Location: Auburn Oregon

Biography of Heman J. Gerr

The name of Geer is so well known in our state that the following account of the father of T.T. Geer of the Waldo hills will be of interest to all. This now venerable pioneer was born in Ohio in 1828, removing with his parents to Illinois in 1840. In 1847 he crossed the plains to Oregon with General Palmer’s train. The large company forestalled trouble with the Indians. Peter Hall, who stopped with Whitman at Walla Walla was the only one who experienced any disaster. The crossing of the Cascade Mountains by the Barlow Road proved the worst of their trials. After reaching Oregon, Heman stopped at Oregon City, and engaged in the boot and shoe business; while the father located at Butteville, Marion County. In 1848 he young man abandoned “city” life and located a claim in the Waldo hills, marrying Miss Cynthia Eoff. In 1849 he was prevented from completing the journey to California, by men returning with the report that the mines were “worked out.” From 1854 to 1861 he was in the nursery business at Silverton, and the next year in business at Salem, going thence to the Caribou mines in 1862, thence to Auburn, Oregon, and from this point with his goods to Bannack City. In 1864 he mined on the John Day river. Having separated from his first wife he made Union...

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Business and Fun in ’62 And ’63

About the Middle of October 1862, the first church organization in Baker County was effected under the supervision of Father Mesplie, of the Catholic Church, who came from Canyon City for that purpose. A long building was secured at the cost of six hundred dollars, but services were not held regularly, owning to the distance the priest had to travel. About the same time Miss O’Brien, now Mrs. Packwood, commenced the first school taught in Baker County, having about forty pupils in attendance. A lot was donated to her for school purposes and a sum of money raised by subscription to pay for the building of a house. She taught six weeks and gave up the position to Mrs. Stafford who continued the school until some time in the winter when she was taken sick and died. The same fall and winter Mrs. Chandler taught a school near Pocahontas in Powder River valley. In the latter part of summer of 1862, Mr. Comstock constructed a toll road from Auburn down Powder river to the valley, which he soon sold to Moore and Norcross, of Auburn, and some-time in the winter they sold it to Mr. Place who kept it up as a toll road for several years when it became a county road, land is now one of the most important thoroughfares in the county, being the route traveled...

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Baker County Oregon Officers

County Officers At the session of the legislature which convened in September 1862, an act was passed organizing the county of Baker, including within its limits all the southeast portion of the state, which has since been divided into the several counties of Wallowa, Union, Baker and Malheur. Officers for the new county were appointed upon their duties on the third day of November 1862, as appears from the journal of the county court, in which the first entry is as follows: County Court of Baker County, Oregon, met pursuant to law, Nov. 3, 1862. Present, the Hon. John Q. Wilson, county judge; J. W. Wickersham, under sheriff; William Waldo, deputy county clerk. The other county officers appointed at the same time were George Hall, sheriff; Samuel A. Clarke, clerk; Wm. F. McCrary, treasurer; W. D. Quigley, assessor; Wm. H. Packwood, School Superintendent. The first case in the county court was that of A. B. Roberts, plaintiff vs. Thomas Allison, defendant: Grey for plaintiff, Heed & Pierce for defendant. That case was a kind of Jarndyce vs. Jarndyce case in a small way. Mr. Roberts commenced action to recover possession of certain goods, November 5, 1862. Case dismissed. The same evening the parties came before the judge, Roberts, plaintiff vs. Allison defendant, character of the case not stated, but prisoner dismissed. November 6, comes, State of Oregon vs. Thomas...

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History of Baker City Oregon Government

Pursuant to an act of the legislature in 1874 the people of Baker City proceeded to form a city government, by electing the officers required by the terms of the charter. The trustees were S. B. McCord, J. A. Reid, S. Grier, J. H. Parker and G. J. Bowman. The first meeting of the board was held at the Court House, November 25, 1874, at which Bowman was elected president. The minutes of the meeting were signed by R. H. Cardwell, recorder. At a meeting of the board November 28, Wm. M. Constable was elected city marshal. On December 2, James H. Shinn was elected city attorney. At a meeting on the 9th of December, ten ordinances were submitted to the board by the city attorney and adopted. George Wisdom was elected night watchman with a salary of seventy dollars per month. December 30, W. J. Eastabrook was declared elected recorder in place of Cardwell, resigned. March 3, 1875, E. W. Reynolds was elected recorder in place of Eastabrook, resigned. At a special election March 18, J. M. Shepherd was elected recorder. July 31, 1875, a fire engine for the use of the city was purchased for $700. At the regular city election November 4, 1875, Bowman, Eppinger, Alfred, Weller and John Bowen were elected trustees. H. C. Durkee, recorder; George Wisdom, marshal and R. Alexander, treasurer. November 6,...

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Arrival of Early Pioneers to Baker County Oregon

Early in June 1862, traveling parties from California and Nevada began to arrive at the mines on Powder River. These parties had started for the Salmon River mines, and were surprised when they found a mining camp in Eastern Oregon. Amongst those who came across the country from those states were Hardin Estes, Fred Dill, John P. Bowen and perhaps others who have remained here ever since. Estes and Dill came from Nevada with a party of about twenty, known as the White Horse company, having received that name on account of so many of their horses being white. They came down the Owyhee River and struck the emigrant road which they followed to Burnt river, and there kept on the hills to avoid crossing the river more than once. Finding a suitable place, they crossed the river, and struck the emigrant road where it turns across the hills towards Powder river valley, and came over to the valley which they found overflowed to such an extent that it was impossible to follow the road farther. Turning to the right and keeping to the low hills north of the valley they came to the point where North Powder joins the main stream. Here they saw Mr. John Hibbard and some others out in the valley across the river with whom they opened communication and learned where they were and...

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History of Baker County Oregon Newspapers

On Wednesday, May 11, 1870, the first number of the Bedrock Democrat was issued-the first newspaper published in Baker County Abbott & McArthur, proprietors. The editor in his address to the public promises devotion to the interests of the people of Eastern Oregon in all things pertaining to the material interests of the people, and fidelity to the Democratic Party in political matters. In the editorial columns the public debt and other political questions of the time are discussed. In the local columns the different mining camps of the county all receive a notice. The miners at Auburn were jubilant over their prospects, and in the Shasta district it was announced that the waters of Camp Creek had just been turned into the Burnt River ditch to be conveyed to the Eldorado diggings. From Rye Valley it was reported that Webber & Co. made a clean up the week before which averaged two hundred dollars per day, and Green and Archambeau cleaned up an average of ninety dollars per day. At Mormon Basin Mr. Copeland had picked-up two nuggets the week before worth fifty and sixty dollars respectively. The quartz ledges in the Granite Mountains are spoken of as having attracted much attention the previous fall. Mention is made of the Baker City post office having lately been made and designated a money order office by the postmaster general....

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Pursuit of Indians in Baker County Oregon

In the month of June 1866, a number of horses and mules were driven off by the Indians, being taken from the vicinity of Washington ranch. Twelve men started in pursuit, following the trail of the stolen animals over the mountain to the head of Elk creek, and on towards the head of Powder River, then across the divide to Burnt River and over the west ridge to Willow creek. Here six of the party turned back, and John Hibbard, Hardin Estes, Frank Johnson, Hiram Kinnison, Jo Hodgeons and Curtis kept on the pursuit. The Indians had chosen their route over the stoniest ground in order to baffle their pursuers if they should be followed. When the party came to a place so stony they could not see the prints of the horses feet, they would divide, some going to the right and some keeping to the left, keeping on soft ground watching for the place where the Indians had left the hard ground. In this way they managed to follow at a lively gait, and from the appearance of the tracks, believed they were gaining on the Indians. Late in the afternoon of the 10th day they came to the brink of a precipitous bluff on a small tributary of the south fork of the Malheur River, and espied the horses and mules for which they were searching,...

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Arrivals, Incidents and Anecdotes of Baker County Oregon

Joseph Kinnison came to Powder River valley in July and took up a ranch where he has ever since resided. To him belongs the honor of plowing the first furrow ever turned in Baker County. In the spring of 1863 he had about forty acres in cultivation. About the first of June there was a severe frost and all growing vegetables seemed to be thoroughly frozen. Mr. Kinnison offered to take fifty dollars for his crop but found no buyer. He was most agreeably surprised to find, when the frost was gone, that no serious damage had been done, and that season he sold nearly four thousand dollars worth of produce from the forty acre lot. Mr. Hibbard and family from Umpqua valley settled at the foot of the mountains on a claim adjoining Mr. Morrison’s and Messrs. Worley, Spillman, Creighbaum and others took claims in the vicinity. Strother Ison took up a claim on Pine creek where he continued to reside until his death which occurred in the year 1889. Jerry Shea took up a claim south of Ison’s which he afterwards sold to Hardin Perkins who has lived upon it ever since. About the same time James Akers located the claim upon which he still resides. George Ebell settled near the foot of the mountains where he has made one of the best farms in the valley....

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Public Schools of Baker County Oregon

It is much to be regretted that all records of matters pertaining to public schools during the first years of the settlement of the county, have been lost. All that can be done now is to record such matters as may be remembered by those who were engaged in school affairs in those days, as teachers or otherwise. As stated elsewhere, Mrs. Packwood taught the first school in the county, at Auburn, in the fall of 1862. Soon after her arrival she engaged in the work of raising money for the purpose of building a schoolhouse, and in a short time obtained sufficient sum, the house was built and school commenced with about fifty pupils in attendance. The children came with such books as they had brought with them across the plains, McGuffey’s readers, Sander’s readers, etc., making it necessary to have more classes than would be required in a school of ten times the number of pupils if provided with a uniform series of text books. W. H. Packwood was the first county school superintendent and issued the first teacher’s certificate to Mrs. Stafford, at Auburn. Mrs. Packwood’s was a subscription school, so Mrs. Stafford taught the first public school in the county. Mr. Packwood divided the territory of the county, then including Grande Ronde Valley, into five districts and gave certificates to four teachers in the first...

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Auburn Oregon Catholic Church

As stated elsewhere, the first church established in Baker was the Catholic Church, organized at Auburn in 1862 by Father Mesplie. On that first visit he solemnized the marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Packwood, the second event of the kind in the county, that of Mr. and Mrs. Hall a short time before being the first. Father Deilman came over from Canyon City to Auburn at intervals afterward and held services but there was never any resident priest at the town. Father Deilman got lost on one of his trips, and wandered in the mountains three days with nothing to eat but huckleberries. Mesdames Bowen, Packwood and Mooney raised $200 to be used for procuring a house of worship. When the church was organized Messrs. Packwood, Bowen and Jere Dooley were appointed trustees and they bought a house for a church, paying $200 down and giving a mortgage on the building for $400 more. Bowen and Dooley had gone to Idaho when the mortgage was to be signed and Packwood signed it as trustee alone. Property in Auburn had declined greatly in value when the mortgage was foreclosed, and the sum realized from the sale of the house paid but a small portion of the debt, and Packwood was held for the balance, the same as if it were his own private business, but Bishop Blanchett finally adjusted the...

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Baker County Oregon Sketches

Sydney Abell, Justice of the Peace opened the first legally constituted court in Baker County, October 29th 1862. The first case was that of the people vs. D. Scott, action to bind defendant to keep the peace, entered on complaint of Thomas Ricketts. The prosecuting witness failed to appear and the case was dismissed. Of the thirty-two cases docketed up to January 1st, 1863, there were four of the kind above cited, three suits about town lots in Auburn, Fifteen to recover money, five replevin cases, one unlawful detention, one felonious intent to cheat, one petty larceny, one assault and battery, and one embezzlement. The latter was dismissed for want of jurisdiction. In the county court journal the following item shows the date of commencement of the first term. “County Court of Baker County, Oregon, met pursuant to law, Nov. 3, 1862. Present, the Hon. John Q. Wilson, county judge; J. W. Wickersham, under sheriff; Wm. Waldo, deputy county clerk.” The first case called was that of A. B. Roberts, plaintiff, vs. Thomas Allison, defendant. Grey for plaintiff and Heed & Pierce for defendant. It appears from the record that the first county road established was from Auburn via Washington ranch to Monohin’s ranch on North Powder River, and at the term of county court in July 1864, the road was divided into three districts and a supervisor appointed...

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Incidents in Pioneer Days in Baker County, Oregon

People who come to the Pacific States in palace cars, making the trip in four or five days, can have but a faint conception of the toils and hardships endured by those who crossed the plains with teams before the advent of railroads. Experience would also be necessary, perhaps, to enable one to fully appreciate the humorous phases of the journey; but doubtless scores of old pioneers have smiled at sight of a certain paper which was posted on a tree by the side of the trail between Elk creek and Auburn in the fall of ’62, for it could not but remind them of the manner in which emigrants asked any one of whom they chanced to meet on the plain, for information about the country beyond, and also about mining for gold when they first encountered men who were engaged in following that pursuit. In a gulch a few rods from the place where the paper above alluded to was posted, three or four miners were at work, and when any one stopped to read the questions and answers written upon the paper referred to, they evidently enjoyed taking observations of the progress he was making in the pursuit of knowledge. The queries and replies ran something like this: Q. Are you digging gold? A. Yes sir. Q. How much do you get? A. About enough to...

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Events in Baker County, Oregon History

Most of the miners about Auburn, and throughout the country also, during the first years of the development of the mining business, were Californians, and that there was a difference betwixt them and Oregonians at that time, was apparent to any one who met a considerable number of persons from each of the two states. It seems remarkable that such a difference should exist between the people of two adjoining states which had been settled by immigrants from the same sections of the country east of the Missouri river, and that settlement, too, of so recent date that the youths born and educated in either of them were too few in number to exert any great influence on the general characteristics of people in their respective states. The difference was observable in the bearing and manner of the people more than in any real qualities of mind or character, and was greater thirty years ago than at the present time. After the discovery of gold in California in 1848, a greater proportion of the most adventurous and reckless classes of emigrants were undoubtedly attracted thither, whilst the greater proportion of those who followed, me to Oregon were favorable to frugally, leading to penuriousness in a sufficient number of cases to make that the prevailing character of the people in the estimation of a California miner. On the other hand,...

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Biography of Thomas Howard

This substantial and capable gentleman is one of the real builders of the county of Harney, and it is quite proper that he should be accorded representation in its history, being a man greatly respected and worthy of the high esteem given to him. He was born in the city of New York, on May 11, 1833, being the son of Patrick H. and Mary (Ford) Howard. The father was an engineer, operating a stationary engine. Thomas grew to manhood, gaining a good education meanwhile, and part of the time working in the markets, where he learned the butcher trade. In the memorable ‘forty-nine he was one of the gold seekers, going from New York on a steamer to Panama and thence to San Francisco on a sailing vessel. The trip was hot and tedious, being two months from Panama to the Golden Gate. He mined for a time and then went at his trade in Marysville and other places in the state. It was in 1859 that he went to Carson and Virginia Cities, Nevada, and there operated at his trade, and also wrought in Esmeraldo. In the spring of 1862 Mr. Howard was hired at a wage of one hundred dollars per month to accompany a herd of cattle belonging to Job Dye to Florence, Idaho. The water around Harney lake being so high that it was...

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Biography of Edward V. More

Edward V. More. Of the families of Champaign County whose industry and activities of life have contributed materially to the prosperity and upbuilding of the community one of the most highly respected is that which bears the name of More, and which has a worthy representative in Edward V. More of Rantoul. Mr. More, who is engaged in the fire insurance business at this time and whose energies have taken him into other fields of endeavor during a long and uniformly successful career, was born in St. Joseph County, Michigan, and is a son of James R. and Louisa M. (Lee) More, natives of the county of Delaware, New York. The paternal grandfather was Henry More, a native of the Empire State. The More family is of sound and honorable English stock, but traces its ancestors back for a number of generations in this country, where its members have been conspicuous in numerous lines of human effort. One of the prominent family connections was Colonel James Fry, the following facts regarding whom have been taken from the archives of the State of Massachusetts: In a list of the men chosen for the expedition against Crown Point, April 15, 1756, agreeable to the order of his Excellency William Shirley, Esq., was Colonel James Fry of Andover, who was engaged April 19, 1775. It was reported in the Provincial Congress, May...

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