Collection: Baker County Oregon Genealogy

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. Discover your family's story. Enter a grandparent's name to get started. choose a state: Any AL AK AZ AR CA CO CT DE DC FL GA HI ID IL IN IA KS KY LA ME MD MA MI MN MS MO MT NE NV NH NJ NM NY NC ND OH OK OR PA RI SC SD TN TX UT VT VA WA WV WI WY INTL Start Now 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...

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Burnt River Ditch

In 1863, some work was done on a ditch which had been surveyed from Clarks Creek mines to Burnt River, and the next year a company was incorporated to prosecute the work, under the name of the Burnt River Ditch company, W. H. Packwood, Jasper Hall, Robert Kitchen and Lamar stockholders. There was not much done towards constructing the ditch, however, until 1867, when the matter came up again on a proposition to build a ditch to convey water to the Shasta district, and the work was begun, eleven miles being dug that season. The next year, 1868, it was extended to Rock Creek and in 1869 to East Camp creek, making 57 miles in all. In the summer of 1870 water was conveyed from East Camp creek to the Shasta mines, and nothing done towards extending the ditch farther that season. The work had cost up to that time $150,000. Mr. Buford of Rock Island, Illinois, bought the ditch in September 1870, and in ’71 extended it 30 miles farther to the south fork of Burnt River. Packwood & Carter took control again in ’74 and built 13 miles further to the middle fork of Burnt River, making the total length of main ditch over 100 miles. The size of the main ditch is five feet wide at the bottom and seven at the top; grade, four 80.100...

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Quartz Mining, Baker County Oregon

About two thousand claims on quartz lodes have been recorded in Baker County since 1862. More or less development work has been done on most of them, perhaps one half of them having been worked to the extent which the law requires in order to make the claim secure. Nineteen quartz mills have been built, ranging in capacity from two to sixty tons per day. The first one built was the Ruckles mill at Baker City, which was put in operation in 1864. The mill was run by waterpower, and was built to work the ore from what was then called the Rockafellow lode, situated about eight miles northeast of Baker City. Mr. Rockafellow and Mr. Wills discovered the lode in the spring of the year 1864, being led to prospect for it by reason of some specimens of gold bearing quartz having been found in that vicinity the previous fall by Philip Waggy and another man, who were out hunting horses. Mr. Ruckles worked the mine about four years, when J. W. Virtue and A. H. Brown became the owners for about three years. They sold to a San Francisco company, and the name was changed to the Virtue mine. A Mr. Jackson took charge of the mine as superintendent and built a steam power mill of twenty stamps at the mine. About a year afterwards work was...

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Gold Discovery on Giffin’s Gulch

A little more than thirty-one years have passed away since the first discovery of gold on Griffin’s Gulch an event which led to the first permanent settlement in Eastern Oregon southwest of the blue mountains. Many of the pioneers of thirty years ago are still living, but their number is growing less year after year, and soon there will be no living witness to the stirring events. The toils, hardships and adventures of those gold seekers who first made known the resources of the country. True, the old emigrant road passes through Powder river valley, and most of the early settlers of Western Oregon had seen some of the valleys, and most of the early settlers of Western Oregon had seen some of the valleys, the grass – covered hills and timbered mountains through and over which the road passes, but none had thought seriously of making a home so far away in the interior if the country, where they would be constantly exposed to the depredations of hostile Indians. With no navigable streams east and south of the Blue mountains, agriculture could not have flourished; with hostile Indians roaming over the country for hundreds of miles, stock raising would have been too precarious to tempt anybody to engage in that industry and for a long period all that region must have remained uninhabited and almost unexplored but for...

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Baker City, Baker County Oregon History

Baker City In the month of August 1864, R. A. Pierce laid claim to the SE ΒΌ of Sec. 17, Tp. 9. S. 40, east of the Willamette meridian, and proceeded in 1865 to get a title to the same from the state. He built a house west of where the court house now stands, and early in the spring of 1865 laid off the SE quarter of the quarter section for a town site, which he named Baker, but somehow people would call it Baker City and that became the adopted name. Mr. Fisher owned the land east of Pierce’s claim, and he made an addition to the town between Front Street and the river. Mr. Place lived in a log house by the bridge on the road to Pleasant Valley. Mr. Campbell owned the land north of Pierce and Fisher’s claim. In October 1864, John Stewart located west of Pierce on the land which now comprises Stewart’s addition to Baker City. The first building put on Front Street was a box house saloon on the lot where John Bowen’s stone building now stands. The next was a boarding house built by Samuel Barger near the present site of the Arlington hotel. The next building was a hotel by S. and A. McMurren on the corner where the railroad house now stands. Robert McCord started a blacksmith shop...

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St. Stephens Episcopal Church, Baker County, Oregon

The first service of the Episcopal Church held in Baker City was by the Rt. Rev. R. W. Morris, D.D., June 5, 1870. The bishop found two communicants, in the city, Mrs. Brown and Mrs. Henderson. Finding that there was a sentiment favorable to the enterprise of building a church a subscription paper was circulated and the sum of $900 was pledged for a building fund. That amount not being sufficient for the purpose, the matter rested for a time. In June 1873, at the request of Bishop Morris, Rev. R. D. Nevius took charge of the mission in Grande Ronde and Powder River valley and began regular monthly services. A Ladies Mite society had been formed and a small additional fund raised for building purposes. In December 1873, a Woman’s Guild was established to take the place of the Mite society and continue the work of raising a building fund. Under the active leadership of Mrs. Brown a good progress was made, but upon her removal to Salem, the work ceased. Nothing more was done in the way of building until October, 1879, when a house of one room was erected for the use of the missionary and designed to be the vestry room of the future church, but the expense was not paid from the building fund previously described. A contract was let to Lew & Crabill...

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Baker Valley Oregon Churches

Ministers of various denominations visited Baker County and held meetings at different places, but no one was a resident minister within the county prior to 1868. The Rev. Ellsworth, of La Grande, came to Powder River Valley frequently in 1864-5, and later Elder Newton of the Methodist church, south, held meetings, frequently at Auburn and in the valley. The Rev. Koger of the Baptist church preached at Wingville a number of times, but the Methodist Episcopal church was the first to appoint a resident pastor and hold regular services. The following sketch of the work of the church was kindly furnished by a minister who has been a pioneer laborer in the cause: “The first Methodist preacher who visited Baker City and Powder River Valley for the purpose of preaching the gospel to the people was Rev. John Flynn. He came in 1864-5, was acting as presiding elder, and several times each year crossed the mountains on horseback, from his home in Walla Walla to build up the church in this country. Following him was Rev. J. G. Deardorff in 1866-8, who occasionally preached in this part of Oregon. Also Rev. Wm. Roberts and Rev. I. D. Driver traveled through by stage in the interest of the American Bible Society, and preached at Baker City occasionally during the years from 1864 to ’69. The first Methodist class was organized...

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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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Rye Valley Oregon

Joseph Benoit and Charles Van Clay discovered gold in Rye Valley in the spring of 1863 and laid a claim on the waters of Dixie creek and begun digging a ditch. They went over to Mormon Basin and offered Mr. Ingraham an interest in their discovery which he declined, thinking he had a better prospect in the Basin. In 1864, Russell and Archambeau owned the ditch which conveyed water to the lower portion of the diggings. In that year Walter Fernald, J. C. Powers, and Joseph Yowell went over to the camp from Mormon Basin and Fernald, Powers and Odell bought the ditch of Russell and Archambeau, and in 1866 constructed a new ditch eleven miles in length, bringing water higher up on the mining ground, and affording work for fifty to sixty men for many years. The total cost of ditches and reservoirs constructed by Fernald and company exceeded thirty thousand dollars. The amount of gold taken out up to 1862 is estimated at over $1,000,000. Every spring and summer for many years, Indians stole nearly all the stock in and about the camp. In 1867 two Indians stole a horse which they took to a spring on the mountain between Dixie creek and Burnt river, where they camped. Lum Davis and two others went in pursuit. When near the camp, Mr. Davis, according to his usual tactics...

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