache and Amazons in the late 19th Century, they often forced them to change their mode of dress and manner of life to conform to American and Canadian gender expectations. Many are reported to have committed suicide rather than do so. A few resisters were discovered and written about by Ruth Benedict (1887-1948) and other anthropologists in the 20th Century, but it was not until the 1970s that a revival of Native American traditions and gay liberation combined to bring large numbers of Amazons and berdache out of the closet.
Benedict noted in her 1934 classic, Patterns of Culture, that many North American tribes institutionalized alternative gender roles, and she used the example of Zuni Lhamana and Katsotse in her famous book. Summarizing the career of We'wha (1849-1896), perhaps the most famous berdache in American history, she concluded:
There are obviously several reasons why a person becomes a berdache in Zuni, but whatever the reason, men who have chosen openly to assume women's dress have the same chance as any other person to establish themselves as functioning members of the society. Their response is socially recognized. If they have native ability, they can give it scope; if they are weak creatures, they fail in terms of their weaknesses of character, not in terms of their inversion.
Berdaches married other men, were referred
"she," and were genial social organizers. They had the best of
they possessed women's domestic skills and also learned to hunt
They were often among the wealthiest members of the tribe, and
as a whole benefited from their unique abilities as artists,
In the 1880s, anthropologist Matilda Coxe Stevenson accompanied the famous Zuni Lhamana to Washington DC. We'wha, taken to be an "Indian Princess," charmed Washington society and was even presented to Pres. Grover Cleveland (1837-1908) on June 23, 1886. No one present was aware that We'wha was a biological male.
Stevenson wrote that We'wha was perhaps the tallest person in Zuni, certainly the strongest, both mentally and physically.
...She had a good memory, not only for the lore of her people, but for all that she heard of the outside world... She possessed an indomitable will and an insatiable thirst for knowledge. Her likes and dislikes were intense. She would risk anything to serve those she loved, but toward those who crossed her path she was vindictive. Though severe she was considered just... Owing to her bright mind and excellent memory, she was called upon by her clan and also by the clans of her foster mother and father when a long prayer had to be repeated or a grace was to be offered over a feast. In fact she was the chief personage on many occasions. On account of her physical strength all the household work requiring great exertion was left for her, and while she most willingly took the harder work from others of the family, she would not permit idleness; all had to labor or receive an unbraiding from We'wha, and nothing was more dreaded than a scolding from her.
George Wharton James, a self-styled expert on American Indian weaving wrote in a manuscript that is now at the Southwest Museum:
We’wah was the attendant at a certain shrine, and was quite a noted character. As will be seen from her picture she was of masculine build and had far more of the man in her character than the woman. Yet she excelled all other of the Zuni women in the exercise of her skill in blanket and pottery making. Her blanketry was noted far and wide, and her pottery fetched twice the price of that of any other maker... Her home in Zuni was full of evidences of her skill. At the time I photographed her, she was busy grinding corn meal in one of the rooms of her commodious house, and all around the floor were placed baskets and bowls full of vegetables and fruits which she was preparing for winter use.
James further stated that We'wah was and expert weaver, and her pole of soft stuff
...was laden with the work of her loom—blankets and dresses exquisitely woven, and with a delicate perception of color-values that delighted the eye of the connoisseur. Her sashes, too, were the finest I ever saw, and proud indeed is that collector who can boast of one of her weave among his valued treasures.
This stands in sharp contract to "civilized" white society where feminine traits, whether in women or in men who loved men, traditionally inspirited contempt.
Female Berdaches in American Indian Cultures
Historian Elizabeth Young-Bruehl writes that "among some Indian tribes gender roles elsewhere considered masculine (roles like soldiering and hunting, which would be exclusively male in cultures with more rigidly dichotomous divisions of labor) and are permitted to take female sexual and marital partners."
Paula Gunn Allen Uncovers Female Berdache Tradition 1978
In 1978, when Paula Gunn Allen began writing her landmark essay "Lesbians in American Indian Cultures," she knew that Indian women had been shut out of Indian organizations and physically threatened for simply calling themselves feminists, let alone lesbians. Allen worked in isolation for two years before finally publishing her article in 1981. She recalls that it was
...really scary to put that out. But I finally decided that the danger was already so great that putting out the article wouldn’t make things worse... I can take the risk. They kicked me out years ago. But there are young people out there and they have to know about this.
Gradually, as a result of efforts by Maurice
Allen, and others, along with organizations like GAI (Gay
memories of the berdache tradition have been recovered in many
In 1975, Kenny wrote that homosexuality is accepted if not condoned
...within most primal societies. In certain societies the homosexual was made a fetish or became an integral part of ceremony. The American Indian was no exception to the rule.
Kenny went on to cite evidence of berdaches and native homosexuality from a wide variety of tribes, concluding his essay with a hopeful vision of the future.
Perhaps when Indians have once again regained their old cultures, languages and ceremonies, the berdache will not only be respected but will find a place in [ones] chosen society. The current taboos against [ones] nature will then have changed sufficiently so that [one] may make a contribution to and function once more in that recognized culture.
By the 1980s many of these predictions were being realized. GAI has been joined by organizations of lesbian and gay Indians in Vancouver, BC, Minneapolis, Winnipeg, Toronto, and New York City—the last naming itself after We'Wha and a famous Crow Indian female berdache.
Madame Boisverd: Kutenai Berdache at Fort Astoria 1808
A Kutenai berdache (or Titqattek), Madame Boisverd, figures in prominently with the history of Fort Astoria. Beverly Hungry Wolf wrote:
The Kutenai people are neighbors of
to the West, just across the Rocky Mountains. In the buffalo
often came over into our prairie country to hunt. Sometimes we
peace with them, and other times we fought. Sometimes our men
intermarried with theirs.
The Kutenais once had a woman similar to the Running Eagle of our tribes, in that she gave up her housework to go hunting and fighting like the men. Only this Kutenai woman went one step further by taking another woman for a wife. Her story was mentioned in various old books and journals of early traders and travelers.
Claude Schaeffer, in his unpublished field notes, drew on them to compile the following history of her interesting career:
Thompson's stay at Fort Astoria
acquaintance with an unusual and colorful woman of the Flatbow
She was to become not only the most publicized personage of
history, but, next to Sacajawea... perhaps the best-known
woman of the period. In addition, she was in part responsible
expansion of the Pacific Fur Company into the interior.
as she became known to her people, married Thompson's servant,
in 1808. He took her to a fur post, probably Kutenai House, to
her conduct became so loose, contrary to Kutenai standards, that
was compelled to send her home. Madame Boisverd explained to her
that the whites had changed her sex, by virtue of which she had
spiritual power. Thereafter she assumed a masculine name, donned
clothing and weapons, adopted many pursuits, and took a woman as
Her presence later at Spokane House, a trading post in Washington, became objectionable and Finan McDonald, to get rid of her, sent her and her partner with a message directed to John Stuart at Fort Estekatadene, in modern British Columbia. The two lost their way, followed the Columbia River to its mouth and wound up at Astor’s post. The traders at Fort Astoria elicited from the woman "important information respecting the country in the interior," and decided to send an expedition under command of David Stuart.
Madame Boisverd Leads Expedition Party from Astoria to Explore Interior
Upon encountering the pair at Fort Astoria, Thompson at once recognized Madame Boisverd and described her background to his hosts:
On July 22 a party consisting of the
party, David Stuart and his men, and the two Kutenai women, set
the interior. The latter had agreed to act as guides for the
Madame Boisverd's prophecies of smallpox and other fearful
en route down the Columbia had not been pleasing to the local
so that upon her return she and her partner were the objects of
The two women at one point sought protection from Thompson, who
the Lower Columbia tribes as to the future. Thompson and his men
on to the Snake, ascended that river as far as the Palouse, and
overland to Spokane House. The Stuart party, guided by the two
up the Columbia and Okanagan rivers to establish a post in
Madame Boisverd and her partner are said to have continued on to the post in present day British Columbia and were attacked by hostile Indians during which the former was wounded in the breast. They delivered their dispatch to John Stuart and returned to the Columbia with a reply.
As Burns declared in the preface of an anthology of historical and contemporary writing published by GAI in 1988, "We are living in the spirit of our traditional gay Indian people."
The Role of Strong-Hearted Women Among Western Tribes
Among the Plains and other Western
two roles have been mentioned that deserve further explanation
indicate a certain flexibility for women and men within many
societies. These two roles, those of the "Strong (Manly)-Hearted
and the cross-genderd Berdache, allowed Indian women to pursue
have ordinarily been regarded as male personality
in their particular societies.
The Strong-Hearted Woman, as described by Oscar Lewis, on the North Piegan Blackfeet Brocket Reservation in Canada were not transvestites, homosexuals, or warriors, but were demonstrating a personality type. This term was applied only to older (but not necessarily post-menopausal) propertied women who had been married. These women (14 of the 109 married or formerly married women on the reserve) were recognized as "Manly-Hearted" because they were independent, outspoken, and assertive in public. Six of the women Lewis studied were medicine women. Manly-Hearted Women ran their own households and, if they were still married, also ran their spouses'—a phenomenon noted by a trader in 1794. They participated in religion by sponsoring sun dances, were considered to be sexually active and experimental, were more mature, and were wealthier from inheritance and their own endeavors. In fact, only wealthy women of high social position were eligible for this designation; poor women who showed the same traits were derided as presumptuous.
The Zuni "New Woman"
Elsie Clews Parsons (1875-1941) was the only anthropologist to record information on the female counterpart of the male Lhamana, a Manly-Hearted Woman who took part in Zuni Kachina ceremonies. She described a Zuni woman named Nancy, who was jokingly referred to as "the girl-man," or Katsotse:
Of the Katsotse I saw quit a little, for she worked by the day in her household. She was an unusually competent worker, "a girl I can always depend on," said her employer. She had a rather lean, spare build and her gait was comparatively quick and alert. It occurred to me once that she might be a La'mana. "If she is," said her employer, "she is not so openly like the others. Besides she's been too much married for one." She was, I concluded, a "strong-minded woman," a Zuni "new woman," a large part of her male.
Elsewhere, Parsons defines Katsotse as
...girl-man, a tomboy," and reported that Nancy was in demand as
among American employers.
Nancy had been invited into the Kiva Society—according to Parsons, to do "Kiva work." In an important ceremony... She wore the mask of the berdache Kachina, a mask usually worn by a male Lhamana. In other words, the Zuni linked both men and women who preferred the work of the other sex to the same supernatural archetype. The Zuni typically referred to women who became members of the Kachina Society or engaged in vigorous activities, including men's work, as 'Otstsi', or manly, or with the verb lhamanaye, literally, "being Lhamana," that is, like a berdache. Such a woman might be married and otherwise fulfill the usual roles of a woman, but at least some Zuni women, like Nancy, formally occupied Lhamana status. That Katsotse were often among those women initiated into the Kachina Society—and that they should be the ones, who with their male counterparts, to impersonate the berdache Kachina—is not surprising.
Cha'kwen 'Oka, the Demoness
In Zuni society, there were Katsotse in the spirit world:
Cha'kwen 'Oka, the demoness, is a female counterpart of the murderous clowns. She carries the principle of female creativity and self-sufficiency to a level of excess equal to theirs. In her, unrestrained life-giving becomes a defiance of death. Furthermore, by withholding her fertility as the "Keeper of Game" and closing the wombs of the creatures in her dominion, she denies life to others. Just as an overemphasis on maleness results in hostility by men toward women, Cha'kwen 'Oka represents an aspect of femaleness hostile to men. She is, for all purposes, a female Berdache. That is, although she appears female, she manifests male behaviors and lacks female reproductive functions. The blood of a dead animal must be rubbed on her legs to simulate menstruation. Similarly, while she assists at births, she herself does not bear offspring. She has the power, however, to stimulate the fertility of others, both animal and human.
Some of the women in Lewis' study had
rather independent all their lives, having been "favored-child"
wife. Others had grown into independence with age, experience,
One thing these women had in common was that they would not put
abuse from their spouses. Those who had been beaten by earlier
a not-uncommon practice among the Piegan Blackfeet during the
period, had fought back with weapons or with shaming their
if all else failed, they left the abusive spouse. This
role was feared and criticized and admired. Manly-Hearted
women of wealth, social position, and presumed sexual abilities,
sought after by younger men. Some women seemed to see the role
protest in a male-dominated society, and many women aspired to
this status, according to Lewis.
Berdache, a term originally used for males but now also applied to females, is currently being replaced by a more neutral term—"the cross-gender role." The cross-gender role was more complicated than that of the manly-hearted personality; it indicated that the individual had chosen to temporarily or permanently take on some aspect of the role of the other gender in tasks, rituals, and sometimes dress and hairstyle.
George Wharton James traveled to Zuni in the 1890s and appears to have been a guest in We'wha's house. "On my various visits to Zuni," he wrote, "She always befriended me." In 1920 he published an account and photographs of We'wah in a New Mexico travelogue:
She was a remarkable woman, a fine
and sash maker, an excellent cook, and adept in all the work of
and yet strange to say, She was a man. There never has been, as
satisfactory explanation given, as far as I know, of the
followed by the Pueblo of having one or two men in each tribe,
their manhood and who dress as, act like, and seemingly live the
women. We’wah was one of these.
She seldom sang at her grinding, but at a word from her, I have heard as many as half a hundred voices all raised at once in one wonderful unison of melody, from all parts of the pueblo as the women ground their corn and sang simultaneously.
This category included those who wanted to
the other gender role; it excluded men who had been forced to
women—a shaming device used among some Plains societies for
shown cowardice in battle.
Cross-gender role status might include those born with indeterminate genitals, those with homosexual preferences, or those whose preferences and/or socialization had inclined them to cross-gender roles. The preference often surfaced in visions or dreams. Some groups said these visions came while in the womb. In the case of biological uncertainty, the parents might allow the individual to choose which way to go by observing what toys the child preferred. Among the Kaska, parents without sons might deliberately pick a daughter with the most assertive qualities to socialize into the male role; at the age of five a bag containing bear ovaries was tied around the girl-child's neck or to her belt and her male training began. Sue-Ellen Jacobs found documentation for two societies in which a particularly handsome boy might be raised as a girl, but no societies have been cited as raising a girl as a boy because she was homely. The Kutenai story of Sitting-In-The-Water-Grizzly, however, provides us with the possibility that her powerful physique caused a rejection by Indian males and led her to a cross-gender role that she eventually fulfilled rather well as a guide, prophet, and warrior—after a slow start with a bad temper that moved her to domestic violence.
The Navajo Nadle
Homosexuality does not appear to have
the major reason for cross-gender or berdache roles, since
that homosexuality was practiced by those who were not berdaches
communities. The early Spanish writers, for example, thought
male homosexual practices all over the Americas, but the
not limited to the institutionalized, more permanent berdache
women’s duties were included. Among some groups, berdaches were
or heterosexual. The Navajo, for example, can often point to a
or great-grandfather. A Navajo cross-gender-role person was
in a "third gender" category. A nadle's legal status, however,
of a woman. For example, the blood payment for murdering a nadle
same as for killing a woman, higher than for killing a man. The
was determined by the type of work performed, rather than by
If homosexuality was not the basis for selecting the cross-gender role, other possibilities have to be considered: (1) and individual's preference for the tasks of the opposite sex, (2) belief in visions and dreams from the spirit world, and (3) expediency. In the latter instance, women sometimes became hunters and warriors to feed and protect their families.
One such example occurred in 1835.
Chief, a Gros Ventre adopted by the Crow and a favorite child,
the raising of her siblings when her adopted parents died.
raiding were time-consuming activities, and, as a sign of the
she had won by virtue of her bravery and skills in hunting and
was eventually necessary for her to take four female wives to do
tasks. Because she wore women's clothes—and was considered
a feminine way—Woman Chief was not technically a berdache.
Running Eagle, a Piegan Blackfeet, may present a similar situation; she too found it necessary to support her siblings. Lozen, a Chiricahaua Apache, Buffalo Calf Road, a Northern Cheyenne, and others might or might not have become warriors in more pacific times. These particular cases do not necessarily imply same-sex identity by economic or defensive necessity and a proclivity for male tasks, although there is no doubt that some Manly-Hearted Women were lesbians, as the Blackfeet had two words—Sakwo-mapi and Akikwan— identifying cross-gender behavior among females. Although the Cheyenne have no word identifying female berdache, the use the word Heemaneh' for male members engaging in alternative gender roles. Another Plains tribe, the Dakota, use the word Koskalaka to refer to their cross-gendered female members.
In sum, gender-role identity was not equated in Indian thinking with biology alone, and an individual was accepted for whatever gender work and ritual roles the person assumed. The choices might have been made by deliberate or less deliberate socialization (for example, the case of the favorite girl-child who is allowed to participate in men's activities); through personality, ability, and preference for occupations of the other sex; by direction of supernatural forces; or by expediency as male roles needed to be filled. The key is that "Women as well as men could step outside group-respected choices." This choice was precluded in white ideologies, which expected people to adhere to more narrow biological and gender-role classifications.
Chapter 56: US Newspaper History
In an era when women were, in the words of Susan B. Anthony, "political slaves," Abigail Scott Duniway (1834-1915) rose from quite ordinary beginnings as an Illinois farmgirl to become a nationally famed champion of Women's Suffrage, as well as a significant author and publisher. Duniway, the best known Woman in Oregon history, was a true pioneer, or "path breaker," as she termed herself and her colleagues in the Equal Rights Movement. Her 1852 journey overland to the Pacific Coast by ox-drawn wagon at the age of 17 was a formative experience that she returned to again and again in her writing.
The hardships endured on the trail by
Scott party were proverbial. There were deaths from disease, and
from drowning. Cholera was epidemic that year, before they
both Abigail’s Mother and youngest brother had perished. Abigail
as she was known by family members) had been appointed scribe by
and kept a journal of the Scott's migration under his tutelage.
often-eloquent diary, filled with joy and wonder at the
its writer traversed, as well as with heartfelt sorrow.
In 1859, when Duniway was still a young farmwife burdened by infants and never-ceasing household chores—a decade before her entry into publishing and politics—she penned a fictionalized account of the trip, Captain Gray's Company. This became the first novel to be commercially published in Oregon. It was her first literary work of any length, and was described in a review as
a silly story, comprising the usual quantity of "yellow covered" love, expressed in bad grammar, and liberally interspersed with slang phrases.
Other critics have concurred. And yet, it
story that the author felt compelled to write, and marks her
the larger world beyond that defined by hearthstone and
experiences along the Oregon Trail also surfaced time and again
many novels serialized in her newspaper, the New Northwest
and received a final treatment in 1905 in another published
the West to the West.
However, to be a pioneer, or "path breaker," meant much more to Duniway than the standard connotations. In her work, the "free, young, elastic West" (and Oregon in particular) would come to represent the land of promise for women, where all could hope to see materialized the kind of freedom that "the women of the older states, crystallized with constitutions hoary with the encrustations of long-vanished years" could only dream of. Duniway longed for Oregon to become "the banner state of the new dispensation" of equal rights for women, and from 1870 on, she would devote her life to making this a reality.
Duniway's Journal of a Trip to Oregon reveals the talent-in-embryo that would later emerge as the editorial voice of the New Northwest. The young Scott sisters, possibly clad in "bloomer" attire of wide pantaloons and short skirts (quite fashionable on the Oregon Trail in 1852), often raced ahead of the slow-moving ox train to admire the scenery, but were also halted by sorrow when visited by the deaths of those they held most dear.
Duniway though she was leaving her Illinois home forever, and never imagined how quickly she would be able to retrace her route after the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869. The Journal had been published in Vol. V of the Covered Wagon Women series.
Duniway’s Captain Gray's Company was the first novel to be commercially published in Oregon. From the West to the West is a later fictionalized rendition of her westward journey. However, along with her many novels reprising the western experience, Duniway also wrote a number of poems that considered the trip and its significance to her.
Some of these are found in My Musings, a booklet published after her first trip to the East Coast to attend a convention of the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA) in 1872. This includes, After Twenty Years, a poem written at the site of her mother's grave near Fort Laramie, in which the author contemplates the remarkable difference between a journey by "iron horse" and one by ox train, and invokes her mother's spirit to guide her in her fledgling career as an equal rights activist.
Another poem written at the same time, Oregon: Land of Promise, was published separately in 1907 as a souvenir booklet bearing Duniway's photo and typical signature, "Yours for Liberty." It was written on the train as the author sped West, and the sound of the wheels driving onward over prairie and mountain is echoed in its cadence. Duniway's verses show that, although Oregon was characterized by its "grandeur and beauty," neither its landscape, nor even its commercial potential, was the greatest attraction for those who embarked on the journey West. Rather, the "promise" offered by Oregon was that it provided a home for a newly-nascent liberty for women, a place where their "song could run riot, or fancy go free."
Abigail Scott Duniway: Voice of the New Northwest
After traveling overland to Oregon
at the age of 17, Abigail Scott Duniway became a school teacher,
entered upon a career as a pioneer farm wife. When her husband,
financial setbacks and was later injured in an accident. Duniway
to support the family, which by 1869 included six children. She
as a woman her opportunities were severely limited. After
teaching, an occupation that paid women only a fraction of what
men, she built up a successful millinery business. But these
preludes to the discovery of her true vocation—that of
for equal rights.
In 1871, Duniway began publishing the New Northwest, a weekly newspaper devoted to promoting, not just suffrage, but an entire agenda of women's issues. At the time the journal commenced publication, married Women did not even have the right to ownership of their own wardrobes. Under the mentorship of the far more experienced Susan B. Anthony, who visited the West Coast and traveled through Oregon and Washington with Duniway at this time, the newly established publisher learned the ins and outs of politics, and went on to become a national as well as local leader of the Women's Movement.
In addition for writing for the New Northwest, Duniway authorized several books, including her autobiography, Path Breaking, and an epic poem, David and Anna Matson. However, the bulk of her literary accomplishments are found in the pages of her newspaper, and in a later publication she edited, The Pacific Empire. The two periodicals contain over 20 of her own novels, as well as countless columns of editorials and news. A distinctive feature was Duniway's editorial correspondence, and ongoing narrative of her travels throughout the Pacific Northwest and across the US while campaigning for equal rights.
A few rare issues of the New Northwest survive, although complete sets are now available only on microfilm. It contains most of Duniway's serialized novels, which form a vital record of what life in the Old West was like from the perspective of an ardent feminist. In these narratives, standard conversations are reversed. Strong women rescue their menfolk from trouble, and the law enforcers are generally the villains—because they carry out legislation that robs Women of their rights. Duniway revised several of the novels originally published in her newspapers for eventual publications in book form. The manuscript of Ethel Graeme’s Destiny: A Story of Real Life is a revisions of Her Lot; or, How She was Protected, which appeared in the columns of the New Northwest in 1878.
The January 21, 1886, issue of the New Northwest, was specially preserved by Duniway because it contains an account of her vigil over the deathbed of her daughter, Clara Belle, who passed away at the age of 31 from tuberculosis, the "plague of the 19th Century." Because all of Duniway's other five children were sons, she felt the loss of this lone daughter and eldest child keenly.
However, the boys (Willis, Hubert, Wilkie, Clyde and Ralph) all worked closely with their mother in the publishing business as they grew to maturity—first learning to set type, later writing copy as well—and were able to draw on the experience in their later careers. Duniway's second youngest son, Clyde, went on to become a university president. His son, David, served as Oregon's first state archivist, and later donated the family papers to the University of Oregon.
David C. Duniway was only three years old when Duniway died in 1915, but he remembers the talk about her.
Grandmother had a biting tongue. She could come back with such a clever and cruel remark, it could make an enemy of suffrage forever. She had no sense of diplomacy. I think that's why it took so long in Oregon to get the vote.
Indeed, the National Suffrage
was so concerned about Abigail's effect on Oregon, as much
uncompromising stand against temperance as her barreling
they sent organizers in from the East. But when women did win
in Oregon in 1914, it was Abigail, almost 80, who was given the
and the honor of casting the first vote.
Abigail Scott Duniway, hailed as a noted campaigner, writer and editor, was also a vibrant and compelling presence on the lecture platform despite hostile audiences who pelted her with eggs and burned her in effigy. Her sharp wit, definite opinions, and mean stubbornness often strained her relations with other suffrage leaders. Susan B. Anthony always seemed to be hurrying her off to a hotel when Duniway wanted to fight it out with a heckler. She was a featured speaker at local rallies as well as at National Suffrage Association meetings, and received complimentary reviews of her powers as a public speaker from a side variety of sources.
One of Duniway's most treasured goals was to achieve suffrage victories in the three states of what she designated as her "chosen bailiwick." These were Oregon, Washington, and Idaho—the states that had comprised the Old Oregon Country. Despite staunch opposition from some of the most influential men in Oregon, including Duniway's own brother and long-time editor of the Oregonian, Harvey Scott, these victories came to pass. Idahoan women won the vote in 1896, followed by Washingtonians in 1910, and, after a number of early near-wins, Oregonians finally achieved victory in 1912, eight years in advance of the passage of the national amendment.
By the time of Duniway's death in 1915, she had achieved near-legendary status. When the Lewis & Clark Centennial was celebrated in Portland in 1905, it featured an "Abigail Scott Duniway Day," and contemporaries honored her as the quintessential "Pioneer Mother," as well as the "Mother of Woman Suffrage."
"Self-Government is a Natural Right..."
The Golden Dawn, at San Francisco,
was established in 1876, with Ms. Boyer, editor. The Ballot-Box
in 1876, at Toledo, Ohio, Sarah Langdon Williams, editor, under
of the city Woman's Suffrage Association. It was moved to
York, in 1878, and is now edited by Matilda Joslyn Gage
the name of The National Citizen & Ballot-Box, as an
views of the National Woman Suffrage Association. Its motto,
is a natural right, and the ballot is the method of exercising
Laura de Force Gordon for some years edited a daily Democratic
California. In opposition to this large array of papers
for woman, a solitary little monthly was started a few years
Baltimore, Maryland, under the auspices of Ms. General Sherman
Admiral Dahlgren. It was called The True Woman, but soon died of
and inherent weakness of constitution.
In the Exposition of 1876, in Philadelphia, the New Century, edited and published under the auspices of the Woman’s Central Committee, was made-up and printed by women on a press of their own, in the Woman’s Pavilion. In 1877, Teresa Lewis started Woman's Words in Philadelphia. For some time, Penfield, New York, boasted its 13-year-old girl editor, in Nellie Williams. Her paper, the Penfield Enterprise, was for three years written, set up, and published by herself. It attained a circulation of 3,000.
Fashion and Pattern Magazines
In the US the list of women's fashion
pattern papers, with their women editors and correspondents, is
and important. For 14 years Harper's Bazaar has been ably edited
L. Booth; other papers of similar character are both owned and
women. Madame Demorest's Monthly, a paper that originated the
business which has extended its ramifications into every part of
and given employment to thousands of women. As illustrative of
continuity of purpose in newspaper work, we may mention the fact
15 years Fanny Fern did not fail to have an article in readiness
for the Ledger, for 20 years Jane Cunningham "Jennie June" Croly
had edited Madame Demorest's Monthly and contributed to many
throughout the US. In 1866, she published Jennie June's American
Book, and a collection of columns, Jennie Juneiana: Talks on
in 1869. Mary Mapes Dodge (1831-1905), who wrote Hans Brinker in
edited the St. Nicholas magazine until 1873. During the 1880s
of Atlantic and Harper's. So important a place do women writers
Monthly asserts, that the exceptionally large prices are paid to
contributors. The priciest critics, reporters, and
are women—Grace Greenwood, Louise Chandler Moulton, Mary
C. Holloway is on the editorial staff of the Brooklyn Eagle. The
Times boasts a woman cattle reporter, Midi Morgan, one of the
of stock in the country. In some papers, over their own names,
columns or special subjects, and fill important positions on
and edited by men. Elizabeth Boynton Harbert edits "The Woman's
in the Inter-Ocean, one of the leading dailies in Chicago. Mary
Weigley Edits a social department for her father's paper, the
in Philadelphia. The political columns of many papers are
men often receiving the credit. Among the best editorials in the
Tribune, from Margaret Fuller (1810-1850) to Lucia Gilbert
been from the pens of women.
If the proverb that "the pen is mightier than the sword" be true, woman's skill and force in using this mightier weapon must soon change the destinies of the world.
Men Dominate Publishing in 20th Century
However, as the nation's economy
complex in the 19th Century, publishing—like other
dominated by men with investment capital. Women were largely
the title of publisher, though a number of them, such as Sarah
(1788-1879), carved out significant roles as editors, especially
new women's magazines. Late in the same era, Miriam Leslie
stands as an
unparalleled publishing phenomenon who turned the magazine
she inherited from bankruptcy to major success. Though she is
Ellen Browning Scripps (1836-1932) both wrote w and invested
original income multiplied more than 40 times during the
newspaper chain that retains her family name.
Thus, individual women continued to be important to the publishing world, even though women as a group were largely unacknowledged. In the early 20th Century, for example, Margaret Carolyn Anderson (1886-1973) accepted financial hardship and the threat of arrest to publish such writers as Emma Goldman (1869-1940) and James Joyce (1882-1941). Blanche Wolf Knopf (1894-1966) endured no financial loss, but she exhibited the same enterprise as Anderson in looking for new, untested authors and in recognizing the market power of Women readers.
In the magazine field during the same era, Lila Bell Acheson Wallace (1889-19894) cofounded Reader's Digest and Frieda Kirchwey (1893-1976) owned and published the Nation, while Jesse Ellen Mathews Vann (c1890-1967) carved out a place for herself in the specialized field of newspapers aimed at African Americans. At the same time that these women were playing major roles in the most visible publishing work, women publishers continued unheralded, but nonetheless successful, in fields relating to women and children. Eleanor Johnson (1892-1987), for example, founder of the perennially popular My Weekly Reader, should be far better recognized as a successful publisher than she is. Similarly, two women editors, Louisa Knapp Curtis and Bernice Gould, who were married to the more visible male publishers were key to the long success of Ladies Home Journal.
Without regard to these separate publishing areas, however, there have been a number of important women in mainstream publishing in the latter half of the 20th Century. Active publications of major metropolitan newspapers include Alicia Patterson (1906-1963) of Newsday and Eleanor Medill "Cissy" Patterson (1881-1948) of the Washington Times-Herald, Oveta Culp Hobby (1905-?) of the Houston Post, Katherine Meyer Graham (1917-?) of the Washington Post, Dorothy Schiff (1903-1989) of the New York Post, Iphigene Ochs Sulzberger (1892-1990) of the New York Times, and Jesse Vann of the Pittsburgh Courier.
Colonial Anne Catherine Green and modern Katherine Graham are examples of similarly important female historical figures, for Graham's courage in publishing the Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam War (1950-1975) is akin to that of Green in publishing news sources that were antigovernment during the American Revolution. All through the nation's history, there have been women with the courage and the ability to influence opinion through the printed word that they published. They deserve more attention from male historians than they have received.
The Oregon Spector
The Oregon Spector, first newspaper
west of the Rocky Mountains, made its initial appearance on
1846, at Oregon City; it was issued by the Oregon Printing
With a swagger typical of that period, it flaunted on its
the Star of Empire Takes Its Way." Colonel William G. T'Vault,
in early Oregon newspaper history, was the first editor of the
but his aggressive nature balked at the association's rule
discussions. T'Vault resigned after a few weeks and went to
He edited the Umpqua Gazette at Scottsburg after several years,
moved the paper to Jacksonville under the name of Table Rock
Charged by his enemies at Jacksonville with harboring
a heinous accusation in Oregon in those days, the doughty
"If I thought there was one drop of abolition blood in my veins,
cut it out." The statement silenced his critics.
Henry A. G. Lee, a descendant of the Virginia Lees, succeeded T'Vault on the Oregon Spector, and in turn was followed by George Law Curry, later territorial governor of Oregon. Curry, too, found the inhibition against political discussion "irksome," and he resigned to founded the Free Press in Oregon City, Oregon's second newspaper. The Free Press, issued first in March 1848, gave up the ghost when the goldrush in California emptied Oregon of its few printers.
The last of Oregon's three preterritorial publications, a 16 page magazine, was the Oregon American & Evangelical Unionist, begun June 1848, and published and edited on Tualatin Plains by Rev. John S. Griffin. The press that was installed for this magazine had been used in Oahu, Hawaii, by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions for the printing of hymns, catechisms and gospels in the islander's native tongue. It was later given to Dr. Marcus Whitman and Rev. Henry Spalding, Presbyterian missionaries in the Oregon Country at Waiilatpu and Lapwai. The press arrived at Fort Vancouver in 1839 and was carried by canoe up the Columbia to the mission. A man named Turner, the first "tramp" printer in Oregon, operated the press at Lapwai, turning out hymns, biblical passages, and educational tracts in the Nez Perceé, Flathead and Spokane languages.
After eight issues, the American was suspended, because, according to editor Griffin, somebody opposed to his views on the Whitman massacre bribed the printer to break his contract and go off to the California mines. The last number appeared in October 1848.
Oregon’s fourth newspaper, the Western Star, which was established to foster the growth of Milwaukie in the face of the rising settlement at Portland, began publication in November 1850, with Lot Whitcomb, an aggressive local promoter at its head. He hired two young printers, Waterman and Davis, to run the press, and eventually became so indebted to them for unpaid wages that they owned the plant. In the dead of a May night in 1851 the new owners moved it on a flat boat to Portland. Milwaukie rose en masse. The men were accused of stealing the newspaper, but it developed that Whitcomb had actually sold it. Waterman and Davis explained that they moved the property at night to escape opposition, so high ran the feeling between the two towns. At Portland the Western Star became the Oregon Weekly Times.
A few months aft the birth of the Western Star, two newspapers destined to exert great influence on Oregon affairs appeared. They were the Weekly Oregonian, established at Portland on December 4, 1850, and the Oregon Statesman, that began publication at Oregon City in March 1851. Both are still major publications, the former as the Oregonian at Portland and the latter under its original name in Salem. The Oregonian has been published as a daily for more than 75 years and the Statesman for 50 years.
In their early years, these two newspapers were bitter rivals, but they have long since laid aside their enmities. The Weekly Oregonian, financed by Col. W. W. Chapman and Stephen Coffin, was a "Whig" newspaper, and the Oregon Statesman, owned and edited by Asahel Bush, supported the principles of the Democratic party. After publishing his newspaper at Oregon City for a few years, Bush moved it to Salem, explaining the move by saying that business had not been good, but adding "Oregon City is not all of Oregon." At Salem the newspaper became the spokesman of the famed "Salem clique," an aggressive group of Democratic party leaders who exerted tremendous influence in the early days of the Oregon Territory (1848-1859).
The Issue of Slavery
The Statesman and the Weekly Oregonian
over Oregon's admission to the Union, with the slavery question,
disguised at times, the real issue in the controversy. The
statehood, and the Weekly Oregonian, under Thomas J. Bryer's
opposed it, fearing that slavery would be "imposed" on the
the federal government. Nine times in seven years the issue of
appeared in one form or another, and on four occasions it went
of the people. The Oregonian, however, withdrew its opposition
election on the ground that under statehood the slavery issue
with the dispute, as the electorate finally voted for admission
H. L. Pittock gained control of the Weekly Oregonian and converted it into a daily, the Morning Oregonian, in February 1861. In 1877, Harvey W. Scott assumed the editorship, beginning until his death in 1910. In 1937, the name was changed to the Oregonian. In time the ownership and policy of the Statesman also changed, and it became a Republican newspaper.
While the Weekly Oregonian and the Statesman were fighting over statehood, the Spector expired. But out of the wreck arose the Oregon City Argus. W. L. Adams, the founder, was an admirer of Abraham Lincoln, and he made the Argus the first distinctly Republican newspaper in Oregon if not on the Pacific Coast. Adams was a master of cutting invective, which he turned to good account against the Democratic leaders of his day. The editorial columns of the Argus under Adams, the Table Rock Sentinel under T'Vault and the Weekly Oregonian under Dryer, reflected the tense condition of Oregon public opinion on the stormy issues of statehood and slavery. So bitter did the diatribes become that Oregon editorial expression of the period was referred to by newspapermen as "the Oregon style." This reached a climax during the Civil War, when the federal government suppressed five newspapers, two in Eugene, the others at Albany, Corvallis, and Jacksonville, for their attacks upon president Lincoln's prosecution of the war. The Eugene City Democratic Register, one of the papers suppressed, was at the time edited by Oregon’s famous poet, Joaquin Miller. He revived it as the Democrat Review in 1863.
For two decades after the Civil War, Oregon newspaper history was strewn with the "obituaries" of new enterprises. Newspapers sprang up in all sections of the state [including Benton County], but lack of printers, wanted of capital, scarcity of news print, and difficulty in news transmission made the business hazardous.
Length of service and able editorial direction have established the Oregonian as a potent influence on Oregon thought. The Oregon Journal, established in 1902 at Portland by C. S. Jackson, is equally successful in molding public opinion.
The Telegram, established in 1877, and for three decades owned by the Morning Oregonian, dominated the Portland afternoon daily field until after the Journal was born. Some of the most brilliant men in Pacific Northwest journalism were developed by the Telegram. A. C. McDonald, one of its early executives, died from the effects of a duel with James K. Mercer, editor of the Portland Bee, in the early 1880s. Mercer went to prison for 15 years. Among the men who directed the Telegram in its heyday were Alfred D. Bowen, Clifford J. Owen, John F. Carroll, and Paul R. Keltry, later an editor of the Oregonian. Although owned by a Republican newspaper, the Telegram was usually Democratic in politics in order to keep competitors out of the field. In 1914, J. E. Wheeler and L. R. Wheeler, prominent Pacific Northwest lumbermen, bought the paper, but several "unpopular" campaigns, one being against the Ku Klux Klan, undermined its prestige and untoward circumstances plunged it into bankruptcy. C. H. Brockhagen, at that time publisher of a string of Pacific Coast newspapers, purchased the Telegram in 1927 with the backing of Herbert Fleishhacker, San Francisco capitalist. Under the editorship of Lester Adams, it began to recoup its political fortunes, and in 1930 it was victorious in a campaign for the public ownership of water power. In 1931, however, the Telegram was sold to the Portland News, a Scripps-Canfield newspaper. In the merger, the personality of the historic paper was lost, and nothing remained of it in the News-Telegram but the name. Finally, a few years later, the News-Telegram passed entirely from the field.
Yaquina Bay Post
The rough draft of Lincoln County's
can be found in yesterday's newspapers. Over the years, at least
newspapers have been published in Lincoln County. Unfortunately,
the early papers have been lost; others have been preserved on
and are readily accessible to researchers.
Lincoln County’s first newspaper, the Yaquina Post, was established in Yaquina City (where Sawyer’s Landing is now) in 1882 by Collins Van Cleve, a well-known Oregon journalist. Oregon’s timber industry beginning to be developed intensively, and just a year before, construction had begun on a railroad to Yaquina City from Corvallis. Yaquina City was to be a transcontinental terminus—the hub of a shipping empire, and Van Cleve must have seen this as a great ground floor opportunity for a new business. For didn't the promoters say so?
Van Cleve, through good times and the great preponderance of bad, kept his little paper going in the same location for 14 years. This, in those days, was something. By 1887, population, business, land office publications, and hope had developed to the extent where he was able to issue a small daily as well as his larger weekly. Other towns in the bay region began to grow, but Yaquina City didn't quite get going, and soon the daily stopped, and Van Cleve, in 1889, hooked up the Post with the Scio Press, printing them both at Yaquina City.
Yaquina City's hopes from the railroad, like those of all the other towns in Benton and Linn counties, proved illusionary. The railroad out through Corvallis had been built, and the roundhouse was established at Yaquina City. But, with business as light as it was, this didn’t mean much. The citizens of Corvallis and Benton County had contributed money, goods, and labor to the extent of $100,000 to the Corvallis & Eastern Railroad; and when the promoters had finished, the lines, partly constructed, which had become an $18 million project, was sold to receivers for $100,000. The original contributors lost their money.
But Van Cleve was not the only hopeful journalist to be on Yaquina Bay. Samuel Case established the Yaquina Mail, a Saturday weekly, at Newport in 1884, and J. H. Aldrich, experienced newspaper man from Iowa, father of Edwin B. Aldrich, editor of the Eastern Oregon and member of the State Highway Commission, launched the Newport News in the same town as the Tuesday Democrat paper of 1886. Neither of these papers proved permanent. In 1887, E. C. Phelps was editing the Mail, but it died soon afterwards. Aldrich carried on his paper until 1889. As far as anyone knows, all of these papers lasted only a year or two and have been lost to time except for some of the later editions of the Yaquina Post. Development was not meeting expectations.
D . C. Ullmar entered the picture with another Newport paper, the Yaquina Republican, in 1888, issuing on Thursdays. The paper lived three years.
In the depression year of 1893 came the founding of the two newspapers which have come on down to the present. February saw the official establishment of the new county of Lincoln, and this event no doubt is responsible for the two successful journalistic ventures: Newport's Yaquina Bay News and Toledo's Lincoln County Leader.
The Yaquina Bay News came first, by a matter of five weeks, for it was launched February 2, at Newport, while the Lincoln County Leader was started in the upriver town of Toledo, March 9.
By that time the other Newport papers had faded out, but Van Cleve was conducting the Post at Toledo. The News, edited by John E. Matthews, was not received with tremendous acclaim in its opening days. Other papers had died, the railroad was in the receiver's hands, and the idea of a local paper in such a small place was regarded as just not good sense. But the paper is still running, in the hands of the same family as started it. The paper was for Republicanism and Prohibition; still is. The News started and has been, most of the time, a seven column, 13-em paper. The early edition had two of the four pages "patent," shipped in from Portland by Palmer & Rey, and later, American Type Founders. Times were dull, and of the 28 columns only three and a half were devoted to advertising. The subscription rate of $1.50 was none too easy to get. In 1905, Capt. William Matthews succeeded his father in the editorship. J. E. Matthews died March 23, 1835, after an active connection of 38 years with the News, having been inactive only during the last few years.
The Newport Journal, a Wednesday weekly, was started by Robert E. Davey in 1925. Davey is assisted by his wife, who is linotype operator.
The Lincoln County Leader, of Toledo, began its 47th year March 9, 1939. J. F. Stewart was running the World at Woodburn in opposition to the Independent, and when the new county was established he saw a chance to get away from his competition and grow into a promising field. He visited Toledo, looked the situation over, and March 9, he was out with Volume 1, No. 1 of the Lincoln County Leader. The streets of the young town were mud roads, population was scant, and the place had little but its hopes. Yaquina City, the railroad terminus, was still the leading commercial town on the bay. Newport had its developing tourists trade, and even they were not prosperous newspaper towns; Yaquina City’s papers, in fact, had departed. But Toledo had been awarded the county seat, and this was enough for Stewart; he started the Lincoln County Leader.
The plant was rudimentary; a little old army press set on a dry goods box printed one page at a time after the type had been set by hand by the kid typesetter. Stewart continued with the Leader until 1898, retiring to become county judge. Later owners have been Wesley L. Davis, Ada and Charles Soule, R. E. Collins (1893-1935) and F. N. Hayden, Hall Brothers, then Richard Henry Howell, John E. Cooter and Collins.
The Lincoln County Herald was established by R. E. Collins in 1926 when Hall Brothers were conducting the Leader, with G. Willoughby Hall, editor. In 1927, a stock company took over the two pages and consolidated them as the Leader. J. E. Cooter, speaker of the house of representatives in the 1935 session, became publisher with R. H. Howell, editor and manager. Shortly afterwards the Howells, R. H. and his wife, Edith Harrison, bought out the other stockholders. Since the death of her spouse in October 1937, Edith Harrison Howell has been conducting the paper. R. H. Howell was active in civic affairs in Toledo, having been city superintendent of schools several years and mayor for six hears.
In the meantime, several other Yaquina Bay papers have come and gone. The Reporter, an independent Republican weekly, was started in Toledo in 1902 by Charles E. Hawkins and Charles Barton Crosno, who ran it for three years. They were succeeded by Almond B. Clark, in 1906. The paper was suspended in 1908.
John Fleming Wilson (1877-1922), former member of the Portland Telegram staff and a well-known short story writer, established the Yaquina Signal at Newport, in 1908. The next year he sold to H. G. Guild, Oregon newspaper veteran, who remained about a year. The paper was gone when the material for Ayer's 1910 Directory was gathered.
Yaquina City, ambitious little railroad terminal of the 1880s and early 1890s, was the scene of the organization of the Oregon Press Association, which had evolved into the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association. The year was 1887, when the young state was swinging out of pioneer conditions toward the modern and when the number of Oregon publications was, roughly, half of what it is today.
Yaquina Bay in 1887 was a popular spot. The railroad activity had combined with the attractions of the beach and bay, to bring there in the summer a group of newspaper men on vacation. A call was issued by three of these organizations' meetings for an editorial association. The trio was J. N. R. Bell, editor of the Roseburg Review; Martin L. Pipes, editor of the Benton Leader, Corvallis, and Coll Van Cleve, publisher of the Yaquina Post.
Newport News and Molalla Pioneer 1946
Newspaper publisher M. M. Sweetland was born in Salem, January 20, 1910, the son of E. Mildred Mark and Dr. George J. Sweetland. After graduating from Wittenberg College in Springfield, Ohio in 1930, he did graduate work at Cornell and Syracuse universities. From 1937 to 1941, Sweetland was executive secretary of the Oregon Commonwealth Federation. He served as special labor advisor in Washington DC from 1941 to 1942, and organized a wartime campaign among industrial workers for the Red Cross, USO, and Allied Relief drives. He was a member of the National Budget Committee, and served as national director of the War Relief Committee in 1942. From January 1943 to January 1946, Sweetland was combat Red Cross director and supervisor in the Pacific Theater. He was a member of the State Advisory Board; the Farm Security Administration; the East and West Association; the National Association for Advance-Workers Defense League; and the Public ownership League. In 1946, Sweetland became publisher of the Molalla Pioneer and Newport News.
By the 1960s, the Yaquina Bay News,
many changes in ownership and several mergers with other papers,
as the Newport News. Not long after the Newport News bought out
paper, the Lincoln County Times of Waldport, the two names were
to the present day News-Times. About a year later the News-Times
Toledo's Lincoln County Leader.
The rough draft of history published by the Lincoln County Leader and the Yaquina Bay News/News-Times has been microfilmed and is readily accessible. They can be found locally at the Toledo Public Library. The research library at Newport’s Oregon Coast History Center has the News-Times and its predecessors from 1901 into the 1970s. They also have on microfilm dome smaller local newspapers such as the Newport Journal, Newport Signal and papers from Waldport, Delake and Oceanlake.
The fact is, that it is only in the
that the country people find nearly all their literature, and
can barely be found who does not regularly take three or more
this makes the continued lives of these papers possible. A town
or 1,200 inhabitants will support two or even three papers. How
Examine one of these papers and you will find the outside pages
printed than the inside, and filled with a special sort of
and short bits of general information; extracts from magazines
Eastern or English newspapers. The inside pages have the local
you will see the leader, devoted to the topics of the time and
on the railroad news of the day; expressing the editor’s
rates of passage, or the advantages his town offers for
industries; or criticizing the recent appointment of postmaster.
correspondence from various outlying towns or villages, written
by The schoolmaster, and abounding in literary allusions and
And then comes the amazing feature of the papers—a column or two
This is the style:
• Beautiful weather • New York syrup at Thompson's • The spring is nearly done • Use the celebrated XL flour, the best in the market • Ms. [ ] has been in [ ] attending to the Woman Suffrage question, the past week • Our thanks are due to two fair ladies for bouquets of spring flowers, the first of the season • Our young friend, Pete M. • called us today; good boy, Pete • Judge Henry was at Salem the past week • Ms. Addie Bines is visiting friends in town • Did you see that bonnet at the Presbyterian church Sunday? •The rates of board at the Cosmopolitan Hotel are $5 a week; three meals for $1 • The Odd Fellows will give a ball on the 25th • Our vociferous friend, Samuel N. [ ] is starting for Puget Sound • and so on.
I observe and hear that these locals
by far the best read portion of the paper. A variety of items of
from the neighborhood, and advertisements, the longest of which
to patent medicines of all sorts, fill up these two inner pages
paper. The secret of cheap production lies in obtaining the
the two outside pages ready printed, from an office in Portland,
supplies in this way 20 or 30 of these little papers. Thus the
the editor is reduced to the "getting up" of the two inner
as will be seen, not a very high level of brainpower is needed.
The Oregonian is the only journal in the state giving the latest telegrams. Naturally, it is published in Portland, and devoted mainly to the interests of that city. It is connected with the Associated Press, and possesses the practical monopoly of the supply of news, properly so called. Professing to be Republican in politics, it assumes the liberty of advocating doctrines and supporting candidates for office in direct violation of the acknowledged principles of the party and the wishes of the party managers. With a parade of fairness, and willingness to admit to its columns views and communications opposing the ideas it may be advocating at the time, it takes care of color matters in such form as to prevent or weaken all opposing or criticizing matters. It is bitterly hostile to every movement in the Willamette Valley tending toward independence of Portland’s money, power and influence. While professing to desire the development of the state, it reads that to mean solely the aggrandizement of Portland. It enjoys a happy facility of conversion, and will unblushingly advocate today the adaptation of measures it denounced last week. Unreliable in everything except its telegraphic news, and oftentimes seeking to color them by suggestive head-notes and capital announcements, it is a calamity to the state that its chief journal should be at once the most unpopular at home and the most misleading abroad.
Of course, the Oregonian is not the only journal professing to be of and for the state at large. Several are published at Portland claiming the character of general state interest. Such are the Willamette Farmer, a journal chiefly devoted to the farming interest, and with which the Oregonian is very frequently at war; The New Northwest, Edited and Published by Abigail Scott Duniway, a lady enthusiast in favor of women's rights and Woman Suffrage, but making up with a good deal of ability a paper containing much of general interest; the Pacific Christian Advocate, a religious paper; and also a number of other papers, Democratic and Republican, of no special note.
Salem, Albany, and Harrisburg possess newspapers above the average of ability and circulation.
I thought there was a good deal of wisdom in the letter of a correspondent of mine in one of the Eastern states, who concluded a letter of general inquiry as to the state of Oregon with a request that I would send him a bundle of local newspapers, "by which," he said, "I can judge better of the present conditions of life in Oregon than by the answers of any one special correspondent."
Lincoln County Locals
(1) Dell & Allen Hodges 1928 (2) Water Wheel By Del Hodges (1940-1999) (3) Marsh Simpson 1907
Photographs From Lords of Themselves: A History of Eastern Lincoln County, Oregon 1978
• May 1868: Frank Stanton's Yaquina State Express line, starting off the ferry boat at Elk City, when the moorage gave way, causing three of his horses to be thrown overboard. Two were saved by cutting them loose from the hack, the other one rose under the boat and was drowned. • Edwin A. Abbey was postmaster of Newton (Elk City) and John L. Shipley of Little Elk. • July 1869: Stephen Robnett had a triweekly mail contract, used a hack, Corvallis to Yaquina Bay, fare $4. • Dr. Kellogg is having a bridge of hewed timbers built at the ford at Pioneer. 1893: The name of Siding One was changed to Storrs • Arthur St. Clair of Chitwood caught a 150 pound trout [sic] Saturday PM • D. W. Scott went near Elk City and caught 76 trout in an hour • A man has to be pretty well covered with moss not to be a regular advertiser • Owen C. Simpson, son of Ben Simpson, is making his parents in Elk City a visit during lay off of Parker Mill at Oneatta on lower bay near Yaquina City • Elk City Meat Market will open 20th. The butcher is Commodore P. Bevens • Professor Bruce has left his ranch at Seal Rock and accepted a position at Drain College of Mathematics • April 27: the steamer Benton came to Abbey place and returned next day with a scow load of hay • F. R. Simpson will build a residence • E. M. Mays will build an addition to his house • Marshall W. Simpson put up a large barn; F. M. Carter contemplated building two or three residences • We need a blacksmith shop • The Porter family from Arkansas moved into town. Porter is a shoemaker • The depot and bridge are being built • There are 7,000 to 8,000 bushels of potatoes ready to be shipped May 4: Col. Franklin J. Parker, editor of Walla Walla Statesman, is buying a farm near Elk City • Wilfred H. Daniel killed a cougar in his chicken house • George A. Hodges went over to Wilhoits' place on Drift Creek and killed a bear that killed his sheep • William Mulkey & Company have 1,000 cedar fence posts at Franklin J. Parker's place • Here is the list of civil war veterans gathered in Newport: R. Campbell, A. O. Hooker, C. C. Kubler, C. A. Dick, T. Starkley, L. M. Butler, Thomas P. Fish, Otto O. Krogstad • Taxpayers with more than $1,000 valuation in Elk city are: Edwin A. Abbey, Dr. Franklin M. Carter, Samuel A. Logan, E. M. Mays, Franklin J. Parker, A. O. Simpson, Mathias L. Trapp, Israel Eddy, C. C. McBride, M. S. Whitney • E. Lillard is building a boat • There will be a dance at Elk City Hotel Friday night under the supervision of Lillard Brothers. Music will be provided by F. O. Mays and Commodore P. Bevens • Drift Creek: B. F. Wilhoit killed a fine black bear getting 40 pounds of lard • William Arnold and B. F. Wilhoit are shearing sheep • Professor Jerry Banks has gone to school on the Big Elk • Cora Grant is visiting Curtis Brown’s place • Bert Griffith left for San Francisco • June 22: A familiar landmark has been removed at Elk City by tearing down the old warehouse built by the Corvallis & Yaquina Bay Military Wagon Road Company 27 years ago, in 1866 • O. C. Simpson has a real estate office at Elk City • Pioneer needs a store and post office, too far away • Salem is planning to build a city hall • A community inspecting [sic] unanimously agreed that Pioneer Rock Quarry in Lincoln County has the best stone they've inspected—it takes a nicer finish more easily, worked [sic] and withstands pressure and effect of the heat; is better than any other. All the bids must be estimated on Pioneer stone • C. R. Miller of Elk City is doing nice photography work • Samuel A. Logan has a ranch at Logansport, is selling huge pie plant [sic] • Meadow Creek School: William Arnold, 98; Arthur Gordon, 94; Lillie Brown, 80; Willie Brown, 85; Bessie Neal, 80; Delano Neal, 90; Fred Neal, 87.5; Leo Neal, 94; Elmer Watkins, 94; and Leona Watkins, 98. Prize in writing by Elmer Watkins. B. F. Wilhoit is teacher • White's Mineral Springs excellent medical properties, about three miles above Elk City • The rock for Salem City Hall to be taken from Pioneer Spur is about completed • William Wakefield is in poor health, from effects of serving his country in the war for the union • July: F. M. Carter showed samples of wheat from his Elk City farm, six feet, six inches high • Milton H. Young is on Drift Creek looking after his ranch. He has the best ranch place on Drift Creek • William Davenport is erecting his domicile on his new ranch at Lick Skillet • Samuel A. Logan has lettuce grown on his farm at Storrs, the one big leaf as big as a water pail • Eval Aiken of Albany will teach Elk City School winter 1893-94 • M. H. Young sold homestead on Drift Creek to Henry Burns, and will move to farm on Big Elk purchased from his father-in-law • August: In a short time Pioneer Rock Quarry will begin shipping random stones to city hall at Salem, 50 or 60 car loads will be used • September 21: Boom at Elk City, trout fish fine • M. W. Simpson caught 75 fish in five hours • The hotel will be occupied by Roy Deyoe of Albany, purchased from M. W. Simpson • 15 pupils, subscription school commenced Friday • Oct. 19: George A. Hodges, PM at Salado • Steamer Rebecca came Saturday for load of hay and potatoes • W. D. Griffith of Salado homestead for sale, 20 acres slashed, big bargain • 1894: Mahala Cloak and spouse [deeded] to George T. Smith, 17 acres Section 15 • R. F. Simpson sacking spuds for shipment; will ship 300 sacks to San Francisco • Frederick C. Hoffman with a full set of tools has gone to work out stone of Dave Ramsdell place. He is an expert, and pronounces the stone of superior quality. • Andrew L. Porter was on Gopher Creek 27th surveying the road from George A. Hodges' to the mouth of Gopher Creek, three miles a day • William Mulkey (1848-? MO) carried the mail Friday. • Mar. 14: Piling ready for Elk City Bridge • Frederick C. Hoffman of Ramsdell Rock Quarry will handle rocks on scows the style of the Rebecca. Pioneer Rock Quarry now has ten men working there and will add 12 to 15 soon • The Trapp boys, Dudley and Chauncy, are diggin' potatoes • Pioneer Rock Quarry has large contract for San Francisco. A vessel will come for the cargo, loading six cars per day with 14 men • March 29: Work on the bridge progressing. It is being done with all volunteer labor • F. M. Carter declined corner on Populist party because he is a Republican • John Arnold and George A. Hodges are building a sawmill on Hodges' place. Hodges & Lathrop have 1,000 shingles and 600 posts in a raft at Salado • The bridge meeting was well attended; about $200 in work • April 26: Pioneer Rock Quarry shipped its first rock to San Francisco yesterday • Ms. Kisor is visiting her father, F. E. Dixon • Elk City School Honor Roll Report: Lulu Burt, Irma Carter, Daisy Deyoe, Ora Deyoe, Edward Hartley, Frank Hartley, Myrtle Hartley, Charles Parks, Lilly Parks, Oscar Parks, Paris Parks, and Charles Van Orden. The teacher is Anna Denman • Effie Crosno closed school at Storrs • Ms. Bennett and children of Portland are visiting her sister, Ms. R. A. Abbey • the W. Millsaps of McMinnville are visiting relatives here • July: We have rock quarries on all sides of us now. Frederick C. Hoffman has a fine prospect now on F. M. Carter's place two miles from town. He has now four ledges in sight with 32 feet of solid rock and very little rock waste. Pioneer Rock Quarry is running night and day. Frank Woods of Albany has commenced work on Barney Morrison's place to supply building stone. • July 22, 1898: The new internal revenue law requiring stamps on all kinds of documents causes all sorts of trouble and inconveniences. The other day it was discovered that a revenue stamp was necessary on all official bonds and there was at once a rustling among the various county officials to get their bonds ornamented with the 50 cent internal revenue stamp. • The steamer Miami brought a load of freight into the bay last Sunday and loaded a load of flour from the Corvallis Flouring Mills for Coos Bay points. She had on board some freight for Toledo people but did not bring it up. What she did with the freight is a source of some anxiety to the shippers. • Aug. 19, 1898: Born: Krogstad, to the family of Mr. and Ms. O. O. Krogstad, in this city [Toledo] on Saturday, August 13, 1898, a daughter. • There is a rumor abroad in the land that the railroad company intends putting on an ocean steamer on the San Francisco-Yaquina route at an early date. • Frank Tillotson is building a neat residence on his property in the south part of town. • J. Long sent in some wheat to this office last week that is as fine looking wheat as we have seen anywhere. The grain is plump and the heads large and well-filled. • September 2, 1898: • J. L. Allen was down from Elk City yesterday. • Jay Van Cleve is running on the train as a newsboy. • The planer is running at the sawmill today. • Ms. Alice Peek was up from Yaquina last Wednesday. • Ms. Alberta Holbert went to the valley on Wednesday's train. She will remain there during hoppicking. • Jan. 1, 1900: A "20th Century" party held at the Simpson's Elk City home/hotel. Sixty guests gathered on such short notice that no program was prepared. The Simpson party started with games and music. As the evening progressed, "music arose with its voluptuous swell," and many folks took to the dance floor and "tripped the light fantastic toe." It can be concluded that "Elk City feels that she did herself proud in welcoming the new century." • July 1903: Large groups are enjoying boat trips to Elk City. Many drove wagons from the Willamette Valley to the coast. Tourists? • Teacher's Institute will be held at Elk City July 3, 1903. Prof. John B. Horner of Philomath will speak. • November 1907: Charles Bradeson secured lumber for payment of his work at Elk City Sawmill, and brought it to Toledo on a scow to plank one mile of road from Toledo to Dundon's place. July 25, 1918: • Rain, rain, rain. Everybody is glad to see the rain. John Lloyd is very glad to see the rain as his oats are drying up and blowing away. • Leota Wheeler had the misfortune of falling in the river the other night. • Mr. and Ms. Dick Anderson and son have moved on Lower Siletz to fish. • August 16, 1918: One hundred and fifty soldiers were brought up from South Beach last Sunday to assist in the putting down of the new 12-inch water main, which is to bring the water from Mill Creek to supply the government mill. A large dam is to be built at the forks of the creek, which will form a large natural reservoir. • Ona: Ms. B. F. Updike of Toledo visited at the Phelps and Ohmart homes the first of the week. • The Big Red Cross Benefit Dance given at the Ona Grange Hall Saturday night was a great success. • Rosa Nicholsen and family from the valley are visiting at the Ryan home on South Beach. • West Yaquina: Mr. and Ms. Bain of Yaquina passed through here Sunday from Waldport, where they had been visiting a while. • Kate Lyons was in Newport one day last week visiting her folks. • Toledo: Ira Wade is entertaining the Whist Club this afternoon. • Ms. J. J. Fogarty and Daughter, Frances, of Yaquina are Toledo visitors today. • July 21, 1938: Toledo’s new water system is now receiving the finishing touches and will be ready for operation before the middle of August. The last work of the big reservoir was completed yesterday and by the end of this week, the pumping station at the Siletz River will be completed and ready for the pumps to be installed. This new system is expected to give Toledo an abundant supply of pure water that will supply the town for many years to come, and will eliminate the curtailing of the use of water, as has been the case in the past several years, during the dry season. • John P. Gage, who lives with his daughter, Ms. M. Everest and family on the Siletz Road, brought abut a half a quart of Columbia gooseberries to the Leader office Tuesday that were the largest we have been privileged to see. One berry measured 3 1/4 X 3 3/4 inches in circumference and ten laid end to end measured over 12 inches long. The berries looked like plums for size. • September 13, 1923: The people of our little burg [North Toledo] are very much pleased at the prospect of a new road, but the ladies especially would be better pleased if the waste lumber could be utilized in building a sidewalk along at one side, so they would not have to step in the mud and water when meeting a car, as is the case now. • August 18, 1938: O. H. Schwertmann, operator of the spruce sawmill on Drift Creek, in north Lincoln, is building anew planer mill. The new addition and machine will enable the mill to produce finished lumber. • Waldport has applied to the Public Works Administration for a loan of $13,750 and a grant of $11,250 for street improvements, estimated to cost $25,000, PWA Regional Director C. C. Hockley announces. The application was signed by Councilman E. F. Hosford of Waldport, and Andy Porter of Newport is engineer for the project. • Owning to the huge volume of tuna being caught off the coast here [Newport]the past few days, orders were issued to halt fishing until Wednesday of this week, to allow the fish now in transit to reach the canneries before taking on more. • July 22, 1948: The Clarion delivered the largest load of halibut brought into this port this season to CRPA. It is reported that the boat received 25 cents per pound of 19,000 mediums and 18 3/4 cents on 4,000 chickens. These fish were caught in area 1A, which did not close until July 11. • The largest load of tuna, 6,400 pounds, was delivered to New England Fish Company by the boat Joyce. • The report of city engineer D. B. Ambler to the city council on Monday evening of this week revealed the dilemma facing city water users north of Boundary Street. • The improvement of US-101 from Agate Beach to Newport will necessitate the moving of some 1,500 feet of water line, most of which footage is outside the city limits. • August 12, 1948: Elk City News: Another old landmark of this place was destroyed on Sunday when a barn built by the late Chester Dixon some 30 or 40 years ago and now owned by W. Parks collapsed. Luckily, there was no livestock in or near it at the time. • The boys from here who attended the 4-H Conference in Corvallis last week returned home happy and enthused for work during the fall. • Mr. and Ms. Gray Thompson, county agent of Toledo, were dinner guests of Mr. and Ms. Clyde Schriver and family on Saturday last. • September 1948: The first, the only and the original privately owned catalog store has opened for business in Lincoln County in Newport. Mr. Shepard, the founder of this type of store, conceived the idea that if he could get enough manufacturers to sell their products direct to the user that the buying public would save a great deal of money. • July 24, 1958: Nancy Umberger was honored on the occasion of her 15th birthday with a surprise birthday luncheon at the Anchor Crab Pot this last week. • The new art exhibit at the Yaquina Art Center, which opens today, and will run until August 7, will be current watercolors by Irene Palmer Hendricks. • The Siletz Methodist Church will join the Toledo Trinity Methodist Church for a church picnic at the Mike Miller ranch on the Lower Siletz River Sunday, August 17. • August 14, 1958: Mr. and Ms. Art Mosier are entertaining as house guests friends Mr. and Ms. Harley Johnson and daughters Toni and Jan of Hawthorne, Nevada, for several days. • Danny and Linda Persson, daughter and son of Mr. and Ms. Pearson of this city [Toledo], returned home Sunday from Seattle, where they had spent a week visiting their aunt and uncle, Mr. and Ms. George Corning. • Eugene T. Lasater is serving as hospital administrator at Pacific Communities Hospital [Newport], replacing Ms. Elsie Christensen. • Four commercial fishing boats ran into difficulty coming into the Yaquina Bay harbor during Tuesday night. All personnel were safe, but two of the boats were believed ruined. • September 13, 1973: Lincoln County schools have counted 136 more students than those reported on opening day last week. The revised registration is 5,207, which is 223 fewer than the September 1972 count, but only 81 fewer than the June 1973 totals.
Claudine Hodges Writes Locals
(1) Reporter Claudine Truitt Hodges [1912-1977] (2) Artist Delbert Loyd Hodges [1940-1999]
(3) Farmer George Adelbert "Dell" Hodges Junior With Buck 1939
Photographs From Lords of Themselves: A History of Eastern Lincoln County, Oregon 1978
Connie: When did you start writing for
Lincoln County Leader?
Claudine: I started writing for the Leader when my older son, Delbert, first started going to school. That would be around 1948. It seems to me that I saw possibilities, and I'm quite sure I did the column for free for a while, anyway. Later on, I got two cents or three cents a word. Then I went up to five cents, then seven cents, and towards the last—around 1968—it went up to ten cents per inch of printed material. It would amount to 12 to 20 inches—about $5.00 to $6.00 worth—per week. It gave me a sense of well being knowing I was doing something worthwhile and profitable right in my own home!
In due time, Elmer Price, who was publisher of the Leader at the time, told me that he had given his employees orders to allow space for all of my material. Rarely did I ever contribute anything of interest to all my readers, but eventually I got around to all of them.
Connie: Did you study journalism before you started writing for the Leader?
Claudine: I attended a class or two at the newspaper office which taught us community reporters to be able to recognize printable news items.
Most newspapers invite reporters to a dinner at the various clubs and organizations, and generally make their needs and desires known. What they want is news items they can use as fillers. We learned through the classes what and who makes news.
Each little outlying community had a reporter of their own. I like to feel that I was partly responsible for putting Elk City on the map in the 1900s. That went on for 25 to 30 years.
Connie: What other towns also had community reporters?
Claudine: In the heyday of that era, there were reporters in Siletz, Harlan, Elk City and Eddyville, to name a few.
Connie: Considering the Hodges lives so far out, how did you solicit news?
Claudine: Before we got the telephone, it was quite difficult to solicit news. The local civic organizations that I belonged to, such as the Elk City Grange, I verbally solicited news items from for the week. I would remind them that this was the time I collected the news items, and asked them to jot down the various activities They had done.
After the telephone came in 1954, that was the making of the whole thing. Then I was able to call everyone up and ask if they had any news.
Connie: How much time did you spend a week writing your column?
Claudine: I devoted every Monday of the world—and maybe half the night before—to soliciting my news items and typing like mad. People did things of interest over the weekends, and this is why I didn't spend all week long collecting news.
Connie: Did you write for papers other than the Lincoln County Leader?
Claudine: Yes, I had several feature articles printed in the Salem paper, the Statesman Journal, the Newport News-Times, etc. These were special news items, like the building of the Grange Hall and thinks like that.
In later years, Price sold out to a man in the community who was buying up all the various little newspapers in the area. I was one of the last to throw in the sponge. I realized it was the end of an era—the era of the community newspaper reporter.
This phasing out of local newspaper reporters was really a gradual thing. To the new publisher of the Leader, the little comings and going of local people weren’t important news enough to print. The advertising part of the newspaper became so profitable, that it was far more important than subscriptions. When the new publisher quit, the paper amounted to about five pages, mostly ads.
Electricity Lighted Xmas Trees Blaze Brightly in Elk City Area
The Elk City community held its yearly
tree and program Friday evening, December 22, at the Grange
The gala affair, sponsored by the Grange, was well attended, with around 130 people present.
This is a very special occasion, for the residents of Elk City, as you know, have had electricity only since the first of November 1950, making it possible for them to have a lighted Christmas tree. The first in the history of the town.
The tree, which stood about 20 feet high, was all silver, with a huge silver star at the top. Colored electric lights were hanging through the branches with an especially bright light in the center of the star.
The splendid program was compiled by a committee of several Grangers, including members from most all the families in the vicinity. A wide variety of talents were brought to light, ranging from musical numbers to plays, pantomimes, readings, vocal solos, and carol singing. The piano, violin, saxophone, trumpet, and clarinet were represented in the numerous musical selections.
The Bear Creek School presented two one-act plays. Nell Briggs, teacher of the school, did a fine job with the Youngsters, and the appropriate costumes were very colorful and added much to the affair.
Grace Lantz, Lecturer of the Elk City Grange, presided as Mistress of Ceremonies.
The hall was beautifully decorated with evergreen bows, red ribbons, and bells. The lights were dim, during the evening except for several lighted floor lamps around the room, and the lighted tree, which all helped to create a definite Christmas atmosphere.
Santa Claus (James Hodges) attired in the traditional red suit, made his appearance at the end of the literary program. Amid the jingling of bells, whoops, and hollers, the children's laughter and the oldsters' audible smiles, treats were handed out to all present.
Hodges' Elk City History
It was an occasion that will be long
by the residents of Elk City—a town that dates back to somewhere
early part of the latter half of the 1800s. You see, the town
waiting for quite some time, for this particular reason for
Along about the time Elk City was founded, it was known as the head of navigation and the end of the stage route, from Philomath. Silas Newton [sic] had a big part in establishing the town. It is uncertain in the minds of some of the oldsters, who have lived here around 66-70 years, but it is understood that he first homesteaded the site of what is now Elk City. It seems this western part of Oregon was settled all about the same time, during the big "homestead" movement.
The government operated a rock quarry in Elk City in the very early days. This rock went to Newport, where they first made the jetty that is there today.
In 1907, the first sawmill was built by George A. Hodges, Sr. and his son G. A., Jr. It was in operation till in 1927 when it burned down. The town was without a sawmill until the early 1940s, when Ray Gholson built another, the same that is in operation today.
Around 1920, the waterfront of the town burned to the ground, never to be rebuilt, save for several dwelling houses. It is said the conflagration was due to the exploding of a lamp. One of the two hotels, a general store (then owned by J. C. Dixon), the Artisans and Oddfellows halls were all burned. The last hotel stood vacant for many years, and was torn down in the late 1930s.
Money was not plentiful, especially with the early pioneers. Farther back in the little valleys of the tributaries of the Yaquina River, some people depended almost entirely on the sale of cured venison, buckskins, and gloves and moccasins made from the skins.
During these days, not only Christmas, but all holidays were cause for special celebrations. Everyone from far and near gathered at central meeting points, and always enjoyed bountiful meals and perhaps a dance which lasted all night.
Chapter 57: Yaquina River Communities
The first vessel to enter Yaquina Bay
the Calamet, sent in 1856 to provision 2nd Lt Philip H. Sheridan
Coast Reservation. Many vessels entered the bay after
oyster beds and settlement began in 1864. Vessels were
on the bay in succeeding years. The Pioneer of 82 feet length
above Elk City by Kelly Brothers in 1872; two years later, the
Mollie, was built at Elk City. Elk City was, for most purposes,
of navigation on the Yaquina River, and, after 1872, there was a
scheduled steamboat service between Newport and Elk City. When
corps of engineers began work on the Yaquina Bay Jetty in 1881,
was quarried above Elk City on Yaquina River and the Big Elk
Above the head of tide, the only commercial use of the river was for log driving and timber rafting. Most of this centered on the mills built by George A. Hodges (1852-1926).
Hodges first sawmill was evidently at Camp Creek near Salado. It was probably built in 1893. A local newspaper reported on March 29, 1894, that "Hodges & Lathrop have 1,000 shingles and 600 posts in a raft at Salado." Delbert L. Hodges (1940-1999), George's grandson, described the mill and its use on the Big Elk in an essay he wrote in 1956, "Early Logging and Lumbering In the Big Elk Valley."
In 1897-1898, George A. Hodges &
owned a little sawmill in the bend of the Big Elk, about 11
Elk City, at Camp Horn. They sawed mostly for themselves, but
of the lumber.
They got their logs on the hills across the river from their place. They would fall the timber with crosscut saws and axes. Then they would have to limb and peel each tree so it would slide down the hill. They would head the logs in the direction they wanted them to go and start them. The logs would slide down into the river or river bottom. Sometimes they would build chutes at the bottom of the hill leading to the river, and when the logs slid to the bottom of the hill, they would hit the chute and slide into the river. If they didn’t have a chute, they would take peaveys and roll them, or take a horse team and pull them into the river. After they got the logs into the river, they would raft them down to the mill.
The mill was powered by a 20 feet high overshot water wheel. The mill was across the river and got its water out of a creek by a flume. They had a 16 inches long log for a shaft for the wheel. On the end of the shaft was a six feet long pulley. From there, a belt was run to a small pulley on the idling shaft. The saw was hooked to the end of it. The carriage ran on a wooden track with steel shoes built of old wagon tires on it. It was powered by the water wheel. The carriage had two head blocks. There was an eye-bolt on each block. A dog was hooked in the eye of the eye-bolt which held the log. When a cut was made, the dogs were knocked out by hand and the logs was turned over with peaveys. Since the saw was only a thirty-sixth [sic] of an inch thick, when a cut was made that was too thick, it would have to be cut the rest of the way off with an axe. The cut boards dropped onto hand rollers and rolled out of the mill. The logs were pulled up with a bull wheel and rolled onto the carriage.
The mill would cut 1,000 board feet a day if there was enough water. They couldn't run the mill except in the dead of winter, when there was ample water.
When there was enough lumber to make a raft, it was packed to the river and made into a raft. A lot of work went into the construction of these rafts. First they got two cherry poles about 28 feet or 32 feet long, all depending on how long they wanted the raft to be. They made it 12 feet wide. It was held together by wooden pins. After the raft was made, two more poles were put on top and wedged in tight. On later rafts of lumber, they used iron bolts. The trouble began when they delivered the lumber, because the bolts were more than one or two men could pack back upriver to the mill.
When the rafts were made, a couple would get on it and set afloat. They would build a lean-to on the raft to sleep in. They guided the raft with two sweep paddles, one in front and one in the back. They would have to tie up when they hit tidewater and wait for the tide to change when-ever it was running the wrong direction. Many times when they didn't tie up at night, they would wake up in the morning only to find themselves back where they were the day before. It would take them about a week to take the raft all the way to Newport. They would average about 5,000 board feet in a raft; and they would get about $100 a raft. They were lucky to get out two rafts in a winter.
Hodges built the first steam powered mill in Elk City, in 1905. It was the only one in the east end of the county.
The Hodges’ wanted logs, so they bought from anyone who would log and get the logs to the river. When they were in the river, Hodges would raft them to the mill. The mill would cut around 50,000 board feet a day.
This started the first commercial logging in the Big Elk Valley; It was a new industry. There were many thousands and millions of board feet of timber in the valley. There was good money in logging, so the mill always had an ample supply of logs to cut.
The logging was done by ox and horse teams. The only log chutes in the valley were built by the Hodges. One was about five miles from Elk City, and the other was further upriver.
Dell Hodges had charge of all the log drives out of the Big Elk. He and some of my uncles would follow the logs downriver in boats. Several men drowned during the time of the drives from the woods to the mill. There were many risks in a drive. Dell Hodges waded out in neck-deep waters to rescue one log, one slip might mean being dragged downstream and under! The drives were done in the winter because of the high tides.
After the mill was gone, the Hodges built another mill eight miles upriver. They sold the one in Elk City to Enos & Hawkins Company in 1908. They logged the country around their new mill for ten years. They finally sold the place, and the new owner tore the mill down.
Modern logging was first introduced to the Big Elk when Frank Lang bought the first donkey steam engine. He used it below Elk City around 1910.
The Hodges Brothers started logging commercially around 1923 and brought the next donkey into use. It was a little gas operated one. They logged all of the Lower Big Elk Valley off with it.
The Davenports did a lot of logging around 1923-1925. They were a hard working bunch. They would log timber from the top of the mountains with horse teams and the Hodges would take their donkey and log them into the river. Jesse Davenport & Company were the ones who did the horse logging.
The last log drive was made by my dad, Dell Hodges, and his brothers in 1945-1946.
The first cat logging was done around 1945. The first cat was bought in about 1940. It was a cleat-track without a blade. The roads had to be made with shovels and grubs. Victor Ross was the man who brought in the cat.
The chainsaw was only brought in the last few years. The first one was brought in by Skelton & Wicks Company about 1940. It was an electric one run off a generator and was used to cut the ends off the logs before they were pushed into the river. They weren't used in the logging woods for another couple of years.
About half a mile above Elk City, Guy Roberts put in a boom in 1916 or 1917 to hold his logs for the towboats. It has always been somewhat of a landmark and noted place. The original site is still in use, and everyone always speaks of "the boom."
Elk City and vicinity has just about seen the last of the lumber industry. There is plenty of timber, but there won't be any logging until it is ripe in the next 50 to 75 years.
These days, they just let the logs float downriver and never drive them. They use Jeeps and the like to break jams, but they don't drive the logs anymore.
Besides taking lumber down the Big
Hodges built a launch—Ethel—at Dell Hodges' (1887-1969) between
It was taken down to tidewater, and Jim Hodges (1885-?) operated
Elk City and Newport. Periodically, it was run up to Bear Creek
It remained on the run until 1935.
The Lincoln County Leader records some of the individual drives, which went to the Big Elk and Yaquina River, to the Hodges’ and other mills after 1905:
Big Elk: David B. Ramsdell put in a
of 25,000 board feet at the new sawmill of George Hodges.
Chitwood: Lafe Pepin passed Big Elk last Saturday with a log drive from the Yaquina. He will raft from Rocky Bar to Toledo. Logs can be driven from the head waters of both Big Elk and Yaquina rivers. A few years ago, we never thought of logs coming from up Big Elk or Yaquina; but now, we find millions of board feet of second growth fir that is considered better than old fir for timber of all kinds.
In 1895, Oneatta Eleanor “Onnie” Ramsdell,
one of the youngest women ever appointed captain in the
She was a friend of the Parks and Palmers in Elk City,
according to her
niece, Nancy Hemstreet . She was the twelveth child
Ramsdell, Jr., and the first wife of Hemstreet’s
grandfather, Guy Fitch
Phelps. The couple married Seoptember 8, 1897. Onnie
Ramsdell was born
January 30, 1872, at Yaquina Bay, Oregon, and died May 17,
after giving birth to her only child, daughter Naomi
She is buried in Lone Fir Cemetery, Portland,
Naomi, never married and was the half-sister of
Hemstreet’s mother. In
the fall of 2003, it was reported that Onnie's
are all deceased. Of the six nieces of Naomi, four
Hemstreet is one of the four.Photo courtesy of Nellie
born March 9, 1889, Elk City, Oregon. She was the
Laramie Palmer and
Charlotte (Lottie) Parks Reid Palmer.
A year later, a gate was put in the fish
the Yaquina River in order to facilitate the now frequent log
Lester Grant and Everett Brown are cutting logs for the Elk City
and will run them on the rise of the river.
Harlan: Jim and Dell Hodges, Willis (1880-1961) and Lester Grant (1877-1957), and B. O. Young are driving 600 logs to Elk City. The drive is going fine.
Elk City: K. D. Woodford is putting 300,000 board feet of logs in the Big Elk from C. W. Young's place for the Elk City Lumber Company.
Elk City: K. D. Woodford and Paul Chatterson fell from their logs at Col. Frank Parker's place. Baker got Chatterson, who could not swim, but Woodford drowned. He had been in the Big Elk Valley for four years, and was logging for the Elk City Lumber Company.
Riverside: Lester Grant and his brothers are driving logs down the Big Elk for the George Hodges sawmill.
Big Elk: Clarence Palmer is logging for the Elk City Lumber Company.
At later dates, there is additional evidence of log driving on the Yaquina River and the Big Elk from other sources. On November 13, 1923, Willmore N. Cook & Sons or Cougar Creek Logging Company registered their log brand "C" with the Lincoln County clerk. They stated that:
Said logs so branded will be floated on the Yaquina River from a point near Chitwood, at the covered bridge there, to Toledo on the Yaquina Bay, and on other streams in Lincoln County.
Leander Prather, veteran river driver
the Willamette Valley, had one job on the Big Elk where, in
he helped in a drive of 300,000 board feet of alder logs put in
three and a half miles below Harlan and floated to Elk City.
Another tributary of the Yaquina was the scene of log driving activity during the first decade of this century, Depot Creek. From logging on Depot Slough in 1901 [George Beauman for Gregson's Sawmill], loggers began cutting on its headwaters and floating them down the creek on winter freshets:
Toledo: Moses Gregson received 400,000
feet of logs in his boom cut in the Fred Wessell place on Upper
Toledo: G. L. Gray's logging engine is stuck on Drake Creek Bridge. His logs not yet down to tidewater but he may get a freshet.
Lincoln County: Heavy rains and high tides enabled G. L. Gray to get 500,000 board feet of saw logs to tidewater.
During the autumn of 1906, a logging
was built up the headwaters of Depot Slough, but some of the
feet of saw logs, which the freshet brought into Altree's boom
of that year, were doubtless floated down Depot Creek. In
Altree's crew were reported to have made a run of logs down
to their boom. It was not until April 1910 that there was notice
dam having been placed in the upper stream of Depot Slough at
place in the northeast corner of Section 31, Township 11 South,
This operation ran into the resistance of landowners along the waterway. Oliver R. Altree's Yaquina Bay Lumber Company was logging on the upper end of the Julia Kyniston farm and J. W. Parrish and Warnock lands about one and a quarter miles above the splash dam. The dam was built seven feet high where Depot Slough had a width of 50 to 100 feet:
...and that at many times the natural water in said stream is not sufficient to float logs at the dump of said logging camp, and the defendant's...close the dam in said stream and back the water up and overflow the land of Sondre Romtvedt; then when the waters of said stream are backed up by the defendant's dam that it percolates through the banks of the stream when it is not raised high enough to overflow the same [and]... has rendered much of [plaintiff's land] unfit for cultivation. That such flooding is done at frequent and irregular intervals... that when flood waters held at said dam are released their sudden release creates a very strong current which throws and jams the logs against the banks of the stream which action further breaks down and destroys the lands of this plaintiff along the banks, etc.
Both John F. Steele and O. Aiken Copeland,
had lands just above the dam, brought suit to prevent the
petitioned the county clerk to declare Depot Slough navigable
for five miles above its mouth, but ended by agreeing to finish
flotation by April 15, 1912.
Thus far, at least from 1893 to 1946, rafts of logs and timber and free floating logs were taken down the Big Elk from as far up as Harlan, River Mile 22.5, and on the Yaquina from Chitwood at River Mile 26.5. One launch had also been built at Salado, River Mile 13, on the Big Elk, taken to tidewater, and occasionally run back upriver to Bear Creek. Furthermore, for at least a decade, logs rafted at Depot Slough and Depot Creek were driven five miles to tidewater from Drake Creek during winter freshets. All this was in addition to a continuous history of commercial navigation on the tidal portions of the river. Therefore, the state has the basis for a claim to the beds of Yaquina River, the Big Elk and Depot Slough to the upper points indicated as heads of navigation.
Chapter 58: Elk Creek Settlements
Perhaps it is because it is only
creek, but the Big Elk carries a bigger name for itself as the
for a strong salmon and steelhead fishery and as a farming
a longer history than most found on the Oregon Coast.
From Elk City, just a few miles upriver on the Yaquina from Toledo, the Big Elk heads east up a fertile and narrow valley that is paralleled for nearly 20 miles by the Big Elk Road, which later is named Harlan Road and lastly, Marys Peak Road or Forest Service Road 30.
Elk City is a small community at the confluence of the Yaquina River and the Big Elk. It is the first put-in for boats on the Yaquina and as such, is the last to see heavy fishing action for fall runs of salmon and winter runs of steelhead. The mouth of the Yaquina has already seen Chinook and coho salmon for a few weeks, but it will not be until later this month that they will reach this far upriver.
Along with the highly prized sea-run fish returning to Elk City will come the migration of boat run fishermen. The Elk City Store will be sponsoring a salmon fishing derby on the Yaquina River from September 15 through October 31.
John Pung, Elk City Store owner for
years, has one of the largest selections of tackle gear around.
an advocate of making one's own rigs, as it is cheaper for the
and can be specialized for local conditions. The small store is
last stop for a soda pop or snacks for anyone traveling up the
Elk City is the end of the paved road; the road that travels north to Highway 20 via the Yaquina river is graveled, as is the road east to Harlan. The road to Harlan meanders east and upcreek with the Elk, past small farms and ranches with a few head of cattle, sheep, or horses. The community of Harlan has been in existence since the late 1800s.
This time of year, the Big Elk is shallow, slow, and comfortably cool. Small holes and shaded pockets are home to the elusive coastal cutthroat trout. All coastal streams are catch and release only for trout, keeping autumn fishing pressure lightly for these native and wily fish.
Mid-day warmth leaves the younger fish to the attack. Early mornings and the hours just before sunset are the best times to seek the bigger catch. Light line and small dry flies are perhaps the best choice of presentation, while gold and silver lures with hints of black and/or red are often successful. The creek is easily waded at light water, but the stream's sides are heavy in riparian coverage.
The Elk is not lonely, as a number of animal-friendly creeks drain into waters from the north. Bear, Beaver, Deer, and Wolf creeks all merge with the Elk before Harlan. Spout Creek Road is the junction at Harlan that follows its namesake creek north to Burnt Woods. Harlan Road, Marys Peak Road, or Forest Service Road 30—whichever name is used—continues east and up to where, for the first time, travelers will gain sight of the Coast Range’s highest peak—Marys Peak. At over 3,000 feet high, Marys Peak offers panoramic views that on clear days encompass the span from the Pacific ocean to the high peaks of the Cascades, including Mount Hood, Mount Jefferson, and the Three Sisters.
Marys Peak is part of the state park use fee program, with a $3.00 charge for a day’s permit. However, the journey to Marys Peak from the the Big Elk Valley puts the traveler into the park after the fee pay station, allowing for the only free access to the peak.
It should also be noted that the risk of getting lost on the forest service roads after Harlan may be more taxing than the $3.00 short-cut is worth. Forest Service Road 30 does offer a good climb up the west slope of Marys Peak and is an ideal route for sunset seekers on clear days, making the journey well worth the time.
To avoid returning in the dark along the maze of dirt roads, proceed down from Marys Peak to highway 34. At the junction, take a left and return west on Highway 20 at Philomath, not ten miles away. For a more scenic, round-about trip and one with less traffic, turn right on Highway 34 and return to the coast toward Waldport.
Elk City's Covered Bridge
Lincoln County's covered bridges are noted for their flaring board-and-batten sides, curved portals and shingled roofs. Some consist of weathered, unpainted boards and timbers, giving them a rustic appearance conforming with their rural surroundings. Others are painted barn red.
The bridges were designed to be as
wide as a load of hay. Those still in use in Lincoln County are
to one way traffic.
The housed timber truss bridges were made of Douglas fir which toughens with age. Properly protected, the bridges will last virtually forever, even without steel.
The purpose of the covered spans is speculative. Some suggest that it was to keep the snow load down. Other people believe it was to keep horses from shying at the sight of the swirling water below. Regardless of other benefits, the predominant purpose was obviously to inhibit deterioration from rot, thus prolonging the life of the spans.
A 100 feet bridge spanning the Siletz River, five miles east of Siletz, and the Elk City Bridge, five miles southeast of Toledo, which reaches 100 feet across the Yaquina River, are tied for the longest covered spans in Lincoln County. Both structures were built in 1922 at a cost of $4,000. The bridge, which was undergoing improvements, was destroyed by a storm in 1981.
The two women agree that no story of
development of the river from Elk City to Toledo would be
mention of Dr. Frank Carter. He had a "big house in Elk City and
all the old people that are now dead," Parry said. "He also
Recently, Port of Toledo commissioners took a trip up the river to Elk City to check for "deadheads" and debris which would hamper fishermen.
Remains of years gone by are visible in very few spots now but join an old-timer on a trip upriver and its history is sure to come alive.
Maxwell's Quaint Elk City
Quaint Elk City is said to have been
first settlement within the confines of present Lincoln County.
supposed to have been a roaring frontier camp for construction
Pacific Railroad in the early 1880s. But now it dozes beside
and "dreams" of past glories.
There are three routes leading to Elk City but removal of a bridge, that has not been replaced at the east entrances makes the longer approach through Toledo the better way to visit this weathered hamlet at the headwaiter of navigation on the Yaquina. Travel distance from Toledo, mostly along the scenic Yaquina River, is about eight miles of winding through pastures and by sites of activities and discontinued lumbering operations.
Elk City is said to have received its name from large herds of elk, observed in the region by pioneers. A first settlement was made in 1886 by the Yaquina Bay Wagon Road Company when it built a warehouse there, at the western terminal of a toll road from Corvallis.
A school was established the next year. Then in 1868, Albitha Newton platted the place, which remained for some time the overland stage and mail terminus from Corvallis.
For Many years Elk City was a rendezvous for fishermen and hunters seeking big catches and big game. Travelers from the Willamette Valley to Yaquina Bay often came by the way of Elk City where water transportation was available either to Yaquina City or Newport.
In early days Elk City bore the name of Newton to commemorate its founder. A post office was established on July 12, 1868, that received the name of Elk City on November 23, 1888. As Newton, the community had two hotels, one kept by Jim Dixon, the other by Marshall Simpson. "Head of tidewater on the Yaquina River is becoming quite a place," said an Oregon business directory for 1881.
Three years later Newton had really arrived as a construction camp for the Oregon Pacific Railroad, pushing overland from the head of navigation on the Yaquina River to meet another crew working eastward from Corvallis.
During September of 1884, the railroad was extended from Yaquina City to Elk City, a distance of 20 miles.
Chinese labor, using dump carts and wheelbarrows were building Colonel T. Egerton Hogg's dream that stockholders for a while hoped would link the Oregon Pacific at Yaquina City with a transcontinental line in Idaho.
Morris Smith of Chitwood spoke about the use of dump carts near Elk City:
[There was] kind of a little flat place nestled in there. When they needed dirt to make a fill and they didn't have enough, the Chinese crew that they hired to build the railroad grade would take it out of cuts. They'd have what they called a "barrel pit" and they'd dig and haul dirt out of there in carts to make the necessary fill. In the evening on our way home from school we'd go through there and look for strawberries. Then we'd turn around, come back, and go through again and find one or two we'd missed the first time through. We'd really comb the place. There weren't very many berries, but they sure tasted good.
For a time Elk City lived up to the
traditions of a railroad construction camp in the 1880s. After
excursion over the Oregon Pacific to the coast, July 4, 1885,
settled down to a more placid existence. Fishermen and hunters
but by rail instead of by the old toll road.
In 1903, the place had a population of 85 (not much different from today's estimate) and was considered a pleasant resort by the Oregon & Washington Gazeteer. Then there was but one hotel, a grocery store, livery stable, justice of the peace and a Wells Fargo express agent (Edwin A. "Kit" Abbey). During WWI times, lumbering gave Elk City a real boost and the population to 150 with two sawmills in operation. World War II was a similar benefaction.
Although Elk City is somnolent beside the Yaquina River, old residents have not forgotten more illustrious times. The post office has been retained and there is a store where supplies and refreshments may be obtained. Fishermen, who moor their motorboats from a time out ashore and a visitation to the store, report fishing is still good in the Yaquina. Photographers, who may not care to fish or hunt, will find at Elk City one of the best examples of an old-fashioned, red-covered bridge known to be still standing in Western Oregon.
Up the Lazy River
A run up the Yaquina, that arm of the sea that twists and turns its way for miles into the Coast Range east of Newport, is a vivid and nostalgic cross-section of the Oregon scene.
You can leave the car behind—in this
the white motor log sedan of the Oregon State motor
or Toledo after an easy drive (it is 116 miles from Portland to
via the Salmon River Cutoff) and transfer to a boat for a
up the river. Boats can be rented both at Newport and Toledo.
This is lumbering country; the great C. D. Johnson mill at Toledo is one of the largest spruce mills in the world. There huge barges, loaded with lumber to be sent on ships to all parts of the world, make a stately procession behind powerful little tugs on their way down to Newport.
Shingle mills and sawmills, cutting short-length boards, work busily along the Yaquina almost as far inland as Elk City, about 20 miles up from the coast.
The Yaquina, a wide bay inside the bar, gradually narrows as you go upstream. On the right bank, a gravel road leads part way to the ocean, but on the left, the road runs out to US highway 101 at Newport.
On the left, above Toledo, a spur of the Southern Pacific Railroad crosses the mountains from Corvallis and hauls logs to the mills and chip waste from the mills to be converted into paper in Oregon City.
This waste was formerly sawed into slab wood and sold to families for burning.
Train passenger service was discontinued years ago. The few farm families who still live further inland along the left bank of the river above Toledo must cross by boat to reach the road. Most of the farmhouse windows have a vacant stare, and they are moss-grown and saggy, with lichens and plead to be pruned.
In spite of thee signs of deterioration, the ride upriver is charming. The deep blue of the sky is accentuated by an occasional streamer of white cloud.
The steep slopes of the Coast Range are covered with varying shades of evergreens, alder and maple, and lower down, at the edge of the water, are willows; ocean spray, waving its tassels to their reflection in the water; the satin white syringa and the velvety green salmonberry bushes.
In every open space foxgloves and yellow blooming weeds have a background of fern fronds. Cranes fly overhead or wade in the mud flats at low tide, and seagulls float and dip into the water. Farther into the mountains, buzzards circle lazily above the trees.
Many ghostly pilings, standing singly or in groups lashed together by rusting cables, give evidence of past activity along the waterside. Below the banks are floating logs, some fastened together with steel straps, some almost submerged, basking in the sun like lazy hippos.
In the narrow pastures, livestock graze, but there are also many deer and some bear in the forest above the farms. A few farmers have special licenses to shoot the deer out of season, to protect their gardens and fruit trees. They take the carcasses to state institutions at Salem.
It took over an hour to travel from Toledo to the small dock at Elk City, which was built at Toledo and towed upstream to replace the old one when Elk City was a port of call for the steamboats on the river. Elk City, according to Paul Hanson, storekeeper, postmaster and general factorum, is only three miles across the mountains, as the bees fly, from Toledo, but by the curving river it is nine.
In this isolated country, the small
of buildings in town to 70 inhabitants, and the Grange is the
Since passengers are not carried on the trains any more, the covered bridge across to the railroad is used only by log trucks, and the county road ends at the bridge. Another covered bridge is a short distance upstream, on the road to Corvallis. On the hillside beyond are scars of the old quarry where the rocks for the jetty at Newport were blasted out and sent down river by barge.
Time was when this section of the country had high hopes for future development. Two and a half miles farther into the mountains, a place called Pioneer was platted. A large house was built to serve as a hotel, and the steamboats came regularly upriver.
Elk City was quite a place then, boasting boat service and a daily train both ways that ran all the way down to Yaquina City, about halfway between Toledo and Newport. Yaquina City is more ghostlike now than Elk City.
The steamboats were discontinued at the beginning of World War II. As the logs were removed from the mountains, the people moved on to greener prospects. In time, nature will heal the scars and cover them with new growth.
Perhaps some spring the clean high water from the winter snows will carry the cluttering drift, which works farther upstream with every summer tide, down to the ocean and leave the Yaquina as clean and clear as it was when the first men roamed its forests and paddled their canoes over the reflected skyline on its bosom.
From Newton to Elk City
Marys Peak is the most prominent
in the Coast Range as it crosses Benton County. Down its western
flows a clear, sparking stream typical of those in coastal
its banks, in 1856, was camped a party of explorers in search of
land. Food supplies were low and supper was expected to be beans
Then one man saw a fine bull elk standing on a hill, an easy
gun. In memory of this provident event the stream became the Big
About four years later, where this streams flows into the Yaquina River, a small settlement grew up. It was named Newton for the man who laid out the plat, Albitha Newton, and placed it as far up the Yaquina as boats could go. During normal low water periods the stream was quite narrow, branches hanging low and sometimes brushing the heads of boat passengers. Water-soaked snags lurked on the bottom of the none too deep waterway to scrape bottoms or rip holes in them. At times of high water the menace of low trees and branches became worse but the influence of ocean tides became noticeable.
As Newton grew more and more travel came up the river from Toledo. Yaquina City and Newport below on the bay, efforts were made to clear the waterway by removing snags and cutting branches. A small dock was prefabricated at Toledo, brought up on a barge and installed on the bank. Then it was possible for small steamboats to tie up at the town and regular service was instituted. A flat-bottomed stern wheeler was the first to make regular runs, down the bay one day and back the next. The railroad was also completed through Newton and on to bay points.
Two saloons, a hotel, store, and Odd Fellows Lodge which was shared by other fraternal orders, many cabins and houses—all grew up on the site, giving the place the appearance of a real town.
The first post office had been established in 1868 with Edwin A. "Kit" Abbey the postmaster. Marshall W. Simpson held the job next, was out of the office for a while and then returned November 23, 1888. He came full of ideas about advancing the status of the little town and one of the first efforts he made was getting the name changed from Newton to Elk City to conform to the name of the post office.
The town flourished until automobiles took away the need for river traffic. And as logging in the area declined so did Elk City. Another blow was the abandonment of the rock quarries which had provided a live industry with workers living and buying supplies in the town.
The old grocery which for years housed the post office is the only business still going in the town by the Yaquina. The Scovilles now operate it and a gas pump (1964). They tell of frequent floods when the only traffic through the main street was by boat. "All these coastal rivers are short," says W. S. Scoville. "Our heavy winter rains of sometimes two and three inches a day quickly swell them to flood heights. In early days there was a sawmill and hotel here. One time when the river was exceptionally high the water took a lot of lumber piled in the sawmill yard and slammed it against the hotel turning it on its side so it had to be torn down. It was never rebuilt and neither was the wrecked sawmill. That seems to be the way of the old town went, little by little."
Elk City still has at least one resource, says Scoville. "We have extra good fishing here, especially in the middle of summer when steelhead salmon and blueback are running. Then fishermen bring their families over from the Willamette Valley and stay a while. We keep those little cabins there rented all the time."
Wallis Nash's Journey to Elk City 1877
One of the most pleasant noonday halts
made was at the house of a very thriving farmer at a place
on the headwaters of Yaquina Bay.
The tidewater ebbed and flowed through the creek 100 yards from the house, across the open green. As the tide flowed, the salmon trout came up in numbers, and our host and a friend had taken 15 fish, of over one pound weight each, in an hour, very shortly before we arrived. About 12 to 20 little frame houses were grouped round the green. In front of the largest stood a maple tree, with round, compact head, throwing a dense shade over the group of chairs under its branches, where the mother of the family, a pretty grown-up daughter, and a toddling child of three had planted themselves to avoid the hot sun.
As our cavalcade of seven horses came into view, our host left the boat and his fishing and came to welcome us, and the good wife seemed to assume at once that dinner was to be provided for all of us. While the fowls were being roasted we sat under the "shade tree" and cooled ourselves, and chatted.
Our friend had come to Oregon from one of the "Western" states (for so in Oregon they still call Michigan and Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana, and Missouri, though in Oregon of course those states lie so far to the East), about ten years ago. He said he and his friends made up a settlement of six families, and that when they arrived in late autumn, the open valley where we sat was one mass of thick scrub, into which they had to cut their way with the axe, and not a blade of grass was to be seen. Out of their eight cows four died that first winter and our friend looked very serious as he recalled their early struggles, and told how when that first spring came they had all but made up their minds to turn tail and give up all idea of continuing their efforts to make settlement there. However, they "concluded to go through with it."
Edwin Alden Abbey
Edwin Alden "Kit" Abbey was born in
Jefferson County, New York, December 9, 1823. In 1832, he
Ohio, accompanied by his parents, where he resided until 1844.
moved south and was employed on the Mississippi River.
In September 1846, he sailed from New Orleans to Mexico where he was attached to the quartermaster's department in the divisions of generals John Ellis Wool (1784-1869) and Zachary Taylor (1784-1850). He served until near the close of the war, and accompanied Col. Collins to Chihuahua, with dispatches to Gen. Price to evacuate that portion of the country.
This duty performed, he rejoined the army on the line of march to Santa Fe, and accompanied Company l, 1st Dragoons, as wagon master, and until 1851 was engaged with that corps.
Abbey traveled as far west as Fort Laramie with the famous Kit Carson (1809-1868). He arrived in Benton County in the autumn of that year. Abbey located his claim about one mile from Marysville (now Corvallis), and at once started farming. Elijah Liggett was his nearest neighbor.
On July 4, 1852, Abbey married Miranda Penland, who crossed the Plains the previous year, in Benton County.
In 1856, Abbey, with Dr. Thomas J. Right (1799-? NJ), and Eldridge Hartless (1816-? VA), made the journey to Yaquina Bay. Abbey did so for the simple pleasure of adventure, but Dr. Right was appointed surgeon to the Siletz Agency. There were no roads, and Lt Phil Sheridan was having his men cut a trail over the mountains to lead from the reservation to civilization. Abbey followed the trails, and made Yaquina Bay about two miles from its mouth. At that time, there was not a single resident in that part of Benton County.
Abbey and Nash Visit Yaquina Bay
Wallis Nash also made an expedition
Kit Abbey a number of years later. Nash's expedition included
English gentlemen, Nash, Henry N. Moseley and William J. Kerr,
Egenton Hogg and his brother, William M. Hoag, George Mercer
a county surveyor who made the original surveys of much of the
lands they were going to see, and Kit Abbey, a sometimes
and of Elk City.
According to Nash:
The next day the expedition started.
our first experience of the Mexican saddle, with high pommel and
and enormous stirrups, and here we confess that if the English
pleasant for a short ride, we should very strongly prefer the
We came for camp into a patch of green by a grove of large trees, not far from Philomath, the starting place for our yesterday's exploits. The horses were picketed, each with a sheath of half-ripe oats, cut from the nearest farmer's field (and well charged for) and the much talked of stove was set to work. But if the stove gave us more things to eat, yet we all sighed for the great campfire, which after this first night was always blazing.
Kit Abbey was a great story teller. He told us that a few years ago an Indian woman named Chetco Jennie had "packed" for him and his comrades for a winter in the mountains. When a party of hunters go into the hills for deer and bear, they prefer to have some Indian woman to "pack" (i.e. carry) the carcasses and skins down to the settlements.
After supper each man chose what he
would be the softest spot, and there laid his roll of blankets
Abbey (commonly, but not disrespectfully, called "Kit Abbey,"
former mate and leader, Kit Carson, with whom he had lived and
a year "on the Plains") picked out a little hollow under a bush
lair. He said he liked these sheltered places, as the leaves
dew. The rest got their beds ready in the open, just away from
The naturalist turned out with the shot gun, a heavy 12-bore, one barrel loaded with bird shot, the other with buckshot. If Abbey's two hounds spied the gun and slunk off too, and they disappeared through the bushes and crossed the river. Presently we heard a distant shot, and both hounds gave tongue. Abbey jumped up from the ground, pipe in mouth, seized his rifle, and ran off; while the deep voice of the young hound and the lighter notes of the old spotted dog echoed all round the hills in the still evening air. The hunter posted one of us, rifle in hand, at one ford, to watch, and was out of sight in a moment, towards the next pass higher up.
We stood watching there some time, listening to the hounds' voices growing fainter in the distance, but we were only disturbed by a heron which had been fishing in the stream just out of sight, suddenly splashing in the water and flapping through the branches.
Thomas J. Blair 1867
Thomas J. Blair, nephew of Philip
established the Blair House in Elk City in 1867.
Blair was born in Bon County, Illinois, June 11, 1830. At the age of six he moved with his parents to Lee County, Iowa, where he farmed until the spring of 1853.
In 1851, he married Lucinda Jane Montgomery. Blair and his wife crossed the Plains to Oregon and arrived in October of that year.
In March 1854, he moved from Oregon City to Benton County, and first settled on the south fork of the Mary's River. While residing on this claim, Blair found the country in the throes of the Civil War.
In 1864, he enlisted in Company A, First Oregon Infantry, and served with the corps for two years.
After obtaining his discharge from military service, he disposed of his farm and moved to Yaquina Bay, where he lived for three years.
In 1878, he transferred his residence to Corvallis, and engaged in a warehouse and grain storing business.
In the spring of 1884, Blair was elected to the officer of treasurer of Benton County on the Republican ticket.
Marshall W. Simpson
Marshall Winchester Simpson, early
of Oregon and well known resident of Benton County, was born in
County, Kentucky, July 13, 1838. Early in the spring of 1844,
moved to Jackson County, Missouri.
In the spring of 1845, he joined a small wagon train along with his parents, a brother and a sister, and ox teams, and crossed the dreary, almost unknown Plains to Oregon.
After many severe trials, they were finally guided safely into The Dalles by famous trail guide, Stephen H. L. Meek. The Simpsons located at Polk County, and began farming.
Simpson lived with his parents until 1859, at which time he married Joyce A. Bevens in Polk County.
When the couple moved to Benton County, he farmed for himself and his family until 1866.
In 1868, Simpson platted the Elk City townsite and filed it in the Benton County Courthouse in Corvallis. The town was laid out, along the Yaquina and Big Elk rivers, into 16 blocks and parts of blocks with 80 feet wide streets and lots of 50 feet by 84 feet. The named streets were Cherry, Simpson, Johnson and Alder, and the numbered streets were 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th.
Postal records who that Newton post office was established July 1868, with Kit Abbey serving as its first postmaster. Simpson became postmaster in November 1869. He was out of the office for a few years, but held the position again November 23, 1888, when the name of the town was changed from "Newton" to "Elk City."
Simpson was the owner of a large estate, proprietor of the Simpson House, Elk City storekeeper, as well as postmaster.
His family consisted of his wife, Joice, two sons, and two daughters, Owen C., William E., Hattie and Olive M.
Simpson the Fisherman
Marsh Simpson was a fisherman at heart. He had a double end boat he would tie to the bank at the mouth of Simpson Creek to fish for hours. An anonymous "scribbler" wrote an article about his fishing in 1894 under the title of Elk City events:
Marshall W. Simpson is somewhat worried over a dream he had recently. He dreamed that he died and was escorted up to the gate presided over by St. Peter. The guide announced "M. W. Simpson from Elk City." St. Peter took down a big book and began to trace down a long column of names. "Where did you say he was from?" asked the guardian at the gate. "From Elk City," responded the guide. "Ah yes! Here it is!," said St. Peter, as his finger paused at a name with numerous marginal references. "Take him to the aquarium!" The guide took him by the arm and hustled him to a tank so vast that he could not see across it. This tank was filled with all sorts of fish and sea monsters. Without further ceremony, the guide threw Simpson into the tank. The water was uncomfortably warm and the sea monsters were more than friendly. A big trout looking familiar to Simpson came and looked at him and went away. Pretty soon the trout returned, accompanied by a shark and a swordfish. "This is the man!" he said. "Better let me slice him a little," said the swordfish as he snipped off an ear. The unpleasantness of the situation woke Simpson at this point. He has not been fishing since—which I doubt very much—I've heard many stories about M. W. Simpson's fishing.
Franklin Marion Carter, M.D.
Both as a physician and a businessman,
Marion Carter, MD was eminently successful. An active career
over a period of more than 35 years gave testimony to his
Frank Carter was born July 1, 1846, in Mercer County, Missouri. Since his early boyhood, he was a resident of Oregon.
Thomas Carter: American Revolution Veteran
He came from American Revolution (1775-1783) stock and was a grandson of Thomas Carter, who was a native of North Carolina. Tom Carter served in the army during the entire American Revolution, and was present at the surrender of Lord Charles Cornwallis (1738-1805) at Yorktown. He was a personal friend of Gen. George Washington (1732-1799) and bravely fought to free the colonies from British rule. After peace was restored, he and his family moved to South Carolina and settled on a farm near Memphis, Tennessee, where he remained the last years of his life.
William Carter Moves West
Carter's father, William, was born at
North Carolina in 1793. He and his parents moved to Tennessee
grew to manhood. In 1843, Bill Carter moved to Mercer County,
and took up government land near Trenton.
The Westward movement aroused Bill's interest. As the son of a pioneer, he needed little persuasion to induce him to join a wagon train of emigrants bound for Oregon.
In 1852, Carter started with his wife, Rebecca Sylvester, and children on a trail leading through Fort Laramie, Wyoming, and across the Rocky Mountains to the Columbia River region. The journey, which required six months, was made with ox teams. About half of the members desired to turn back after several hundred miles had been accomplished, due to unexpected difficulties, the discouraging tales of travelers returning home, and bouts with cholera. Rebecca Carter bravely insisted that they should carry out their original plans. In fact, she urged so strongly that the train moved forward until it reached its final destination. At the journey's end, she received many compliments from her companions, and was regarded with the deepest respect by those who completed their westward trek.
Bill Carter engaged in farming on a donation land claim of 320 acres he located on in Lane County. He sold his place, and in 1866 moved to a farm near Albany, in Benton County, where he died in 1867.
Rebecca Sylvester Carter: Daughter of the American Revolution
Rebecca Sylvester Carter survived her
She died in 1883, at the age of 92. Rebecca was a member of the
Episcopal church, and fully deserved the high regard in which
as descendant of worthy ancestry. She was a first cousin of
educator, John H. Hood. Her uncle, Cpt. James Slaughter, was a
in the American Revolution. He served in the commissary
army as a guard, and assisted in conveying the silver that was
time used to pay the soldiers.
Rebecca and Bill Carter reared a family of nine children. John, the oldest, was followed by Henry and Alfred, who served in the Rogue River War under Gen. Kearney. Isaac, who was next in line, served in the commissary department in the Rogue River War. Rebecca Jane (1841-1911 MO), the oldest of the daughters, married Peter Meads (1820-1914 KY). In 1867, the couple homesteaded at Nortons.
Peter Meads 1820-1914
April 3, 1914: Peter Meads (1820-1914
who once owned the place at Nortons now owned by Harry Porter is
He died at Walla Walla on Monday. Meads and his family
at Nortons in the spring of 1867 and lived on it some 20 years
sold out and moved to Walla Walla, where he has lived until his
Meads was well known to the early settlers of Yaquina Bay. He
over the roads hauling oysters and clams from Elk City to
was done in the worst part of winter and over the muddiest kind
Meads never stopped for rain or mud. He had a nice home at Walla
and enjoyed life in his later days. He was 84 years old.
His wife, Rebecca Jane Carter (1841-1911 MO) died about three years ago. She was a sister of Siletz Reservation physician Franklin Marion Carter of Elk City.
The Meads are survived by the couple's children: William H. (1860-? OR), Olive A (1862-? OR), Solomon S. (1864-? OR), Elijah F. (1866-? OR), and John S. (1869-? OR).
So one by one the pioneers are passing away leaving behind them a name of honor, courage, perseverance and hospitality. May they rest in peace.
The next two children in order of birth engaged in gold mining at Jacksonville. The two youngest children were Mary and Nancy.
The Carters Settle in Lane County
In 1852, at the age of six, Frank
arrived with his parents and siblings in Lane County. Due to his
background, he gained experiences that were invaluable to him in
contact with the world. At school he was a classmate with
(1837-1913), the "Poet of the Sierras." They often hunted in the
and along the streams of Oregon over a period of ten years.
One day, Carter and Miller were alerted by the cries of someone in distress. They ran to the spot and found an Indian—who had been attacked by a huge cinnamon bear—near death. The young hunters killed the beast, but were unable to save the man's life.
The Great Rattlesnake Hunt
Carter recalled the great rattlesnake
which took place at Diamond Butte in Line County, which was
the Carter and Miller homes. The butte was 15 feet high, and was
with rocks full of crevices and caves which gave welcome refuge
from all the surrounding country.
At one snake hunt, the men in the area met for one day and killed 1,500 rattlers. It is possible that was the greatest snake hunt and killing ever known in the Pacific Northwest.
Diamond Butte was long regarded by Indians as sacred. They went there each year to get medicine from the Great Spirit. In the early days, the country, abounding in every variety of large and small game, was a hunter’s paradise. Carter was one of the expert hunters of the region.
Umpqua Academy 1854-1900
After completing his preliminary
Frank became a student at Umpqua Academy, in Douglas County. He
in 1865 with a BA degree.
The following anecdote, written by George B. Kuykendall, recapitulates his boyhood memories of the Umpqua Academy and young Frank Carter:
The Umpqua Academy was founded in 1854
Rev. James H. Wilbur (1811-1887), missionary, Indian agent and
rider for the Methodist church.
In describing the work of Dad Wilbur a contemporary said of him:
Stalwart and strong, the great forest that stood where Taylor street church now (1912) stands (southeast corner of Third and Taylor streets), fell before his axe. The walls of the old church rose by his saw and hammer, and grew white and beautiful under his paint brush; tired bodies rested and listened to his powerful preaching on Sunday, poverty was fed at his table, and sickness cured by his medicines.
The date of the beginning of the Umpqua Academy was midway between territorial organization and statehood—1849-1859. Another place distinctly states 1856, which is 11 years before Philomath, ten years before Sublimity, and 14 years before OAC.
Through the mists of over 60 years
comes to me a picture of Old Umpqua Academy, standing like a
sentinel, against the tree clad hills back of it. Here I see a
boys playing marbles, there a bevy of girls with wild flowers,
each other’s hair or arranging garlands and bouquets; down on
I see a game of "town hall" or "three cornered cat" being
others are running “lickity-split” in games of "Black Man" or
Just across to the west of the building on the level grade and
spreading oaks I see little fellows down on their knees, with
the ground imploringly calling, "Doodle bug, Doodle bug,
ha, bushel of corn's burning up," and others nearby are playing
peg." I seem to hear other voices—"Keep a calling him, he'll
or "Augh, get back there, don't fudge! Knuckle down dolmen when
to shoot," or "Get down close to the ground and get the peg
teeth." Up from the grounds below comes a sound, whack, whack,
two, three, good-black-man-for-me."
When I think of this scene, there comes up the question, "Where are all those faces and frowns so vibrant with joy and ambition?"
There are, alas, but very few of the earliest students of the Old Umpqua Academy left (in 1918), nearly all have answered the last summons, the school of life with them has closed and,
The names we loved to hear,
Have been carved for many a
Year on the tomb.
But many of them left their mark and we are proud of them today. Whenever we think of the Old Umpqua there comes up many incidents, some joyous or inspirational, some sad and pathetic, others of a ludicrous nature.
The Joker's Wild
Among the early students that attended
academy, there are a number that boarded at the home of John
some were there two or three winters. Among those were tall
and small George Yale, both of whom when seen together seemed to
to the "odd sizes." We boys had beds upstairs in my father's
Early one morning, the sight of Frank's pants and clothes on the chair, by the side of his bed suggested a practical joke and sport. One of the boys slipped into Frank's room and took his clothes and left in their place a suit of George Yale's. He then had all other clothes leaving Frank the option of going without, staying in bed, or of coming down to breakfast with Yale's clothes on.
The rest of the folks were fully notified of the arrangement, so that all might be ready with appropriate remarks, questions and witticisms when Frank appeared in the dining room.
He really did look comical, about like a giant in a little boy's knickerbockers. Frank had arms and legs of the Abe Lincoln pattern, with a good deal of spread and reach to them. We had been used to seeing him with coat sleeves which reached only to within wistful distance of his hands, and pants, that left considerable unoccupied territory far up his bootleg. We all wore top coats those days, when we could get the money to buy them. The picture he made that morning was certainly "fetching" and we all shook with laughter, while good natured Frank smiled as if enjoying the delightful reception which he gratefully appreciated. He showed no signs of irritation or of temper, but he sat down to the table in his comic rig and ate his breakfast, with as much compliance as if the whole proceeding was just what He had ordered.
While we had fun at his expense we felt deep down in our hearts that he was one of the best fellows in the world. Years afterwards he took the degree of M.D. (1872), became an excellent physician and held an honorable position in his profession and in his community, and the state of Oregon.
How the years have flown since we were boys together. The last time I saw him he was at Newport, Oregon; he was going to see his married daughter who was dangerously ill.
Willamette University 1872
After leaving Umpqua Academy, Frank
enlisted in Company D, 1st Oregon Volunteer Infantry, under maj.
V. Rinehart (Malheur Reservation Indian agent) and served for
as first corporal. He was stationed a portion of the time in
Carter was later sent to Eastern Oregon where he saw some active
against the Indians. In 1866, he received an honorable discharge
army at Vancouver, Washington.
After teaching school in Lane and Douglas counties, he entered the medical department of Willamette University. He graduated in 1872 with an M.D. degree. He took a post-graduate course in surgery at the Toland Medical Institute in San Francisco.
Siletz Reservation Physician 1874-1887
In 1874, Carter was appointed
the Siletz Reservation and served in this capacity for 13
then became superintendent of the Indian School.
In 1891, he practiced medicine at Elk City where he owned a large two-story house where the county park is now located.
In 1895, he established his home at Yaquina City, where he built up a good practice. He owned and operated a drug store in both Elk City and Newport.
Dr. Carter was a man of striking appearance. He was six feet, four inches tall, and weighed over 200 pounds. At the age of 65, he retained his full vigor of mind and body. He performed the duties of an extensive medical practice with the ease of a person 25 years his junior. He ranked as one of the foremost and most influential citizens of Elk City and Lincoln County, and was justly respected for his spirit of helpfulness and his genuine personal worth.
Financially successful Carter owned real estate and farm land in Lincoln County. His stock ranch of 400 acres was located one mile from Elk City, on the Yaquina River.
In 1899, he served as a member of the state board of health and was on of its most earnest and efficient promoters.
Carter-Baker Marry at Cape Foulweather
In 1876, at Cape Foulweather, Carter
Olive E. Barker (1856-? OR), who was born in Polk County,
She was the daughter of J. P. Barker, a pioneer who arrived in
1852 and settled on a donation land claim. She was also the step
of Thomas J. Blair who owned the Blair House in Elk City.
Carter belonged to the Republican party, and frequently served as a member of the county and state central committees. Three times he was elected to the office of state representative, but was defeated by a small margin. From time to time, he served as school director. He was president of the Garfield Club at Philomath, and was elected president of the Elk City McKinley Club in 1896. Carter was a member of the Abraham Lincoln Post, GAR, of Toledo. He passed through all the chairs of the Woodsmen of the World (WOW), and of the Odd Fellows Lodge (IOOF). He was also a member of the state Grand Lodge. He belonged to the Methodist Episcopal church, which he served as trustee.
Ethel May Price Remembers Elk City
My father, George Small, homesteaded
Spout Creek area, where the entire community attended the
that people enjoyed in the summertime, and dances in the
Folks in the Spout Creek area got their mail at the Harlan post office.
I attended Spout Creek School. When I was in the 8th grade, the highway from Eddyville to Blodgett was widened. Mother cooked for the road crew and Dad worked on the road. I attended school at Eddyville, Burnt Woods, and Blodgett all in one year, as the road work progressed.
My family left the area at the end of that school year, because then the job moved from Jefferson for six months, and then back to Philomath.
In the spring of 1921, Dad got as job at Elk City as a fireman for the sawmill. Mills in those days were run by steam, and the big boilers of water had to be heated to high temperatures to generate the steam to move the machinery.
The logs were floated down the Big Elk and the Yaquina rivers on high tides, or in the winter when the streams were running full.
Elk City was then a little strip of more or less level land situated between a small mountain, the railroad, the depot and Yaquina River on one side and a small hill on the other. The Big Elk came along at one end of the main street like the top of a "T."
The sawmill and a few houses were situated there. In the corner where the road from Pioneer and Harlan came together was the little church. From there a street led straight to the train depot. The main street took off from the mill and led through the business district along the Yaquina River, like the bottom of the "T" with two stops.
Along the Yaquina side was the Blair House, a store and some houses. A boardwalk ran in front of those to the last house. On the opposite side of the street there was the Elk Hotel, Elk City General Store, which is still standing, a post office, Doc Carter's and a couple of other houses, and then the street widened into a swale. During the summer the swale was nice and green and the local "milk supply" kept it mowed! During the winter it was full of water.
That summer the Elk City Grange built their hall over part of the swale near our house. It was up on large timbers so it would be above the water in winter. It was used as a community center of sorts—where 8th grade graduation, bazaars, plays, and dances were held. That was during Prohibition, but most of the folks had their own personal or favorite moonshine supplier and there were usually some pretty rough fights at the dances!
The Flood of 1921
In late 1921, Lincoln County was
with water like never before. Five and a quarter inches of rain
the gauge at Newport's meteorological station in the 24-hour
November 20. coastal residents of the 1920s soon discovered
which today’s flat plain residents are fully aware: When the
down, the rivers go up.
The Newport newspaper wrote of the 1921 flood, "Never before in the history of the county had floods in the Yaquina, Siletz, Alsea and Yachats rivers been known to reach such high stages." Lincoln County found itself cut off from the outside world. Electric, telegraph and telephone lines were down countywide along the water systems of Newport and Toledo.
If that wasn’t bad enough, the flood practically brought all travel to a halt.
Every bridge across the Alsea River was washed out. On the Siletz River, only one bridge, ten miles upriver from the town of Siletz, was spared. It was a suspension foot overpass known as the Radant bridge.
Transportation and communication were further hampered by the destruction of more than 1,500 feet of railroad track at different points between Nashville and Elk City.
While most of the damage wreaked by recent floods has occurred along the Siletz River, the flood of 1921 hit Elk City with a vengeance. Elk City, where the Big Elk joins the Yaquina, is shoehorned in the floodplain between steep hills and water. While the flood waters come rushing down Main Street, a stack of lumber came with it. The lumber smashed into the Elk City Hotel, destroying the dining room. The main part of the building was pushed over on its side.
Water and mud six feet deep filled the town’s post office/grocery store, destroying both mail and merchandise. Every house and building in the city was inundated with water. Fred Womack and family found themselves homeless as their house was destroyed. The house that belonged to Paris J. Parks was washed down the street, but deemed repairable.
The total damage to Elk City homes and property was estimated at between $40,000 and $50,000.
Despite the rising waters, at least one dinner party refused to die.
The guests attending a wedding dinner at Chester Dixon's Elk City home simply moved to higher ground.
After boarding a boat, they headed for the hills. The dinner was finished at the Elk City School. Along with the partyers, an estimated 100 people took refuge from floodwaters at the school.
For those residing along Lincoln County’s rivers and low lying areas, flooding is a part of life, particularly in these last few wet years.
The heartiest of residents will follow the example of the guests at the Dixon family wedding: They will continue their party on higher ground while they wait for drier times.
Just before Christmas that same year,
rains came. It always had rained heavily in the winter in
seemed there was a bit more than usual in a short period of
was full, and Yaquina River and the Big Elk were lapping at the
of their banks. Both rivers at Elk City were controlled by
tides. The tide was in, but when it went out the water dropped.
that time there was a storm at sea, and the tide could not go
six hours! the water rose a little as the water from the rivers
Then it was time for the tide to come in again and the water to
fast. The rivers were then over their banks and running
the main street of town.
The adults began getting things together to spend the night on the hill at the schoolhouse and neighboring homes. They really didn't believe there was any danger, but muddy water lapping at the door in darkness was very unnerving.
The men and the older boys stayed at the school. The women and children stayed at the house next to the school. The smaller children were put to bed on the floor. Understandably, not many of the grownups slept. Every now and then someone would go down the hill to the water's edge to see if it was rising or falling.
With darkness came another worry: the train that should have arrived in the early afternoon had not yet come. The main street was now the main current of the rivers and water stretched from the railroad to the foot of the hill. There was no way for anyone getting off the train to get over to the town in the dark. The distance and the water and the roar of the train engine made it impossible to shout a warning and be heard.
The train had left Toledo shortly after lunch. It had crept and crawled along, and stopped often to clean mud and trees from the track. About a mile from Elk City Depot it halted again, due to another slide. The crew was tired and wet and it was still pouring down rain! Even if they did clear that slide, there was going to be more. They knew they could expect a large slide at the tunnel at Chitwood; there were always slides there in the winter. The hour was late. Except for snacks—like candy, popcorn and peanuts—there was no food. The passengers had missed any other connections with other trains in Corvallis. With crossed fingers and a prayer that no new slides had happened since they passed, the motion was put in reverse slowly, backing all that distance back to Toledo where there were hotel accommodations and food for weary travelers.
The Water Continues to Rise
Meanwhile in Elk City, the water had
to four feet! in some of the houses. It swirled and twirled,
anything that wasn't nailed down—around like toothpicks. At last
at sea abated and the tide started to slowly flow out, taking
that was loose with it.
It had been 48 hours! since the rivers flooded their banks. Citizens were viewing the wreckage left in the water’s wake. Many tears were shed over ruined keepsakes, furniture and interiors to homes, but the townsfolk gave prayers of thankfulness that no lives had been lost.
Mud, sludge and slime were over everything. Houses were loosened on foundations. The Yaquina River Bridge was unsafe and partly gone. Anyone who has not lived through something like that could not know the desolation that was felt by the residents of such a ravished area.
The clean-up was hard and tedious. The only consolation was that there really wasn’t a water shortage! At least, there was enough fresh water to use for the preliminary job.
Once again Elk City returned to the
busy little town that it had been. The mill started up again, a
and store and post office were built. This time the buildings
higher off the ground! Elk City is built on a flood plain, and
choose to live there must never forget it!
With the advent of Christmas, most of the children forgot about the frightening ordeal. To them, it had all been an exciting fairy tale adventure. To the adults, it had been a nightmare (no one had ever heard of Sci-Fi at that time!).
Elk City: A Sawdust Disneyland
Across the Big Elk there was a rock
A long time ago rock from this hill was highly prized for use in
For a long time, through, the quarry had been unworked. Now
moved in and once again rock was being shipped to various
That was an added attraction for the children. Most of us had never seen that kind of work. Now we had a choice of summertime activity: we could watch the lumber come through the mill, climb over the lumber piles, watch the sawdust and waste lumber tumble off the end of the conveyor into the burning pile, roast potatoes in the edge of the pile, or stand on the Big Elk Bridge and watch the work at Pioneer Quarry!
The waste material from the quarry—the dirt and small crushed unusable rock—was hauled out and dumped in a dyke fashioned along the Big Elk toward the Yaquina.
Then there was the big Fourth of July picnic up the Big Elk that everyone with any kind of transportation went to. It was held in the alder grove, and there were long tables to hold the food. There were plenty of logs and stumps to sit on—and even swings for the kids.
Those swings were really different. Long poles were fastened to a huge limb in the tree. The seat was fastened between the poles holding them apart at the end. I have never seen swings like that before or since, but over the years, I remembered the swings at Elk City and remained fascinated by them.
One Scoop or Two?
The operation of the quarry brought
people to the area. A pool hall was built next to Elk Hotel on
side of the street. Jim Dixon kept a supply of ice-cream on
dip in a cone was only five cents. Or, a person could take a
the scoops put in it instead of the cone for five cents a dip.
was kept in a huge container packed with salt and ice to keep it
the last scoop was dipped out.
Summer came and went, and once again all the children were concerned with the drudgery of school every day.
Thanksgiving and Christmas quickly arrived, and the New Year, 1923, arrived with all the usual rain. The swale was full—once again; the rivers were lapping at the top of their banks—once again. The older folks began the ritual of getting uneasy—once again—as it continued to rain, and the rivers swelled evermore.
Elk City Mythology
A few old-timers said not to worry—that these floods only occur every 50 years, and it had been only a little over a year ago that the last one devastated the community. Nevertheless, man began to anchor large items that they could not move to the upper story or attic. Women went about collecting blankets, a change of clothes for the children, and boxes of food. A close watch was kept on the two rivers. By early evening, the children were sent to the schoolhouse, or the homes near it. By dark, nearly everyone had once again retreated to the hill.
Delbert Hodges (1940-1999) Interview With James Scarth
Jim: I'm glad you came to Woodburn to
me and Pearl. I can tell you a lot of stories about Jim Scarth
Hodges if you want to hear them.
Del: That's why we're here.
Jim: One night, your dad and I decided it was about time to have a little salmon, so we got on our horses and rode down the to Yaquina Fish Hatchery near Pauline and Harold Parks' place on the Elk City-Harlan Road. We took some long poles and some cord and fashioned a big hook on the front and a small hook on the back and reached around in there until we could feel the fish and then snagged them. We got a wagon load of fish this way. Everybody had smoked salmon up and down the valley. Boy our hands were just froze. That was the last year the hatchery had a damn in there.
Yaquina Fish Hatchery
Yaquina Fish Hatchery, located about
mile from Elk City on Big Elk River, collected 562 Chinook
the fall of 1902. They needed more and added silverside eggs.
Annual Reports of the Department of Fisheries for 1903 and 1905, state that Supt W. A. Smith, established the hatchery on David B. Ramsdell's fields and that the 1904 stop-rack was built just above the county bridge.
In 1905, the Lincoln County Leader reported that the hatchery furnished young Chinook and silversides that were hauled over the mountains to Gopher Creek, some to Alsea, and a load into Big Elk.
Ernest Cook (1893-?) recalled that Lafe Pepin was the carpenter at the hatchery. Because his wages were higher, another man asked to construct the flumes. They did not hold water, so Pepin was rehired to correct the work. Cook believes the lumber for the flumes was probably purchased from Gray's Sawmill in Toledo. Eleanor Grady Bogert recalled the hatchery as a nice place to go for picnics, and, as a child, Iva Parks Allen enjoyed watching the fish. Paris Parks and his wife started running the hatchery around 1923. Jim McDaniel and his wife, who were living in Coos Bay in 1978, ran the hatchery from 1930 to 1932. McDaniel logged the hillside across from there with Morgan Allen. They used a donkey steam engine and rafted their logs to Toledo where they sold them to Guy Roberts Lumber Company. Morgan purchased the 20 acres on which the hatchery was situated for $2,000 in 1946. The stop-rack was removed soon after the sale. In March 1905, Capt. Ben McJunkin took a load of tourists to see the plant in his new gasoline launch Toledo. The passengers were Mr. and Ms. A. T. Peterson and their son John, Mr. and Ms. C. H. Gardner, Mr. and Ms. R. A. Arnold, J. J. Wagoner, William Heitsman, S. C. Bradeson, and G. H. Umbaugh of Toledo.
Del: What was Elk City like when the
had a homestead near the Hodges?
Jim: Elk City had three stores, a livery barn and two sawmills.
Del: My granddad owned one of the sawmills. Who owned the second one?
Jim: I don't recall. I left Elk City in 1917. I was out of Lincoln County until 1935 when I went to Philomath.
I used to pass through Big Elk Valley getting acquainted with farmers trying to sell livestock feed. I stopped by your dad's place occasionally. I'd never find anyone home.
Del: When the roads got better and we got more or less dependable transportation the folks would go to town or take trips out of town quite often.
Jim: I remember one time we went to the Lincoln County Fair and Pearl said if you took Claudine Hodges' exhibits away from the fair there wouldn't be any fair left!
Connie: When and where were you born, Jim?
Jim: I was born in Canada, August 14, 1898. We moved to Oregon in 1902. My dad's name was William Scarth. He opened up the bank in Toledo, and then he opened up a branch in Newport. The Toledo bank was the old Lincoln County Bank and the Newport bank was the Leese & Scarth Bank. Then they opened up a branch in Corvallis in the lobby of a hotel and they called it the Willamette Valley Banking Company.
Del: Where did the original capital come from?
Jim: Well, my dad was born in the Orkney Islands off the coast of Scotland. He was from a large family, and they had a nursemaid. She told them so many ghost stories, that my dad and his brother, who were about 13 and 14 at the time, decided to leave home and went to sea. They went on the Conway, which was the training ship for merchant marines. Then they had to serve so many years before the mast. By the time my dad's training was over, he'd sailed in those old square riggers into every important port in the world—with the exception of Columbia River. That was probably in the late 1800s.
Pearl: Your dad was born in 1860 and your mother was born in 1863.
Jim: My dad went through his merchant marine training so fast that he got to be a petty officer and he went to work on the PNO boats that are still operating. In fact, they come through Portland every now and then. They're tour boats. People were taking tours down through the Far East—India, China and Japan. Dad was on one of those. He said he grew him a mustache to make him look older because he was an officer. My dad never shaved his upper lip for as long as he was alive. After he worked through the ranks and had his captain's papers, the job was getting to him, so he and another brother moved to Canada and homesteaded up there.
They raised a little wheat. But mainly they'd go out in the late summer and cut the grass down out of the swamp land where it'd be lakes in the wintertime, and pile it up for hay. In the wintertime, when the other fellers would be out of feed, then my dad and uncle would go around and buy up stock and feed them this swamp hay and fatten them up. Then they'd take them to market in Winnipeg or Quebec. That's the way he made a going of it.
A feller there got them talked into investing in a bank in Brussels, Ontario. But they kept homesteading more land there until there weren't enough lakes for them to make a living at bailing hay, so they started wheat farming.
This is a funny story. For two straight years, Dad had all the binders out and ready to go first thing Monday morning. They couldn’t work Sunday, so they had to be readied by Saturday at sundown. As it turned out, they had to put the binders away on two Sundays because of hail storms. After that, they considered themselves through for the year. Dad said, "This is no way for me to raise a family." So they sold out.
Dad and my uncle had letters from different banks in the states, like Ladd & Busch and the Bank of California in Portland, that were trying to interest them into coming to various places in Oregon to settle. Ladd & Busch were very anxious for them to build a bank in Turner. And then they talked to somebody who gave them a good picture of Tillamook. They were terribly interested in Tillamook and they were going to go down there and, of course, wanted to know where in the hell they could catch the train. The bankers told them, "There is no train to Tillamook. You have to wait until the storm's over and go by boat!" Dad said, "Nothing doing. I was raised on the Orkney Islands and that's the only way people could get around there. I left that and I'm never going to live like that again." Then the bankers told them about Lincoln County and Toledo in particular. They said, "That railroad went in there just a couple of years ago."
So my dad and my uncle went to Toledo in 1901 when they were just starting to build the Masonic Hall on Main Street. They leased space in that new building and ordered the vault and had it built right in.
Fred Horning, who died here a few years ago, told me Dad's vault was the first big piece of equipment he had ever moved. He said he had an awful time moving it through the mud.
Anyhow, they put in the vault and opened up the bank in 1901. Dad moved us down in 1902.
Then the feller that owned the bank in Salem wrote Dad a little note one day stating that he was sending him some important papers and that "I think it is advisable for you to make an unexpected trip to the Willamette Valley Banking Company in Corvallis. I think there are a few things you should see." Well Dad had all the confidence in the world in his partner, Thomas Leese, and the other feller had just let it out that the bank was practically broke! So Leese spent the rest of his summers in British Columbia and his winters in California, and Dad peddled every darned thing he had—his life insurance, everything—and bought that farm up on the Big Elk as an investment. He still had the home in Toledo; that's the only thing he had left.
Pearl: Tell them about the bank building your dad built in Newport, Jim.
Jim: The business section on the Newport waterfront burnt down in 1910 or 1911 on New Year's Eve. The bank, saloon, grocery store and butcher shop were downstairs and the dance hall was upstairs. There was a dance on Saturday night and on Sunday morning there was nothing. We were living in Toledo. Dad and I were notified and we came right over. The vault was the only thing that was standing. People wanted to know when Dad would open it. He told them, "It might be this week, it might be next. It all depends on how long it takes for the damned thing to cool off." In the meantime, he hired someone to be a watchman to guard the vault.
The new bank was built down at the foot of the hill there where the fish market is that had the Harbor Barber Shop in it. The building belongs to Dick Christianson now. Russell, Dick's brother, and I went to high school together. Dick asked me, "Jim, do you know how that old building's reinforced?" I said "No. All I knew is that Dad said that building will never burn down or fall down." He said, "Well, they wanted me to put a new window in it, so I said I'd get a guy to cut the concrete and put in a bigger window." So they got this feller and he started in to cut and found out that building was reinforced with railroad iron. Dad never told me that's the way it was. But I can remember when we first went down there it was right about the time Southern Pacific was taking over the Central & Eastern, and they had to put new rails in all the way through because those little rails down there wouldn't hold the big locomotives. And, lord, there were rails piled up everywhere. I just imagine scrap iron wasn’t to high a price. Dad could buy those rails cheaper than he could buy steel. So, I'd sure like to be around there when they go tear it down.
Del: Did the Depression break the banks?
Jim: Dad and his partners opened up a second bank in Toledo. The Depression closed both of them up eventually.
You know, I’d like very much to have a copy of the bank's incorporation papers, but I doubt if I can ever get them. If I talk to C. P. Moore's son, Vince, I might be able to get a copy, but I don't know him hardly at all. Tom Leese had $9,000 in it and Dad had $9,000. That was the total capitalization, and here they opened up three banks! But, that was a lot of money in those days.
Besides the banks, Dad put the first public water works in Toledo.
Del: Where did he go for his water?
Jim: He had two tanks where JC Sentry Two is now. Fred Horning had a barn there at one time. He eventually sold out to Smith Transfer. He bought the tanks and had them torn down. In their place, he put in two big brick wells—all built by hand.
Annie and Fred Horning are very good friends of ours and every time we go to Lincoln County we go and see them. I asked him, "How did you put those bricks in?" He said, "I didn't know how I was going to do it at first, Jim. I finally got onto an idea, so I went down to the fire chief. The department had a bunch of old fire hoses. He said, "I took them and ran them down the hill so I'd be lower than the wells. Then I made a raft and dropped it down into the well and I used those hoses to siphon the water out. As the raft went down we took a wrench and lifted the bricks out until we got right down to the bottom."
Del: I'll be darned. How deep were the well?
Jim: Oh, I’d say about 20 feet deep and 20 feet in diameter.
Del: How were the wells kept filled?
Jim: There was an old Fairbanks-Morris engine over there to pump it when the tank was standing up there. They had the tank on the town side so they could see from downtown how much water they had. When the water was getting low, my brother Lance and I would go over there and start that Fairbanks-Morris alone. If one of us got one wheel and the other got the other wheel we could put it over against the Depression and start the motor. So, we were fairly familiar with gas engines by the time we were pretty small fry.
Lots of times we would start to fill that whole tank and then we'd forget about it. Dad would come home from work and find it running over and we'd kind a get a little bad time of it.
Connie: Where was your house in town located?
Jim: It was right below Hillcrest Market which is sitting on part of our old place.
Connie: What do you remember about it?
Jim: I talked to Fred Horning one day and he said, "Jim, you know they're still some of the windows in that old house before they tore it down." Actually, they were from the house my dad tore down in Corvallis when they started to build the Oregon Agricultural College. The front door had these little colored glass pieces in it, and it was from there. The attic windows were the original glass, I bet, because they were the only ones high enough us kids couldn't throw a ball or a rock through.
Del: It seems like people in those days salvaged every single bit of glass and lumber. I bet we can still find some of the boards in our fences that were sawed around the turn of the century. Every nail, every board was saved and reused.
Jim: You didn't pile them flat either. There were sticks in between the layers to keep them from rotting. Things came hard and you weren't getting any big wages. There was no such thing as big wages.
I remember the fun we used to have at your granddad's motor powered mill. There was a loft above the mill where they held dances. We used to have some great dances there.
Dell Hodges was like Pearl's dad. He was a great fiddler. Mort was quite musical too.
Del: Pat also played the violin.
Connie: From what I understand, Clyde did also.
Del: Yes, Clyde did too. Did you know Clyde? He was the baby of the family. We always called him Uncle "Thud," but I don't remember why now.
Jim: No, I didn't know the younger boys.
Del: Where was the Scarth farm located?
Jim: Right next to where your granddad was. You know where the trail goes over the hill to Mill Creek?
Del: Right over there across the river. And then Dad's homestead was up on top of the hill.
Jim: I helped your dad when he built that first shed up there; that first little house up on the hill. They called that Scarth Gap. I helped him split shakes up there. We had to drag them up through what is now part of Jim Parks' place now. At the time, we didn't even have the road cut through. We were trying to get a bridge over the river and a road up to our place. Our place was the same distance from Toledo as it was from Elk City.
Del: Did you have to ford the Big Elk?
Jim: Our ford was right there at our place.
Del: If you were on the north side of the Big Elk, how did you get out?
Jim: We always forded right at our place.
Del: That would come out in the field just before the bend? Just up above that steep gorge there? It would come over in what is now Tancredi's place and was then Alice and Ed Chatfield's place?
Jim: I believe that was the name of the place, yes. The old house burned down and the barn fell down.
Del: You wouldn't go down and come up into Jim Parks' field? It was up above that?
Del: What are those?
Jim: They're the roots out of big fir trees. They'd float them downriver on rafts.
Del: What were they for?
Jim: The sides and the bows of ships. I helped Frank Updike dig up a bunch at Bear Creek. Frank went to work for my dad when he first came here.
Incidentally, we had a slaughterhouse on the farm at one time. A feller by the name of Cook was living on the place before Dad moved up there, and he peddled meat. One day he'd go up as far as Chitwood and the next day he'd go up as far as Harlan, and he supplied the meat for Toledo and a lot of the meat for Newport.
Del: Where would you get the stock?
Jim: We'd buy it from whoever we could.
Del: What kind of money were the animals bringing in those days?
Jim: Not very much. I don't remember how much per head or per pound, but not very much.
Del: How many animals at a time would you handle?
Jim: Oh, sometimes three a day. We didn't butcher every day. I know my job was skinning. It was all cut by a hand saw. Of course you knocked a critter in the head or shot it and it just rolled over. The slaughterhouse door flopped open and you cut it's throat and the blood just ran down into the trough and the pigs were right out there ready for it.
Del: The pigs liked that blood, huh?
Jim: You bet yah. I'd take the stomach paunches and slash them open and take the rough out and put them in a big iron kettle. Then I'd take rotten old split rails that he had piled up near the house and use them for firewood under this kettle. Then I'd put cold potatoes in the pot and this beef and maybe one or two sacks of grain. I can just see my dad put his foot on the fence and say, "Boy, it's fun to raise pigs; you can just see them grow."
Del: How would you preserve your beef?
Jim: It was all shipped in. Harry Norton ran a boat called the Transit from Elk City to Newport three times a week. He'd pick up the mail and the milk and what have you all the way downriver.
Del: Do you recall a boat by the name of Rose? We have a photograph of the Rose and don't know anything about it.
Jim: No, but I've got an interesting boat story for you. When my dad and Oliver Altree, who owned the shingle mill in Toledo, built a float the Lincoln County Leader said it was the biggest boat ever launched on Yaquina River. It was 50 feet long, or something like that. Well, that really wasn't true. The Ella May was longer than that. It was around 60 feet long. I wanted to write to the paper about it and set them straight.
I saw a piece in the paper just a while back about a bunch of businessmen from Toledo who had gone to Elk City on the launch Ella May. Dad had picked it up and he'd taken it out a few times over the bar fishing. He used a led gig and a hook on it and gigged for bottom fish. They never thought about salmon in those days. You could get all you wanted in the bay anyhow.
And the US naval fleet was going up the Pacific Coast, so they decided to get the boat all fixed up. She wasn't coming in close where you
could see her from shore. So Dad sold tickets for the crowd to see the float as it briefly went by.
Del: Was your dad's boat a sail boat?
Jim: My dad's boat was operated by one of the first gas engines to come in. He had two stationary Fairbanks-Morris engines with double screws. People thought he was crazy to put two screws in them.
Del: Roughly what time was that?
Jim: Around 1904-1905.
Del: They had the Ella May upright on timbers on the bank below the sawmill. The men were working at night and rushing around. One guy decided he wanted something from the engine room and went down there with a lantern. It was closed up and he stepped in there and it blew the boat and everything else all to pieces. That was the end of that.
Del: I'll be damned. Was the explosion from the fumes?
Jim: Yes, the lantern ignited the fumes and burnt the whole thing down.
Del: Did your dad have a ship building operation?
Jim: No, that happened while he was still living in town. He built one boat in the back yard—a sail boat—and he and a feller who was working for him at the bank would sail it to Newport. They spent lots of nights at Whale Cove. Then they'd sail the Siletz to Kernville and Taft.
Del: How much water did the boat draw?
Jim: Oh, not much. He knew what the water was on every one of those bars in the Waldport area, of course. Being a seaman, he led everyone to them.
When I was at Bird Bay, I found a book at the Chamber of Commerce advertising Lincoln County. It told about all the things you could raise there and it had a picture of my dad standing in a grain field with old John McCluskey, who was George McCluskey's dad and Kenny Litchfield's granddad. He was standing in a field of rye up to his head, and all you could call it was "William comin' through the rye!" The photographer was taking pictures all over Lincoln County. The Elk City, Toledo, Yaquina City, Newport, Taft, Kernville, Waldport and Florence chambers of commerce all worked together to produce that promotional book.
Then they bought a boat. Southern Pacific had taken over the railroad line and they were charging so much for freight to get the groceries in that they decided to buy a boat to cut the cost. However, nobody knew how to bring it into the bay. So dad went to Portland and put out over the Columbia. That's really the first time he got to sail over Columbia River Bar. Then he showed the captain on that little boat how to operate it.
I can remember that thing coming up the Yaquina into Toledo. The mill whistles would blow, the church bells would chime, the fire bells would clang, and the school bells would ring. And here this boat comes chugging upriver.
Del: Sounds like your dad was kind of a jack-of-all-trades.
Jim: Well, he was just a darned good banker, and learned that while he was up in Canada. As I said before, the only trouble was he was too easy on his own partners. He went in with some attorneys on the bank, and what Leese didn't get they got. Dad didn't pay any attention to the people he was working with when he should have been.
Some of the local fellers got into trouble. He had to take over the butcher shop in Toledo. He had a bit of trouble with one of the sawmills and he had to take it over.
Del: So in reality, his partners kind of embezzled the bank's money?
Jim: Something like that. C. P. Moore, when he was alive, showed Pearl and me their original books for the Lincoln County Bank and how they kept track of their records in those days.
For instance, there were still a bunch of Wades in Toledo then. There was Len and Frank and a bunch of cousins, too. One would write a draft to some place in Portland and all it said was "Wade." Now how in the dickens did Dad know which Wade to honor? By golly he seemed to know. C. P. Moore and I laughed about that.
Del: When did old C. P. Moore come onto the scene?
Jim: I didn't know C. P. Moore until I moved to Philomath.
Del: I remember he was always a good friend of my dad's. He came out to our place and went crawfishing once.
Jim: C. P. Moore is a good banker; a shrewd banker. I can't complain. He never did anything dishonest per se.
I've got a story about old C. P. Moore. There was a dairy cattleman in Lincoln County who tried to feed his cattle in the spring of the year. He talked me into buying a little feed on credit and said he'd pay me when the cows came fresh in March or April. I waited until three or four weeks after that and dropped down to his place and inquired, "Have those cows come fresh yet?" He answered, "I haven't got any cows now." "What do you mean?" "Well, I got so hard up, I went down and talked to C. P. Moore and took out a mortgage on the cows, and he came up the other day and took them!"
Jim: Hell, I fed them doggone things through the winter for him and old C. P. Moore took the cattle! I didn't like that but C. P. and I are still good friends. He was down in Waldport when I was there.
Del: What did Toledo amount to when your dad had the bank and water works?
Jim: Just a typical small town. There were fishermen on the wharf trying to peddle their fish for two to four bits for a nice big salmon. You'd see them come up with buckets of clams and they'd do anything to sell them. But, I've also seen it when they'd get good money for them.
Any kid could go to work at any kind of job he wanted, like in the mills. My best pal, Beal Gaither, got a job there in a Toledo mill. It was pulling the cable back down to bring the logs up. They told him not to cut across the lower deck where the logs were—to go around. He was a kid in high school and wouldn't listen and was always sneaking across. Well, one time he sneaked once too often and a log broke loose above there and that was the last of him. Beal was Terrance Gaither's older brother
The old-timers in Toledo couldn't tell which were the Gaither boys and which were the Scarth boys when we were small. We were always together. My brother Lance was the oldest, then Beal, then me and then Terrance. Lance and Terrance were pals, and Beal and I were pals.
When Beal was killed, I made the statement that I'd never work in the woods or the sawmills for as long as I lived. I finally broke down and worked in Roy Scott's planer mill in Philomath for about two months helping him out after I had to get out of the feed mill because of my breathing. He begged me. I have always had a healthy fear of sawmills. But then, when I was working for Shell Oil Company I used to go in and out of those logging camps on those logging trains and they were more dangerous than any sawmill.
Del: Do you remember anything about Guy Roberts?
Jim: Guy Roberts came in just about the time I left—just before WWI. Guy was quite an operator. I understand some people took digs at him, but from what I know, he was a pretty square shooter.
Del: Did he know the sawmill business before coming to Toledo?
Jim: I think he had quite a little bit of experience in Alpine.
Del: Did you ever hear he was a great womanizer? That's what I've heard throughout my lifetime—that every little old woman in the county knew Guy Roberts.
Jim: No, I never heard that about him, but it doesn't meant it's not true.
Del: Do you know any Siletz Indian stories?
Jim: You bet. There was a saloon right across from the Lincoln County Bank in Toledo. One time a buck [sic] by the name of Spencer Scott got quite a bit of money and he brought it my dad's bank. Dad asked him if he wanted some. He said, "Oh, maybe I'd take some." So Dad gave him a few dollars and he left. It wasn't long before Dad saw the door of the saloon fly open and this Indian. Pretty soon Scott came in and said he wanted all of his money. Dad said, "Are you sure you want all of it?" He said, "Yeah, I want all of my money." Dad said, "I can't tell you no, but are you sure you want it?" "Yes," he said, "I want my money." Dad agreed and got a sack and gave him a handful of small change. It was 2:45pm. and he locked the door of the bank. Dad told me it was the first and only time he locked the bank before 3pm. But it wasn't long before Scott was shaking the door trying to get in. Dad went out and Scott said, "I want some more of that money." Dad told him, "I'm sorry, but it's in the vault and the time clock's on and there's no way it can be opened before 9am tomorrow morning. But your money's there if you really want all of it."
Later on, he saw Spencer Scott and his squaw on the street and he went over to him and said, "I want you to come over to the bank a few minutes." They kinda hesitated a minute. Dad encouraged them, "No, you come on over." So they went over and Dad took them to the back room and got the books. "Now, let's decide what we're going to do about your money." "I got no money. White man got me drunk and got all my money." Dad said, "No, that's not true. Here's what they got," and he showed them what had been drawn out. Then he said, "Here's the rest of your money." They were very, very grateful. That went on for a good many years. Dad was notified that Scott had left him a piece of land when he died between Whale Cove and Depoe Bay right on the ocean. But Dad decided it wasn’t worth paying the taxes on it, so he refused to take title to it.
Del: Considering it's oceanfront property, I bet it's worth a mint.
Jim: Yeh, but look at the taxes he would have paid out on it all those years waiting for property values to go up.
It was the same as when the courthouse was sold in Toledo. We'd gone down and spent the night with Frank Updike. Frank and I were sitting in front of the fireplace and he said, "Jim, let's go up to the courthouse in the morning. We can buy as much land as we want between Yachats and Waldport right on the oceanfront for $4.00 to $10.00 per acre. The county's selling it for one year's tax on it and we can buy as much as we want." Then he said, "I think we can make some money on it, Jim." I thought for a little bit and I said, "By darn Frank, we would make some money on it, but where are we going to get the $4.00 or $6.00 or $8.00 an acre to buy it in the first place? Where are we going to get the money to pay next year's taxes? We're just about as broke as they are." Which we were. And it went on for years and years and years before we sold Big Stump in Waldport.
There was a old bachelor by the name of Oscar who had three acres adjoining our property. Pearl and I tried to buy it from him, but he said no because he was going to retire pretty soon and he wanted to keep it for his own use. We got quite well acquainted with his family—a niece and a nephew he thought so much of. So, when uncle Oscar died they came down for his funeral and I told them, "If you ever want to sell the place I want the first chance to buy it." "Jim, you sure can, but we don't think we ever want to sell it."
The next day they came over and said, "We talked it over. We're in the service station business. There's no chance of us coming down here, and I know Uncle Oscar would like you to have it." They told us there was a small mortgage on it yet, so I proposed, "You give me a note and I'll pay off that first mortgage as a down payment on the place. You get the title and insurance brought up to date, and I’ll give you cash for the balance on it." There was a delay because there was a little miswording in it. The first feller who owned it bought it on a tax title and I paid off that first mortgage all those years later. By golly he got more than $4.00 to $5.00 per acre, I can tell you that! When you buy vacant land, the way taxes are now the price per acre has to go up awfully high to come out on it.
Del: When and how did you get into the feed business?
Jim: By accident, I guess, more than anything else. Dad was familiar with grain from his experiences in Canada and he went to work for a company where he traveled all over the country buying grain. That was after we left Elk City and after WWI.
So he was doing that and I came back in August after two years in France and went to work for Crown Mills. I was planning to go to Oregon State University, and school didn't start until October that year. But I was shot full of dope in the service and so nervous that I couldn't settle down and study at all.
Del: You were wounded in the service?
Jim: I got a bad ankle out of it. The service said there was nothing wrong with me. Finally, I went to a better doctor who said, "You're getting by, Jim and we can’t operate on you now, but if you get too bad you give us a call and come back. Take a bus or we'll send an ambulance for you. We'll operate and take your leg off, but we want to let it go until we have time. We’ll let you know." "By golly," I said, "I'm Scottish, and I'd hate like the devil to buy a pair of shoes and throw one away! I hope I never see ya!" That was around 1920, I guess, and it was long after we were married before a doctor ever looked at that leg again. I made an appointment because I had a running sore from my lower calf clean down into my shoe.
About two months ago I got itchy. I didn't seem to have any spots, I was just itchy. I went to the doctor and he said, "It must be something in the medicine, Jim. So I'm going to send you over to a skin specialist." When he saw all that discolored skin he called in his assistant, and lord, before I knew it, they had a big cast on it and said come back in three weeks. Finally, when he took it off, I said, "Now what in the dickens are you trying to do?" The doctor said, "We're going to clean that skin up so that scar won't show so badly." And I said, "Good God, man! I’ve worn that since 1920 and it doesn't worry me what it looks like!" Then he said, "If it's all right, go." Because it had been in the cast so long with that stuff all over it, it started breaking out all over, so he put a bandage on it.
Del: You've still got the bandage on?
Jim: I haven't had any other doctor look at it. Doctors regularly say, "What's that on your leg, Jim?" "Oh, just a souvenir from WWI," I tell them.
Del: Where did you get your primary and high school education?
Jim: In Toledo. Then later, I went to Oregon State University but couldn’t settle down.
So, I went to work for Shell Oil Company. In time I was manager of Shell and pioneered the whole Lower Columbia River from Scappoose to the Tillamook County line. That's when all those logging camps were back in on the railroad like Vernonia and Elsie all in through where Tillamook was burned out. I bet there were 25 logging camps in the Tillamook Burn area. I think they figured about every 20 to 30 minutes there were log trucks coming down the road.
Del: How were you serving them?
Jim: I was selling them oil, kerosene and stove oil mainly. We took at lot of it to railroad depots and loaded it into box cars. Columbia River Logging Company on Deer Island, Western Logging Company just below Scappoose, and Benson Timber Company at Clatskanie all had depots for shipping supplies to the camps.
Benson Logging Company shipped logs down to California in cigar-shaped barges. They had piling driven into the barges to put their binding right down in the bottom. Then they'd start throwing those logs in the raft. When they were full, tug boats would take them to California.
Del: How many years did you work for Shell Oil?
Jim: About nine. During the Depression, Shell Oil decided not to pay my wages any more! I got into a row with one of the fellers a little higher up.
After that, I went to Silverton and was in the seed and feed business. From there, I moved to Philomath.
Then we had those beach cottages south of Waldport for nine years, from 1952 to 1961. We don't want anybody to know we owned them now, though. They divided it up into condominiums. It was the first successful condominium in the state of Oregon. They started one in Newport and attorneys got it in an awful mess.
Jim: While we were in Toledo George
was county sheriff. Jim Ross, Bert Gear and Jesse Daniels with
politics kept the sheriff's chair pretty warmed up. Jim Ross was
longer than any of the rest of them. That's Morey Ross' father.
to own the Ross Theater. He was a little short, rolly-polly
how he and Bert Gear could sing! Verne Ross (1886-1969) would
piano for them, and the two of them would bring down the house.
was a pretty good singer too, but he didn't come up to Bert Gear
Incidentally, Bert Gear was a cousin of the governor. They were a family raised right out of Silverton here. In fact, we went up the the Gear family picnic a couple of years ago. We get an invitation to it every year.
Connie: Are they a pretty large family?
Jim: They have heirs all over the Northwest. We only ran into one or two of them we knew.
There are very few of them left that carry the Gear name.
Bert and his wife had one daughter, and I believe she was adopted.
Del: What were some of the memorable episodes with law back then? Any shoot-outs or rustlings?
Jim: There was a Scotsman in Toledo by the name of Bobby Mann (1877-1945) who was quite a character. The first winter we were there he managed to upset the Indians who were whooping and hollering in town. There were a bunch of trees in a grove, and everyone thought the Indians were going to hang Bobby Mann and they were scared to death.
Del: Were the Indians pretty domesticated by the time your family got here?
Jim: Yeh. There were an awful lot of fine Indian families in Siletz.
Del: Were they all short and squat?
Jim: Yeh. And the girls were awfully pretty until they were 19, 20, 21, and then they started getting "heavy." But, gee, some of those young Indian girls were like the Finnish—just beautiful, and they taught us to dance at Toledo High School.
Connie: What year did you graduated from high school?
Jim: It was around 1917 or 1918. Something like that.
Connie: Who was the teacher at that time?
Jim: Daddy Blau was the principal of the high school.
My pal and I batched together in the old house all the way through high school. My folks were on the farm.
They gave Earl his diploma but not me. So I went up to Daddy Blau and said I expected one too, and he said, "No, you're going to come to my room about two or three nights a week and do some cramming." He told me, "I can't give you a diploma now; you've got some serious studying to do before you graduate." I had to spend a lot of time up on the farm that winter and I missed a lot of school. So I had to cram like the dickens. So I got my diploma and sold the stuff on the farm on Saturday, and went to Portland on Sunday, and Monday I was on my way to the marine corps. That was in June. The first of August I was on my way to France.
Del: What was France like compared to Oregon?
Jim: Quite a bit like the Willamette Valley in the part of France I was in. It's got high places and low places. The place I was stationed was very much like here—cold in the winter and a lot of rain. Quite a bit of farming of course.
The French are awfully "old-fashioned." They kept the stock in the basement and lived upstairs. They had a lot of Charolais cattle there. Because they were short of feed during the war, their critters were especially rangy. They're long and rangy anyhow, so they looked like they were starving to death with less feed. The French used their cattle for everything—milking, plowing, hauling wagons around—everything.
Del: It took quite a while to introduce Charolais over here. They've only been popular in Big Elk Valley for the past five or six years.
And Leonard Grant and Don Kessi are still raising sheep. They've never been into cattle like most of the farmers in the area.
Jim: May Grant had a school in Harlan and she had more kids who won scholarships than any other school in Lincoln County. May was a marvelous one to get kids going and interested in school. She had an awful lot of kids come out of Harlan, by gosh, and they had the least chance of any kids in the county.
Del: According to some papers Connie's been reading, it seems as though Toledo High School prided itself for its intellectual activities. Wasn't there some sort of an honor club? Where it was more important to belong to that than play football?
Jim: I don't remember anything like that. The first graduating class was George McCluskey and Aileen Hawkins. She was the sister to Tom Hawkins who was also a graduate. That's the father of Harry Hawkins, the feller who has the drugstore now. And Ben Horning, who was a brother of Fred Horning. He's been all over the world I don't know how many times. Never married. Not well at all now and can hardly see. He's in California. His sister, Maude Ellsworth, lives in Albany. She's very old and feeble now too. I haven't been able to get down and see them. Then there was Esther Anderson. That was the first Toledo High School graduating class of 1910. They had their 5th high school reunion in 1960 and all members were present!
Del: Do you have any other interesting stories?
Jim: Well, one winter dad and I got tied in our place on the Big Elk. We went up to your granddad's place and had him saw a six feet long log and maybe 18 in. in diameter. They took two straight-backed cross-cut saws and drilled some holes in the log and spiked those onto it and made a drag. They had just cut a new grade through to our place. They cut through an awful steep hill. Came right up to our house. Dad and I took the team in once a week and we went over that piece of road through our property once a week with that drag. There were no mud holes and we kept a good road through to our place.
Then one winter—we were just the same or worse off than the rest of our neighbors—stock hadn't been selling very good, so we were overstocked. We had an awful time. Everybody doubled the time feeding. I started out the first day in February and took four horses and a light wagon, and I went into Elk City and back into old Chester Dixon's (1886-1942) store. I took the team and gave them a little bit of rest and feed in the livery barn behind the hotel. Then I loaded up my wagon and threw a tarp over it. It didn't have any seat on it. I stood up all the time, and coming back with the horses it was all I could do to haul 1,000 pounds for ourselves and our neighbors. And I hauled every day in February; and I never missed a day.
Del: Was all of this on credit to Dixons?
Jim: Some credit, some trade, some this way and some another. I didn't have anything to do with that end of it. I didn't get anything for it either. It's just what we did in those days. We helped each other out. There were others who traded back and helped us in some way.
When things started growing a little bit and larkspur was coming up in the canyons, Dad said we had one real sharp blade and it was just a dandy for sticking cattle and getting the poison out. Dad said he guessed he was going to have to keep the knife locked up so we didn't go and stick every critter whether it needed it or not. We lost a lot of stock to larkspur. Everybody did.
Del: What percentage of your cattle did you loose a year to larkspur?
Jim: I’d say we lost about 50 percent of our stock that way.
Del: What do you recall about the hotel in Elk City?
Jim: Dixons owned the hotel that burned down. People by the name of Taylor were the last to own the hotel. Taylors were connected to the family over in the Alsea Valley.
Del: What do you recall about the spruce mill in Toledo?
Jim: When I entered the service, it was just starting up. Just about that time the first spruce guys came in. People told me about the big opening with all the big brass there so everybody could see them saw the first log. They tried to bring the first logs in for a demonstration. They picked the biggest ones they could and they wouldn't fit in the chute. They had to shove them back out and get some smaller logs. Because they wouldn't fit down the chute, the mill had to start dynamiting the big spruce logs so they could saw them.
Del: How did they go about doing that?
Jim: They drilled a little hole down the center and put a little charge inside. But what did that do to the spruce lumber for airplanes? Cracked them all through, of course; they'd loose an awful lot of lumber that way.
Del: Where was the first spruce camp?
Jim: The first spruce camp was down by Tillicum Beach, six miles south of Waldport near Yachats. It was called Camp I. Not too far from where Angell Job Corps is now.
Del: Can you remember the big stands of spruce?
Jim: No, but there was a big stand of Douglas fir right at the edge of Toledo.
Del: How did those trees compare with the redwoods? I always thought the redwoods were spectaculars because everything else had been cut down.
Jim: I've seen spruce logs that were 14 to 16 feet in diameter. You used to be able to go into stores and find pictures of giant spruce and now and you can't find pictures of loggers standing beside big trees.
I can remember when they brought in the first donkey steam engine. When they first started to log by rail that was really something.
Both steam-powered machinery and railroads were important to logging. Donkey steam engines provided power for skidding logs to leading areas; colorful jargon like "high lead," "choker," and "whistle punk" came from his era. Railroads hauled timber from the woods to mills.
Del: How easy was it to handle one of those giant trees with their machinery?
Jim: Where the Siletz Road joins Highway 20 at Depot Slough, they were logging right out there and that was old growth timber.
Elmer Horning was just a young kid when he got a job as a "grease monkey" out there. He was greasing skids for the loggers.
I went out there one Sunday and proceeded to help Elmer. It was really more than one kid could do, and the boss told me, "If you want a job be out in the morning." Well, I was just a little tyke, so I went strutting home. I was big. I had a job. I was going to go to work out in the logging camp, right? Wrong! When my mother saw my clothes, I didn't go back around any more logging camps! I had more skid grease on me than there was on any skid.
Del: Did they drag the logs along with the donkey steam engine?
Jim: No. That's when they logged with oxen or horses.
Del: How can an ox or a horse pull a 14-feet diameter tree?
Jim: The loggers would get them started down the skids and they just bounced along. They had four-horse teams. They were bucking at about 16 to 18 feet.
Del: Did they spike them any?
Jim: I don't know; it was all down hill.
Del: What happened when they got down to the level?
Jim: They'd pull right along on the level. Trouble is there was a little bit of hillside to keep them from going too fast.
I'll tell you a good story. Dad put in the telephone line down around in there. We were repairing the line at Rocky Point below Elk City. They were logging there. They were just dropping the logs down over the bank into the river, and they broke our line down, so we went up there and pulled the doggone line up. As luck would have it, I had a new belt on. I was up on that pole and I pulled the wire up and I looked down at the ground again and that wire had a twist in my belt. The boys up there say me and thought the coast was clear and they let a log go. It caught on that wire! Lucky that new belt was strong or it'd have pulled me off of there. It gave my tummy an awful jolt and pulled the wire out from the belt. One of the guys said afterwards they didn't think a kid could swear like I swore!
Del: Where did your dad run the telephone line from?
Jim: From Toledo, over the hills to Elk City, to the Upper Big Elk, then to Harlan, then over to Burnt Woods and down to Philomath. It hooked into Samuel Moses' private telephone line in Philomath, and through Moses’ line he hooked into the Bell Telephone System in Corvallis.
Del: Did your dad finance the telephone line personally or as a banker?
Jim: Primarily as a banker. He did some of the work himself, but very little.
Del: Was it the first line Leonard Grant talks about?
Jim: Yes it was. Leonard came down and talked to me about it because there wasn't too much cedar for poles up the Big Elk, and Dad let Leonard talk him into putting cherry posts in place of the cedar. Cherry will last quite a long while if you split the bark. He didn't fret about that.
Connie: Jim, were you associated with the Methodist or Episcopal church in Toledo?
Jim: There was an Episcopal church in Toledo. We didn't belong to it but we went to it. My mother was quite religious. She sang in the choir and what have you, and we boys always had to go to Sunday school and then church. They only had church every other Sunday. Well, many a time I'd seen it there that there'd be my mother and maybe one or two other women in church and my dad and us two boys. We'd look out the window and see other boys going fishing or playing football and it was very hard.
But then, getting toward Christmas time, that Sunday school would miraculously build up.
And of course it was up to us to go out and get the Christmas tree and decorations for the church and so forth. There’d be little sacks of candy with oranges for each kid, and if there were a couple of extra kids they hadn’t figured on...well...that's okay... the Scarth boys will understand. So we wouldn't get any!
Getting back to the tree, I remember Elmer Horning was in on it and two of the Gaither boys and I. I don't know whether it was Gaithers or Hornings, but when we brought in the tree the year before it was too small, so we though we'd get a bigger tree the following year. So by golly we went out there and cut this great big tree and had to take a horse and drag it into the church! Boy, we were unpopular that year. Otherwise they'd have to cut off the top and it wouldn't have made a pretty Christmas tree that way. The darned thing wouldn't stand up in that old Episcopal church.
Connie: Was St. John's called St. Mary's in the early days?
Jim: Yeh. The circuit Episcopal minister always used to stay at our place because the rooms down in the basement of the church were awful cold and damp. And anyone who came to town was always brought to our place. There was a regular priest who lived in Newport and he was a bachelor.
This minister came down from Portland on his vacation one time. He and Dad were talking after church and he came over as usual for lunch. Dad would sooner fish than eat. The minister said he'd like to go fishing sometime, so Dad said, "I'll take you." They made arrangements and went fishing on the Siletz.
Dad wouldn't ware waders. "What's the use?," he'd say. "No matter how high up you put them on you still get wet. The best thing you can do is wear an old pair of shoes and an old pair of pants. That way you don't have to carry the water around with you inside your waders."
The preacher wasn't an experienced fisherman, but Dad could just about catch a fish out of a garden hose. So, they got right at what they used to call the Ford Ripple at Siletz.
The preacher caught quite a nice sized trout on it. Dad waded out along side him and said, "Just swing your basket around and drop that fish in there before you take it off the hook." The preacher did and the fish hit the basket and—whoosh!—it was gone. Dad yelled, "God damn it," and the preacher answered, "Thank you, thank you!"
The grandfather's clock strikes the hour.
Pearl: That's a sign it's time to wrap
up for the evening! It's getting late.
Jim: When I was about your size, Heather, I went to visit my granddad. That was way across the ocean in Scotland. And for me to wind that clock, I would stand on my head between his legs so I could watch the weights. My granddad made the clock in 1824 as a wedding gift to my grandmother.
I shipped 3,100 pounds of heirlooms from Scotland to the US the last time I was there. Among the real family treasures was a chair made in 1789. I was told if I left it up to the shipping company's choice—Portland or Seattle—I'd get half the rate on it. As it turned out, it came into Seattle. Customs notified me there. I had to make arrangements with a transfer company to take it all across the street to the custom's storage area. Silverwheels got it to Corvallis, but they had no way to unload it. So finally I got some of my sawmill friends to move it to my house. This little bit of Scotland goes with me wherever I go.
Pioneer was located at the head of
about two miles north from Elk City on the Yaquina River. This
was laid out in 1866 by Dr. George E. Kellogg, who also built
house on the site, in 1865, which was used as a warehouse to
trade on the Yaquina. Kellogg was division commercial supervisor
present Pacific Telephone & Telegram Company in 1927.
In 1873, E. S. Altree erected a gristmill in the vicinity of Pioneer. It was soon afterwards carried away by a freshet in the river.
Pioneer Rock Quarry was located about 200 yards up the canyon west of Pioneer on the right hand side of the creek. Up this narrow creek bed was also the path of the old military wagon road as it continued its journey to Toledo. Pioneer Sandstone Company, Morrison Station, Yaquina rock, and the Bevens quarry all tie together. Work began September 1893, and on October 12, 1894, Pioneer shipped the first rock to San Francisco for the construction of several buildings. Tests were made that proved the stone from the two quarries of Howe and Morrison at Pioneer was of superior quality and such information was sent to the government for a decision regarding the Federal building.
An 1893 issue of the Lincoln County Leader states in its locals that Pioneer needed its own store and post office, because those facilities were "too far away." The article also stated that
Salem is planning to build a city hall. A community inspecting [sic] unanimously agreed that Pioneer Rock Quarry in Lincoln County has the best stone they've inspected—it takes a nicer finish more easily, worked [sic] and withstands pressure and effect of the heat; is better than any other. All the bids must be estimated on Pioneer stone.
An August issue of the Leader pointed out
"in a short time Pioneer Rock Quarry will begin shipping random
to city hall at Salem, 50 or 60 car loads will be used."
Frederick C. Hoffman was a stone cutter from Denmark. He opened a small quarry on his place on the Yaquina. Hoffman built doorsteps, gravestones and well curbs. His second wife was Rosy Bly. They were parents of Lemuel Hoffman, known for his tugboats used in towing rafts of logs and other river work. The October 19 issue of the Leader said that Hoffman, "with a full set of tools has gone to work out stone of Dave Ramsdell place. He is an expert, and pronounces the stone of superior quality."
Large sheets of stone were broken off and place on railroad cars, reloaded on scows at Yaquina, and towed to San Francisco. The March 14, 1894 issue of the Leader stated that the work was well underway and that piling was
...ready for Elk City Bridge. Frederick C. Hoffman of Ramsdell Rock Quarry will handle rocks on scows the style of the Rebecca. Pioneer Rock Quarry now has ten men working there and will add 12 to 15 soon.
The April 26 issue of the Leader proudly announced that "Pioneer Rock Quarry shipped its first rock to San Francisco yesterday," and the July issue proclaimed that the workers
...have rock quarries on all sides of us now. Frederick C. Hoffman has a fine prospect now on F. M. Carter's place two miles from town. He has now four ledges in sight with 32 feet of solid rock and very little rock waste. Pioneer Rock Quarry is running night and day. Frank Woods of Albany has commenced work on Barney Morrison's place to supply building stone.
Tracy Davis was captain on one of the
Old-timer Virgil Landess met a man who cut and shaped blocks on
job. Buildings that are known to be made of this rock, are the
post office and the Parrott, Call and Monadnock. Genealogist
worked in an office in the building, which is located near the
Third and Market streets. The building withstood the 1906
virtually destroyed San Francisco.
Clifford Benson recalled the Education Hall as one of several buildings at Oregon State University was made of Pioneer stone that was shipped to Corvallis via railroad. Pioneer stone was used in Portland in the Selling-Hirsh building and the Auditorium. The stone was considered—and possibly used—for Salem City Hall in 1894.
Pioneer post office was established October 4, 1900, with Barney Morrison (1827-1907) first postmaster. The post office was for some years known as Morrison, and was established August 29, 1894, with Morrison serving as postmaster. It was located on the Yaquina and the Southern Pacific Railroad, about four miles west of Chitwood. The name of that office was changed to Pioneer because of confusion with Morrison St. in Portland.
The name Pioneer was selected because of the operations in that section of the Pioneer Sandstone Company. Morrison continued to act postmaster at Pioneer after the name was changed. The covered bridge over the Yaquina was directly in front of the Pioneer post office.
In 1921-1922, much of the stone was used in building the Newport jetties, those "long fingers extending seaward from the promontories" west of Yaquina Bay Bridge.
A huge hand-worked stone in the Elk City Cemetery was erected by the fellow workmen in memory of William R. Mosier who was killed at Pioneer Rock Quarry, December 5, 1894. He and his wife had five children and lived in one of the quarry houses.
The bookkeeping records from this early work were destroyed, according to the late Maggie Bell Kleut, who worked at Pioneer post office. Kleut and Ike Burpee made inquiries assisting Lewis A. McArthur (1883-1951) to authenticate information in his 1928 first edition of Oregon Geographic Names, which was revised and enlarged in 1992 by his son, Lewis L. McArthur.
Pioneer City 1868
Pioneer City was located about two and
quarter miles up the Yaquina from the place later known as Elk
about three quarters of a mile downstream from the place later
Morrison and still later Pioneer. The two similarly named
not the same locality, though they were not more than a mile
City sat on the inclined base of a hill, sandwiched between two
overlooking the bend of the river just before the Pioneer site,
on the same side of the river as Pioneer, across from the county
Pioneer City was named in honor of the steamer Pioneer, owned by Dr. George E. Kellogg and engaged in general transportation from the mouth of Yaquina Bay to the new community at tidewater. The Southern Pacific Railroad track now runs along the front of the site where boats were docked while people made their way up the steep bank a hundred or so feet to the settlement.
On September 16, 1864, Cpl. Royal A. Bensell wrote in his journal:
Clear. Start with [Oliver S.] Hatch to Yaquina Bay, taking a canoe at the depot, and sending our mules around by the trail. Reach Oysterville by 4pm and stay all night. The little steamer Pioneer and a skiff of Capt [Solomon] Dodge's convey passengers, principally pleasure seekers, to and from the mouth of the Big Elk.
Pioneer was later named Morrison
and was located on the Yaquina and the Southern Pacific
four miles west of Chitwood. Named for Zimma and Barney Morrison
the post office was established August 29, 1894, with Morrison
Morrison was born June 1, 1827 in Washington
County, Tennessee. He was married Zimma Stoner on April 1, 1846,
couple had eight children.
Pioneer post office, located on the Yaquina near Pioneer Mountain, and about two miles north of Elk City, was established October 4, 1900, and Morrison continued to serve as postmaster. The name Pioneer was selected because of the operations in that section of the Pioneer Sandstone Company. The covered bridge over the Yaquina was directly in front of the post office.
Morrison died at his home at Pioneer, September 24, 1907 at the age of 80 years, three months and 24 days. Of those children living at the time of Morrison's death were Ruth Embree of Dallas, J. H. Morrison of Washington, Chelsey L. Morrison (1859-1940) of Pioneer, Tabitha Simpson and Josephine Bevens. The "Good Wife," his obituary said, also survived him.
Maggie Bell Kleut prepared the mail sack at the Pioneer office. If there was no need to stop, she threw the sack and caught the incoming mail on the platform at back.
According to Harvard professor John Stilgoe, mail has been a shaper of society. For instance, until about 1900, to send letters or receive them, rural Americans had to visit post offices, usually in general stores, selected by whichever party was in power. And the Postal Service handled no large packages. The advent of Rural Free Delivery and Parcel Post, with metal mailboxes lined up along rural roads, enabled the mail-order companies to prosper. And Stilgoe notes that, at that time, when trains carried the mail, the Postal Service provided same-day delivery of first-class mail between big cities like New York and Boston. It also helped to keep the trains’ passenger service going, because the Postal Service was a huge, paying consumer of rail service. When the Post Office decided to fly most first-class mail, the country lost most of its inter city passenger-train service.
Pioneer post office closed to Elk City on August 31, 1929, and the house burned down while owned by Ethel McClaflin. Several square nails were found in the ashes. The rock quarry can be seen through the surrounding alders. Margaret Attridge stood on the original road from Pioneer to Newport and took a picture of the quarry in 1984. In 1985, the location was still owned by Dond Darlene Deardoff.
The Pioneer City post office was established July 2, 1868, with G. E. Kellogg first postmaster. The Newport post office was established the same day. That same year, Elk City was established July 12, and Little Elk, Toledo, and Yaquina City opened their doors on July 14. These six offices took care of the postal needs in that part of Oregon for several years.
Pioneer Mountain and Pioneer Summit are west of those old post office locations. The mountain was named before the Pioneer City post office, which closed on August 10, 1868, after less than a month in operation. The locality was later served by the Morrison and Pioneer post offices.
Sermons (1): An Online Ministry of Rev. Marilyn A. Riedel
Early Words and Sermons (2) Early Words and Sermons (3)
by Rev. Marilyn A. Riedel I II
Oregon History Online: Volume I Volume II
Volume III Volume IV Volume V
Volume VI Volume VII Volume VIII
Volume IX Volume XOregon History CD Edition
1870 Benton County Oregon Census A-ICensus J-RCensus S-Z
1870 Polk County Oregon Census A-M1870 Census N-Z
Wild Women West: One-Eyed CharlieWestern Warrior Women
Black Pioneers Settle Oregon CoastYaquina Bay Oyster Wars
Wolf Creek SanctuaryRogue River CommunitiesGolden Campbellites
Murder on the Gold Special: The D'AutremontsTyee View Cemetery
Eddyville CemeteriesOlex CemeteryApplegate Pioneer Cemetery
Thomason CemeterySiletz Valley CemeteriesSiletz Indian Shakers
Glenwood, Harlan, Chitwood CemeteriesElk City Pioneer Cemetery
Eureka CemeteryToledo Pioneer CemeteryGuardino Family History
"So Be It" Autobiography by Mariano Guardino
Dobbie-Smith Genealogy "Aunt Edie" by Harriet Guardino
Dobbie Obituaries and Letters
Historic Oregon Coast AlbumHistoric Grants Pass Oregon Album
"The Great Pal" by Harriet Guardino